ESzczesniak

Another P3Der to XP trial thoughts...just for sharing and discussion

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I recently decided to jump in to X-Plane 11.  Perhaps this is valuable, perhaps not, but I thought I'd share some of my experiences and impression.  In part to help others who might be thinking about trying it, in part to hear any feedback on what I can do to make it better, and in part to highlight to developers what might be missing from each sim to add appeal.

To set the groundwork, I am not much of a GA simmer.  In FSX/P3D (soley P3D v3 now), I am primarily a tubeliner pilot with some military (usually DCS for this).  Simple version, I like big complicated toys with lots of buttons more than a low and slow "feel of flight" picture.  I haven't flown a default aircraft in P3D in years, and have all the typical add-ons of a tuberliner pilot (ASN, FS2Crew, etc).  Almost all of my P3D time is in the PMDG 737NGX, Majestic Dash 8, or VRS F/A-18E.  I did try to set up msyelf for a bit of success in X-Plane and picked up xEnviro, FF 767 and Rotate MD-80.  Most of my time as been with the 767 so far.  I've also added a couple sceneries like MisterX KBOS and the DD Washington XP.

 

So what have I liked about X-Plane 11?  The two major points (there are more) are night environment and what I'm referring to as the runway environment.

Sloped, undulating, runways are a huge plus, even at big airports.  The flat runways of P3D may not be so far off for major Class B airports, but even there they are deceiving.  This goes to more than sloped runways through.  The P3D runways have always had a habit of sticking out like a sore thumb.  They will "pop" in to view as the airport loads 10-20 NM out and are very obvious.  The X-Plane 11 runway loading is subtle or even imperceptible and blends in with scenery much more realistically.  At night this is amplified.  The P3D runways are lit up to an extreme.  The XP runways are clear, but not bright beacons.  For a tubeliner pilot, this is one of our major interactions with "scenery" and is large plus for me.

The night environment and lighting blows P3D out of the water.  I don't know much more to say.  The lights are clear, present, but not overpowering halos.  They follow streets and don't appear baked in to night textures.  The added car tail lights, stop lights, etc also help immerse in the environment.

I am also impressed with the way the simulator loads distant scenery.  I can't pinpoint exactly what is so different, but in P3D there often is a somewhat visible LOD boundary between the near fully loaded scenery and the far somewhat soft scenery.  I do not see this in XP.  Perhaps this is part of the reason I don't see the runways pop in to view.

The default ground handling of aircraft seems much more realistic.  P3D has been long known to have issues with ground friction modeling.

I'm a big fan of the static aircraft that are often included in XP sceneries.  I know this is possible with P3D, but it seems to be a bit more normal to include in XP and rare in P3D.  I personally don't need a lot of moving aircraft to make me feel immersed, but I need to not land at a ghost town.

The cockpit view points and view perspective are a bit more to my liking.  It's hard to say which is more realistic, but XP seems to have a more real feel to me.

There are also a few finer points that XP seems to be close to modeling well.  For instance, I'm pretty sure I picked up opposing ILS (i.e. BOS RWY04R when landing 22L) and there seems to be some consideration about reflections if this is the case.  The ATC while very basic, has a few areas that are ahead such as being able to request altimeter settings, hold short of runways, transfer to tower to cross active, etc. 

Add-on installation is a bit of a double edged sword.  Simply copying scenery to a folder and not adding it to a library is nice.  Aircraft add-ons are similar between the two.  And there's no exe or xml files.  However, trying to get a few of the add-ons for things like World Traffic 2.0, JAR Ground Environment, and 124th ATC has been cumbersome...FS98esque.  It does seem like there is some quality freeware and that gives me some hope the development/SDK with XP is more straightforward.  It seems P3D has reach a point that you have to be a software professional to do anything.

It's small, but I also like the iPad/iPhone control panel app to quickly change some things in the settings.

 

So what am I missing from P3D?  Well, a lot of this may come with time from add-ons.  First, I am very surprised that there is no way to request ATIS with ATC. 

I also am surprised there's no seasons, at least yet.

My biggest place I'm missing is the aircraft themselves.  I'm not sure there's a true study level sim yet, although I admit I have primarily flown the FF767.  So perhaps that's the problem, although this seems to be well regarded in the XP community.  No, I'm not typed on the 757/67, but small power changes quickly raise speed...too quickly.  The aircraft balloons from descent to ascent with flaps 5.  The FMC is pretty good, but things like direct to in the legs page does not work quite right (keeps same track from prior WP), but only work on the D-TO FMC page.  VNAV typically overspeeds.  It's a good aircraft, but it's just not the LDS 763 or a PMDG bird.  I'm very hopeful for the FF A320 recently announced as a "trainer level" simulation.

