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coastaldriver

The Good The Bad and The Ugly

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I recently had a rush of blood (post convalescence shall we say) time on my hands and was intrigued to finally try an alternative simulator platform XP12. My P3D world is very settled, it gives me great performance, great visuals and an incomparable range of aircraft and scenery to indulge myself happily for years to come really. That is the Good. 

Now all I can say and it is an honest opinion for those who care or are interested is that XP12 is indeed an amazing simulator program. Its methodology and processes for scenery and the world (including its implementation of True Sky and its iteration of EA are simply very well done indeed. I was seriously impressed by the way they have implemented lighting, ground or aircraft. I was completely stunned by the way they have managed to incorporate sloping and undulating runways in an authentic manner - so amazing to see! Visually rain effects like on windscreens, puddles on the ground etc with real time weather were again very very impressive visually and overall their landscape and texturising of the scenery was very very good indeed (in fact close to or equal the quality of MSFS) The inbuilt ground handling and ATC is also superb and the fidelity of the out of the box airports and airport objects is excellent it is a dynamic and very realistic rendition of things aeronautical and that went for the ATC as well. That is the Good too!

The Bad? well simply no developer support for the product whatsoever as far as I can tell, so simply, no decent commercial payware addons are in view or likely to be produced. Again backward compatibility is a significant issue so even one version behind XP11 is mostly a hit and miss affair for operability and functionality in XP12. No one is updating products produced for XP11 for XP12 and some have also basically ditched XPlane alltogether the same as for P3D. So Carenado, PMDG to name but a few that dabbled and did do conversions for XPlane 11 have now basically abandoned their products in terms of updating and even patch fixes. I got the impression (and wasted quite a few dollars finding out) that it may have worked in XP11 but not in XP12 - the outcome your left with a very limited range of aeroplanes to use and some real gems (LIke the FJS Boeing 727) are now busted and left on the back lot. 

The Ugly - well MSFS is devestating the simulator world in terms of participation and attention of commercial and amateur developers alike. Time and time again it was made clear to me that Developer X would no longer support the XPlane product had not patches and in many cases just withdrawn them from sale alltogether. Now MSFS is all well and good if your able to meet its internet speed and bandwith capacity and yes it is probably the future of commercial and consumer simulation BUT and it is a big but - it has revealed how shallow or broken is the developer world and that is both private and commercial ecosystem. So even for XPlane it is now MSFS or nothing it seems!

For somebody who has been simming since MS98 this is a solemn realisation, that the real world has so many problems that the simulator fraternity has been hollowed out and lost its vibrancy and to a degree enthusiasm. So you either do it the Microsoft way or its the highway. 

So I am very very glad that LM got where they did with P3D - end of story. Still a great simulator - pity they could not get the XPlane world to replace the old FSX based scenery and world dynamics. Now a marriage of those functions would be a real game changer!

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Thanks for sharing your experience. I think that like you P3D v5.3 is a great place to be stuck lol. We may get lucky and get a bit of clean up on weather and atmosphere. I am a GA guy and find that the old Lionheart Kodiak with a Reality Xp 750 gives me just about all I need. Fly around at 200 miles per hour and land about anywhere. When I feel froggy and want to zip around the clouds then the Legacy by Real Air does the trick for me.

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Sam

Prepar3D V5.3/12700K@5.1/EVGA 3080 TI/1000W PSU/Windows 10/40" 4K Samsung@3840x2160/ASP3D/ASCA/ORBX/
ChasePlane/General Aviation/Honeycomb Alpha+Bravo/MFG Rudder Pedals/

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I will say that I am very much looking forward to a few addons on the horizon for P3d, namely the iFly 737 max (which I consider a major release) as well as what Fslabs is working on, although it may take FSlabs much longer to release their next plane than I would like.

Not to mention Justsim is going to release an updated version of Oslo ENGM.

 

So no doubt that development has slowed, but not totally dead yet.

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Orman

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This is hardly the appropriate place to debate the pros and cons of XP12, but I find your comment "simply no developer support for the product whatsoever as far as I can tell" quite baffling. Toliss have very professional A319, A321 and A340 models. Flightfactor have converted the B757, B767, A320 and A350. SSG have converted the B747-8. There is a Flightfactor B777 inbound. And XP12 has not even been properly released yet!

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I think for the developers we truly now have 3 different simulators to make product for so the choice for most is obvious  go where the market is.

