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Hifi has released their first explanations and comments about the upcoming Active Sky for X-Plane:

http://hifisimtech.com/asxp/

We are still in beta but it works quite good. Especially the complete control about the wind and fog. But I have to mention:

This version is called by HiFi a hybrid solution since they use the default weather engine to place the clouds.

This has some advantages and some problems. The reason for this solution is the current state of X-Plane. We are on the move to

Vulkan/Metal and no one knows how to control the new engine. Since they don't use their own cloud engine everything will work under

Vulkan and VR. 

In about one year we hope for the finished visual cloud replacement. Till then Active Sky places it clouds (with a limited number of bitmaps and effects), where it wants to place clouds through X-Planes default weather engine.

 

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Absolute good news, at least a good wind and turbulence depiction is mostly welcome.

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Interesting info! I'm not surprised at the one year delay before they can use their own cloud depiction, due to the changing API, but I wonder how much of a sales handicap that will be? Many people seem to think of cloud depiction first, when evaluating a weather app. If I understand this right, it won't look much different from default XP clouds.

I'm trying to decipher this bit from the link above: "multiple weather depiction modes including theme cell “real weather” mode and global static mode."

I hope this means the ability to download real current weather data, and then adjust wind velocity and cloud base like we can do now in default weather and SkyMaxx Pro. In other words, not being stuck with real weather only, like xEnviro?

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56 minutes ago, Paraffin said:

Interesting info! I'm not surprised at the one year delay before they can use their own cloud depiction, due to the changing API, but I wonder how much of a sales handicap that will be? Many people seem to think of cloud depiction first, when evaluating a weather app. If I understand this right, it won't look much different from default XP clouds.

Yes and no. The big difference is that Hifi has a much better idea, where what kind of clouds are and they add their own textures but due to the weather engine they don't look totally different. You see some images of their page. The weather prediction behind it is the same as in P3D or FSX.

And as usual they don't only offer real weather, but also historical weather (enter a date time and location and you get the historical weather data) and you can customize the weather, this means you take the current weather and change  clouds winds and so on and fly in your own weather.

But what they wrote means a different thing. They can talk to the engine in different ways, with different results.

 

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I agee with the Colonel.  The whole problem is XP weather textures and, not changing them, seems an exercise in nothing.

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Not at all underwhelming.  The biggest advantage that AS brought to FSX/P3D was realistic wind effects, including thermals, ridge lift, and turbulence.  Those alone are worth the price of admission.  And those appear to be what they bring to the table right off the bat in XP.

So, count me in.  I really don't care about cloud depictions.  None have ever been very good in any sim I've flown, and I've flown them all.  

Plus, given the current wackiness in XP around crosswind forces, that part of the package (surface crosswind attenuation) sounds pretty promising as well.

Edited by Griphos
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I'm really excited for this.  Active Sky is one of the things I really miss in X-Plane 11 coming from P3D.  Even if it's not perfect/full function at first, the fact that the HiFi team is investing time in X-Plane is certainly a good thing.

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There will be cloud texture replacement too which is good news. What will be missing are new clouds types/models...

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Guys and girls this will be a first iteration of hopefully many. Let's rejoice in the fact that HiFi are coming to XP. This is a company I at least trust will come with many enhancements in the future. Definite buy for me.

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I was looking forward more to the cloud textures or type replacement to be honest. And what is unclear to me at this time is: will i have to pay again once, in a year (if we are lucky), the texture replacement pack gets released?

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37 minutes ago, france89 said:

I, in a year (if we are lucky), the texture replacement pack gets released?

We are talking about much more than a texture replacement pack. What they mean by technology is really a new engine. It is really hard to say, how much this development will cost, so it is nearly impossible to calculate what the upgrade will cost at this time. We don't know what Laminar will do in the mean time.

It is simply a weird time for weather programs at this moment.  I expect that Sky Maxx Pro and XEnviro will have to restart their developments also, since they used the possibilities to draw directly into OpenGL and simply shut down Laminars own weather engine. But this will not be supported by Laminar in the future. This is the whole problem. And nobody would want to release a program into X-Plane, if it might stop working in half a year. 

 

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Uses internal X-Plane 11.2x/11.3x cloud depiction for maximum performance and smoothness, with multiple weather depiction modes including theme cell “real weather” mode and global static mode – VR compatible and optimized!

 

If they are not replacing any clouds, but just depicting weather, what is the point of saying that it is VR compatible/optimized??

