F1 2011 Slow Motion

An updated video now that I’ve become more used to some of the replay features. As I say in the Youtube blurb, this game is so much more detailed, clear and subtle than the now ancient consoles (PS3 and Xbox 360). A dream to drive.

The modelling of the track in uncanny – having been there quite a few times, I recognise the undulations of the driving surface and they’ve even modelled the barbecue rotundas that are dotted around the lake.

Simon

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VERY low altitude flying!

Yeah, I am a smart-arse. F1 2011 by Codemasters is a very impressive ‘game’ for the PC. You can even fly if you get your braking points wrong.

In researching it, I almost accidentally bought the PS3 version, however fortunately for me I came across some scathing reviews of it, there are some shocking jaggies due to very poor anti-aliasing in the PS3 version.

The pc version is getting excellent reviews though, and even better, it was only $49 on steam, compared to the usual overpriced 70-80 for the consoles. Come on Sony, wake up to yourselves! It ain’t the 1980’s anymore. Oh and as I’ve said before, kill that Vita portable crap before it kills YOU. Between Android PS2 emulators and iPad/iPhone domination, you just won’t succeed. I digress…

Below are some pictures of my local Formula One track down in Albert Park, Melbourne, including close ups of one of our favourite haunts, the Melb. Sports and Aquatic Centre, stunningly realised in 3D behind all the rain.

The video shows you how well this game runs on my (now) slightly above average PC. I have all its settings MAXED out, and it still runs at 90fps without fraps! If I didnt use my PS3 for hd video recording, I might scrap it. No wonder pc gaming is starting to take off again, these consoles are getting very long in the tooth nowadays. The only thing the console is really good for is its controllers, which I’ve been able to connect to the pc and use for driving.

Oh well, another diversion again. This WILL keep me addicted for a fair while, I’ll be posting any good videos or photos of the most spectacular tracks/crashes along the way

Seeya soon

Simon

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Take On Helicopters – Latest Community Preview

The sacrifices we make for you all!

A few months ago I purchased the hardcore Arma II by Bohemia Interactive, it’s quite fun and very violent/scary in parts, see my video below. If you get bored watching me do friendly fire, fast forward to about 5.30 to see the fun you can have with the mission editor:

Why did I buy it? Typical, just so we could keep in touch with progress of the impressive LOOKING ‘Take on Helicopters‘. BI have a great community preview available, where you can see development of one of their helicopter models (a fictional light heli) and sample the controls and flight model. The only catch is that you need to BUY their Arma II ‘Operation Arrowhead’.

I’ve just downloaded their latest preview no. 84444, apparently they’ve done a few tweaks to their flight model.

THE INTERIM VERDICT

Before the update, the flight model was as accurate as my Donkey Kong Game and Watch…meaning pretty well up/down, left/right! Really crap.

Now, after all their hard work, I can truly say that the flight model is actually up to Nintendo SNES standard, still very crude, absolutely NO feel of flight or randomness. It feels like the programmers are TRYING to model a gradual lift and velocity feel, but to me it still feels highly digital, on or off, but to smaller degrees.

Maybe I’m spoilt with Xplane’s helos and the FSX Dodosim. Sorry, but I’ll remain so until more improvements are made.

Graphics

They’re pretty good, as y0u will see from the screenshots and video below. I say pretty good, as my standards are now very high after seeing FSX at its best. I’d say the Arma graphics are 50% of the best of FSX, eg Orbx or Aerosoft scenery.

One MAJOR fault I’ve noticed is the alarming pop-up of trees as you progress, and their strange white look. See the screens and video for this ‘feature’.

Sound

Bits nice, other bits underwhelming. Watch the video to see what I mean. I’m pretty sure you can’t normally hear the birds singing from inside a chopper on takeoff.

At this stage, If I were a heli-nut, I’d stay right away, and keep with what you know. Let’s hope the devs’ learning curve is going stratospheric and they make some big improvements. I like the look of their city scenery. We’ll let you know if any improvements appear.

So there you have it. Trust Simon and Chip to keep you HONESTLY and INDEPENDENTLY  up to date!

See you ’round the traps later!

S

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Battle of the Helicopters – FSX Versus Xplane

Ok, I’ve had time to survey the new world of FsX helicopters for awhile now, and feel confident in reporting back to you all with a moderate level of experience.

Searching through the various flightsim retailers, I can certainly appreciate the huge variety of helos available for FsX. Many look great, but when you dig deeper and go searching for opinions in the forums, it seems that there’s not many truly great helos.

Funny about that, it’s probably similar in Xplane land. What does it have? Well of course, the high achiever is Nils Danielsson’s BK-117, a seriously detailed work of art, with an excellent flight model/feel. Then we have the Dreamfoil 206, which is quite well-regarded. Then what else? Mainly just high quality freewares. Nicola, one of Xplane’s recognised helo specialists did a great post just today, recommending the best helos to a newcomer, here.

In the first week of my FSX exploration, I bought the Nemeth Designs MD500. Why? Well I’m an avid listener of the Fsbreak podcast, and recalled Mark Stewart being very impressed with their models.

