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FSDS version 2

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I wonder who will actually buy this upgrade for FSDS? If you bought your copy after July 31 2002, you will be eligible for the update at no cost. If you bought it before July 31 2002, it will cost $24. Wonder how they arrived at that?Anyways, with G-max freely available, and no support in FS2004 for FSDS, why would anyone want to buy it? I know that there are still alot of folks who use it. And many say that it is easier for beginners to use than G-max, but it is a dead duck.I'll agree that g-max is a monster of a program, but the results a talented and knowledgable user can spit out with it (Mike Stone to mention one of many), kill anything that FSDS can put out. At least in my opinion. With FSDS, one needed to purchase the Aircraft Animator software package on top of FSDS, just to get the gear to retract and the props to spin. G-max does it all, for free.Now don't get me wrong here, FSDS, in it's day, was the premier choice for FS aircraft design. I can remember, not so long ago, that the only moving parts one saw on an aircraft, were on the default C182 and the gear on the default 737 (FS5.1, FSFW95, and FS98). Aircraft didn't even have clear windows back then and jet engine intakes were untextured flat walls. But FSDS brought us further forth in the technology of FS aircraft design, compared to it's predecessor FSFS (Flight Simulator Flight Shop) which by todays standards, doesn't even read on the map. I wonder, if FSDS was never born, what kind of a/c models would we have today?So what do you think? Is FSDS v2 a dead duck before it even leaves the starting gate, or will it continue to find purpose in our current world of simming? Or will G-max reign King of the world's virtual aircraft factories?Speak up all you designers and let us know what you think.Thanks,CF-AOAKyle

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How do you know that FSDS 2 won't work with FS 2004??????? It's not even out. Louis has been working hard on the update. The info I have been able to get is that GMax uses a "native" DirectX process for rendering models, thats why it's more efficient. Well Louis has been converting FSDS to do the same thing... Along with built in animation and reflections, Just like Gmax. And this in an easier to use package. As for the price.... heck I spend more than $24 just to fill up the gas tank in my car so it's no biggie to me, unless I need to get a new comercial lisence for it, which I have now, that price might hurt a little ($350 last time) I need to talk to Arnie about that one. I think the demise of FSDS has been greatly exagerated.Brian"Friends don't let friends use GMax" -- Dave Eckert

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Hi Brian,I read somewhere, either here on the forums or via one of the many sources of FS news, that MS wouldn't/couldn't support it. Guess we'll have to wait and see for more info on that one.I have FSDS and I agree that it is a much more user friendly and easier to "grasp" program than the array of buttons, knobs, switches, and dials found in G-Max. To me, using G-Max is like teaching a four year old to fly ILS approaches in thunderstorms! Time consuming and stressful ;) But I do like what the dsigners are putting out with it. Those that have the patience to actually learn it anyways. And I also like the fact that it is a complete package ie. animator and modeller.However, despite my doubts about FSDS, the newer version does have some nice additons and fixes (upgrades?) to it, just like you mentioned. I wonder if there is one and how much a developers version of G-max costs in comparison to FSDS?Anyways, if it is in fact true that MS won't be supporting FSDS modelling in FS2004, I think G-Max will put it to bed.BTW, I don't model. I've spent some time with FSDS (when I can) and am still working on a DASH 7 project - Milton beat me to it :). I've had a go at G-Max and like most users I'm sure, simply gave up, overwhelmed. So I don't really have designers point of view, but I do fly the models. And what we get nowadays are the kind of things we could only dream of 5 or 6 years ago.CF-AOA

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I agree with the above post that we'll have to wait and see whether FSDS 2 can come out with something compatible with later versions of FS.... I'm sure the designers are taking that into account. Abacus has been around a long time, and I am sure they are doing their homework.I am still trying to get my arms around gmax.... It can produce beautiful works of art, but it's not the best tool to get the casual designer into aircraft design. I am still looking for that "perfect" tutorial--not something that walks me through a complex aircraft, but something that gets me familiar with parts, groups (internal and external), simple animation, etc..... I don't care if the output is a cylinder with wings...I just want to learn at the most basic level.-John

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I believe FSDS 2 is using the latest Mdl structure as laid out in the Microsoft SDK. This should make it the same format as gmax.I was under the impression that this FSDS upgrade was to cater for the future direction of FS. I.e. the new Mdl format.I'll buy it, as FSDS is what quality software is all about- It's up to the job, it's well designed & it's useable.gmax only scores on one of these points in my opinion.David Maltby

