rsrandazzo

[14JUN17] How not to mess up a perfectly good Prepar3D v4 installation...

Recommended Posts

Captains,

With the advent of P3D v4, many of us are breathing a sigh of relief that we can finally get back to flying full flights without the risk of the machine running out of memory during the final approach phase of flight.  As hard as it is to believe, there are a whole generation of simmers who have never had this level of freedom- but those of us who have been at this since the early 80s can tell you that we are finally back to the good old days!

With that, I think it is important to have a brief discussion of basic survival skills- because our support team is beginning to see some really wild stuff taking place with Prepar3D v4- and nearly all of it is “user induced.”  We really want you to avoid these pitfalls so that you can enjoy the new, stable, smooth simulation without having to waste time sorting out “what screwed up my sim now?”

 

THINGS YOU MUST STOP AND CONSIDER:

  • Prepar3D v4 is stable.  It is probably one of the more stable simulation releases we have seen in years. 
  • Prepar3D v4 is not v3.  It is not FSX.  It is not FSX-SE.  (And I know how XPL users hate being left out, so no, it isn’t XPL either.  :laugh:)

With those things, considered- here are some rules to live by:

  • Do NOT install aircraft, scenery, utilities into Prepar3D v4 that were not designed using the Prepar3D v4 SDK.  (Re-read that sentence it is important!) 
  • Do NOT force Prepar3D v4 to utilize scenery that you previously had installed for Prepar3D v3, FSX, FSX-SE (or yes… XPL!  :cool:)
  • Do NOT use utilities designed to allow you to “unify” your installations by feeding non-Prepar3D v4 scenery/utilities into Prepar3D v4.

The most important piece of knowledge you can have to maintain stability of Prepar3D v4:

Before you install ANYTHING into Prepar3D v4, you should take the time to research whether the developer merely adjusted their installer to account for Prepar3D v4, or whether the developer actually took the time to re-export BOTH the code elements AND the model elements of a product using the developer/SDK tools that were provided by Lockheed Martin for use with Prepar3D v4.

This sounds rather persnickety- but if you follow the guidance above- you will have a largely problem free experience with Prepar3D v4.  If you would like to know more information on the how and why of these recommendations, please continue reading…  Otherwise, simply follow the above guidance and you should be good-to-go!

 

BACKGROUND INFORMATION:

After a few thousand man hours working with, developing for and providing technical support to the Prepar3D v4 platform- we have learned some things that we boiled down to provide the guidance above.  These things are as follows:

 

  • Lockheed Martin has provided guidance to developers via their Software Developers Kit (SDK, for short) that explains very specifically that all code elements and modeling elements used within Prepar3D v4 should be exported using the SDK tools that ship with Prepar3D.  This means that simply moving an FSX/Prepar3D v3 scenery into Prepar3D v4 will put your simulator at risk of becoming unstable, or working irregularly.   (Airplanes generally aren’t a drag-and-drop factor here because they need to be recompiled in x64.)
  • With this in mind, it is incumbent upon developers to not simply “re-wrap” existing products to make them “installable” within the Prepar3D v4 environment without ALSO taking the time to re-export the code and model elements using the Prepar3D v4 SDK tools.  If a developer simply updates their installer to allow you to install in the Prepar3D v4 environment without also taking the time to re-export the code and model elements- your sim is at risk of becoming unstable, just as if you had drag-and-dropped a non Prepar3D v4 product.
  • Tools that allow users to alias older, Prepar3D v3, FSX, FSX-SE scenery and utilities into Prepar3D v4 are a sure-fire way to make your simulation unstable.

 

EXAMPLES:

  • Through our efforts to trouble shoot user installations that exhibit significant FPS drops when using dynamic lighting, we have found a direct correlation between performance while using dynamic lighting and whether-or-not the scenery was created using the Prepar3D v4 SDK tools.  Users who turn on the landing lights in a Prepar3D v4 exported scenery will generally see only a slight performance hit, but if the same user then moves to an airport that was exported using the FSX, FSX-SE or Prepar3D v3 scenery tools- that user will almost always see a significant performance hit.  This is to be expected, since the new exporting tools contain many of the programmatic elements needed to allow things like dynamic lighting to work properly with the Prepar3D v4 rendering process.
  • We have found that our technical support team is able to clear a significant number of CTD issues within Prepar3D v4 by simply removing aliased and non-compliant scenery and utilities.

 

SUMMARY:

  • Developers within the simming community have enjoyed relatively straight forward portability of products between FSX, FSX-SE and Prepar3D for a number of years.  That portability has been beneficial to customers, but has served to mask the fact that the “Microsoft Flight Simulator” origin product lines are growing more and more distant, and need to be treated individually by developers.
  • Developers cannot simply shoe-horn products developed for FSX/FSX-SE/Prepar3D v3 into Prepar3D v4, but should instead treat the transition to Prepar3D v4 seriously, exporting new code and model elements as recommended by Lockheed Martin in order to ensure the stability of the platform for all users and developers.
  • Users need to be mindful that Prepar3D v4 is a unique platform, and just because an old favorite scenery will load does not mean that it will run without undesired side effects.

