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Laminar Research : X-Plane 11 Release notes

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X-Plane-11_Head.jpg

 

Laminar Research : X-Plane 11 Release notes

 

For Laminar Research to announce that a "Big Announcement" that was coming in October at the RAF Cosford Simulation Show (8th October) and that Austin Meyer and Ben Supnic where going to be there at the show, and even the Stanley Kubrick inspired promos are now coming off YouTube at a rate of click.

So it wasn't really a hard to guess that this was for the announcement for the release of X-Plane11, as the timeline easily pointed towards "Thanksgiving" as this was always the usual standard Laminar Research major release point period anyway. The 13th June FlightSimCon previews were correct as well along with my forecast that yes indeed X-Plane 11 will be released this year, for as noted at the time the shown exhibits at FlightSim 2016 were just too well defined to be still in early development.

 

But with the release at Cosford you did get more information, and a little more detail in that you can now define on what X-Plane 11 is going to be.

 

First to note is that X-Plane 11 is available now if you wish to purchase the online key, you DON"T actually get X-Plane11 of course but you do get the download as soon as it is available (Thanksgiving in the US) and the key works for X-Plane10 and 11 as so you don't have to have different keys for the different versions.

 

There will be for the first time two different packages to buy and are aimed at different audiences, the current price is US$59.99

 

Download

1. The first download is the electronic version, but to use this download does mean you must already have X-Plane10 installed with the "Global Scenery" that comes on those eight DVD disks. This version is intended for current X-Plane users and the upgrade to X-Plane11 will be just like a standard X-Plane installer update. Which is very good news as you will have X-Plane11 installed very quickly and not wait around for the eight disk DVD package to arrive, and as I am in Australia in that last time it took six weeks for the package to arrive. 

-There is the option to download the "Global Scenery" or as it is noted as "Regional Scenery" but it is a very hefty download (see below) -

Steam: Steam will be probably be downloaded the same way. But in most cases the first X-Plane release is usually a beta version (or prerelease) so the new version may not be available to Steam straight away as per the beta program rules.

 

Boxed Package

2. The second version is the standard Boxed version with the nine DVD disks. This version is aimed at new users to X-Plane and the set requires the user to download and insert the full or selected areas that makes up the "Global Scenery" folder.

 

Obviously with the "Download" that means there is no update to the basic X-Plane scenery tiles or an inclusion of the HD version. But it is my guessing is that these will continue and you will still have the option (depending on your computer power) to use the HD scenery or not. This area is still a bit of an Laminar dilemma in that on how to download these huge Gb files over the web (overall nearly 100 gb of scenery is now available). But faster broadband speeds may help there, but for X-Plane11 that global scenery area really stays the same as X-Plane10.

 

Coming X-Plane 11 Features

 

  • New User Interface
  • Multi-Monitor & MultiPlayer
  • New Aircraft
  • GPS and FMS (Flight Management System) enhancements
  • New Flight Model
  • New Autogen (model)
  • Dynamic Airports
  • Lighting & Fog
  • FMOD Sound
  • Particle Effects
  • New Weapons System

 

Set within those headline features are other great new ideas and enhancements that will greatly enhance the simulator, we will highlight them as we cover the main items in depth.

It must be noted that the above is just the current listed features, not the complete list of what X-Plane 11 will become. A new version of the simulator is not what you only see but what is also buried in the code or hidden structure to support new features not yet perfected or ready for use. One area that highlights this will be covered in Lighting and Fog below. So don't despair if you think some important items have not been addressed in this first release period.

 

Note: Laminar Research is keeping the release very much in house for this early beta, so the images here are a collection of poor You Tube grabs and the few released images. When X-PlaneReviews gets better sharper images I will replace them or add in more information as it comes to hand, so check back in again regularly as they become available.

 

New User Interface

Everything you are currently used to when starting up X-Plane will be gone in X-Plane11. One of the biggest complaints of X-Plane is its very complicated and to be honest very dated drop down menu interface. It works of course and no doubt about that, but still very old-fashioned.

 

Now on startup you will the new designed startup screen...

 

X-Plane 11 Startup 1.jpg

 

....   you will soon get four options on restarting X-Plane.

 

  • Resume Last Flight 
  • Start New Flight
  • Load Saved Flight
  • Flightschool

 

I personally love the "Resume Last Flight" selection in that the one thing that really annoys me is resetting up my last point in the simulator, another great help here is in the menu selection of airport start points as we will see. But to get back to the point where you left off in the last flight is a total pain in either positioning in the local map or taxiing to the required position from the runway. I was never really happy with the "save situation" as it always left the aircraft missing something or not loaded correctly and it was worse with plugin 3rd party aircraft.

