Paraffin

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About Paraffin

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  • Gender
    Male
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    Pacific Northwest USA
  • Interests
    Civilian and Combat flight sims.

About Me

  • About Me
    I've been flying on virtual planes since the old SubLogic PC days, and was once a SysOp on the pre-Web Compuserve FS forums.

    Real-life flying experience -- never a pilot, but I spent many years as an aerial photographer in light planes and helicopters based out of Miami, FL, Central America, and South America. I know what it looks like up there, with the door off, even if I've never had the yoke in my hand.

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  1. That "someone" would need to figure out what the market is. Who will buy your something new? We now have two choices in the higher-end civilian flight sim market -- P3D and XP -- both covering a large amount of ground in GA and scheduled airliner simulation (I know the gripes about XP for the latter, just roll with me here and assume it's improving). Both with an established and growing list of add-ons. Are you going to compete for the users who are happy with one or both of those products with "something new"? That's a heavy lift. Maybe if someone like Elon Musk or Bill Gates threw a billion dollars at forming a new studio it might happen, On the other hand, there's that old saying that nine women can't make a baby any faster than one woman. It would take a great deal of time and effort to bootstrap something that would compete in that market. So what's left? The "casual" and newbie to flight sim market? I've argued for a while that this is chasing a fantasy. Aerofly FS2 is already our "approachable" sim, and P3D and XP are not that hard to get started with, if you have a serious interest in aviation. Both Microsoft and now DTG have crashed and burned with this idea of creating a civilian flight sim for newbies. DTG could have done a better job of it, but it wasn't only poor business decisions that doomed the project. They were chasing a fantasy market. As I said in another thread in Hangar Talk, I think we're in good hands with the existing sims. The future is bright. I would certainly welcome a new "serious" sim, if some billionaire wanted to fund it, and it turned out well. But I don't see it happening in the current market when we already have good choices.
  2. Paraffin

    The State of Flight Simming

    I disagree about the growth rate. There may have been a feeling of more steady growth from one FS version to the next (and its competitors) back in Ye Olden Days, but there have been dramatic leaps forward lately. Consider advances like the move to 64-bit memory, which has been exploited for a while now by X-Plane, and is just in the early stages of development to expand the capabilities of P3D. We now have support for much higher monitor resolutions and higher textures -- not just in the hardware but software support for things like HD and UHD mesh in X-Plane, and physics-based rendering. Finally, I know not everyone is excited about VR, but this is something that's been anticipated for years, and it's finally here. In the baby stages yet, but it's still a massive leap forward in immersion. The future is bright, from my perspective. We have enough companies working in this area, In addition, two of the three companies making civilian sims (LM and Laminar) are funded by other business interests that can help subsidize development. For at least the near future, I think we're in good hands.
  3. Paraffin

