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Behind the Screen : October 2019

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Behind the Screen : October 2019

 

We here at X-PlaneReviews have had to have a bit of a rethink in the way we select and present our reviews. The problem quite simply is that X-Plane as a simulator is now going at full throttle, with releases coming now not just weekly but even daily. In other words we are getting absolutely snowed under with new product.

 

We do pick the best from the releases as many are not really worthy of attention, but we are seeing far too many now not being presented for your selection or choice, that is not good or even fair to you. Reviews on a whole take three days to process, so mostly that is two to three reviews a week, but get a complicated aircraft or a plugin that demands a lot of learning and testing and then a week can go by in a heart beat. Yes we would love some reviewers to help out the cause and anyone is welcome to have a go, but reviewing does require an intimate knowledge of the simulator and knowing the ins and outs of the aircraft and of the scenery you have to review, it can be time consuming as well (three days) so finding good solid reviewers is hard. But the rewards is that if you love simulation are very high, and you get to do that also with a lot of benefits.

 

With a release you basically want to know the details. Mostly this is with scenery because in sheer release numbers then scenery out releases all other releases by 3 to 1, and that is as noted is increasing 2 fold every year. So the idea is for a "Quick Impression" review in that I look at the newly released scenery and give you my first impressions of the good and the bad, the price and a link so you can purchase the item if you wish...  aircraft as well, will also have a quick look over, but many aircraft releases do require a bit of time to detail (meaning flying the damn thing) so aircraft first impressions won't come as much as a scenery or maybe a plugin for a quick impression. If the scenery deserves a more detailed and in depth full review, then that like in the past that will also be forthcoming, but the overall point is that far more recent releases can be shown on the site, even if they are not the full in depth review.

 

This rethink was while I was away from the site moving house, you would think it would be easy to move 150 ft across the road, it is not, not when you have disconnected (firewall and human firewall) 3rd party phone companies, thankfully I am now reconnected to the modern internet superhighway, but the palaver in doing so shows that legacy companies are not deserving of our business no matter what "feedback" and "satisfaction customer policies" they believe... they are absolutely crap at doing the basics as I will atest...  and yes that is you Telstra.

 

Rant over means I am now a few releases behind in reviews, but I hope to catch up by Christmas...  but it still gave the idea of the "Quick Impression" that was noted as required earlier in the year as the backlog mounted and mounted, as it is an absolute requirement anyway. We are thinking for 2020 of a few new changes and categories as well for the site, we feel the current layout is getting a little restricting...  something to think about over the Christmas/NewYear holiday.

 

ProjectFly

An interesting story popped in October about ProjectFLY's who's servers went offline as confirmed by its owner Matt Davies mid-October. The reason was that Matt Davies was struggling to pay the hosting Google account for the ProjectFLY servers, the cost was a whopping GBP £2,750 or US$3,556, and that is a lot of cash to find.

 

ProjectFly is a community based online system that notes "to follow the path of a real Pilot through their training and type rating ready to simulate that daily routine of a Low Cost Carrier Captain or even if you simply want a community of like-minded individuals", like in real life you can do a "journey similar to those pursuing a real career in Aviation. You start at the bottom, working your way towards your PPL. From there, you will have the ability to progress onto your CPL and ATPL before finally going on to your type-rating for that dream aircraft.".

 

It is a very ambitious project but a very worthwhile one, but being community based then it is known as free! But look at the cost of providing "Free", and there you will see a problem, as nothing... I mean nothing is free, as someone somewhere has to pay.

The idealism and the reality check often collide as it did here for Matt, the thing that horrified me was that when Google shut down Matt's servers, then the firestorm started, the "freeloaders" started blaming Mr Davies for something he had at the time no control over...  thankfully a lot of donations paid the bill and ProjectFLY will thankfully FLY another day...  but the point has to be made that nothing is free, you just can't take all the time without giving back. Now ProjectFLY will move to a subscription service to provide the platform, which Mr Davis now acknowledges should have been done from day one, and it will actually be cheap at £1 or US$3 a month... biscuits, but the point is that one if you are thinking of doing a simulator business then do your homework, as like in the real world it is still a business and you will still get real bills to pay, and of course your time requires some sort of payment, for the freeloaders, then apologise to the nice man and buy his low subscription...  and remember for everything you get for free then someone out there has to pay for it, if you don't then you will simply lose it, as business dynamics are still the same whatever you do.

 

Cosford

Right in the middle of moving heavy boxes, the yearly UK Simulation event at RAF Cosford in the United Kingdom 5 - 6 October 2019 went on. My thoughts were that Laminar Research were doing another presentation and obviously X-PlaneReviews always covers LR seminars for details and announcements. X-PlaneReviews didn't cover the event because basically there was really nothing new to present...  most of the presentation was mostly covering the old Vulkan and Metal ground (The US Expo), and yes the Guy's and Girls at Laminar are now getting very close to their Holy Grail of a new API for the simulator, an update and a display of yes "X-Plane is now flying in Vulkan/Metal" barring a few more tweeks, but nothing of news of a major scale or future road map was worth presenting, and certainly nothing exciting enough to put the boxes down for.

 

But I am seriously very excited on the coming Vulkan/Metal feature. I am actually tired of living in the 30fr to 20 fr zone and want more framerate headroom, as if anything slightly out is currently putting me close to the 18fr slideshow, personally I can't get simply any more efficiency out of my Win box with my current settings that I can. So like you the new API couldn't come soon enough...

 

But there is the warning in that don't expect too many new aircraft releases or updates until Vulkan/Metal goes live. The API affects aircraft more than any other area of the simulator and the 64bit period is going to be again a pain of a lot of fixes and updates.

Yes developers will get an advance copy of the new X-Plane engine to test and check their aircraft, but as in the past it will still take time to resolve the details and the bugs will by very evident, note that a lot of beloved (meaning a lot of early X-Plane10) aircraft will be simply rendered useless, again it will be like with the 64bit crossover period, so your virtual hangers are going to get a bit of a clean out, my recommendation is to keep a copy of the older OpenGL X-Plane version (download now from the installer) to keep on flying these aircraft when you move forward. A note that it is easy to switch in that all you have to do is move (or swap) the mega Custom Scenery, Global Scenery and ClassicJetSimUtlis (WorldTraffic) folders to the simulator version you want to use, as they take up way too much drive or SSD space to duplicate.

 

Hopefully by the time of the next edition of "Behind the Screen" we will be in API heaven...  I hope so

 

See you all next month

 

Stephen Dutton

1st November 2019

Copyright©2019: X-Plane Reviews

 

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