Jaxon`s CFS2 Tips & Tricks

Version 2006_01_29

I am playing this sim now nearly since the release and mainly like it because of the enormous potential to enhance it.

So here I am going to share my knowledge with you.

Well, at first you probably want to add another aircraft, or just a "skin", so let`s start with the Aircrafts:

 
 Adding Additional Aircraft
 I) Just another skin for an already existing aircraft
This one is easy, there are two ways.

A)

In the *.zip file are textures to replace the ones your plane is using now.

So you only need to move them into the aircrafts texture folder and overwrite the old textures - that is all.

But now your original skin is gone, and if this wasn`t planned, you need another way:

Make a COPY of the entire old aircraft folder and rename it after your needs.
Replace the textures in there with the new files.

Now you need to change the name of the new plane to recognize it in the freeflight menu.

Open the Aircraft.cfg inside the planes folder and change the line after title=NEW NAME (I recommend to use the same name like the folder).

That is all.

B)

A smarter way is to make just a copy of the texture folder inside the old aircraft and rename it, for example like this:

You can add additional information of the content after the DOT. In this case I have renamed the old texture folder, too.

Now you need to add the new skin to your aircraft.cfg.
Open it and copy the entire first block just below it:

Change the number in [fltsim.X] to the next number and add the additional information of your texture folder
NOTE: To avoid misspelling, I recommend to copy the entire texture-folder name and just replace the "." with the "=".

You can do this when the game is running, but the new plane will first be complete playable with weapons and such after a restart of the game.

The method B) is smarter, but you can`t use the planes in missions anymore, not even the first one.
So I only use method A)

See also the Folder-Management part for more information

 

 II) A complete new ADDON aircraft
Unzip the *.zip to a dummy folder of choice.

In there are probably these four folders:

MODEL,
PANEL,
SOUND +
TEXTURE

...and also, the "softfiles", as I like to call them :

The aircraft.cfg

*.air (-file) and

*.dp ( ?damage-protocol?-file) containing information about damages and loadouts.

 

Often dowloaded planes are complete with own panel and sound.
Look in these folders and see what is in there.
If there are only panel.cfg and sound.cfg and o additional files, both are probably linking to other stock planes

Move the new aircraft folder into your CFS2/AIRCRAFT folder and restart the game.

You should be able to see the new plane in the freeflight menu.

If not, see I) - III) of the next topic. Also watch out for misspellings !!
In 75% of all troubles, this is the case (If the game can`t find any of the needed files, it won`t offer you the plane in the freeflight menu)

Please note also, that there is a plane limit somewhere around hundred planes installed (Probably depending on your system specs)
There are extra filemanager tools to swap planes in and out, but I prefer the manual way.

Happy flying !!

 

 

 Using FS2000,FS2002 and FS2004 planes in CFS2
 Here are the five main problems, and how to correct them.
 (They don`t appear always and I have listed them in order of importance, so you can follow step by step, when a new installed plane does not work)

Problem

Solution
 I) Missing panel and sound

Often dowloaded planes are complete with own panel and sound.

If not, they often alias panel and/or sound to other planes` files, which are not part of CFS2.

You have to check this at all new planes.

 

 

This one is easy, there are three solutions:

A) Get the plane, they are aliasing to and include it into your CFS2 folder.

B) Copy a working panel and/or sound folder to your plane, either full folders, or these from planes aliasing to existing planes.

C) The Professional way: See the folder management part below.

 

 

 II) Not suiting airfile

Especially some FS2004 and some CFS2 AI planes can`t be accessed via the freeflight-menu, due to missing information for player use in the airfile.

 

A) First a temporary solution: Get an *.air file from a plane that is flyable and rename it to the original airfile.
(Make a copy of the original first)


B)
Make an own suiting *.air file for this plane.

 

 III) Missing *.dp file

Your plane needs the CFS specific *.dp file (damage protocol?), containing information about possible damages, armament and loadouts.

Note: The plane will start for a freeflight ride without this file, but the game will crash to desktop (CTD), when the A/C is destroyed.

