Thank you so much Rodeo, you are awesome! That is incredibly helpful. I really appreciate you taking the time to write that all out, and I do apologize if you've already posted that info in other threads and I didn't find it there first. That answers all of my questions and more!
Ok, I'm pretty sure I figured out the issue, and it does indeed have to do with the masks. But the problem isn't that you *shouldn't* use them. The problem is that unless you're converting a huge area, if you don't use the masks, you might not end up with any level 9 imagery converted, and only a fraction of the level 10s you need as well. This causes you to see the 'popping' scenery because the long-distance images (level 9) simply don't exist.
I may have some details wrong, since I'm guessing at the inner workings of AeroFly, but I'm pretty sure this is the run-down of the whole issue:
- AeroFly has its own world mapping divided up into separate rectangular segments, which are *quite* large at level 9.
- When you run geoconvert, it builds the scenery at each level [9-15] into separate files. If it doesn't have enough image area to fill an entire tile, it won't write anything for it in the output scenery, unless you DO have masking enabled. In other words, you might tell it to geoconvert at levels 9-15, but you only end up with tiles at levels 11-15 because your land area wasn't large enough to fill an entire level 9 or 10 sized tile.
- If you don't have any level 9 tiles as a result of the above, you won't see any scenery texture until you get close enough that it starts using tiles from the higher levels. That's why it doesn't appear until you get close, and why it "pops in."
If you do use masks, you won't have this issue, it will work. This is because if using masks, it will convert partial areas of a level 9 tile, and then create a mask file to 'hide' the rest so the default AeroFly texture shows through.
BUT... it's still not quite so simple, because the masks themselves can create problems if you convert one area with masks, and then add adjacent scenery later again using masks. This is because (for example) if you already had a mask that blocked out the upper half of a level 9 tile which was previously incomplete, and then you add new scenery to the upper half of that tile which is also incomplete with its own corresponding mask, you'll end up with two masks which now block out the whole piece. End result, you again see nothing for level 9 and only get the scenery popping up after you get close enough to see the unmasked higher levels. (This doesn't quite happen this way in reality, because those two masks would have the same file name and it would only load one of them, but you'd still then have an area that was blocked by whichever mask it actually loaded, leaving an untextured band in the middle of your converted area until you got closer).
So what's the fix? I think there are two options:
1) You can choose to never use masks. But, you need to check the output in the scenery folder after your geoconversion, and see if you even have any level 9 tiles at all after conversion. If you don't, you'll need to grab an even larger region of imagery using FSET, and then redo at least the level 9 conversion with the same coordinates using the larger set of imagery. This will be a little bit of a guessing game to find the image area that is large enough to generate all the level 9 tiles you need without using masks. The other consequence of this is that you will have areas at the edges which only have level 9 imagery, without the higher levels, unless you re-do all of you levels every time.
2) You can choose to use masks, which actually seem to work fine in AeroFly as far as I can tell. However, if you do, you will run into issues if you convert adjacent areas at different times. This is because you will now have mask files that will block out portions of the adjacent areas where they meet, and I can't think of any clever way to remedy this. Since the texture for a given tile will always have the same file name, if you converted up to the edge of your old area and again used masks, you'd now have duplicate file names and duplicate masks, and AeroFly will pick one or the other when it loads initially. The end result is you'll have an untextured stripe between your two adjacent converted regions, and you can't get rid of it unless you reconvert those tiles with masks disabled and then delete the mask files.
I'm pretty sure what I've written here is all correct, based on my testing and observations, but if any of the devs with more in-depth knowledge can clarify further please do so!
EDIT: anybody reading this and having the same troubles, see this post by the one and only Rodeo: Scenery Loading Distance
You described my situation exactly. Anything I made before the late November program update does not do this. Stuff made after that update does.
Yeah, it's very strange. Honestly if I wasn't seeing this behavior on my own setup I'd have a hard time believing it The fact that it seems to not happen with scenery created/added before a certain date, even though the tools being used for conversion give the same output now as they did then, is really bizarre. That's why I suggested maybe there is some sort of 'map loading cache data' hanging around somewhere that could explain it, although I've dug around in all the typical folders where this sort of thing might live and haven't found anything outside of the aerofly folder in My Documents. I've tried removing the config files within that folder so it can rebuild them, which had no effect.
