New GPU and a new era

Apologies for not many posts lately, too busy with life etc, you know how it goes. So a lot to catch up on!

New GPU

Sadly my old GTX 780 OC died on me recently. Well actually, I suspect it was always faulty, ever since I installed it, I experienced intermittent PC freezes. But recently the freezing made my PC unusable, happening far too often. I should have (a) kept the receipt and (b) returned it far earlier. Oh well, a very expensive lesson learnt. At least I got a good 15 months’ use out of it.

So to replace it, a bit of research sadly showed that my old card was a very good purchase, still being up there in performance. But the new GTX 780 OC Ti appeared to be the logical successor, being around 30% faster than the old card but a steep $800 in Oz. Right now it’s the second fastest single card in the world, after the fabled Titan.

So what the heck, you only live once I always say. Who needs to eat EVERY day eh?

The card is amazing, showing significant improvement in FPS and stability in all games and sims. It’s fairly quiet, rarely having to rev up to keep the temps reasonable. In short, a highly recommended purchase, if you can afford it.

Returning to X-Plane

The new card, combined with the new release of 10.30b7 is a stunning combination, I’m able to run very high settings and finally, after all this time, able to see and feel fluid performance that reminds me why I loved xp9 so much. I’m flying xp more and more, still frustrated with the sameness of the scenery a bit, but it’s offset as usual by the stellar performance and world lighting.

I’ve returned to xplane more to also get back into scenery development. I just love how much easier it is to develop for than fsx! FSX is insanely arcane and awkward to work with.

I’ve decided to start a stupidly huge, complex payware scenery project! It’s very ambitious, but should be epic once completed. It’ll change the way you experience xplane, I promise you that. Be very, very patient, as it is a large project. I’ve spent 9 hours part time, just preparing the workflow and some base art assets. No more info, no point getting people too excited over a project that might take a year to finish. Or finish at all, as it is brain-numbingly tedious work, getting quicker as time goes on, but the reality is that it’s so time consuming and fairly difficult to do more than an hr a day before the brain turns to mush.

It’s just a fun distraction for me to fill in some of my spare time in between looking for work (yes I’m much better and determined to get back to work to stop myself going stir crazy..)

Another payware project that Chip and I are planning is a high quality scenery for Steamboat Springs airfield in Colorado. We have access to high rez photos of the facility, so it should be a great project. Again, no promises of a timeline, just know that it’s in the works!

Speaking of Chip, feel free to send your prayers and messages of support for him, he’s having a very tough battle with Cancer, fighting off multiple issues. Yet more test this week, I reckon he must look like a sieve he’s had so many needles. I admire his bravery and determination, such an inspiration.

It’s amazing the developments that have occured over the last year or two for xp. I’m most impressed with World2xplane, the OSM scenery generator, a great example of community effort.

But I still have my disappointments after all this time. Where is Norcal? Is XPJets dead? The clouds still need improvement..

Oculus Rift – Xplane 11? 

One reason I’m taking more interest in XP is Laminar’s work on getting it to be compatible with the Rift. I’ve heard the reports of impressions of the combo, they sound amazing. I think flying in 3D with all the autogen and lighting will be incredible and will give XP a whole new lease of life. Legions of new fans will come over once they experience it, I hope.

I’ve had a recent email notification that my Developer’s Kit V2 is being shipped, should come within a week I hope. So rest assured, I’ll post my own impressions and videos as soon as I can! Like many, I have really high expectations for the Rift and VR in general, it should be an incredible, historic journey. Historic? I’m not kidding, don’t underestimate its pervasiveness once it takes off . Totally immersive films, no longer requiring you to go to the cinema, with multiple events happening all around you, meaning no single viewing session will be the same. Just one application.

Prepar3d V2.3

Sadly, at the same time as I returned to xplane, I was yet again distracted by that damned P3D, with a very successful upgrade to version 2.3. The sim is running extremely stable and performs flawlessly on my new GPU, showing 25fps in my torture test area of Orbx Essendon and YMML.

I say sadly, as I was looking forward to going almost full time with xplane, but with the new fluidity of P3D, combined with some of the amazing sceneries available, further combined with REX4 cloud textures, the package is compelling. It’s like a new sim, a leap in performance and lighting. Hence the heading for this post. I think we are seeing a whole new era in flightsimming, with the raw power of our GPUs and innovation of developers combining to make our lives darned sweet at the minute! I just wish more fsx related devs heard my message that xplane is sooo easy to develop for. It does my head in….

The best scenery I’ve ever seen. EVER!