"Load Saved Flight" could be the replay mode? or a replacement for the "save situation" in a new updated form. 

Flightschool will be now built in for novices and for the rest of use to hone our skills, but a nice addition.

 

Another but excellent item is the "Exit X-Plane" button on the bottom of the panel. How many times have you started X-Plane by mistake or wanted out early, and then you would have to wait while it took ages to all load up everything, just so you could go and "quit!" well no more.

 

Flight Configuration Screen

The old "Quickflight" Screen is gone, and has been replaced by the "Flight Configuration Screen". This new screen is more than just a start up panel to set up the aircraft, airport and weather details...  It is now your complete new startup menu system.

 

X-Plane 11 Menu 2.jpg

 

This a very clever panel to use. On the surface it still has only the basic components of the selection of the aircraft, airport and weather with the added panel for the time of day settings. Simple to use and to look at...  and still fast to set up.

 

But the setup panel goes on far more than just picking out the basics. Unlike before you can now also fine tune each selection to your complete specifications... we will start with Aircraft.

 

Aircraft

Selection of aircraft is not just selecting the aircraft from your aircraft folder anymore. You now have in X-Plane11 a wide variety of search options in a set banner menu that consists of:

 

All Classes - All Engine Types - All Manufacturers - All Studios

 

This breaks down the selections into easier groups under the set folders in the X-Plane Aircraft folder, but more than that you can also select the engine number (1, 2,3 or 4), aircraft manufacturer or X-Plane developer (3rd party). Still lost to find what you want, then use the new search box.

 

X-Plane-11_Startup Classes.jpgX-Plane-11_Startup Classes 4.jpg

X-Plane-11_Startup Classes 2.jpgX-Plane-11_Startup Search.jpg

 

The trick buttons here in X-Plane11 are the "Advanced" buttons on each selection. These buttons now allow you to drill down and do more fine tuning on how or which way you wish to set that item up, in either the areas of Aircraft, Airport, Weather or Time of Day.

 

In selecting "Advanced" on your selected aircraft you get more details on the aircraft, including the star (green arrow) for making the aircraft a "Favorite" selection and then that selection listed in the your "Favorites" list.

 

X-Plane-11_Startup Advanced.jpgX-Plane-11_Startup menus and fav.jpg

 

Lower left of the panel are two buttons that relate to setting up the aircraft in "Weight, Balance & Fuel" and "Failures". Notice also the checkbox for Hot or cold engine start (or engines running).

 

There is also a tab here to allow you to scroll (quickly) visually through all your liveries that are included with this aircraft and then select the version you want.

 

Selecting either the "Weight, Balance & Fuel" and "Failures" buttons brings up setting panels for both areas.

 

X-Plane-11_Startup WB&F.jpgX-Plane-11_Startup Failures.jpg

 

The "Weight, Balance & Fuel" panel is brilliant to use and the aircraft adjustable weight dial is easy and very clever to use and at any time you can reset to the default values.

 

In "Failures" you can drill down from system (and aircraft) area failures to specific items and the times or frequency of those failures. The usual "set global mean time between failures" and to be able turn off the failures altogether is still in there.

 

Location

There is an excellent feature in that you don't have to go and backtrack to a main menu to select another different area in the setup menu that you need to access.

If you just want to do the basics like select an airport then just do that, or if you select the "Advanced" button of that area then you go straight to that area...  this is quick and highly efficient navigation, and it allows you to what you want and do it very simply, but also the very indepth setups are just as easy to access across all the different areas you need to change...

 

X-Plane-11_Startup switch.jpg

 

Airports are easier to search with more information on their type and use. There are two selections in start points in "Ramp" or "Runway".
But the biggest feature is the easier finding that correct runway or gate start position.

 

X-Plane-11_Startup location.jpg

 

Before it was a time consuming guessing game to get that runway or gate start that you wanted, certainly if you were looking for a say a cargo stand. But now all the gates and runway positions are all marked and the airport location map will scale to help you find the correct position.

 

X-Plane-11_Startup location 1.jpgX-Plane-11_Startup location 2.jpg

 

How easy can this be...

 

A lower left button (green arrow) notes "Special Starts", a favorites list or my guess it is the  "Aircraft & Situations" situations starts.

 

Weather and Time of Day

Instead of the eight weather selection panels (Clear, few, scattered, broken, overcast, low-Vis, foggy and stormy) you now have a sliding scale of all the weather options available and what the weather looks like.