 

BONUS MATERIAL:

The following list is a trouble shooting checklist we have found that helps users to identify and self-resolve reports of FPS and performance loss when using our products.  I’m tacking it on here free-of-charge in hopes that it helps you to see the methodical ways you can self-diagnose performance issues within Prepar3D v4:

  1. Are you running the latest GPU drivers?
  2. Are you using PMDG’s product at a legacy airport (FSX/FSX-SE/Prepar3D v3 scenery imported by drag-and-drop or aliasing tool), if so, you should check with the scenery developer for a version of the scenery that was recompiled specifically for Prepar3D v4 using the Prepar3D v4 SDK tools.
  3. What are your Anti-Aliasing settings? SGSS causes pretty hard FPS drops while MSAA up to 4x does not impact too much.  MSAA 8x has a small impact but is manageable on most machines.
  4. Are you running both Dynamic Lighting and Dynamic Reflections? There have been reports on LM beta forum saying that Dynamic Reflections on high while also using dynamic lighting together will eat FPS performance significantly. With PMDG products its recommended that Dynamic Reflections be turned off completely unless you find the performance hit to be acceptable. 
  5. If you are receiving odd CTDs or performance loss, look carefully through the tools, utilities, scenery, add-ons that you have installed and make certain that they are actually Prepar3D v4 compatible.  When I doubt, ask your tool/utility/scenery/add-on developer the following question:  “Was this product exported using only the Prepar3D v4 SDK tools?”  If the answer is anything other than “yes” then it COULD be a problem within the sim.

 

I know portability is a great thing, and users have asked for years that all products be made compatible with all platforms- but portability takes work.  With that work comes the responsibility of the user to make sure you aren’t introducing something to your sim platform that could potentially make it unstable.  While some utilities/tools/scenery/add-ons might work just fine when forced into Peepar3D v4, many others will not- and those will decrease your enjoyment of Prepar3D v4 as you hunt down the problems and manage the frustration.

None of us want to see that- so be protective of your installation!

*With special thanks to PMDG's Jason Brown, as well as our support team for their efforts to rapidly build our internal knowledge and working understanding of the impact of non-Prepar3D v4 software on the platform.

 

  • Upvote 44

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Help AVSIM continue to serve you!
Please donate today!

AWESOME!  I havent had a problem since ive installed most of the things available for P3D V4 that i had on V3. FPS hit on the dynamic lighting on my end does hit my FPS to the point where it lags or stutters, etc. Im very happy with the way P3D V4 is running. Now for the NGX and the 773

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, Alex Kulak said:

AWESOME!  I havent had a problem since ive installed most of the things available for P3D V4 that i had on V3. FPS hit on the dynamic lighting on my end does hit my FPS to the point where it lags or stutters, etc. Im very happy with the way P3D V4 is running. Now for the NGX and the 773

Hi Alex,

Update to latest driver: 386.53, no fps loss even with dynamic lights enabled.

Works for me, and the performance is boosted as well.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Just now, Harvgordon said:

Hi Alex,

Update to latest driver: 386.53, no fps loss even with dynamic lights enabled.

Works for me, and the performance is boosted as well.

i did that exact thing when i upgraded to V4. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for the advice Robert, and this backs up something that I noticed the other day and posted on SOH about. I noticed when checking to see if freeware scenery will or won't work that I was taking a huge FPS hit sometimes as low as 2FPS at freeware airports when dynamic lighting was turned on. I turn dynamic lighting off in the option menu, and then all was well. I was checking airports to just make sure everything loaded correctly, but haven't really given much thought to the coding aspect of it. May have to look at these tools in the SDK to see what might need to be done to recompile them. All transitions come with growing pains it seems.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, lolocool16 said:

The 777-300 compatible p3d V4 or not ?

Unless anything has changed, last I heard was they were having issues with the ground maneuvering camera, so right now, no.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, Captain Kevin said:

Unless anything has changed, last I heard was they were having issues with the ground maneuvering camera, so right now, no.

Thanks  :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So are you saying that a full OS reinstall is not one of the problem solving steps.....still amazes me how many times I read on these forums how people reinstall Windows to resolve a Flight Sim issue.

  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This should be posted @ P3D also, I see many people trying installing addons that haven't been updated to v4. 

great tips.

  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As always. Superb info, superb support... definitely you, guys at PMDG are "THE" must-have addon. Thanks

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 minutes ago, MarkW said:

So are you saying that a full OS reinstall is not one of the problem solving steps.....still amazes me how many times I read on these forums how people reinstall Windows to resolve a Flight Sim issue.

right XD

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a horrible feeling that there is not much appetite in the scenery development world to adopt this approach.

 

Even the 'big players' have created product migration like you outline above.

 

That is worrying indeed.

 

Alex

  • Upvote 8

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This must be the most useful post i've seen on AVSIM. Ever.

Now, if only... Bah, that's asking too much - One only needs to take a look at all the quick conversions around.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the advice,  Cmde.Robert.
Let's do the right thing to make the most of this new technology.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 minutes ago, aceridgey said:

I have a horrible feeling that there is not much appetite in the scenery development world to adopt this approach.

