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Lotharen

New to P3D and have questions

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Greetings everyone!

I just recently purchased P3D and have been reading forums galore hoping to take in as much info as I can. My main question is add-on's, which ones to get. Now I have a few - AS4 with ASCA, Rex4 and Soft Clouds and FSUIPC. However, what could I use for flight plans? Is Little Navmap good? are there any other add-on's that could make my experience more realistic?

Also, what about creating your own planes? I see other forums have a section for that but not P3D. Is there a reason for that? or is that impossible for the hobbyist with this software?

Well, that is all I can think of now. I hope to spend many years in this hobby but there is a lot to learn.

Thanks in Advance

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I actually am really curious about creating my own aircraft. Money is a bit tight and the payware aircraft I have been looking at are almost as much as the Sim. Plus I enjoy modeling and thought it would be a fun challenge.

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For flight planning:

www.simbrief.com (Requires free registration. Very popular)

PFPX. Payware and also very popular.

Pilot2ATC (payware) has a flight planner as does PROATCX (also payware) although these are mainly used to give better ATC (Some people are OK with the default ATC).

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3 hours ago, Lotharen said:

I actually am really curious about creating my own aircraft. Money is a bit tight and the payware aircraft I have been looking at are almost as much as the Sim. Plus I enjoy modeling and thought it would be a fun challenge.

In the main Prepar3D directory there is a file called "Learning Center.chm". This is basically the users manual of the simulator - and it contains the SDK documentation. The process of creating content is largely similar to how it was with FSX, so any resource you find about creating aircraft in FSX will give you at least an idea about how it is done in P3D - and you can look up the specifics in the learning center.

As far as modelling goes, 3ds Max is the only tool that is officially supported. But using a few intermediary tools like the "ModelConverterX" you usually can use other modelling software too. Aircraft systems and flight dynamics are entirely proprietary, the Learning Center and the online resources are your only source of information. The learning curve is quite steep and lengthy. Add to that an extensive programmatic API, which requires keen programming skills, and you know why some high quality payware content comes at an equally steep price. (mind you, you don't have to program custom functionality with the API just for creating a simple aircraft. But you will want it for a complex one)

Edit: I probably shouldn't say this - but if money is tight and you are interested in creating aircraft without too much trouble - then IMHO X-Plane would be the better choice as simulators go.

Best regards 

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1 hour ago, Lotharen said:

@FlightSimmer68 I've never heard of simbrief, thats one to look at for sure. Thanks!

Your welcome. I find it gives very realistic flight plans. Maybe more realistic than the others I mentioned (I own them all). If you get serious, you can even use a Navigraph subscription to keep up to date.

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@Lorby_SI I have XP 11, I just didn't think it looked quite as good as P3D. I also forgot to mention I have Orbx FTX Global Range - so I'm a bit more invested and bringing XP 11 to the same standard would be costly I would imagine.

@FlightSimmer68 I can't imagine ever subscribing to something like Navigraph for this hobby - perhaps circumstances will change in the future, who knows! :)

The reason I have also been asking this was I've been tossing around setting up a VA and would like to have a sizable selection of Aircraft for the pilots. I belong to a gaming organization that is fairly large and it wouldn't be hard to get the members to get it up and running. 

If you guys have anything else to share I would love to hear it. I've got 65 bucks sitting in paypal and I want to get some things for the sim that I can use. :)

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As with anything you wish to do, there is nothing stopping you if you are 'prepar3d' to try, and that goes for making your own models.

Whilst theoretically 3DS Max is the program of choice for making models for P3D, since that is the one the SDK supports, it is perfectly possible to use any program you like to make a model so long as that program supports exporting in the .3DS format, although sometimes even when programs do support that option, things can get 'lost in translation', so it's not always quite as straightforward as it seems.

3DS Max is pretty expensive (i.e. Autodesk have now adopted a similar subscription-based model to that used by Adobe, and so 3DSMax is now about £1,650 per year to use, or just over £200 per month), but there is also GMax, which is basically a freebie version of 3DSMax aimed at the gaming market to enable users to create game content. It is virtually identical to 3DSMax in terms of how it works and looks very similar in its GUI, but obviously it is not as capable as the full on version of 3DSMax, nevertheless, you can make models for ESP-based simulations such as FSX and P3D with it. You can download GMax here:

https://www.turbosquid.com/gmax

Alternatively, GMax can be found on several of the installation disks for FSX. If you want to go that route, then I would recommend reading the SDK for either FSX or P3D and then doing some of the tutorial lessons in GMax. These are not hard to get to grips with, but in all honesty, both 3DSMax and GMax are not the most user friendly of all the many 3D programs out there, so expect to spend probably a good two weeks of using GMax or 3DSMax before you are really comfortable with it.

As noted, there are other choices, for example 3Dcrafter/3DCanvas will export models in the correct format for ESP flight sims and many other 3D programs will too and many of these are free or inexpensive, or if not, they will export a .3DS file which can then be taken into GMax to be finished. The gist of all 3D programs which make things in a suitable format, is the naming of the parts of the model and the animations you tag to those parts and their heirarchy, which is why it is worth reading the SDK in order to learn about that.