 

X-Plane-11_Startup Weather 1.jpgX-Plane-11_Startup Weather 2.jpg

 

Same goes for the "Time of Day" panel with the same time scale and graphic options. No views of the "Time of Day" Advanced button has yet been revealed, but the "track real date and time is in there".

 

Under the Weather "Advanced" button the old complex weather panel is gone...

 

X-Plane-11_Startup Weather 3.jpgX-Plane-11_Startup Weather 4.jpg

 

The Weather setup is now more visual (that means easier) than the guess work layout of before. Both "Cloud" and "Wind" layers are added in and set separately but shown together in an altitude format, very easy but they can also be setup in a very comprehensive way. Dragging of the different altitudes that you want with the selected "Cloud" and "Wind" settings that you want to cover is again visual and you can just drag to set which is easy and clever.

 

X-Plane-11_Startup Weather 5.jpgX-Plane-11_Startup Weather 6.jpg

 

The weather "properties" are also now displayed of each layer and the information is certainly very handy if you have auto imported the real world METAR's or high winds (Winds-Aloft) data.

 

Checkbox for real time data downloads is bottom left.

 

X-Plane load Screen

This is the new X-Plane load screen. The standard moving load bar (now in blue) is still along the bottom, but at least now we have something more interesting to look at while we wait.

 

X-Plane-11_Load screen.jpg

 

Menu panel

Where as really before in X-Plane10 there was one banner menu for all X-Plane setup and computer settings. In X-Plane11 the settings have now been split into more different areas.

 

- The first was the above "Flight Configuration Screen" that covered all the areas of setting up the Aircraft, Airport, Weather or Time of Day.

- The second is the computer screen settings panel, and these panels access is by a new popup banner.

 

Instead of the earlier single row of dropdown menus aligned to the left the menu has been split with the few remaining text menus still on the left, but a new set of six icons now sitting on the right.

 

The noted left text banner Menu items here are:

 

File - Flight - View - Developers - Plugins

 

X-Plane-11_menu banner UD 1.jpgX-Plane-11_menu banner UD.jpg

 

The right set of icons have to this point not been totally defined, but the "Flight Configuration Screen" set out above is the first icon and the "settings" menu below is the fifth icon.

 

X-Plane-11_menu banner Icons.jpg

 

The settings menu consists of:

 

General - Sound - Graphics - Network - Data Output - Joystick - Keyboard

 

In effect you should easily recognise all these menu items as the same as in the current X-Plane10 layout...  only one title is changed and that is the "Graphics" in that the current panel is called "Rendering Settings". No images of the new "Graphics" panel are yet available, but my guess it has been totally redesigned for a more ease of use and less confusion on how to set out your render settings and what each item does. It will be interesting to see the final layout as this panel is usually the most used of all the X-Plane menu items.

 

X-Plane-11_menu panel.jpg

 

The above "General" settings is a guide of what to expect with a more clearer layout and sliders replacing numbers in many areas.

The "General" panel covers five areas in:

 

Language - Warnings - Flight Model - Data - Damage

 

These two panels show the changes for "Data Output" and "Network" settings. There are all completely redesigned but the as with everything here the actual items and the selections are the same as with X-Plane10, so you should very easily change over to the new format.

 

X-Plane-11_menu panel data.jpgX-Plane-11_menu network.jpg

 

The "Joystick" panel looks excellent with the connected controllers shown in the display and all the buttons and sliders are noted for X-Plane connection. Again the process to connect up the buttons to the X-Plane command is the same but with just a different format.

 

X-Plane-11_menu Joystick.jpgX-Plane-11_menu Joystick 2.jpg

 

Multi-Monitor and MultiPlayer

Laminar Research have noted they have made or are going to make significant changes for "Multi-Monitor" and external device support for home-based systems and more importantly for the Instructor/Trainee markets.

 

In X-Plane11 there is now more window support for Multi-Monitor users.

 

If you use any pop-out windows (or panels) then they can also be moved to a new window or to a second monitor. All windows also can be resized and scaled to fit your monitor size, and so they can be as small or large as you need them and you can compress or expand their panels as you like.

 

X-Plane-11_GPS 1.jpg

X-Plane-11_GPS 2.jpgX-Plane-11_GPS 3.jpg

 

A new tool is that you can also put world visuals on any monitor which I guess would be like a moving map. It will be interesting how 3rd party developers will use this idea and the tool... so watch that space.

 

And for more versatility the Instructors operators station will in X-Plane11 be able to be put on any secondary monitor.

 

For online "MultiPlayers" which is a now important area for simulators, Laminar Research have changed the panel design to reflect the set up X-Plane for on line gaming. There has always been a lot of noise and complaints about this area of X-Plane from online users, but Laminar Research as said that they are going to make this area one of the best, but don't expect miracles straight away, but for Laminar's perspective they do need to get it right, because this area is one of the big growth areas (meaning sales) for the simulator.