Not sure if I picked the wrong model, but as you’ll see from the pictures below, the 500 is not that visually impressive for a $26 payware. Ok the commandos look cool, but the 3D pit is almost 2D compared to Xplane’s average models, and Nils’ 117 virtually pokes your eyes out with it’s beautifully constructed gauges.

I also found the flight model very disappointing. Far too easy to fly, I did some perfect takeoffs and landings straight away. Helos are MEANT to be frustrating, like learning to ride a bike or drive a car for the first time. You are meant to jump with glee IF you actually land without leaving a 2 ft crater where your $2million craft used to be. Reading some of the review of the other helos from Nemeth, I’m afraid everyone is complimenting them on how easy their models are to fly. Maybe I’m wrong? I’ll never know if you don’t chime in..

Here’s a quick video I just did of the MD500. Watch how smooth the takeoff is – I can tell you, it’s not coz of my skillz!

Before I gave up on FSX for helo flying, I posted a request for good quality recommendations over at the Avsim forums. Success, I received a few consistent recommendations (Wow, they’re really helpful over there). One recommendation that stood out was the ‘Dodosim’ (gotta love that name) Bell 206, available here.

Another that was well-respected was the Seahawk/Jayhawk from Aerosoft, as well as the Bell 412 from Cera Simaircraft.

Ha, well I might eventually try those 2 but I also hear that Dodo is working on a Huey to be released this year…

Due to the common acclaim for the Dodosim, I went for that, and did not regret it. For a taste of how deep this sim is, here’s a link to their publicly available manual:

http://www.dodosim.com/img/x206/mandraftx206.zip

Let’s just say that I’m yet to start manually, indeed progress from sim mode 1, ‘baby bottle suck mode’, to 2, 3, 4 and 5! I feel like I never need to buy another helicopter, this is something I can slowly grow into and appreciate all its subtleties. Sheesh, it feels real enough at level 1, god knows what it’s like at full sim level 5.

Below is a video featuring the helicopter. I hope it captures some of the ‘feel’ and randomness for you.

As a comparison, here’s an earlier video of the BK-117:

For the Dodosim, I can tell you that I had an absolute ball doing little ferry trips from Diamond Point to across the bay and back. I had multiple ‘pinch me’ moments, where it just felt so real, with the sound, the control, the views, the sky, all combining to make it feel so wonderful and just ‘right’. I can also tell you that I have NEVER felt such a buzz and air of reality with Xplane 9. I hear that Xp10’s weather and cloud simulation is going to be something really special – it’ll have to be for me to stick with it.

And the sound, oh the sound! As one of my YouTube commenters said, that rotor slap is so cool! I find the sound superior to even the Dream Engine enhanced sound of the BK117.

I had the most manic grin you can imagine flying this 206 baby! I’m in luurrrrve.

But what about the video and pictures below? Isn’t the BK-117 just so much better looking? Look at those gauges, a work of art! The night lighting is so much better! Well, the xplane model does look heaps better, and it has more complex systems. However I never really got into it, having ended up trying so many other aircraft later down the track. I NEVER went for long flights in it. So it turns out that the most perfect 3D modelling does not count when it comes to immersion. If the flight model is spot on, combined with great eye-candy scenery, weather and clouds, a slightly simpler, but still 3D cockpit, is quickly forgiven, or frankly, hardly noticed! You’re too busy flying…

The Dark Horses – Conex’s 206 and R22

I’d all but written off Xplane, with my newfound joy at the Dodosim flightmodel. Then I came across the incredible Hovercontrol forum, one that is chock full of VERY SERIOUS helicopter sim enthusiasts, many doing real life training.

I’ll be hanging out there every now and then, especially given their multiplayer facilities (free) and obvious expertise.

It’s interesting that many of them love the Dodosim, in fact from what I can see, it appears to be the only decent model for FSX in their opinion. The good news for Xplane fans though, is that a number of real life pilots swear by Xplane’s ability to accurately model real life flight characteristics very well.

I fell across THIS THREAD, where very nice comments about Conex’s new R22 project are being made.

And THIS ONE has people raving about his fantastic Bell 206. Many say the Dodosim is the better procedures sim, with the xplane model having the higher fidelity flightmodel.

My own initial opinion

As I hoped, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the Dodo’s flight model. I’ve always criticised FSX for its flight model, with Xplane generally having a much more satisfying feel of flight/randomness. I can officially retract my criticisms. As ever, FSX addon developers have proven to be expert at circumventing FSX’s shortcomings, creating wonderful programs to add nuances to the bland flightmodel, to turn it into something thrilling. It’s a pity that it means that the addons seem to be more expensive than Xplane, but in the end it’s all worth it. We can all marvel at the quality of simming we are doing now compared to, heck, 3-5 yrs ago. What is that quality worth?

As I am not doing real-world training, and I see that most of the gurus are happy with the FSX Dodo, I shall be too.  I may buy Conex’s 206 for xplane soon, just to get a true taste of what a real one feels like! Fantastic references Fred!!

