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Behind the Screen : July 2019


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Behind the Screen : July 2019


First of all I will state my credentials. I do like ultimate realism in simulation. I do start many a simulation flight right at the start with a cold and dark set up although I do prefer the turnaround starting point. I go through every procedure, load in the route, the aircraft's preferences (fuel & weights) for the flight and then do the full palaver of using the airport vehicles to load in the luggage, fuel and passengers, the whole shebang... clearance, pushback and finally leave the departure airport. Enroute I follow SimBrief and Navigraph data to see how the aircraft is performing and cover the flight as professinally as possible... on landing I do the reverse in unloading the passengers and their luggage and then secure the aircraft, I even do a walk up and down the aisle to make sure the aircraft is empty (note a plugin is required to create after flight passenger mess for realism!), in other words I do the full monty of the flight, and now with my matured flying skills I will also do some simulation crisis management, with say an engine fire or environmental issue, it all is very well considered to get the full experience of flying an aircraft as close to the real environment as possible. In the GA environment I am still as considered in walking around the aircraft, setting up the correct fuel and passenger load where applicable and doing every nut and bolt of the flight, so I am the real deal, right...  absolutely.


But there are areas that was brought home to me lately and it happens often were as realism 101 is sometimes a step to far. If the developer goes too far in this realism do da it sometimes then turns more into extreme frustration, frustration to "agggghhhh" that buries the realism factor deep into a world of pain.


If you can't access the aircraft or are not in control of important elements then there is the case that the quite honourable aims of the developer can get lost in the idea. So total absolute realism is great but only to a point.


Some times this effect can be you. I have struggled with bleed systems that have left me exasperated to the point of throwing things, but that is okay if the systems are built like that as I have to figure that aspect out, delve into the manuals, work your way through the systems and get it right. So usually on complicated machines I make a diagram or take an image for next time (note... it would be good to have a plugin that remembers notes for in the cockpit of that aircraft, to bring up notes of the quirks of flying or starting the machine that you may forget?" to note the IXEG B732 and Rotate MD-88).


Then there is Jack's beloved FJS Q400, lovely aircraft but an total absolute pain to start with the mixture lever do-dah, it never kicks in until I do and I start in throwing things around the room and it mostly requires a full aircraft restart with engines running which sort of spoils the whole realism 101 thing, I hope the v2.0 Dashy fixes this issue, if not I won't be happy as I won't put up with it all over again.


The point is that if you want the full total immersion of changing spark plugs, oil and the full maintenance palaver then fine, good for you, and I know that these airworthy machines require a lot of attention, and so does my 28 year old car.


But the issue is how many times do you actually change those spark plugs, and even on a tired, oily and battered machine...  certainly not as often as the developers tend to confront you with, which is mostly every other flight or each flight. They then send you down a twisted long set of issues to get the machine airworthy, fine now and again, but when then with almost every flight can really start to get you seriously frustrated, and then they give you no reset or a quick fix way out of the maze...  yes it is realism, and I GET that.


So if I am pretty good at this simulation caper and I struggle, then god help the newly formed flier as they haven't got a hope in hell, worse is the fact with these aircraft are these non-accessible faults can create a large barrier in using and enjoying the aircraft, this factor is then to the disadvantage to the developer themselves, because if the aircraft is not accessible the you are not going to buy it, or worse buy it, and then throw it away and never fly it and swear never to buy another one of those developers products again.  


But when you do get say a fuel feed blockage FIVE times in two flights and you can't remove or adjust the realism factor then consider how many fuel blockages do you really get on an aircraft, yes it happens and maybe often in the wilds of Alaska with fuel taken from dirty drums, but not FIVE damn times in two flights... two times to change the oil, air filter, water in the fuel...   la de da.  in the end the aircraft got binned, enough was simply enough... to get to actually fly this wonderful even precious little aircraft was just simply too hard, the fun factor was totally ruined in frustration.


I am not for a moment suggesting to make aircraft realism feature lite, but just accessible. If the user doesn't want the full on realism factor and just wants to fly the damn aircraft, then that should be an option... most developers do, do this but many don't. Again on mostly the study grade aircraft the faults are accessible and can be set according to your preferences, mostly in the fault activating in a period of time or situation like at a certain altitude, but more so if you want to use the "never" option it there for you. I always like the failure on the "hours" factor of breakdown. So the realism is a major factor, but if the aircraft is totally inaccessible to fly, then you are just defeating yourself.