 

New Aircraft

One of the biggest surprises that came out of the 8th October announcement was the exciting new aircraft that will be included with X-Plane11.

 

Four are expected and they are:

 

  • Boeing 737NG
  • Cessna Citation X
  • Sikorsky S-76 (helicopter)
  • Mcdonnell Douglas MD-82

 

X-Plane-11_Aircraft 737NG New.jpgxplane-11 Cessna Citation.jpg

X-Plane-11_Aircraft MD-82.jpgX-Plane-11_Aircraft S-72.jpg

 

Boeing737NG: The inclusion of a Boeing 737NG as a default aircraft in X-Plane11 is a surprise, but should it be? It has been floating around for awhile and if you take a look at the promo logo for X-Plane10...  that is a Boeing 737NG. So is it late or did it just take far longer to create than expected. But with a default version now available that can't be a bad thing.

 

A night shot of the B737NG cockpit says a thousand words, but "Wow" has to be at the very top of the list. I wouldn't expect a lot of system depth, the basics should be all in there though and note that excellent FMS is installed (more on that below).

 

X-Plane-11_Aircraft 737NG Cockpit.jpg

 

Cessna Citation X: Another aircraft that disappeared completely early in its conception stage has reappeared as an excellent looking Biz jet.

 

Sikorsky S-76: Good helicopters have been thin on the ground for a few years, but this excellent looking S-76 could really shake you out of your fixed-wings and back into the world of vertical flight.

 

Mcdonnell Douglas MD-82: Laminar Research noted that this MD-82 has been around for a few years. My guess it is the completed X-Plane Freeware Project version that never made it out of beta in X-Plane9, gone then but not forgotten, the T-Jet is back!

 

Another huge X-Plane favorite has also (finally) had a big makeover and that aircraft is the default Boeing 747-400

 

X-Plane-11_Aircraft B747.jpg

 

So well long in tooth is the default B744 is that I actually dropped it from my flying roster (see Behind the Screen : August 2016). But the gods have heard my pleas and the Queen is back. The images briefly show a complete redesign in the cockpit, that is a great start....  and all those heavy textures seem to have been banished!

 

GPS and FMS (Flight Management System) enhancements

 

The really exciting prospect of those two new and updated heavies (B737NG/MD-82/B744) is that X-Plane10 will deliver not only the aircraft, but they will be (hopefully all of them) for the first time have a default X-Plane FMS (Flight Management System)

 

X-Plane-11_FMS 1.jpgX-Plane-11_FMS 2.jpg

X-Plane-11_FMS 3.jpgX-Plane-11_FMS 4.jpg

 

The new FMS is definitely installed in the MD-82, as the aircraft is shown in the above images and so it is in the B737NG, but what of the others? Why would or should you get excited about this FMS?

 

Well this is a Philipp Münzel designed FMS and think... FlightFactor...  Boeing 777,757, 767...  getting the vibe?  Philipp Münzel FMS's are the best in X-Plane, elegant, with a lot of system depth, and hopefully now available in all three of these great new aircraft in X-Plane11.

 

An added bonus with this default FMS is that like the default Garmin GNS430/530 GPS, you might not know where it may end up in other 3rd party aircraft.

 

X-Plane-11_GNS 1.jpgX-Plane-11_GNS 2.jpgX-Plane-11_GNS 3.jpgX-Plane-11_GNS 4.jpg

 

As the new FMS shares the same data as the Garmin GNS430/530 GPS. So the flow and depth of data that is required for the FMS has gone the other way into the current GPS pair as well..

 

Now the Garmin's have runway selections, SID and STAR departure and arrival procedures, vector to final, air-routes and better flightplan visual layouts. In other words it is now a powerful bit of kit. And if Philipp has been through the code it should be smoother and more efficient as well in operation.

 

So in one swipe all the FMS/GPS systems in the X-Plane aircraft have been brought right up to date and are all quality units.

 

Laminar Research have also noted that ALL the default aircraft will be of the same quality and detailing, and you had a taste of that quality with the release of both the updated Beechcraft Baron 58 and King Air C90B in 10.50.

 

New Flight Model

Austin Meyer said that X-Plane11 will have new and better flight model. Mostly concentrating on his own Lancair Evolution he explained the forces and running of his PT-6a-42 engine in that what you get in pure performance doesn't happen so much in real life aviation and he wants to simulate that...  Interesting stuff, we will see where that goes and more in depth when it moves on more from the theory to the X-Plane desktop...  but it is an interesting future and could bring X-Plane higher to an even more realism benchmark.

