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  1. Version Release : X-Plane11 has been officially released Laminar Research have released RC-1 of X-Plane11 but also noted the full release of X-Plane11. In accordance with Laminar's usual version release schedule the interim beta phase is followed by a RC or "Release Candidate" that is a standardization of all the features and settings for the full version release, but in this case Laminar Research have moved directly to a full release. Steam users should now get a X-Plane11 copy, and the DVD disk package will also be released to stores. There will be a slight delay on the shipping of DVD package versions, as the disks have to be burnt and then shipped to stores. The official release is still noted as an RC and even though the release has been made, so there is still a period that means the testing phase is not completely over as the simulator version is still noted as "Release Candidate 1, but the main items are finally locked in. There could be still more various RC versions until the absolute final release is actually published, but for most it means that finally the main beta work phase is over. Fine tuning will still not happen until the absolute final version release, so don't go looking for speed and framerate changes yet however some tuning may still be evident. To update to Release Candidate 1 then run your X-plane installer, and the simulator will note the version only as X-Plane11 and no beta version variants. Make this no doubt, the new X-Plane11 version is a huge step forward for this simulation platform and the major features include. • A brand new intuitive user interface and control setup • A completely overhauled aircraft fleet with detailed documentation, plus multiple new aircraft • High-resolution exteriors and detailed 3-D cockpits for many aircraft • New global auto-gen scenery with both European and North American details • The latest road placement and global scenery from open street map are included • Now with over 3000 airports with 3-D buildings & airport scenery • Airports are now populated with dynamic, driving service vehicles and static and dynamic aircraft. • New rendering engine for enhanced lighting and water effects • Updated weather and atmospheric effects • Enhanced performance from the modern 64-bit engine But to note that there is huge amount of detail and features already built in to the new version that have not been yet activated or finalised. New FMOD sound, particle effects and better PBR (Physically-based rendering) have yet to be unleashed and they will have a significant impact on the simulator experience. You can try X-Plane11 in the demo or buy it here : X-Plane / Laminar Research But for now, well enjoy... X-Plane11 is here, and it is a great step forward for simulation. ______________________________________________________________________ Stephen Dutton updated 30th March 2017 Copyright©2017 X-Plane Reviews: X-PlaneReviews
  2. Laminar Research : X-Plane 11 and future new simulator features Every year at the FlightSimCon in the New England Air Museum at Windsor Locks, CT. Laminar Research gives out a demonstration of the coming beta (10.50) and shows off the new developments that are coming (soon) to the X-Plane simulator. Every year you check in and bite your nails and wonder what goodies are soon to come and what the future holds in store of the changes to the simulator, as promises are made and the swirling rumors are put to rest. A lot we already know about of course but until you see the ideas actually delivered or in development then anything is just that in free talk or as they say in this business it is all just "vaporware" or a lot of hot air. So what did FlightSimCon deliver in the show this year, well a lot actually and all of it is very good stuff, and even maybe a glimpse of X-Plane 11. Is that an official announcement of X-Plane 11? I don't actually think it is, but then Laminar Research is like that, it could be or it could be just new stuff for later beta's of X-Plane 10. I put my past bet's on X-Plane 11 coming next year in 2017 folks, but these developments showing up here at FlightSimCon are too far down the road and too complete for another full year and a half of development, so I will note that X-Plane 11 will be maybe coming at the end of 2016, or around thanksgiving this year, unless there is far more to do in other added features for the next release version of the simulator. At first glance the new features (X-Plane 11?) are exceptional, really good and will certainly keep X-Plane at the forefront of being one of the best simulators available today... So what are the highlights... New X-Plane Interface We all know that Austin and Company wanted to badly change the Startup and Menu interface to get away from the old fashioned top dropdown menu system. The biggest criticism of most new adopters of X-Plane was the interface was hard to use and out of date. (it isn't when you understand it) but in this world of visual graphics to denote aspects of selection then the startup and menu interface has been totally redone. And yes it has the wow factor. (Note all images come from the video and so they are a little blurry, but you will get the overall idea). You will soon get four options on restarting X-Plane... Resume Last Flight Start New Flight Load Saved Flight Flightschool This is a huge jump from the original setup in that when restarting you can actually now go straight back to where you left off after the last shutdown and just not to only a set up of a new flight. Yes you can use the "save situation" but who actually uses that? I love this option, you will be also able to go straight to a replay as well, so a great start there. Aircraft selection is going to be really good, but as we know it also does depend now on if the aircraft files have the correct aircraft icon attached, by the images shown here it looks like a different arrangement and very much like a planemaker image.... interesting. Note the "Favorite" star on the top right to create a favorite aircraft list! Weight and Balance can be set directly from the menu as well, It would be a nice feature if the settings are set and saved with that particular aircraft selected as well. Side panels on the right show you your airport selection, weather and (exact) time of day, which is excellent. I don't know what is under the "Advanced" tab top right , but I hope finally the "hot" or "cold" start is included, an HDR "on" or "off" would be very nice as well. Airport selection panel is all new and really great, showing the airport selected in a layout diagram and all the possible gates and stands,. You would note you can select the gate or stand you want now, but the great new feature is that you can select the actual gate you want via pointing to it! No more going back and forth to the airport menu to find that stand or gate you actually need is situated or having to zoom in on the airport visually to note the gate or stand number, a great advance there. The weather settings panel has also been completely redone. The right side of "Atmospheric Conditions" seems to stay static, but the left changes from basic settings to more advanced weather settings as required. You can set the cloud cover by actually grabbing the cloud layer and moving it to the altitudes required from the bottom and the top, clever and easy. Two display pages for both cloud or wind layers are also available. Current "Operations and Warnings" have been changed to "General" and are just laid out better, the highlight is the "Flight Model" per frame is more precise and a now in a slider. The "show Clickable regions" and "instrument instructions" are both back in the simulator. There was no showing here of the most important panel in "Render Settings" which is the most interesting and the most (overly) used by all users. The "Joystick" set up panel is very different and well done, interesting is that it allows you to see your buttons and top-hats on the screen than just currently now as a number, which will speed up setting up the sim, a great interface and it will be interesting to see how it all works in real time. Here is a very small sneak preview of our future X-Plane interface, and it looks extremely good and well thought out... a great step forward. New Rendering Feature Second big new feature coming is what Laminar Research call "Physically Based Rendering" or "PBR" Another big gripe is that X-Plane does not have any shinyness, say like chrome. Or does not look like those armour plated games in realism. First you need to point out that X-Plane will never achieve the sort of heavy realism of "Call of Duty", "Mirror's Edge" or "Gran Turismo" et all or any other highly specialized visual heavy game. The simulator is too global, and has too many elements of addon's and plugins. X-Plane is not a local controlled environment that can focus on certain textures and 3d modeling. A few designers have created the "Shiny" look in X-Plane and to a point they have been successful, but it is not a global solution to the issue. Physically Based Rendering is. Like with the introduction of HDR or high-dynamic-range lighting, PBR takes that idea a few more steps forward. The idea is that any surface can have different reflection properties. Ben Supnik uses a brick to note that even if the 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. So what does this mean for X-Plane. Well it means that the reflective light can be just that in reflective, but have different properties with different conditions. Most X-Plane aircraft do to a point look quite dull, or flat in the simulator. But with the active use of PBR then they come very much more alive and look far more realistic, so note the shinyness of the fuselage of the above B737, and most notably down the side around the windows... And here on the reflective reflections on the lower part of the fuselage of the C172SP, The hull in PBR is far more distinctive and reflects the lines on the runway below it. It looks extremely realistic, and certainly PBR will give the simulator a very different look and feel, as did HDR when that was introduced with X-Plane v10 The PBR and other GPU based effects are not restricted just to aircraft but every element of X-Plane, from all surfaces to airports, buildings and street scenarios and they a great bonus for addon developers as well and PBR will actually make their work easier while delivering great effects. It is certainly a big step forward and a great one at that and will close that reality gap between the simulation based visual graphics and game based ones, the only concern is like HDR is then how much power or frame-rate will be required to process it all. Ben Supnik notes that the system is very efficient, and so we will see. New Sound Engine As we have noted lately is that really good sound is becoming a big deal in simulation. Brilliant new sound packs have no doubt really changed the way we absorb the simulation through not only with manipulation of the aircraft but also on how it feels via sounds. Laminar Research have completely redesigned the X-plane sound engine to be not only completely 3d surround sound, and with high quality samples. But have also now include many of the great sound ideas that have advanced over the years since the simulator's last major release. To a point many of the things or effects included in the new sound engine we have had for a few years now, as if you have used the excellent DreamEngine sounds or Carenado's great sounds. Most of the these ideas are already out there, but the difference is the sounds are X-Plane global and that means every aircraft or object can have great sound. The new engine also allows developers to have a far better access to the default X-Plane sound base and allowing for even more extensions on the way X-Plane uses and plays sound in the simulation. Laminar Research is also providing new tools to edit and create new sounds for the simulator, and like the rest of the features noted here, will lift the simulator up to another higher all round level of realism. If you want to watch the full set of ideas then watch the recorded video below of FlightConSim 2016... The new features start around 40.00min mark. The video also includes the soon coming release of beta 10.50! And the main changes and features noted are... New City Autogen (very good) Improved default aircraft Kingair and Baron B58 Global Winds aloft from the internet Static Aircraft and .apt changes Better ATC X-PlaneReviews will give a full review and rundown on the release of X-Plane version 10.50 when it is released and that release is noted as very, very soon, so watch this space Did anyone see the mistake on the video with the coming Scenery Gateway airports? It is 30.36min into the video... ____________________________________________________________ Stephen Dutton 13th June 2016 Copyright©2016: X-PlaneReviews
  3. Laminar Research : X-Plane 11 Beta Released! Laminar Research have releases as predicted on Thanksgiving 2016 a "Beta" copy of X-Plane11. That note of a "Beta" is very important in the fact this is not a release version of the simulator, but an early in test version of what X-Plane11 is. And yes it is quite buggy, so if you want the full effect of the new X-Plane version, then I recommend a wait of a few weeks for the system to find a better level. You have two choices at this point in downloading the free "Demo" version or with a payment of US$59.95 for the Global version (key) with X-Plane10 thrown in for free. A second note is that to run the global version you will need the X-Plane10 "Global Scenery" as at this point in time there is only a internet download version of 6.90gb available to acquire X-Plane11. Getting the X-Plane11 Beta To download the X-Plane11 beta then go to the Laminar Research site here... www.x-plane.com From this download page you can download a X-Plane11 installer that is pretty similar to the one used in the past for X-Plane10... On startup of the installer are five segment in installing the simulator with the first with you have to agree to "End User" license and for that Laminar Research can use your user data for diagostic purposes Second segment the installer will check your servers (hard drives/SSD) for where to install X-Plane11. If you don't agree to the favored selection then give the installer your own install address position. You still have the options to cancel the install or buy the full "Global" version before continuing with the installation. Press "Continue" and the install will commence... There is as mention 6.90gb to download, and mine over a slowish ADSL2 broadband took around 1h.30m which was quite good with no issues. X-Plane11 Where as in X-Plane you had one long startup procedure. It is now split into two sections, and initial start to the selection page is quite short. The full screen setup is very, very nice and feels far more modern than the old startup screens In the Demo mode you get the introduction video to X-Plane and again like X-Plane10 the Seattle area is the default demo area. Main selection page Four selection choices cover... New Flight Load Saved Flight Flight School Settings "New Flight" goes to the main "Configuration" setup panel... This allows you to set up the Aircraft, Location, Weather and Time of Day selections. When done just press "Start New Flight" and X-Plane11 will do the final loading of the selections and area selected. No doubt X-Plane11 does load far faster than X-Plane10, and is far smoother in its complete operations, but I did get a few screen freezes and more than I would like at this stage. I have a Saitek x52Pro (black) joystick & Throttle, I have been able to set it up, but have issues saving the settings as it crashes the sim every time, and I can't set the switches and buttons on the add-on to my liking (yet). Menu Bar There is a new drop down menu bar with now two sets of menu options with Titles left and Icons right Title (word) menus consist of Five drop down menus including: File - Flight - View - Developer - Plugins Icon Menus consists of Six selections Pause Icon : Now you can "Pause" the simulator via an icon besides still using the standard "P" key Aircraft Icon : Pressing the Aircraft Icon brings up the earlier "Flight Configuration" panel Headset Icon : Pressing the Headset Icon brings up the ATC (Air Traffic Control) panel Pick Icon : Pressing the Pick Icon brings up the "Local Map" panel with built in glideslope (which makes it much more accessible) Settings Icon : Pressing the Settings Icon brings up the "Graphic" settings panel The "Graphics" set up page is now greatly simplified (maybe too much?) with most selections replaced by sliders... biggest change is that the standard - HDR setting is now one setting, so there is no HDR off selection! Monitor settings are here also, but make sure you get the right monitor settings correct or it affects your computers settings as well! Other Menu Tabs here consist of: General - Sound - Graphics - Network - DataOutput - Joystick - Keyboard - GPS Hardware ? Question Icon : Pressing the ? mark Icon starts up your default browser and loads up the Laminar Research "Manual" page You very quickly find your way around this excellent menu system, and it is fast, very fast and smooth in operation. But many items required do require a drill down procedure to get to the setting you require. But overall it is a very efficient interface. First Impression Overall still a bit buggy, CTD (Crash To Desktop) is common when configuring the joysticks (as noted) and I haven't yet completed the settings. First notes on the forums note poor gamma, and X-Plane11 is very bright, and there is no gamma setting as I can find it Reducing the day light towards dawn or twilight, brings a little colour (top) but otherwise it is all very bright. The Citation Aircraft is missing as well? Summary This post was never meant from the start as a full in depth review of X-Plane11, but just a how to load the new version and a first impression point of view. It looks good, but you feel a loss of a lot of settings as many have been combined together to do the same job, but you do feel a little loss of visual setting up control. Certainly the adjustment will be in there, and with time and a learning curve you will get the visual feeling correct. But X-Plane11 feels very efficient, smooth and quick in loading and use. The simulator here is also set at it's (very) basic settings. So there are no 3rd party aircraft or plugins yet running in here, as noted you can with the download version swap over your "Global Scenery" and "Custom Scenery" folders, but I recommend to add in your 3rd party aircraft into X-Plane11 and don't just swap over the "Aircraft" folders because of the new way the aircraft are noted in the new visual menu system. Certainly more to come to this post as the menus are quite deep and slightly complex. So X-PlaneReviews will keep posting more on the simulator as it settles down from the beta versions to the full release version... but it looks good. Stephen Dutton 26th November 2016 Copyright©X-Plane Reviews: X-PlaneReviews
