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SimTools - What's Next for development

Discussion in 'Breaking News' started by yobuddy, Feb 16, 2019.

  1. yobuddy

    yobuddy Well-Known Member Staff Member Moderator SimAxe Beta Tester SimTools Developer Gold Contributor

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    We don't need another version and cash will never be the driving force behind SimTools.
    Every time we have needed too, we just push SimTools to the next level, and that is what we will do here guy's.
    SimTools is where it is today because of everyone's ideas, and I have huge whiteboards full of ideas.

    I'm currently doing some behind the scenes code cleanup to get ready for new upgrades.
    Now that we don't have to worry about winXP anymore, I can update the .net version I'm compiled against and clean up some older code.
    This should help knock out the region bug that has been around for some time.
    And an improved installation routine updating .net to the right version.
    And a lot of other little things I have been meaning to do for a wile.

    I have been seriously going over ideas for whats next for about a month now.
    And I believe i have a good idea for whats next.
    (We can open a new thread and chat about "whats next" there if you guys want.)

    On another note, I'm only waiting for some TSlot to arrive for me to start building a couple of new Simulators.
    Something I have needed to do for a wile now and will make testing some of the new stuff in SimTools so much easier.

    I do think when we do something like this, that GameEngine will need to have a 'standard' mode, so it works just like it does now.
    And an 'advanced' mode to add the extra tuning stuff. (or whatever we decide to do).
    As I don't want SimTools to be any harder to get into for the 'new guy'.

    For me thou, it's quite exciting that I no longer have to program for Simulators that don't exist yet, but someone may want to build in the future. (like 6dof rigs)
    We have so many different builds that exist now, its becoming way easier to see what we need and move forward.
    And that all due to the awesome community we have here!

    Take care,
    yobuddy
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  2. value1

    value1 Nerd Staff Member Moderator SimAxe Beta Tester SimTools Developer Gold Contributor

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    My Motion Simulator:
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    Good to hear @yobuddy!

    What about unifying GameManager and GameEngine?
    PC's are strong enough these days to easily serve both programs at the same time.
    And I think there are not a lot of people in total using a dual PC setup.
    I suppose, it would make the handling somewhat easier.
    Just a thought.
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  3. Jonas Canopee

    Jonas Canopee Tech & fitness geek, daddy, car enthusiast Gold Contributor

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    Hi, First of all: it's a great project & program even if it's split up. I just recently bought simtools and the xsim subscription because I didn't manage to realize the harness tightener on my own and I found lots of helpful info and a good arduino sketch I could base my own one on. Because everything (except for wheel and pedals for most builds) is custom hardware everybody's diy Sims are very different as you know well. Reading about simtools before I started my build about a year and a half ago I was repelled by the still existing 2PCs approach and tutorials on the net. Not that I don't own another desk- and laptop (I'm a nerd) it just seemed too complicated. I designed the outside of a commercial driving sim working as a graphics designer in a german company and we worked closely with the Bosch and Audi engineers who were on the project, there was only on PC there although you could display telemetry on a laptop/tablet via WiFi or Bluetooth. I look forward to hearing about new developments as I'm enjoying the newly gained immersion with the feeling of actual breaking through the harness tentioner, not only ABS stutter from DC rumble at the break pedal. I saved a few insights from my work and I am willing to share with you. Have a relaxing Sundays!

    IMG_20190217_112830_490.jpg
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  4. BlazinH

    BlazinH Well-Known Member

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    This is great news! :cool:
    Sounds good to me :). No need to quibble over semantics.
    I’m fine with however you find motivation ;). I’m just under the impression you’re a freelancer and cash helps in creating time to work on things if that’s the case.
    I look forward to discussing ideas (if I'm invited :rolleyes:).
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  5. T R Para

    T R Para i make stuff up Gold Contributor

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    My Motion Simulator:
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    1) I would like to see support for the AC servo motors (220vac stepper motors) in Game Engine.
    2) In the Game Engine / output testing / axis testing, Under the "Amount of Axis to Use" moving the left pressed mouse above or below the slider box causes a rapid recentering of the axis. The problem is when using this feature I am looking at the rigs motion and not the mouse position.
    3) Is there a way to stop Game engine from auto minimizing to the tray when booting it up?
    When debugging the rig it is somewhat inconvenient (nit-picking I know)..