The underlying problem is really that the sims are in effect all coded differently now and take different approaches - especially with graphics etc. We all got used to the MS Flight sim platform and its coding and structure and despite its limitations at least it was accessible to amateurs and professionals alike. Not now, LM has rewritten P3D into a 64 bit platform and there will be a lot of fancy coding underneath that LM will keep to itself. Likewise XPland from Laminar Flow, now they obviously have taken a completely different approach to flight simulation so there is not even a compatible file structure similar to P3D and the internal logic is way different XP12 is another major shift incorporating a lot of recent graphic developments and then you see that platform and it is the only one can be obtained to run on a MAC or on a LINUX system so Laminar produce a product capable of being run on three different operating systems, Windows, AppleMac or Linus. And MSFS well again it may be MS based but so much of it is new as well and MS and Asobo are definitely not into sharing with the general populace, get a commercial agreement and we will let you in! So if your doing software like an aircraft model or scenery for example you now need some very skilled and specialist software engineers and programmers and very very few individuals have the skill set to move across all the platforms if any! So the choice is not just the market to support the sales to support the business it is deploying or obtaining the very specialist skilled staff you need to do it - and that is an even bigger ask. You got to sell a lot of B737 models to pay the wages of a coder to keep them and to compete with the salary on offer out of the tech sector anywhere. 

XPlane still has the capacity to draw in the skilled and active enthusiastic and the tools for you do that stuff and then again having a passion for aviation is also a place of diminishing returns, the current and younger generation have never seen anything else but a Boeing or an Airbus and most have no memory of how exciting and challenging the development of aviation was for those who went along with the journey - and that issue applies not only to flight simulation - private pilot and student pilot numbers in the RW have been dropping like a stone for years as well. 

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Redshift27 - correct that was not the point of the post it was merely to reflect upon the fact that XPlane is no better off or better supported that LM and P3D is by commercial developers any more. Their cataloques are also littered with abandoned products, outdated products and very limited choice. I take your point about the aircraft coming on for XPlane which is far more impressive than what is in the future for P3D (maybe one or two there) but I also note that if it is not a Boeing or an Airbus - what else is there? And that is aviation in the RW as well  if is not a Boeing or an Airbus what else is there? 

Only Virtavia would be the rarity who would offer a high quality WW2 bomber for both P3DV5 and XPlane nobody else does. Most of the well known commercial developers dumped their legacy products out as freeware or just withdrew them for sale permanently (Remember PMDG and the XPlane DC-6?) Private individuals just retired and gave up I think. Got a list as long as my arm of those talented people who just stopped when MSFS came out!

Edited by coastaldriver

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Good to know that XP12 has Historical Weather.


12400F - 32GB DDR4 - GTX1070 - 1440p G-Sync UltraWide - Windows 11 Pro - Prepar3D 5.3

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Honestly I think in contrast to P3D the list of active and "good" devs is still quite long for XP even beside the Boeing and Bus. Even for smaller stuff like a 100% updated and working Jrollon SF260 - in my eyes still the one and only ootb GA plane that is en par with a2a or even slightly above functions wise. Q4XP Dash8 the same and on a comparable level as majestic (and again in some parts better).

Much more interesting I found the news of a2a that the next gen accusim engine is running completely out of sim context and capable to feed p3d, msfs and XP. If it works out as planned thats a real big achievement and would leave only the sim representation to be done properly (what in the end would still need at least for XP mostly a dedicated team cause of the differences)

And interesting will be what v6 will bring up for us. Some rumors sound quite interesting. But lets wait and see.

Atm I still have all three major sims installed but for sure they are not getting equal flying time, may it cause not ready yet for primetime or hard to get back to. But the future for simming was never so bright like now.

Happy flying!

Cheers T.

 

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46 minutes ago, Torsen said:

But the future for simming was never so bright like now.

I strongly disagree. The future is bright for certain types of simming. If what you want to do and how you want to use the sims fits within the boundaries of what each sim does and the ecosystem it supports, sure. But otherwise you're increasingly out in the cold. Put it this way, I'm a cockpit builder, and worse, I'm a generic cockpit builder, so it's not like I can just buy all the 737 bits off the shelf, install ProSim, and call it a day. For me:

  • P3D supports advanced display systems, hardware integration and software integration scenarios that MSFS does not, and historically better than XP as well. But it has a dying ecosystem, add-ons that are not being and will not be updated for new versions, and is not comparable in terms of weather depiction with either of the other main sim platforms. People above are talking about being 'stuck' on P3D and it's true - eventually, if 3rd parties abandon the platform, and they already largely have, the base sim will be all there is, and the base sim is not good enough for most people. 
  • MSFS has fantastic graphics and weather depiction, but doesn't do advanced display systems and its hardware and software integration capabilities are way behind P3D and XP and are likely to stay that way because the core audience for the sim, who are the ones paying the bills, don't much care about those things. It has a thriving 3rd party ecosystem but that does you no good if you can't get the base sim to do what you need it to do. Great weather depiction is meaningless if it's 'live or nothing'. 
  • XP has always been a great platform in terms of the aircraft simulation, and it has gotten much better over the years in terms of integrations and advanced hardware scenarios so that it is a viable home cockpit platform. But its 3rd party ecosystem is in even worse shape than P3Ds and the freeware community that has traditionally supported it seems to be shrinking too. 

