Jump to content

Behind the Screen : June 2023


Recommended Posts

Behind the screen- June 2023.jpg


Behind the Screen : June 2023


The FlightSimExpo in Houston June 23rd-25th 2023, in a way dominated June 2023. Basically it was a waiting month, waiting not only for the promised new v12.06 release, but also for the expo itself, and in what would be announced and shown off at the annual American event. It was interesting as well, because for the first time both Microsoft with their recently announced FSMS 2024, and Laminar Research also attending with X-Plane 12, now starting to mature, it was the clash of the Flight Simulator titans... or was it?


Neither platforms were listed for a seminar, which changed last minute with Microsoft taking the moment to expand more on the their 2024 release features... Laminar, well nothing, as that Austin Meyer nor Ben Supnic were not even present in Houston, just the PR guy, and wonder boy Phillpp. The X-Plane presentation stand however was very successful, as the event had the highest attendance ever for a Flight Simulator expo.

Microsoft were throwing around early Christmas presents at pretty everyone who had a MSFS account, with a very nice Boeing 307 Stratoliner to add into your hangar...  the amount of releases currently for MSFS is staggering, but also getting a little silly. Coming soon are Pandas, some Lions as well? I mean unless you want a real dumb co-pilot (what about monkeys for X-Plane), what on earth are Pandas doing in a Flight Simulator? or what connection are these animals (except for the odd very low pass) in having them in there and taking up your valuable framerate?


Microsoft are also promising to take more of your simulator away from you as well. They want to reduce more on what you download to your computer, and stream more from their cloud network. You can see where this is going. As MSFS will be in time just a cloud platform with your addons kept in folders, it is all very game like, and to hope you have a wide and fast internet connection.


It was interesting that almost every exhibitor at the Houston Expo was running at their core X-Plane, not MSFS, why because it is far better to have the simulator in a box running your wares, streaming in another simulator to the expo would have been hard, so to mention that all the "Hard Core" Flight Simmers, are actually using X-Plane and not MSFS is a very good sign of where the platforms are performing.


It really didn't help at all though that Laminar were again well behind the 8 Ball, I waited (very patiently) for the release of version v12.06, Laminar told us it was coming very, very soon...  but nothing was released, to date it is still not released, and Laminar even now playing down the version as not one to get truly excited about?


Honestly I was not very happy about this one, and yes Laminar may have hit a snag on the release, but "come on", if it's not important then put the "damn" thing out, it wasn't a great look at the Expo or in the world of Flight Simming. Basically Laminar are now missing every target set, okay I admit in the grand scheme of things it is not a big deal, you are always waiting for an update or change to any simulator, but it feels we are still in beta, not a final released version of X-Plane 12, I won't mention the wonky bulky clouds if you won't.


I recommend to read Dominic Smith's (of X-PlaneReviews) interview with Austin Meyers. It was an excellent piece of interviewing in not getting thrown off by the usual PR fluff from Austin Meyer. He notes there are 25 people now at Laminar, but most work on the site or in PR, Laminar has greatly increased there behind the site team, and yes there has been a few new coders, but the core team still does 80% of the heavy lifting.


To be fair X-Plane is a much more varied Simulator than MSFS. That in the box element is important, but the platform has to support a bigger range of users and elements. MSFS is a single pipe (Windows), were as X-Plane is three, plus for support for VR (Virtual Reality), Over at Asobo the VR team they have actually been disbanded (VR) to work on other aspects of the game (note the word game). For home builders with multiple screens, the X-Plane is still the place to go to. So Austin emphasized how hard it is to cover all the different aspects of all the different elements that makes up the X-Plane Simulator. But the complexity is showing on how hard they are struggling to keep all the different elements working together, this is not the old Xplane9 days, but X-Plane 12 complexity.


Size and scale are actually quite important aspects to the simulator, but you need to cross continents, while being aware of the minute stones and gravel on a runway, that is of course an immense scale, and very hard to get right


But to be honest with you...  sitting around at 38,000ft and looking at weird clouds and strange formations, I wasn't particularly impressed six months out from the official release of X-Plane12, then with the no show up at the Expo, and I wasn't a very happy bunny...  expecting too much?


Well in this case no. Because I believe the basic fundamentals should be fixed first, in this case the sky and clouds elements. When I first looked at MSFS 2020 the one thing that really blew me away was the weather system, it looked not only totally realistic (even if the clouds didn't actually move) but it looked like a real sky. On the X-Plane beta release, I didn't have the same feeling about the X-Plane clouds or the sky colours, it looked...  well slightly off or not very real.


