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X-Plane11 : Look, Feel and Visual Features In the first two months of the year 2017 as X-Plane11 rides it's way to release through beta after beta, it is a lot of pleasure and pain. The pain is to be expected as the simulator forms itself into the future, which will be soon be part of our everyday flying. But the pleasure is seeing what we actually have in this new step version of X-Plane in it's new coming form. The notes here are in the frame of "coming soon" than more of "here it is right now" so don't expect the points made here to materialise in their complete form at the time of X-Plane11's release, as we know X-Plane is always a work in progress. What you get here are the building blocks that you get with every new X-Plane step release, but it will be only in time and through updates (betas) and the collaboration of developers and the X-Plane community that we will see the full implementation of the ideas and features built into the 11th interpretation of X-Plane. I am going to note that through the X-plane11 phases of this review, is that I have the xEnviro environmental plugin running and not the default weather. This plugin is also still in a beta phase, but my (personal) view is that the plugin delivers a fundamental difference and in the way it interacts with the standard default X-Plane weather system to create a look and feel (and a breathable framerate) that is the future of excellent simulation. So both items together will create the perfect environmental vehicle to get the very best out of your flying. To see the steps of progression of X-Plane then let us go back to X-Plane9® and to the year 2009. X-Plane9® This was our world back in 2009 with X-Plane9. These images will no doubt send a lot of you very misty eyed. These were the days of 5.6gb custom folders and 100+ framerates, but it all showed on the screen. It is surprisingly how good the x737 by EADT was then and still is now. Back then the mist was paramount, but mostly there to cover the jagged edges of the tiles and the limitations of the scenery. But it looked good unless you got the flat slate of grey when you had a whiff of a cloud. 2d Panels were de-rigueur of course and the light shading was good but not exceptional, only the exceptional single Boeing 757 had a VC or virtual cockpit back then. X-Plane10® The release of in beta form of X-Plane10® was in November 2011, with a full version in 2012. The focus visually with X-Plane10 was to get the ground textures to a higher quality and the use of Open Street Map (OSM) to create a plausible ground focused autogen. Your synthetic world certainly looked less bare, and the advent of 100nm visible distances opened up your visual aspects, and HD (High-Definition) textures add in a lot of ground information and you finally had a quality depth to the landscape. 3d virtual cockpits are now of course the normal and shading has also become quite good. X-Plane10 also brought in the feature of HDR or "High Definition Rendering". I personally was not a big fan of HDR. It made X-Plane very bright and contrasty, so reviews and images were still done mostly with the HDR switched off and I only had HDR on at night as were it had great night lighting effects. If you compare the above two images with the higher HDR off images and the lower HDR images are far more washed out. X-Plane11® Basically X-Plane11 does not change the foundations of the landscape (textures) of X-Plane10, just a few of the textures and the tile data is a little higher, but out there really nothing has changed between the 10 and 11 versions. X-Plane11's features are more really focused on the shading, the minute of the detailing more than the larger canvas like with X-Plane10, but in a strange way the differences are very much more pronounced. It is the definition of the detail that now stands out at you. X-Plane11 comes with a new visual tool in PBR or Physically-based rendering that has the accurate simulation of photorealism as the ultimate goal. HDR really didn't work as well as it should have done in X-Plane10 as noted, but with its companion in PBR it now shines and works extremely well. We will get on more with PBR in a minute. Mist Another big aspect is that the mist is back and big time in X-Plane11. In X-Plane10 everything was sharp and clear, but with X-Plane11 it is anything but, with everything here visually is in that quite soft and well very... misty feel. A certain "What the..." on release, but when you use X-Plane11 the soft effect quickly becomes the normal and it is very highly realistic, almost completely believable. Altitude flying now is "SO" real and go and look at any old images taken out of the window in any real aircraft and it looks just like this. It is of course a "feel" thing, but the feel here is unbelievable good. Definition There is more going on here than with just a out of focus background to get the full X-Plane11 effect... ... PBR is bringing out the harder definition of the aircraft, as the shadows