  4. 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... .... 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. 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. 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. 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. 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... 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. 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. 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. 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... 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. 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. 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 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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 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). 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 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) 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. 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). 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". 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" 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. 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. 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
  5. News! - First X-Plane 11 feature and Release Videos Laminar Research have released there first X-Plane11 video, covering the new features.... Lighting, Reflection and Fog They also note... X-Plane 11 includes: A new, intuitive user interface An overhauled aircraft fleet, plus 4 brand new aircraft High-resolution exteriors and detailed 3-D cockpits on all included aircraft European buildings and roads and more! I have now added in the two X-Plane 11 release presentation video's and I will add more as they become available... X-Plane 11 presentation. *Part 1* X-Plane 11 presentation. *Part 2* _____________________________________________________________________________________ Stephen Dutton updated 9th October 2016 Copyright©2016: X-PlaneReviews
  6. News! - X-Plane11 : Announcement coming 8th October! Laminar Research have announced a date 8th October 2016 that they will announce in a big presentation in the UK at the 2016 Flight Sim Expo at the Royal Air Force Museum in Cosford, England... "A big announcement!" Both Austin Meyer and Ben Supnik are both scheduled to give personal presentations on the "big announcement" which for all and sundry will mean the launch of the next version of X-Plane in "X-Plane11" Excited... you should be. So that concludes the announcement of the "big announcement!" ______________________________________________________________________ Stephen Dutton 2nd September 2016 Copyright©X-Plane Reviews: X-PlaneReviews 2016
  7. News! - 10.50 goes Final! by Laminar Research X-Plane's latest version has gone final in v10.50. The X-Plane application will now prompt you to auto-update the next time you run to run the installer. Steam users for 10.50 should get the update in a day or so. The full 10.50 release notes are here, and X-PlaneReviews did a full summary of what is included in the new version here: X-Plane Version 10.50: What is new No doubt that it has been a busy place at the Laminar Research over the last few months but that is going to be nothing compared to a complete new X-Plane version coming soon later in the year. But for now, X-Plane 10.50 is good and final... ______________________________________________________________________ Stephen Dutton 9th September 2016 Copyright©X-Plane Reviews: X-PlaneReviews 2016
  8. News! - 10.50 goes RC! : X-Plane version 10.50 has gone release candidate 2 Laminar Research has put out the release candidate (RC) for X-Plane version 10.50. With the RC candidate there will be a version available for Steam users who can't access the beta releases. Planned end of version global airports releases has been passed over to v10.51 because WED 1.5 is not mature enough to give a pass to the default scenery. Release notes: Features for RC1: More updated nav data from Robin (default X-Plane navigation data). Fixed for RC2: Updated translations for new DRM dialogs, and added TRAN() to region alerts (XPD-6209). Removed long function ptr type in event hook, which wasn’t safe for passing string ptrs to the XPLM in scenery hook. Fixed C-130 taxi and takeoff. Now we don’t clear avio bus bits in plane load. This should fix weird power draws on planes that incorrectly have the avio bus src unchecked but do have a load and have some kind of avio usage on the panel (XPD-6502). Art control timeout for run loop set to 5 ms. This prevents missing runways for users. Includes art fixes for King Air, Baron & KLAX scenery. Fixed for RC1: Save at least one snapshot for situations and replays so we have all the data for file-open (XPD-6201). Slung load does not start from flight location start (XPD-6197). Airport search string for normal airport window is now totally separate from the map/IOS search string (XPD-6138). More robust fix for the crash-when-no-NICs-found (XPD-6196). G430 CLR button cancels procedure selection (XPD-6180). Can now select a new approach in G430 (XPD-6178). Fixed airport map overlap in GPS (XPD-6179). Do not zero throttle on beta if plugin has taken over (XPD-6174). Don’t reset previously-in-inet overrides on flight reset (XPD-6173). Copy-paste on windows would truncate the last selected character. Restored v8 aliases of transponder commands in an attempt to make PFC plugin work. Aerosoft nav data missing the IAF flags (XPD-5872). Always save user edits to navaids and fixes to the Custom Data folder (XPD-6167). Keep current local map type and zoom setting when the weather menu is opened (XPD-5202). Junction matching was using the wrong bones, causing some non-composite junctions to be ignored. This makes slightly better variety in the autogen road intersections in cities. Before you fill my comments section with words of "Where have you been, RC has been out for nearly a week?" Yes it has, and your not wrong there and that is not current news... but RC2 is as this means that X-Plane 10.50 will go final soon. Post beta heaven Here are a few tips for all users on the way to get the best out of X-Plane and updates. You did use a separate X-Plane application to run the "betas" didn't you? Funny enough most users don't as they throw in the betas into their one X-Plane application and then what goes wrong, it buggers it all up and you can't run anything and your only X-Plane application is stuffed up. The general aim in X-Plane is to get the best, cleanest and most efficient application you can. That means a high framerate and no crashes. This means only really good (not buggy) custom scenery, only the plugins that do work or don't crash the the system and the best aircraft you can put in there. So the biggest mistake is to keep throwing "all that amazing great stuff" into the application without using any of your thought filters. An over loaded X-Plane is not the best simulation. If you get to the point of nirvana or a really great running X-Plane application then make a back up of it and save it somewhere safe. Three folders in X-Plane in the "Global Scenery", "Custom Scenery", "Plugins" and "Aircraft" can be too large to save and they are not needed in the backup save, but you should still have them backed up separately anyway in case it all goes wrong for just long term backup or if your computer goes down, just remember to update them sometimes. So here are the tricks... The download X-Plane "demo" is a totally clean version of X-Plane, so if you want a new one from scratch then download the demo, start it up and reset all your basic settings, you can save your "X-Plane Keys.prf" and "X-Plane Screen Res.prf" preferences from your old application in the Output/Preferences folder and insert them into the new version Output/Preferences folder to save time resetting everything on the demo. But most times it is really good to totally redo the lot and to reset all those mixed up key preferences with better ones. Then close X-Plane. Then rotate out the demo "Global Scenery", "Custom Scenery" "plugins" and "Aircraft" folders and insert your usual working ones and you will have a nice clean brand new X-Plane application. When beta's come along then just take out those huge "Global Scenery", "Custom Scenery" "plugins" and "Aircraft" folders and then duplicate the basic X-Plane application and rename it in the new version like "X-Plane1050". now you have two X-Plane applications, your really good one and your beta test one. You do have to always rotate those huge "Global Scenery", "Custom Scenery" "plugins" and "Aircraft" folders, between which X-Plane you are using, slightly annoying but at least you will still have everything at your finger tips, otherwise you only need a copy or the "Global Scenery" folder in the demo/beta version to make it work correctly if you want to keep the demo/beta version basic. If the beta gets buggered up like mine did when constantly updating buggy betas, then just duplicate your clean version and do a new "X-Plane update" from the installer to bring it up to the current beta version or RC. The most important thing is that if X-Plane goes final, then do this complete duplication of the clean version or download the demo and then do a complete installer update to get the best current running X-Plane application you can get. Usually after a few weeks the actual "demo" is the newer updated 10.50 or so version so you can download that completed version in one go. Running a post beta dirty application is not a good idea as you are not getting all the best new benefits from the new version and will not have to keep sending bug reports to Laminar Research that are not there (in other words not to have Ben Supnik balling you out!) Again backup your good but older version (10.45) (in case you ever need it, of which you will) and make the new clean (10.50) version now your primary X-Plane application and start the whole cycle over again. It is always good to have two versions running to check things (plugins mostly). In most cases just throwing away your preferences will fix most issues, but a clean new X-Plane version will do total wonders for your simulation flying and get the very best from the new features and refinements of X-Plane. _______________________________________________________________ Stephen Dutton 11th August 2016 Copyright©2016: X-PlaneReviews
  9. Dreamfoil Creations and Nemeth Designs Ecureuil AS350 B3+ There has been a Service Pack (1) released for the AS359 B3+. Mostly the pack contains fine tuning and performance updates with other items including the crew now adding weight and the Co-Pilot will disappear if you view from his seat. There are few changes are for the joystick with the reverse axis (you don't do this?... you should) and joystick functions and I agree it feels far better with movements under my Saitek x52pro setup. A full list of the changelog is at the end of this Mini Review: The Eurocopter AS350 B3 (Plus) Ecureuil (Squirrel) is a single-engined light-utility helicopter that was originally built by Aérospatiale but is now part of Eurocopter Group (Which will soon be again rebranded as Airbus Helicopters). This version is the High-performance version, is powered by an TURBOMECA-Arriel 2B1 engine equipped with a single channel (DECU) Digital Engine Control Unit with a mechanical backup system. The AS350 B3+ from Nemeth Design and DreamFoil Creations is an FSX (Nemeth Design) Helicopter that has been transfered into X-Plane10 (DreamFoil Creations). Some of the best and most successful aircraft that have come into X-Plane over the last few years have been crossover products that were created for FSX/P3D platform and are usually totally overhauled for the X-Plane10 platform. And here the AS350 B3+ is certainly the best blend of both platforms using FSX strengths are usually in the excellent 3d modeling and textures, and X-Plane's better flight dynamics and HDR features. It is best first however to explain how the AS350B3+ Helicopter is configured to understand what you are looking at. There are three standard aircraft: Basic- with no added equipment (default) Complete Medical Complete Police Both Medical and Police versions are the "complete" setup of each aircraft for its genre. This is setout in a "Equip.cfg" file that can be edited in a text editor. In this Equip.cfg file is a list of items which are: SearchLight, Hoist, WireCutters, Mirrors, LatTow, FLIR, Medical (equip) and a Basket on each side of the aircraft. Any of these items can be selected (0 = no, 1 = yes) to be put onto the aircraft, For the: Complete Medical version you have: Medical, Wirecutters, Mirrors. Complete Police version you have: Searchlight, Hoist, Wirecutters, Mirrors, LatTow, FLIR, Left/right Basket. The great thing about this Equip.cfg system is that you can change and set up the aircraft with just the equipment you want to use, and if creating a specific livery it also allows you to set out the equipment that is associated with that livery. A great feature is that you can carry a box under the helicopter swinging from the underside winch, just don't attach it up to to high winch... because it will pull the AS350 B3+ straight over? There is also a "smartmenu" that is accessed on the right-top of the glareshield of the instrument panel. This menu access makes the AS350B3+ highly equiped and detailed, walking around the aircraft in its different versions the quality and the detail is excellent. On the AS350B3+ the linkage 3d work is exceptional and intricate and all the movement animations are perfectly realistic, the main and tail rotor blades are also carbon copies of the original items. The Eurocopters fuselage and tail boom have also been very well crafted with excellent detail, The burnt crafted exhaust gives out a slight black smoke with HDR off and a heat blur with HDR on. It is very easy to set up the aircraft for a specific mission. Just selecting the Medical option will give you a full medical layout and you can select if you want a badly injured patient or not on the side stretcher by the (small) pop-up menu screen. (note: it cannot be adjusted outside the aircraft, you have to go into the 3d cockpit mode before selecting the patient). The AS350B3+ is a single pilot helicopter, and so the instrument panel is quite basic in its layout and functions. Instruments are mostly the basic set of altitude (with radio altitude), horizon, airspeed, compass, engine revolutions and clock. There is a VEMD (Vehicle Engine Monitoring Display) with Engine and Vehicle displays and both have selectable systems screens. The central equipment stack is the standard setup of a KX155A COMM (VHF/NAV2), a GTX 327 Transponder, GMA 340 Radio, standard Garmin GNS 430 and a ADF panel. Lower down is the central console with a very easy to navigate SCU panel with buttons for most of the main functions on the aircraft like lights, DCT/BAT, Avionics, winch (outside) a set of trim controls and a great test function If the FLIR attachment is operational then on the left side of the panel you get a Infrared screen that works in the day or night, it is highly adjustable as well in movement including zoom. Cyclic is beautifully made and adjustable for friction at its base. The Collective is functional as well with a lock - hydraulic isolation and Search-light (toggle) switch, all other cockpit items including the rudder pedals are worn and realistic. Overhead is a light, the rotor-brake and the fuel valve switches (on/off) and an optional headset.