 

A) First a temporary solution: Copy a *.dp file from an existing plane into your new planes folder and rename the file with the name of the airfile..
(You can check the name in the aircraft.cfg, too:
It is the name appearing after sim=.....)

B) Make an own suiting *.dp file for this plane.

 

 IV) Wrong format of modelfile

CFS2 cannot read the modelfile.

(Mainly of FS2004 and some FS2002 planes)
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You need 2 programs to easily convert Fs2004 models to CFS 2:

1. mdlc_b85 by Ivan Hsu
    (standalone DOS based converter)
    available at http://www.fsplanet.com/06072004.htm or
                     http://www.fsfreeware.com/
                     www.fsrapid.com/2004/july/mdlc_b85.zip

2. mk_mdlc_v2 by Morten
   This is the Windows-interface for the converter above,
   which makes the converting very easy.
   available at the Outhouse: CFS2 utilities section.

Here are my prefered settings which should work as a start:

The shining model settings give a nice, semiglossy look of the surface.

You can play with all boxes, but make sure the Hide Dos MDLC window is unselected or the program will hang up.

At last, save the converted file as a modelfile.

You can replace the existing file,or for example, save the converted file of the F4U7.mdl from above as F4U7_CFS2.mdl.
(If doing so, the model.cfg inside the model-folder needs to be changed, too, so it will call for the new name.)

 V) Alphachannel

Congratulation, if you have this problem, I guess you have already seen your plane in the game, so you are near the end !

Some textures feature additonal information for a shining effect saved in the so called alphachannel of the texture.

CFS2 can handel these textures, but back when CFS2 came out, the alphachannel was used for defining the opaque-status of the texture, while the shining was defined inside the model.

M$ changed this in FS2002/4 in that way, that the opaque status is defined in the model and the information for the surface-shining comes with the texture. (reason is, you can show small shiny things like blank rivets etc. this way)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get the DXT-program by Martin Wright:

http://www.mnwright.btinternet.co.uk/index.htm

The information is saved in the "alphachannel", a greyscale pic of your texture. (You can see the actual alpha in the right upper corner)
For CFS2 you mostly need a blank, white alphachannel (that means full visible - "opaque", while black is full transparent).
The easiest way to create your needed Alpha is to go in the menu:

=>Alpha
=>Create Alpha Channel (Green)

So these parts of your texture with this color will be black in your alpha and later transparent in your game.
Since most textures do not have this very special color, your alphachannel will be?

=> Right: Complete white, just as wanted !

Now you have to save your texture with the new alpha again:

=>File
=>Save as
=>Extended (with alpha) bmp

Now a preselection window appears.
I usually save as DXT3 which is just good for planes.
But you can save in the original format too, you can see this in the headline of the DXT program.
Of course, you should take care of overwriting files.
I recommend to copy the whole texture folder before dealing with the files.

------

Additional information:

I suggest to play a bit with this nice tool.
For example, open different prop textures of addon- and stock CFS2-planes, you can see the difference in the alpha.
Some of the nicest alphachannels for propellers come with the P-40s /Ju 88s of K. Malinowski.
I suggest to use these for other props of addon planes, too. You can export and import Alphas for doing this.
Also I have an own collection of alphas with different shades of grey for these opaque steps for window textures.

 

 VI) unshined models  Shine them !!

Here is a link to my simple tutorial

 (Hope to find some more time to make that site better, but al the info is there)

 VII) Crashing to Desktop (CTD) in AI use

Some converted FS9 planes will result in a CTD, when used by AI.
Reason is a wrong

A discovery by DBolt:

You need to remove the "g_lightStates" variable from the DICT section of the mdl.
It just can be done with a hexeditor, but it's not so hard:

- First, locate the DICT section, close of the CFS2 tag.
- Then, you need to locate the following sequence of bites inside it:

   9d e9 f0 57 23 05 9c 4e bc b6 12 bb 2f e7 3f 06

That is the "g_lightStates" ID number. Just replace the bites with zeros. Don't be tempted to remove the data, as it will mess up the mdl.
It should work with many aircrafts with the same problem.