I will keep poking around until I find something that can explain what's going on. It seems too strange a coincidence that both you and I have previously-converted scenery that doesn't have this issue, so I will keep focusing my troubleshooting on what's actually different with the older files. I have a couple more ideas to try that might sort it out.
Well, I am now having this issue too. The really weird thing is, I converted an area of scenery back in Sept last year, and I get no loading pop ups with any of that. I just converted some more scenery yesterday, and I am seeing the problematic pop-ups with the new areas. The old area still works perfectly.
I also notice that when viewing the Location map, the texture fill-in of the old (working) area appears more quickly than the new areas. In the map view, the new areas don't appear until I zoom in further, and sometimes they are still unreliable even after zooming.
I converted the newest stuff with the latest SDK. As a test, I then re-converted one of the areas with the old SDK I used last time. Comparing the file hashes of the output files, they are identical, so it appears to be unrelated to the version of the geoconvert tool.
I tried it with both the GeoConvertHelper tool, as well as manual command line conversion. I checked through the .tmc file carefully and everything looks correct. The scenery was converted with levels 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, and 14. I also tried re-doing it and including level 15.
Another thing that seems to be happening is that after I launched AeroFly, and flew into the areas where the new textures should have been, they would appear when I finally got close enough. After I finally got them to 'pop-in', most of them continued to be visible even after flying away from the area. Even more strange, it seems like this persists after exiting the sim and then re-launching. Is there a persistent cache somewhere of map info that is storing the loading information? If so, perhaps this is somehow causing or is related to the issue. This might also explain why my old scenery is still working while the new stuff pops-in...?
BTW, I did find a bug with the GeoConvertHelper in the process of doing all this checking, but it's not causing my problem. When it creates the .tmc file, if you are using the "Advanced TMC File Settings" tab instead of the "Detail Level" tab, it swaps the coordinates for [lonlat_min] and [lonlat_max] in the tmc file. It does not have this issue when you just have the Detail Level tab selected. Since I was using the detail level tab, this issue wasn't present in my tmc file, and just to be sure I also tried re-converting the area manually and double-checking the .tmc file and it didn't help.After more testing I can't get this to happen again. Possibly I had some invalid entry somewhere that was causing it to happen, but as far as I can tell now it seems to be working correctly and I'm unable to reproduce what I saw.
There appears to be a VR issue at night with the dark/black graphics layer for things like lakes and vegetation.
If I'm over Denver at 6:00 UTC heading west and I nod my head up and down slightly (like you do sometimes when listening to music) the lake surface moves up and down while the surrounding area doesn't. It does it too while looking at the mountains - even the cockpit shadows bounce around when I do it. During the day, it doesn't do that.
This may be limited to WMR headsets because the SteamVR drivers are still maturing. I'd be interested to hear if any Rift/Vive owners can re-create the same issue. This issue is probably contributing to my Denver@night blurry comments because any time I move my head, all the black terrain areas are doing this temporary shift.
FYI - I found this short video of Denver at night from the air - https://youtu.be/3LYOtRPdOu0
Ah... That is a problem inherent to the OLED screens used in current gen VR devices. You can see the same issue on some phones and tablets, one example being here:It has to do with a lag associated with very dark OLED pixels switching from black to an illuminated state. The reason you only see it over the lake is (I'm guessing) the lake is nearly black. I can't comment on other VR HMDs because I haven't tested them myself, but in the Rift they do some tricks with pre-driving the pixels to minimize it somewhat. It helps but doesn't take it away completely.
Rob, I'm guessing you're using a monitor versus a VR headset. I just tried Denver at night in VR and it's just too blurry for the resolution of my Samsung Odyssey even with RS = 1.33 . I have the Monterey add-on which looks nice in daylight but I remember trying it at night and had the same issue.
Today, we trade resolution for immersion with VR headsets and it's worth it when the content is well lit, but when most of the pixels are dark it's not. Hopefully the Odyssey2 will have 3200x2880 OLED panels to narrow/eliminate that gap.
