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Addon Plane Developers, FSX, and shared cockpit

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It seems one very important aspect of FSX has been over looked, the multi-player / shared cockpit feature, when developing new planes. I have almost all the planes, both free and payware, that are designed for FSX, and all of them have bugs when using shared cockpit. Some are worse than others so it seems that none have actually been tested using shared cockpit.I figure most developers read here, so rather than wander through all the different forums, I would post here. I think the mutliplayer feature is one of the most exciting things MS has ever implemented, and would love to see all planes usable. Please please please, test your planes using the multiplayer function!Thanks for your time!

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The big issue with 3rd party planes and "sharing" them over the internet is the fact that FSX does not allow for the sharing of "custom" variables (in other words, variables created by the developer that are not stock variables as defined in the FS9 SDKs).So long story short, unless FSX allows for the transmission of "custom" variables over the internet (it would be great, but don't count on it), shared cockpit functionality will be limited to those switches, etc., that use the stock FS variables and events (this is usually includes things like the gear, external lights, flaps, but that's usually about it).Cheers,Bryan

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I totally agree with that sentiment, multiplayer is ultimately where we're all headed in the long term and it has been overlooked. I'd be surprised to see much singleplayer flying going on by the time we hit FS12 or 13 haha, but the problem lies as much with ACES' limitations of it as with the addon developers. As it currently stands only aircraft that use XML gauges exclusively can work properly in shared cockpit. Unfortunately XML doesn't easily allow for complex gauges such as FMCs to be done, so developers are taking the tried and true C++ DLL route with those (GAU gauges). I agree though that it would be nice if developers at least tested their aircraft in the multiplayer environment. A lot of them have issues above and beyond shared cockpit in that realm.Curiously the default bell jetranger uses a DLL based gauge and it does work in shared cockpit. Some truly special sauce in that file I guess and I'd love to know what it is.ACES, can we expect to have any sdk documentation on the inner workings of multiplayer at some point? It's currently some pretty dark voodoo. :)Thankfully the best aircraft ever made for FS (in my opinion) the Realair SF260 works brilliantly shared. I believe most of the wings of power aircraft also work in this, as well as most aircraft from alphasim. Basically if the aircraft doesn't ask you to "trust" a gauge, you should be good to go.

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I really hope the developers and Aces can work out the problems. Multiplayer and the shared cockpit has to be the single biggest jump forward since FS was developed IMHO. I don't even fly offline anymore.

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Bryan was dead-on with his observations regarding the sharing of variable data. ONLY stock FSX variables (tokens) and commands (key_events) are transmitted from client to host in multi-player.Haldir is incorrect in his hypothesis regarding the type of gauges used, as the contrary evidence of the Bell's C gauge demonstrates... ;)For example, the default G500 is present in both user's default C172, yet not all "commands" are transmitted! Selecting a different Page of a Group locally will NOT effect the same change in the other user's G500.For that matter, if you load two instances of the G500 in the C172 on your local machine, they will not always be "synchronized," so what hope for them to be synchronized in a shared cockpit? :-lol The reason for this is obvious to any XML gauge programmer. Many of the variables used in XML gauges are "G:vars" which are - by design - local to the single instance of the gauge and aren't "shared" between other instances of the same gauge, or any other gauge for that matter!Even the "L:var" type, which are designed to be "seen" by other gauges within the same local instance of the panel system cannot be "shared" via multi-player. How could anyone possibly program for such exchange when there can be any number of them created/destroyed at any given time by the local system, and there also can be an indeterminate number of them contained within the .mdl file itself.In summary, ONLY those token variables and key_events listed in the SDK are "shared" via the multi-player system. If all modelers limited themselves to just that set, then their "product" would be just as bland and lifeless as any default aircraft......and who among us would want that??? :-bang