 

Additional Tips for dealing with aircrafts
Texture hierarchy (using the same texture for different planes)

 

CFS2 uses a special hierachy when handling textures.
The game will at first search in the planes own texture folder for the needed texture.
If there isn`t the needed texture, it will take the one from the main texture-"pool", the main texture folder in the your games root folder.

Out of the box, Microsoft has placed the proptextures for all planes there for example.

How to use this feature?

 A)

I copy all textures that are often appearing on multiple planes into the main folder, such as propellers, but also general files like interiour textures of planes, of which I have more than five different liveries (skins) in my hangar.
To remember all the textures I have moved to the mainfolder, I add a textfile of the same name like the texture in the aircrafts texture folder.

See example:

Please note, that the size of the textfile is not to mention.

All my Bf 109s from Paul Rebuffat (From which is the example pic) will now ALL use the same textures in the main folder.
This way you have fewest textures for the game to use => That is framerate- and spacefriendly !!

 B)

If you want a plane to use another texture, spend this one an own bmp in its own texture folder.
I have used this trick when saving the Hamilton-style "Prop_us.bmp" in the root/texture folder and spent the Airacobra and the Hellcat an own, Electric-style "Prop_us.bmp".

I recommend this technique for the use of the prewar-style-bmp, too and save it just to the plane that should wear it.

You can use similar for Addon-Scenery etc.

=> Keep your game slim and tidy !!!

 

Folder Management (linking to other files)

To get rid of multiple same files, I use this way to handle them.
This way it is very easy to have multiple aircraft using the same panel or sound etc..

 

First the aircrafts

See the Stock-Zero as example:

I have renamed the files to show what they are for and where their origin is, because it is easier for me to keep track within the thousands of planes I have installed.

This does not result in error-messages like removing/renaming the folders of the stock planes.

In there are just the Aircraft.cfg and the "soft files" as I like to call them.
(*.air and *.dp - file)

WOW, where are the other folders (Model/Panel/Sound), you think?

 

 

Well, watch the ZERO`s Aircraft.cfg :

the CYAN-coloured line defines the name of the files in the
aircraft`s folder above

The TEXTURE-line is refering to the texture folder inside the ZERO-folder with the extension (AI-III) (What are just the tailmarkings of this skin)

Please notice the dot in the folders name !

It is possible to add different skins to just one Aircraft folder this way (like in FS200X) and copy the lines you see in the pic above just below these lines and change the [flightsim.X] to the next number, but for missions you need only one Aircraft per folder.

 

 

Sorry for having started at the end with the textures, but now I explain how I have linked the model, panel and sound.

For example take a look at the sound-line.

By default the sound entry in the Aircraft.cfg reads

sound=

In this case, the game will search for the file sound.cfg in the aircraft`s sound-folder.

From this default location I have linked the game away to search at the new location using DOS-commands:

sound=\..\..\_Sound\WW II\Fighter\Radial\A6M2

" \.. " means one folder-hierarchy up/back

We are now out of the sound-folder and back in the A6M2_Zero-folder.

" \.. " again for another step back.

We are now in the CFS2-root/Aircraft-folder.

From here we can follow the path down again to the new location of the sound folder, named A6M2, in which the needed sound.cfg and the soundfiles are to find.

I keep my plane-related files inside my Aircraft folder.
The sub-main folders are named

_Model
_Panel
_Sound

The bottomline " _ " in the name is just to let Windows list them at the beginning, like you can see at right

Well, that is it !

All sound files tidy together and only one time in the game.

If you want to use the same sound on another plane, only the line needs to be copied to the new planes Aircraft.cfg

 

 

 

 Adding scenery
OK, now your virtual sky is coloured enough from all the kites you have installed?
So, let`s go to add some scenery.
 How scenery works
 

Out of the box, your CFS2 game offers the whole world, just like the civilian Flight-Simulator series.
And you can go everywhere easily with just entering the coordinates.
But for CFS2, only the area of the pacific battles is detailed some more, the rest of the world has just a simple, very basic layout.
But we can add the needed files with more information to enhance these parts as well.

The CFS2 idea of the world is generaly just a virtual big ball as basis.
Next some extra information LWM, Land-Water-Masks, to tell the game where is water and where land. Inside these is also the information, which textures are where used.