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>I'll buy it, as FSDS is what quality software is all about- >It's up to the job, it's well designed & it's useable. >gmax only scores on one of these points in my opinion. You do know that GMAX can be customized darn near anyway you like, and that if someone who is really familiar wanted to, they could develop a FS script to create custom buttons, etc. to simplify the process.Having looked at what the makers of Quake did with their "Tempest Gamepak," I know what MS could have done with some small effort. They are not limited to a simple 'plugin,' but could totally change the 'face' of GMAX to 'hide' the fiddly bits that aren't needed for a/c design... :)You sure can't beat GMAX for animation though, it's really easy! :)

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John, some time ago I started writing a tutorial along those lines, but I've been busy doing other things for the last few weeks. I believe that many people give up on Gmax because they try to run before they can walk. I have identified two Gmax essentials: the transform gizmo and the modifier stack. My tutorial describes these in reasonable detail and - hopefully - shows that they're not all that difficult. It's also fairly humorous - to help visualise the midifier stack I use an analogy of a tower building filled with industrious and highly trained monkeys! It starts with Gmax basics rather than going straight to aircraft building. But after the sufficient basics have been covered, it goes on to build, export and fly an aircraft constructed out of simple tubes and boxes - I call it the Lego plane! It also shows that, once the dreaded modifier stack is understood, it's easy to do multiple texture mappings on aircraft parts (using the Mesh Select modifier). I believe the tutorial is different, as it concentrates on first learning the basic Gmax essentials before going on to building aircraft. My intention is to take it all the way to creating a real animated aircraft design with virtual cockpit, but I'm not sure when I'll get back to it. I could possibly put what I've done so far on my site for download. Best regards, Chris

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Bill, I agree, I regard the Gmax user interface as superb - and also highly configurable. The first thing I did with Gmax was to configure the move, rotate and scale functions to the m, r and s keys - exactly the same as FSDS. It may be that Microsoft is there ahead of you. Tucker Hadfield stated that the Gmax version that ships with CFS3 will have features to make aircraft design easier. Elsewhere I read that it will probably be in the form of a plug-in, which certainly makes sense. Tucker also stated that the CFS3 aircraft SDK will come in the box, so maybe at last Microsoft are learning some lessons. To issue the essential scenery SDK after a year, when FS2002 is halfway through its product life, is - well, let's just say not good! Best regards, Chris

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I will never,never buy FSDS 2.After playing around with GMAX for about a month i found that its not that hard to use.So ill stick with gmax.

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In answer to an interesting idea that was brought up about compatibility.I think that some may have gotten it confused.True is the fact that more than likely, the next version of FS is going to leave the FSDS series of software out in the cold, but this is due to the fact that the stanard mdl format used will be entirely replaced.This of course hurts FSDS since it can currently produce MDL, but its not to say that FSDS will be completely gone...too soon to tell.My personal opinion is that I feel both FSDS and Gmax have something great to offer. What they bring to the table is phenominal, it just depends on the persons options, personal preference, the aircraft made, etc.I say if it produces beautiful end results, I dont mind what software was used to make it. It almost seems like part of enjoying an aircraft these days is by whether or not it was made with certain software, which I think is distracting from the overall satisfaction of flying on FS.But who knows, maybe technology will advance enough in the near future to have people just flat out enjoy beautiful work the many designers put out there instead of stress over "what software was it made with". What I feel is also very interesting is the fact that now we the designers have more options availible to us, which in turn really forces us to think on efficient ways to produce work that will satisfy most of the "consumers" out there. Versus the younger days of FS where pretty much one main design software dominated the market. I think that may be a new struggle for a designer in the future, assuming more design software will be availible to us.This is not say its a bad thing at all, in fact, quite wonderful. I think it modivates the new generation of designer to say to him or herself "whats next?". I think as software capabilties expand, so will the mind of the designer. So maybe this is the new face of design. No longer is it just a casual hobby but a serious thought out process. It stimulates the mind to use new features in creative ways and I think it's very exciting...who knows what we can see next.Lee