 

New Autogen (model)

X-Plane10 was mostly specific in getting the visual aspect of the simulator more realistic. To a point it was pretty successful in the idea of a plausible world and not so much of a complete replica of the real world. Efficiency of objects is the key and the other direction in to creating perfect replica buildings is just going to grind your computer down to a crawl as you see with OSM 3d scenery. In reality once you are up in the air, most of the scenery around you does look the same, only the different shapes and sizes make the differences. This is the idea behind the plausible world look.

 

Throughout the X-Plane10 run the plausible world idea was more refined than expanded. Then as now you still only have one set of autogen for the suburbs known as SoCal or South Californian or USA. The code for other different regions to expand out the autogen was put in place a few X-Plane10 versions back, but still not utilised. Up to this point Laminar Research has only used one Swiss artist to keep the quality and the tight restrictions required for efficient autogen.

 

But really after the full run of X-Plane10 and only SoCal and a more of a focus on the urban infrastructure in tall buildings, factories and warehouses X-Plane is still covered with actually almost the same SoCal autogen in the suburbs from Dubai in the Middle-East to Stockholm in Sweden.

 

That will all change in X-Plane11. The art assets are being opened up to 3rd party artists to contribute to the regional autogen...  and thank god on high for that.

The autogen restrictions are still very severe as they need to be for the efficiency that is required, but otherwise there is no doubt that with the many hands already shooting up this area that the look and feel of the autogen will change quite significantly and quickly.

 

Laminar Research has shown the first area to be included and it is Germany, and in X-Plane11 you will have besides SoCal also Germanic housing. Another addition to the autogen model is the inclusion of terraced or long buildings. These are created by putting together many of the current singular buildings and then joining them up together as a row (below right).

 

X-Plane-11_Autogen 1.jpgX-Plane-11_Autogen 2.jpg

X-Plane-11_Autogen 3.jpgX-Plane-11_Autogen 4.jpg

 

The autogen transformation will be quick, and more plausible in the fact that soon your arrival into Dubai finally won't have American housing on your approach path!

 

Dynamic Airports

Another of the big original complaints about X-Plane was that it did not have the huge database of airports to fly into. It did have the airports per se, but only the airport data in the location of the runways and a windsock!  But no actual 3d buildings.

 

That changed in X-Plane10 as Laminar Research created a database to collect 3rd party airports built using the WED tool to fill in that credibility gap and if you load X-Plane now then these "Global Airports" are automatically sited there for your use. To a point more time and hours in creating the tools and infrastructure to support this specific area of X-Plane (called Lego) during the X-Plane10 run in reality overrode most other areas of development, but the results have been very good. The numbers are impressive in 7,092 global sceneries have been created and 5,191 of them have been created with 3d objects by 1,862 scenery artists. But this only puts the scenery into the simulator, now Laminar want to go to the next step in creating...  Dynamic Airports!

 

Dynamic Airports as a feature has already started with the 10.50 update with the inclusion of better static (A.I.) aircraft positioning at airport gates to work with the better ATC (Air Traffic Control). Now Laminar Research is adding in another step in filling out the areas around the aircraft with service vehicles or "Live Ground Traffic".

 

X-Plane-11_Dynamic 2.jpgX-Plane-11_Dynamic 1.jpg

 

I use the JARDesign "Ground Handling Deluxe" plugin for service vehicles a lot, It works and looks great. But around you there is nothing happening to all the other aircraft and when you taxi in or out of the terminal areas and unless it has vehicle "Traffic" running, there is nothing going on.

 

This new feature will provide more movement but also fill in all those blank areas with service vehicle traffic. This sounds great in theory and with one aircraft but then multiply that with say Atlanta (KATL) or another mega-hub and it will be interesting to see it all works, but it is very exciting as well if it does...

 

The feature is also available for 3rd party (i.e. payware) developers and that is where you are going to see the biggest changes, as the feature will be perfectly intergrated in with the airport scenery.

 

There will be a new WED (WorldEDitor) version released the same time as X-Plane11 with the new tools built in for creating these "Dynamic" features.

 

Lighting & Fog

One of the fanfare features of X-Plane10 was HDR or High-dynamic-Range rendering which created great lighting effects and lighting shades. Laminar Research were justifiably proud of their HDR feature and it was a big bonus for the simulator.

 

As good as HDR is it doesn't cover all the aspects of reflection and lighting. Mostly in reflection. As we see the world our eyes are very good at picking up the variations in light reflected objects in say dull flat items to bright shiny reflective surfaces.