A strong statement, no? I don’t care what you think, watch the below videos. It’s freaking amazing! superbly crisp photoscenery, with such realistic colouring, all combined with amazing autogen. I’m in flying heaven right now. Watch out for my review of the scenery to come up at Flightsim.com . Please support the devs over at Earth Simulations to ensure the region is covered in their glorious artistry! The scenery isn’t the cheapest, but it’s deservedly the BEST you’ll ever fly over.

 

 

 

Enough for now, it just feels good to get a post out finally after a huge break.  See you in the skies!

 

Simon

 

 

 

 

Orbx working VERY closely with Prepar3D Crew + Loophole for Xplaners

 

Pretty rapidly, the Orbx forums are becoming the go-to place for chatter regarding Prepar3D.

I just saw this great update from John Venema regarding their pending demo scenery, to be released next week, assuming that Version 1.2 of P3D is released as well. Here’s the link.

Some interesting points to note:

  • It might be worth waiting for a few of the eager-beavers to try V1.2 next week before subscribing for the $10 per month to try it out. As soon as positive reports come back, especially if FPS performance is improved, watch the forums explode & get outta my way while I take priority downloading my copy!!
  • Page 13 of the PDF guide shows some interesting WATER REFLECTION ADJUSTMENTS not present in FSX.
  • Page 15 has this revealing quote: “Future iterations of PREPAR3D® will of course offer more performance efficiencies and Orbx is continually working with Lockheed Martin to ensure all new technologies introduced will be fully taken advantage of”.

So there you have it – as we thought, Orbx have been far-sighted enough to be covering their bases and in doing so, may be instrumental in a whole new simulation base taking off (pardon the pun).

For you Xplaners who have always sworn that you would NEVER install MSFS or FSX onto their computers, I’ve just realised that this is an excellent loophole – This alternative product is called “Prepar3D”, owned by Lockheed-Martin, so you’re not really installing FSX, are you? Nor are you directly funding the evil Steve Ballmer Microsoft entity. Bet you feel better now…

We’ll be keeping a close eye on developments and keeping you informed – Let’s hope the new version goes well next week.

Simon

More pics from Essendon:

Hmm, getting hungry for Nando’s! Do you have them in US or UK?

 


			

Are you PREPAR3D for this?

I think it’s fair to say that a large portion of the flight SIM community has been caught off guard by the revelations flowing onto and out of the forums today concerning a “new” flight SIM that has been quietly under development since 2009.

The product? PREPAR3D. Pronounced “prepared”. And the SIM is a total earth environment simulator, down to and including submersible objects. Yes, as in submarines. This is hardly surprising given that the developer is Lockheed Martin, the huge aerospace/defense contractor.

So, what makes PREPAR3D such a big deal?

Well, the core technology is Microsoft’s own ESP technology, developed by the ACES team. This is the team replaced by Microsoft when MsFlight went into development. Remember about a year ago when recruitment ads were spotted looking for MsFS SIM developers? Everyone thought this was proof positive that Aerosoft was in the SIM business. Now, you wanna guess who placed those ads?

So, what does it all mean?

Well, simply put, all of those who’ve invested tons of money on FsX add-ons and who’ve been fretting about: 1) the lack of future development for the core SIM by MicroSoft, and; 2) the continued nagging voice in the back of your head telling you that the flight physics in MsFS’s core is not really the best – now have cause to rejoice. It’s only assumption at this point but fair to assume that if an aerospace contractor is putting together a SIM based on existing FsX tech that item number one is to clean up MsFs’s questionable physics. That this might be accomplished while at the same time utilizing the vast pool of add-ons now available for FsX? Well, your investment just received a massive transfusion of high powered technological life support. There’s simply no other way to look at this right now, and perhaps because – right now – the FsX community is riding on the building crest of a very large wave of emotional energy. A lot of questions appear to have an answer, and the answers floating around look very good indeed.

But the truth of the matter is we simply don’t have answers to all these questions and hypotheticals right now. This is an evolving story!

Yes, but not for everyone. Obviously a great many people are working on this, and images are coming out. There’s no end in sight right now, but given that a picture is worth a thousand words let’s look at nine thousand of ‘em! Nine images taken from within PREPAR3D and up on their site. The first thing you’ll undoubtedly notice is that Orbx and REX are apparently already strategic partners in this venture, and that Lockheed aircraft feature prominently. Take a look at just a few of the images available:

And yes, there are already Lockheed Constellations and Electras available as free downloads.

Once again, this is an evolving story, and we’ll be adding what we can, when we can.

Stay tuned, and thanks for coming along. C & S