 

Even the 'big players' have created product migration like you outline above.

 

That is worrying indeed.

 

Alex

Above all that is one thing: cheap!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Above and beyond, Robert and PMDG, as always! A very insightful post, and timely reminder for us all to stay cool and take the upgrade process seriously and carefully.

It does raise very serious issues as there is no verified way to find out how an existing add-on was ported to V4, and no "V4/64-bits" seal of approval available. I am troubled by the fact that LM did not see fit to embed such a compatibility check mechanism in such a milestone release - something that would have made the use of V4 SDK mandatory for add-on creation, export and installation, and would have trimmed down their support queue and our headaches significantly.

After many different issues, spanning a wide range of symptoms and probables causes, including the corruption of unicode config files by both add-ons and P3D itself, I am left hesitant to fly my beloved 777 and 747 in anything but ugly default scenery, and that sucks.

I guess time will tell.

  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, planiac said:

I presume using the Migration Tool is also a no no?

Do you need it spelled out? Robert said just that in his opening post. 

Do NOT use utilities designed to allow you to “unify” your installations by feeding non-Prepar3D v4 scenery/utilities into Prepar3D v4

 

  • Upvote 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, aceridgey said:

I have a horrible feeling that there is not much appetite in the scenery development world to adopt this approach.

I bet you're right.

So it will be incumbent on us consumers to demand that scenery developers advertising their products as "Prepar3D v4 compatible" to have compiled their products using the correct SDK. Although there's a saying about wishing in one hand and doing something else in the other...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Captain Randazzo, your excellent advice came one day late for me, I killed my v4 installation by trying to force every European airport that claimed to be compatible with the new sim.  

Your advice is absolutely spot on, it should be more widely shared in the community.

My punishment, I had to do a full reinstall of the sim.  I am only now only flying the PMDG Queen and the T7 from default airports or to a few like the latest Aerosoft ports.    I eagerly await the arrival of the re-built 737NGX.

Patience is required.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for this enlightenment, Captain.

So how do us sheep know which add on's (global sceneries, regional sceneries, payware airports, flight tools, aircraft) were actually engineered using the correct SDK procedures?

Do we trust what they say on their websites?

 

  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So how do we truly know that a developer has done their due diligence?  I hope someone can come up with a list that will help in that regard.  I am going to assume that the more reputable scenery designers would use the proper SDK porting.  In the mean time I'm going to be careful what I install, and will install sceneries one at a time to make identifying problems easier.

  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I noticed a performance decrease with dynamic lights on while using Flightbeam's updated KSFO HD and FSDT's airports. They have both updated to P3D v4, so are you saying that there's a possibility that they might've not followed P3D v4's SDK thoroughly and thats the reason why I'm seeing such a performance decrease at these airports? And I also notice with dynamic lights on, the runway looks extremely grainy, noisy, fuzzy and just downright ugly. I'm beginning to have doubts whether or not FB/FSDT's so called updated airports are fully P3D v4 compliant then.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great post!  I bet you are going to be saying this 1gig more times over the next year lol.

I spoke to John and Ed from Orbx in person for a good while at Flight Sim Con 2017 last Saturday.  If its in your FTX Central application then its ready for V4 and you can install it....its made for V4.  Airports are coming soon BUT not until they are ready.

That's a very nice thing they have done with FTX Central.  I wish more scenery makers would go that way - 1 click install for everything you own.

Quality Wings is developing their new B787 for V4 and the FS packages guys wont make installers until their stuff is ready for V4.  I have installed about 40 airports from Flightbeam, FSDT, Flytampa and a few others that were said to be ready and they work just fine. Keep in mind that V4 graphics options have been extended/expanded...running everything to the right is going to slow even the best machine.  Its all about finding the right mix for your computer.  You'll see scenery makers optimizing textures as they learn.

Like Rob said, aircraft are another animal and they must be compiled for 64 bit or they just wont work right.  The makers that seem to kick out airplanes every other week are likely to do just enough to get it in V4 for now and maybe truly adapt it later on. But those are the airplanes that are no where near what we have come to expect from PMDG - they were/are "budget"  addons from the start.  Trying to be nice there.

I got a chance to talk to Rob McCarthy, lead programmer for P3D V4.  He said there is a whole set of new tools in the SDK for V4 the dev community has to work with.  As they learn and see what they can do with those tools we'll see some amazing stuff.  Also, after talking with him its clear they support our addon devs to the fullest.  I confirmed this with every dev I talked with - they all say LM is the best sim developer they have ever worked with for support.   

I'm not too worried about the addon guys not doing the right thing.  They all want to see what this new animal can do.  I think same as aircraft, scenery will makers will mirror what we see now in quality and compatibility.  Crap scenery makers will be crap in V4 while the big guys will do their best optimize for V4 so they can sell me more pretty shi....stuff.

Doing a reality check, V4 hasn't been out a month and look whats there already.  This was not like this when FSX released...not even close.

FVN2.png

 

  • Upvote 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now