 

So a new lighting feature come in X-Plane11 is "Physically Based Rendering" or "PBR"  The idea is that any surface can have different reflection properties, like a brick's surface (or texture) is not shiny or even that reflective. It can however in certain lighting conditions look shiny and reflect light, so a runway that can close up look rough and have a flat matt surface reflection, at a distance though the runway can also then look actually like a reflective surface and like water. And this is the idea behind Physically Based Rendering and the way that light follows the rules of Physics.

 

From a computing position anything can be done, but it is at the cost in the processing or computing power. So in most cases visual tricks are used to compensate for the different surfaces. It works like this...

 

Instead of using current lighting techniques like using multiple diffuse textures and specular maps for each part of every object in the simulator to represent the various different conditions, you can just create one texture for each part then artificially define properties like the refractive index   to help parameterize a physics model that controls how light and shadow work when rendering frames of the simulator's view that contains that object.

 

Bonuses of PBR in X-Plane11 will include that everything (surfaces) will now be reflective and the reflections can vary with the viewing angle with a very efficient process without using huge amounts of processing power....  it is called a "Win Win"

 

reflective 1.jpgreflective 2.jpg

reflective 4.jpgreflective 3.jpg

 

So our current dull objects or aircraft will become more dynamic and shiny. Glass will look more natural and surfaces from any angle will be reflective. In the early days the PBR effects won't cover the scenery modeling as it is far more complex, but Laminar say's that it will come in some form in the future and not interfere with current scenery textures.

 

Also coming to X-Plane11 is Screen Space Ambient Occlusion (SSAO). An algorithm is implemented as a pixel shader, which analyzes the scene depth buffer which is stored in a texture. For every pixel on the screen, the pixel shader samples the depth values around the current pixel and tries to compute the amount of occlusion from each of the sampled points. In its simplest implementation, the occlusion factor depends only on the depth difference between sampled point and current point. Ambient occlusion is a shading and rendering technique used to calculate how exposed each point in a scene is to ambient lighting. The interior of a tube is typically more occluded (and hence darker) than the exposed outer surfaces.

 

The trick of SSAO is to make the complex calculations only on the computers GPU in realtime (and not using computers CPU) which makes it very efficient to create ambient lighting and to make the simulator scenes more lifelike.

 

Fog

X-Plane11 comes with a new particle effects engine and it has been completely rewritten for efficiency and better effects. One of the early side effects from that new engine is the new fog shader.

 

Fog in X-Plane now is quite a strange animal in that what you get really is all or nothing. The worse effect is as you come into land and the fog just lifts and you get the full airport in a new light, very dramatic but not very realistic.

 

The new fog now has exponential decay or it becomes more and more thicker at a more rapid rate. Better radial distance and linear calculations create a smooth flow from one fog distance and thickness to another...  in other words perfect fog.

 

Fog 1.jpgFog 2.jpg

Fog 3.jpgFog 4.jpg

 

This effect will also create a much more effective horizon or that haze that takes out the detail of buildings at a distance, the effect all round is more realism.

 

It is also important to note that in the process of installing new features and code. Is that with a major simulator version change not everything is laid out for use on the initial release. The fog feature is one coming, but many has expressed the views that more or better weather effects should have taken priority. As they say you can't build a house without a foundation, and that is what Laminar are doing here in laying down a foundation for better weather effects that are coming in the X-Plane11 run. When is anyone's guess, but Ben Supnic noted that only when the effects are good enough will they be included as they are still in the early stages of development, but they are coming.

 

FMOD Sound

FMOD is a sound effects engine developed by Firelight Technologies and the FMOD format is coming to X-Plane11 to create far better and more 3d like surround sounds for all Win/Mac/linux platforms.

 

The new sounds will intergrate directly with the X-Plane Flight model, physics and command system. To a point X-Plane's current sound engine is very basic, just a collection of wav sound files were as most developers are now currently using plugins to create separate sound engines to compensate for the current lack of flexibility. This sound engine will bring the sound back into the simulator.

 

Since the FlightSim 2016 notes then no new information about sounds were revealed at the 8th October announcement. But back then Laminar Research did note that they were creating a new tools to create better sounds for their inclusion in the simulator and it will be open to all developers.

