LFD’s Auto View Distance Utility

LFD’s Auto View Distance utility will optimise X Plane’s graphics engine dynamically to bring you the best results for your configuration.

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Where to Download

This free utility is on XPlane.org – click the image to go there.

Click the image to go to the X Plane download page

How it Works

The Auto View Distance utility will optimise X Plane’s graphics dynamically to bring you the best results for your configuration and you control how that happens.

The script can be set to work unobtrusively in the background once you have finished configuring it via the user interface.

The computing power saved from needless far distance calculations can be spent increasing the quality of the local area. Saving as little as 5% of the far distance can make all the difference. The horizon contains an exponentially larger number of objects whose visual output can potentially be little more than a slight variation of haze colours.

Even in a correctly configured system there will be times when the complexity of scenery and weather will cause your FPS to drop to unacceptable levels. During these times the utility will automatically reduce the view distance to alleviate the burden on your system in order to meet the minimum FPS that you define. You will be able to control the speed and depth of that response.

The FPS power you will have saved may then allow you to:

  • Increase the Number of World Objects setting
  • Increase the Texture Quality setting

…possibly to the maximum values depending on your starting point, but you should see an improvement.

The difference between ‘high’ and ‘max’ number of objects makes a big difference

Before now I was unable to fly over Orbx’s London City terrain with any satisfaction – the missing buildings and visual stuttering made it a no-go area. With this utility I can now see all the trees and buildings with a good frame-rate.

A comparison between High and Max number
of world objects in 2 different locations

Controls & Options

Summary of controls:

  • A control to define the targeted minimum FPS
  • Two independent sensitivity/speed sliders to control the view distance response to the current FPS
  • Upper and lower view distance limits
  • A ‘Test’ function to manually set the view distance and observe the result

Summary of options:

  • Optional ability to open the user interface using its previous dimensions
  • Optional ability to auto-launch the AVD dialogue each time a new aircraft loads
  • In 2D mode: you can shrink the dialogue down to a title bar containing the readouts. Note: A small amount of the screen area has to be visible for updates to continue.

Compatibility With Other Tools

LFD’s AVD utility is intended to be compatible with other tools as far as is possible – it only controls one variable. There is a good chance that there won’t be any ongoing conflict if you leave the LOD aspect of other tools alone.

The following utilities are compatible:

  • FlyAgi_Tweak_Utility – set its LOD option to manual.
  • 3jFPS-wizard – set automatic LOD off
  • ASHA – no change needed

Each time the utility detects an external adjustment of the utility’s LOD variable a red warning symbol: ‘avd(!)’ is displayed on the user interface for a few seconds or continuously if the conflict continues.

Installation

The first step is the biggest one: you will need the FlyWithLua plugin to provide the power to run this script – you can find it here. You will be loading it at: >> X-Plane 11 > Resources > plugins.

  • Install FlyWithLua
  • Put the Auto View Distance script into the FlyWithLua ‘scripts’ folder which can be found inside the FlyWithLua plugin folder.
  • Launch X-Plane and the script will appear automatically.
  • You can turn the dialogue auto-launch off in the options settings.
  • The user interface can also be launched from:
    Plugins > FlyWithLua > FlyWithLua Macros
You can launch the dialogue from the FlyWithLua Macro menu

Configuration

Do This First!

  • Select your target FPS carefully, this is a critical step!
  • Ensure you are not running other scripts that might be changing LOD variables – you will see a red warning under the AVD readout if it happens.

Before you Make Changes

It can be confusing to change X Plane settings before you get the measure of how your system has been modified by the default settings of the Auto View Distance Utility. Take some time to figure that part out.

You may see some FPS improvement straight away or else the support may come when you are over more complex terrain or using special effects that are pushing your computer’s limits.

Tailor the Configuration

Press and hold your cursor on the help buttons (marked h1, h2 etc) for an explanation of whats available.

  • Fly to a worst-case FPS scenario area and observe the FPS readout
  • If all is well, increase the Number of World Objects setting
  • See how this affect the FPS and View Distance readout when flying and spend a few minutes getting acquainted with it.
  • If you are OK so far, try increasing the texture setting
  • Continue flying and monitoring the readouts
  • Adjust the sensitivity setting to suit your taste. Refer to the Sensitivity section for more information.

Allow for Stabilisation on Start-Up

Be aware that when launching a flight at a complex location the view distance will probably fall initially because:

  • The sim will still be loading objects and textures in the background.
  • The sim sees a lot more of the terrain, textures and world objects than you do.

For example – if you are on the ground at Heathrow facing London city centre, the frame-rate will be affected far more than if you are facing away from London at the exact same location even though in both cases you can’t see London.

Simply give the sim time to settle and the utility will respond accordingly.

Understand the Sensitivity Settings

There are now two sensitivity settings to control the view distance shrink rate and expansion rate independently.

The values provided by the controls onscreen is the number of samples that are averaged to smooth the result. A value of 1 has no averaging at all and therefore provides the quickest response.

The default values are geared towards reducing stutter by retreating quickly from FPS drops and increasing the view distance at a more moderate pace. Both of these strategies will result in fewer and smaller stutters.

You Will Reach a Limit

Although the utility will give you great results comparable to an expensive hardware boost, at some point you will inevitably push your computer beyond its capability. At this point the frame-rate will drop and the view distance will go to its minimum value and won’t recover.

That can be frustrating but there isn’t a specific fault in the your system, you just don’t have enough computing power and have just reached your limit. All you can do now is carefully review the configuration of your computer’s hardware and software to free up some more computational power.

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