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The "Quantumleap Repositioning Project for Ultimate Terrain"

Latest News: QLRP4UT version 2.05 Released - 8th August 2006

What is QLRP4UT?

First came Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004. You flew around and had fun. Then you made a really good choice and purchased Ultimate Terrain. Now you got to fly around over highly accurate coastlines, lakes, roads and railroads and say "Look, that's my street down there!". You however also started to notice that the bridges, and custom buildings and landmarks, delivered by Microsoft were not actually in the right place. That's where the "Quantumleap Repositioning Project for Ultimate Terrain" (QLRP4UT) came along. As the name indicates, it is a project to reposition those 700+ misplaced bridges, and custom buildings and landmarks, so they matched up with the accurate scenery of Ultimate Terrain USA, Canada/Alaska and Europe. (If you are wondering, the "Quantumleap" part is the name I use on a number of flight simulation forums).

Before I give a little more detail on the work. It took me over 300 hours to get to this stage. While I have no intentions of getting rich off of this, it is released as shareware with a very reasonable donation of only US$9.95. Essentially you can try out the work for a period of 30 days from when you first install it. After that, if you keep on using it, you'll need to make a donation or remove it. For details of how to say "Thanks" and donate, see below.

So now on to details.

Something about scenery object types

When looking at FS2k4 bridge, building and landmark scenery objects, there are basically 4 types (note this is a really simplified view of things, so you techie types who know even more than most don't get too upset :-).

A) Custom library objects
These are objects which have a custom visual model developed for them e.g. Statue of Liberty, Golden Gate bridge, Hoover dam, Luxor hotel in Las Vegas, Launch-pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center, Tower of London, Eiffel Tower, etc.. Most of these are referenced from either city specific scenery files or the FS2k4 SP1 bridges scenery file, although a few do get referenced from object files for a FS2k4 region (e.g. NAME - North America East, NAMC - North America Central, NAMW - North America West, OCEN - Oceanic [for Hawaii] and EURW for Western Europe). These scenery files specify the latitude/longitude, heading and scale (plus a few other properties) which are used to place the custom library object. In the USA and Canada there are just over 550 such objects within the area covered by Ultimate Terrain USA and Canada/Alaska. In Europe there are just under 150 such objects within the area covered by Ultimate Terrain Europe. In case you are struggling with your math, that's over 700 custom library objects within the area covered by all the Ultimate Terrain products.

B) Generic library objects
These are objects which also have a visual model, but are for items which are used generally in multiple places throughout the FS2k4 world e.g. VORs, hangars, windsocks, fried-chicken restaurants, oil-rigs, boats, etc.. Most of these are referenced and placed via FS2k4 region object scenery files. There are thousands of these in North America within the area covered by Ultimate Terrain USA, Canada/Alaska and Europe.

C) Generic buildings
These are building objects within FS2k4 which do not have a specific library model (custom or generic). Instead they are defined by properties such as dimensions in x, y and z coordinates (length, width and height), what type of roof they have (flat, peaked, etc) what textures to paint on sides and top, in addition to the latitude/longitude and heading to allow them to be placed. The scenery engine takes this information and displays them appropriately. These are defined in both city specific and region specific scenery files. There are tens of thousands of these within the area covered by Ultimate Terrain USA, Canada/Alaska and Europe.

D) Autogen buildings and objects
These are buildings and objects (like trees) which are auto-generated by the scenery engine based on the type of landclass. Their position and type is not defined specifically in any city or region specific scenery files. There are hundreds of thousands of these within the area covered by Ultimate Terrain USA, Canada/Alaska and Europe.

So what does this mean to UT USA, Canada/Alaska and Europe?

As UT places roads, railroads, streams, rivers, lakes, coastlines, etc., in far more accurate geographic positions than the default FS2k4 versions of them, this means that anytime that the city and region specific scenery files for FS2k4 specify a specific latitude/longitude and heading to place an object, it is likely incorrect when based on real geographic position. Simply put, the object appears in the wrong place in the highly accurate UT environment.

Now in most cases, unless you are looking really carefully and know the area you are flying over very well, and are flying low enough to notice, the incorrect placement of the scenery objects isn't too obvious when using UT. In a few places however it is very obvious e.g. Statue of Liberty sat on water and not on the island it should be on, bridges sat on land or half-spanning rivers, hotels and buildings sat in the water off coastlines, etc.. UT allows you to exclude such items in its setup and configuration tool.

