VE 3D Flight Simulator Version 1.1

After having such a huge positive response from many people about the Virtual Earth 3D flight simulator I built a couple of weeks ago I decided to make some enhancements to it. The enhancements were mainly focused around improved controls for a XBox controller. I have overridden the default XBox controls that are, by default, similar to the controls for Halo and made them closer to the controls of other common flight simulators. The following controls where overridden:

Left thumb control – Y direction:  This control used to only move you in a plane parallel to the ground and did not take the pitch of the camera into consideration. This control now allows you to accelerate in the direction the camera is pointing.

Left thumb control – X direction: This control used to allow you to strafe to the side. This control now allows you to roll the plane.

Right thumb control – Y direction: This control handles the pitch of the plane.

Right thumb control – X direction: This control handles turning.

Here is a video of the new simulator in action: 

 

Additional enhancement was to hide the default location data that appeared in the bottom right corner of the screen. This was done by adding the following code into the Activate method of the flight simulator plug-in:

this.Host.WorldEngine.ShowLocation = false;

 

The new controls were defined by creating xml that could be added to the built in bindings. There are two ways to get this xml into your plug-in. One method is to create an xml file that needs to be merged with the default bindings xml file that is on the users computer. This requires the dll’s of the plug-in to be installed onto the users computer and the dll to be placed in the GAC in order to get the required permissions to access the default bindings file. By using this method you can make it so that your controls are available in all instances of Virtual Earth 3D. An example of this method can be found here: http://blogs.msdn.com/virtualearth3d/archive/2008/05/01/installing-plug-ins.aspx

The second method is to store the xml as a string inside of the plug-in and then add the xml data to the bindings. This method is much simpler and reduces a lot of the overhead.  An example of this method is used in the following article: http://blogs.msdn.com/virtualearth3d/archive/2008/07/08/animation.aspx

This code uses the second method as it reduces the end users work when it comes to playing with the simulator.

The new functionality for the left thumb control in the x direction required calculating the LatLong coordinate and altitude of where the plane is suppose to go to. A distance in which to travel is determined based on how much the user pushing the thumb control forward. This distance is then broken into two components, a horizontal and vertical component. These components are determined using the pitch of the camera and some trig. Using the horizontal component and the heading of the camera the destination coordinate of the plane is determined. These calculations are based on the following article: http://rbrundritt.spaces.live.com/blog/cns!E7DBA9A4BFD458C5!400.entry

The camera is then update by extending the CameraControl class. An example of how to do this can be found here: http://blogs.msdn.com/virtualearth3d/archive/2008/10/22/camera-control.aspx

Complete source code for this version of the flight simulator can be downloaded here:

 http://cid-e7dba9a4bfd458c5.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/VE%20Sample%20code/SimpleFlightSimulatorV1.1.zip

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