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Behind the Screen : June 2021


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Behind the Screen :  June 2021


Boom!   and we are already half way through 2021, that is a full six full months...    gone already. So what are the patterns, the feel and the flow of the year.


First off it has been a real stop-start year, great highs with some really great product coming out, and seriously low, slow lows when everything just grinds to a stop. June 2021 was like that, it was if the aircraft had pulled into the gate, shut all the systems down, and locked the doors and walked away from an inert machine...  it was as they say "deady dead".


The missing June Expo, in being moved to September 24-26, 2021, didn't really help at all either, most the users just then turned off their computers and headed for the beach or the mountains, and can you really blame them, as with their vaccinations done, they were now free in not spreading the deadly Covid virus, or either being infected...  freedom.


Laminar released a video teaser in compensation of the non Expo. The coming new HDR effects for the (We are not announcing X-Plane12) announcement. An odd situation, but I think a big welcome relief from South Carolina as they were granted even more time to work on their pet project, so the Expo in September is going now be it (again), so put it on your calender, right next to the already notable crossed out past dates, that Laminar may have already missed on announcing X-Plane12 or whatever they will call it. Yes I am again going over old news, but in case you missed the memo, it is a very big deal, hence the excitement over just this a single video called X-Plane Technology Preview One. If you use already the xEnviro environmental application, it isn't as a big deal as you would think it is, as xEnviro does most of this clever HDR stuff now, for a high cost of course, but the revelation, is that X-Plane will do the same HDR effects at the default level and thus saving you the frame rate hit of xEnviro on your system, and probably do it better than the exclusive application, so it is all a coming bonus there...


I had xEnviro sidelined for a few months last year because Dark Space had not upgraded the application to the Vulkan/Metal 10.50 level...  and yes I seriously missed the exceptional effect generation the plugin creates, in fact I really hated, but had to accept the bland vistas of the basic X-Plane application for months on end, and I also had to work twice as hard to get the same level of quality into the reviews. So yes the coming HDR effects are certainly going to have a huge and even massive impact on the look of the simulator (and even lighten up those cockpits, no bad thing there), so what looks as even a small announcement from Laminar is a really a very big deal, and I am not saying this factor, just because I am trying to make something as small as the HDR effects announcement to say a lot to compensate for so little or even the trickle of news coming out of South Carolina, but that it is actually IS an important step forward, that said, as the announcement was noted as "Preview One', then expect more of these trickles or drips of news from Laminar over the northern summer.


That said, there was (another) announcement from the hosts of the 2021 FlightSimExpo of the main exhibitors coming to the Expo in Sept... This is of course only the initial list, but it was a big surprise in any shakes. For one the list is very one-sided towards X-Plane... Laminar Research (of course), Orbx, Navigraph, Thrustmaster, virtual hosts and surprisingly even our own X-Plane.Org are going to have a booth. But what of Fiight Simulator, the only presenter here currently is Lockheed Martins Prepar3D and that is the older FS standard platform, not the wizz-bang new one...  so do you notice something really odd here? There are no MSFS or Microsoft Flight Simulation or partners on the list...  no Microsoft, PMDG, QualityWings Simulations, AEROSOFT GmbH (not really expected at 2021), but remember on how at Orlando back in 2019, in how the FS crowd dominated everything, including prep talks from Robert S. Randazzo of PMDG with his strutting around, and Laminar were reduced to the bottom of the list in appointees, but still however stole the whole show with their landing competition. Yes it is very days early yet, and anything can change between now and September...  but for now it looks like Expo 2021 in being a one sided X-Plane dominated show.


I am not going to hide the reality check of this same time last year for X-Plane. There was some serious worried faces behind the scenes on how much disruption the MSFS release and to a point the ongoing Covid effects on the X-Plane Simulator would have been. Yes Laminar had (and still does have) X-Plane12 up it's sleeve to pull out that new defining extra level on the simulation platforms. But even yours truly spent some time reflecting the worst case or of even the best case scenarios and what they would be (collated into one important post "X-Plane and in the future the new world order") of which I thought was an important statement.


But now one year on and mid-year 2021 the pattern has somewhat evened out, so you can see a much more realistic visible future for the X-Plane simulator as the year continues to pan out.


For one the simulator didn't at all lose momentum, the X-Plane.Org is as busy as ever, if slightly busier, so no change there or even a significant drift to MSFS. Aircraft releases and their updates have not been affected either, a few are being released a bit later than expected (mostly Covid releated), but all the same they are still rolling out periodically and all great in-depth releases they are to. The only odd pattern is that in the first six months of 2021 it has been full of Helicopter releases, in the past one or even two releases of a helicopter was a lot, but this year it has already been a gut of vertical flight or related to it. After two or even three years of almost nothing, it appears they are all making up for lost time...  but it is odd.


Scenery as noted last month in BtheS is where it was a noticeable drawdown. A lot of the FS scenery developers decamped back MSFS and that certainly showed a slow down of converting FS scenery to X-Plane and moved on to converting the same scenery for MSFS. But here again there has been some good scenery still released, and also soom great custom freeware and Global Airport scenery as well, so it is again not all bad news, in perspective X-Plane as a simulator has been tootling along quite nicely thank you, so the huge significant threat we all feared this time last year has not yet initially appeared, certainly the doom and gloom clouds have moved away, but we are however still in the transition era of Simulation.


But as earlier noted, June was deathly quiet and oddly so was MSFS, I was out of action as well with a bad head cold, so reviews were a little slower this month than usual, but I suppose the timing couldn't be better, maybe we all need a breather from our addiction some time or the other anyway... but overall as the land lies it is far better mid-year than everyone actually expected.


Developers are the significant key to simulation, and I will be doing a future BtheS post totally designated on that aspect soon, but the biggest fear last year was the movement of key developers over to the new MSFS platform, a few dipped their toes in and few unexpected developers at that, but most stayed very loyal to the X-Plane platform, and the ongoing key of why X-Plane is in the brighter situation that it is expected to be... but let us not forget. That the X-Plane simulator's past long history is also a significant part of that particular factor, from a developers point of view, X-Plane does deliver and provides the tools they need to create their creations, only the market doesn't live up to the size of the returns they truly deserve, I am hoping that the coming changes brought through X-Plane12 will also change that aspect.


But I also think that as a simulator X-Plane and its community also needs to do better marketing to get the message out there of what simulation is and the depth of flying these machines (and what we) can do... one thing Microsoft is very good at is marketing, so the next twelve months and once X-Plane12 has been settled in, then let us get us more serious in attracting more committed souls to the brethren, we can't keep our little intimate world to ourselves forever, one thing MSFS has put out there is that simulation is out there and brilliant entertainment for those who want it, the only issue is, most don't know in what or in how we spend our time... so as we now live in the 2020s, we are also to understand that are also not still in the older dark ages, but competing with other larger forms of entertainment and that is even the pivotal point of MSFS, as they know that aspect and I am not just talking of gamers here (as they make lousy pilots) but for everyone who wants to learn about aviation and fly,and about  in depth aviation and flying.

In that vital aspect X-Plane is a world leader, when X-Plane12 is released, it should also be a world class leader in that forum...  we just need to tell everyone else out there about our little world as well, Laminar can only do so much with their resources, the rest is up to the X-Plane community and it connected services to market simulation and show off the best simulator to the world.


See you all next month


Stephen Dutton

1st July 2021

Copyright©2021 X-Plane Reviews


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