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I think you're being too hard on the FSX dev team. Yes, some of the default models are better than others, but those good ones (in my opinion) are fine for everyday use. FSX isn't going to develop a PMDG-style 747 right out of the box; they don't have the time and the resources. That, and the sim pilots who prefer ultra-realistic heavy metal do not represent the entire MSFS market. People ask me from time to time what my favourite MSFS aircraft to fly is, and I'd have to say the default Piper Cub, which actually tends to grind the conversation/argument to a halt. I have also put in a lot of time in the default Cessna, and there are a lot of real-world pilots who like the default model, although granted there are better third-party models out there. The DC3 and the new Grumman Goose are a lot of fun, and I have respect for the FSX default Beaver. Even the trike is a blast to fly, and the default Robinson helo is my TrackIR sightseeing vehicle of choice. That being said, as a Staff Reviewer for AVSIM, I can honstly say it's never crossed my mind to even look at multiplayer features for the products I get to review. I've logged maybe ten minutes of multiplayer time in my entire experience with MSFS. I don't really have a good answer as to why -- I've played a fair amount of IL2 Sturmovik on line, as well as other combat sims. There's no real reason why a Reviewer couldn't look at multiplayer features, although usually the developers don't often play up those features, and I think it might be a bit of a chore to schedule in multiplayer review testing time, at least for me. I've never actually tried, so I am just spitballing here. Jeff ShylukAvsim Product Reviewer

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>I think you're being too hard on the FSX dev team.Jeff, if that is based on my phrase "bland and lifeless," then let's keep it in context with the preceeding few hundred words, eh? ;)Considering that I'm in near-daily contact with the nice folks at ACES, the last thing in the world I wish to be is "too hard" on them... :-halo The main point I'm trying to communicate here is that there are valid technical reasons why ACES can only pass default tokens and k_events via the multi-player interface (which they only license from Gamespy, BTW).In addition to the aforementioned technical limitations, there's also the issue of cost/benefit. It's a well-known fact that "advanced simmers" who desire this degree of fidelity represent but a very tiny fraction of the marketplace, so there's absolutely no financial incentives for ACES to invest resources into developing capabilities that would benefit so few... :-beerchug

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Its probably been a subject of much debate within the ACES group, that of how to view and support 3rd party developers.In recent years, there has been a lot of effort to support the developers, but its limited. At least in scenery, and this thread shows me parallels in aircraft also. The boundary for developer support seems to be the sdk. For developer efforts that only use sdk supported concepts, Aces are very supportive. And to be fair, the boundary represented by the sdk has been a bit flexible based on feedback so I have no complaints.But, once the boundary is set, we're on our own if we exceed the sdk limits. All questions that point to the underlying code that would permit the sdks to be exceeded have been refused to my knowlege.Sad fact is that to be a competitive addon developer, the sdk cannot be the boundary. The users don't know what the boundary of sdk even is, so there will never be a fair treatment of any dev that remains safely within that boundary. Just like always the hacks will occur....but they take time. Best,Bob

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Bob, we agree that the boundries of the SDK provide a level field for all third party developers. We're sure you understand fully the Time/R&D costs versus benefits equation for all third party developers.We, like you have no complaints regarding the status quo, but like many other developers wish the boundries could be expanded:-)Until that happens, looks like we're all in the same boat regarding the Time/R&D costs vs benefits equation:-) :-)

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I was so incorrect in my assessment of the limitations of shared cockpit that I was told so in bold letters haha. I do indeed stand corrected. :) Cheers for the clarification on the variables Bill.My question though is this: It seems to me that the ultimate application for shared cockpit, training aside, is the one kind of aircraft that actually requires two people to fly, and that is of course an airliner.Myself, I can't stand those tubes with wings but to say that people who enjoy ultra complex aircraft (and want to share them) represent a tiny fraction of the market doesn't quite seem right. When Alphasim pops out a new military jet most people here say "oh that's nice" if anything at all, but when Level-D releases their first FSX project this forum will of course go utterly mental.I do realize that avsim readers don't represent the total demographic, not by a long shot. One needs only to spend 10 minutes in multiplayer to figure that out. I guess my point is that shared cockpit is something really special, and worth investing time into by both Aces and 3rd party developers. Myself I never fly solo anymore. Any plane that doesn't at least work correctly in multiplayer, shared or not, isn't something I'll be buying from this point on.Cheers.Mike

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I'd be willing to wager that the number of folks registered for AVSIM's forums is but a small fraction of the total number who simply visit AVSIM...Further to that, even the total number of unique visitors to AVSIM would be dwarfed in comparison to the total universe of active flightsim users......and that the total universe of flightsim users is but a minuscule fraction of the total number of flightsim owners! ;)

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