 

Sound.jpg

 

New Weapons System

Laminar Research did release a load of new features for weapons use in X-Plane 10.50, these included:

 

  • Weapon selection is now better with flashing selected armaments. You can now also steer or aim in a direction a gun, even with a second joystick can be added in to do the delivery job.
  • Unguided bombs and rocket numbers have been added with up to 24 bombs and 99.999 rockets!  that is if you can carry that heavy load.
  • Air to ground bombs and missiles can now be laser or GPS guided to their targets. Either by a gun/bomb steering with a joystick axis or by locking in on a target and then firing letting the bombs or missiles go to their assigned target, and all can be set via your on-board aircraft situation display monitor.
  • In the upgraded weapons package is another feature that could be used also by other aircraft developers. This is a new on board aircraft "Camera" feature that can be steered (again by a second joystick) and zoomed with my guess a joystick top-hat, key or similar adjustment.

 

If that is the package or more is coming to X-Plane11 then Laminar didn't expand anymore on that area at the 8th October announcement, so we will have to see what is actually in there when X-Plane11 is released.

 

Summary

the new X-Plane in version 11 is more a very technical upgrade than X-Plane10 which was more focused on the visual. So at first glance the simulator will not have as much in your face features except for the complete overhaul of the interface and menu system.

 

But dig deep and there is a lot going to be inserted in there and a lot in the way of efficiencies in not only in the way the simulator runs, but also in the way it looks and sounds.

 

But don't expect all the gongs and features on release. It will take a year or so before everything is fully settled down and all the features are well intergrated. And also keep in mind on that count that the basic building blocks are actually going in now, but they won't show their features for a while into the future. In reality it is a good approach by Laminar Research in to put in first a lot of basic components or code and get that working perfectly until then later adding in more features and ideas on top. This is the opposite of the approach to X-Plane10 were as Laminar put everything in at the start and then spent a lot of time just fixing it all up.

 

Looking closely at the new interface, you can see a radically different way you will interact with X-Plane. It is in the smooth transition for all areas in selecting Aircraft, Scenery, Weather and Time of Day and still have a simple or the deep depth of settings very easily at hand. The interface is powerful and clever and a lot of time and thought has gone into its conception, it looks very smooth in operation as well and will be a big drawcard for new users into flight simulation. For current users you will easily recognise all your current menu items and settings for use, the only difference is the way they are now accessed and used.

 

Value...  Many will question value and the cost of upgrading to X-Plane11. Just first note that with X-Plane10 you got far much more than Laminar Research advertised when it was released so yes in the end you did end up with great value for your investment.

 

So if Laminar Research do deliver the new features promised here then it is already good value, more so if the promised new efficiencies are part of the deal then that is a better deal as well. The biggest bonus than like X-Plane10 is that many of you shouldn't need to currently upgrade to run X-Plane11 as in reality there is nothing in there that could be a processor buster. If you have an already weak machine with X-Plane10 then don't expect the new one help you out either, you will still need power to run it. but that generational leap in power is not required here.

 

For sheer value on top of the new simulator is the collection of new aircraft. The B737NG, MD-82, Cessna Citation X, S-72 and a totally revamped Boeing 747-400 are all worth the admission price alone, yes they won't have the depth of systems or features of say a flightfactor aircraft, but they will have its FMS! and that is going to be a brilliant deal for everyone.

 

The above notes are in context of yet not actually running X-Plane11 or even sighting it as it is not yet actually running as a beta, so areas and maybe even items will change on the release of the new version. To that effect we will update this review to compensate for those changes.

 

Also remember that it is good chance the first release will be a beta version (as Laminar did with X-Plane10) so if you want a solid version then I would wait until the release goes final (it only took a few weeks last time).

 

The one thing about X-Plane is the constant change, another new era is coming for our simulator and it is another exciting step towards what Austin Meyer's vocally proclaims "The best simulator ever!" Funny thing is with X-Plane11 he may be finally getting there.

 

____________________________________________________________

 

Stephen Dutton
Updated 17th October 2016
Copyright©2016: X-PlaneReviews
 

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45 minutes ago, Guest Mike said:

It seems that a Cessna Citation X will be included in XP 11 as well. Aerosoft's pre-order page has one image of it  here (http://en.shop.aerosoft.com/eshop.php?action=article_detail&s_supplier_aid=13900&s_design=DEFAULT&shopfilter_category=Flight Simulation&s_language=english)

 

Thanks, yes I thought the C172 was not a completely new aircraft...  SD

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If we stay on the new aircrafts topic, I was surprised to see they'll ship a 737NG and a MD82.

 

Do you think that LR bought the EADT 737NG ? Same question about the Rotate MD-80, modified into a MD82 ?

 

About the Cessna Citation X, the XPv10 showed a 737 without one in the defaults, so I guess that the Citation X could be shipped in the v12...