and shading is glorious. All aircraft now have a distinctive shine, but PBR works its magic in a lot of different contexts. PBR brings metal surfaces alive, as developers can adjust the correct effects to get the shine or the correct dullness feel quite perfectly. Chrome is now perfect also, and in all of it's different types of metalness of the different gradients. Realism is now paramount and the realistic is now very photographic real, but it also puts a lot of pressure and the need for perfection on the developers as any imperfection is magnified and highlighted... but when it is good, it is now simply glorious. Inside the cockpits in X-Plane11 they are all very highly dramatic. Light cascades around you as it changes as you move. All the aircraft's features are highlighted and defined... it is like being in another world. Cockpit textures come alive and every instrument is highly realistic and defined. Just how real do you want your vinyl glareshield or metal based instrument panel, it can just not get any more realistic than this. The devil is in the detailing and this is why X-Plane11 is such a huge step forward in realism... the game has certainly moved on. ... as with the lighting effects which are just sublime, note the changing sunlight on the metal wings. These effects are not just restricted to aircraft. A few months ago I took these images of a wet runway, and most said they were not an X-Plane11 feature? but they are. Scenery developers can now adjust the feel of the wet look to give surfaces a distinctive feel and look, and if you want a rain soaked runway you can have that as well, and when you want one as they are on a dataref. This opens up a lot of areas for scenery developers, and glass in their reflectivity is another feature of X-Plane11. JustSim used the effect in their Hamburg scenery and it is excellent when used in the right context. Glass can now also be transparent, but in the density of transparency you require. Autogen Justsim used another new feature of XPlane11 to create an environmental regional feel around their EDDH - Hamburg Airport. Quality autogen was included with X-Plane10 from the beginning, but the feature was neglected from the start with only a few efficiency touches covered during the run. Regional autogen placement was actually placed in the code during the last v10.50 update, but was never used until the art was ready with X-Plane11. Even then it is only Germanic in style but very high quality. JustSim used this Germanic autogen to add feel to not only their Innsbruck scenery but also to Hamburg to great effect. And that shows the quality and versatility of the autogen system when used correctly as it has huge potential to cover all the very and various different regions of the world as Chris K has done an AustralianPro version (below). Here it shows in how a third party regional autogen can and does work although it is still a work in progress, but work well in its current form it certainly does as you now have a great Aussie feel all around the country. But this third party autogen system is still in its very early days, the important point to make at this time is not to let it become neglected all over again with X-Plane11, in fact it should be put at the top of the list for attention by both Laminar Research and any third party as it can make a significant and profound contribution to the look and feel of the new simulator. xEnviro The inclusion of xEnviro in this review is because of the way it dovetails into the X-Plane11 features and uses them for it's own uses and highlights X-Plane11's uniqueness for the future. The same effects do work in X-Plane10, but not to the extent they work for you in X-Plane11. It is the X-Plane11 mist feature that combines to create the best effects for xEnviro. The same effects do work without xEnviro, but they don't have the same impact or those totally visually stunning visuals. These excellent fog images are the approach to EGCC - Manchester... ... It is stunning stuff and you work hard to land in such soup as well, it is exhilarating flying. Manchester again on approach, and this time with the amazing ground cloud shadows and aircraft shadow on the wing making it a very realistic view for the passenger. It is also in the way the PBR light reflects up from the ground as well... Look deep at the mountain folds in both of the above images. That below is just standard X-Plane10 scenery, but you wouldn't know it by the way it reflects the light and gives a higher more stronger definition to lighter and dark sides of the elevations as the folds become highly realistic. X-Plane11 turns the ordinary... into the extra ordinary! It is very good but Many people will point out that first person shooters or car games are of a higher quality than what we have here, and they are correct, and most of the features and ideas used in X-Plane are directly from the video gaming industry. But the video game is a closed box and created to run within a very strict set of boundaries, were as X-Plane is a