• Flytampa, Flightbeam, FSDT, 29Palms Future Releases P3D4 only


    Reprinted from the Avsim Forum Flytampa, Flightbeam, FSDT and 29Palms future products to be P3D4 only.


    Dear Flight Simmers,

     For the past 11 years, FSX has been our simulator platform of choice. It served us well, and we saw amazing things being done with it by 3rd party developers, offering us very complex airplane simulations, very detailed sceneries, and clever utilities that extended the simulator’s capabilities far beyond what we thought to be possible years ago.

     Lately we, developers, start feeling more and more restrained by the underlying platform limitations. While 4GB of maximum ram would seem adequate in 2006, when FSX was originally released, and no PC could handle the detail that consumed that amount of memory, in 2017 we have hardware far more capable, but we just cannot use it because of the software limitations.

     The most aggravating problem is the 32bit memory limit, which no hardware can fix, since it’s a core software problem. This not only is the cause of OOMs, but it also forces developers to design a product taking into account this limitation. Some optimizations that might be good for fps, like LOD levels, have a side effect of taking more RAM, so we are often forced to choose between the lesser of two evils, either having a good frame rate and smoothness (risking OOMs), or losing fps and smoothness, trying to save up to the last byte of memory, to prevent crashes.

     FSX was born with issues that, after the latest patch in 2007, nobody could have addressed, because the traditional cycle of a new sim every 2-3 years has been interrupted, so we had to live with it, and found ways to overcome it. We found very creative ways to bypass several underlying limitations of the sim, a common example of which is the complexity of creating convincing ground textures, by layering lots of different materials over the FSX round earth model, and other ‘hacks’ which wasted lots of our time in developing and offering support for, and that would have been surely better spent perfecting the art, instead of finding solutions to problems that shouldn’t exist. Airplane developers have been also very limited in their options, and many of them had to reverse-engineer the sim, to hack into it at the deepest level, for example to simply get a more realistic lighting of the cockpit.

     But we got used to it, and made good products, which are loved by users.

     Recently, the discontinuity between what the FSX engine can do, and what other game engines are capable of, has become a real burden, and it’s hampering our chances for future advancements.

     In the past years, we have seen the rise of Prepar3D, which was initially based on the FSX graphic engine, but it has now evolved on its own path, while still maintaining a surprisingly high rate of backward compatibility with FSX.

     Prepar3D has a lot more to offer to developers, and therefore to its users, than just backward compatibility. The native SDK is being constantly improved, and it has grown so much, that we are more and more frustrated by the FSX limitations.

     But until today, Prepar3D was still a 32 bit application, which means it might have not been possible to look at the native SDK, because many of the things it has to offer, would likely not be possible due to memory limitations. Today, the release of Prepar3D 4 changes everything. Not only we might not be constrained by an SDK made in 2006, but the better features that Prepar3D always offered to us, become now really feasible, for the first time.

     Take some of the examples below:

     - No "hard" Memory limitations which might cause OOM errors.

     - Dynamic Lighting

     - Improved human Animations

     - Creation of more advanced SimObjects

     - Conditional display of objects/textures

     - More realistic and reliable ground models

     - Improved compatibility between different add-ons (and autogen), due to the new installation method.
     Today, if you compare FSX with Prepar3D V4, you have the new sim which offers a solution to a problem (memory) that can only get worse as add-ons get more complex and the hardware more powerful to support them and you also get a generally smoother flying experience and better fps too. And if you buy more hardware, you will get your money’s worth of it, because buying a faster video card or adding more memory will actually be reflected on your sim’s performance.

     We believe the platform that will stay for us as the main sim for the next years, is Prepar3D, so we decided to make public a decision that we have been considering for several months already, since the first time we got to see the new sim:

     In the next months, we’ll all stop developing new products for FSX.

     Some of our products that are already very close to release, such as Flightbeam KMSP or Fsdreameam KSDF, will still be offered for FSX too, and we’ll of course continue to support all our existing releases with bug fixes, but the new products we’ll work from now on, will be designed for Prepar3D 4 and future versions.