    Thanks for the awesome programming. This is a great hobby :thumbs

    P.S.> I use dual PC's and find it a nice feature.
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    Last edited: Feb 17, 2019
  6. BlazinH

    BlazinH Well-Known Member

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    My 2 cents (I’m a blabber mouth) is separate GM and GE allows for a 2 PC setup to those that want it but others can still run both on a single PC. So more options is better imo unless detrimental in other ways.

    I would however like a GM that can run multiple GE’s. Then the tuning center wouldn’t need more dof’s since we could run multiple tuning centers. This would also allow for expansion as needed into the future.
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  7. hexpod

    hexpod http://heXpod.xyz

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    My Motion Simulator:
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    Saving Tuning Center Status with Game Engine preset would help a lot in my opinion
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  8. gianlu320

    gianlu320 New Member

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    It might be impossible to do it, I appreciate that..
    But any chance we could change parameters, options and values to the axis assignments while we are in game?
    It would be easier to make changes and immediately see the results of those changes.
    Some games have so long loading times... example DCS
    Every time closing and reopening it is a pain
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  9. noorbeast

    noorbeast VR - The Next Generation Staff Member Moderator

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    You can use the On/Off button on the top left of Game Manager to do that.
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  10. gianlu320

    gianlu320 New Member

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    Sorry noorbeast I don't understand what you mean
    What I mean is having the possibility to change live the settings in axis assignments of the game engine, and not the game manager
  11. yobuddy

    yobuddy Well-Known Member Staff Member Moderator SimAxe Beta Tester SimTools Developer Gold Contributor

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    Hi Guys,
    I'll try to go over all the suggestions and explain my thoughts.

    I think when people only use GameEngine for a few axes its really not much of a problem.
    Maybe like to 2% hit on the system.
    But when you start running a 6DOF rig and a GSeat at the same time, it may use more of your gaming PC than you want.
    (10 to 12% ??) @SilentChill

    But then you may want to use GameVibe and/or GameDash and what ever else.
    At this point I worry you may want a second be for all the extra apps, and since the second PC is there anyway, its nice to be able to run GameEngine on it.
    Or at least I think it is? lol

    So many things would be easier for me with a single app thou.
    What is really needed before a final decision here I think is a built in 6DOF Axis Assignment plugin to see what kind of hit the PC takes.
    So I really like this idea if the bigger sims don't require 2 PC for proper operation.

    I guess i look at it as a option you don't have to use.
    And with the SimTools launcher companion app, you can launch them both at the same time just like a single app.
    So yea, I guess I always just looked at it as optional.

    This is an open thread, everyone is invited buddy.

    This really just depends on the hardware interface used?
    I don't see why they would not work right now?

    Very Interesting, but it would have to recompute allot of stuff over that has already been done.
    Let me think about it...

    Yes, new set of Tuning Center vales with each GM profile.

    Click the On/Off button in Game Manger to turn it off and you can change you GameEngine settings.
    On a big sim making a mistake live could be very dangerous, so not having this part live is a precaution.

    Thx for all the suggestions guy's i really appreciate it! :thumbs
    What's done so far is allot of code cleanup, updating the target.net framework for the apps, fixing the installers up to install the new .net version if its not already installed on the system.
    And hopefully fixing the region bug (which I think is ready for a test soon!).
    The above is all pretty much done

    This is what I think most of the advanced guys could use thou:
    - Separate Min/Max values per GM profiles.
    - Separate Min/Max values per Axis Assignments ( a ) vs ( b ). ??????
    - A Build In 6DOF support for both Linear and Rotational output.

    I see this as an option in Game Engine where it would either work, as it does now in Standard mode, or you could set it to Advanced mode.
    In Advanced mode the Min/ Max files we have now would basically be the Default profile that the new Advanced one is built off of.
    It may be a bit tricky, but i bet I could make Game Engine have an advance and a standard mode.

    If we do have separate Min/Max values per Axis Assignments ( a ) vs ( b ) assignments, then I see no need for the axis assignments to offer above 100% values anymore.
    Which I think make SimTools a bit more strait forward to use and I like that.

