Stephen Posted October 4, 2022 Report Share Posted October 4, 2022 Behind the Screen : September 2022 Finally on September 6th 2022 Laminar Research released (I hate the word "Dropped") X-Plane 12 "Early Access". The trick on noting it an early access was that currently it is only available as a "Digital Download" download version, and all of the new version in size was exactly what I expected it to be at 80 Gb. To speed up my download I only downloaded in 40 Gb by leaving out Africa, Russia and S. America. Then later that night I downloaded in the rest. Disks and hard copies will come when X-Plane 12 goes final. Tricky start was as the payment system wouldn't work, it crashed then crashed again, but then I got my authorisation key that works with both the new X-Plane 12 and the older X-Plane 11. The download (about three hours) however went smoothly. Then the big moment came... apprehensive! I covered the details of the new simulator in a full overview here; X-Plane 12 - Next Generation X-Plane Beta release "Early Access" One advantage that MSFS (Microsoft Flight Simulator) had over X-Plane (11 and earlier) was that lovely glossy sheen. Comparing X-Plane it had a very matt and even bland feel to it, and this was very obvious if you look at the older XP11 images to the newer XP12. xEnviro sort of helped in its lighting effects, but looking at and seeing MSFS aircraft in their realism appearance and you had to feel jealous. The first impact XP12 had on me was that X-Plane now had that same quality glossy feel (If in areas still a little over glossy). But the visual differences are stark and the photo realism of X-Plane 12 certainly comes over in the images we create now. Like everyone I'm aware this is a Beta phase (probably for a few months until America's thanksgiving, again like I predicted in last month's BtheS) so anything and everything could change in this period. I set my expectations for X-Plane 12 low, as after a decade or so you certainly don't believe all the hype, in fact anything hyped I usually run the other way. As you know I review and write about this simulator and have done so for over a decade. Would that aspect make me very circumspect, even quite delusional in foolishly believing and even deceiving myself it is really good when it isn't. LIke trying to convince yourself this film is very good and well made, when it is actually crap. But you could easily do this if say your current circumstances depend on it and for X-Plane 12 to be successful, you would be surprised how many livelihoods out there actually depend on a simulator (or even shall I say the word in Game). I am going to be honest about that. Not only myself, but more importantly most Simulator users have been very flattering if even highly praising towards the newly released version. I'm in no doubt that if X-Plane 12 had have not been a quality upgrade the punters would have easily like hungry packs of sharks and ripped it apart. There were the usual nasty comments from the MSFS crowd doing their two fingered salutes, but the simulator purchasers are overall the real assessors here and everyone gives X-Plane 12 the thumbs up. And I don't disagree with them in their comments. Several things stand out. Framerate is still well within the bounds of X-Plane 11 without any major blowouts, of which we had when we switched over to X-Plane 11 and it back then needed a lot of refining in its Beta run. X-Plane 12 was also instantly flyable with the excellent available default aircraft. The simulator looks brilliant, it really does, and has a very good foundation for going forward. The features are also exceptional, but to be honest I haven't yet first had the chance to use them all or even to start exploring the seasons and weather effects, but I'm very impressed by what I have already seen. So out of the box X-Plane 12 was and is very, very good. I hate "Update September", worse we now have a major simulator update and upgrade to cover as well. And its a BIG job, certainly if you have an extensive simulator setup. With experience I know to bring in the elements (usually from X-Plane 11) one piece at a time, if not you could get yourself quickly and seriously into a complicated mess. If it works so in it goes, if it doesn't work then no it doesn't go in, plugin by plugin, aircraft by aircraft, setting by setting. It will overall take months to do, but at the end of the process the new X-Plane 12 will be in a good and refined shape. To a point a major switch like to a new X-Plane version is a very good time for some serious housekeeping, and time to throw a lot of the old debris away. You would be amazed on how much non in not being now required stuff is actually living in there, and doing in nothing but clogging up your system. The positives here are