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Creating Realistic Terrain with WebGL and Babylon.JS for Microsoft Flight Simulator Arcade

The first version of Flight Simulator shipped in 1980 for the Apple II and, amazingly, it was in 3D! That was a remarkable achievement. It’s even more amazing when you consider that all of the 3D was done by hand, the result of meticulous calculations and low-level pixel commands. When Bruce Atwick tackled the early versions of Flight Simulator, not only were there no 3D frameworks, but there were no frameworks at all! Those versions of the game were mostly written in assembly, just a single step away from ones and zeroes that flow through a CPU. When we set out to reimagine Flight Simulator (or Flight Arcade as we call it) for the web and to demonstrate what’s possible in the new Microsoft Edge browser and EdgeHTML rendering engine, we couldn’t help but think about the contrast of creating 3D then and now – old Flight Sim, new Flight Sim, old Internet Explorer, new Microsoft Edge. Modern coding seems almost luxurious as we sculpt 3D worlds in WebGL with great frameworks like Babylon.js. It lets us focus on very high level problems. In this article, we’ll share our approach to one of these fun challenges: a simple way to […]

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