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Showing content with the highest reputation on 02/03/23 in all areas

  1. Behind the Screen : January 2023 This monthly review of "Behind the Screen" was created to communicate what was going on in the X-Plane world. To give you the user information on the state of the simulator, that we use in a day to day capacity. What we process, in not only X-Plane products, but in the way we use the Simulator, can be explained here in giving information for other users to absorb. Since my early days of using X-Plane I have had the uncanny knack of seeing or having events happen to me before it happens to anyone else. That is good, but head bashing as well, as I have had to work through the problems in fixing it, hopefully in passing on that vital information, so you the user don't have to go through the same torment. Behind the Screen is also here to mirror the health of the X-Plane Simulator as well, a sort of grounding on the current reality. In the forums, many can be a bit self-absorbed, but most of the X-Plane community thankfully believe in the old world style of helping others to get around the difficult problems of running an extremely complicated Simulator program. Pray they are there, and thank them for their generosity So the old adage "You can never tell what is going on beneath the surface. Even the most regally calm swan is paddling furiously below the water", can and be also certainly adhered to X-Plane Simulation. Hence again Behind the Screen. I was determined to have a good break over the Christmas/New Year period, resting (meaning no computer work), just the annual equipment cleaning (keyboards and dust) and filing away all of the last years completed content... clean ready computers all done, and also ready for the exciting new 2023 year ahead, I was fresh as well after the rest, all ready to go... it lasted three days. The one thing X-Plane is very good at, I have found over the years, is it that it has the uncanny knack of finding your weak spots, then throwing them directly or blowing them up into your face. More confusion is created when I have easily used X-Plane 12 (beta) from it's introduction back in September 2022. Yes I had to adjust the graphic settings, but otherwise I was able to use the newer version Simulator overall perfectly fine. Then things started going seriously wrong when I started an early in the year 2023 review. After the initial confusion, it came down to three areas. Crashing or the freezing of the simulator caused by the continuous Vulcan device loss errors, weird things happening to aircraft when flying, like the liveries would change every few minutes, the undercarriage had a mind of it's own, dropping then coming back up, ATC alerts popping up consistently, flaps changing position, and finally airbrakes deciding to also activate also on their own. Finally the screen was going dark and the saturation was going off the scale. Absolute madness... just ONE of these areas alone are hard to decipher, but three or four at the same time was simply overwhelming... Biggest argument here is why? perfect before Christmas, then a total horror show after it, I hadn't done anything, or changed anything between the two events... the only one I had done was to update X-Plane to v12.01r1... nah really? I will bring up that v12.01r1 update, did it start a chain of events that sent me bonkers? it is a big question... Laminar put out all the version changes in their X-Plane 12.00 Release Notes... but what of the areas of changes you don't see, mostly in the core X-Plane.app. I am not going to blame Laminar Research or X-Plane, as it may even be just circumstances that things happen, but one thing is for sure. One area had certainly changed to create a cascade of other issues. My work and time went down the toilet as well. The problems are a result actually of Hardware issues? HARDWARE? Thanks to user "Tom", I worked out that my Saitek Hardware was underpowered, the USB was not pulling enough power from the computer, the result is an area called "Ghosting", were the (in this case the switches on my Saitek throttle) decided to activate the set switches by themselves, or ghosting themselves. Honestly I had never heard of "Ghosting" before even though it is quite common with Saitek addons. So you learn something, even after over a decade in Simulation. One down three to go... Still I had the "Vulcan device loss errors", and they were becoming evidently worse, to the point the Simulator was crashing now consistently. I pared the simulator back to a fresh clean X-Plane 12 application install. No plugins, Only default Scenery, Only default aircraft... the result was still loads of Vulcan device errors, but not as consistent. A investigation of the forums said it was my Graphic Card a GTX 1080 8Gb that was not powerful enough to cope with the API, odd as it coped very well for four months last year, I don't or didn't over stress my Graphic Card either, but it was showing signs it was burning out (BTW, X-Plane burnt out my last Graphic Card as well in my Mac), hence all the Vulkan loss errors. I was now looking at a new (expensive) Graphic Card. Hard to get at this time in Australia (Summer Holidays) and in very short in stock availability. I could throw 2K or AUS$1700 at one, but I don't have 2K to buy one, remember I have already spent 3K last year upgrading my Board and Processors... for a game, sorry simulation X-Plane is an