    I think this would work to not make it harder to use for the new guys, but also let the the ones who what too, take their sims to the limit of what can be done with motion. :cheers
    So what do you think?
    yobuddy
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2019
  12. Sarge

    Sarge Member Gold Contributor

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    Not sure if Simtools already does this (not seen anything) but it would be handy to be able to map the on / off setting to a button on my setup. Just my 2 pence
  13. nclabs

    nclabs Active Member Gold Contributor

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    Ok, that's my ideas for new features of SimTools:

    1) add a feature to compensate for unbalanced or beaten actuators. Let me explain. I saw some rigs working very poorly just because the balance of the whole thing was off, or one of the two actuators was having a bad time. So, when the rig was going down (2dof) the actuators were syncronized because they were aided by gravity, but when the rig was going up, the two actuators were really not syncronized. One of those was noticeably lagging behind. If we could add an option to slow down one particular axis, in just one direction it would be possible to make that syncronized again. I know it's a super niche case but it could be useful to another cases as well.

    2) add a live graph telemetry in the app. Something that could render the raw data outputted from the game plugin and another graph were the profile we apply to simtools make the transformation, and see what the simtools ouput to our rig. That would be very useful for super fine tuning and troubleshooting for plugins.
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  14. BlazinH

    BlazinH Well-Known Member

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    Isn't that the job of a motor controller and its pid though?
    Using raw data won't work. At minimum it must be normalized first to be of any use for your intention.
  15. hexpod

    hexpod http://heXpod.xyz

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    My Motion Simulator:
    DC motor, 6DOF
    reparing the washout filter for translational and rotational dofs, which was never able to properly do the job, would be the first thing which could improve the experience.
    We drastically need it.
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  16. SilentChill

    SilentChill Problem Maker

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    Tuning centre config for each car in a game, unlimited configs, not for different axis settings like what @BlazinH and @SeatTime mentioned, these are purely for different tuning centre values for specific cars:) this has to be the easiest thing to implement as it's just pointing to a different tuning centre config file which has been renamed , yeah ? No ? Or shut up Craig ? :grin
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  17. BlazinH

    BlazinH Well-Known Member

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    That would be one way to do it (pretty sure) :thumbs. You don't even need simtools for that though. There's (or was) a free game called BMW Challange. It was free because it only had one car, a BMW of course, and one track. The reason it would only load one track though was because its name was hard coded into the software. To use other tracks on it all you had to do was rename them. So someone wrote a simple dos command prompt script that would rename the files for you then when you were done it would swap them back to normal again. You could do the same thing here. If you like I'll see if I can find the script on one of my old computers.

    BTW just mean temporary until it can be done proper.
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    Last edited: Feb 20, 2019
  18. The Iron Wolf

    The Iron Wolf Member Gold Contributor

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    First of all - thanks for the great tool. Quite often in a niche hobby software is a weak link - but I must say I had 0 severe issues with SimTools, which is a pleasant surprise.

    If we are talking about features for the v-next, here are things I wish were there in the tool:
    * Master multiplier. Right now, Master % is the amount of smoothing. But what would be nice to see is single multiplier value field or slider (but with much higher range than Game Manager has) that would scale all Min/Max ranges. That is different from smoothing.

    * Allow multiple Min/Max profiles per game in Tuning Center. It is difficult to make good min/max ranges that fit both Karts and Prototypes.

    * I'd like tool to be more keyboard accessible, not all things are keyboard friendly.

    * I know that this can be somewhat achieved by compressing Min/Max range, smoothing and changing Axis travel, but something to allow both keeping high fidelity on track, while allowing to suppress offtrack/collision spikes.

    But all of those are minor things - keep up the great work! :)
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  19. vthinsel

    vthinsel Well-Known Member

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    Hello,

    Great thread to capture ideas, thoughts, whish.
    My dream list would be around UDP plugins I create and which do not require patching as the games I play with are on consoles, making patching irrelevant. I'm also dreaming of a smart game manager that would just listen to all UDP ports opened by the installed plugins and which would trigger the correct plugin auto-magically. This could be easily done by having some footprints, as the UDP packets are generally of a fixed length per game, or provide some version info/header info. Some trigger logic would be required to differentiate games from same editor like Dirt, DiRT2, F1 2018 ,..... but anything is feasible ! Should this kind of feature not be included in next version, an API (REST for example) would be great so anyone could make an automation layer on top of XSim. My ultimate goal is to not have to touch the PC...... just play :)

    My 2 cents
    Vincent
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  20. nikwilliamson

    nikwilliamson New Member Gold Contributor

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    My Motion Simulator:
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    I'm a product/UX designer. If you need some UX help or want to give SimTools a facelift, I'd be more than happy to help. Feel free to DM.
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