Jump to content

Behind the Screen : September 2022


Recommended Posts

Behind the screen- September 2022.jpg


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!


Laminar 2022 sm Logo.jpg


See you all again next month.


Stephen Dutton

4th October 2022

Copyright©2022 X-Plane Reviews


Logo Header X-PlaneReviews 200px.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Interesting review, I have been waiting to see what your thoughts would be. Personally I started the month saying that I would wait buying XP12. There just seemed too many reported issues, but then it is a beta. As the month went on I came to the conclusion that it was time to have a look for myself. When simulators change staying behind also has issues - for example was there any point in buying anymore XP11 content? The download from Steam was easy and (praying while it booted up) like you the performance was good. Getting my Thrustmaster controls working was painful, but that was issues around pedals and joysticks fighting with each other. For me the stock airports, at least during the day, seemed a big improvement in some cases better than some of the payware XP11 I had bought, but then a lot of XP11 content wasn’t great or by now very dated. The weather was a huge improvement, perhaps a little too choppy (is there calm air anywhere in XP12?) but a first flight from my local airport Medellin (SKRG) to Cartagena (SKCG) felt very like a real flight I had taken a week before. There is generally a change between the weather on departure, high in the Andes and arrival on the Caribbean coast and it was all there.

Like you I found there were things I no longer needed. I have liked you Activesky but it felt good not to have to deal with it anymore. A flight from Los Angeles to San Francisco made me wonder whether I really needed Orbx anymore. From height the default scenery, while not ‘see your own house’ seemed a big improvement. The Taimodels Paris you mention I have and downloaded the XP12 version from the store. Impressive. But even better was Verticalsims XP12 version of Syracuse (KSYR). X-CODRs KDEN XP12 version worked right out of the box as well. I bought X-CODRs scenery enhancement package and those stock airports looked even better.

On payware aircraft the Toliss fleet seemed good upgrades and for me stable. Flight Factors 757 and 767 seemed better in XP12 and are old friends. I have yet to fly their upgraded A350. AD Simulations CRJ700 seemed nervy, that may be joystick set up. Zibo for me better in XP12 but perhaps a new fresh install rather than update over update in XP11 helped? SSG’s 747 was the first aircraft that looked a little heavy on the frame rates in XP12 but then again it was no lightweight in XP11. Just about everyday there is some XP12 version release. There is always something to try. I feared all these updates might be a chore. It is not.

Traffic Global had a messy release (there are posts on how to fix it) and it spawns so much ground traffic and annoyingly over your parked aircraft. But it does work and for me seems more stable than the XP11 version (perhaps it is happier without other plugs ins like Activesky)? Simbrief runs, Navigraph updates work but how I miss the moving map. The base XP map is still pretty sad. Avitab works without issues, Better Pushback mostly. X-Organizer is up and running to help with scenery ordering and useful with helping manage the transition.


Bottom line, yes it is a beta. Yes there is some weird stuff. Late evening at KORD had some very strange lighting, cartoon sunset quickly fading to a grey murk. But for me a pretty basic XP12 is better than my heavily loaded XP11. I think it is going to be rather good….


Link to comment
Share on other sites

A nicely balanced review.  Personally, it all hinges on how much/many of my XP11 investments will be useable in the new version.  I avoid default scenery as much as possible so what they've improved is relatively unimportant and I tend to create my own ambiance with shader plugins so will continue to wait and watch.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@olderndirtI too have a lot of payware scenery. My guess is that much of it is not going to be updated and in many cases a new scenery, at best with a discount, will be released. Those scenery providers who are still active may provide updates but that a lot of older material won’t be. From those developers reporting on their XP11 products most seem to have one or more glitches in the packages. Some issues might get resolved by Xplane12 updates, say poor performance at night, but others like levitating buildings will be up to the developers. Boundless are a pretty good example listing discovered issues for their sceneries on the boundlessdirect site, through a link on their home page. One other issue is where you bought your sceneries from if you then need XP12 updates. The Orgstore is making them available pretty quickly but others, like the Inibuilds store aren’t built to have more than one version so purchasers from there are on wait until they change, if ever, their store.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...