Hmmm... I'm curious about this, and wonder if it's something specific to the Odyssey. I fly at night all the time in the Rift and I think in some ways it actually is more immersive than daylight flying. When you say it's blurry, do you mean the appearance of the items like runways are no longer crisp enough to see clearly? Perhaps it's a difference of how near-black levels are treated in the different HMDs?
can someone please tell me how i can fix this
Hmmm... I'm not sure quite what happened here but it looks like your 'outside area' mesh for your runway has gotten messed up--the cutout was made narrower than your actual runway and one of the square surfaces appears to have been deleted. You can fix the hole but it's hard to explain in words and I think would only create confusion. The best option is to use undo until it goes back to normal, but if it's too late for that I can make a video that shows how you can fix a hole like that.
when i copied and paste now 2 decals show up on F8
Yep, that's not a problem though. The easiest thing to do is just add all those decal objects to a group, and name the group "XXXX_decal" where XXXX is the name of your airport. When you're ready to convert the airport, export this group and save it to XXXX_decal.tgi
do you know why i am getting this error msg
converting 3 image files in parallel
1.24: image './runway_decal_01_color.tif': size=2048x2048 c=4 compr=1 flipv=1 mip=1 cf=1 image './asphalt_runway__typeblue__brightness05_color.bmp': size=2048x2048 c=3 compr=1 flipv=1 mip=1 cf=1 ERROR: (image './Area_Lp1_SnapOff_S027222040_S027241372_E153065049_E153082135.bmp' dimensions is not power of two -> 1765 x 2935
1.32: ERROR: (cannot convert image file './Area_Lp1_SnapOff_S027222040_S027241372_E153065049_E153082135.bmp')
9.76: writing scenery tsc file 'C:/Users/clayt/Documents//Aerofly FS 2/scenery/places/ybbn_rwy/ybbn.tsc'
9.77: // ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
9.77: // SUMMARY
9.78: // ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
9.79: input folder 0 = './'
9.79: output folder 0 = 'C:/Users/clayt/Documents//Aerofly FS 2/scenery/places/ybbn_rwy/'
9.80: file types = 'tsc' 'tgi' 'jpg' 'bmp' 'tif' 'png'
9.84: 0 files copied
9.84: 2 textures copied
9.85: 0 sounds converted
9.85: 2 geometries converted
9.86: 2 errors
I'm not 100% sure, but I think your background image has been included in one of the items you exported from AC3D. When you export your model from AC3D, you only want to export (a) your runway and the runway outside area, and (b) your decals. Those should be exported to a file called ybbn_rwy.tgi for the runway/outside area and ybbn_decal.tgi for the decals.
The object that contains the background image in AC3D should not be exported, it's only there as a reference for you to build the runway on top of. The specific reason for the error is that the content converter only supports texture files that are square and max dimensions of 2048x2048, but regardless you want to make sure you're not including the background image object in your export from AC3D.
ok thank you Querty, if it wasn't for the time you took to explain it in such detail i would not have got here, but the runway finally is showing up, decals are missing but that is for another day
thanks again, i will need to record all this so i do not forget the steps !
Nicely done! The decals should be an easy fix. Things to check: (1) Did you export the decals from AC3D to a .tgi file? You have to export them to their own .tgi file just like you export the runway. (2) Do you have an entry in your .tsc file for the decals? It'll be in the Objects section of the .tsc file and will look like this:
<[tmvector3d][position][-113.881706 45.122031 0]>
Instead of "ksmn_decal", that should be the name of your .tgi file for your decals. And the coordinates entered next to [position] should be the same as what you entered for your runway/airport (these are the coordinates of your reference point).
Check those two things when you have time again and let me know if it fixes it or not.
He actually mentions it at 3:49 in his "Background image for airport design using AC3D" tutorial here:
You can just select all of your objects (background, runway, decals, etc) and then rotate everything 90 degrees first. Then, rotate it the other direction 27 clicks (I'm guessing you had it set to 1 degree per click?) and you should have it lined up like my image.
After that, double check and make sure your crosshairs in AC3D are still lined up over your original reference point in the background image. If they aren't, select all of your objects together, and drag them until the crosshair is back on top of your original reference point location on the background image.
Then (assuming you're finished with the model) you should be able to export your runway and decals and then convert them for AeroFly.
I re-read and saw you said you were also stuck on rotation. Again, it seems confusing but it's actually very simple. When you're modeling your airport, rotate the background to any direction that makes it easy to place your mesh and shapes. Then, when you're done with the model and ready to export it, you need to rotate everything so that north on your background image points to the right side (+X axis) in AC3D.
So for the airport you're working on now, before you export it, it should be facing this direction in AC3D (along with all your objects/surfaces/decals etc.):
That looks good so far. Let me explain the reference point thing a little further--I think once you understand its purpose and how it works, it will be easier to deal with.