overwhelmingly good, but there are a few negatives as well. First X-Plane 12 hits your Graphic Card with a hammer. I know already I'm up for an (expensive) Graphic Card upgrade, it currently runs and fine, but my GTX 1080 is seriously under load now most of the time. I will need more graphic computing space there. If I'm feeling the pinch then a lot of users out there will not be in a good position. Secondly is the lighting. If an aircraft has been refined to the new X-Plane 12 lighting model, then they are pretty good, but far too many are very dark inside, almost black coal faces. Even some aircraft that have been even refined have been a bad nightmare in getting any sort of light to take review images from, I did one review section five times and I'm still not at all happy with the images as it was just impossible to get any sort of light into there. On night scenes, then any older scenery are very brightly washed out from the airport's lighting. Again adjustment will have to be made, but how do you correct a decade of collected scenery to fit? That is an impossible job and I'm certainly not in wanting to throw a full custom scenery folder away? So hopefully Laminar will come to the party here and somehow fix it. Still on the night aspect. We expected with the new lighting engine in X-Plane 12 to have better lighting at night? In fact I think it is worse than X-Plane 11, another black hole. You are getting absolutely no reflective light, or moonshine, and I am quite disappointed by that, and even to the point I think it is not good enough for a modern simulator. As you know I have rallied over the last few years on the scenery aspect of X-Plane. We knew that X-Plane 12 was not going to have any focus on this area at all. In fact some scenery aspects have been refined and quite nicely (that extra 20 Gb of scenery). Europe comes across very well, but oddly America is and always was a bland place to fly around unless you were in the mountainous areas, don't get me started on Australia, it is bland from one side to the other. X-Plane 12 upped the infrastructure, but it is still very dire in context. Use any quality custom scenery and it really shines in X-Plane 12, just look at Paris's Charles de Gaulle LFPG on our header image and it looks and feels magnificent. Move away from custom and it all goes downhill very quickly. Yes I'm very disappointed with my local area (Gold Coast AUS). I was not expecting any improvement with the new X-Plane version, but I was just not at all happy on just how little has changed here in a decade? This is not a MSFS factor, this is an X-Plane factor and we need to get serious about fixing it. Quality custom 3d in X-Plane shows you what can be done as matching it within X-Plane is really, really good now... bubble Global Airports are too limited, but that is not the real problem here, it is the real world infrastructure that is really missing. One last aspect was that a lot of aircraft are being rejected because X-Plane 12 will only recognise XP12 aircraft and rejects X-Plane 11 or older aircraft. XPD-13001 in Beta 4 should have fixed this, but it is still a lottery if the aircraft will work or not... Gripe over. Most developers have currently only done XP12 compatible aircraft, not upgrades. They work in the new simulator but that is about it, but they have delivered in getting them out there and flyable. 2023 will be interesting when X-Plane 12 is then final and the real version upgrades start coming through, but even on the current developments you are going to have a lot of choice on what you can fly in the new simulator. In value I think X-Plane 12 delivers, in fact at US$100 for what you get here is great value, so US$59.95 is an absolute bargain, and the basics like the weather, ATC and water are exceptional, yes all round more refinement is needed and that will come like noted over the next few months. What happens next will however be even more interesting from Laminar Research. The features in X-Plane 12 have cleared the table so to speak of a lot of the past niggling problems of the simulator and the Vulkan/Metal upgrades now covered. In fact for once they won't have a huge to-do list sitting on the table, so maybe it is time to focus heavily just on a few areas to give X-Plane even more of a competitive advantage, for me it is two... Night lighting and Scenery, and in time if those aspects are addressed it will then show the real power of the excellent X-Plane 12 release. Note, if you see the new X-Plane 12 logo on a review, then that will denote it is an X-Plane 12 product! See you all again next month. Stephen Dutton 4th October 2022 Copyright©2022 X-Plane Reviews Kiwiflyer 1 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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