HOW REAL SHOULD THE GRAPHICS IN FS98 BE?
When MS refer to 'as real as it gets', I believe they were referring
to the flight experience and controls/etc. It is not sold or
advertised as an accurate 'Trees and Mountains Simulator' or 'Clouds
Simulator' or 'Airline Markings Simulator' or 'Airport Layout
Simulator' - it is sold as a 'FLIGHT Simulator'. However, there
are many add-ons - both free and commercial - which can enrich the
basic platform and provide greater degrees of realism in each of
these areas. I have one free add-on for Meigs Field, for
example, which adds real trees which change their foliage with the
seasons. (Not sure if the number of branches is correct, or
whether they got every tree in the right place, but it's a good
One way to improve the clouds is to turn 'Cloud thickness effects'
off. The sugar cubes will then disappear and you will
experience some more realistic effects when flying
through a cloud
layer - though from above or below, the layer will still appear to be
an inch thick.
The graphics are some of the best I have seen in a simulator, but you
are right there are a few things missing. As far as the clouds
go, you can turn the "White Boxes" off, but then you get kind of a
flat cloud with now depth. You have to decide what you like
(although your options are not that great). The trees provide
another interesting issue. The stock scenery
on FS98 is the
best I have seen as far as using bitmapped tiles for cities,
unfortunately the tiles repeat and as you said it has no trees or the
such. The scenery looks *very* good from about 4000 or 5000
feet AGL but under that it looks unrealistic. There are loads
of scenery here in the file downloads section of the board.
Some have trees around airports but I don't think any have trees
randomly placed throughout the scenery area. (I could be wrong though
-) ) As far as the pixelated graphics, you can try changing
the screen resolution to about 800 x 600 or 1024 x 768 or higher if
your video card will support it. make sure your v.card is set
to 256 colors or better. If this doesn't help there are a few
more things we can try. (I doubt you have your video settings
correct if the old 2600 games look better!!!)
I doubt you'll find a lot of trees (don't recall seeing any), but
clouds should look pretty good if you're not too close to them.
You don't mention whether you're running a 3D card, but if you are,
and if you have it in full screen mode, you're likely seeing all
there is. It is pretty good, but in spite of all the hype, it
is not very real. Merely good enough to give a feeling of
flying. Near the ground you're likely to see very fuzzy,
pixelated, out of focus photographic scenery in many areas near
larger cities. Airports, downtown areas, etc. will have
obviously computer-drawn scenery.
The cloud thing can be improved greatly by going into the
Options-Preferences menu and turning on "Use advanced Weather
Dialog". Then go to World-Weather and choose the type of clouds and
coverage and layers that you like. Be sure to have "Cloud Thickness
Effects" turned off in the Options-Preferences-Display menu.