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Mace

Almost a year of FSX - the state of high quality add-ons from my POV

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I was perusing the forums of a well respected scenery design group wondering if there was any news about an upgrade for FS10. I was struck by the initial post date on one of the threads, dated October 6, 2006, promising that a patch for the software was forthcoming shortly. Has it been a year already? Then I went to my favorite producer of gauge, gps units and weather radars, and found this on their site - dated October 2006"With the official release of Flight Simulator X in many countries and now with a lifted NDA, we can announce we are working on FSX upgrades of our product line. We expect porting most of our products to the new platform as much as the new system, with its many changes regarding gauges, permits doing."And sadly, I think my experience with this company is one that is experienced all to frequently by members of our community, who look longingly at the exceptional products they have for FS9 that have no counterpart in FSX. Looking through my files, I am struck that only two of my FS9 products has been updated for the new sim in an essentially flawless state: the Level D 767 and the Feel There Legacy. To be fair, an upgrade charge was assessed for the airliner - but absolutely worthwhile to have this excecptional product in the FSX stable. I guess Active Sky might also fit the bill -- but even that is not really a clean upgrade. The Active Sky weather engine I bought for FS9 does work in FS 10, but you had to purchase a whole new set of graphics for the new sim without any discount for past users. I did, and I like the program. But it was expensive and I thought that not rewarding past customers with a discount was petty. But this is dwarfed by the number of add-ons that only work in FS9 - still, after one year.1. All my Reality XP Garmin products - perhaps the most used product I've ever purchased for a flight sim. No upgrades in a year though the weather radar was recently released. I fear the new airbus project (dreamteam might have been a better name)is taking time away from giving us these outstanding products in the new sim. 2. PMDG has still to release an FSX product - having the Level D 767 is a consolation, but I miss my baby Boeings. 3. The Flight1 ATR has been upgraded to FSX, for free too which is a pleasant change, but it and Active Sky don't get along in the new sim which is a shame. It's hard to concentrate on landing when all the cockpit switches are turning on and off at a maddening rate. 4. Flight Zone Portland - I don't buy a lot of sceneries becase you over over them for such a short period of time in jets - but I live in P-Town, and I have to say that the scenery does look like the real thing. No update, no info from the publisher in months. Again, I fear the super-airbus team has relegated this one to FS9 for the duration. 5. I miss my three-holer in FSX from Dreamfleet (the conspiracist in me sees once again the airbus consortium working behind the scenes here too...)6. I miss my Bonanza in FSX from Dreamfleet.7. The MAAM DC-3 has been patched for FS10 - though even the developer admits that it really only makes the plane functionable. 8. I miss my B200 King Air - the very best prop plane in my FS9 hanger. So what's my point? I'm not sure. I thought that as we approach the one year anniversary that the lack of upgrades was worth discussing, or at least acknowledgingI will also state directly that these publishers didn't promise forward compatibility. But it is disapointing never-the-less, and I will take these delays (and possible walking away from products) into account for future purchases, especially when the next version of the sim is announced. I also know I'm not rushing out to buy many add-ons these days - but publishers take note, not becuase I don't want to spend money on my hobby, but mainly because there isn't much I want to buy. The focus in the past year seems to have been getting the "lite" versions of airliners out the door like the CLS DC10, and the various second tier releases with little complexity or graphical realism. Also, I would gladly pay an upgrade fee to have almost all of these in my stable again - especialy the Garmins and the King Air. So, I'm curious how others feel. I really don't enjoy the flying experience in FS9 as in FS10 - though FS9 at night with Active Sky is as compelling an experience as any flight sim on the market. Thanks for reading this abuse of the forum system. Colin in Portland

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If you miss the Aerosoft' King air, you can port it to FSX. The analog gauge King air works 99% good in FSX.I even managed to port the Dreamfleet's Baron over to FSX. Yes, the Reality XP guages do not work. I got the FSPanel software for FSX and copied over the Caranado's Gauges over to the Baron and it looks good and works great.I also have the captain sim 727 moved over.With the F1 ATR, Lvl D 767 and the upcoming 747 and all the GA addons that are there for FSX. I am satisfied with the aircrafts for FSX.As far as sceneries are concerned. I think there are only two major vendors who are on full throttle. Aerosoft and Megascenery.Aerosoft is awesome in putting out so many and so many in the pipeline and they also have a good communication channel.Fly Tampa seem to be out of it...and so is Flight scenery. These two would be a big loss for FSX. And there are no new entrants to the FSX world to make up for the exiting ones.Manny

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>As far as sceneries are concerned. I think there are only two>major vendors who are on full throttle. >If you appreciate how long these things take then I would also consider Scenery Solutions "on full throttle" with UTX.

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Well.. I look at Ultimate Terrain, FS Genesis mesh, AI Traffic and Active sky, VOX/Radar Contact etc as must havees but in a different category. And yeah..they are all there for FSX. These software, once we install them we generally don't keep going back.Airport addons and other scenery addons are the unquenchable ones.Manny