     We all agree this is the best decision for the future of the community moving forward, and we can only hope that our stance would result in other developers considering the same move. But we also need you, the users, to make this work.


     undersigned,

     Umberto Colapicchioni - Fsdreamteam
     Alessandro Cucinotta - Fsdreamteam
     Amir Salehi - Flightbeam
     Lars Pinkenburg - 29Palms
     George Grimshaw - FlyTampa
     Martin Brunken - FlyTampa
     Emilios Gemenetzidis - FlyTampa

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    User Feedback




    I'd like to thank all those developers that did put in extraordinary about of time with 11+ years of support for FSX/FSX-SE/P3DV1-3.  You have provided many with places to fly for years to come (even after FSX termination by Microsoft) ... my "unofficial" (very unofficial) count is 3126 airports/sceneries/aircraft over 11+ years.

    Looking forward to the future, the creative shackles are now off and the sky is the limit (or however much system and video RAM you have installed) ... V4 only products are likely to evolve into works of art and a visual feast of virtual reality as they improve with ever increasing realism and complexity of flight and even beyond flight (space, trains, bus, cars).

    V4 and all of it's 4000 or so pages of SDK material is an amazing platform from which to build on and will continued to be supported and improved on by Lockheed Martin who have worked closely with so many 3rd party developers.

    Cheers to FSX and thank you, and cheers to the future and another thank you.

    Rob

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    Along the lines of what Rob said, many many thanks to all of the developers, testers and fans who persevered after Microsoft pulled the plug on Ace Studios and, with that decision, any long-term development and vision for MS-based flight simming.

    Today, we find ourselves with an embarrassment of riches in terms of available or near to available sims. Some may not make it in the long-term, reminiscent of the VHS/Beta battles of the 80s; there will no doubt be some who fall by the wayside. IMHO, P3D offers a lot and has a bright future.

    Luckily, I think at least one other sim will give it a go for the money so we will see some competition and the innovation that flows from such a scenario.

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    Agree with Rob and finchkh.  Looking forward to a smooth transition.  Hope the add on prices do not match P3Dv4 pro lic cost.  

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    I understand your excitement, but I'm still hesitant to join the P3D4 effort due to this strong warning on the LM website;

    Prepar3D is not to be used, offered, sold or distributed through markets or channels for use as a personal/consumer entertainment product.

    I cannot honestly say that I am studying for my pilot's license or other education because I'm not. 

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    If those licenses don't meet your personal morals then download the SDK discussed in this news release and learn to develop something with the monthly developers license, but please stop discussing the EULA.

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    I cant get my FPS in Prepar3d V4 above 12-18 with a 4790 @ 5.0ghz and two 1080 gtx's. Someone help me out

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    11 hours ago, dccraven said:

    I understand your excitement, but I'm still hesitant to join the P3D4 effort due to this strong warning on the LM website;

    Prepar3D is not to be used, offered, sold or distributed through markets or channels for use as a personal/consumer entertainment product.

    I cannot honestly say that I am studying for my pilot's license or other education because I'm not. 

    Just dont be entertained while flying... easy.

    Honestly, thoughts like this are surely not wrong and better than blindly crack all kind of software. But i hope that you dont limit your life on rules like this in many other cases, that would be a loss for sure....

    You realize its a product they want to sell, right? P3d is on the market now a long time and not a single case is known to me where they activle went after someone with wrong license. And thats even something different. I doubt really that they hunt you because you bought their product.
    Ppl stream since years on twitch with Academic, with everyone (even LM) knowing about it.

    They want money too so why would they go after this persons? Im not saying that everyone should now buy Academic, the license options are there for a reason.

    But to say something onTopic, thanks for that move, its very welcome. And time overdue to this change.

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    I respect their decision but can't necessarily understand why they want other developers to do the same.  Why starve those who do want to stay with FSX from any future developments?  Surely, if moving to "P3Dv4 only" is the right move for these developers, they'd do better and sell more if they are in that market as a niche, rather than with all other scenery developers doing the same.

    If you add all FSX (inc. Steam) and all P3D users together, what % are using FSX?  I'd bet it's still a significant majority.  I can't therefore see this decision as being best for business - but saying that, I do respect their drive and ambition to push the boundaries on quality. (which seems their sincere aim).