Many have commended the XP flight model for feeling more real, but I have to admit that at the tubeliner level, I'm just not sure I see a difference.

I also miss FS2Crew.  It just doesn't seem like you're flying an airliner without someone in the other seat.  I know that's just a matter of time for developers to get on track.

I am not a fan of the pushback in XP.  I use GSX in P3D, not the default.  But the PF/PNF focus is on the aircraft.  I like turning pushback over to someone else, like in the real world. 

The weather radar was also disappointing, as it appears to be cloud mapping like the old days of P3D.

With time, hopefully more powerful add-ons like ASN will come for weather control.  xEnviro is good, but not great.

I also criticize the controller setup in XP.  Perhaps I am just used to P3D, but I can't find any way to assign some keyboard commands to joystick buttons.  There seems to be a list of commands available for buttons and a list available for the keyboard.  And not everything is available in each list.  For example, I can assign keyboard commands to elevator trim up/down (reflecting button pushes on a yoke in real life), but on the joystick I can only find an elevator trim axis to assign, but no button options.  Options to repeat the key press while held and to adjust the slope/curve of axes would also be nice.

 

So for take home points, where could each simulator benefit and learn from the other?

So what lessons could P3D learn from XP?  I'd focus these on a more realistic runway picture and toning down and tuning the night lighting.  I also love that I have a B-25J and era-specific WWII Solomon islands in XP...but again, that's up to the add-on developers.

And what about XP from P3D?  Largely, joystick configuration in the sim!  Beyond that, I think this may be a matter of time for add-on developers to catch up.  At the moment, I just can't simulate as immersive of an airline environment in XP as I can in P3D and the available aircraft I've experimented with are nice, but somewhere between CS and QW in the P3D world.  I look forward to PMDG like aircraft (I know, they have their DC-6 already, but it's a "lite" version of their aircraft).  I also look forward to maybe a couple high level tactical jets and "crew" add-ons like FS2Crew.

 

A lot of rambling!  Perhaps it may help others and in particular open discussion.  I'd love to hear any comments from others, particularly if I may be overlooking something in my XP setup.  XP 11 will certainly stay on my HDD, but hours may be limited until there is more available.   

Edited by ESzczesniak
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Josytick buttons can be assigned to elevator trim (unfortunately I can't check right now, but it's there in the joystick settings screen), and also flight controls slope curves can be modified (the setting should be called "linearity" in the joystick options).

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You can get spring, summer, and fall seasons from Xplane.org (do a search for the file download. I can't bring it to mind right now, but I have it installed, and it works).  It works on the forest-scape and is triggered by date settings.

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I love X-Plane but I'm really missing the ground effect to be honest.

Edited by Denco

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Here is my favorite winter package for XP. All of the other options are extremely cumbersome and difficult to install. This one just drops into your Custom Scenery folder. The instructions are in Russian, but Google Translate does a good job of translating them in this case

http://forum.simrussia.com/index.php?/topic/208-сезонные-текстуры-xp-10/

And here's an org forum discussion about the package:

http://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/forums/topic/111619-did-anyone-try-this-seasonal-package-for-xp/

 

Anyway, as someone who primarily used P3D until 2 years ago when I switched to XP, your thoughts echo mine. I really miss the airliners and the weather of P3D, but IMO the environment XP creates is so much more realistic that settling for less detailed add-ons is worth it. The FF jets are generally so popular because the FMC seems very complete, but I agree that the flight dynamics are questionable. If you feel like giving XP addons a second shot, try the Rotate MD80, LES Saab 340, or the IXEG 737. All of these are superior to the 757/767 in terms of flight dynamics, and the MD80 and 737 have pretty good FMCs. Also, the visuals, flight dynamics, and sound of the IXEG 737 is far better than the NGX. The JAR A320 deserves an honorable mention. It's very close to the systems level of the Aerosoft busses, and the Blue Sky Star soundpack makes it very immersive. A lot of people say that it's buggy, but honestly I've only ever had smooth flights with it. 