(a note is that you need to flick the grey switch on the rotor-brake to start the engine). Panel night lighting is selected by buttons on the SCU panel and you can adjust the brightness on the main panel. If FLIR is attached the the night-screen glows green in the cockpit and which is highly effective. Outside lighting consists of two underside lights (one taxi - one landing) and the usual, beacon, strobe and navigation lights... a major feature is the spot-light that is positioned just under the rear of the main cabin. You can select specific controls (In the "buttons Basic" menu) to turn the spotlight on/off (also on the collective) and set up a hat switch to rotate it around and up and down, with the HDR on it is highly effective. There are 9 liveries included. But the first three are the "Standard" versions in Basic, Complete Medical and Complete Police as noted above. The other six are: Medical 1 Medical 2 Police 1 Police 2 PP-EOY Transport 1 Sounds on the AS350 are excellent as Dreamfoil created the DreamEngine sound engine, so you expect the sounds on this Eurocopter to be good, and here it does not disappoint. You get 3D positional sound, 3D coning,here yo have layered sounds with the doppler effect and the DreamEngine can hold up 128 different sound sources. One of the best features with the AS350 from Nemeth Design and DreamFoil Creations is that you can select Arcade Mode... ... So simply put is that Arcade Mode will take out all the real aircraft reactions and replace them with more sedate versions. But I found the mode more realistic than that. In fact because it dumbs down the movements you can understand the way helicopters behave a little better. you do still have to fly the machine the same way even with the arcade mode switched off as with it on, but it makes it easier to anticipate the machine's movements in both modes, which means what you learn flying the helicopter in Arcade mode is then very easily translated into normal vertical fight flying, Arcade mode is really like having training wheels for helicopters as it sits between starting to fly and learning of how-to-control the helicopter - but with out the full agony of crash after crash after crash. Conclusions The Eurocopter AS350 B3+ was released in April 2013, and like many new Add-On's, some can take time to understand in depth. This aircraft is so multifaceted that it can take a while before you explore all of its talents and combinations. Flying the AS350B3+ is a learning curve as well, in the normal mode it is a tricky beast to learn, but that is the nature of the beast as well. Get it right and the rewards are outstanding and you keep wanting to go back for more. Helicopters are like that, they are highly addictive because they demand skill and precision to fly correctly. And you have to process that information and practise the skills to get to a high level. The creators of the AS350 B3+ have created a very highly tuned machine to fly with skill. But have still given you a get out clause with the Arcade Mode to learn without failing. In that it is possible for anyone to fly this aircraft even if you don't have the time to get perfection. For me, I can fly to Zermatt (Switzerland) and land on a platform that in real life looks impossible to achieve. I can do it in Normal mode, but Arcade Mode can make it possible for anyone to achieve the same results. The aim is not to be lazy and stay in Arcade Mode for life, but to go beyond its training limits and progress to the normal mode. And that sums up the aircraft, It is very highly crafted with incredible textures and modeling, If you want the detail and the perfect recreation of the Squirrel AS350 with a huge feature list, then you won't find a better Helicopter... But it is still very assessable to anyone and anyone can fly it.... For value it is outstanding. Documents: There are three manuals with the aircraft. AS350_Manual (22 Pages) AS350_Procedures (12 Pages) FAQ (2 Pages) Price is US$34.95 and is available from the .Org Store : Eurocopter AS350 B3 Plus Updated store# Mini-Review by Stephen Dutton Developer Site: Dreamfoil-Creations 8th August 2013 Service Pack 1 (changelog) - Fixed memory leak on DreamEngine, used to cause crash after few reloads. - Fixed issue with livery load for null paths, was causing CTD randomly at reload or aircraft change. - Improved DreamEngine camera transitions - Added RMI on ADF - ALT mode fixed on transponder - Improved Autorotations - Fixed incorrect pitch for tail rotor animation - Fixed GPS NAV1/VLOC frequency range - Fixed issue with reverse for axis on the joystick - Copilot and Patient now automatically add weight to CREW - Fixed 1 Blade out of tracking at low rpm caused by wrong plugin calcuations - Fixed Trim that caused rotor disc to tilt right - Improved cockpit vibrations - Replaced the joystick functions, works better and without jitter - Mouse work as control again - Improved cyclic 3d model (its now twisted as real one) - Fixed HSI Flags - Fixed LIT problem on OAT gauge - Improved Radar ALT night texture - Improved Governor Performance - Copilot disappear when you¥re with view on his position - Added Yaw String Review System Specifications: Computer System: - 2.66 Ghz Intel Core i5 iMac 27” - 6 Gb 1067 Mhz DDR3 - ATI Radeon HD 4850 512mb Software: - Mac OS MountainLion 10.8.2 - X-Plane 10 Global ver 10.22 (final) - ExtremeSceneryMAXX Addons - Saitek x52 Pro system Joystick and Throttle
  10. X-Plane Version 10.50: What is new Laminar Research has released version 10.50 of X-Plane. In this article we are going to explore what was part of the 10.50 release and the changes that are relevant to the simulator. Closing of the door Version 10.50 is more relevant than most X-Plane updates in the fact it could be the last version of series 10 of the simulator. Certainly there will be increment releases still coming in the 10.50 timeline and maybe even up to v10.55 or even v10.56, but otherwise the development stops here in what is this series version of the simulator. So did Laminar Research set out to achieve its goals and what do we now have in the original promises on the release 24th November 2011 of this current X-Plane version 10 or did they fall short. My personal view is that Laminar certainly delivered on all the promises and a lot more on top for extra measure, so you certainly got your money's worth (in time) and you did get the constant revisions that make the simulator relevant and they delivered great value. Some areas are still not quite perfect, but in most areas the simulator is a huge and even massive step away from its v10.00 origins. In reality X-Plane10 was a game changer for Laminar Research, and even in hindsight it was a precarious gamble to lift the simulator from its basic hobby based background and foundation, to be a more worldly product in that could be even be the "best" Flight Simulator system on the market, and even live up to founder's Austin Meyers boasts that X-Plane could mix it with the big boys. All that risk was based on if X-Plane10 could deliver on its promises, but those risks were based on solid foundations and very good developmental ideas. So what where the X-Plane10 promises... Better Weather A "Plausible" World with autogenerated scenery Global Lighting system (HDR) Detailed Terrain with accurate altitude data Detailed roads ATC - Air Traffic Control In almost all cases the v10.50 update touches on all of the above, so we will answer the final verdict on the promises as we detail the v10.50 update in detail. Startup v10.50 brings you a new startup screen, with white bands and the loading information that goes right across your screen. But don't get used to it as it is only a temporary layout and the X-Plane11 startup will be totally different. It feels brighter (on a big monitor) and more basic than the older blue box for information version, there is possibly a reason for a change this late in the version run, but I really can't see why? Updated default simulator aircraft Throughout the X-Plane10 run the default aircraft that comes with the simulator have had a few revisions and updates. The biggest revision was two years ago in v10.30 when Laminar Research added in the Garmin 430/530 gps system. This was an extra major feature not promised or charged for and no doubt it had a lot of developmental cost, it is now our main gps system and proud of it we all are. Another item that affected default aircraft was X-Plane moving to 64-bit and away from the 32-bit 2-4 GB memory restrictions. Again another v10 bonus that leapfrogged the simulator forward by a huge step, but then most aircraft that used plugins had to be adjusted over to the 64-bit format. Two default aircraft have had a big workover in v10.50 in the King Air C90B and the Beechcraft Baron 58 (the Cessna 172SP has already had a big upgrade a few years ago). Beechcraft Baron 58 The revised aircraft are now easily payware quality. Great detail and with very few bugs, they fly great especially this lovely Baron 58. They are however no Carenado level of quality and features and you notice the missing menus, VOR distance and better sounds.... but they are free after all. Outwardly the aircraft looks the same as the earlier version when you first get into the aircraft, but your eyes deceive you. Put the Baron 58 aircraft side by side (v10.30 to the left and v10.50 to the right) and the detail differences are absolutely huge in quality (look at the door frames and rivet work in the engine cowlings), instruments are cleaner and clearer as well. So there has been a complete overhaul of the design. King Air C90B The chances are the King Air C90B was your first serious aircraft for doing professional VOR flying. The Boeing 747-400 had limitations once you cleared away the wow factor, and the tiddler 172SP didn't have any speed. So when you came into X-Plane the C90B it was where you learnt to manually fly, navigate and get in that first longer serious flight. I did, and the memories still linger. The revision throws in more quality and the refinement is very high, again up there with payware money. Only things that are not up to scratch are the low idle sounds, and too much power for taxiing. Even if you pull back the mixture to idle and almost feather the propellers, you are still constantly on the brakes to slow the C90B down, on hold and ready to take-off with the levers all forward... it is like holding back a pack of rabid dogs. Global aircraft enhancements in 10.50 include better prop disc visuals and they now work correctly in the replay mode, auto-pilot can now hold a basic rate of turn, elevator deflection in trim has been refined, stall warnings are now more realistic and the crash limit has been reduced from 20g to 10g. Finally developers can insert datarefs to adjust the volume on the radios, this means different volumes for different radio channels and thankfully there will be no over loud shouting anymore in your ears. On both of these aircraft the deal feels more towards X-Plane11 than X-Plane10. Get them ready and get them up too scratch and that has certainly been done here, but the surprise here is the default and the icon of X-Plane10 in the Boeing 747-400, there has been no update there and that is the aircraft really needs the attention after nearly five years flying, and surprising also because it is by far the most flown default aircraft in X-Plane by 5% of all flights in the simulator... I'll shake my head on that one. ATC - Air Traffic Control and A.I. Artificial Intelligence The X-Plane ATC system feature has been a difficult one since day one of X-Plane10. To a point it was put into the Laminar "too hard" basket for years until the feature had to finally have the much required attention or be dropped for a third party plugin version. A big part of the X-Plane ATC is the "Artificial Intelligence" or A.I. feature and as they are both very closely interlinked and so we will look at them together. My earlier periods of interaction with the ATC are mostly consisted of multiple swear words and mostly I never used the ATC. A period of the personal challenge of mastering the ATC did result in a truce between the feature and myself, but the famous "you are off course!" alert showed that overall the bugs were too notable to be worth the more grey and the less hair than I have now. At its core the ATC - Air Traffic Control is very clever and even very good, but it is also hopelessly complicated and very buggy. No doubt a third party plugin like X-Life could do the whole idea better (the interface is excellent), but the ATC was an X-Plane10 debut feature and it had to made to work at least at a reasonable level. To a point I think that Laminar have succeeded with the ATC in v10.50, and no doubt it is still very basic, however it does work well with a few tips and hints. There are no changes to the "Flight Plan" input panel. But the route codes can still be tricky to input. I found sometimes if you cut and pasted in the route it wouldn't accept it and at other times it worked fine. To be sure if it refuses to file then add in a few waypoints and then press return to activate the flight plan, if accepted then go back and input more waypoints and so on... Two new items added into the ATC interface has highly reduced the work load. The first one was in v10.45 actually at my request and that was a reply to the ATC controller was done with just another return key click. The problem was that before this every time you had to use the mouse or cursor to click on the reply or repeat the instruction back to the ATC. this meant taking your attention and hands away from flying the aircraft to do that instruction, and repeat that operation five or ten times early in the flight and it would mean mostly you would fail in your timing or keeping up with the constant ATC instructions, it was mind numbingly hard to do, and even the real pilots only have to press the radio button on the yoke to activate the radio and not manually use a pointer. Now if the instruction is highlighted you just press return to reply the instruction and in a high work load period it works really well, however the instruction is not always highlighted and you still have to use the pointer to do so... but overall it works very well. Another ATC change is the with the pop-up "Nearby Air Traffic Controllers" frequency inserter panel that added in v10.40. On the panel there is now a checkbox to allow to "autotune" in the next correct frequency you require. This is a huge time saver as some radio panels can be awkward to get to. A note though is that the pop-up panel still has to be opened to reset the next frequency. I use a key command toggle (A) to open and close the ATC panel in two quick keystrokes to do the action. You can debate if these aids are cheating? Should you do all these instructions manually like you in an aircraft environment? My answer is that in a basic GA then you should not need the aids, but in a standard larger two crew aircraft then in most real time cases the pilot not flying does all the radio work, and in this scenario then yes the aids are valid. The optional taxiway arrows are a great idea, but they do totally depend on if the airport scenery ATC routes and taxiway flows are correct. In most cases you just don't know? In many cases most scenery payware developers do note the ATC work has been done, but in most if not all cases it is a lottery ticket. Laminar Research note they can't enforce all global airport sceneries to have conforming routes because it is a skills area were as many of the scenery developers are very good but many are not, but I feel it should be a heavy standard in passing the scenery for distribution or give us a tool or note that the scenery is certified with the correct layouts. I think this aspect is one of the biggest drawbacks to the ATC, A.I. aircraft and the taxiway arrow features in working effectively. The number of A.I. aircraft assigned in your aircraft/situations/other aircraft menu can have a big bearing on your flight. If you set a high number of say 15 to the 20 limit, then the wait and hold times are long until your turn comes around. Ditto the amount of ATC commentary going on in your ears and not only on the ground but certainly in the air, but you may like this high ATC commentary activity (until it goes wrong). I found about five to six was better if you want a quieter flight. Another issue with the constant high number of calls is that your last instruction soon zips up the screen and disappears, so if you forgot your last instruction or heading change then you are in trouble, I have asked Laminar for a "request" command to do just that, there is the "report last transmission" already on there but It doesn't show when you really need it. The ATC still currently has bugs that I will note but will probably be addressed quickly. ATC will clear you for takeoff and then in an instant then clear another aircraft to land? You can go now or wait until the runway is clear... the second issue is that I set the A.I. aircraft to be mostly single aisle aircraft in the B737 or A320 categories and the ATC wanted them to fly at FL400 or Forty Thousand feet (climb and maintain FL 400), when they didn't the ATC kept on asking them to so, over and mind-numbingly over again in the shades of the nasty "you are off course!" coming back around again. A tip is to follow this mantra... reply, action then change. First is to reply to the instruction, then do the action (heading or V/S) and doing both quickly will keep the ATC off your back, but it is a bit backward in the way you usually fly. If you are given the instruction to go to a heading and then changing to an altitude, there is a lot of work to be done. So in most cases the ATC is quickly on your back as you are still going through all the motions. The problem one is the change in altitude and your normal sequence is to change the altitude counter and then hit the V/S button and do the pitch change, but that path course is too long. The only way (at this point) around the ATC is to adjust the heading, activate the V/S and pitch to get the aircraft to start the climb or descend and then finally set the altitude counter, which is not very realistic. But the system demands that the both actions are noted quickly, but with practise or skill you can allow yourself to set the altitude earlier and be ready if you are good at it. Checking out the A.I. airport circuits on the local map can also prepare you for what heading and landing direction the ATC is going to give you can also help with ATC timing. Overall the ATC is now quite to very good. It does allow for mistakes and will align you up ready to continue with your programmed (GNS) flightplan. The controllers are still very, very impatient and are still asking "are you still there?" And you really need a bit more time between the instructions and the actions. But with practise and a rhythm you can finally turn the ATC into fun and it is not the huge headache it was. A.I. Aircraft The A.I. aircraft feature in X-Plane has been given attention as well. They should now fly and land more realistically. The A.I. parking at gates has had a big workover as well in not only making sure they appear but are also more highly randomised, they now also load by their correct category as well in say heavy or regional aircraft. You can select to have have the parked aircraft appear or not via a tickbox on the Render Options "Stuff to Draw" panel. But like I mentioned is that the A.I. aircraft totally rely on the airports ground routes to operate