I am still undergoing cancer treatment & don't have much time for hobbies, but enjoy them when I can.
I've worked a little bit on the Sopwith Snipe for FSX. I reduced the number of materials on the model to reduce the number of gpu draw calls as per Adrian Wood's blog. I did not notice any increase in performance by doing so, even though I would have reduced the draw call count by about 30+ draw calls. The way I see things, draw call reduction mainly benefits AI objects, lower LODS of aircraft and autogen scenery objects. There is probably little or slight benefit say in a LOD400 model or virtual cockpit model a couple of draw calls here and there will not make much difference to perf. At least that has been my experience so far.
I notice some modelers/designers again agonising over vertix counts if they exceed 64k vertices. The FSX SDK SP1A x2mdl compiler issues a warning if that number is exceeded. However it is a warning only. The model will still compile correctly if the model is otherewise ok. What the warning does mean is that the vertices in excess of 64k will go into a second buffer & that will entail an extra draw call. On a virtual cockpit model that extra drawcall is not going to observably affect performance. Unless a modeler models everything bar the kitchen sink then it's unlikely that anyone will exceed 128k vertices on an interior model. Whether the forthcoming SP2 SDK changes things remains to be seen.
The resulting model is very shiny at the moment. Hopefully the specular maps will tone that down somewhat. I am now painting detail on to the textures of the external model.
Post script Oct 2, 2007 - I can't say too much at the moment, but the real benefits of using this approach will probably be more apparent in FSX:SP2 & FSX:Acceleration.