very open platform with a lot of very different elements and contributions, that works for the simulator but also against it. So there will always be a compromise between what we see in the video gaming environment and the simulator world unless it is a closed region and finely tuned aircraft to fit totally within that region's boundaries as with say a Formula One game were as the cars are perfected to run within the the racetrack's boundaries. With X-Plane we have to cover the whole world, literally. Many of you would also point out that we had reflections and shadows in X-Plane10, and too a point that is correct, but it is in the fine detailing that that makes the complete difference in X-Plane11, use it and X-Plane10 suddenly looks dull (and old), it is all in the move forward and it is very hard to go back again just as it was with X-Plane9 over X-Plane10. X-Plane11 feels new compared with X-Plane10. But one of the biggest achievements is that these lighting features don't come with the heavy penalty of X-Plane10. You will see the difference of course, but Laminar Research has made a huge effort to contain the efficiency of the processing to keep these great effects within the confined parameters that bridges that gap. Older processors will struggle of course and drop out of the bottom, but most users if they are honest with themselves will know that X-Plane10 was already pushing their boundaries there anyway. For most users the change over to X-Plane11 will be seemless if they can manage their habits of not having all the settings in the full on position all the time, as even for myself I have to use some discretion in the settings for more to the efficiency and smooth running angle than the total visual impact angle. But X-Plane10 was that way as well so nothing has changed in that area, but you do get more visual impact for the same numbers. All the points here are created in a beta in a beta, as there are no current set final situations and we won't be won't be for a while either. But the features noted above will be soon be the everyday normal and sadly it will be quickly just all be taken for granted. It will be also a while for developers to use these features to their advantages, and so you won't get a sudden complete change to this feel overnight, but at a time in the future you will suddenly realise you are now flying in a totally different X-Plane environment than you were only a year ago. I have transitioned through many phases of X-Plane's development, what was once brilliantly great can look ordinary now, as does your ten year old Apple computer. But the transition to X-Plane11 on the surface may not look as up fronting as the new user interface, but it has the potential to completely change the way you fly and feel in a simulator. More than anytime than in the past over the last few months have I been taken by the sheer visual magnificence of what I am interacting with, more "wows" and "brilliant" as I absorb in the new world around me, and X-Plane11 is not even out of it's beta phase yet and I admit it still has a few limitations in a few areas. But the biggest vote for X-Plane11 is already in... your going to totally love it... a lot a real lot. ______________________________________________________________________ Stephen Dutton 3rd March 2017 Copyright©2017: X-Plane Reviews
X-Plane11 As Laminar Research's X-Plane11 is getting nearer to its release, then it is warranted that articles, posts and items related to the X-Plane version have a home or place on X-PlaneReviews... so here it is. X-PlaneReviews will cover the the version in depth with features and articles allowing you to get the very best from X-Plane in this new generational version. So check back here often to see what is new in X-Plane11. X-PlaneReviews
News! - X-Plane11: Beta 3 is now available As the tuning of X-Plane11 continues with the release of beta 3, I still predict that you should get some sort of a stable release over the Christmas Holidays. No one more than the aircraft and plugin developers would be more pleased about this as they can move on to stabilising their products and releasing them, but the changes between the the two X-Plane versions are more significant than expected. The big guys are already pushing out beta tests with JARdesign and FlightFactor wanting some stable X-Plane11 version on your desktops before Christmas, but note again they will still be a stop gap till early 2017, but the aircraft at least will be usable and flyable over the holidays. First look at beta 3 is wow... and (I may have actually missed this in the release?) is wet runways... Simply excellent!, Taxiways and runways look realistically wet, and depending on the density of the rain also have rain splatters on the runway, so realistic... brilliant. Images show far less mist (or fogginess) and a far clearer better view, X-Plane11 now looks far more natural and realistic. Now the mist has cleared, you get a better look at the Euro autogen, which lifts Manchester away from the American look