If you want to fly on a desktop, with a single monitor and some basic controllers like a yoke and throttle and pedals, then it's happy days. MSFS is targeted squarely at you and P3D and XP cater for you just as well, because this is the basic use case for all simulators.

If you want to go beyond that, your choices are now very limited. P3D and XP used to be great solutions, and they still work fine right now, but they are burning platforms without the 3rd party support, and the one platform that has the 3rd party support is limited by its very nature and design as a cross-platform sim that runs on consoles, and is very unlikely to ever be as open a platform as it would need to be to replace what P3D and XP can do for people like me. 

When simming was a strictly niche hobby, it suited developers to cater to particular sub-niches like home cockpit builders because there was money to be made that you couldn't make otherwise. People like me benefited from that tremendously. Now that simming is more mainstream thanks to MSFS being on Xbox and Cloud Gaming and PC, the big money is to be made catering for the basic use case and people like me are increasingly out in the cold.

Hopefully you can see why for me, personally, the future of simming is not bright at all.

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Temporary sim: 9700K @ 5GHz, 2TB NVMe SSD, RTX 3080Ti, MSFS + SPAD.NeXT

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24 minutes ago, neilhewitt said:

Put it this way, I'm a cockpit builder, and worse, I'm a generic cockpit builder, so it's not like I can just buy all the 737 bits off the shelf, install ProSim, and call it a day.

If you want to fly on a desktop, with a single monitor and some basic controllers like a yoke and throttle and pedals, then it's happy days. MSFS is targeted squarely at you and P3D and XP cater for you just as well, because this is the basic use case for all simulators.

While I see your point, things are in flow. I'm  not a cockpit builder myself but have a hardware panel stuffed with Saitek panels, FIPs etc. Which unfortunately, gets used less and less, and not because of missing simulator support. 

There is at least a 3rd direction now between cockpit builder and single monitor, and it's Virtual Reality = VR. I find my hardware panel more and more orphaned because flying nearly exclusively with the HP Reverb (1) which just gives me the better feeling of really flying than enything else.

I don't think VR will ever be the single fits-all solution, but its share, according to surveys, is growing. And, despite need for improvements and bug-fixing, I find MSFS quite well adapted to VR.

So I belong to the crowd finding the future for simming bright indeed.

Kind regards, Michael

Edited by pmb

MSFS, Beta tester of Simdocks, SPAD.neXt, and FS-FlightControl

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4 hours ago, redshift27 said:

This is hardly the appropriate place to debate the pros and cons of XP12, but I find your comment "simply no developer support for the product whatsoever as far as I can tell" quite baffling. Toliss have very professional A319, A321 and A340 models. Flightfactor have converted the B757, B767, A320 and A350. SSG have converted the B747-8. There is a Flightfactor B777 inbound. And XP12 has not even been properly released yet!

Not to mention Felis with his excellent 747-200, Thranda for GA converting their great planes, Aerobask, Simcoders updating their REP packs...Why people are so "narrow minded" and only see their field of view about simulation? I have both MSFS and XP(11&12) and I really appreciate both! 

Edited by Pat Mussotte

MSFS - XPlane11 & 12- P3D4 - Windows 10 64 bit - Corsair One i140 - i7 9700K 3.6Ghz - nVidia GeForce TRX 2080 

Patrick Mussotte

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1 hour ago, pmb said:

I don't think VR will ever be the single fits-all solution, but its share, according to surveys, is growing. And, despite need for improvements and bug-fixing, I find MSFS quite well adapted to VR.

I think the mixed-reality approach where your cockpit environment is real and viewed via pass-through, but the outside view is virtual, such as has been done with the Varjo headsets and could be done with the Quest Pro easily enough, has a lot of potential. But for that you still need a 'real' cockpit and full integration of the hardware into your sim. Having a VR-only cockpit looks type-accurate and is immersive, but I personally hate the idea of manipulating imaginary controls using a pointing device or even your hands in mid-air. I want to flip switches and turn knobs.

A few people have gone to the lengths of creating 'blank' hardware cockpits with switches and knobs in the right places and they carefully match their VR view and zoom to fit that, so when they 'touch' a switch in VR they physically touch it in real life... but that's a lot of effort and it's easily broken by sim changes. 

