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Behind the Screen : July 2022


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Behind the Screen : July 2022


Basically it was another fizzer. I was up at 7am on a Sunday Morning (in Australia) to watch the "Loveathon", between Austin Meyer's and Orbx in a promoted special event by the FlightSim Association, but you very quickly realised the live stream going to go only over old ground again, even with the same old video clips in the background.


Would Meyer's finally announce a release date for the X-Plane12 "Beta", and are Laminar Research going to do a collaboration project with Orbx to create a fancy if clever way to update those very outdated ground textures for X-Plane12, Nope and Nope...  in fact absolutely nothing at all, but you only got a notice that Orbx had (already) released YBBN - Brisbane for X-Plane11, and well worth your dollar if you want really good Australian X-Plane scenery. In fact it was an hour and a half of our time wasted listening to rubbish, and the fact that rowing is a very big deal in Simulation...  the question is "Why Bother?".


Orbx have never really given X-Plane it's full due worth, but I do admit some sceneries are worth the download, but why all this do,da with Laminar? it was just all so stupid, and left a bad taste in your mouth for the rest of the day. And people in X-Plane Simulation are now just sitting around twiddling their thumbs waiting for something to happen, or go and fly in MSFS.


The "Last Straw", well no, but it is stretching your composure and patience a bit to the limit, now another wait, more maybe's...  when ever?


There was the general feeling by Meyer's that Laminar had hit another roadblock. Remember this X-Plane12 release has a lot of different elements. In the past releases it was usually two very big elements and a few surrounding smaller elements. But here it is a load, if even a large amount of small elements in all wanting to being synchronised together into some sort of whole. It IS difficult to do, even impossible.


Earlier it was the translucent effect of getting the water to meet the land, a bit like two continental drifts at the point they ride up onto each other, somehow it had to work. Laminar have said they have pulled the idea off, and look at the amazing water effects in the X-Plane12 seaplane video, not at the water itself, but the way the floats and the water in being translucent flows around the pontoons. It's all damn clever, but taking oodles of time to perfect. Truth be told, nobody has seen X-Plane12 as a whole, personally I don't think Laminar even has one yet.


Well Meyer's again noted again at the AirVenture promotion (Friday 29th July) that, yes that he wanted X-Plane12 out before the end of the US Summer and that date is now only four weeks away, so yes it could now happen, my guess is a release in three weeks, and usually it will be released with a whimper and not a bang, like anything it could also all just turn on a dime again. One thing it has been, is a very long drought of a summer 2022, or my case a long winter.



FlightFactor however kept us very happy with the release of another variant of the Boeing 767, in the -400 version. And I have to say it is simply a brilliant aircraft. It comes basically from an old linage of Boeing 767 variants from FlightFactor, so outwardly there is a lot of similarities. But there is also a lot of future detail and quality in there that was missing from the earlier aircraft, it had a more completeness to the machine, brilliant to fly from the off.

The release though was hard from our reviewing point of view. The early release version was absolutely full of bugs, and some a major hindrance to doing a real feasible review, including the visual missing of important aircraft parts.


It was fixed quickly, and well, and we have had since three more very good updates in succession. Flying the B764 to Ghana was a real treat, lovely machine.


But again it threw up the usual question. One week? If the aircraft had had a beta run for just one more week, then the release would have have far more smoother, certainly from X-PlaneReviews perspective. I know that developers are not going to do it just for us. But the point is that, that one week would have made a significant difference to the release, and to the reception of the people buying the aircraft.


We know that developers at the standard of FlightFactor will deliver a very high quality aircraft, of which they have. But in the old days they would have beta tested the brain's out of it, and covered theses anomalies (some were very, very noticeable). But the rush to market again has seen a stunted release (memories of Rotate's MD11). It was notably only a few days, and now becoming the normal, but it causes havoc when it didn't need to, it could also affect a review quite badly as well if the bugs are really quite as noticeable as this. A week?


We understand that in today's extremely complicated aircraft simulations, they will certainly not be perfect on release. But the "Bloody Obvious", does really and absolutely annoy me, "a lot". It will also damage the brand, and how many times can you get away with it before it sinks in, and a week was all that was needed for a far cleaner release. Thank God for X-Updater.



Another item I will bring up is the SAM3 Suite by Stairport Sceneries. Now this is a great plugin, like BetterPushBack in doing the same thing and then well...   doing it better.