towards some sort of closer feel to the UK, but roll on the UK autogen for the real deal, but it looks really good for the future in this area. Austin's new nosewheel flexibility works very nice as well and the aircraft now feels more sprung (bouncy) and moves to the power changes. So the changes are now coming thick and fast, so enjoy... only three days to Christmas, shame we opened our presents early! To update to X-Plane11 Beta 3 then run your installer, or just start X-Plane11 and it will direct you to the upload installer, make sure the beta tickbox is ticked! Full beta 3 details here: Public Beta 3 Key Features & Improvements XPD-7219 3rd party plugin brakes fixed. Networking, crash, and joystick fixes. New electrical system model changes. XPLMNavigation API should work for third party plugins. XPD-7070 Provide plugin per frame callouts even when paused. Changes to .sit and .rep file types to make them stable across updates. Pilot defined waypoints saved by the FMC now go into the user_fix.dat. FMS will now correctly use GPS alt or barometric altitude for approach VNAV as per approach setting. Default is GPS altitude as for LPV approaches. FMS fixes when using VNAV. Backward compatibility in ARINC 424 interpreter. Free global resources at program end to avoid memory leak false positives. Fixed crash when loading DSFs while flying really, really fast. Updated tire model. A fix for weapons that have OBJs but not custom particle effects. Additional Bug Fixes XPD-7289 IP address of receiving network data was wrong. XPD-7288 IPs are sorted in order and fixes missing IP address list. XPD-7203 Crash with Open Air file. XPD-7078 Fix for non-fogged interior objects. XPD-7091 Failures now get applied only for the aircraft you set them on. XPD-6851 Fix sky color through alpha texture in HDR mode. XPD-6958 Changing plane altitude or speed in map changes heading as well. XPD-7281 We now explicitly support approach targets that are not in our “nearby approaches” list. XPD-7217 We can now separate the enum and order of the API. XPD-6863 Take windows down to windowed mode before destroying them. XPD-7060 Fix dev assert reloading 737. XPD-7249 Fix for crash when you add a monitor while looking at Settings > Graphics. XPD-7273 Updates to KSEA demo area. XPD-7271 Removes G1000 C172 from installs. XPD-7252 Update to LOWI demo area. XPD-7064 Added ability to bind hat switches to any command, not just our suggested ones. XPD-7061 Fix for setting aircraft heading via the inspector being wonky due to live editing the text field. XPD-7268 Remove separate selection style from map. XPD-7009 We now hide localizers in the map view that might interfere with seeing your “target” ILS. XPD-7159 We can now select an approach at any time, and we no longer show downwind ILSes if applicable. XPD-7245 Fixes dragging the plane icon on map when not paused. XPD-7246 Tow plane does not tow us on the runway. XPD-7256 Landing light switch dataref is a float. XPD-7254 Fix for ATC window crashing when in “AI Flies Your Plane” mode. XPD-7251 fix for crash in r-tree when the r-tree is empty. XPD-7227 Fixed autobrakes. XPD-7110 Stopped hover help tips from getting repositioned. XPD-7221 Determine if an aircraft supports 2-D panel mode. XPD-7236 Search in the command mappings table now includes children of matched folder. XPD-7154 Fix for windowed -> fullscreen -> windowed transition increasing the window size and moving it. XPD-7232 Fix for failures trashing your currently-loaded aircraft’s livery. XPD-7210 Fix for crash when loading a bad .sit file in quickflight mode. XPD-7211 Fix for crash caused by trying to load airport from prefs that no longer exists in your installation. XPD-7212, XPD-7228 GPS has a problem with “degenerate” STARs that only consist of transition segments and no trunk route. XPD-7233 Crash when changing location with IOS. XPD-7032 Fix for “manual” network connections defaulting to port 0. XPD-7186 Center map on PPOS if empty flight plan is viewed in PLN mode. XPD-7193 Fix for missing NDB or VOR in flight plan. XPD-7018 Restored ability for “optional” dialogs to be auto-dismissed on external visuals & machines under IOS control. XPD-7083 We only display the “Save Configuration as Default” button if you do not have an image mapping for this joystick. XPD-7044 Fix for incorrectly identifying monitor resolution when using mixed DPI displays. XPD-7088 We now read your language prefs before falling back to prompting you to pick a language. XPD-7184 AI can fly your aircraft again. XPD-7220 Additional sounds added to C172 cockpit. XPD-7250 Push-back working for AI aircraft. XPD-7160 Stop labeling both ends of helipads in the map. ______________________________________________________________________ Stephen Dutton 21st December 2016 Copyright©X-Plane Reviews: X-PlaneReviews