    I can't see the likes of Aerosoft or other large scale scenery players making this move at any time in the near future.   And for the sake of those who choose to enjoy FSX, I hope they don't.

    After all, not everyone wants or needs everything in 4k, detailed terminal interiors, and flushing toilets. :biggrin:

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    I don't think it has anything to do with 4k, detailed terminals and simulating flushing toilets. It has to do with the fact, that the gap between Prepar3D V4 and the legacy platforms has become SO large, that maintaining and developing addons for all of them, simply isn't feasible anymore. 

    Furthermore, if a scenery is developed with the features and architecture of Prepar3D V4 and using that SDK, the work of backporting that scenery to FSX, Prepar3D 3.X and earlier is quite daunting and would imply cutting features and reworking major parts of the scenery.

    Suffice to say - the developers are understandably looking to the future. Aerosoft has already said, that they would follow this move... but not as fast as some others...

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    Honestly, as long as Ray Smitch, Shez Ansari, Dan French, Patrick Finch, John Loney, and several others that I have failed to mention, continue doing FSX compatible scenery I am perfectly happy..

    Ernie

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    1 hour ago, JYW said:

    If you add all FSX (inc. Steam) and all P3D users together, what % are using FSX?  I'd bet it's still a significant majority.

    That's probably true. More than one source points to the fact that FSX is still the most popular civil flight simulator. Despite the skewed impression that some AVSIM users may have, P3D is at the third place (but with the years passing, its popularity obviously increased compared to FSX).

    First source: Google trends (P3D is the blue line, spiking at P3Dv4 launch).

    pvG2mMg.jpg

    Second source: Youtube videos uploaded in the last week ("videos uploaded in the last month" would give similar results):

    gKLnZTT.jpg

     

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    I understand everyone's position who have posted here, and mostly agree with all of them. I see the developers not wanting to be limited and able to expand and make new better products to be proud of. I also see many of us, that are happy with FSX. I've been in this hobby since it began and have loved all of it. How many of us can say they have flown into or out of EVERY airport in the FSX world? If they all quit developing products today I would still enjoy FSX for many years, all be it I would miss seeing the new products that would be developed. I may move to P3D someday also, but in the mean time will continue to enjoy FSX no matter what the developers do; and don't get me wrong, I'm on their side and wish them all the best in the future and hope they continue their work. Lets not get upset at each other, just enjoy the sims as they are and can become.

     

    Thanks to all of you,

    Randy

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    8 hours ago, JYW said:

    If you add all FSX (inc. Steam) and all P3D users together, what % are using FSX?  I'd bet it's still a significant majority. 

    http://forum.aerosoft.com/index.php?/topic/115546-annual-poll-on-platform/&page=4

    This is Aerosoft, but I could point you to similar polls with comparable results from other fora.

    Those certainly don't represent the whole super base. However, it's not at all the overall user base which counts for FSDreamteam and the like. Occasional users of FSX Gold or just Downloaders of FSX:SE are totally irrelevant to them. What counts are their customers, and you can take it for granted most of them visiting flightsim fora and taking such polls. 

    I doubt the relation will have shifted in favor of FSX in the mean time, but let's see in fall.

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    Sometimes you just have to drag customers into the future by force.

    If Microsoft didn't stop supporting older versions of their Windows OS, the majority of people would still use XP.

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    One thing people are forgetting to consider, Apart from economics, What about the Artist? The person who loves to develop sceneries? At one time I  too dabbled in developing airport sceneries (freeware) . Yeah I have a couple. and when I had the time to do it I enjoyed it..  And if I had the knowledge and talent to do it in P3Dv4, I would love to do it for V4 without the shackles on my leg constraining me. It would be a joy to  focus on the actual sceneries rather than fight it at every stage.. I would hate it. to deal with ugly OOM/VAS issues. Compromise, and compromise and lose interest real fast.
     

    Give me me freedom to do what I enjoy doing.  That would be a great motivator for me. 

     

    I suspect these folks had that in their mind when they made this decision. 

     

    I stand with them!