expensive business. I found a card, a RTX 3080 10GB even on sale (if for only $50), but still far more than the 1K that I wanted to pay... remember when you could buy graphic cards for $600 and they felt expensive, today you can double that, or even treble that. Good news it was local so I got it the next day... Yes it is a powerful RTX 3080 card (for it's price). But powering it is like hooking up Hoover Dam to Las Vegas, two heavy cables are required, some cards now need three. Lucky last year I also upgraded to a 1000w Corsair Power Supply, so I already had enough power to power this internal nuclear reactor... It works. You can do anything with computers, but if you are into Simulation, then Graphic Card power is always the way to go. You can get very intoxicated by it all, jumping from below 30 frames to over 60 frames in an instant, nothing abruptly happens either, no CTD (Crash to Desktop), no flickers, no waiting, and absolutely no Vulkan device errors! It just all works... and smoothly. Huge headroom, and the space to absorb the things that can drive you mad, do I recommend selling items of furniture or your car to get a magic graphic card, sadly yes if you are serious about Simulation. But now with my system is now finally completed or 100% overhauled, it is seriously frightening on how much power you really do just need to run X-Plane 12 efficiently. Seriously those who think they can get away with the basic specifications set out by Laminar Research are not going to make it, I wasn't even close to the absolute basic requirements, as I got burnt out, other users have simply got no chance. I know, because I tried to beat the odds, and failed. So if you are in it for the long haul with X-Plane 12, you have to have the gear to run it as well. That brings up another question? Does a simple simulator program expect or demand too much investment to just to run correctly, remember X-Plane 9, I ran that on a Mac-Mini at the time, and it flew very well, now I need Colossus and the power of the Hoover Dam just to get a decent framerate? In other words, X-Plane 12 found my weaknesses, exploited them, and brought me crashing down. Did the hidden changes in v12.01r1 push my systems boundaries beyond what they are capable of? That is big question... Yes X-Plane 12 or as currently noted as officially released, it is however in reality still deep into a beta, and things are still changing, even under the hood... you are starting to wish it would be all be over and sooner than later. I have been through beta's like this before, but never have they burnt out my computer? I still have an issue, my Monitor looks perfect with the set Nvidia settings, (even with the default settings), but the images coming out of X-Plane 12 (screenshots) are anything but, dark and with very heavy shadows (yes I do have Ambient Occlusion set to zero), at night you can't see anything? Graphic Card or X-Plane 12, take your pick, as they say in Houston "Work the problem". _______________ I mentioned in my end of the year review 2022 and roundup, that this year 2023 would be one of the most interesting and important years in the history of X-Plane. Basically it is a sink or swim year (the above situation does not help). But I did expect a load of upgrades that came to pass with X-Plane 12 going official, they came or are still coming and they are all very good, but it is the add on scenery aspect that is the most worrying. In the first month I was very uplifted by the release of a lot of cross platform scenery (MSFS and X-Plane12), basically the same scenery released for both platforms, and both of the same high quality. Thankfully not the glut over at MSFS and the few trinkets for X-Plane. Supporting both platform simultaneously is good business for both sides, the Simulators and the developer houses. In fact delivering more scenery products for X-Plane 12 will of course drive more business in users wanting to fill out their landscapes with decent product. Better was shown with Orbx and their Brisbane City pack release and YBBN Brisbane International Airport packages (I give a small preview of both in the Thranda 337F Review). My argument (for years) was always to produce City packages or City Icons, with the connected Airports. Then let the X-Plane autogen do the rest. The Orbx dual package shows how well this aspect works for X-Plane and why I push for as many City Packages (and for you to buy them) to fill out the X-Plane world as possible and make it far more realistic. A lot will note that X-Plane still needs a far better photo based underlay, to which I totally agree, but flat photos are not the answer either for total realism. Even though Austin Meyer as an aversion to photo textures, I still think X-Plane will still get a hybrid system during the X-Plane 12 run to counter the MSFS style of Simulation... good city scenery also proves it can work for X-Plane and it is also well worth the users investment, as the Orbx combo shows... that aspect alone makes it a brilliant, even relived start to the 2023 Simulation year, just hope the same quality and products are continued to be released as the year progresses. It will be an area I will comment on frequently, because it is vital to expanding landscape of the X-Plane 12 Simulator and it's future. See you all next month (barring another computer meltdown) Stephen Dutton 3rd February 2023 Copyright©2023 X-Plane Reviews
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