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 preset has been tested over mountains and plains to optimise them for a broad range of environments.

Download

!! Note !!
v1.4 replaces the Expansion Pack

  • Get Help!
    Refer to this user guide if you have problems installing, uninstalling or want to know more.
    Check the ‘Please Read’ folder inside the package.
  • Help in Return!
    Credit the clouds with a mention and/or link so your audience can find them if they want to.
  • For more FPS
    check this Channel LFD page

What’s New in Version 1.4

There are some changes in this release to accommodate all the cloud twiddling I’ve been up to.

  • The Expansion Pack has been merged with the Epic Clouds as requested, so please remember to remove both of the earlier modules when you update.
  • Cloud densities have increased slightly to reveal their form a little more and adjustments have been made to provide pilots with increased visual range.
  • Preset 3 has been replaced with Sullen Clouds
  • Preset 5 has been revised with the addition of an enclosing cloud layer that improves its ambiance
  • Preset 7 has been rebuilt for a natural fog that hugs the contours of the landscape and valleys
  • The cloud properties for the complete set have been mapped and revised for a more appropriate spread of cloud cover, temperature, pressure, ice and precipitation values.
  • Be sure to update the barometric pressure in the cockpit if you load a new preset.

Next Steps

I can’t promise anything but…

I am researching the possibility of driving dynamic clouds using an external app, probably via web sockets unless you have a better suggestion. Please let me know if you have any code samples I can refer to – there isn’t a lot of information about setting cloud properties inside MSFS programmatically.

Videos

The Original Trailer

The following video was created to show how the original presets #1 to #6 looked. Each of the presets are a variant of the same type of clouds and have roughly the same ‘clear vs cloud’ ratio.

The Expansion Pack Trailer

The expansion pack was developed as a separate module, but has merged with the original cloud set from #7 to #12. They are a little more mixed in nature, and the whole set was analysed and rebalanced after bringing them together.

Featuring or Reviewing the Epic Clouds

EasyJetSimPilotPie in the Sky ToursPilot StuddCarbon Pixel (+ another)
RyotaSimFlyEagle 23McLares AviationRobert GrzegoreksouljabunnY

If you credit the Epic Clouds in your video notes I will be able to find your videos and viewers can find the clouds.

A rather nice 60 second time-lapse by Zidoo Multimedia Boxes. I’m obviously looking at the sky rather than the ground though. People never do what you want them to do eh :o)
(click to enlarge).

If I’m not mistaken, Havoc23’s before and after videos seem to show the Clouds have increased performance by about 10 fps.

Installation

Check here for how to locate the community folder.

How to Install the Presets

!! Note !!
v1.4 replaces the Expansion Pack

You install in the same way as other addons:

  • Uninstall any previous versions you may have loaded
  • Download the file and unzip it
  • Put the ‘Floyds Epic Clouds’ folder into your community folder
  • Restart the sim
  • The new presets have been added to the Weather presets list

Troubleshooting

  1. There are two reasons why the clouds might not show up in the sim:
    • You didn’t restart the sim after you put the clouds into the community folder
    • You may have too many folders nested inside each other. The directory structure you will need to end up with is:
      …\Packages\Community\Floyds Epic Clouds
  2. If you see boxes or stripes in the clouds, this is an indication that your ray-tracing hardware is nearing its capacity to render the scene. You will need to ease the load by turning down the settings, such as cloud quality. There are some things to bear in mind:
    • AMD graphics cards are a generation behind NVidia’s graphics cards when it comes to ray tracing. They have also given less support for ray-tracing compared to similar Nvidia cards. Therefore you are more likely to see banding/boxing in the clouds with AMD rather than Nvidia.
    • The MSFS DX11 graphics library is more efficient than the DX12 graphics library which is still being optimised. For now you will get better ray tracing performance on DX11.
    • I have created the Epic Clouds in Ultra quality, but the high quality option retains an acceptable amount of the original construction in my opinion.

How to Uninstall the Presets

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 Presets

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 preset
  • Keep moving to ensure you are not inside a cloud when the preset loads
  • Set the time of day to sunrise, noon or sunset to get a feel for how the clouds respond

Some of the cloud presets 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!

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can the Epic Clouds drive the live weather?
    Microsoft have isolated their live weather system and there isn’t a way to access it at the moment.
  • Do these presets replace the standard clouds?
    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)
  • 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. You can also find screenshots of each cloud type in the Cloud Gallery.
  • 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.
  • The clouds didn’t show up, what’s happening?
    The trouble-shooting section of the installation guide on this web page will reveal all.

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.

image

The Cloud Gallery

Although the names of the clouds can get slightly abstract in nature they do help me to visualise the intention during development.

Floyd 01 – Three Big Layers

These clouds look their graceful best at medium and high altitudes.

Floyd 02 – Porous Clusters with Rain

Puffy clouds with reasonable separation and room to fly between. The cloud frequency has been nudged down so there is a little more clear air to fly in.

Floyd 03 – Sullen Clouds – (New)

These clouds have a slightly moody ambiance with interesting lighting at the base of the canopy. There is plenty of clear air for your aviation antics – you won’t be battling reduced visibility unless you choose to.

Floyd 04 – Fluffy Clusters

Although there are no specific controls to manage wispy filaments, it is possible to shy away from the more rounded nature of the technology and lean towards a fluffier look.

Floyd 05 – Intermittent Rain

Revised in v1.4

In low level flights this preset will alternate between clear open spaces and rain with fairly limited visibility.

Floyd 06 – Large Loose Assemblages

Large blocks composed of fragmented pieces.

emojii

Floyd 07 – Winter Fog

Recreated in v1.4

Here is a new version of the Fog preset. Note that the fog hugs the low lying areas and thins out over higher ground. You can see the fog filling river valleys and other depressions in the landscape.

Depending on the topography you will be able to see the fog between trees and buildings with the tops in clear air. Be prepared for a variation in visibility and ice formation if you are flying at low altitude.

Tech Edit:
After releasing 1.4, I discovered there are clear-air pockets on the floors of the Alpine valleys. These are not intentional, they are due to the numerical limits enforced by the Weather UI. I have reported this shortfall to Asobo and if they don’t provide a fix I may need to add a second fog option to deal with these particular cases.

Its not necessarily unrealistic though: when the sun rises over a fog bound valley in the morning, it heats the ground and causes the fog to disperse and rise, leaving just such a layer.

Floyd 08 – Thick Cloud with Rain

If you fly at moderate altitudes you will have to negotiate the fairly thick clouds or choose your path around them. Inside these clouds visibility can drop steeply but should return in a short while, but with care you should be able to keep sight of the ground most of the time.

Floyd 09 – Overcast

These clouds are high enough for GA aviators to fly under. They will impart a eerie, hypnotic ambiance of their own to the landscape.

Floyd 10 – Rain & Clear

You can expect to encounter light rain with reasonable visibility if you choose to fly through the showers provided by these clouds. The majority of the space is clear.

Floyd 11 – Patchy Cloud

No rain, just clouds casting large shadows on the landscape with no obstructions at low altitude.

Floyd 12 – Mostly Clear

Calming low density clouds on a warm day that will not interfere with visibility. Perfect for sightseeing!

Joni Mitchell: Clouds

A classic song delivered with style in the year 2000 by Joni aged 57. Her thoughtful words and rich singing style is focussed on the airborne mountains of vapour that hang in the air on a regular basis.

2000 (57)

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

Some 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/complaint was that the Epic Clouds don’t drive the live weather system and a handful of users gave the clouds a low star score for that reason.

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