Floyd’s Epic Clouds & User Guide

A free cloud pack for Microsoft Flight Simulator including a set of Big Cloud variants to fill your landscapes to the horizon! Each cloudscape has been tested over mountains and plains to optimise them for a broad range of environments.

Features

  • The clouds have a range of interdependent weather properties
    The values selected for cloud cover, temperature, pressure, snow, wind speed are related to each other and within realistic limits.
  • Winds aloft has been included
    The winds aloft direction is based on the temperature of the cloudscape:
    Below 23c/73f is treated a temperate climate and the winds aloft will blow from West to East.
    Temperatures of 23c/73f and above are treated as tropical and the winds aloft will blow from East to West.
    Note: This will be reasonably realistic for flight paths that stay within their tropical or temperate starting climates. It is not possible to change the wind direction automatically if you traverse that boundary.
  • Special environments have been provided
    • Fog and Mist
    • Directional winds for balloons
  • User Requests are included
    • Thermals for gliders
    • Gusting winds for choppy landings
    • DCS style clouds (named ‘Double Cloud Stack’)
    • Persistent rain
  • Each name contains cloud cover and temperature
    The cloud cover is in 1/8th units. Therefore 50% cloud cover would be for example:
    “fec 4’8 12c – Layered Clouds” or
    “fec 4’8 53f – Layered Clouds”
    The temperature will be in Centigrade or Fahrenheit depending on the package you choose to install.
  • Two sort orders and two temperature scales available
    There are options to show the list in cloud-cover order or name order, both with their Centigrade and Fahrenheit temperature variants.

Download!

Installation Guide

How to Install the Cloudscapes

You install in the same way as other addons:

  • Uninstall any and all previous versions
  • Download the file and unzip it
  • There are 4 possible installations which allow you to choose a sort order and a temperature scale.
    • The two sort orders are by cloud cover or name. If you are not sure choose cloud cover as the first item in the title.
    • The temperature is listed in Fahrenheit or Centigrade
    • Restart the sim.
  • Either:
    • Put JUST ONE of the ‘Floyds Epic Clouds’ folders into your community folder
    • or if you are using the Addons Linker program, put JUST ONE of the options into the root directory that you are using for the Addons Linker. Remember to enable the Epic Cloud addon and restart the sim to make it visible in the drop-down list.
  • The new presets have been added to the sim’s Weather presets list and will be prefixed with ‘fec’ meaning Floyds Epic Clouds.
  • If you do not see the presets, check the Troubleshooting guide on this web page.

How to Uninstall the Cloudscapes

You uninstall in the same way as other addons:

  • Move the ‘Floyds Epic Clouds’ folder out your community folder
  • Restart the sim
  • The presets will no longer be in the Weather presets list.

How to Get the Best Out of the Cloudscapes

The quickest way to be able to appreciate the differences between the Epic Clouds is to do the following:

  • Start a flight in a jet so you can quickly traverse distance and altitude
  • Go to 15000 ft
  • Choose a cloudscape
  • Keep moving to ensure you are not inside a cloud when the cloudscape loads
  • Set the time of day to sunrise, noon or sunset to get a feel for how the clouds respond

Some of the cloud cloudscapes cast big shadows and leave large open areas as well. This contrast often increases the colour range for mountain peaks and fields exposed to the sun. Some of the clouds have drizzling mist and rain beneath them if you would like a temporary change of environment. Nice!

Gliders, Balloons, Turbulence & Persistent Rain

The details for special weather environments require detailed explanations and a fair amount of space, so they have been moved to a separate page for clarity.

Need More FPS?

If so, you can follow this link to find all of the settings in a PC environment that affect how well the sim runs. It was written for VR users, but a lot of it applies to non-VR uses as well.

Troubleshooting

Why Don’t I See the Epic Clouds?