It is important to realise that it isn't UT's fault that the scenery objects provided by FS2k4 are in the wrong place. UT just highlights the incorrect positions because of its accuracy in the underlying roads, railroads, streams, rivers, lakes, coastlines, etc.. UT USA, Canada/Alaska and Europe are not products which aim to map scenery objects such as buildings and bridges and so these are not "bugs" which UT should or needs to fix.

But I want my bridges and scenery objects in the right place!

That's where my repositioning project started up from. I'm one of those low and slow GA pilots (both sim and real life) and having seen how wonderful UT was in providing me an accurate environment with its roads, rail and water features, and being technically oriented, I decided to look to see if I could improve things.

To cut the proverbial long story short, after over 250 hours of manual effort I completed the respositioning nearly every custom library object (type 1 above) for North America so they fit better within the UT environment. When UT Europe came along, I did the same for it.

Why did it take so long? Initially when I did the work for North America there were no appropriate tools to visually place such objects directly within FS2k4 while it is running, and you had to build new scenery files and exclusion regions by hand, compile them, load them into FS2k4 and then run the sim up to check how well you did. In most cases not very well. Even though I got pretty good at it, it would still take on average 5 to 6 attempts to get the best results even on simple objects, each time needing you to stop and restart FS2k4. While at least one commerical tool is now available to assist in the process of adding new objects while running within FS2k4, and some freeware/shareware ones which can move current objects (but not visually within FS2k4), none provide the complete toolset or precision needed in a repositioning project like this. In summary, I still do most of the work manually.

"So what's the final result like?" I hear you ask. To be honest, I describe it terms of the "good, bad and ugly"! As I am not a 3D modeller and therefore did not build any new objects for the project, I just took the supplied Microsoft object and placed it as best as I could. In I'd estimate, 60% of cases, this worked "good" (excuse the poor grammar to fit with my GB&U term). Their model was pretty accurate in relation to the real building/bridge, was scaled correctly, and so could be placed in reference to the UT road, rail and water features to display harmoniously. Sadly in 25-30% of the time, their model was off in a 'minor' way. For example, it would be incorrectly scaled. Bridges would have straight on/off ramps when they should be curved (or vice versa); on/off ramps which were too long or short; they would include multiple bridges in the same model but these would be incorrectly spatially oriented; or supporting structures in slightly the wrong place or style. In general while the result was "bad" compared to the "good", overall it did not look too out of place when placed in the UT environment. This leaves the "ugly". I could write an entire essay on how despite all the hours of work and effort Microsoft put in to design and build custom library objects they provided, many of which are excellent, they then screwed up by not taking that final bit of care. Examples include: buildings which are intricately crafted but mirror images of the real building or so incorrectly scaled that no amount of work afterwards make them fit in correct proportions to the UT world; bridges (usually the very long ones like the Chesapeake Bay bridges or the Florida Keys bridges) which look absolutely nothing like the real thing and so which when placed and viewed in the UT environment do not align with the UT "bridge roads" or on/off points. While I tried really hard for these cases and have made the best choices I believe, I think the results should be considered "ugly". Rather than drop the objects I will leave them in as in my view something is better than nothing.

From feedback in the Ultimate Terrain forum on SimForums, I also started adding a few additional objects in the case of NFL and MLB stadiums which FS2k4 did not include. These are not however accurate models (see my note above about not being a 3D modeller) but will look to use either a generic football or baseball stadium which FS2k4 does include. Also based on feedback and contributions, I have respositioned a number of prominent buildings which were not custom objects, but constructed from FS2k4 generic buildings.

For a full list of all the bridges, buildings and landmarks which were repositioned or added please refer to the following web page:

Objects Repositioned in QLRP4UT

That about sums things up. I'd like to remind everyone this is not a project which is produced by Scenery Solutions, the developers of Ultimate Terrain.

Download and Installation Instructions


Plain-Language Legal Stuff

You knew this section was coming didn't you. Please don't skip over it.

This product is shareware. Essentially you can try out the work for a period of 30 days from when you first install it. After that, if you keep on using it, you'll need to make a donation or remove it. For details of how to say "Thanks" and donate, see below.

The work that I have done in repositioning the bridges and buildings, and the files supplied in this package, are copyright to me (Jeff Parker). All rights reserved. You are allowed to use the file(s) in the supplied state only. Yes, I know some of you know how to, and can, disassemble them, but that is not permitted. Why? Because I say so :-) Please don't rip me off by doing it! If you do, you are explicitly and implicitly saying that you agree to purchase the source code off me at a sum of US$250.00.