Stephen posted a topic in Airliners ReviewsX-Plane11 - First Conversions Challenger 300 and CRJ-200 This article is a quick look at the first payware aircraft to be adjusted for X-Plane11, they are the Challenger 300 by Ddenn and the CRJ-200 by JROLLON. Adjusted is the word here, and to also note that this article is based on the X-Plane11 beta version v1.0 so it a lot will change with a few more updates from Laminar and expect more changes to any aircraft being released as updated to X-Plane11, certainly this year. In most cases this article is out of date before it hits the site, but it does show what to expect from X-Plane11 as we transfer over our aircraft from X-Plane10 to the newer X-Plane11. No doubt most developers will want to make their aircraft X-Plane11 compliant as quickly as possible, but you can go too fast before the simulator is really sorted at best. There are two approaches as shown here with the Ddenn (Challenger 300) approach in just issuing a quick "patch" to which you replace the various components within the aircraft's main file folders. The other approach with JROLLON (CRJ-200) is to do a full download of the entire aircraft package and both systems have their bonuses and negatives. Challenger 300 by Ddenn Ddenn is always very fast to issue updates whenever any changes to X-Plane versions and updates appear, and he didn't disappoint here either. He posted a quick compatibility "patch" (cl300_xp11_comp_patch_1_0.zip) that has to be distributed within the main root folder of the aircraft to the various folders that require the changes. The changes include: -Removed default sounds -Removed old style GPS and FMC -Added XP11 FMC -Added clickzones to 3d cockpit for new FMC -Fixed APU not working when "Start with engines running" option is selected -Fixed half-transparent ADI -LIT textures of the salon made brighter -Fixed Fast Start function -Fixed landing gear animation -Generated new style icons for default liveries That list includes a few surprises, but also notes what is required to be X-Plane11 compliant. The change to X-Plane11 hits on a few different areas. One it affects the landing gear (and doors), transparency (more notable here because the Challenger 300 uses a 3rd party transparency plugin), certain textures are affected, different sound system, lighting, and the new style icons for that wizz-bang new interface and all those items are on the surface, as underneath there is a small list of items to comply to that are hidden in the aircraft (.acf) file. A note is required here in that I really doubt that any aircraft that is compliant to the new X-Plane11 standards will be able to be used in X-Plane10, and in fact as the download shows for the CRJ-200 there are now two files to choose from in a X-Plane10 version and an X-Plane11 version, that will either double your downloads or if your need to chose one simulator version over the other. We are used to the glossy exterior of the Challenger 300 because of the built-in transparency plugin, but it is noted the plugin has been dialed down a little, what is very evident is the sharp dramatic contrast of the lighting in X-Plane11 and that is even more highlighted by the high gamma (bright) background. Internally the changes are even more dramatic. A lot of the Challenger's panels are now very glossy and there is a very greyed or darkened out appearance to many of the areas, the striking lighting is very poor in resolution, so it is good effect, but spoiled by the poor resolution of the reflective areas and this is especially evident from the side views across the cabin. So overall the changes within the aircraft look quite different (again I will note that this is really far to early to say this is what X-Plane11 will be finally like, but to just note the areas that are affected). But many areas that should be only textured are in fact shiny and they don't look realistic, and yet in other aircraft I have tried in X-Plane11 like my Carenado Bonanza the same textures look amazing even at this early stage. With the plugin installed the corrected liveries do show, but if like me you have a large collection of 3rd party liveries for the C300 then you just get the ? mark instead of the visual livery. The biggest quick change to the Challenger is the insertion of the new default FMS (Flight Management System)... It is first to be noted on this default FMS is that it is just a GPS navigator. There are no aircraft preferences of that particular aircraft that this FMS is installed in (except for CLB, CRZ & DES speeds/altitudes) and it uses the same standard X-Plane navigational data that is installed for the current GNS340/350 GPS. Otherwise it is a quite powerful system with SID/STAR, RNAV and Air Routes built-in with DIR (Direct-To) functionality as well. One big bonus now is that you can use the local map on the same screen as the FMS pop-out panel. This helps in quickly locating fixes (waypoints) and inserting them quickly into the FMS flightplan and building up your route very easily. A nice point is that hard turns (say 90º to approaches) are rendered correctly for the turn and the FMS looks far better on the navigation display as the route is fully outlined. This was of course just a quick patch to get the Challenger 