But laminar are keeping very much to the set program with their updates and versions, the patterns are easy to see, 12.01 was mostly a clean up of the leftover details from the release, 12.02 was for Memory leaks, 12.03 brought you the extra DSF files or better scenery fill missing in the release, 12.04 another minute fill in, plus the introduction of the Zink mode, 12.05 concentrated on the AirbusA330 with a functional MCDU and a major updates to the default aircraft... plus in every release there has been the odd adjustment for the weather, mostly in v12.04r3 that fixed the nasty top level winds, then fixing the Gribb Files for a few days later.


So it's been a pretty rough run to date, and v12.06 is supposed to be a bigger update with no zebra-stripes and those funky real weather cloud pyramids, plus better cirrus clouds on the top layer, you can see why I'm screaming for it, and was so disappointed it didn't appear at the Expo.

It would have created the situation that, yes finally X-Plane 12 is maturing, through the beta's, through the early bumps in the road, and finally actually to being a workable simulator, yes it's fine now you say? but honestly this aspect should have been priority from the moment X-Plane 12 was released back at Christmas 2022. The one area that you could have leveled with MSFS 2020, is taking ages to come to your simulator.


Like I said, it is easy to sit here and complain, getting a decent working weather system is not going to easy from scratch, so yes I will give Laminar some leeway in that aspect, but the money should have gone into it from day one. Basically it is six months behind, or should have been ready with the X-Plane 12 release...  knowing our luck v12.06 will come out straight after I post this article, it is as noted at the Expo, due two weeks after or coming this weekend 15th/16th July.


But that is not the point, at the Expo, Laminar missed a great opportunity to show how X-Plane 12 could have been a great alternative to MSFS with v12.06, it was actually very successful with punters on the ground, but it could have been a whole lot better.


I don't want these monthly post to turn into rants, that is boring, but I do want X-Plane to be enjoyed by users out there and know they are getting at least a solid mature simulator, all simulators are a "work in progress" a never ending stream of changes and updates, "I get that", and as Austin Meyers noted in the interview, nobody pushes harder than the man himself, wants more or demands more of his team, but sometimes you have to put the money of where it does the most good. ATC is a great example...


...  ATC in X-Plane 10/11 was a mess, nobody could fix it, nobody in Laminar could make it work. So for X-Plane 12 Meyer's finally gave in and bought in an outsider (now an insider) called Jim Keir. Jim then totally revamped and rebuilt the ATC in X-Plane 12, and guess what it works, not perfect, a note that there is another huge update coming for the ATC (yes, you guessed it) in v12.06! but the point I'm making is that specific areas need specific talents, the old one of that one that fits all just won't work with these huge complex simulators anymore, resources get stretched and the results are these long development times. Weather should have been the top of the list in priority, just one look at MSFS 2020 on it's release would have simply told you that....


I hope you enjoy v12.06...  when it finally arrives.


A small note on using the Zibo Boeing 737-800 mod. The Zibo is an aircraft that I haven't flown a lot, to be honest. I always found it a little too buggy for my tastes. Another flight from BNE to MEL before Christmas said another tail of woe. I had barely reached the end of my departure SID, before...  yes you guessed it, it did a nasty CTD. It's odd to load as well, you have to load another aircraft (default B738), then load in the Zibo, or it freezes on the X-Plane loading phase of "Building World", annoying, plus you can still also get CTD if you set a autosave flight.


But I persevered this time, and enjoyed the experience in flying up to Savlbard, up there deep into the arctic circle. In these encounters, you can see why you do Simulation, the flying, the exploring...  when it all comes together it is very satisfying thing for your soul... yes I like being in the Zibo 737, it is very good now, but wish the fine tuning could be well...  a bit finer. I liked it so much I'm doing another flight from Brisbane (YBBN) to Bali (WADD), and one flight that has been on my bucket list for awhile, if I make it, then the Zibo will stay in the hangar, if it doesn't then it may be parked again for another time. Update... the Zibo goes back into hangar it failed to pass the test.

I noted last month I was going to do an X-Plane 12 overview to date, but the required v12.06 update didn't happen, so the article is still waiting, so now that report will be passed on to the first anniversary release of the X-Plane 12 Simulator

See you all next month.

Stephen Dutton
12th July 2023

Copyright©2023 X-Plane Reviews


Logo Header X-PlaneReviews 200px.jpg


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...