Below you will find the questions that we passed on to Wes Bard, Program Lead for Lockheed's P3D. These questions were culled from those submitted by the community over the last week. Enjoy the read!
- What new features will third party add-on developers be able to take advantage of in P3D v2?
Hi Tom. Thanks again for the opportunity to speak with you and your readers at AVSIM Online today. I really appreciate it.
This question is one I would hope you would ask. While v2 does feature a new rendering engine, a new license for military training in Professional Plus, a new user interface, and a new suite of mission creation tools in SimDirector, some of the most exciting and most involved changes involve the SDK and new features for developers. We’ve added a countless number of new calls to the legacy SimConnect interface, mostly all of which were requested by Prepar3D registered developers on our forums. We are committed to our registered developers, and when they request a piece of information or access to something in the simulation we try our best to accommodate them. That being said, there were requests that we had gotten that were not technically able to be done through SimConnect. Because of this, we created two brand new interfaces for developers. The first is the SimObject API where developers are no longer limited by the internal system when creating SimObjects – Airplanes, Vehicles, Helicopters, etc. They can use their own flight models, dynamics, physics systems, etc, and plug them into the rest of the Prepar3D simulation. The second is the Prepar3D Development Kit – or PDK – and that provides realtime hooks into the windows, panel, gauges, and rendering engine. Developers can access custom rendered images, and apply their own custom post processes to the rendered image. Examples of post processes that developers can write are HDR lighting, FXAA anti-aliasing, motion blur, distortion for better rendering across multiple screens, etc. They can apply these across the main Prepar3D image, or in custom cameras that can be rendered in the virtual cockpit or outside scene. This enables custom rendering for mirrors in the virtual cockpit, HUDs, custom panels and gauges, or even custom billboards and airport features in addon airports. We’ve really given developers access to everything we could in Prepar3D. And as always, if developers need new or different APIs we are happy to partner with them. We’ve also lifted the legacy polygon limits on models so that 3D modelers can build higher fidelity models for Prepar3D v2 than are possible in previous versions.
- Is there a 64-bit 'conversion' or recompilation projected anytime in the future?
We’ve put a lot of thought and research into a 64-bit version of Prepar3D. It is in the roadmap, but I can’t promise you when it will be released. 64-bit will require all addons with 32-bit code to be recompiled, so users opening up a 64-bit Prepar3D will not be able to use any of their addons or solutions they’ve developed for 32-bit, so there are pros and cons to this. While most addon scenery should work, planes and vehicles likely would require some work on the developers part. I know your users have discussed in great depth the pros, which there are many, but it is not a simple re-compilation and would be a very involved effort to release a 64-bit version of Prepar3D.
- Have any additional weather effects been added, namely regarding turbulence and wind variation? What about interaction of wind with relief and thermals - are they the same as in FSX? And related, is there any form of fetching Real World Weather implemented into V2?
We’ve greatly improved the appearance of flying into and through clouds, and have added volumetric fog to greatly increase the immersion of fog. You can see some of the 3rd party developers already posting images with volumetric fog and it really adds to the training and learning immersion of Prepar3D v2. The core weather engine has not changed, but we are partnering with 3rd party developers, and are excited to open up the weather system to them to help develop more immersive weather addons for Prepar3D. The same holds true for real world weather, if that is a requirement for your training or adds to your learning experience, there are a couple 3rd party addons that can deliver that experience for you.
- What modifications did the World mesh and land class get for V2? And regarding Maps and Navaids, has any update to the World navigation and airport databases been included?
The world mesh and land class for the Prepar3D world has not been updated. Our customers with geo-specific training requirements can add their own via the free Prepar3D SDK, or leverage the multitude of beautiful 3rd party addons that are available.
- Does P3DV2 have superior memory management to FSX? The latter seems to struggle to remove scenery from memory that is no longer required, and we would like to know if this significant cause of OOMs has been resolved.
We’ve greatly increased the memory management in Prepar3D v2 compared to Prepar3D v1.4. With an entire new rendering engine, we have greater control on what is rendered and what memory is freed, and finding and resolving memory leaks is exponentially easier in the new engine. That being said, it seems that almost every 3rd party addon developer has found a way to extend the legacy engine and do complicated things a few different ways, so finding the edge cases where memory leaks may happen is challenging. With that being said, we’ve worked very hard on memory management in v2, and if customers find memory leaks in v2 we really encourage them to post them to our support forums with reproducible steps and you have our commitment we will resolve them.
- Can you please speak about multiple monitor and multi-PC setup for Home cockpits? What is the maximum number of screens we could have? Currently in FSX. its 3+1.
We’ve delivered training solutions with up to 12 screens. With a lot of the advancements of Prepar3D v2 multiple monitors and screens have less of a performance impact, and we’ve also worked to resolve the ‘fisheye’ effect for wide view screens or views spread across multiple screens. If you have a custom setup like this, we also now let you define the horizontal and vertical FOV yourself in your camera.cfg files, so you can now custom-tune and hand-define your FOV to exactly what you want it to be. This was never possible before in a previous product. We invite folks to look over the v2 learning center in any license of Prepar3D v2 to see just how much customization we have added to Prepar3D.
- There are rumors of an advanced set of tools for both aircraft developers and scenery makers. Is there, or will there be a set of advanced tools made available?
We only have one set of tools, and that is available to anyone, free, on our website.
- Does hyper-threading benefit P3Dv2?
We’ve made Prepar3D v2 more multi-thread aware, and the legacy affinity mask tweaks still can apply if you have other cores to help the simulation.
- Will runways follow the contours of the real world runway; i.e., sloped and gradients?
Not in the core product in v2 1.0. It is on our roadmap however, and is something we are looking into. I know addon developers have created addons with sloped runways, but there is work we need to do in the core platform to enable AI traffic, etc, to function.
- Finally, can you give us a high level view of where you intend to advance P3D in future releases – a high level product roadmap?
That is a great question. We cannot comment too much on or promise unreleased features or plans, but we are committed to Prepar3D v2. With our new patching system, we can release patches more frequently than before and customers won’t have to do a full re-install with each new version of Prepar3D v2. As far as potential for future features go, we are currently looking into cloud shadows, radar modes, oculus integration, exposing more information to addon developers, true SLI and Crossfire support for multiple graphics cards, additional performance across multiple views, as well as a very robust memory management system that helps give users the control over their memory in the simulation that they need.
Thanks again Tom and the AVSIM community for all your support and interest in Prepar3D. We really enjoyed this opportunity to answer the questions you wanted ask about Prepar3D v2, and look forward to your feedback on Prepar3D v2, we are extremely proud of it and it’s new set of capabilities and features.
Wesley L. Bard
You can read this Q&A and the community's responses in the P3D forum here.