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    Actually, there will be a natural experiment.  There are the developers, including those listed above, who will no longer produce products for FSX  Then there will be the developers like ORBX and Aerosoft who will continue to develop for FSX.

    ORBX is particularly interesting in that they are producing products for a wide array of products including X-Plane, Aerofly 2, and FSW.  If the sales for these additional platforms do not justify the development costs, these platforms will be abandoned.

    But to the extent other platforms are viable, including FSX, it would seem the developers who are abandoning them are just leaving money on the table.  They are businesses after all.  If you are in business, it is not about what is fun or interesting to do -- that is the mindset of a hobbyist.  Instead, businesses, first and foremost, are about turning a profit.

    I really wonder what the marginal cost is for a developer to produce an FSX version of a product is.  It would seem that the hard part is doing the research, getting photographs and plans of the scenery, making the 3d meshes and the textures, finding or making the ground polys.

     

    Adding the whizzbangs for a given platform would seem to be more about knowledge than anything else.  All of these developers know HOW to produce sceneries for FSX because they have been doing it for years.  They do not have to learn all of FSX's quirks, because they already know them.

    In my opinion, ORBX is probably on the right track.  There is a certain synergy in developing for multiple platforms.  Once a scenery has been done for one platform, it should not take nearly as much work to port it to another platform.  And if other developers leave a given platform, that means fewer competitors for consumer dollars.

    Time will tell.

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    8 hours ago, tjstreak said:

    If you are in business, it is not about what is fun or interesting to do -- that is the mindset of a hobbyist.  Instead, businesses, first and foremost, are about turning a profit.

    Absolutely disagree with this ... if you don't enjoy and have fun doing what you do for "income" (business/work) then you need to stop doing it ... a life lesson I discovered many many many years ago.

    Who said Orbx are going to continue with "new" FSX projects?

    This issue is one of support (very key and costly for devs), and work effort.  FSX requires that developers go to extreme lengths (when I use the term extreme I really do mean extreme) to try and fit their work in a 32bit address space (providing basically 2 or even 3 texture version - 1024, 2048, 4096 so users don't OOM).  That's a lot of additional development time that simply isn't necessary for 64bit platforms.  Because of the 32bit address space of FSX it severely handicaps what they "would like to do".  Over time as more developers start to release V4 only products, you'll see exactly what can be accomplished (both visually and better performance, win win) without these 32bit restrictions and with improved scripting/SDK capabilities of the P3D V4 SDK.

    Orbx are looking at AF2, FSW, XP11 (not now, but they were), and P3D V4 ... these are all 64bit platforms, that should give you a hint of where Orbx want to be and plan to go.

    But there is NO reason why anyone can't continue to use FSX as well as any other more recent and updated platform, expand horizons, don't fear "new".  Simulation is all about "whizbang" be it visuals, system complexity, and/or external flight models, weather, etc. etc. ... the more the whiz the bigger the bang (increased sales).

    Cheers, Rob.

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    All's fair in these companies moving over to the P3Dv4 platform, I won't argue that, and actually applaud them on this difficult decision. However, as a user on an extremely limited budget who has followed the P3d development since it's inception, and seeing that one  **has to purchase**  a new license for every new iteration (v2; v3, v4 etc), now it becomes an issue. IF LM would offer reduced upgrade prices, it would be more feasible, but they can't and I understand the reason for that, too. And of course, every time LM releases a new version, structures within always seem change and then developers have to scramble to create patches for their older products to fit the new structuring - thus again, loss of development time. Give or take situation.

    In my case, I cannot justify that every for new version I have to repay full amount for, and sadly will lose out. But that is - though forced by my extremely limited budget - my choice.

    Ken

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    Makes a lot of sense. Developers that don't have to constantly worry about blowing the VAS can now focus on what they're best at. Making breathtaking add-ons. It should also save them a lot of development time and therefore prices should remains fairly stable.

    For those going on about the cost of upgrading from FSX, I get it. But there are two things to consider. First, nobody is forcing you to upgrade. If FSX works for you, keep it running and make use of your "investments". P3Dv4 won't really do much for you unless your PC is at a high level where the 32 bit address space becomes a seriously limiting factor.

