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Behind the Screen : August 2022


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Behind the screen- August 2022.jpg


Behind the Screen : August 2022


You know the cartoon image. It is the one with the guy in rags that is crawling through the very hot desert to see an oasis, a few palm trees and water in the middle of nowhere...  is it real or is it a mirage? It looks real but you know it could disappear or fade away in an instant..


At this point Laminar Research's X-Plane 12 beta release feels very much like that, real or not.


Well it is coming and very, very soon, but you still have the feeling that any moment it could be taken out of your grasp...  again, just fade away for another promised day, like NASA shooting for the moon...   the point is when do you start to feel it is not worth it all? 


August was a desert month, reviews were very thin on the ground because all or any new releases are now so far and in-between. There are two causes for that. One is the Northern Summer holidays, or six weeks of extreme heat, no water and bush fires, again welcome to our usual Australian climate, only we are just used to it year after year, and here it just goes up in temperature a few clicks every year because of the climate change.


Second is of course the long draw out drama of X-Plane 12, and it's beta release. Your a developer right, you have a big project bubbling along, but that will be only a X-Plane 12 release and slated for say the end of the year or early 2023 (yipes 2023!). The rest of your current X-Plane 11 fleet are ready and converted to X-Plane 12, but remember X-Plane 12 is still only a beta and changes could still be coming...


But anyway the fleet is done and ready for the release of the next generation of the Simulator because you had a testing Alpha since early March, that will at least have you ready, well sort of. Then the X-Plane 12 development drags on and on?


You can't switch to release the new project early as it is slated only for X-Plane 12, and you can't do anything anymore with the old fleet either because they are all up to date as well, so in reality you have nothing to release. So you just go to the beach!


So do expect a profusion of quick releases of upgraded aircraft (that is the ones you have to pay to upgrade) because it will make quick money for the developers when the Beta is released, but it will also give you a full featured aircraft in X-Plane 12 to fly quickly.


Important to note is that these upgrades are not just for the new X-Plane 12 features, but they also include updates for the next four years or so of the X-Plane 12 run, or the regular servicing of the aircraft you use...  well regularly.

This upgrade caper crept in at the X-Plane 11 release with a few developers taking the plunge, and considering that X-Plane 11 ran for just under 6 Years, it was in hindsight good value for your US$30 or so. But this time around with X-Plane 12 there are certainly many times the X factor in top quality aircraft and developers, as to the few that switched over from X-Plane 10 to X-Plane 11, so there will be far more to upgrade (or expense) this time around.


I can see the roadmap for X-Plane 12. September means that everyone will be finally back at their desks, including the Laminar Research staff, then three clear months to work though the Beta problems for a "Final" release just before Christmas, and then you are ready for another "Happy Holiday's", it is all too well thought out really, so you really wouldn't want a spanner thrown in the works would you...


I yet don't have (to this article date) X-Plane 12 (beta) because I want to see the whole complete package and installation, mostly to compare the same with X-Plane 11.


The Alpha download would always be the minimum set up, and even with components missing, so you can't put them side by side. Another difference is that the loading size will this time have to include the "Global Scenery" at 61.6Gb. In X-Plane 11 you could just switch it over directly from X-Plane 10, or load in X-Plane 11 without the global tiles (Update Scenery) for a quick basic (Demo sized) up load, then move the Global Scenery folder across to the new version (along with your Custom Scenery, Aircraft and Plugin Folders).


I am hoping the tiles if not changed in the landscape visuals, do have however more significant data built in (a sort of HD by alpilotx version as default), but anything better than the current 11 year old mesh? but I am not hoping for much there.


Let us be clear. I'm not getting my hopes up for a significant change from X-Plane 11. Yes there will be areas of "Wow", but nothing like we had in X-Plane 11 and certainly not like the massive changes we had back in the X-Plane 10 release.


In testing the XP12 Beta, Laminar (bravely) released a testing video:


Ten Hours of Flight in X-Plane 12 – Timelapse


Unlike images that can be creatively angled and lit, video can be very stark, the same difference between live television and film, although more modern television drama is now more quality than film. But you know what I mean, in television it has that stark feel to it.

X-Plane is like that as well. I have very rarely used X-Plane in it's basic form. the one with 130 framerates, basic default aircraft and virtually never with the Global airports. It is a stark world there. But that is the one I was watching in the video.


Oddly most users fly like this as well, because it is free, but it's actually not very realistic either. And flying just over Texas for ten hours is very boring as well, as there is not a lot of visual change going on here or there.


So here come the comments, just from that video. "I hate those clouds!", and "It's black at night!". One THOSE clouds were run in real time in one area, so they won't change much in 10 hours, and two THOSE clouds were running in a timelapse video...  "Duh".


But I am going to note the night blackness. If this is the case with X-Plane 12, then I hope during the Beta run that the night environment is addressed. If correctly Laminar boasted that the lighting in X-Plane 12 was configured to real world lighting conditions, and that SHOULD include night time lighting seepage as well. So I'm with the hoards on this one, and also because more importantly to me, is that I do a lot of overnight long-haul flying.

If this is the case then I would be quiet vocal about that in wanting that night lighting feature addressed and quickly. However you could note it could be just a feature currently switched off for testing. MSFS (yes I know) does have light seepage at night effects, and another reason to quickly fix it, that night lighting would be top of my Beta list Ben.


So my conclusion of X-Plane 12 will be only after all my do, da's and effect tuning is done, and that will be interesting. I truly hope to drop a few plugin's as well, certainly xEnviro which has been a pain for the last year, but also a nasty framerate killer as well. But I am also wondering or fear which plugins and aircraft I will lose in the changeover process as well? Download size, I think we will soon find out, but my bet is on 80Gb more or less.


Most users will say, "Oh I will fly my past aircraft in X-Plane 11 anyway". But how long will that last, a few months? I found once the new shiny, shiny one is out, then the former version is very quickly made redundant, rarely do you want to go back there or even use the old version, as you will quickly convert over to the new, better new. We'll keep you updated on what we feel is the best and worse of the release, but I know in a month it will still be basically X-Plane, and not the new MSFS as many are expecting.


Thoughout August as well X-PlaneReviews lost our header animation. Invision did an update that did more damaged than solve old ones, including the image formatting, so it looked sadly broken for the whole month or was it months.

Anyway it's (finally) fixed with a 3rd party plugin. Because it is a custom plugin you now have more options and features, so we will work with them and see what we can do to make access more intuitive. Also because the X-Plane 12 is coming (or now here), there is also now a dedicated X-Plane 12 thread on the banner, so for anything new and related to X-Plane 12 it will go in there. 


Finally we had a site failure, or server failure after a particularly nasty electrical storm on the past weekend, and "crack", and everything went down for a few hours. The X-Plane.Org went down as well for the same period. Obviously we are back, but these things still make me nervous as there is nearly a decade of work on this site, all could have gone in a puf in a single brief moment, but we have a mirrored back up don't we? We do don't we!


See you all again next month


Stephen Dutton

5th September 2022

Copyright©2022 X-Plane Reviews


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