There is an easier approach to getting to grips with all modeling stuff if you prefer. If you take a look at this program (note that it is currently one sale at a discount):

https://www.fspilotshop.com/abacus-design-studio-v35-for-fs2004-fsx-p-3164.html

You will find that this can be used to create 3D models for scenery and aeroplanes for FSX (and P3D with a bit of faffing around). It is a very intuitive program to use and features a number of good tutorials which help tremendously with understanding how and why flight sim models are created in the way they are. Also take a look on this website for some good info on this subject, particularly on how to use it for more advanced modeling and texturing:

http://www.fsdeveloper.com/forum/

There are a number of unofficial add-on plug ins and such for FSDS which make it a more capable program able to support more sophisticated modeling and texturing techniques too, so it's worth seeking those out if you decide you want to check out FSDS, for example, this one:

https://flyawaysimulation.com/downloads/files/18894/fsx-fs-design-studio-v351-fsdsxtweak-v16/

As with any venture, it takes a bit of time to get good at things, so if you are not particularly familiar with modeling and texturing, take it slowly and make some simple models of things such as hangars or buildings to add to your flight sim as scenery. When you can do that, you'll be in good shape to start knocking out models of aeroplanes, but keep in mind that this takes quite a bit of effort and research, since unlike with scenery, when modeling an aeroplane, in addition to making the airframe, you have to make a cockpit, gauges, add sounds, special animations, make a flight model etc, so it can be quite time consuming and occasionally difficult to find the necessary information, for example, if you wanted to make a Spitfire, it might be difficult to find out exactly how wide the cockpit is without actually going and measuring a real one and you'll find yourself having to take, or source, many photographs to ensure you have good reference. This site can help with that, and even if you aren't that interested in making a model, it's well worth bookmarking if you like aeroplanes:

http://www.primeportal.net/the_airstrip.htm

 

 

 

 

 

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@Chock Thank yo u so much for all that valuable information. I'm not a pro at modeling but I know the basics. I use a modeling program for CG art called Daz Studio and model for that on occasion, so I know a fair number for 3D modeling programs - all more complicated than teh FSDS you linked me. A few modeling and texturing apps I own are:

3D Coat, Shade3D, Hexagon, Blender

Substance Designer and Substance Painter

So what FSDS can't do in texturing I'm sure I could nail down with the Substance duo. No to mention normal maps can be handled by either of those 3D programs I listed.

I'm going to investigate further and just might purchase FSDS for a faster start up time.

Would the FSDS books be worth the purchase as well?

Thanks again for the valuable info!

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1 hour ago, Lotharen said:

Would the FSDS books be worth the purchase as well?

To be honest, no. Most of what they'd tell you is easily found online for free from places such as FS developer and really, if you spent an hour doing the basic walkthrough tutorials in FSDS and combined that with what you already know, you'd just be wasting money on those books. Of course books can help if you don't want to spend time searching for info, but really, I think you'd be fine without them.

Note FSDS can sometimes be a bit of a faff to get set up with regard to the paths it needs to find various plug ins, so if you do decide to go with it and have problems with that, message me, as it is usually easy enough to sort out, but it is not necessarily as intuitive as one might imagine to do that and can lead to a frustrating few hours of searching for solutions, for example, you have to change one of your default windows settings to make it work properly!

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3 hours ago, Lotharen said:

I've got 65 bucks sitting in paypal and I want to get some things for the sim that I can use.

Without knowing what you like out of a simulator, I'd suggest GSX http://www.fsdreamteam.com/products_gsx.html (ground services) ... it's VERY flexible and highly configurable if you want to extract out more realism.

Cheers, Rob.

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3 hours ago, Lotharen said:

If you guys have anything else to share I would love to hear it. I've got 65 bucks sitting in paypal and I want to get some things for the sim that I can use. :)

One of the really fun things you can add to FSX and P3D (works in both and is also from FS Dreamteam) for not much money (15 quid) is FS Dreamteam's XPOI. It adds flag markers to the 3D world which highlight areas of interest within range of you, and can even link you through to the wikipedia pages on those points of interest so you can read about the stuff you are flying over whilst still in the flight sim.

If you are looking for ideas of scenery to make, this is a real bonus as it will give you their exact locations so it's easy to know where to place stuff, and if you save the flight when right over the place, you can import that saved flight's GPS location directly into an FSDS modeling project and you'll have your models set up in the exact correct place when you export them. So if there is a local landmark near your home which you've always wanted to see in your simulator, go for it, after all, most buildings can be knocked up in ten minutes with a few simple box shapes.

There is a freebie demo of XPOI too:

https://www.fsdreamteam.com/products_xpoi.html

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@Chock That's an interesting product. I imagine there is a hot key to disable/enable those markers while in flight? Good to know I don't need to buy those books. I'm usually decent as far as figuring things out but if I get stuck Ill be sure to PM you for some assistance!

@Rob Ainscough I'm going to check that out! Seems interesting for sure. My flight simming is going to grow. I want to start out with GA, single engine props, move up to twin props, and finally move into jets and Heavies.  

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4 hours ago, Lotharen said:

 

@FlightSimmer68 I can't imagine ever subscribing to something like Navigraph for this hobby - perhaps circumstances will change in the future, who knows! :)

'Hobby'? You're kidding right? This is much, much more than a hobby :)

For 65 buckaroos you could get the excellent Majestic Dash 8 (Pilot version), or one of the highly rated A2A planes. There's soooo much to buy :)

 

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