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Hi LeeWhy do you think FSDS is likely to be left out in the cold?I'm not having a go at you here, but I don't think you're right.The difference at the moment is that the gmax compiler makes an Mdl in the new FS2002 format & FSDS makes Mdl's in the old FS2000 format.FS2004 will not be supporting the old FS2000 format Mdl.This old Mdl format has nothing to do with FSDS. It was a set format for FS2000 that FSDS had to comply with.The new version of FSDS will make an Mdl in the new FS2002 format, just like gmax does. I can't see a problem.If the Mdl format changes again, neither gmax or FSDS will work without having an update to their Mdl compilers.The only way FSDS could then be left out in the cold is if Microsoft keep the new Mdl format a secret from Louis Sinclair & Abacus.If they do that, they can stick their simulator.Please set me straight if you know different.David Maltby

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I wish I could remember exactly where I found the article, but from reading it, it almost sounded like if Microsofts "partnership" with Discreet ment that products such as Gmax and 3dmax where going to be the dominant means of making usuable aircraft in FS after FS2002, unless either a) Microsoft freely allows the transfer of needed information to third party developers or :( Microsoft allows the transfer of information but with some sort of cost. As you mentioned about updating the compliers, I think thats completely true. I figured that task was more efficent in Gmax vs FSDS (maybe theyd have to put out yet another version of FSDS...making another trip to the wallet.)I agree in the fact that Abacus probably just wont sit around and do nothin about it, but it might cost a bit (I would think) to be able to get the proper information to be able to produce aircraft in what ever the new extension may be.But if you ask me...deep down inside I think FSDS will adapt along with FS to stay in the game....never doubted that fact.Lee

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HI,After reading some of the posts I had to say a few things.First off, its not really GMax that does all the cool effects that you see in FS2002... Its the make model plugin that interprets the GMax file and converts it to a format that FS2002 understands.. FS2002 in turn uses directX effects to give you your visual model..All the goodies you see such as reflective textures etc has nothing at all to do with GMax. Its all functions of DirectX that MS finally incorporporated in its program.MS released a model format SDK that pretty well spells it out for the new format. info in the SDK is what the make model program uses to build a model from the designer program...(Gmax or whatever..)I see no reason why they would not release a SDK for FS2004 ? and did for fs2002... their program really would not be as popular as it is now if it wasnt for after market designers.... I do believe that at some point in time they will probably drop a lot of old model formats from the new simulator in the future. It only stands to reason... why put a stone wheel on a 2002 mercedes ??? but i dont believe they will lock out program designers from ther model formats..no matter what designer program you use the designer program itself only provides vertex point x,y, z co-ords and where the texture is applied to the polygons..It also provides the animation matrix for the related polygons... as well as needed variables for display.Thats it and thats all there is..I do know FSDS version 2.0 will have animations... and will convert the model to TRUE FS2002 format..One thing FSDS will have that GMax does not is the capabilities of splicing in SDL code to the model...If you are a designer you pretty well know what can be done with SDL code..Mike Crosthwaite.

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Technically FSDS will always be playing catch-up to gMax. The FS2002 gMax plugin is really just a marginally altered .x exporter - the real work is done by MakeMDL. When you use gMax to make a plane you are using pretty much the same tools that MS do - which means the support overhead for MS to produce a gMax plugin is always going to be less than producing the necessary docs for people like Louis. This isn't unique to MS and FS, the whole gMax concept revolves around this. What *is* unique is that there *is* someone like Louis out there creating alternative tools. With version 2.0, FSDS's caught up with gMax in terms of output possible (possibly even surpassing it depending on what the SDL support is like).Although I'm certainly a gMax user, I'll be getting my FSDS upgrade and seeing what's on offer. In particular I'm looking for FS unique functions (such as robust help with linking cfg to where various bits are within the model) and the ability to move models into and out of FSDS to other 3D programs. Without those two things FSDS 2 will probably be the last FSDS I buy and will gather dust on the shelf. I won't be looking for better modelling or texturing tools as I'm comfortable enough with gMax not to need simplified ones that seem to be in FSDS - judging by the screenshots there doesn't seem to have been that much movement in that area apart from a bigger texturing box. FSDS is in a position to deliver things not possible with gMax - whether or not it will actually do that will soon be clear.Have funFinn