Edited by GCBraun

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1 hour ago, GCBraun said:

 

If they are not replacing any clouds, but just depicting weather, what is the point of saying that it is VR compatible/optimized??

If you do not change anything, of course X-Plane will remain VR compatible. This is pathetic.

I recommend everyone to take a look at the new X-Enviro 1.10 screens. They are mindblowing.

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11 hours ago, regis9 said:

I'm really excited for this.  Active Sky is one of the things I really miss in X-Plane 11 coming from P3D.  Even if it's not perfect/full function at first, the fact that the HiFi team is investing time in X-Plane is certainly a good thing.

Me too, I really miss Active Sky. I just liked the way I had matching weather between PFPX and the Sim. 

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@Colonel X

Let me be skeptical about any screenshots where FPS is not displayed or where the devs state clearly that the current test version needs a lot of optmization. Long range screenshots with Sky Max were mindblowing as well but when trying to reproduce the same on my system I had a huge FPS hit. Nothing against those product, in fact I owe both but I've grown less optimistic than years ago about hype.

Edited by Desaix
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I know what you mean. However, SkyMaxx is a failed concept, that was clear the moment V4 was released, and thus the product was discontinued. X-Enviro is entirely in another league, and the performance has always been decent (I was never a fan of their texture based rendering in earlier versions however). Let us wait and see when 1.10 gets released. It very much looks like the revolution in weather depiction we have been waiting for.

Active Sky in contrary reads like a freeware plug-in comparable to NOAA or FSGRW.

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13 hours ago, Colonel X said:

Incredibly underwhelming.

I figured that this would happen. I'm still running FSGRW (I already had it originally for P3d) and SkyMaxx Pro and I will just stay with that combo even though it's weak. I figure that eventually after an XP update that those add-ons plus the now ghostware XPUIPC will stop working and I will be forced to buy XEnviro.

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Isn’t this how Active Sky first started in FSX?  Not at all underwhelming and I don’t even have XP yet.  Very exciting to see this finally come to fruition.

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I hope that HiFi's foray into XP doesn't end like the Aesop's fable of the dog and the bone. A dog found a meaty bone behind the butcher store and began carrying it back to his dog house. On the way he crossed a bridge over a small stream. He leaned over the edge of the bridge and on the water below he saw his reflection. There was another dog with the same giant, juicy bone. He became angry and wanted the second bone so he began growling. As his mouth opened, his bone fell into the stream and thus he had nothing.

Edited by jabloomf1230

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16 hours ago, Colonel X said:

Incredibly underwhelming.

 

15 hours ago, olderndirt said:

I agee with the Colonel.  The whole problem is XP weather textures and, not changing them, seems an exercise in nothing.

In the context of a major change in the graphics API to Vulcan and Metal, I wouldn't call it underwhelming, it's just a delayed feature. 

As Longranger said above, anything that involves 3D objects and effects will have to be re-written for Vulkan and Metal. That doesn't just apply to Active Sky; the other weather plugins like xEnviro and SkyMaxx will have to re-write how they draw clouds too.

So the question is whether Active Sky is adding enough new features to make it worthwhile picking up now, instead of waiting to see what the Vulkan version looks like. Assuming that's a free update, of course.

 

6 hours ago, Longranger said:

We are talking about much more than a texture replacement pack. What they mean by technology is really a new engine.

Is that really the case? When I think of "new weather engine" I think of something that gets rid of the 2D "horizontal pancake" model X-Plane uses, which can't model discrete 3D weather systems. And it can't model systems with vertical convection like CBs. 

When I see a decent string of individual thunderstorms that actually look like anvil-head CBs and aren't stacked up like pancakes from separate elements, and with full dynamic convection flow, then I'll know it's a new weather engine.
🙂

I've always assumed we'd have to wait for Laminar to re-write the internal weather from scratch to get that level of weather realism. Maybe a 3rd party could do it, but I haven't seen it done yet, which makes me skeptical.

 

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They're listing a price of 39.99$.

The fact that it will use native XP clouds may be disappointing, but I'm not surprised, was expecting that.

On the other hand, the fact that they have planned a new visual cloud engine post Vulkan, is exciting.

In any case, I agree with Paraffin. Until XP won't have clouds that are dynamic in space and time, moving with winds, growing and disappearing, with a convective structure, I will not be satisfied.

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"Released explanation"? I was going to "Add to cart". 🙂 Ide follow Hifi to the end as I have the greatest respect for them over the years. Class people!

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