correctly. If they don't then they still behave badly as noted while doing this review. More times it was wrong than right, they still taxi too fast through terminal areas and the odd aircraft still plummets to the ground in the distance. Here it is parking in a carpark and queuing up at an empty airport. When it works A.I. it is very good... but in most cases the hidden disjointed WED airport routing lets it all down. Autogen Autogen or automatically drawn objects has had a fair amount of attention with v10.50. One of the big features of X-Plane10 was the "Plausible" World concept, it is clever and highly realistic in terms of using your computer's rendering system resources to recreate a realistic world to fly around in. In parts I have found the views unnervingly very realistic, but in other areas wanting. In 10.50 two areas have been covered. One, is the earlier original autogen has been tightened up with mostly the actual ground areas around the objects (houses) to make them fit in better. From the air the autogen does look more complete, but too many of those open spaces still remain. My object settings are "Too Many" here, and set just under the extreme setting that you really need but that setting uses just too much framerate. The second and new feature is that the autogen now has tall buildings again, but only in limited regions. This is Memphis, Tennessee and the overall the cityscape was impressive. Buildings are highly realistic, original but use only the U.S. data for the scenery... In English that means for now it only work in the U.S. But in reality it is in the other parts of the world that X-Plane really needs this feature and not the U.S., but it is very good. I found though that the tall building autogen fades away very quickly? A few miles out and they are skeletons, and by the time I was flying over Elvis Presley's Graceland the cityscape had gone? In reality they should be visible (with the right visibility setting) for quite a distance to make it realistic, because there is nothing like seeing a cityscape from the airport when you have just landed, taking off or overflying the city, so it is at this point all a bit wasted unless you do low GA passes. So the autogen is still a little way off the completeness mark. It is five years since it was introduced, and it does work, but still very patchy and mostly still focused on the U.S. but the full total potential of the feature is certainly in there. If anything in X-Plane11 is that Laminar should throw a lot more resources at the autogen art, but then again I said that four years ago. Weapon System X-Plane is noted as an aircraft simulator and Laminar Research are very anti-war. So fighting aircraft and killing things in the simulator has been usually relegated over to the game industry rather than simulation. But the gaming industry is a huge business and war focused simulators are very popular in their appeal in mustering our basic (if male) instincts that goes a long way back to slaying mammoths. So Laminar have added in a lot of weapon system functions into v10.50. 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. There are at this point no aircraft with these new features, but I don't doubt they will appear very quickly on up-dated or new versions of military aircraft. Weather Austin Meyer's "little puffs" have been the most contentional and has created the most angst of all the X-Plane10 features. Clever and there is no doubt about that, but they have been the one feature that has ripped the heart out of X-Plane by the sheer amount of processing power they require to create those zillion million "little puffs" that makes up the weather system of the simulator. The problem is most computers can't cope, and if you had like I did an average processing machine, you were mostly reduced to very light cloud formations no matter where you flew. And even with the mega graphic monster I use now, that frame rate will still halve just running the weather with just good and average settings, but go dark and stormy and so does your framerate. All though the X-Plane10 development cycle it has been for Laminar a war to get the framerate down by refining the "puff" system. To a point they have been successful, but the amount of time and resources it has taken, has also meant that other weather features like different cloud formations, anvil storms, 3D volumetric cloud layers and crepuscular rays have not been forthcoming and making most users have had to seek out third party products to fill in the gap. One area that has been covered was downloading high wind data (in v10.40). This area has had more refinement in 10.50 but I was not a big fan as I see it as a little buggy. As I fly a lot of long haul (or long flights) I have found the high winds quite unrealistic and mostly always in the high 80's or 100knt ranges? In some cases when the new download comes in, I have had the aircraft almost at a stand still at full power at 37,000ft until I adjust the setting down a little to continue my flight... If that high wind angle comes from a side wind, your dead. Wind data is now displayed on your local map. There are three new tickboxes on the top right of the panel with: NEXRAD wind 12k wind 34k NEXRAD will show you your current weather or cloud situation, and the wind direction and speed is now shown on the map profile as well. The 34k selection will over-ride every thing, so you have to disable it to get the 12k selection. I noticed that the 34k selection covers the high-altitude box layer and the 12k covers the mid-altitude box layer and wondered why there was no setting for the low-altitude box layer? As the weather data is now loaded from two sources in; METAR and global NOAA data for the high winds. There is the option in 10.50 to download both loads of data in one operation on the X-Plane startup panel. Main refinements to the clouds in 10.50 are the stratus clouds which look better from above, Strobe lights in the clouds are set now to only happen when completely in the clouds, and they don't also affect the scenery at night when turned on, and the break-out to visual at the cloud bases now works very well. Laminar Research have worked hard on X-Plane10's weather. Translucent clouds and better fog have created a better and more realistic look when flying through cloud masses and you don't now get that constant jumping to the hard grey screen of blankness and a runaway framerate. I flew the DC-8 after completing the review in tracking back in the newer 10.50RC1 from KDFW to KATL in a more heavy weather and HDR night flight (both don't look good in reviews) and was very impressed on the smoothness of the simulator and the better cloud processing that has been done. So there is definitely an improvement and a bonus small framerate gain from the changes. Terrain and global airports One of the main advantages of X-Plane is that anything in every area can be refined and updated. It is astounding that how far back it is to the original X-Plane10 release and what you actually received in the boxed package... If you take a moment and think about it, it was quite basic. X-Plane global scenery is provided on those nine CD's that you get when you buy X-Plane and in most cases you would have to wait for a new X-Plane version to update the scenery in those discs. But the internet and download speeds have come a long way in those five years as well, and Laminar Research through the work of alpilotx has been very generous in providing updated scenery HD (High-Definition) mesh to replace the more populous and most scenic flying areas of the world of those original scenery tiles (files)... with these more high density and crowded data tiles to give the simulator a more realistic view. They don't cover all the areas, but certainly the most important ones. How X-Plane11 will be distributed will be interesting and will these HD files be included with the packages, or will there be a totally new way to buy and distribute the simulator? I don't use much HD replacement scenery for the reviews because to get an real accurate account of the scenery and the framerate, I keep the simulator pretty close to the basic specifications, but they are a worthwhile if very large download expansion of X-Plane. Global Airports X-Plane10 also came with a set of tools (named Lego) that allowed you in blocks (hence the name) to create airports quickly and easily for the X-Plane simulator. Some developers have become masters of these tools and most notably they are tdg, Mister6x and relicroy in their prolific output and quality. To build these global "lego" airports the original WED (World EDitor) application has gone in X-Plane10 from being a basic airport ground layout tool, to a full complete airport scenery building application. Originally most "lego" airports were just posted up for download on the X-Plane.Org. But mid-way through the X-Plane10 cycle Laminar Research created a "Global Airport" library called the "X-Plane Scenery Gateway" to not only catalogue the scenery, but to in updates also insert these airport sceneries as default airports and creating for any new or current user of the simulator a vast set of built in variety of destinations. To date 7,092 global sceneries have been created and 5,191 of them have been created with 3d objects by 1,862 scenery artists. To a point the "gateway" was created to offset the criticism that X-Plane was poor in the scenery area for most new or current users. It is a fair comment, but one of the big features and certainly the shear number of sceneries now available, in not only the "gateway" and "payware" created scenery that has been one of the biggest changes and introduced the total transformation to X-Plane10 from its introduction. Since X-Plane 10.45 there has been 626 new 3-D gateway airports added, and 147 more airports was added in with 10.50, with 718 sceneries having also being updated. There was to be another large batch of airports to be inserted before 10.50 goes final, but they have been withheld because WED 1.5 is not ready. But they will be inserted with 10.51. (see post here). Key selection changes With every X-Plane version update the minor changes can be hidden. The Joystick & Equipment, key and button menu selection is a case in point. One item I change a lot is with the way I have to switch on my joystick (trigger button) the "Thrust Reversers" into two different modes. For the heavies I use the trigger to open the doors (Toggle Thrust Reversers) before putting up the throttle for the reverse thrust. In a regional propeller aircraft the same reverse effect is done by "Hold Reverse Thrust at Max", and so you have to change between each setting to get the right action on landing. Before both selections where set out together above one another, but in 10.50 they are not. Now they are separated quite a distance from each other, but they also now have new selections on each action for each separate engine, with up to eight engines that can be individually selected via button or key selections. So in 10.50 there is more variety and more menu functionality available, but check that your settings are correct and their new place settings on the menu. For developers there are a few new datarefs: sim/operation/override/override_airport_lites – int y boolean overrides when the airport lites go on and off. sim/graphics/scenery/airport_lights_on – int y boolean Are the airport lites on? set override_airport_lites to 1 to write this. sim/private/controls/puff/terrain_dust_ratio – 0 is none. 1.0 is X-Plane default. sim/cockpit2/weapons/gun_offset_heading_ratio – float y ratio Heading offset of the gun from within its maximum heading range sim/cockpit2/weapons/gun_offset_pitch_ratio – float y ratio Pitch offset of the gun from within its maximum pitch range Plane Maker 10.50 and WED 1.5 applications have both been updated to include the 10.50 features and known bug fixes. A good simulator is a clean one... I made some notes in the post X-Plane version 10.50 has gone release candidate 2 with "getting a clean install" on how to get the best from the latest 10.50 update by creating a clean X-Plane application install, it is worth reading. Summary One thing that comes out of this X-Plane 10.50 version and it is certainly more noteworthy if 10.50 is the final release of X-Plane10. And that is how much the simulator has changed over the last five years. In time X-Plane10 will be known as the gamechanger version of X-Plane, the one that brought the simulator to a world standard. As noted in this review in that a few areas the signature features were not completely totally refined at this point and are still a work in progress in the Weather and Autogen, but you have to admit a lot of ground was covered and changed in that 5 year period also. Exclusive features like the HDR (High-dynamic range rendering) rendering are as even now a great step forward with 64-bit memory allocation allowing the simulator to be world class and ahead of the simulation game (no pun intended). Other simulators can deliver a higher visual quality and a higher immersion, but none can do this on a global scale or with as much flexibility as X-Plane can. X-Plane is certainly an investment that unlike most products delivers far more that it advertises when it is released, and this 10.50 release is mostly to tie up those original promises and get ready to move on to the next stage of the simulator's future development in X-Plane11. Outwardly there is not much to see in 10.50. As most of the things noted here are mostly in the areas of refining off the original release features, bug killing and making the simulator more efficient in many areas. And for that 10.50 is a great and even brilliant upgrade, but it is low on the "wow" factor in the visual or with any special features departments. In the very end the overwhelming result is... a really great simulator. X-PlaneReviews can't cover absolutely every change or bug fix, and so those notes are avaiiable here at the Laminar Research Development pages: X-Plane 10.50 Release Notes X-Plane 10.50 is available now for download. Run your X-Plane installer application or download from Steam. ____________________________________________________________ Stephen Dutton 19th August 2016 Copyright©2016: X-PlaneReviews
  11. News! - Laminar Research Promo : File a flight plan! Laminar Research (and for those how don't know is the creator of X-Plane) have released a teaser promo video for.... Well X-Plane11? Has to be folks. New fonts, new look Laminar Research... all the signs of a new age of the simulator. That Thanksgiving day 2016 release date is now starting to look very attractive... You heard it here first. ______________________________________________________________________ Stephen Dutton 5th August 2016 Copyright©2016: X-PlaneReviews
  12. News! - Beta Release! - X-Plane beta 10.50b1 has released Laminar Research have released their latest X-Plane beta in v10.50b1. Very new and full release notes below... and there is a major problem with any plugins installed to get it to run? Clear out your plugin folder to see and run the beta, I would wait until this issue is cleared up... No taxi lines is also being addressed. New tick box on "Render Settings" to "draw parked aircraft at airports" (or activate static aircraft). And internet output is disabled... I notice very different lighting effects in the cockpit, even with HDR not activated, very nice. Here is the full release notes: Airports with new user-submitted scenery in the 10.50 release (147 total) Airports with improved scenery in the 10.50 release (718 total) New Features & Improvements New U.S. city autogen. Improved Baron & King Air. Global winds aloft files. Better AI airplane flight… they now fly a bit more realistically. When you enable a net connections usage, we now auto-select a beacon to use if possible (rather than giving you the default, raw IP). Added support for autoconfig of Control Pad and Xavion. Stratus clouds look better from above. Better randomization of AI parking spots. Added “engine” notifications, so that sim components have access to all the same hooks as the plugin system via XPLMEventHook(). We can now separate Steam from non-Steam users in our analytics data. Particle emitters now take rulers. This makes it unnecessary to put static animations around most emitters. This also fixes a bug where particle physics on the airplane OBJs was run at 2x speed. New prompts to complete installation and/or scenery with authorized sim. New meta-data key/value pair code. It also provides a new meta-data key to force flattening on a per-airport basis. Updated credits & improved layout. Swapped the order of the aircraft in A/B testing & added sample size analysis. Auto-tuning when using Nearby ATC box can now be turned on and off. Much better real weather diagnostics, and also we now scan through the TIME of the MDEG metar report, as should always have been there. Much faster (about 1000x faster) sorting on the commands list in the key-to-command screen, which takes the UI from annoying to smooth. Settings screen is no longer deleted on hide (makes for faster re-opens). On-screen notification if download of real weather fails. We can also steer tv-guided bombs and missiles with a joystick axis, cool! Airfoil maker allowed to have smaller linear range, as needed to simulate iced or damaged foils, for example. For Carrier Ops, LSO calls are a little more accurate, with phraseology that is now official standard, and based on angles of attack that are appropriate for the airplane (but be sure to set the stall warning angle of attack in Plane-Maker in the viewpoint screen!) Strobe lites in the clouds set now to only happen when totally IN the clouds, so it does NOT affect scenery at nite when turned on like is used to. Break-out to visual at the cloud bases, as we needed all along. Now we don’t delete the global wind and turb files, and we have then named in a way that makes sense for others to write to them as desired. We load the afl every time we load the acf because the afl might have changed along with the acf! Safe save – keeps old ACF