    Second, is it really so bad to buy a new license every five or ten years?

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    On 7/8/2017 at 8:40 AM, KenWood said:

    All's fair in these companies moving over to the P3Dv4 platform, I won't argue that, and actually applaud them on this difficult decision. However, as a user on an extremely limited budget who has followed the P3d development since it's inception, and seeing that one  **has to purchase**  a new license for every new iteration (v2; v3, v4 etc), now it becomes an issue. IF LM would offer reduced upgrade prices, it would be more feasible, but they can't and I understand the reason for that, too. And of course, every time LM releases a new version, structures within always seem change and then developers have to scramble to create patches for their older products to fit the new structuring - thus again, loss of development time. Give or take situation.

    In my case, I cannot justify that every for new version I have to repay full amount for, and sadly will lose out. But that is - though forced by my extremely limited budget - my choice.

    Ken

    Ken,

     

    I might be confused here, but I want to add one thing here regarding the versions. When MSFS came out with a new version of the sim, we had to pay in full for the new sim. Microsoft did not have an "upgrade fee" to go from FS2K to FS2K2 for example.

    I am not one to ever tell anyone how to spend their hard earned money, and I wont suggest that I enjoy spending my money for the "same" product twice. But that being said, progress sometimes costs money and we need to make the choice on if we want to spend the money on that.

    On a personal note, I am more then willing to move forward to advance my sims and move past FSX and into the 64bit era. I will pick and choose what I spend my money on for new licensing, but it would seem that with X-Plane (64bit) FSW (64bit), FSAerofly (64bit, but not the same) and now P3D V4 (64bit) it is time to make the decision to move forward. But that's just me. I wont even speak for you.

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    Gentlemen, thanks for your input. I merely mean that to stay on top of the sim, v4 then v5 then v6, etc. if one wants the next one its another $$$.$$ (won't even get into the licensing debate  ;-) ) for a new license. P3D seems to update one to one and a half years, which is much quicker than most MSFS releases did (two to four years in between as a norm). Course back then I could work and made much more money than I do on as a disabled Veteran.

    Again, I applaud the developers for moving on! I just won't be able to move on with them, much as I'd like to.

    Kind regards,

    Ken

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    I have been using flight simulators since the Original version from Sublogic. Spent thousands of dollars over the years on computers, FSX sims and add ons whose empty boxes fill an entire book shelf.  I'm very ready for a new direction with  a 64bit sim engine. 

    P3dv4 is my first experience with P3d and I'm amazed. All I have been doing since installing the sim is fly, all day without a restart or that dam chime ringing.  This is by far the most stable sim I have ever loaded, so much so I removed FSX completely over the weekend. I can't wait to see what our community of uber talented developers achieve in the next year.

    Bob

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    Happy to support Lm and add on devs on their p3d journey.  They offer high quality sim. Sdk. And freedom to devs to manage their add ons 

    future look bright for p3d users and devs

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    Very wise decision IMO and I wish all of you devs the best of luck for the future and truly looking forward to what is around the corner in the FS world.

    I'm sure we'll see amazing stuff down the road :)

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    Just a quick note from Aerosoft. For us the is the 6th time we have to adapt to a new simulator that succeeded the original Flight Simulator. As always we'll stop creating add-ons for a simulator when customers stop buying them. We go where the customers are and at this moment there are still a whole load of FSX:SP2 / FSX:STEAM customers.

    We do not feel this has any relation to quality, our newest developments are all fully using P3d's v4 fine options. But deleting those and adding the FSX version of those elements is not a seriously complex thing. 

    Simply said, there are tens of thousands of people (never take active forum users as a cross section of the simmer community, we would have gone bankrupt if only those were our customers) still using FSX, Heck there are tens of thousand who are still using FS2004! And while FS2004 customers stopped buying add-ons early 2016, FSX downloads are in fact still growing. We will not abandon those customers. We do not feel the need to push customers to other simulators. Not our job.

    The EULA issue, while not worrying us a lot, does most certainly play a role. It is a big step for a company to base your whole existence on a platform that it's customers are legally not allowed to find entertaining. For sure I can tell you that I love P3D V4 and can't help being highly entertained by it!

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