That was SAM or Scenery Animation Manager. When the SAM plugin came out it was to replace the decade old Marginal animated airbridge tool. Brilliant in it's day, but with no development of over a half a decade, it is feeling very, very old and dated.


The SAM came in to X-Plane to change that, and gave you control of your gates as well. Land and you could select which bridge you wanted to connect up to the aircraft, with up to three bridges being used on a A380 or B748. I loved it.


But then Stairport Sceneries added in the "Seasons" an optional addon, and a very big and bulky addon, then the "Follow Me" truck, then the World Jetways, and finally the pièce de résistance, the "Ground Service".


The idea is to do a full service from when you land, to when you depart. The full idea is clever...  but does it really work?


Because users like me like control...  we want to add on the airbridges at the time WE WANT to move the airbridges, ditto the service vehicles, of which I still use the more flexible JARDesign GHD of which you have complete control, and the control of when I want to use which service vehicle and when.


And here is the problem now with SAM. The interface is HUGE, massive and sits right across your monitor screen, also finding the gate manager (third screen in I think) is hard. If you use the service vehicles they don't arrange very well around the aircraft and in the order you want, or when you want...  In truth it's a bit of a mess and overwrought, personally I hate it, and worse most gates don't still line up correctly with the aircraft doors, even though they are set up manually by Stairport. SAM3 is now of too much, of too much in one application.


All I want is a simple tool to connect my doors on the aircraft to the airbridges, better still one that works in the background with only a small interface to select, or deselect the doors...  now how simple could that actually be. Then if I want to use the Follow Me truck, or use the Service Vehicles, they should be available in simple interfaces and even separately.


This shows that more, or in this case excessively more is not always better. I think the SAM portal needs to be broken up to be more effective, but that is just in my view. If I didn't have to use that outsized portal I wouldn't, but I have to, and to just get access to those animated gates.


There is a lesson in here...


Happy Birthday

Yes today 1st August 2022 is X-PlaneReviews birthday, and it is now nine years and counting. The Site was launched 1st August 2013, with a little fanfare. But I see success is in longevity, certainly on the internet as many commentators in the genre have now come and gone.

The trick to surviving on the net is two fold, first is consistency, putting reviews and news up regularly, content being uploaded, so basically every time you come to the site there is something new to read or review, which can be hard to do when it is only you. Secondly is change, keeping the core, but changing with the times (and that includes a lot of bad Invision updates) and I think we have done that very well.


This year has been especially significant for changes on X-PlaneReviews. We have had our reviewers over years, and we thank them for their immense contribution to the site. But this year we have had a whole new group join, with Dominic Smith being the coordinator between them. This has allowed myself to be more flexible in doing reviews, and obviously it has generated far more content for the site. It is exciting, and that change allows X-PlaneReviews to grow and be more flexible in it's arrangements, may even help that I don't get burnout, the number one problem with Net work. it also gives the site a far more better foundation to move on forwards into the future.


The thanks are of course to the people who support the site. The X-Plane.OrgStore and .Org, without their support then the site could not function as well as it does. The developers for supporting us with their incredible products, they have certainly changed simulation beyond even my own expectations, even beyond anything I could imagine those nine years ago, and now we have X-Plane 12 on the horizon, and perfect for a lead up to our decade old anniversary next year 2023.


Overall it is thanks to you, the X-Plane Community and the consistent site visitors.


See you all and with X-Plane 12 (beta) next month


Stephen Dutton

1st August 2022

Copyright©2022 X-Plane Reviews


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Agree completely with your comments on SAM. One positive it seems pretty stable these days - gone of the days when the farewell wave on the crash log would be some reference to SAM. Its intentions were always good, but the idea of rolling everything into one App, and with that huge intrusive control screen it always made it seem clumsy. Let’s move the jetway - and then have to quickly get out of the control screen to see the jetway now half way back to the terminal. Commercially it was quite clever with the sale of the add on modules but out of interest how often do you see follow me cars at airports these days?
SAM is of course threatened by XP12. Are there going to be moving jetways in base XP12? Will new shiny wet pavements kill off seasons files (not that they were ever a big thing). But then of course many developers now have made their sceneries dependent on SAM. No latest copy of SAM and your new payware international airport is reduced to Boeings and Airbuses grazing in a rather large field. So if developers don’t remove that dependency SAM for better or worse is going to be with us way into the future.

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