VERDICT

  • Both sims have their dross, bulk quantities of blandware. FSX may be more dangerous for those with deep pockets.
  • Both sims have very select, elite quality helos, you need to pick carefully. Don’t hesitate to seek opinions!
  • I’ve always said xplane has the better flight model, with FSX just being a ‘game’. I have to retract that, for certain products at least..
  • Therefore, to me, the combo of a very good flight model and superior scenery makes the FSX solution compelling, ‘Immersion City’.
  • For pure authenticity of handling, apparently the Hovercontrol gurus say that Xplane is the best. If I was spending thousands on training, I’d certainly be spending time with Conex’s creations and Xplane.
  • With such deep and quality simulation, fewer helo addons are needed – this one will keep me busy for 6 months at least.

I now formally open up this blog to a hailstorm of debate and conjecture. Please be aware that I may not reply right away, as I’m very busy ferrying more tourists around PNW, while progressing to level 2 on the Dodo…

Simon

Below are some comparison pics – you can definitely observe the superior presentation of the Xplane models. The first 9 shots are the Dodo, the latter being the BK-117.


X+S+R 006: Perry Takes On FsX

Well, here’s our latest “position report” with Perry, who advises he has FsX installed properly now on his new PC and is getting used to the ins-and-outs of working with the new SIM, so let’s hear what he has to say:

Flight Simulator X Experiences

Well, I finally get a chance to share my MSFS experiences with you all!

Installation wasn’t too bad. After figuring out that all I had to do was run the .exe that shows up when you put the disk in, it was a breeze. Well, until I started getting a ton of errors after opening the sim. Turns out, you should never install FSX to the Program Files X86 folder, because it causes a number of issues. I reinstalled it to C:/FSX, and all was well!

FSX’s settings are a whole different animal. Being an X-Plane user since 2009 (if I’m correct), I was very acquainted with how to tweak settings within the sim, but FSX has you setup everything BEFORE you actually enter a flight, forcing you to end the flight if you want to go to a different location or switch aircraft. There is, however, a much wider range of settings available in FSX. You can set the amount of traffic, the aircraft detail setting, the scenery mesh resolution, autogen density, and much, much more completely separately, allowing for more precise tweaks.

Performance? I haven’t done any big tweaks yet, but it’s running pretty good on my PC. X-Plane wins the FPS battle, but FSX is more visually appealing. Here are my specs if you want to know…

  • Intel i5-2300 @2.8 GHz
  • ATI Radeon HD 6570 1GB
  • 8GB RAM

Let’s talk about addons real quick! When I purchased FSX at Fry’s, they had the box version of the PMDG 747-400 for only $30! Obviously, I bought. It looks great externally, but you can really see how aged it is by looking at the VC. A lot of the text is blurry and the 3D just isn’t very crisp like it is in Javier’s CRJ-200 for X-Plane. So, the normal $60 is WAY overpriced and I think this particular product is hyped up too much. If I were you, I would get some of the newer PMDG stuff because I’m sure that would show their full potential. They have improved a lot with the 737NGX. The 747 came out a few years ago, so it is a very dated product, so you can’t criticize it too much. Maybe a re-construction of the 3D cockpit would be a good idea in order to get up to date though?

My second add-on I bought was the Carenado Caravan. I have been waiting and waiting for a really nice one to come out for XP, but Carenado still hasn’t done it and Tom Kyler is busy working with Laminar, so his Caravan has been put on hold for a long time now too. Anyway, wow! That plane is a lot of fun! I would recommend it to any GA enthusiast. BTW, that one costs $35 for the basic pack, and $10 for the cargomaster add-on pack. I haven’t bought the cargomaster pack yet, but it’s on my list for the future…

Here are some shots of the Caravan in action!

The third and latest add-on a bought is the A2A simulations Piper J-3 Cub. It costs $25 alone and another $15 if you bundle it with accu-sim, which is a must! Accu-sim creates its own physics to replace and/or add on to those present in MSFS in order to simulate a particular aircraft.

So, why is this important with a plane as simple as a Piper Cub?

Well, accu-sim simulates water behavior, ground behavior, and of course very detailed and realistic flight behavior. Other features include a passenger you can take flying. She has different personalities to choose from, and will comment on your flying. Engine wear is also simulated. If you don’t take care of it and use it well, performance will decrease forcing you to get an overhaul. What I have explained above is just a small fraction of what this aircraft can do in FSX. Go check out their site to see a much more detailed description.

Oh, and it simulated water-assisted landings! This is a technique used by bush pilots which utilizes the big tundra tires skidding over the water to slow the aircraft down. CHECK THIS OUT!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q0fByofsZvo

Here are some screenshots of the Cub in action!

A trend I did notice in FSX is the price of the addons. They are sky high! Be ready to spend at least $35-50 on a single plane!

Well, here are the links to everything mentioned above, and, well, there you have it!

Perry

http://www.precisionmanuals.com/

http://www.carenado.com/CarSite/Portal/index.php

http://www.a2asimulations.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=9&products_id=37

http://fullterrain.com/