The "reference point" is just an arbitrary location on your background image. It can really be anywhere you want, but wherever it ends up, you need to enter the lat/long coordinates of that exact spot into your .tsc file.
In other words, the reference point is the latitude/longitude coordinates of wherever the crosshairs in AC3D are shown when you export your airport files. You can even change your reference point to a different location if you want: just drag your objects around in AC3D wherever you like (just make sure to select all and drag them all together), until the crosshairs are on a spot you can easily identify on the background image. Then just open up google maps, find that exact same spot on the satellite view where your AC3D crosshairs are, zoom way in, click it, and copy the coordinates. Those are the coordinates you then need to place in your .tsc file.
In Rodeo's video tutorial he explained a great way to do all of this so you don't actually have to understand exactly what the reference point's meaning really is, and that works well if you're careful not to move your objects away from that original reference point.(EDIT: Actually his video explains exactly what I said here quite clearly, sorry about that! I must have had it confused with something I read in a different tutorial. See 4:20 to 5:30 in his video here.) What I just described above lets you use anything you want as your reference point, you can even move it somewhere else if you'd like. The important thing is just that, wherever the crosshairs end up on the background image in AC3D, you need to make sure the coordinates you enter in your .tsc file correspond to that location.
Even if you're really careful with your rotations when modeling the airport, you might end up with the reference point shifted to a different location after the final rotation to align your airport so that North points to the right. This is because it rotates about the geometric center of the shapes you're rotating. This means that if you add any objects that increase the outer size of your airport/mesh/etc. after the first rotation, when you rotate it back it will rotate around a different point, causing the crosshairs to move away from your original reference point. It's easy to fix though: you can then select all of your objects together and drag them so the crosshairs are back at your original location on the background image, or you can drag them to somewhere new and then use google maps to determine what the coordinates are of that location, as I described above.
I hope that wasn't too confusing. Maybe I'll make a video to describe this too. I think showing examples of this rather than trying to type it out will make it a lot clearer!
Hi Clayton, I got it working for you. There were quite a few things I changed, so I tried to keep a list as I went. I think this is all of them.
Here is the folder you sent me, with the corrected files inside: https://www.dropbox.com/s/iahpsv8p24eqhi9/ybaf_rwy.zip?dl=0
And here are the already-converted files that you can load directly into Aerofly if you want: https://www.dropbox.com/s/1j0cm7qymgmyer8/converted.zip?dl=0
So, to the list of changes:
(1) The reason you had the sunken ground is because the elevation was incorrect in your .tsc file. This is the line that says: <[float64] [height]... I think the value you were using was in units of feet, but it actually needs to be in meters for this file.
(2) The coordinates in your .tsc file did not match the actual reference point in your AC3D model. In the model your reference point was here (I circled it in red to make it clearer, it's the small white crosshairs):
But, the coordinates in your .tsc file actually refer to the spot marked here by the red pin:
There are a lot of ways this can happen: if you accidentally used one of the corner point coordinates from FSET instead of the center point, or if you accidentally moved all of your objects in AC3D (easy to do unintentionally). I've also noticed that if you're rotating objects, AC3D rotates about the geometric center of ALL the items you are rotating -- so, if you rotate some objects, but then add more objects that extend beyond the original bounds of the first rotation, when you rotate it back to where you started it will rotate around a different center point. Because of this, I find it easier to just pick your reference point after you're all done with your airport modeling (you can select all of your groups/objects and then drag them until the crosshairs in AC3D are lined up to the reference point you want to use), then figure out what its coordinates are by clicking that same point in Google Maps, and lastly use those coordinates in your .tsc file.
(3) The airport was also 90 degrees off from the direction it needed to face. This is a bit confusing, but the x-axis in AC3D (which points toward the right of the image) corresponds to North. So when you're all done modeling your airport and you rotate it before exporting, the north direction of your airport needs to point to the right in AC3D.
(4) There were a number of other errors in your .tsc file that would have caused other issues: the entry to convert your decals was missing, there was an extra ">" character that would've caused an error, and I commented out the cultivation entry at the end because I don't think you have any cultivation files (I don't know if it causes an error or not to include it even if it doesn't exist, but I assumed so).