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Who says that FSDS will not comaptible with FS2004???FSDS 2.0 already has working the same key features of Gmax including key frame animation and relective textures. HOWEVER, FSDS 2.0 does things much easier than Gmax. How about just picking the name of you part from a list for animation (or damage) as opposed to typing in after looking it up from a seperate list.How about 2 steps to get a model into FS2002 (as opposed to the 12.5 that have been reported for Gmax)How about support for extended BMPs INSIDE the program. Haw about key-frame animation and standard aircraft animation built in. (No AA needed)How about support for SDL macros. (Gmax doesn't have that.)Haw about part heirachy for just animating one part and each part assigned to that part will follow. (Same with damage profiles)How about building the main model AND VC in the same file. New to FSDS and Gmax doesn't have it. How about the designer himself answering questions about the program in public forums. (When was the last time a Gmax programmer answered a question? I know...NEVER)So before you go off knocking a program, be sure you have your facts straight. Dave Eckertwww.daviator.com

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>Hi Lee >>Why do you think FSDS is likely to be left out in the cold? >I'm not having a go at you here, but I don't think you're >right. >>The difference at the moment is that the gmax compiler makes >an Mdl in the new FS2002 format & FSDS makes Mdl's in the >old FS2000 format. >>FS2004 will not be supporting the old FS2000 format Mdl. >This old Mdl format has nothing to do with FSDS. It was a >set format for FS2000 that FSDS had to comply with. >The new version of FSDS will make an Mdl in the new FS2002 >format, just like gmax does. I can't see a problem. >>If the Mdl format changes again, neither gmax or FSDS will >work without having an update to their Mdl compilers. >The only way FSDS could then be left out in the cold is if >Microsoft keep the new Mdl format a secret from Louis >Sinclair & Abacus. >If they do that, they can stick their simulator. >>Please set me straight if you know different. >>David Maltby Hi David, MS holding back is a big reason for the delay in Getting FSDS 2.0 to this point. They promised and promised SDK info to Louis and they say "Oh, we ran out of time. Sorry". I heard them say this to me. Last year at OshKosh I was told that Louis would have the info he needed to make FSDS CFS3 compatible. This year at OshKosh and again at the Avsim conference in Tahoe I was told, "Well, we don't have time right now." Funny, they have to time to make Gmax work. Typical MS, squash the little guy. Dave Eckertwww.daviator.com

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One more note, yes Gmax is free but you do have to pay extra to get the game pack to make it work for FS2002. Also, why is it OK for MS to make $70 per game or Discreet to make several thousand for a commercial license but for one guy working out of his house part-time to make a great little program like FSDS and sell it is so wrong? Beleive me, he's not getting rich on this. And yes, I am probably his biggest promoter. So what's in it for me? Nothing financial. Louis is a friend to me and the flightsim community and he deserves our support. He has listened and added many great features just on suggestion in forums. FSDS started at 1.42 and is now up to 1.6b. All upgrades to this point have been free. If you disagree, then do us a favor and remove ALL of the FSDS aircraft you have on your hard drive. See how many you'll actually have left. Dave Eckertwww.daviator.com

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Well ,well, well.Didn't I start up a hot one :)It seems that there are those who are die hard FSDS, and those who are die hard G-Max.Coming from the perspective of someone who flies the models rather than builds them, I suppose it doesn't really matter what program the aircraft you're flying was designed with. If it looks like a Beech, it's a Beech. I guess it's kinda like A Grumman Tracker, for example.Grumman Trackers were built in the United States (sorry Tracker fans, I don't remember where in the US) for the US Navy. Canada wanted some and had De Havilland Canada build them in Toronto. Now without nitpicking, they're the same plane, just a different factory. Same with FSDS and G-Max.In the end it's only a matter of how much fun you're having and not what software was used to design the aircraft. I personally wish success for both programs as it will only benefit us all! Designers and pilots.And just to make it fair, I'll list a couple of aircraft designed in both FSDS and G-max that I think show the best each has to offer.FSDS Aircraft1. Phoenix Simulations B777-200 (I'm pretty sure that was done with FSDS) A revolutionary aircraft model with features unlike any before it. Might be standard fare by todays standards, but when it was released, nothing could touch it.2. Dassualt Falcon 50 by Yannick Lavigne, Fred Banting and Rob Young.Even better now that it has been brought up to FS2002 standards.3. Jan Visser's R4D Nats. Round engine nacelles, clear flight deck windows, and "remove before flight" tags all over the place. A very crisp visual model. Did I mention it's a DC-3?And in the G-Max category.1. Milton Shupes Dash 7. Fully reflective textures, a soon to be virtual cockpit, and all the little things we've come to expect in FS2002.2. Project Open Sky's Boeing 767 series. Flexing wings, reflective textures, and a mate up with 767PIC makes this definate must have.3. Antti Pankkonen's Eurocopter AS365 Dauphin. Not so much a revolution in visual modelling, although it is a beaut, as one in flight dynamics/panel design. The very first FS helicopter to have an auto pilot. Either way, I had fun with them all.CF-AOAKyle