In the end it is the developer that actually loses here in less sales, and you try to tell them, but if they won't listen?


In the month I also got a lot of comments from users noting that some aircraft and I will note the Magknight Boeing 787 as a case in point in that as a purchase it was and I quote "unfinished and missing items"... in reality you have to laugh, and yes I understand that paying $45 you would expect a pretty completed aircraft, is the Magknight aircraft current worth $45, no not really and you only have to look at that freeware low-res nose as a point in reference and so the developer is also being a bit cheeky here I think, but you are told that you are buying into the project as it is and have access to all the future upgrades, and as I have noted before that there will come to a point (unless the developer again increases the price) the value that is delivered should or will crossover the price point where you are getting the value to the money paid. That is the idea and the commitment, and as Magknight has delivered already a lot of updates then that is the case if going to be a fair deal. (if the developer moves the price-point far higher again it will be shit deal). 


The point is the developer is getting payments while still doing the work, where as usually you get paid after the work is completed with a few updates to clear up any last minute bugs, Colimata's Concorde is the same "pay now get later" deal, and to the "I want now" crowd it does sort of keep them happy in asking the same repetitive boring question "when will it be out?" but getting the half developed aircraft can also be very confronting as well, so you then get their "not worth the money" flagging so you can't win either way.


Personally I don't like half developed product, especially when money is on the line (I wonder how many would be as glowing if they had to earlier actually pay for the Zibo B738) but it is certainly in payware territory now. The Concorde was a disappointment, it is absolutely nowhere close to being finished, but we are getting too many forward payment projects.

You still need a certain line to be crossed in the development process for users to get value, but I find far to many projects again and again are released far too early in the process in the race to put some money in the bank, but they use the users "I want" factor to get around this aspect, then they have to face the "I'm disappointed" factor after. These signals are not good overall because as they say "shit sticks" and overall, the sales factor can be curtailed, so early release developers gain in early cash, but lose in overall long term sales as Seinfeld says "once it's out there, it is out there".


X-Plane11 went final on version v11.35, which overall was quite painless and unless you get turned on by better fuel and bleed systems and a Collins 65 autopilot, but at least it won't be as devastating as the next coming v11.40 with all the life changing Vulkan/Metal deep throat, gut the system churn, obviously we are looking forward to that, not the gutting of the simulator, but the ongoing forward changes the new APIs will bring. Prepare for simulator meltdown around the end of the year.


FlightFactor made their A320 Ultimate to v0.10.8 or final from the beta as well, but one look at the half rendered cabin shows this area is still a work in progress, and so is an added Flight Attendant Panel (FAP) to EFB, but not on the actual cabin wall which is still fake?, but please don't get the aircraft wrong, as with a now working weather radar, it is one of the best simulations in X-Plane11...  immersion heaven.


Surprisingly xEnviro put out an update in v1.11(very rare for them) and added in some new slider features, very good, but the update didn't fix the main cloud visual artifacts, and in heavy cloud formations your framerate plummets, but the blocky cloud formations felt better.

Another bug is probably the biggest issue in that the METAR data keeps the X-Plane weather setting on "Damp" all the time and creates a mass of spray even in clear skies and 39º heat (Europe in the summer, who would have thought) when the engines are running, and I can't use that view for reviews, but I'm still persevering, but overall the unpredictability of the application is now making reviews hard work and somehow it is losing a bit of it's original feel to a more harsher environment that was so realistic at the start, it certainly feels better in many areas, but somehow also losing something in the process... if no more updates are forthcoming then my guess I will be again retreating and be back on v1.07 by the end of the month.


This edition of "Behind the Screen" coincides with X-PlaneReviews 6th year of publications, We have been reviewing now since August 2013, and start into our 7th year of delivering quality reviews for the X-Plane simulator, time has flown by, but so have the enormous changes that have been under taken to X-Plane since that start date.... so again thank you for your support of the site and to all the people and their enormous contributions that make the world of X-Plane simulation possible.


See you all next month


Stephen Dutton

1st August 2019

Copyright©2019: X-Plane Reviews


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