There are two reasons why the clouds might not show up in the sim:

  • You may have too many folders nested inside each other
  • You didn’t restart the sim after you put the clouds into the community folder

Here is an example of what the tail end of the directory structure should look like including both the community folder and one of the Epic Cloud addons:

“\Community\Floyds Epic Clouds v1.7 – (centigrade, sort by cover)”

If you didn’t see a folder that looked similar to the above then you probably transferred the whole unzipped folder to the community folder instead of checking its contents for just the part you wanted. Inside it you will find a number of useful links and 4 folder options for temperature scales and sort methods. You should select the folder that corresponds to your temperature and sort preference and put that into the community folder instead.

The ‘Addons Linker’ Says There is a Manifest Problem?

When the Addons linker sees files in a directory, it assumes the directory is a package. If you drop the whole unzipped Epic Clouds folder into the location scanned by the Addons Linker, it will say there is a ‘manifest’ problem because the Epic Clouds & User Guide folder is not a package. Move that folder out of the folder used by the addons linker and instead copy and paste in one of the 5 options. This will be a properly formed package that the Addons Linker will recognise.

Why Do I See Boxes or Stripes in the Clouds? (GPU)

If you see boxes or stripes in the clouds, this is an indication that your computer in general and your ray-tracing hardware in particular is nearing its capacity. Note that using DLSS antialiasing in MSFS will magnify the problem, but this effect varies as Asobo adjusts each DLSS update.

Potential workarounds:

  • Try TAA antialiasing instead of DLSS in MSFS General Options. This works well in combination with the OpenXR Toolkit FSR upscaling.
  • Try turning down the Raymarched Reflections setting in General Options

Be aware that:

  • AMD’s ray tracing tech is a generation behind Nvidia’s for equivalent GPUs, so are more vulnerable to stress.
  • The MSFS DX11 graphics library is currently more efficient than the DX12 graphics library.
  • MSFS Cloud setting ‘Ultra’ is best but ‘High’ is reasonable and captures the majority of the subtlety.
  • Try easing the load by by adjusting settings – here is a guide you can use.

How Can I Reduce Stuttering in the Sim? (CPU)

I recommend setting the clouds to ‘high’ if possible. I have a separate web page dedicated to all the Flight Sim settings that you might want to have a look at.

Stuttering results when the complexity of the whole scene exceeds the capacity of your CPU and/or GPU. When the GPU has problems you will tend to see boxes or stripes that indicate that the ray-traced parts of the image hasn’t been rendered completely. In the past this has occurred when the graphics driver has been found to be inefficient.

The most problematic clouds will be those that have multiple layers but still allow you to see the horizon, however these will also be the most realistic and beautiful.

Why Can’t I Hear the Thunder Claps?

The volume of the thunder claps that follow some of the lightning strikes can be low to non-existent. This is down to Asobo’s implementation, but it might well be affected by the very low storm intensity I have used in an effort to make the strikes less frequent and thus, in my opinion, more natural.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Are the Epic Clouds Dynamic? Are They Connected to Live Weather?
    I would like to provide dynamic and live clouds, but Microsoft hasn’t provided an official means to control the clouds by 3rd parties. I will look into it, but I don’t want to make something that could potentially fall apart after each Microsoft update.
  • Will the Epic Clouds Conflict with Live Weather?
    No, the two are separate so you won’t create any problems in the live weather by loading the Epic Clouds.
  • Do the Epic Clouds Conflict with Rex Weather Force?
    No, you can load and use either as you wish.
  • Do the Epic Clouds Replace the Standard Clouds?
    No, they are an additional set. The Epic Clouds can be added to and removed from the dropdown list of cloud presets that are already in the sim. They do not replace any other clouds that are available so there no reason not to try them out :0)
  • The Epic Clouds Didn’t Show Up, What’s Happening?
    Please refer to the trouble-shooting section on this page.
  • Do I Have to Set the Cloud Quality to Ultra?
    No, its up to you but I would recommend a High or Ultra setting if possible.
  • How Do I know What Type of cloud I am Loading?
    Each cloud type comes with its own preview image that appears in the sim’s drop-down list of clouds, along with a descriptive name.
  • What about FPS?
    I recommend starting with the ‘high’ setting in the MSFS graphics panel. The least FPS expense is provided by the denser clouds or no clouds. The worst case scenario would be to fly through multiple layers of thin translucent cloud.
  • Do the Epic Clouds Include Turbulence?
    Turbulence is not part of the sim at the time of writing, but it can be simulated to some degree with cross winds. There are currently two presets with crosswinds. They were provided as a user request to make helicopter landings more challenging at sea. The same presets also affect take-off and landing conditions for general aviation aircraft. Microsoft have recently increased turbulence in general, and especially when close to buildings, trees, hills and mountains.
  • Is It Possible to Show Airline Wings Fading into Cloud Cover? (aka ‘wing fade effect’)
    Default MSFS doesn’t show this effect even on maximum cloud densities. There is a forum topic about this you can contribute to. It may appear in MSFS 2024.