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Sorry but I didn't mean to seem to snippy. Yes, Gmax is very powerful and does a fine job of modeling A/C. I just like having a choice. I don't want Gmax replaced I just want FSDS (and Louis) to get the same consideration from MS. I also want the other 3D CAD apps to have a shot too. The more the merrier. We'd ALL benefit from that including MS. Watch soon for new FSDS 2.0 A/C. They will have reflective textures, full animation, fS2002 compliant MDLs, and more. Dave

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Thanks for the replies Lee & Dave.It really isn't a technical issue is it.It seems that the Microsoft FS team are getting a lot more Microsoft than FS these days.

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Hi Dave,Choice is always a good thing. Like I said earlier, it will benefit us all, both as pilots and designers. Now if we could only get MS to open up the FDE files for us. I seriously doubt that they'll do it as I read somewhere that the info is proprietary. But it would be nice to have aircraft that would spin and stall properly. I always wanted to know how easy it is to suffer a departure stall!And there is something nice about having a developer that will actually listen to it's customers without getting lost in the large corporate BS. Not that MS doesn't listen, it's just that there are so many people who all want to be heard, it can take as much time to deal with that as it takes to design the software. Anyone that has ever uploaded something can attest to the amount of e-mail one may recieve regarding this or that. With over 13,000 downloads of my smoke files at FlightSim.Com (I think a few even made there way over here), I know I've received enough.Anyways, the personal touch, so to speak, is a nice feeling to have with a developer. It's nice to be heard and to see that your input has not gone unnoticed. Well this thread has turned out to be insightful and informative. It has also opened my eyes somewhat to the pros and cons of both softwares. In the end, I'd have to say, to each his/her own. Whatever works for you, all the power to you to create the fabulous add-ons that we've seen over the years.Now if only someone would model the Dash 8 Q400 series and give those darn RJ's a run for their money......CF-AOAKyle

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Hi,If you mean by open up the FDE files the "*.air" files. I think probably in the future everything will be included in the aircraft.cfg file Although a lot more is defined there in fs2002 than FS2000 some of the entries have to be added to the *.air file too as defined in the SDK.. I believe the trend is to eventually eliminate the *.air file totally, just as the old *.mdl file has been eliminated in favor of the new *.mdl which is a RIFF file format...The old *.mdl file format was actually a *.dll file ..One thing I have to agree on is the MS sim Program really STINKS as far as simulating a stall and entry into a spin... this is not a fault of bad entries into the *.air files as it is bad simulation modeling on the part of MS flight simulator.. This goes as well for all of the MS combat series simulators too... They incorporated really bad flight modeling there as well.. not only spin and stall charatoristics but really crappy flight modeling of all the models. Especially keeping track of energy gain and loss and applying it to the aircraft..The CFS multiplayer setup really stinks too.. there is nothing worse that fragging the hell out of two opponents,, only to have them respawn on your tail.. I have flown combat sims since the DOS days and the very best there was as far as flight modeling of the aircraft and spin dynamics was Air Warrior..( you blacked out too if you pulled too many G's) When you shot your opponent down he respawned ok but it was back at his air field where he had to take off and spend 15 more minutes to gain altitude, energy, and position to get back to the action..thats what I call real combat flight simulation, not the garbage MS puts out..Mike Crosthwaite.

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Hehehe,Yeah, I never really considered CFS to be so much a "flight sim" as a shoot 'em up type of "game". I played a bit of Air Warrior but much preferred Warbirds. Now that was a challenge?As for the .air file, I'd really like to know how easy (or difficult for that matter) it is to end up a pile of smoking wreckage at the end of the runway. I don't mean to sound mean or insensitive, I'd just like to know how it is possible for one to get into that kind of trouble. By the looks of the TSB accident database, it happens all the time, yet all the bad stuff that can happen to one never occurs in FS. Oh yeah and turning on the failures is like disabling one of your mags in real life before take off. You know it's going to happen. That kinda takes all the "oh crap, now what do I do" out of it.CF-AOAKyle

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