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No this is not the EADT aircraft, as it is very different in the cockpit, but I would really love this new FMS in the EADT x737, no it is not the Rotate MD88 either but the older X-Plane Freeware Project version, and no the Citation X  is coming with XP11 not XP12 :D. SD

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There is no mention about the system requirement for Mac. Will X-Plane 11 run with Snow Leopard ?

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Snow Leopard is getting really, really old now, but should do if it works with X-Plane10 and the computer is still powerful...  SD

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With 10+ years using X-Plane, I have several hundred aircraft installed with a good folder hierarchy that I've gotten used to and gets me to desired aircraft quickly. 

Aircraft Folder.jpg

 

How easy will it be for me to find any chosen aircraft with the aircraft selection of this new user interface?

Will XP11 interpret my folder hierarchy and recognize my sub-folders?

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A really good question as I have the same sort of layout. Personally I think the underlying folder layout structure is still the same, so your folders should come up the same as in X-Plane10. I think you may also have the option of selecting folders and order them as you use them in like a favorite list which will help you. It does look more flexible than the current aircraft folder...  SD

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Thanks for the quick response, Stephen.  Fingers crossed you're right about the folder recognition.  And that it'll run on Snow Leopard... :D

 

Regarding the online key, I assume this is a code authorization of my install of both XP10 and 11, so that master discs are never needed? 

If I had XP11 installed on a second computer, would I have to purchase a master DVD, or the entire boxed package, to authorize that second computer out of demo mode?

Sorry, but this is kinda new to me since I've never used a key in X-Plane - been able to run full versions just using a disc image of the master DVD.

 

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I don't know either as with you I am old school from XP9 I use the USB dongle and not the key. I think if I am not right you can run more than one computer off the one key, only two though and not anymore.  SD

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Hey Gang!

 

I haven't seen anything mentioned around the AI Traffic engine nor the ATC engine in XP11, which happen to be two of the most important areas XPlane has suffered from since inception.  I wonder if any improvements are being made in these two fronts.

 

Dennis

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I don't see any features in X-Plane11 for ATC and very much doubt they will either as they did have an upgrade in those areas in XP10.50...  SD

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Thanks for this review. There's an error though: I've verified that the MD82 is not the one from XPFW, it's the one started by Sergio Santagada which should have seen the light with XP 6 many years ago, but never did. It has been completed and updated to todays standards by http://www.dmax3d.com

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If I already have the North American version of X-Plane 10 (boxed) do I need to buy the digital copy of X-plane 10 along with the all the regions offered with the free X-plane 11? Do I need to install all the regions to eventually be able to update to X-plane 11?

 

I only fly North America so I was just curious if having all regions installed is in fact a requirement.

 

Also, what is the current word on expected compatibility with existing X-plane 10 Payware aircraft?

 

Thanks

 

Stephen

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16 hours ago, wehrlipub said:

With 10+ years using X-Plane, I have several hundred aircraft installed with a good folder hierarchy that I've gotten used to and gets me to desired aircraft quickly. 

Aircraft Folder.jpg

 

How easy will it be for me to find any chosen aircraft with the aircraft selection of this new user interface?

Will XP11 interpret my folder hierarchy and recognize my sub-folders?

 

Geez. 

My creativity lets me add a Aircrafts.mine/ folder *besides* Aircrafts... with a shorter but quite similar hierarchy.

The only one exception is coming from the PMDG DC-6, installed into Aircrafts/ by the installer.

 

Fingers crossed too. :-)

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I wonder what the latest planemaker.exe is going to be like? They have been stripping features from it for years that make things more difficult for builders. Will this be still more stripped down?

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On 10/17/2016 at 0:59 AM, Guest milan said:

There is no mention about the system requirement for Mac. Will X-Plane 11 run with Snow Leopard ?

 

According to the Developer blog, Snow Leopard will not be supported.  The oldest Mac OS to be supported will likely be 10.9 or 10.10.  The reason is that it costs considerable time to test all of the older OS's, and driver support for them may no longer exist.  That means that for every new OpenGL feature they don't support, LR has to provide a work-around to continue legacy support.  This ends up increasing the exposure for bugs too, and those bugs can potentially affect more than just the legacy folks.  Reduction of bug potential is a good thing, as is keeping development cost and time down  - time that is better spent perfecting new features and perfecting what we have.

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Am I to understand that if you have the disc's from previous version of X-plane ( in my case 10.30 upgraded to 10.50r2 ) you still have to purchase the digital download?

Thanks

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I hope xp11 can simulator water fall with real sound. I think it is a amazing thing !

Let's imagine that when you fly over  Niagara Falls ,you will say "wow!"

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What? we could hear the falls from an airplane or even a glider ?

There is soooooo much things to fix that the fall sound could wait *a bit* IMHO.

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