For me, personally, I can't stomach wearing a VR headset for more than about 30 minutes at a time. It gets painful (and a bit queasy) after that. And I speak as a VR early adopter - I have many headsets, I just don't use them for simming.


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1 hour ago, neilhewitt said:

If you want to go beyond that, your choices are now very limited.

I disagree..

 

Whilst I am not into the jets and prefer GA and big twins I have got a perfectly good cockpit in MSFS 2020.

 

My RSG 750 and Flight illusion hardware work very realistically, all my VF stuff works great. I can even get realistic gauges for my Saitek FIP

 

So I am personally very happy with all sims from a cockpit point of view. The only thing is the ATC but Pilot Edge will cover that but means I will have to fly in the USA (across the pond)

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1 hour ago, davenicoll said:

I disagree..

 

Whilst I am not into the jets and prefer GA and big twins I have got a perfectly good cockpit in MSFS 2020.

 

My RSG 750 and Flight illusion hardware work very realistically, all my VF stuff works great. I can even get realistic gauges for my Saitek FIP

 

So I am personally very happy with all sims from a cockpit point of view. The only thing is the ATC but Pilot Edge will cover that but means I will have to fly in the USA (across the pond)

Disagreeing is fair enough 🙂. I have an MSFS cockpit that's workable, but far from ideal and very far from what I used to have in P3D. 

To be honest, I'm talking about things like the advanced display support needed for blended, perspective-corrected multi-projector displays. P3D's ViewGroup system lets you do this easily (with additional software for projector setups of course) but it's more fundamental than that. FSX/P3D supports having multiple view windows on one or more monitors, each of which can be positioned where you want, sized as you want, overlapped as needed, and (crucially) each can show a different view from a different camera. The camera system supports creating entirely custom cameras (not just custom views from a single camera as in MSFS) and in P3D with ViewGroups you can create arbitrary, asymmetric view frustums for each camera. The MSFS view system does not work like this at all and the multi-monitor solution currently provided is fundamentally inadequate for the use cases I'm talking about.

The core issue here is that the sim was built for a single display because that was the only use case Asobo considered, and everything about the rendering engine design is biased towards this; which is why the multi-monitor support looks and works like it does, because it was all they could do without completely re-designing the display system. Until and unless they do we're stuck with at best the 3-monitors-at-45-degrees setup and needing to use Air Manager to export anything other than the screens of avionics out to other displays. It's utterly inadequate and there's no indication that it will ever get any better because, to be fair, people like me are a tiny % of the MSFS user base.

This is a key advantage that P3D and X-Plane have and is the reason I'll probably go back to P3D for my new sim build, when it eventually (!) happens. But then I'm stuck on a burning platform and that makes me very uncomfortable.

Anyway... I'm way off topic here so I shall stop!

 


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What distinguishes XP from the competition in my view and having been a user since the very first versions, still in times of FS95, as well as of many other simulation platforms, is the Flight Dynamics model, now also with XP12 a built in "failures" model, as well as the new real weather system which, not being as complete as the one in MFS is in terms of data feeds, is still good enough at least up to FL390.

Regarding good addons, there are quite a few in each type of aircraft. I have Toliss at the top for Airbuses, the freeware Zibomod project for the 738, the CL 650 for commuter / bizjet, this last being probably the most adavnced aircraft with sophisticated systems ever built for any of the platforms I have used, with the exception of Aerowinx PSX for the 744.

Of course in terms of functionality the Toliss A319 I use is not up to the level of the FSLabs A319 or A320, but it's being upgraded.

With XP12 and some freeware sceneries like those available from SimHeaven, one get's a rather plausible World without having to spend a little fortune in addons airports / mesh / landclass / texture upgrades like in P3D of FSX. It's not to the level of MFS OFC, but still very acceptable unless one uses the sim for VFR flights where the accuracy of scenery / terrain / mesh is absolutely crucial. There are alternatives though, mostl freeware, including OrthoPhoto sceneries.

Default Weather is better now in XP12 than what it was in XP11, but I would like to see their SDK opening as much as possible the weather system to 3pds allowing them to "fill the gaps", something which has long been possible in P3D for instance with Active Sky, and is not possible in MFS which is closed to 3pds in that particular area.

But, again, XP shines specially in the tools it comes with ( Airfoil and Plane maker ) allowing for the creation of a wide range of aircraft models, and for the overall flight dynamics and feel of flight, an area where unfortunately I don't like MFS, and can almost put it even behind P3D and FSX with it's most sophisticated ( RealAir, A2A, PMDG, ... ) addons.

Edited by jcomm
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Flight Simulation is the virtual materialization of a Dream...

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