But the ball is still round, so we need another type of files, the "Mesh", giving height datas to have some hills and valleys.

Now come the airfields, these have an own groundtexture, normally a flattened surface and some runway data, so you can choose it in the freeflight menu as well as in the mission builder.

The additional items, huts, trees hangars etc. you see there, are part of the GSL, the Global-Scenery-Layer.
In there is just the information, at which coordinates to place which object.

Addon scenery FS-style uses undestroyable macros showing hangars and houses and are part of the sceneries *.bgl files

 

 How to add scenery
Scenery comes, like most addons, packed in a *.zip file.
Unzip it to a dummy folder of choice.
In there is now probably

A scenery folder
Containing all the *.bgl files and

a texture folder, with the needed textures

Name the folder in a suiting way, for example ETO_Germany and move it to place of choice.
At first, I recommend, to create a new folder ADDON-SCENERY inside your CFS2game and move your new scenery folder in there.

Start the game, go to the scenery menu and add the new folder by browsing to its place on your drive.

Shut down the game and start it again !!

Addon scenery is very basic stuff, thats needs to be located by CFS2 during start-up.
You should now be able to choose the new airport from the freeflight menu to check it out.

The scenery.cfg

 

To keep track, I recommend to put your addon files in separate folders.

You can see at right, that I have put the addon vehicles by WOLFI in a subfolder of the stock scendb/veh folder.

The Wolfi folder contains its own scenery and texture folder.

 

[Area.025]
Title=Fahrzeuge Wolfi
Local=SCENEDB\Veh\Wolfi
Remote=
Active=TRUE
Required=FALSE
Layer=25

 

It is possible to link this way to every place on your drive outside your game.
You can access the same file(s) from different games this way.
(Multiple CFS2-installs), but I even use the same SRTM-mesh-scenery-files this way in CFS2 and FS9 !!!

Even linking to other drives is possible.
 

As you can see at right, I have an own drive (F:\) for all my addon scenery.

For very basic stuff like weapons and vehicles and such, make sure to put them early in the ranking of the scenery.cfg

 

[Area.026]
Title=-Season- Pacific
Local=F:\_Seasons\Pacific
Remote=
Active=FALSE
Required=FALSE
Layer=26

 

 

 Effects
Adding Life

Have you ever wondered why there are so less (no!) people to see on the ground?

=> They are all busy in my factory:

At least it seems so, due to the smokestacks !

I came across this when I saw a FS2002 scenery addon called

"FS2002 Chicago area smoke effects" awhile ago.

I tried to use the effect on the infrastructures, but no luck as it seemed first.

The reason:
The extras, like on ships etc. work only when they are used in a mission, meaning they have to be active, not like the stock scenery, which does not support this feature when shown in the GSL-Layer

With a little wind they look much realistic.
But the other hand is, that they still appear, when the factory is blown away.

If you want, you can try this with other objects, like the single smokestack or the little stonebuilding, which has a chimney, too.

You can get the original
FS2002 Chicago area smoke effects
(the white ones in the pic)
---------------------------------
by E. Lesnik - 01/05/2002
chismoke.zip
@ flightsim.com

or:

http://www.fscorner.com/database2002-1/08-01-2002.htm

Just copy the file into the effects-folder

 

 

This is no download, you only need to add the following lines to your inf_small_factory_bldgc.dp -file in your CFS2-root/objectsdp-folder.

Where in there is unimportant, I have put them at the end.

[EXTRA.0]
location= -21.5, 106.0, 37.00
effect=fx_smokestack_chicago

[EXTRA.1]
location= -0.0, 62.0, -57.50
effect=fx_smokestack

[EXTRA.2]
location= -7.5, 62.0, -57.50
effect=fx_smokestack_s

 

(Caution: You can notice, that I use renamed files, to keep the smokestack-effect-files next to each other, you can do the same or put the original filename there, you can also take the smokestacks from the ships (or every other effect).
Watch out for the ending .FX, which must not stand in the .dp file !!

 

>Back to main CFS2 page<

 

Jaxon 2005