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Behind the Screen : July 2016


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Behind the Screen : July 2016


July carried on of where June left off, fixing scenery. As a recap I spent too much time one weekend looking for a errant object buried in the scenery that kept bringing up alert boxes and this was a payware airport. A great tip on finding these nasties came from a friendly user, thanks for that. But here I was back again at square one with another annoying scenery issue.


I wanted to use a long forgotten but a good scenery of Washington National or KDCA for a review, but when opening up the scenery I found there was two control towers, overlapping static aircraft and gates sticking out of buildings of where there should be none.


Easily fixed? Not on your brother it wasn't...


Pulling out all my KDCA and Washington objects out of the Custom Scenery folder left the culprit bare, it was an old 2003 era KDCA alright, but with all my KDCA's and all my Washington objects removed then why was it still visible? After an hour or so of twisting folders in and out it of X-Plane it steadfastly refused to go away, all checks with X-Planes default "Scenery Gateway"didn't result in any conflicts either...  So how to find the culprit? 

Here you have to go Sherlock and use a lot of creative thinking. But the only way really was to home in on the tile it is placed on. This was +38-078.dsf and bringing up a search of +38-078.dsf brought back a still a huge number of choices. But I had eliminated already most of the obvious and went through the rest, slowly, file by file. Annoying is the fact this KDCA or DCA scenery was not made with DCA in the file title, so a search of that region didn't work the magic either, but I finally found the offending objects and they were buried in a side addition of a Baltimore scenery, you had to go way two tiles over in the OverlayEditor just to finally find them? A quick grab of all the objects and a "delete" and "save" and the buggers were finally gone, so was another three hours of my life and that goes on the list to St Peter for when I want the time lost in this life in that I want the time back or added on to my set lifetime for wasting time on things that you shouldn't or didn't want to do in the first place, but at least KDCA is now fully workable and back in my route network, who says this X-Plane world building caper is easy.


July was by and large a bumper month in releases. You had a little bit of everything from a very nice helicopter in the Schweizer 300CBi from Dreamfoil Creations, and a note that Dreamfoil's next aircraft is the Hughes 500D of Magnum P.I. "Island Hoppers" fame. 

The MD-88 by Rotate is maturing nicely now as more and more features and bugs are refined in the version 1.20 Update. I note that these aircraft are an investment, and certainly the aircraft was wanting more at it's initial release. But when a developer is new to the game and certainly at this level, you have to cut them some slack, which certainly didn't happen in this case. But if the developer doesn't deliver you have every right to go apeshit and demand your moneyback, but the sign of a good and even great developer is just too deliver and learn from the experience. Even JARDesign with his early A320neo was another case of learning a vertical learning curve, but the work since has been prodigious. So as a critic we have to sum up the parts and balance the raw from the truth, as noted an aircraft and scenery is a long term investment and you have to review it that way even though the current events are saying the opposite of the fact...  Our family motto is "Keep the faith" and that is sometimes the best thing to do.


The annoying developers are the ones that don't learn and repeat the same mistakes ad nauseam, poring out the same small issues over and over again and wonder why they are quickly discounting to sell all their hard work, you can only play that game for so long before your reputation starts to go south. There is no point in adding in feature after feature if the basics don't work, the basic operations are what in reality simulation flying is all about.

I was very surprised on how really good the FlightFactor A350XWB was now. Like I noted in the upgrade review Airbus A350 XWB Advanced v1.3 by FlightFactor. There was far more in here than adding a gloss shine to the hull in this upgrade, and I admit the missing FMC or in Airbus speak the FMGS does certainly not put the aircraft at the level of FF's Boeing products, but there is no doubt the basics are more than ready for that next step to "professional" status, overall it was a very nice aircraft to use and fly.


In many of my scenery reviews I tend to note the airport's services and routes as much as its usually very good quality and infrastructure. Mostly other reviews usually only focus on the actual scenery and features. My point is that, you could have the very best scenery ever produced, but if it isn't being used it is a total waste of money. I have mentioned this before in "Behind The Screen" but it is a worthwhile point to make again.

The trick on using X-Plane to it's full value is to create a strong network of destinations and the great use of certain areas. Laminar Research's data noted that most user flights are under or around two hours or mostly between dinner and going to bed or for an afternoon's flying.


And that is fair enough as "Games of Thrones" is also wanting to share your personal downtime. X-Plane to a point is not a shared experience unless to get the odd "Will you turn that bl...dy sound down!" from the family or the neighbour's. On a funny side note to that, my very patient neighbour's couldn't understand why they kept on hearing a fully blown Boeing 737 at the very late hours in their bedroom and miles away from the nearest airport, they are Japanese as well to add into the confusion...   I now wear headphones after 9pm.


But back to valuable scenery and networks. I found to get the very best experience out of the simulator is to build up a strong if small network. All destinations are high quality scenery, routes can be refined and set for various approaches and saved for instant use. I use WorldTraffic (but X-Life is fine) and that system is refined to use the same network and again refined to get the most optimum services and aircraft. Ditto with JARDesign's Service plugin for ground services for departure and arrival, they can also be refined with the correct airport logo's or airline services. Yes you can have many of these tight but excellent networks of which you keep building and refining and even cross between them if you want to (i.e. UK-European network to the US network or US network to your Australian network and so on). This is why I wanted a better LFMN - NICE because it was in a valuable position in my UK - Italy - Spain network and the Aerosoft version was crap, and so a big hole was filled and the scenery can now be used effectively.


The point is that all the sceneries within the networks are used and used very often, so they no matter how much they cost they have a lot of value, and any scenery added to the network is not going to a wasted purchase or a waste of your money, and that should be your main consideration of any scenery purchase...  the amount of use you can get from that purchase. So links or routes to the scenery are important, even if it is not a major port. Effectively you can purchase a scenery just for that one position and not for a network, providing it gives you a return for your investment. That is say for local GA flying or by say a feature area like the Grand Canyon, again the main factor is how much you can use that investment in return of your purchase.


Aircraft are again the same thing, don't buy something you can't use...  but buy something you will use a lot and return time and time again to that cockpit, it is no use having the largest Air Force in the world if you only fly a few of it's aircraft.


I do like also to add variety to my flying life in replicating a real life event. As noted I follow the Formula One Racing Car circus around the world with the flyaway races (European Races are done with trucks). I have followed F1 since the middle 70's and so it has been a big part of my life, but this flying to the race destinations creates a lot of work in preparation in routes, liveries and making sure the correct scenery is in place for arrival (and departure). You are also moving every two weeks to another destination, and gives your flying a reason to go somewhere you would never usually fly normally, and Baku of Azerbaijan was a new one this year to emphasise a destination that is not only different but highly challenging to fly to.


Another flight in the same vein was to replicate the "TeamGB" flight from London (Heathrow) to Rio (Galeão) which was my first flight from Europe to South America, different, challenging and quite involving in preparation and then 11 hour flight itself. So as July went, it was a very busy month in X-Plane, very busy.


Stephen Dutton

4th August 2016

Copyright©2016: X-PlaneReviews


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I enjoy reading your post. In many things I feel the same.  I also have my flight routes in Europe and USA using X-Life since it came out. Personally I think that X-Life is a better solution because of it simple use and fascination of bringing with one click airports to be life. X-Life is restricted to checked airports and most of them are payware. But I didn't hesitated, bought them all and got the feeling of taking-off, landing and parking in a near real airport. I used to fly on short distances that the JAR net enables.


As I wrote today in one of the other posts, my problem is to be a part a small community of simmer that are not "just  playing with the yoke". This more professional community is not organized and has not a place (Blog) were to change information......

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