300 flying in X-Plane11 and it highlights the changes and features that have come with X-Plane11 and like with the quick insertion of the new default FMS on how quickly things will move forward with other aircraft. The Bombardier Challenger 300 Captain Edition is available from the X-Plane.org Store : Bombardier Challenger 300 Captain Edition Price is US$29.95 Use the link to the patch (cl300_xp11_comp_patch_1_0.zip) to update the aircraft to X-Plane11. I also recommend in duplicating an aircraft for just X-Plane11 in the X-Plane11 aircraft folder. _____________________________________________________________________________________ CRJ-200 by JROLLON The Bombardier CRJ-200 by JROLLON is one of the truly great aircraft in X-Plane. Originally released in January 2012, the JRollon CRJ-200 was a landmark release for the X-Plane simulator and it still is a great aircraft, and more so since BSS created a brilliant sound package for the aircraft. But lately upgrades for the CRJ-200 have been a little slow on the ground, and so it was a bit of a surprise that the CRJ-200 was one of the very first aircraft to be updated for X-Plane11, or is it a big surprise? It is noted that J Rollon is a developer that does create some of the default aircraft that goes with the Laminar Research package, so in some ways J Rollon had an inside feel to the needs of X-Plane11. There is both now a download for either X-Plane10 and X-Plane11 so make sure the correct version goes into the correct X-Plane Application. There is another point that window's users have to install a new Visual C++ Redistributable, this is included in the download of the CRJ-200. The changes are small but interesting The X-Plane 10 update contains: -all previosusly released separate patches and hotfixes, e.g. for flying on IVAO network, high resolution cockpit, autopilot stability fix, etc... -new plugin architecture from the Steam version, which is more fps friendly and has lower memory footprint -plugin compatibility with newer MacOS systems -navdata update to X-Plane 10 default (1601) The X-Plane 11 update contains: -everything listed above for the X-Plane 10 update, plus -new cockpit object with materials, to achieve realistic effects in X-Plane 11 with PBR -new cockpit textures to match XP11 materials -mouse-wheel manipulators added to the cockpit Straight out of the box the CRJ-200 feels far more complete and at home in X-Plane11 than the Challenger 300. In other words it felt normal. The dramatic lighting only enhances the great look of the aircraft in flight. In The CRJ-2100 the panel textures have been adjusted for X-Plane11 and it makes a significant difference, but a few areas are still over glossy. The poor resolution lighting effect still makes it feel odd like it does in the C300 and certainly if it falls across the actual panel. Notable here are the sounds. They do feel far better than the original version sounds, and that brings on the question? As noted X-Plane11 does have a different sound engine that to a point has not been refined or even utilised yet. but it is different. Someone asked the question in how does that relate to the BSS (Blue Star Sky) brilliant audio package and does it work in here?, the answer is it is far to early to tell yet as the X-Plane11 system is far to green to be considered stable and BSS have yet to adjust the packages to the new system, but I would expect updates for the packages to X-Plane11 very quickly... otherwise it is just too early yet for BSS to make changes when the beta is still very much in transition. But a quick short 88nm hop showed the CRJ-200 to be very much ready for X-Plane11, it is X-Plane11 that will need to change around the CRJ and not the other way around, but make no mistake overall the aircraft still needs an update, because two working FMS units would be nice and that damn annoying GPU still doesn't work until it feels like it. At the gate one other noticeable point was the glossy coating over items that shouldn't look like they are covered in a thick plastic cover. In this case the undercarriage,wheels and tyres... funny enough it is not like that on the Challenger 300? _____________________________________________________________________________________ The CRJ-200 by JROLLON is available from the X-Plane.org Store : CRJ-200 Price is US$39.95 (on Sale right now!) Usual price is US$49.95. If you purchased the CRJ-200 via the X-Plane.OrgStore then go to your account and download the X-Plane10 or this X-Plane11 version of the updated CRJ-200. _____________________________________________________________________________________ Overall it is far too early to make real assessments or start wanting things to working totally right now until X-Plane11 goes stable or to a release version. Fixes and updates will come quickly (version 11.00b2) was released as I do this article), but my guess is that before the Christmas Season we should have something quite solid to fly over the holiday break. Stephen Dutton 7th December 2016 Copyright:X-PlaneReviews 2016