around. Removed ground targets on the HUD. Limit thrust to 0, not below 0, to keep things from getting crazy when we fly jet engines into orbit. Labels for movies and other warnings are now much easier to read, the movie messages are centered, the pulsing text easier to read. Crash limit set from 20 g to 10 g. No-op manips can take dateref and tooltip for training purposes. When planes blow up they go to wrek… for ALL planes! This lets you blow up other planes in flight rather fantastically. New command to download all weather files. Trimming out actual elevator deflection in pitch, not just the autopilot deflection. This will give slightly more accurate pitch trim, which will not fight with the elevator deflection in planes with art stability. Joystick not applied to flight controls if user not flying cause ai is flying! Joystick calls not needed in that case. Effects like prop disc now behave as expected in replay mode. We now load the mouse cursor bitmaps all at once and cache them for future use (XPD-6181). Slightly more data logging for net-tracking. Plotting aircraft now in the slightly tilted attitude needed by the nearby coord-system origin. Now the glideslope info for the profile view on the IOS as sent across the net by nav ID, not index! This allows us to have the profile work across the net with different apt databases! When calculating string tiles, the LAST slop gets skipped since we can’t actually overlaps the tile. Changed the way prop discs are loaded. They are now on the aircraft’s veh_prop_class so that they are accurate PER ENGINE. This also means that texture’s can be shared in memory if 2+ engines have the same prop. Lastly, it allows for goofy configurations like a gyrocopter that has a rotor and a propeller. Stall warnings a little more accurate: do not depend on avionics switch, and reed switches do not depend on battery. Planes now go around if a crash is imminent, and are also better about not kicking in rudder at low altitudes, which will crash an airliner. Updated beacon port to 49707 by default, split the receiving sockets, clarified the error messages and updated the documentation. New hint messages during loading screen. Minor serial-port PFC hardware improvements. FDR (Flight Data Recorder) window tracks monitor res to let you see a lot more on larger monitors. Various bis of frame-rate improvement here and there, to increase frame-rate overall and also reduce pauses! Fixes for Airplane Authors & Developers New datarefs: airport_lites_on_priv_override; // override: -1 is off. 1 is on. 0 is override not set! current_plugin_dust_rat Datarefs now available to control volume of each radio… You can now use a generic rheostat assigned to the dataref to set the volume of any radio! X-Plane will provide the current world model-view, projection, and aircraft model-view matrices to plugins via datarefs. We resize the property table in the lower left when an animation model is changed on a group. Fixed instrument selection and list change in Plane Maker. Fix memory scribble when deselecting generics in Plane Maker. False alarm in debug code for instrument save: instrument save code would alert if a non-custom unused drag radius was saved on a non-draggable needle or pointer (XPD-6056). Fixed bugs tabbing between instruments in Plane Maker. We were not showing fuel on the right side of the plane in the load0out screen! Now we are! Panel animation IO code permanent and not conditional. This way if you save a group-animated panel in regular X-Plane you DO NOT LOSE your data!! Better alert messages for demo users–can use digital download, installer or buy DVDs to get scenery. Wrek works about as well as one might expect in replay without having to work backwards or use more ram. USB key is re-checked at start before demo warning. Added autopilot basic mode to hold a rate of turn. Global plugin tropopause values are now read/writeable to plugins. Tropopause variables allows to squeeze or stretch the stratosphere depending on where the the troposphere actually begins. Tropopause altitude and troposphere temperature allow a much better weather depiction in non-mid latitudes (polar and tropical regions). New autopilot axis options: default to pitch or roll or none at all! Added wreck flag to Plane Maker. Engine screen in Plane-Maker: New field for thrust reverse area, for more accurate thrust reverser drag! Airfoils are now loaded whenever you load an aircraft, even if it is the same aircraft you already had open. This is in case you changed any airfoils in the background while X-Plane was still flying. Weapon systems improvements Weapons systems improved quite a bit, with some passable precision-guided weapons delivery now possible! WEAPON-SELECTION: Choose individual weapons or weapon type. The display is much better now, and clearly shows the selected weapon as flashing. CAMERA: There can be up to ONE camera on the airplane, which may be steered with a joystick! Simply get a SECOND joystick, and assign the axis to camera steering and zoom to steer and zoom the on-board camera! On-board camera is one of the instruments you can drop in the plane in Plane-Maker. GUN: Aircraft can have one gun. It MAY be steered, if desired, by joystick. Simply get a SECOND (or THIRD!) joystick, and assign the axis to gun/bomb steering to steer the gun! AIR TO AIR MISSILES: The [ and ] key target other airplanes for missile guidance. Up to 24 total weapons may be carried (some or all of which may be missiles) and a dataref will be provided to re-load the craft in flight if you ever want to re-stock in flight. UNGUIDED ROCKETS: For the unguided rockets, they live in a pod, invisible until fired, and up to 99,999 rockets may be stored in the pod. A dataref will be provided to re-load the craft in flight if you ever want to re-stock in flight. UNGUIDED BOMBS: Up to 24 total weapons may be carried (some or all of which may be bombs) and a dataref will be provided to re-load the craft in flight if you ever want to re-stock in flight. TV-GUIDED AIR TO GROUND GUIDED BOMBS AND MISSILES: TV-guided missiles require constant steering by the pilot with the mouse by dragging around the + icon on the camera… very very tricky to do… nearly impossible when flying an airplane or helo. AND I added something REALLY COOL: The GUN/BOMB STEERING ALSO steers the TV-guided bombs and rockets! If you have a joystick axis assigned to the gun/bomb steering, then it will steer the TV-guided bombs as well! LASER-GUIDED AIR TO GROUND BOMB: There will be a targeting reticle in the middle of the camera. Any laser-guided bomb will go for that target! GPS-GUIDED AIR TO GROUND GUIDED BOMBS AND MISSILES: There will be a targeting reticle in the middle of the camera. When a joystick button is pressed (joystick buttons screen, around the middle, labeled Target camera pointer in GPS) or command is sent in (sim/weapons/GPS_lock_here), whatever the targeting reticle was looking at at the moment is LOCKED IN as the GPS destination for future bombs and missiles! When desired, let them fly! Bug Fixes Fixed for Beta 1 We no longer nag the user about single engine planes pulling left if they aren’t in the C172 (XPD-6354). Fixing dout_line com radio problems. This refactors the way read-only and empty dout lines are handled to fix com radios and make things more readable (XPD-6268). Fix for hitting dev assert when you open-close-reopen the interaction recorder window. Disabled the floating windows’ popout button (XPD-6342). Changed layer order to prevent non-flush approach lights at KSAN 27 (XPD-6346). Instancing state could get borked if an obj’s LODs were not all the same instance-able. Stop inet listening on ALL modals. This fixes a bug where snap recall is called re-entrantly when the missing scenery modal is up due to a snap recall. Fixes bug where IOS hangs if no scenery at location of master machine. Collector takes object param – fixes broken PAPIs. Fix for infinite wait in crash reporter due to attempting to write to debug log. Fixed shading of local maps. Turned off auto-initialializing a flight once again. Fixed crash when showing non-instance light-only OBJs with collector. Fixed overlap in GPS (XPD-6179). Track previous state so assertions are valid. Fixes load of Carenado C90. After a custom light, ATTR_lit_level change need to be deferred, not immediate, because we don’t have a shader changed. Fixes crash in Carenado C90, and is faster too. Weather downloading not turned on when you only hit the button to SCAN weather. Fix for the way we jump straight into the sim (old way could give us a null texture). Restored functionality of “external visual tracks view” check box. Fixed uninited var that could cause seg fault on OS X. Do not let FM run before the plane is loaded – but DO let it run when the IOS is up. No more crash when you hit the scan real weather lots of times really fast. obj plot callback was ignoring model view changes, and thus obj culling wouldn’t work when transform was applied. Ground lights moved into collector to fix bug with black quads at LOWI in non-HDR mode Fix clipped generic instrument preview in PLN (XPD-6290). Fixed messed up wire frame in plane-maker (XPD-6287). If you’re running an authenticated demo download, we *always* pop up the nag to complete your install (XPD-6285). Fix for missing break, resulting in wrong error message when checking sim version. Fixed internet-output-disabled warning messages on the data output system when not called for. road bug fixes: Interpolation of Y when rebuilding roads is linear in world space, not parameter space. This prevents us from making S curves when we didn’t mean to. Clusters of ramps connected to other ramps on the ground are treated as draped – this makes ramp clusters look less silly. Fixed pointers to transient locals in dout, fixing a crash when we attempted to write to invalidated pointers (XPD-6271). Fix for crash caused by no-machine-ID alerts at an inopportune time (XPD-6277). We now go straight to the sim after the XDD grace period message, instead of showing a confusing “Authorization Successful” message (XPD-6264). A command received over network acted differently than a command received from a joystick. This fix solves the asymmetry and makes sure commands work the same regardless their origin being joystick or network. We no longer disable ATC when there is no FP and no AI planes. CMND packet handles third party commands and aliases too. Lat and long corrected in data output. Fix for global USB key not exiting the startup-time DRM modal dialog (XPD-6274). Uninitialized variable used (XPD-6302). Bug fixed where fuel flow on multi-engine planes was too low.make clicking in buy button for proj key work (XPD-6263). Fixed illegal access to geoid in threaded park proc. DRM visibly doesn’t request re-auth after 11 days when in grace period (XPD-6264). Modal windows aren’t visible (XPD-6260). Fixed broken lower right corner of round rect (XPD-6233). Click on the map to place an airplane on the IOS and it works properly. The glide-slope profile plot on the ios works for p==0 even if there are other planes as well. Fixed regional DRM. No more cockpit window coming up on IOS when a new airplane is loaded due to a situation file being chosen. Fail at speed, alt, and time all work when controlled by IOS. Now we see the word PAUSE on the master when paused on the IOS! Road bug fixes (XPD-6132, XPD-5313, XPD-5945). Fixed screwed up airplane starting. Fix for “can’t get MID” messages appearing on setups where the MID isn’t essential (XPD-6245). Fix for dev_assert caused by attempting to use the log system before it’s been initialized (XPD-6244). Arrows work immediately to control the camera after closing the map window with the return key (XPD-5145). Don’t dev assert on bind from worker thread -this is legal now (XPD-6236). We now use overcast clouds in our QFL storms (XPD-6175). Fix for self-tests that crash when you have custom commands defined (XPD-6162). ATC will not vector a go-around aircraft until it clears 400 feet AGL…this prevents it from encouraging the AI to make dangerous steep low turns (XPD-6115). Ramp starts had uninitialized data if we hit the “there are no ramp starts at all case.” More to come... ______________________________________________________________________ Stephen Dutton 17th June 2016 Copyright©X-Plane Reviews: X-PlaneReviews
  13. News! - X-Plane 10.40 goes Final! Yes Girls and Boys X-Plane is now up another version to 10.40 Final. Laminar Research has also released a Control Pad app with the release as noted here by Ben Supnik. X-Plane 10.40 and Control Pad now available"The latest update for X-Plane 10 is now available for all users. X-Plane 10.40 is a major release that includes a new DSF loader, ATC functionality, digital download, and multiple performance enhancements. Scenery updates to almost 500 airports, including major locales such as London Heathrow, Hong Kong, and Atlanta, are also included. Visit the briefing page for more information on the major features in X-Plane 10.40. Instructions for UpdatingTo update your copy of X-Plane, simply start the simulator and choose to update. It will automatically download and launch the latest installer. Free for X-Plane 10.40 Users: X-Plane Control PadIn addition, the new Control Pad app is now available as a free download in the Apple App Store. Control Pad allows you to control X-Plane dynamically without pausing or interrupting flight. You can change weather, position, and more with the app, or even use it as a portable instruction station to throw emergency situations into the mix." X-PlaneReviews have done a full review of the 10.40 version that breaks the version down and explains the details... Here: X-Plane Version 10.40 : What is New For the full minute details on the release then go here to the X-Plane Developers notes: X-Plane 10.40 Release Notes Details of the release of the Control Pad App are here: News! - Control Pad App Stephen Dutton 1st October 2015 Copyright©2015:X-PlaneReviews
  14. X-Plane Version 10.40 X-Plane has passed another milestone in the release of X-Plane Version 10.40 from Laminar Research. In this article we are going to explore what was part of the release and the changes that are relevant to the simulator. First Impressions As with any new X-Plane Version release, there are usually a swirl of rumors and favorite items that users aspire to be incorporated in the simulator and v10.40 was of no exception. So first impressions are not to be the start and end all of the items that made the list. Nothing is concrete till the final version is actually released, but in v10.40's case it was a little more on the actual surface but a lot was actually done deeper down, so in that case with v10.40 the so called "Banner" items were quite small and noted as "just a few". But didn't mean that v10.40 was just an average upgrade because it isn't, as it is quite significant and certainly has made a decent change to X-Plane. We may get with current version releases the less dramatic in your face changes and features, but that does come with an actual upside of the fact that the version releases are more polished and have had more backroom testing and fine tuning than the past releases of putting it out there and sailing into usually a storm of bugs, user torment and computer crashes. If v10.40 was noteworthy it was in the fact it is very well refined (v10.30 was very smooth as well) and certainly in its most biggest change in the introduction of extended visual viewpoints. No matter what changes where completed or mostly the ones that were not actively incorporated into this version, my general reasoning is that they were simply not good enough or refined enough to make the cut, and there is still more work needed to refine them to the expected quality we expect, these items will also need to be addressed before X-Plane10 has done its run and before X-Plane11 will see any light of day. In other words the features noted on the X-Plane10 release will all have to be completed to the standard required before there is any chance of a new X-Plane version serial change and that will still have to include the ATC and Weather (clouds) that are still in need of more development to achieve the original set goals of X-Plane10. So a few more Beta X-Plane versions are still going to be required to meet those goals, but I always noted that X-Plane10 will be a long development phase anyway, so I still doubt any new serial version before at least 2017. Banner Changes. The headline acts in v10.40 are: Digital Download; Now you can purchase a key from Laminar Research to do a digital download "X-Plane 10 Global" of the simulator which is the same price (currently US59.95) as is the still continued boxed DVD set. The release price covers the current v10.XX run. The digital download sounds like a better deal, but in reality it can come out a bit more expensive and time consuming than the current DVD installing system. That depends on your internet connection and download speeds, because if you want the full scenery install it means you will have to do a download cost of the 60GB+ in scenery mesh over your modem, you however don't have to download all the scenery in one go, but on an as need to install basis. But you will need to download a basic starter set of scenery to fly in X-Plane. But that is still a heavy download unless you have a cheap, fast and wide broadband pipe. Certainly this is the future of X-Plane in how you access the simulator and so boards well for updates including scenery mesh as that was in the past only accessible via the DVD disk loading system that was then restricted to only serial X-Plane version changes. Extended DSF; This is the most visual change to X-Plane in that X-Plane can now load more 4x3 DSF (distribution scenery format) tiles than before. It is known as "Extended DSF Scenery" and you can select the feature by selecting the tickbox in your "Render Options" menu panel. The visual line in scenery was around 12,500ft, and under that altitude you could be within the older DSF tile visual range (with the horizon haze switched on), go higher and it was not very