Overall, though, I can see why someone would want to stick with P3D for now if they're primarily in to ultra-detailed airliner flying. But XP is catching up extremely rapidly. Remember that at the same time PMDG released their NGX, most addons for XP were unbelievably, FS98-level bad, and the sim looked like you were flying in one of those NTSB crash simulations. The FF A320 looks like it will be the first very good airliner for XP, and hopefully in the next few years more will follow as the XP user base continues to grow. Even though I miss the NGX, 777, Q400, and 747v3, I removed P3D from my harddrive completely a few weeks ago to make more room for orthophotos :cool:.

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Thanks for you well written-out thoughts Eric. I agree the airliner situation in X-Plane isn't as good as FSX, but I think the situation is slowly changing. The IXEG 737, Saab and recently annouced Airbus improve things. For me, X-Plane 11 is a great GA and helicopter simulator, and that's where its strength lies.

 

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The 767 has two direct to functions IIRC. The actual direct to should draw a new track while simply click on the LSK in the legs page shouldn't. 

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how very very refreshing to read such eminently reasonable, highly rational, non-partisan, clearheaded commentary   .... well done all!

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Very reasonable assessment. For me being able to generate my own scenery for free is huge.  The Ortho scenery I generate is better than most payware airports I have in P3D V3.  it would be very expensive to make P3D look as good as XP 11 if it is possible.  

If you have not tried the EADT 737 you should.  Coupled with their payware FMC (about $20 or so) it is comparable to the PMDG 737 and if you don't require the FMC it is free (though I agree I miss FS2Crew).  The new plugin released RealityXP Pro (I believe is the name) is also very good and adds to the experience (even in jets).

Personally I am hoping for a decent traffic add-on, something like FSCaptain and a FS2Crew or similar product for XP 11.  Many of the add-on aircraft I have flown in XP 11 are very good (Jar A330 is one of my favorites) and the 757 V2 and 767 are excellent as well but I would like to see some more immersion add-ons for XP 11.

Edited by Markfl370

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A good review of the pros and cons from an airliner sim pilot perspective, thanks for posting that!

With regard to this one item, which bugs me too, as a GA and helicopter sim pilot...

Quote

I also am surprised there's no seasons, at least yet.

Many of us long-time XP users have been hammering on Austin/Laminar for years about this. I enjoy mountain flying in bush planes and helicopters, and some of the classic operational zones for this kind of work like Alaska just don't look right in the perpetual Summer of the sim.

There is good news and bad news about this:

The head honcho (Austin Meyers) doesn't like the idea of just throwing texture bitmaps over the scenery to show seasonal changes. What he wants to do, according to info posted here somewhere, is use procedural seasons.

That would mean snow blowing over the runway using particle effects, deciduous tree leaves dropping in Autumn and then greening up in Spring. All procedural, all handled by the base sim without plugins. And all of this presumably tied to a weather system, so there would only be snow on the runway and on autogen 3D building roofs and streets if it had actually SNOWED recently, instead of just being static "Winter scenery." 

That would be amazing.

I would love to see this, instead of the Old School FS method of just throwing a static texture over everything. The idea of actually coupling to weather injection alone is amazing. I would throw any amount of money at this as a DLC expansion for X-Plane, except that Laminar doesn't work that way.

Unfortunately, Laminar has a lot of irons in the fire, and Austin often throws out ideas like this as blue-sky thinking. So I don't know if this is actually in the pipeline or not. Just like my other pet peeve about thunderstorms.

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6 hours ago, Paraffin said:

 

The head honcho (Austin Meyers) doesn't like the idea of just throwing texture bitmaps over the scenery to show seasonal changes. What he wants to do, according to info posted here somewhere, is use procedural seasons.

That would mean snow blowing over the runway using particle effects, deciduous tree leaves dropping in Autumn and then greening up in Spring. All procedural, all handled by the base sim without plugins. And all of this presumably tied to a weather system, so there would only be snow on the runway and on autogen 3D building roofs and streets if it had actually SNOWED recently, instead of just being static "Winter scenery." 

That would be amazing.

I agree - the XP dev team really thinks outside of the (ESP) box and I like that approach a lot. If I want to have seasonal textures, I can just re-install my FSX, I don't need the same stuff in XP, especially because it is very limited as to what it can depict.

The disadavantage is of course, that we probably have to wait until XP12 to see some results, because Austin is also rewriting the ATC, programming an A320, and what-not... At least they hired two new guys to take some work off their plates.

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18 hours ago, Denco said:

I love X-Plane but I'm really missing the ground effect to be honest.

Do you mind explaining what you mean by that?

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