How to Request a Feature

If you want me to change or add something to the Epic Clouds, just follow these steps below. If I haven’t quite nailed your requested feature I’m willing to consider trying again.

  1. Check that you are using the latest version of the Epic Clouds.
    You may find the latest version has already met your requirement in part or in full, and I will be assuming you are using the latest version unless you say otherwise.
  2. Contact me via a direct message on Flightsim.to
    Find the ‘private message’ link next to the Floyd logo underneath the ‘screenshots’ section. Use this so we can discuss your request as needed without clogging the product page with chat. I don’t check in every day, but I will your request eventually.
  3. Provide screenshots
    To illustrate what your preset or idea might look like and I will it as a reference.
  4. Provide a description in your own words
    I would learn a lot from a summary in your own words so that I can get a feel for what your particular interest is.
  5. Tell me the environmental context if necessary
    For example: you might also be thinking of, but not describing the temperature, rain, season, time of day, wind speed, snow cover or humidity. If I know the context then I can optimise for a particular setting as a priority.
  6. Please bear with me
    • I am aware that you will want the new feature sooner rather than later, but I find it better to work in a cyclic fashion and take my time.
    • Because its not possible to get good collective feedback except via the comments page on flightsim.to, I have to make my own choices about what to change as I go. However, I have all of the releases stored so I can fix any mistakes on request if necessary.
    • I have my own preferences and goals for how I’d like the Epic Clouds it to be maintained, but I will try not to be intransigent about it.

Which Clouds were in the Original Set?

In the original set there were 6 cloudscapes and as the set grew, the numbered clouds acquired names instead of numbers. To find the original clouds, you can look for these names in 3’8 to 4’8 okta range which is included in the name:

  1. Three Big Layers
  2. Porous Clusters with Rain
  3. Dense Islands (removed)
  4. Fluffy Clusters
  5. Intermittent Drizzle
  6. Large Loose Assemblages

Videos

When the Epic Clouds were first released there were a spate of videos about it. Some people seemed surprised that making clouds was ‘a thing’ or that it was even necessary. As far as I am concerned, clouds are extremely underrated.

Gallery

Joni Mitchell – Clouds (Both Sides Now)

A classic song whose real name is Both Sides Now, delivered with style in the year 2000 by Joni aged 57.

Clouds

Rows and floes of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere
I’ve looked at clouds that way

But now they only block the sun
They rain and snow on everyone
So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way

I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It’s cloud illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all

Statistics

This screenshot (right) shows occupation of the Featured section, the Trending Right Now section (the third time back on top) and the This Week’s Best section.

After release 1.1 the Clouds entered the Trending Now section for the 4th time after 1000+ were downloaded in 24 hours.

Statistics:

  • Downloads: 9586 at the time of measurement.
    • No comment: 9542 (99.54%)
    • Comments: 44 (0.46%)
      • Positive comments: 28 (64%, 0.29%)
      • Neutral comments: 11 (25%, 0.11%)
      • Negative comments: 5 (11%, 0.05%)

The most common request and complaint was that the Epic Clouds don’t drive the live weather system. A handful of users decided that was an error and gave the clouds a low star score.

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