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Hi Colin,let me explain what is happening. First, the maybe not obvious to many, nevertheless, worth mentioning: Microsoft first released FSX, then they released SP1, and they will release SP2. At each stage, there are breaking changes and since many SDK items are updated/changed, it is with a lot of precautions that a development for FSX is done nowadays, given the next "update" could break it all. I don't particularly remember the name of this product, but I rememeber a product (a scenery I think) shortly released after FSX, and then broken with SP1...So this takes time to release a product, because the base plateform is yet to be stable from a SDK perspective, and we can't afford coding 3 times the same things.Having said this, and more specificaly related to your references to the "dreamteam" (thank you for your kind words, I take this as a compliment!), and more generaly related to the FSX SDK instabilities described above, I've taken upon myself to completely write my own gauge SDK, which is somewhat FS agnostic, in order to prevent such caveats. Another goal of the framework is to offer many features not possible with the SDK, like Alpha blending, 32 bits graphics, C++ object oriented paradigm (instead of the staticaly linked C paradigm of the SDK) etc...Of course, building the framework from scrath and optimizing it, is a long and hard process. But in the end, it will free us in the long run to avoid having such long delays between FS versions, as well as to be able to further support updating the products.In the short term, I can tell you two more products (including the GNS) are currently under development as I type (well, after I type this message, I'll resume working on it!), and they will also fit a new DreamFleet aircraft about to be released shortly after (it is just waiting the final gauges).So yes, it has been a long time on our end, not because of the Airbus, on the contrary, since the Airbus and the goal to have it for both FS9 and FSX with never-seen before gauge features (32 bits etc...) has been a key driver to design this framework, which will benefit all our products!Here is a short compilation of what I've said about it in different threads in the past:Hope this helps!========================================================I'm designing a new way of coding gauges for FS. Instead of using the SDK which requires to create static pre-defined sets of data, which define what makes a gauge, like a needle, a fixed background bitmap, a mouse click-spot zone etc..., I can now create gauge dynamically at run time! any single element of the gauge is created when the gauge runs, and this permits using full C++ capabilities for the gauges. Same goes for how to react to events. In SDK fashion, you have to link a mouse zone to a C function, which is executed by FS when you click. When you have hundreds of zones, this can be like having hundreds of functions. Then if you want to have keyboard shortcuts, you have to hook/trap Windows XP events going to the FS window, and reroute them to your gauge code, in which you check or the key event, and call a function to perform an action. Usually, most of the time, key events relate to events already defined for a mouse click spot, like click a button or move a switch. With the framework, all this is dynamically created at run time, i.e. when the gauge inits, I tell it create a zone here. It can be dynamically created then based on for example gauge settings in a config file. For keyboard, I can automatically bind a shortcut event to a mouse zone. This way, I have 1 single event to trace, which can be fired from either the mouse or the keyboard. As for the hundreds of functions, the new frame work is event driven, which is a gauge can received events, and just deal with an event ID. 1 single function for all click spots and keyboard actions. and much much more! with an actual code sample from the Airbus MCDU gauge!http://www.airliner-xp.com/forum/viewtopic...light=framework========================================================As you can read, there is a lot going on at Reality XP

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Thank you for this very kind and thoughtful response. Best of luck with all your work. I await the results with anticipation.

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I am confused how an SP would invalidate any efforts, if you're not relying on the SDK (and any changes within the SDK), but work on your own, independent framework. Doesn't MS give you a good indication, if there are any changes in the way gauges are rendered or initialized, for example, because chances are probably 95% that an SP doesn't affect your work on that specific matter at all, no? Just curious.Pat

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I miss many FS9 add-ons as well. I believe a lot of publishers are awaiting the DirectX 10 patch before they really start doing any new developing or any patching of FS9 products. Unfortunately, when the DirectX 10 patch is finally released, half of FSX's shelf life will be over. To be honest, I've been a little disappointed in FSX so far. If it weren't for the Level-D guys and their 767, I would hardly have any reason to use FSX at this point in time. I keep hope alive with the DirectX 10 patch coming soon, but we've all pretty much been told to temper our expectations from the folks in the know.Regards,Scott

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>5. I miss my three-holer in FSX from Dreamfleet (the>conspiracist in me sees once again the airbus consortium>working behind the scenes here too...)I miss it too, but the conspiracist theory doesn't fit as none of the 727 team are involved in the project you refer to. That said, with a number of projects in progress, I too am not happy with the lack of a FSX release............but I suppose that's partly my fault for wanting to do different things at the same time and of course for taking the decision not to do a patch-up job for the 727. Let's hope the wait is worth it.I suppose that the overall shortage of true FSX add-ons can be read as an indication of how much now goes into a product.Flight 1 - A400MGreatest Airliners - DC-8Greatest Airliners - 727 Whisperjethttp://www.dreamfleet2000.com/gfx/images/F...BANNER_PAUL.jpg

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>Unfortunately, when the DirectX 10 patch is finally>released, half of FSX's shelf life will be over. That's assuming a traditional two year product cycle but, based on FSX, that might well be inaccurate now.

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Paul,As one dev to another, how would you define a "true" FSX add-on?Cheers,Bryan

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>Paul,>>As one dev to another, how would you define a "true" FSX>add-on?I'm not Paul (obviously), but the answer seems fairly self-evident:A "true" FSX add-on is one which is not backwards compatible with previous versions!The first, and most obvious of which is the presence of two, seperate .mdl files for the exterior and interior, which of course is a consequence of using the new XtoMDL.exe compiler... ...everything else specifically "FSX related" has the above as a necessary predicate condition.

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>>I suppose that the overall shortage of true FSX add-ons can be>read as an indication of how much now goes into a product.>Users want quality, and that equals = TIME going into a product. In short I feel that this is what the deal is today.As an aside, today, maybe half of my design time is spent watching the sim load progress bar... ;)RhettAMD 3700+ (@2585 mhz), eVGA 7800GT 256 (Guru3D 93.71), ASUS A8N-E, PC Power 510 SLI, 2gb Corsair XMS 3-3-3-8 (1T), WD 150 gig 10000rpm Raptor, WD 250gig 7200rpm SATA2, Seagate 120gb 5400 rpm external HD, CoolerMaster Praetorian

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