nice if quite average and certainly from altitudes of 35,000ft it became down right ugly. 12,500ft Non-Extended Scenery haze off (original) 12,500ft Non-Extended Scenery haze on (original) 35,000ft Non-Extended Scenery haze off (original) 35,000ft Non-Extended Scenery haze on (original) The boundary line between the high-resolution texture mesh tiles and the more weaker Earth Orbit Textures were highly noticeable, jaggy and the haze had to cover a significant area to cover the joins, in other words it wasn't very pretty. The tile size of the area is now expanded out significantly from the original loading and here it is expanded to such an extent, it easily now covers the whole width of the Florida peninsula. From the air it looks significantly different. At 12,500ft with the haze off you cannot see the boundary line (only just if you want to really be really picky) Put the haze selection on and the difference is small, so the feature has little work or any to blur the textures to the sky. In other words for General Aviation flying the "extended Scenery" feature, is absolutely perfect, with horizon to horizon high-resolution textures. At 35,000ft with the haze off (left image) you can still see the boundary join, but it is much further away in the distance, not quite perfect. But with the haze switched on, then it is at least very much more acceptable a view for this altitude, and remember this is in totally clear conditions and any slight cloud cover will make the view authentic, and also the fog line on the horizon has also had a little refining and that is noticeable. You can't really stretch the high-resolution mesh tiles any more than this without getting a significant hit on your frame-rate. So any more enhancements on this area would have to come from the Orbital Textures. So what did this enhancement cost to your frame-rate, personally to my system it was very little and with only 9gb of memory I use an average of 5gb of memory in normal conditions with no Hi-Res textures loaded. So turning off the "extended Scenery" does not not give me a significant boost in performance like I expected it would and my frame-rate numbers are not that much different than my original 10.36 settings. So that shows how much time and effort has gone into this feature to make it perform extremely well across the board. One change to help in this efficiency is that the loading of the tile mesh in your computer is now "multicore". No doubt different machines will interpret the feature (and on how many cores you have available) in slightly different ways, but overall the "extended Scenery" is a huge step forward for the simulator and in my mind one of the very real turnoffs for new users was X-Plane in not delivering quality viewpoints from the aircraft, and certainly for the long route-high flyers they will finally have the quality vista scenery well worth looking at from behind the controls. Video; Video is back! Yes you can again record all your bad flying habits again. Quicktime is out and that has been replaced by a AVI system. As a mac user I don't like avi but the windows users will accept it better than me, personally I don't care if only it is far more efficient than the old system and any video is nice to have... I missed it badly, but it is also 32 or 64-bit and multi-core which sounds promising. Sound is still missing though so a third party application is needed for that. You can set the seconds per frame, a time lapse, resolution of the video in pixels and quality. There is also a choice to select background recording. Laminar Research note that if you have a slow computer or are near (or under) the frame-rate threshold. Then the best way to record clean video is via the replay option, in this way when you record from the replay the actual playback is in the correct frame-rate speed and the video capture will be much better and have no or very little effect on recording a clean video (note the playback bar and controls will not show in the recorded video replay). The video and screenshot creations have been moved over to the "Output" folder and out of the mainstream X-Plane (root) folder. As I can create 250 or more images a review, it is great to see the images not overwhelming out the main X-Plane folder, and then finding it hard to look for even the basic X-Plane folders and applications. Preset Rendering options; You now have new five preset rendering options on the Rendering Options menu, replacing the old "Set all rendering options for maximum speed!" Settings include - Set to Extreme, High, Medium, Low and Minimum. Certainly aimed at new users and for a quick change in settings... But it is really totally useless for everyone else. I checked them all and they don't come even close to my most efficient settings? I would have personally liked a saver preference system were you can save certain snapshot render settings for certain circumstances for a quick change, wasted opportunity really. Startup changes; If you crash to the desktop (CTD), you will not now get that alert box that asks you if you want to reset your rendering settings (you can hold down the "Shift" key if you want the Alert box back) so the safe mode is now an option. It certainly speeds up getting back up to speed after a crash. In reality this change is because the safe mode is out of date now, and not really required. Because "multicore" mesh loading now starts from early startup, the loading times are quicker (but not by a noticeable amount for the full load procedure) but it is still quicker. The startup menu has been speeded up, so loading and selection is faster. And the ICAO list is not pre-typed into the airport list in the selection box which gives you a large list of airport selection available. The lettering on the definition of the position of the aircraft's state on startup has changed from "start each flight with engines running" to "start each flight cold and dark" just a name change really, but I asked for this option on the "Startup Menu" but it was declined. Another item has also been changed to the "Startup" page is the rewording of your "saving" of preferences, from the simple "Save Preferences" to "discard changes to preferences". Isn't that the same thing... but the other way round?. But the idea is that if have your perfect settings and X-Plane is running like a humming bird, you don't want it changed and to keep those settings every time you start up. With saving your preferences there is always the chance you could overwrite your perfect settings just for the sake of it. Of course any changes you make are not recorded. It would be a nice option that you can have a choice in what Preferences you can save like the "X-Plane Keys" or "X-Plane Screen Res" without overwriting the well set main "X-Plane.prf". ATC; We were expecting a total overhaul of the ATC in X-Plane in 10.40, but that didn't come out in this version. But there has been a few good if certainly positive refinements. There is a new ATC controllers pop-up window which is located in the "X-Plane/Special Menu. It shows you your nearest Air Traffic Controllers and their Com frequency, if you click on the frequency it will be auto-tuned into the aircraft, which is extremely handy when juggling frequencies when being prompted by the controller. The significance of this is not the actual pop-up window or what it does, but in the new X-Plane interface which is very different from the usual panels of X-Plane past. It looks a little out of place at this point, but it points to a newer more modern style of XP interface in the future and as announced at FSConn this (northern summer) a totally new Menu system is noted as "top priority" by Laminar Research. You can now turn off those taxiway guide arrows if you don't want them in the settings menu panel. I didn't mind them actually, but it was when they didn't work that drove me crazy... One major change that can significantly make the ATC more user friendly is the "reply" mode in which you can now just double click (the return key) to reply to the ATC instruction. This before was a major distraction when you had to manoeuvre your mouse over the reply to activate it, once is fine, but over many replies it became a logistical problem (and a bad distraction) when flying the aircraft. Fixed, and a welcome relief. If you use your arrow keys in the ATC window no they will now no longer move camera (view). The "you are still off course" is still in there to still drive you to mental distraction, but I found it less unforgiving and more relaxing than in the past, but certainly the ATC in v10.40 is far more user-friendly than it was in the past Windshear - Winds Aloft!; X-Plane METAR downloads will now read winds aloft data for high altitude wind data... but only if you are flying over the United States, it doesn't work anywhere else. But I found this actually worked high over Australia at 35,000ft and I suddenly had 80knt headwinds that stood the A330 almost to a stop in a moment, unnerving. You can now regenerate the weather from a "keyboard/Joystick" command, and the “sim/operation/regen_weather” action is now available to re-generate all weather. Windshear can give pilot's shivers, and that function is now also available. METAR now sets clear layers lower when the weather is all-clear, and this improves your upper level visibility when using real weather. The "Winds-Aloft" has been added to the main startup window. Throttle Beta; The PT-6 Beta throttle idle function is now activated and has created some strange results around the different aircraft, It works in the actions of pull back from idle (prop pitch decreasing, engine still at idle) then pull back again to another selection to get into the REVERSE mode (prop pitch decreasing more, engine power increasing) for reverse thrust. This system can and does mess up the "Reverse Thrust" and "Full Reverse Thrust' actions. If the developer has taken the beta idle function into account it works very well, and that notch on your add-on throttle now has the correct function, but the throttle up area is reduced. But in many cases I found myself toggling between the "Reverse Thrust" and "Full Reverse Thrust' selections to find one that works correctly if the aircraft has not been updated or adjusted, in the FlyJSim Q400 there is no action at all or reverse thrust. The backup manual throttle control does also now not over-ride the governor. X-Plane usage information; X-Plane can now collect anonymous X-Plane usage information. There is a new checkbox in Operations & Warnings window to allow Laminar Research to collect anonymous usage data on your system configuration and X-Plane usage patterns. You can opt out of course, but collectively it may be interesting to see how and why we use the simulator. Rescan; There is now a new button the "Aircraft" selection menu, that will rescan an aircraft file. This function allows you to modify an aircraft while the simulator is running and reset the aircraft to restart the updated file. A great function, and handy for developers. It would be nice to have the same function for scenery, so if you drop in a new scenery into the custom scenery folder you don't have to shutdown to the desktop and restart the simulator again to access it... Global Airports; The global Airport folder is still growing at a massive rate. In 10.40 another 776 total more airports are available as default, that comes to a total of 1730 new batches of scenery (well done everyone) overall. As noted X-Plane is now getting a solid user base of scenery. But I have found that I am pulling the "Global Airports" out of the custom scenery folder more and more as they interfere with the heavier payware and larger freeware airports. If I am going from point to point between two large payware airports then I want to arrive at the quality airport and not one with double airbridges and two control towers. Although Laminar Research note it is the responsibility of the Payware/Freeware developer to make sure it does not happen, but I have found more and more lately it is not doing so, and so devaluing the idea in v10.40. Swapping art assets; A small but again significant change in v10.40 is that Library art assets can now be swapped based on datarefs. This can be used to make seasonal texture add-ons change in the sim. In other words you can now have winter textures change to summer textures without actually going into the resources folders and changing them physically over. The results from this change is not noticeable yet, but the code to do so is now in the simulator for third party developers to use... it will be very interesting of where it will go. GPS Improvements; There has been a few more refinements with the GNS 430/530 innards. GNS 430/530 now allows disabling the automatic ILS CDI switching and now by default, the CDI will blend in the ILS signal smoothly beginning 2nm downwind of the final approach fix when the cross track error is 1.2nm or less. When the ILS signal gain is maximal, the CDI indication will change to VLOC and the changeover can now always be over-ridden by manually selecting the CDI to VLOC. There is an automated changeover that can be configured off for training operations in the NAV menu, along with the map options and the settings are remembered in the per-airplane settings file, like the map settings. Aircraft Improvements and changes; Overall there has not been a huge amount of changes in aircraft systems in this v10.40. Mostly they have been over forgotten items (some even over a decade!) and mostly the items are refinements. Items include the bus voltages that now ignite properly at flight start, This will keep systems from reporting a no-volt for the first frame. Hobbs time is now tracked with an aircraft that has a working Hobbs meter that notes the total hours flown. Most Hobbs meters shown in X-Plane are usually fake, now they will work. In Plane-Maker If the type of file (airfoil, aircraft, etc) is the same as the last time you did a file-open, the path and folder to that file is left in place. This means that if you are selecting 50 afl files for your airplane, you do not have to navigate right through UI every time down to the same folder, which is real time saver. And Plane Maker no longer crashes if you zero-out wing chord multipliers. A new feature is that 2-d windshield effects can be disabled in the rendering options screen, checking this box causes all 2-d window effects, like rain and bird-strikes can now be bypassed. For people with projector screens, collumated displays or any displays for which the 2-d effects are annoying, they can now be turned off. Thermometer and fuel indicator failure now functional! These failures were initially designed for the g1000 only, but now I have them working for all instruments And better compressor-stall modeling. This is based on observation of compressor stall dynamics in a level-D sim. The new “automagic” rudder code was tried but then removed. This code tried to manage the rudder for you if (and only if) you don’t have a rudder axis installed. Instead Laminar Research tightened up the ground steering. Glider tow; The glider-tow feature has had a few changes in being re-organized internally, Were as the glider tow had a bug in it where the forces for the first frame of the glider tow were wrong, due to the towplane location not being ready. The tow cable is now black instead of grey to make it easier to see, and for hoist users, the slung load code also had a bug in it where any cable length less than 1 meter did not compute the loads properly, due to a /0 protection… It has been lowered now to a 1-centimeter minimum cable length. And not forgetting the feature that we all wanted in.... there is now the "animated" feet to the birds! Frame-Rate and simulator rendering efficiency; With every new X-Plane version the main focus is always on how the changes will effect your computer and its frame-rate processing. There has actually been a lot of refinements in v10.40 and considering the amount of changes the overall efficiency compared to v10.36 is very good. As noted the extended mesh scenery did not cause any major drop in frame-rate, which was forecasted to be quite hard on your memory and processing power, but that turned out to be only a whimper and not a loud bang of pain. The first beta's were amazingly good and fast in efficiency, but it all went a little sad and rough around beta 4. and continued like that till it all came back to greatness around beta 11, which shows you have to wait until the beta run is completed before making your strong assumptions. Although the actual default/autogen scenery has not had any attention in v10.40, the way they are laid out has certainly been refined. The "Rendering Options" panel settings for "Texture Resolutions", "Stuff to draw" positions have been moved significantly upwards, in that a lesser setting will now draw more out on your screen. But I found my usual default settings moved in reverse in the in v10.36. There I could run out a lot of "Stuff to Draw" but very little of the expanded "World detail distance". Now I have a reverse situation in that I can set my "World detail distance" to almost maximum (very nice) but the "Stuff to Draw" to no more than "a lot", and in good conditions maybe one more setting upwards. My antialiasing setting is now halved from x8 to x4 with the same quality. 10.36 settings are on the left and 10.40 settings are on the right, but my frame-rate is very close at 22frames each... and that is with the extended scenery switched on, so that is a good refined performance from the new version. There is no doubt with these changes that the difference in between HDR (High Dynamic Range) mode on and HDR off is now significantly narrowed in using up your frame-rate quota. HDR on is now highly usable even with an average processing computer, but it comes with a bit of a hidden bite. In the HDR settings, then "none" is now quite jaggy on the antialiasing, but that should be its real setting anyway. In FXAA mode, you still get a lot of jaggies, however still it is quite an average antialiasing resolution... the next is 2 x SSAA+FAAA and that is perfect basic antialiasing, but the gap between FXAA and 2 x SSAA+FAAA is wider than the Grand Canyon and that cancels out any benefits you have gained, so in reality "None" and FXAA are too low and poor visually and the 2 x SSAA+FAAA and lower settings are all too high to be of a real visual benefit? So the only gain is that you can have your HDR on with better frame-rate, but only at night or have poor visuals. If a better HDR mode setting was set between FXAA and 2 x SSAA+FAAA or one or the other of the settings were refined better to fill in the gap then you could have your HDR rendering and eat it as well with a better visual antialiasing. A side note on the HDR is that the lighting (aircraft lights, airfield lighting) have been made brighter and larger in v10.40. Earlier beta versions were horrible glops of light, but in the final beta's the lighting was much better and refined. Overall though the simulator rendering efficiency is improved and refined in v10.40, and only area that can create a significant frame-rate pull down is still the weather and the clouds, dark clouds can still be a real frame-rate killer, for anything but for users that have powerful computers to over-ride the sheer number crunching required. One area in clouds that was however refined in v10.40 was the grey out transparency, in that in the lighter shades the grey out is more realistic and viewable. I do highly recommend to do a bit of housekeeping and clean out your preferences and start v10.40 clean and reset, it can make a difference to your frame-rate and to the overall smoother running of your simulator. Steam users will be able to update to v10.40 via Steam (Steam users can not participate in X-Plane beta development) You can't cover every single aspect of a serial X-Plane version release as the changes and bug fixing are far too many to list. So you can only cover the highlights and the changes. For the full complete list of the beta run then go to the X-Plane 10.40 Release Notes provided by Laminar Research. To keep up to date on any developments of the X-Plane Simulator then go to Laminar Research's "X-Plane Development" blog that can usually explain significant areas and future changes to the X-Plane Simulator. Stephen Dutton 18th September 2015 Copyright©2015:X-PlaneReviews