(5) There was a file path error in your .tmc file that prevented it from converting. I think one of the other users that was helping you entered their own file path info, so it was giving an error. I edited the .tmc file so it just looks for the files it needs it the same folder where it already is, which fixed that error.
(6) The groupings in AC3D were incorrect -- the decals were grouped with part of the runway objects, and another piece of the runway was by itself outside of a group. I fixed all the groupings, so just open up the new file I made (ybaf_fixed.ac) and look in the Hierarchy View to see how it needs to be named & grouped. You will have problems when you export and then convert the .tgi files if you don't keep the naming & grouping structure like this.
(7) I swapped out the texture file for the decals to one that works correctly with transparency (still don't know why that error is happening but it seems like AC3D doesn't like alpha channels in .tif files?). Also re-mapped your runway texture so it repeats and keeps the resolution of the texture crisp.
I hope that helps! If you want to further edit the airport (the decals still don't really match the real runway, nor do the numbers), you can open the ybaf_fixed.ac file and start re-arranging things as you'd like. Then just export the groups again as Rodeo shows in his tutorial video, and lastly convert them by right-clicking the content_converter_config.tmc file and telling it to run with the Aerofly FS2 Content Converter.
Here's a screenshot of how it looks right now (I only geoconverted a small area around it):
Clayton, if you can get your files to me somehow (your .ac file and .tsc file especially) I will take a look and see if I can figure out what the issue is.
Thanks qwerty42 - this is great stuff and very much appreciated. I've read it a few times and am trying to follow it now. I'm not sure what you mean by innermost vertices though? So far I've made a large mesh that covers the background image, and cut out a section that just spans my two overlapping runways. By "innermost vertices" do you mean the outside vertices of the inner cut out mesh?
Also am I limited to the resolution of the mesh when it comes to aligning it with the background image?
Yep, you're correct on what I meant by "innermost vertices." If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth at least a thousand pictures, so I made a screencap of the whole process for you. It's not as good as the stuff Rodeo makes and there's no audio, but hopefully it helps:
A few important notes:
-When you're selecting stuff, there's an option on the left side called "Select through." The setting of this is really important when you're selecting things, so pay close attention to what I have it set to in the video. If you don't have it enabled when grabbing all your runway vertices, it might not select all of them if they're packed close together like mine. However, it can also create issues with selecting what you intend to select in the 3D view, as you'll see at the end of my video when I was trying to correct the surface normals...
-When you merge the new runway cutout surfaces with your larger outside mesh, the object you select FIRST will be the name it keeps. So if you already have it named and grouped like I did, make sure to select the keeper first before doing the merge.
-You will need to flip and then unify the surface normals so they all point 'up.' I showed you how to do this at the end of the video also. Note that I made a mistake at the very beginning -- I still had "select through" enabled, and when I intended to select the surface under my mouse cursor, it for some reason selected a surface off-screen and I didn't notice. Because of this, I accidentally flipped the normal on a surface I didn't intend to flip. You'll see me hunting around for it at the end and finally finding it and fixing it.
-When you choose "Unify normals", it will set all connected surfaces so their normals point the same direction as the SINGLE surface you've selected. So if you have several contiguous areas like I did, you'll have to repeat this operation on all of them. If you don't do this, you'll have huge gaping voids in your terrain that cause some really interesting and violent crashes if you touch them at all
There may be a better way to do this--I'm not sure. This certainly isn't that simple and it creates a really ugly mesh if you have used curves and splines to define your runway like I did, but Aerofly doesn't seem to mind about the mesh ugliness because it's only using this to determine where the non-runway terrain ends as far as I can tell. I also tried using the Boolean operations and the knife command after extruding the cutting surfaces, as well as the fill holes command, and none of them could quite make this work without other issues.
Rodeo - Just a teeny request for the bottom of your multi-page "to do" list. Can you do another video tutorial showing a more advanced form of runway mesh cutout? I couldn't find out any more about using the knife or vertex picking. There's a lot of youtube about AC3D but they generally seem to be about creating new objects and not overlaying things onto photo scenery and aligning object/vertices to it.
As well as the criss-cross runway problem I just made a second runway on a different airfield but found that the 45m mesh I created to match the runway width was a poor fit lengthwise, so either I chop off a chunk beyond the runway or I have some background runway markings emerging beyond my created runway.
As I say a request for the list. I'll have some fun now adding objects to my airports.