No one is allowed to make a derivative product, or contain any part of my work, unless I give written permission to do so. If you are interested in using this work in full, or in part, in your own projects (freeware, shareware or payware), I'll be happy to discuss it with you and come to a mutual agreement.

No one is allowed to distribute this product via any means unless I give written permission to do so. Currently this product is only available for download from http://www.qlrp4ut.com and http://www.avsim.com, and should therefore not be made available for download from any other site without my permission. If this product is distributed without my authorisation, each instance of a download and/or upload will be subject to a nominal payment of US$9.95 payable immediately to me via the donation method listed below.

As I can be a bit cussed at times, and when you get to my age there are sure to be a few people who've rubbed me up the wrong way, for no reason whatsoever other than I decide to, I may disallow individuals or groups from downloading, installing and using this product. Look for those on Santa's naughty list on the QLRP4UT web-site. To show my good side, I may also decide to waive the shareware donation to individuals and groups I choose to.  Check on Santa's good List on the QLRP4UT web-site to see if you are one of the lucky ones!

While I have tried my best to do a very good job, and will try to help out all those who donate, I am in no way responsible or liable for any bad things that may happen to you, your computer or your other software when you install and use this product.

Note, the custom models and textures developed by Microsoft which are referenced by my repositioning project are copyright to them (or respective copyright owners) and so are *not* supplied with this package.


How to say "Thanks" and Donate

Hopefully you will like the work and will continue using it. If so, and are therefore going to donate, there are a few ways you can.

Firstly, I'll be very happy if you want to donate cash electronically. I'm not asking much, just a very reasonable donation of only US$9.95. To make a donation, click on the button below.



Note, I intend to use the cash donations for a few things: to fund research and development work on modelling downtown cores of major cities; to purchase additional tools to enable me to reposition objects faster and more accurately; to allow me to continue donating to other flightsim freeware/shareware authors.

If you'd still like to say "Thanks" and donate other than cash, that's fine with me also. You see I'm quite happy for you to barter other things you may want to part with which I may be interested in. Obviously I am into flight simulation, so any add-on software might be fine, but I also fly for fun in the real world. If you have any old aviation books or charts I don't have, I think we could make a deal. I am also interested in space flight, and so any old space related books, pictures, souvenirs, etc., may make me happy as well. A pair of good lower-bowl tickets for Toronto Raptors or Toronto Argonauts home games also wouldn't be turned down. Just drop me email to  with details of what you have to offer.

Everyone who does make a donation, will get email support from me, and will also qualify for very good deals on any future products I develop (such as those modelled downtown cores I mentioned above if I get enough support for this project).


Support Contact Information

QLRP4UT web-site: http://www.qlrp4ut.com

a) If you have donated and have questions or comments, please email
b) If you haven't donated, are continuing to use the work, and want to ask questions or have comments, please see the 'How to say "Thanks" and Donate' section, and then follow a).
c) If you haven't donated and want to complain... don't even think about it :-) Please just follow the "How to Uninstall" instructions.


Credits

- My wife Nicola for bringing me lots of coffee and putting up with me disappearing for hours to work on this project.
- Allen Kriesman of Scenery Solutions for Ultimate Terrain. Best 3rd-party add-on for Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004 bar none. ( http://www.scenerysolutions.com )
- Microsoft for Flight Simulator 2004 ( http://www.microsoft.com/games/flightsimulator/ ). Nearly as much fun as flying the real things, so keep pushing the product to make it better. P.S. Make sure FS10 improves ability for guys like Allen to build even more accurate add-on scenery, and it must have weather capable of depicting true overcast so I can use it to really practise my "down to the minimums" IFR approaches. Another thing, fix those incorrect custom models of yours or make the source for them available :-)
- Pete Dowson for FSUIPC and the FSUIPC SDK (http://www.schiratti.com/dowson.html ). Without it, I would not have been able to build my helper applications to speed up my repositioning work. To everyone who uses his freeware version of FSUIPC, pay the man for the full version!
- Jim Keir for LWMViewer ( http://www.jimkeir.co.uk/FlightSim/LWMViewer.html ).
- The QLRP4UT beta testers: Ray Lunning, Lance Tucker, Marc aka 'Cole', and those who asked not to be listed here.
- Nullsoft Inc. ( http://nsis.sf.net ) for their scriptable install system which was used in the construction of the semi-automatic installer.


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Check out my aviation and landscape photography and digital art site www.photisify.com

Page last updated: 2nd Jan 2013



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