  15. News! - X-Plane 10.40 now on Steam Laminar Research have announced that the latest X-Plane version 10.40 is now available for update on Steam. This is ver RC3 of 10.40, but note it is not Final, but in reality it is a given that RC3 or RC4 will be the "Final" release version. Steam users: to try the release candidate, you’ll need to go to the “properties” of X-Plane (in the steam client) and opt in to betas. A note to Steam users is that if you buy the "Full" X-Plane10 package you can participate in beta development... You can buy the "Full" version here at the X-Plane.Org Store here : X-Plane 10 X-Plane 10 + Global Scenery Price:US$59.99 Stephen Dutton 23rd September 2015 Copyright©2015: X-PlaneReviews
  16. News! - Laminar Research releases X-Plane Control Pad Out of the blue Laminar Research have released an X-Plane Control Pad to change your X-Plane menu settings while still running the simulator! Details from Austin Meyer... I have recently found the X-Plane interface to be slow, cumbersome, and distracting. And, no matter how good I ever make the X-Plane interface, we STILL have to STOP the simulation to change the weather, time of day, selected aircraft or location, etc. This is quite simply because we have to bring up a window that stops all the action to change anything in X-Plane! And, once we have invoked the new window, we have to creep around a bunch of tiny boxes with the mouse to see what we want to change! Annoying. But what if we could blow right past all that and have a lightning-fast touch-screen interface to set up X-Plane WHILE IT IS STILL RUNNING? I envisioned something like the interface in Minority Report, where we could rapidly touch, grab, and zoom about to get to whatever we want, instantly, while the action we are controlling is never slowed down at all. And the way to do this is obviously with an iPad or iPhone that runs WHILE X-Plane is running, so anyone (either you or an instructor!) that likes can adjust all manner of weather, weight and balance, failures, etc, all WHILE X-Plane is running, WITHOUT stopping or even slowing down the flight! And just to add the last level of craziness, I added a little AI instructor that lives inside the App that can set weight and balance and weather and failures for you, so you have a little AI instructor demonically failing systems and setting weather in flight, all without your knowledge, to maximize the challenge in flight in X-Plane… all WITHOUT slowing or pausing the flight to fiddle with various settings in X-Plane itself, since this is all done on your iPad or iPhone, which is connected to your copy of X-Plane for Mac, Windows, or Linux by WIFI. So, I am thrilled with "X-Plane Control Pad”, because it is simply so lightning-fast, light-weight, user-friendly, and still capable.. all much quicker and easier than the current X-Plane interface, which is always bound to stop the action whenever you want to consider changing anything. Anyway, give it a try and let me know how it goes… this actually lets you set up X-Plane like a multi-million dollar flight training sim, where they use touch-screen interfaces to control each element of the simulation while the the flight simulator itself never stops! Multi-million dollar power for $19.99 on an iPad or iPhone: That is one of the amazing things about this wave of technology! The App is available on the iTunes Store now for iPhone and iPad itunes Details iPhone/iPad Images and text courtesy of Laminar Research Stephen Dutton 16th August 2015 Copyright©2015: X-PlaneReviews
  17. News! - Laminar Research releases beta 8 Beta 8 is out to replace the average Beta 7. I was simulating along and soon it was apparent that the beta(7) was not good, not good at all in a bit of a mess. So it was canned and the work continued in 10.36 (All reviews are still done in 10.36 stable, but testing is also done in the beta) Out with the old and in with the better... notes are. Fixes for Beta 8 Fixed DRM for Windows users that were asked for their product key repeatedly. File a bug if this is not fixed for you.Fixed scenery clipping at 300,000 feet.QPAC A320 now resets correctly.Fixed EHLE tower frequency in default apt.dat.AI controls small planes better.Extended DSFs now load at sim start up.Demo region now uses extended DSFs.Livery options are back in Plane Maker.Re-scan button added when choosing a plane.Text-to-speech ATIS works with all frequencies.Windows text-to-speech ATIS uses US-English regardless of system language.Panel instruments are back to correct locations.Using METAR weather works again.Better warning messages when using old situations files.Aurora borealis option only displays between 45 & 60 degrees north.Black line removed in air refueling scenarios.Using arrow keys in local map scrolls as in planet map.Flight Factor CDU/autopilot works again.Run the installer and have the beta checkbox ticked to update to 10.40b6 (Steam users cannot update betas). X-Plane Developers Blog : http://developer.x-plane.com/ Stephen Dutton X-Plane Reviews : 14th August 2015
  18. News! - Digital download is available for X-Plane Now you can download the full X-Plane simulator online. Not required anymore is the DVD pack and to insert a DVD (Disk 1) or USB - Unlock key to run the simulator. The digital download is the same app as the DVD version… it just comes with a unlock-CODE (product key number) instead of an unlock-DISC. The X-Plane Simulator software is available Mac, Windows, and Linux. X-Plane will still cost the same at US$59.99 same as the DVD package but less the postage costs. But you have to factor in the download cost of the 60GB download of the default mesh scenery, you however don't have to download the scenery in one go, but on an as need to install basis. But you will need to download a basic starter set of scenery to fly in X-Plane. You can use your digital download product key to add scenery to X-Plane at any time by re-running the installer, picking “Add and Remove Scenery” and entering your digital download product key; you will need an internet connection to get additional scenery from the Laminar Research server. If you already use X-Plane10, you can get the product key number to replace the DVD and USB lock codes, which makes X-Plane10 easier to use without lugging around a disk drive or having a USB clogging up a slot. Full information here : X-Plane Digital Download Stephen Dutton Copyright : 22nd July 2015 X-Plane Reviews
  19. Laminar Research releases beta 10.40b6 Beta 10.40b6 is now available on your X-Plane Installers. The beta 10.40b6 is not really a beta update at all except for a few small fixes (below), but an update to allow the new X-Plane Digital Download to be active in the simulator. 10.40b6 notes are: Fixes for Beta 6 Screen saver disabled on Linux – user contributed code.Restored exporting parts as objects one-at-a-time in Plane-Maker.Improved time to load Quick Flight dialog box.Removed bogus OpenGL driver warnings on OS X that were scaring users.Run the installer and have the beta checkbox ticked to update to 10.40b6 (Steam users cannot update betas). X-Plane Developers Blog : http://developer.x-plane.com/ X-Plane Reviews : 21st July 2015
  20. Laminar Research : New approach-capable GPS navigator in X-Plane 10.30 One of the biggest items in common use on the X-Plane simulator is the Garmin GNS430 instrument. But only it wasn't really useful. Overall it was just really used to cover the VOR 1 and VOR 2 functions and that was about the length of its usefulness. That will all change with the coming 10.30beta. Philipp Munzel (of FlightFactor fame) has updated this very important instrument to its rightful position of the main navigation tool in most Small and General Aviation aircraft. The results are simply fantastic. To note Philipp: "X-Plane has been lacking a decent navigation solution for general aviation aircraft for a long time. The built-in GNS430 instrument could only do direct-to navigation and not use X-Plane’s FMS plans, making long IFR flights inconvenient. In X-Plane 10.30 we are introducing a new generation of the X-Plane 430 GPS navigator, modeled more closely after the Garmin 430W that is very popular in general aviation aircraft. The 430W is a popular aftermarket GPS replacement in many older general aviation aircraft, because it is approved for WAAS approaches and thus an easy upgrade to allow flying instrument approaches at lots of smaller airports without ILS." Philipp goes on to note the functions of the new Garmin instrument: The new X-Plane unit can create and fly multi-leg flightplans in addition to the direct-to function: You can create directs or flight plans using a worldwide database of airports, fixes and navaids: Loading or saving the route works using the X-Plane FMS format. Many online services for virtual flight planning are compatible with that: You can then navigate along your flight plan using one of different map views that provide situational awareness: While flying under VFR, stay alert to any Bravo, Charlie, Delta or special use airspace in the United states (open database, user-expandable): You will be warned when you are about to violate an airspace: using the nearest airport function you always know your nearest alternatives for landing (though we all know X-Avion does a much better job at that!) With a little help from your friend, knowing when to start your descend becomes easy: Before landing, always know who to call: For IFR approaches, load precision and non-precision approaches from a world-wide, updatable database: Review approach transitions and initial approach fixes: and then load any approach and transition into your flight plan: Under ATC (read: when flying online) the vector-to-final function will often be used instead of a transition: The X-Plane 430 is there to help you stay alert to common errors in approach navigation: The GPS is capable of flying non-precision GPS-approaches with a localizer-like guidance and varying CDI sensitivity: If you don’t see the runway at the minimum descend altitude, continue to the missed approach point and the flight plan sequencing will go into suspend. At the missed approach point, if you still don’t see the runway, begin your missed approach: If you don’t see the runway at the minimum descend altitude, continue to the missed approach point and the flight plan sequencing will go into suspend. At the missed approach point, if you still don’t see the runway, begin your missed approach: The new GNS430 is a drop-in replacement for the old one, so every X-Plane aircraft equipped with the GNS430 automagically becomes more IFR-capable with the 10.30 update. We also provide an additional instrument in style of the bigger GNS530, that designers can use in their aircraft starting with Plane-Maker 10.30. It also allows for dual installations that can either use separate flight plans or cross-fill. "The interaction of the GPS with the rest of the panel, especially the CDI and the autopilot, has been improved, offering a few more options for aircraft designers. Two additional posts explaining the new options in Plane-Maker will follow shortly. The database from which approaches are loaded is provided by Aerosoft. A current database will be provided once with X-Plane 10.30, and further updates will be available on a subscription basis. You might have noticed stupid COM frequencies in some screenshots. This is not a bug, but a feature: X-Plane 10.30 supports 8.33kHz channel spacing, that is now mandatory in the European upper airspace and will become more important over the next few years. This does not cover all functions of the real unit, but it covers what the pilot absolutely needs every day." (Philipp Munzul) (All of above in text and images are courtesy of Laminar Research) So not only do you get a hugely significantly upgraded Garmin GNS430, but the GNS530 version as well with the same features. No doubt this new feature will have a significant effect on our X-Plane simulation flying capablities and brings the smaller avionic suites up into the world of the larger FMS systems that have come into the cockpits of the heavies. Excited... Yes I am, and I can't wait to try all of these new Garmin systems out... Of course X-Plane Reviews will review the whole system when 10.30beta is released. For more information go to the Laminar Research Development Blog. Stephen Dutton 30th March 2014 Copyright©2014 : X-Plane Reviews
  21. Beta 10.22 Beta 10.22 is final.. Finally and now that is all done then quickly all speculation will start on the next beta... 10.30. In fact the speculation on b10.30 started a long time before beta 10.22 was even close to final. Because the few b10.20's dragged on and on. At the start of the 64bit change over it looked like it would be over in a matter of weeks, but instead the small gremlins got a hold and kept everyone scratching their heads for months. In the deepest part of it all was that it went to the very heart of everything that was not on the simulator itself, but what contributed to the simulator in scenery and aircraft. However in all of that it had the most impact as well, in the fact that unless the product plugin had been updated it didn't work in the simulator. A few worked fine with Plane-Maker origins, but the good money out of your pocket payware didn't. Developers took several tacks on this, many would update the plugins as soon as anything was ready (In which did work quite well), but a few waited till the situation was absolutely concrete before changing anything. The main work fell back on the plugin developers and as SASL (or as its real name is called in "Scriptable Avionics Simulation Library" was the most popular plugin that developers used, and it was up to Alexander Babichev to come up with the goods. Certainly it was a collaborative effort with everyone helping Alex from the various developers and Laminar Research to fix the coding and then work their way through the issues. Then once that done they then found out that the LuaIT plugin was running out of memory (in other words the aircraft crashed and so did your simulation) or simply when the Lua plugin ran out of its assigned low memory count from X-Plane (10) it just crashed. Ben Supnik (Laminar Research's top Guru) took the hard decision to fix the Lua issue now and then and cause a little pain, than try to cover it later and cause more pain and changes. Once the Lua was finally fixed and done then X-Plane version 10.22 was final. And that is where we all are sitting now. But the change to 64bit had dragged on longer than even Laminar Research had wanted it to, in fact the change to 64bit was never a priority for X-Plane version 10 at all, and was expected to come in another version rollover in maybe XP11 or XP12 and even XP13. But scenery and aircraft developers noted that with the extra memory allocated by 64bit would take many of the limitations away and the simulator would not be held prisoner anymore to the 32bit 3gb memory limit - but then to use how much memory you actually have installed in your computer. In other words it opened all the windows to let the sunshine in. The effects now with 64bit are simply amazing, 32bit is still there, but who uses that, a few still do. But now most of all the add-ons are now 64bit v2.0 compatible and life is now back to the same as it was before b10.20 and all the changes are now almost complete. Beta 10.30 Laminar Research have not announced what will be in Beta 10.30. On the forums the main topic was "seasons". In fact the majority of users want this as the main contender for b10.30. Nothing would make me more happier than having snow and ice to fly blindly into some Northern Winter, In fact the simulator should have a feature as important as this now. Howdy did a great job in X-Plane9 with "WinterWorld", I loved it, it wasn't perfect - but