This was definitely the most difficult thing I encountered with the runway I modeled. I tried the knife and also using Boolean combinations to do the cutting, but never got a result that I was perfectly happy with. Perhaps I was doing something incorrectly, but I always ended up with really tiny gaps between the 'outer area' and the runway which created open slivers when loaded into the game.
I can explain better in a day or two when I have more time, but what I finally got to work was to cut out an area of my 'outside' mesh around the runway. Then, selecting the innermost vertices of this cutout, as well as all of the vertices of my runway, I then went to Vertex > Create 2D Mesh > XZ (Plan). You will end up with a triangular surface mesh that connects the all the vertices, meaning you will need to then do a shift-select to grab all the ones where your runway is and delete them to create the cutout. This was the only relatively easy way I found that gave perfect vertex-to-vertex correspondence so that there were no sliver openings when loaded into Aerofly.
Also note, to make this work well, you need to have clean surfaces for your runway meaning no overlapping surfaces, and portions of surfaces that connect should have their vertices snapped to each other and then merged with the Vertex > Weld command. (It doesn't matter if your decals overlap, just make sure the runway object surfaces do not.) Another thing to be careful of is make sure that all your surface normal point the correct direction -- you can check this by turning on "Normals" in the 2D and 3D menus, and then looking at the different viewports. The pink lines (those are the normals) should come 'up' from your runway, not point below it. If it's hard to see the pink lines, go the the settings menu, to the graphics tab, and then change "Size of display normals" to a higher value, e.g. 10.
Here's a picture of my mesh which may help explain the above. It does get a bit tricky, but I think I have tried just about every possible way of doing this now and this seemed to be best unless your runway geometry is very simple:
I know some of the devs keep an eye on this forum, so I just wanted to say thank you, and what an amazing job you've done with Aerofly. I play in VR on an Oculus Rift, and every time I get into the cockpits of these planes and jets I am just blown away by the visual quality and attention to detail. I don't think a single other VR title I own even comes close in the realism of Aerofly. Whoever is the person(s) making your aircraft models is truly an artist, and having done some of that work myself before I know it takes not just an incredible amount of skill and patience, but also an artistic eye to make things look that good.
Also, the performance is incredibly good for such a visually detailed sim. I can run with all settings on ultra at 90 fps in VR with only a GTX1060 3GB card. That's astonishing, considering I also play IL2 Sturmovik and even with the lowest possible settings it's usually dropping to 45 FPS with framewarping on the Rift.
Lastly, the flight physics are very good, and getting better with each update it seems. For example, I looked up the pilot's training manual for the P38 (published 1945!) and was really surprised by how a lot of things I thought were flaky physics are actually real characteristics of the plane, like the wing's tendency to pitch downward at lower speeds requiring the plane to be lifted off the runway with a lot of elevator during takeoff. All of the approach and landing speeds were dead on as well, and it even starts buffeting with loss of control surface effectiveness near transonic/compressibility speeds in a high speed dive. I can't help but wonder how many other people's complaints about some of the flight physics are actually just real characteristics of the real-life aircraft?
Actually one other point of praise, making your SDK available and working on all the documentation and tutorials for us to use them is really great. I know there's still more to be done there to make it simpler for others, but just using the current offerings I have been able to add highly detailed scenery for my hometown and just this weekend build a detailed airport model as well. I hope the community around this sim continues to grow and I won't be surprised to see it on top of all the rest in the not too distant future!
A couple screenshots of my hometown scenery and airport I added:
Thank you so much for taking the time to put together these tutorials Rodeo. I had a lot of the same issues the others had, but was able to to make a really nice runway and airport layout for my hometown in the rocky mountains of Idaho. I also was able to make my own custom textures and decals after seeing how it was done, and the final result is really quite good.
Did anyone figure out the problem with the decals and the alpha channel not working correctly for the .tif files? I had the exact same problem; AC3D was displaying the texture but not doing anything with the alpha channel. I opened the tif in Photoshop and confirmed the alpha channel was indeed there, and only after I re-saved the texture from Photoshop by discarding layers and checking the 'preserve transparency' box did it actually work in AC3D.
It seems pretty weird that some installations of AC3D would work with the alpha channel in a .tif while others do not... ? Anyway, for anyone having this issue, I can send you the new file I saved that should work so your number decals appear correctly if you'd like.
A few screenshots: