001 Our first X+Sim+Reviews post

Hello sim-world!

This is Simon W, just setting up the blog over here for the first time, our new home for wider coverage of flight simulation issues, broader than our other X-Plane related blog.

We decided to set up base here so as not to dilute the Xplane coverage at the other blog. I’m sure we’ve stirred up the pot a bit by daring to cover other sims different from Xplane, and we sincerely do not mean to cause any negativity. ALL sims, indeed ALL PC simulations, have their place. We wish Austin, Ben and all our developer and retailer colleagues the best of luck for the future, so that we, the consumers, end up with brilliant simulations of the wonderful world of aviation.

It’s counter-productive to keep posting FSX topics in a clearly X-Plane related forum, so for all the juicy info. on other sims, in detail, come here and subscribe!

So – a quick intro – I’m Simon W, from Melbourne Australia. I’ve been covering Xplane since May 2010 at our Xplane blog, flying it since July 2009, when I bought the first computer capable of running FSX. Confused? Yes I am!

Yes, I originally bought my i7 920 pc with its throbbing GTX275 gpu in july ’09, specifically to run the beast known as FSX. Alas, after one month, I grew tired of its lacklustre framerates and poor flying feel. I tried X-Plane 9, which thoroughly hooked me into its marvellously fluid flight model, and promise of an imminent release of Xplane 10. Then came our XPlane10 Blog adventure. That was it, till a month ago.

If you follow my Youtube channel, id5556, you’ll know that I recently upgraded my GPU, to a GTX560 OC Ti (those little letters are soo important..).  Like many Xplaners, I upgraded because of all the excellent new aircraft being released, like the CRJ-200 and Sukhoi, that were starting to reveal the limitations of our PCs.

An interesting, deep side effect occurred. All of a sudden, I was able to run ANY pc game like a dream. Just Cause, A-10C, etc. Then Chip, our Blog’s main authorship Dude and experienced REAL WORLD Pilot and man-of-all-things, suggested I might want to try the new PMDG 737NGX. He shouldn’t have….

Luckily I still had FSX loaded on my PC. So I gave it a burl, unfortunately starting from Hobart, Tasmania, with Orbx’s free demo still installed! Oh dear. I really shouldn’t have!

Surprisingly, I found the experience enthralling. The fps in my Flight1 PC-12 was superb, 40-60 fps. The scenery stunning, evocative of my memories of Australia’s most beautiful and pristine State (no, I’m not parochial). From that very minute onwards, I delved into my old FSX install and got sucked into a world I’d never experienced. Immersive atmoshpere, horizons to 70 miles, mountain ranges I could recognise.

I admit that the flight model of the default planes is pretty horrible. The Flight1 model seems pretty good, not that I’ve ever flown one, but the feel of intertia and weight in this largish ‘GA’ feels pretty good.

To give the sim a real test, I went the whole hawg. I’d heard about A2A and accusim through the Fsbreak podcast, so bought the Spitfire. Flew it. Amazed at the challenging flight model, with stalls that’ll make you soil your undies in no time. An engine that is real, breathing, creating more tension than I’ve ever felt, in any sim.

More tests.

I went for the ‘ultimate’ test, being to fly the same plane over Orbx’s YMML Melbourne V2 airport scenery. Wow, that was impressive. 25fps on takeoff and around 30 about a mile away. When ymml was first released and I saw their video, I thought I’d never see it run decently at home. Now I was, and in a pretty resource intensive plane to boot. The other day I had my 5yo boy stand enthralled, as we toured his home airport via helicopter, seeing all the sights he remembers. He said “Daddy, I like this game!” Out of the mouths of babes…

So, Chip’s suggestion started this all off, with much more to follow. Chip is looking to purchase his first PC, after being a Steve Jobs automaton all his life. Ha, typical, his first PC most likely will be a water cooled beast!

Then we have our other blogbuddies and contributors, Perry and Mat, both of whom have also purchased PCs recently (i5 and i7 respectively), who have also elected to try FSX and are emptying their allowances by the hour!

Chip mentioned that even this fact is a wake up call for the Xplane developers. I personally have spent $350 on FSX addons, IN ONE WEEK! I have never been so excited to obtain so many great addons (Orbx, it’s all your fault!). In Xplane 9 land, you get that feeling about once a quarter or so. There are so few really good developers, and many of them do it part time as it’s not enough to pay the full time bills. This means that progress can be, at times,         g  la  c    i a    l

Enough of my first intro. I’ll let Chip follow up, in the meantime, here are my latest pics, of the scrumptious Carenado Bonanza V35, that livery is to die for! Yes, it has REFLECTIVE surfaces. It seems to take ages to take off, as Chip’s father used to own one of these, he’ll let us know if this is faithful to the original.

All taken around Orbx’s beautiful Diamond Point scenery.

Simon

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A quick video of YMML with the A2A Spitfire, as well a circuit around Orbx Diamond Point:

Aussies – Don’t worry, I’ve just downloaded the full Orbx scenery pack, after much frustration with their single download site. I gave up, having to install all the packs separately, less prone to errors.

Now, let’s hear from Chip!

This is a bittersweet occasion. Sweet of course as we’re branching out, taking in a fresh breath of air, ready to look at how the Flight SIM world is changing – and it IS changing – right before our eyes.

But why now?

Well, as Simon intimated above, FsX is going through a bit of a renaissance, and yes, right now. Some of this “rebirth” is ACF driven, and even to a degree scenery file driven, but none of this would have come about without the recent – and dramatic – performance gains in PCs, and as usual these gains have been accompanied by equally dramatic falls is prices. Two Gb video cards that were rare and costly last year can now be had for a song, enabling dramatic increases in performance for all kinds of processor intensive video environments, including flight simulators.

It’s a bitter occasion for us as X-Plane seems to be falling further and further behind the development curve, and the recent explosion of high quality files available for FsX is only exacerbating the problem for Laminar.

Without a broad selection of both ultra high quality aircraft and scenery files, X-Plane has always been regarded as something of a red-headed step-child in the flight SIM community. It’s never really caught on with large segments of the gaming world despite real strengths, and in part because it’s simply never had, until recently, any aircraft or airport files that came anywhere near the quality that could be had in MsFS. Why? Well, developers have come and gone, and many that have left have done so trailing bitter invective about Laminar’s update policy and how promised development efforts have been uncoordinated and slow to come.

And that sounds uncomfortably familiar with what we’re facing today.

More delays reported, some now stating that XP10 won’t be released until 2012, and these reports go unanswered by Laminar.

UPDATE: 23 August 2011 3:30 p.m. EST: we’ve heard from a representative in Laminar that the reports in a German gaming blog stating that XP10 will not ship until 2012 do not accurately represent the situation. Here’s the raw dope:

“We have not announced a ship date. We have not delayed the release. We really really really want to get out the door in 2011. I don’t know if we’ll succeed in that, but we are not intentionally aiming for 2012.” -Ben Supnik

And Time marches on, for indeed Time waits for no man. Perhaps XP10 will release in time to save itself from overreaching ambition and come to be regarded as the best SIM ever created. Perhaps legions of long term devotees to FsX will switch in droves, and a thundering herd of FsX developers will gather in Laminar’s corral.

Or perhaps this renaissance in interest in FsX we;re experiencing now will pick up even more steam, creating synergies that lead to even greater creativity and acceptance.

Or perhaps MsFlight, MicroSofts pending multi-player flight Sim environment, will totally capture the hearts and minds of us all.

Or perhaps AEROsofts long rumored FlightSim will indeed launch in 2012, and it will prove to be capable enough to create it’s own storm of interest.

And so, perhaps, you’ll see now that the FlightSIm world is a lot bigger than just X-Plane. There’s a ton happening right now – RIGHT NOW – that has potentially staggering implications for each of these SIMs, and that’s why we’re calling this blog “The Convergence Journals”. In biology and in business theory, convergence is the tendency of unrelated organisms or organizations to evolve similar characteristics, under similar conditions, and that’s what we’re seeing in the Flight SIM world right now, and what’s shaping up RIGHT NOW may well turn into a colossal battle for market dominance…

…if X-Plane decides to show up to the party.

+++++

The point of this blog is simple. We’re not going to focus on any one SIM here, at least not over the long term. Simon has had a strong interest in single purpose games like A10 that will increasingly command the attention of the SIM community because these products are in fact outstanding FlightSIMs, and we’ll cover these emerging platforms here because they matter to the SIM community.

Of course, we’re going to focus on MsFS’s FsX here initially and for the time being, but our efforts here will not focus solely on the “news”;  instead this new blog will initially provide a “what’s it like” narrative for people who have an interest in both FsX and X-Plane.

That said, our group collectively has an enduring interest in X-Plane, and we’ll cover some relevant events here, but the majority of our X-Plane coverage will remain at the XP+10+Reviews site.

+++++

There’s not too much more  that needs be said now other than on behalf of Simon, Perry, Mateus and myself, we now say: “Welcome Aboard!”. We’re glad you’ve dropped by and hope you will join us from time to time too, because this ought to be an interesting part of the journey for us all, a wide-eyed, open minded ramble through the FlightSim universe.

So yeah, thanks for dropping by, and we’ll see you again soon!  Chip

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9 responses to “001 Our first X+Sim+Reviews post

    • First reply Nomad!

      Thanks mate, we’ll do our best. Grrr, already some of us are having crashing issues, so frustrating. Yes it’s beautiful, but I feel like I’m running a DOS based game that no longer has its programmers around to debug!

      • Don’t give up! I know it’s windows… but this 737 looks so good!! I am planning to buy it today or tomorrow :

  1. Well, that ’37 looks pretty fine! That’ll probably be the next airliner I buy. FPS is probably the biggest concern. As far as I have seen, the plane is incredible otherwise!

    • I have a mid 2010 high end 27″ iMac running bootcamp with Lion. I installed PMDG’s 737 yesterday and works very well with relative high scenery settings. Also using trackIR.

      Go for it. Make sure you install windows 7 64bits. I also have 12GB’s of RAM.

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