at least you could fly from a hot and bothered Dubai to a cold and dull shivering London... up to this date "WinterWorld" has not appeared for X-Plane10 - but the reality is we need for seasons to really good, blowing snow, real hail and mist that closes airports and sends insurance company managers jumping off bridges. summer heat haze and the colours of autumn and spring. So the reality is "seasons" won't come in b10.30, in fact it won't come until another version release of X-Plane and then be noted a new feature, so my guess is that it will come with X-Plane11. The main reason is that the tiles themselves will need to changed for seasons to work efficiently, in fact they would have to be integrated into the very core of the simulator. And you can't do that with out large files and very large files will still come on disks. My personal issue is the high flight level viewpoint. Go above twenty thousand feet and your view turns into a Commodore 64 pixel quality... Pretty it isn't and it needs to be fixed, but again are new tiles required or some clever coding to raise the quality of the distance. The good news is you have a lot of frame-rate headroom up there to cover the extra nautical mile area... but again can that be changed with out the required DVD disks? So what should be really expected in b10.30 or even in a few more betas until Laminar Research turn their attention to the next version of X-Plane11. If you look at the original X-Plane10 features then the answers are sitting right there. ATC will certainly be at the top of the list for attention, The ATC works, but it is painful and not very forgiving... A shame because if you do use it a lot, and understand it - it is very good, but the rules are far too tight for it to be really effective and realistic. And the fall out from the ATC is spoiling over to into other areas that is not making its use effective at airports even if it you choose to use the ATC or not. Clouds need work as well, they have great potential to be really effective in being gathered better for storms (Cloudbursts) and light drizzle, the moment you get near a cloud your world goes grey until you come out, or you are shaken violently by an angry cloud puff. The basic Idea of the clouds is very sound but it all needs a lot of refining to be really effective. The "Plausible World" needs more refinement as well, you have huge skyscrapers towering over the approaches of runways, and caravan parks in Abu Dhabi. The night textures are coming anyway so that is a given, but the gaps are still to big as the green patches still show that the idea is still not complete or even close to being finished. The point made was that more default autogen couldn't be rolled out until 64bit could handle it, now it can and the focus is now needed. Under the hood of X-Plane10 is harder to see. The new Multi-Core flight model is in there and so are the new systems for Jet Engines, Trim, Starter, Clutch, Hydraulic Pressure, Electrical and better dynamics... coming also is Philipp Münzel's various engine dynamics. The point will come when Laminar Research will start to focus on X-Plane11,(2014?) and the updates and betas will then start to taper off. Knowing Ben Supnik he will always throw something in there that we will not be expecting ( a code grenade!) and send us all in to a frenzy of love and devotion for our simulator of choice. But the main objectives have to be delivering and refining what was promised for this version of X-Plane before adding in new features that can be in reality assigned to the next version. That doesn't mean that the beta development will slow down. There is a lot items listed to get through and the changes will be very exciting and will add enormously to our current experience of the simulator, above all we need some stable time to refine our simulator to be more efficient and be more crash-proof and that is just as important as the dazzling new features. So hail the final of beta 10.22 and bring on beta 10.30. WED 1.2 Final Laminar Research's focus this year has not been totally on the 64bit change over, In fact most of the attention has been on WED (World EDitor) to make it a powerhouse in creating not only an .apt layout tool, but a full application to create scenery from scratch. Already it has delivered some spectacular results. And from WED 1.2 final all created WED scenery can now be channeled through Robert Peel's X-Plane airport and navigation data distribution channel to every X-Plane user via their regular X-Plane10 updates, we have yet to see this in action. And my first thoughts is that it is going to be very interesting on how big the downloads are going to be and how they will fill out your custom scenery folder. No doubt we will visit this when the updates start filtering through. The idea is that anyone can now create scenery and have the tools to do so, To be in X-Plane at this point in time is very exciting and to put the talents of users to work to create their own virtual world that everyone can share. Of which is really the heart of what X-Plane is really all about - us the users. Stephen Dutton (note: All information noted here is not from any source or Laminar Research. And are just my own conclusions and past stated facts) 7th August 2013
  22. Robin Peel has updated X-Plane's Airport and Nav-aid data. Robin's notes are : "New data is now available for X-Plane. This is data cycle 2013.10. This data is for X-Plane 9 and for X-Plane 10. This contains many updates. For details of the new additions see the change log on the “Download the Data http://data.x-plane.com/get_data.html” (15-Oct-2013 (AIRAC 2013.10) page of my website for complete details. We are transitioning to a new process for designing, submitting, reviewing and distributing airports, using the new “Global Airports” process. New features in X-Plane's airport editing tool - World Editor (WED) http://developer.x-plane.com/tools/worldeditor/ - now allow buildings and other objects to be defined at an airport, and these can be distributed with the new "Global Scenery" process whenever you perform a routine update of X-Plane. The simulator already includes an example of this - look at KATL in X-Plane and then explore your "Custom Scenery | Global Airports" folder. We will publish details of the submission process as we develop them over the next few weeks. Finally, many of your X-Plane airports will begin to sprout buildings! These files will work under Windows, Mac OS or Linux. If you wait until the next incremental release of X-Plane 10 then this data will be installed automatically if you use the "X-Plane Installer" - this avoids the need to download my files and install the files into the correct folders - this method is highly recommended! As always, this new data for X-Plane 9 and X-Plane 10 is available from my website at: X-Plane Airport & Navigation Data Please join me in thanking those who keep contributing to the X-Plane database. Helpful feedback is always appreciated. Robin Peel" 17th October 2013
  23. Laminar Research have released a new beta cycle in 10.25. If you wish to participate in the beta process then go to your X-Plane installer and press the "beta" checkbox. If you wish to dis-continue using the beta (10.25) you can uncheck the box and rerun the installer to go back to 10.20 (Final). 10.25 is a huge download (1.3gb) with all those submitted (over 250) airports. However it is full of "New Stuff" that marks the advancement of the X-Plane simulator with new urban bases (wet climes only at this point) and the natural terrains have been completely revised and now also represent tropical, subtropical and other landclasses. These urban bases will finally start to cover the "Green" lawn effect. The ones we have now were just a stop gap measure (that worked to a point). but were still very basic in their effect. The main library has also had art and texture updates for more stable (and efficient) rendering of library objects. And the library (with WED 1.2.1) has been simpified. The full Beta release comments are here : 10.25 Beta 1 I X-Plane The full list of the 10.25 beta is here below and the address of X-Plane Beta page : Beta - X-Plane Wiki X-Plane 10.25 Beta 1 updates a number of the art assets in X-Plane, and also ships a few bug fixes. New Stuff: This update contains 3-d buildings for over 250 airports, contributed by the X-Plane community. This is our first update to ship community-built airports using the X-Plane 10 airport building library. We will continue to ship updates to these airports as more contributions come in. A large number of natural terrains are updated. There are 103 new textures (+30%), which now represent tropical, partly subtropical and many other landclasses entirely new. This comes along with a great number of improved, enlarged or changed former textures. V10 has now a consistent look around the globe. New urban base terrain for wet climates. We are working on dry climates and may have them for a future beta, but for the wet climates this should make a nice improvement in views of cities from the air. Airport library and art decals have texture updates. The default libraries have paths marked as deprecated or private where appropriate; when using WED 1.2.1 beta 1, old and private library paths are hidden, simplifying the library. Bug fixes: Fixed network data output to ForeFlight. Fixed scroll wheel operation on Windows. Fixed ACF panel import in Plane-Maker. Datarefs: New datarefs to control the aircraft carrier and frigate with an override. Cinema verite can be set by dataref. Read-only access to whether HDR is on. I will add more notes to this post when I have ran the beta. 18th October 2013
  24. Laminar Research have released a beta for World EDitor in version 1.2.1 b1. It is noted as a "bug patch", however it is more focused on usability. Details: Locked and hidden items don’t cause clicks to select their parents. The interior of an airport boundary is not selectable – it never should have been. The marquee tool will never select the “world” entry on the hierarchy. The click hot spots of handles don’t shrink at low zoom – they were doing that before, which made clicking hard. The 1.2.1 has also the revised library items ready for beta 10.25 (Noted as coming "real soon now") and the submissions of "Global Airports" to Robin Peel. Ben Supnik noted in The Library: Public, Private and Deprecated that the current WED library system "is a big cluttered mess and it makes it hard to find and use art assets properly." So there is a need for a better filtering system. Currently Ben has three categories for art assets: Public. This is the stuff you should be using to make scenery packs. The lego airport bricks are all public. Private. This is stuff we meant to use as sub-parts of other art assets; they really should not have been exposed in the library. (The right thing to do is to use the parent art asset.) Often the private sub-parts contain fractions of a complete art asset and don’t make any sense on their own. Deprecated. This is stuff that used to be public, but now isn’t a good idea to use. Often the deprecated art assets contain empty stub objects, in place only to keep old scenery packs from crashing. For example, there are actually library paths for X-Plane 7 ENV radio towers – these would be marked as deprecated. These categories are for WED remember and not for X-Plane in private art assets, any private art assets will still work just as well under 10.25 as it did under 10.20. The goal here is to filter the library to find "the good stuff faster" and "not use internals and old stuff by accident" in WorldEditor. So with 1.2.1 it will filter out the private and deprecated library items, and make the library display a lot cleaner and more easier to use. Any bugs in the 1.2.1 beta should be of course reported quickly. For the full post then go to the: X-Plane Developers Blog : WorldEditor 1.2.1 Beta 1 – Ease of Use (for Robin too) WED Downloads are here : WorldEditor I X-Plane Developer Stephen Dutton 12th October 2013
  25. X-Plane 10 : HD Scenery v2 In the matrix that makes up Laminar Research, the scenery is mostly the work of Andras Fabian (AlpilotX) and Albert Laubi who is the texture artist in that with Ben Supnik (main Guru) create the virtual X-Plane world that we use and fly around. The creation of scenery is complex and is methodical in practice to create. In a very basic form it is textures laid over a mesh base. The mesh is created out of irregular sized triangles that hold information. Each of these triangle patches represents one type of terrain and X-Plane is different in the way that the mesh and these textures are all arranged on to the .dsf (Distribution Scenery Format ) tiles that we load continuously as we transverse an area or move across the world. Since X-Plane10 was released the amount of information created on to the .dsf tiles has been significantly increased. The biggest inclusion was the data of the OSM (OpenStreetMap) project that creates all the roads, building placements and the structure that highlights the complex world around us, the bonus of OSM is that it represents the real world data and that gives X-Plane the way to mirror the actual infrastructure and road networks in use in real time, and this is important for a flight simulator in the use of VFR rules (Visual Flight Rules). The main criticism with the release of X-Plane10 was the amount of data in OSM available was only very basic and that the actual textures were also very basic and still related in reality to older X-Plane simulator versions. People point to sceneries created by say ORBIX and other scenery developers and note “Why can’t we have that?”. Initially there was several reasons. One, most of these highly detailed sceneries where only created for a very small area, and with a concentration of a small landscape it is a lot easier to put in every rock and building - and you had to pay for it. Secondly, Is the fact that your computer could not run such highly sized scenery, a small portion yes, but not say a whole state or small country..... certainly not the whole of say, Alaska. On the surface it may look like X-Plane is running at a glacial pace, but that is not really the case. Andras has been putting out significant developments for quite awhile that will now soon start to show the progress that has been achieved. The first development was in HD (High-Definition) that you can download from AlpilotX site : X-Plane 10 HD Scenery Mesh They come in 10×10 degree areas that cover: “European” (9 downloads – each covering different regions) “Alaska and Canada West” (10 downloads) “USA West” (7 downloads – each covering 10×10 degrees, one covering 5×10 degrees) “Madagascar” (1 download) “Hawaii” (1 download) “Canary Island” (1 download) These sceneries are all experimental in context but at least will give up a lift up from the standard base areas that come with X-Plane. The next step was the release of a much higher density scenery that covered New Zealand : X-Plane 10 New Zealand Pro This release showed the potential of the HD when combined with the extremely high resolution base mesh (that is a bit higher than the other HD Scenery Mesh regions) with updated (and more detailed) land-class data (riverbeds, mines and morains which are entirely new – compared to the standard default Global Scenery. If you go to Juneau in Alaska, the current standard X-Plane scenery will look like this... From a distance it looks very good, but looking in closer it does look quite basic in that the textures are stretched and the detailing is quite average. The next step is v2. We got a first preview of the HD v2 scenery in July when Andras posted some scenery from Europe. This HD v2 scenery includes: Increased mesh density Improved forest representation (in Europe, reprocessed/improved raw forest land-class data) All new OSM data (streets, railways, power lines, water) Linear OSM rivers included (Tag:waterway=river) Some – minor – land-class tweaking (like strip mines or riverbeds etc.). Looking more closely you can see there is significantly more detail. The urban areas are far more complex and more natural, mountains and rocks have far more texture and detail, there is a more realistic feel to the scenery. Fields now look like fields and not just patches of green and the different types of textures have been increased significantly. More importantly is that the OSM data is far more denser, the areas look filled in with more autogen (Still too many mobile houses though), but it does look very good to what we have now. Andras has just posted another set of images (16th Sept 2013) and this time the scenery is focused on Canada. If you go back to the current default scenery you can see the difference in the v2 detailing, The images here are amazing in their shading and the far smaller rugged textures. Like Europe the grass areas here in Canada are again significantly different in detail. Overall on both sceneries it is the density of the forests and woodland areas that makes the most impact to the coverage of the landscapes. Instead of a trees you now have the realistic thickness of forests that has been missing from the current scenery. Areas to be covered by the v2 scenery is: Europe (this time, entire Europe) USA (complete) Alaska Canada (possibly not all of it, but definitely the South and West …) So why do we not have v2 scenery right now? There are two reasons. One, we needed 64bit in place to handle the larger sizes of these complex tiles. That job has now been done with the 10.22 (beta) and the 64bit is now stable. Secondly, is that the extra data and elements in new terrain textures are required to be in place to receive this scenery and that will be part of the 10.30 beta. When will the 10.30beta be released?... God Knows! But the work by Andras and Albert (plus some new .dsf cuts) will finally give the scenery the quality that we have hankered for, for so long. For more images of Europe and Canada and for any future release information then go to Andras Fabian’s (AlpilotX) web site: Alpilots l X-Plane Scenery Stephen Dutton 18th September 2013