Hi mbaxter, Major Tom, maytes and others,
As always, when the JSF terrain engine is mentioned, I can't resist joining in. It was and still is an amazing terrain engine, in that it achieves crisp detail down to the inch, in software with relatively low demands on resources (CPU and memory). The main focus of interest here: No blur as we know it from all other modern PC flight sims..
Sorry to say, I suspect you all might be wrong in thinking this engine is being reused (not that it is really necessary for these types of games). From what I can see from the screen-shots available from Innerloop, it seems like they are now using standard textured polygons like the rest of the industry. Check out their sport sim:
You might recognize the particle system, but check out the ground in the foreground. In JSF the ground was crisp even this close to the viewer.
Although the second image included by Johnny (the binocular shot) looks a bit reminiscent of JSF, if you look at the ground it looks very much like standard texturing.
Why convert to standard texturing? All accellerated hardware is based on a standard pipeline pushing textured polygons. To exploit current hardware and APIs (DirectX, OpenGL) you must conform to the technologies offered. That's my theory anyway.
That said, I would really like to see some innovation in this area. It would be nice to see hardware with terrain modelling features, not based on standard memory hungry blurred texturing, but innovative techniques like those exemplified by JSF.
In addition to crisp terrain seemingly based on some fractal algorithm, JSF had an abundance of trees, a particle system (rain and snow!), detailed objects with specular shading, and huge cities. The latter seem to be achieved by using some sort of lazy rendering where far away objects got less priority/accuracy.
Ingenious. Who cares if a building a kilometer away is rotated and positioned to the 0.00001 of an degree/meter? It would be cool to if some sort of lazy rendering and dynamic accuracy was explored further. Today it seems that most sims use a brute-force approach preparing and pushing a huge amount of polygons and textures, still not achieving crisp terrain, nor an acceptable amount of objects (you all know the infamous 'pop up' effect... :-).
These features are most interesting of course in the area of large scale terrain modelling, as needed in flight sims, and quite irrelevant to the type of games that Innerloop seems to be making these days.
PS. For those that don't know what all the fuzz regarding JSF is about, check out the screenshots in the Resurrection of a Gem? thread in the Screenshots forum. maytes also illustrates the incredible dynamic LOD (level of detail) in the engine here.