    XP 11.20r1 is out

    Regarding the acceptance rate of VR, I think some of us are waiting for the resolution to be at least a little better than the current technology, for reading gauges and not having to bump down the eye candy outside the windscreen too much. Actually I don't care that much about the outside world quality; I assume the 3D immersion makes up for it. But I do need to see the gauges and switches without constantly moving my head back and forth to the instrument panel. The current nonsense with bitcoin mining driving up the price of GPU's doesn't help either. I want to upgrade from my current GTX970 before I even think about trying VR, and the GPU market hasn't stabilized yet. I could afford a 1080 or 1080ti at "normal" market prices, but I won't pay an inflated price.
  4. It was this way in XP10 too. Probably XP9 as well, but I don't remember.
  5. Setting your throttle slider to control both engines won't work, because in this type of helicopter you don't fly by controlling the engines directly. In turbine helicopters like the Bell 429, the throttle management is automatic once the engines are started, and you only use the collective. It's done with a governor hooked up to the fuel flow to the engines, controlled by a rotor RPM sensor. The rotor disk needs to run within a limited range of constant RPM, whether you're on the ground, or hovering, or in cruise. As you pull up on the collective to take off, the rotor blades increase in pitch, which causes drag that wants to slow the rotor down. To keep the RPM constant, a governor will automatically increase the engine power to compensate. Same thing in reverse. As you lower the collective to descend, the blade pitch decreases, and the governor slows the engines down so the rotor doesn't exceed maximum RPM. So in the sim, forget about directly controlling the engines. You just map your controller to the setting "Throttle" -- not Throttle 1 or Throttle 2, or anything in the 412 plugin menu -- and X-Plane will automatically turn your throttle slider into a collective and reverse the axis, so you pull "up" to increase pitch. The throttles on both engines will follow automatically. P,S, There *is* a separate control setting called "Collective" in X-Plane if you want to map it separately along with a throttle control (if you have enough sliders or a separate HOTAS throttle quadrant). That might be required for certain small piston or vintage helicopters. But the easiest way to do this is just map your slider to the setting called "Throttle" (no following numbers) and let the governor manage the engines.
  6. You probably don't have anything mapped to the collective, which controls blade pitch and lifts the helicopter. On most of the larger helicopters you don't actually control the throttle except under certain conditions; it's automatically linked to the collective. You fly by adjusting blade pitch with the collective, not throttle power. Try this: in the joystick settings menu, map your throttle slider to the setting called "Throttle". Not "Throttle 1" or "Throttle 2". When set to "Throttle" (no number), X-Plane will automatically reverse the motion of your throttle controller when it detects a helicopter model, so it mimics the way you pull *up* on the collective lever to increase blade pitch. Another option is to just map the throttle control to reverse axis, or a dedicated collective setting. But this is the easiest way to do it, because you don't have to change anything when moving between fixed-wing and helicopter models, X-Plane just automatically reverses the axis on a helicopter.
  7. It's sort-of XP11 compatible, but I wouldn't recommend it. It will start okay (at least with an engine running start), and it flies okay in XP11. I haven't tested the plugin functions like force trim release, just did a quick flight a while ago to see whether it works at all. I bought it back when it was released and was just curious. One big problem is that it uses a "baked in" window reflection, which was cool back in the day, but we have real reflections now. The static reflection in the window is very distracting with XP11's lighting system, especially when direct sunlight hits the windscreen. Nils' BK-117 was the first really great, systems-modeled helicopter in X-Plane. But it hasn't been updated in a very long time, and it seems there isn't a full XP11 update on the horizon. There are far better helicopter models available now, like the X-Trident Bell 412 and DreamFoil Bell 407 (my two favorites). If you want a twin with more advanced systems including sling ops, get the 412. If you want something lighter and more nimble, get the 407. DreamFoil has some other good helicopter models too. Edited to add: Oh, and there is a very good free Bell 429 that uses some of the X-Trident 412 plugin features. Look for it over at the .org files.
  8. And let's not forget the radioactive glowing trees effect, which is still there. I don't know why it's taking so long to fix that. The sim does great tree shadows if you have a strong enough system to have that enabled, but they still haven't fixed that weird constant glowing backlight effect on trees. It's something new in the XP11 rendering engine, because I don't remember that with XP10. Still, even with the occasional weirdness, and in spite of a LONG history flying MSFS since the very first days of computer flight sims, this is my home. It's the simulation that ticks all the boxes I care about, starting with frame rate. I've always valued frame rate over everything else in a flight sim, because I can't do a smooth landing if I don't have liquid smooth frames, and I can feel (or imagine I feel) the ground effect and the tires touching the runway after flaring on touchdown. X-Plane has always delivered that, from the very first version I tried. Even with older versions and less powerful computers than I fly with now.
  9. Tyler Young at Laminar posted an update on the CEF topic over at the devblog. It answers some of the concerns that have been raised: https://developer.x-plane.com/2018/04/lets-talk-about-cef-some-more/ It sounds like it's up to the developers to get in line, but it was going to be an untenable mess anyway, if Laminar hadn't decided to lock down the way this will work going forward.
  10. Another issue with the haze isn't just the aesthetics, but a practical matter of runway visibility. If the METAR says visibility is 10 miles, and the slider in X-Plane's weather menu is set to 10 miles, then I expect to see the runway when I'm 10 miles away (allowing for statute/nautical conversion and angle of height above ground). Last time I tested this, which wasn't recently, the haze doesn't correspond that way. Runways are buried in the hazy soup when they should be visible according to the METAR. Unless this has been changed recently, that's the main indicator that the haze effect is overdone. At least Laminar did finally expose the art dataref so we can adjust it with a LUA script, or several of the available anti-haze plugins available.
  11. I don't think you'd have any trouble with CEF plugin conflicts. If I read the dev blog right, Laminar is currently using it only for in-sim purchase with the demo. You could always roll back to 11.11 if you do have problems. The Aerolite 103 works fine without VR. I only did one brief takeoff to take a look, but it cruises right around 55 knots according to the panel gauge. Fun little aircraft.
  12. Paraffin

    X-Enviro 1.08 released

    The big difference (for some of us anyway) is that this product uses injected real weather only, without the user customization you can do in the default weather panel, or with other weather add-ons like SkyMaxx Pro or the NOAA plugin. There is minimal control over max wind speed and ceiling, but not the degree of control you have with the default weather interface. There also isn't any information about the actual weather you're flying in (unless that's been changed recently). This may not matter if you fly mostly airliners that can ignore severe weather, because you spend most of the time up in the flight levels. I fly light GA aircraft and helicopters in X-Plane at lower altitudes, and in places like the Pacific Northwest with heavy storms for half the year. These aircraft can't handle storm-level conditions, so that means I can't use XEnviro with its very limited degree of adjustment. I did buy it to support the developer, but it just doesn't work for the way I fly in X-Plane.
  13. Paraffin

    beta 5 is out

    No problems here with the current beta5. Just did a 2 hour FSEconomy flight in the Carenado PC-12. No difference in frame rate, but these recent betas have all been pretty well optimized.
  14. Well, there are two benefits listed at the devblog link; one immediate and one idea for the future. First, it's a seamless way to take a payment and upgrade the demo to the full sim. As the link states: Anything that makes it easier to buy the sim increases the user base, and that's good for all of us, yes? The second idea was to load online charts. I'm imagining something like a virtual iPad modeled in the cockpit, the way they're used in real-world aviation as an Electronic flightbag (EFB). Maybe Austin uses one in his Lancair, and maybe that's where the idea comes from? Or it's just something they want to support because it's become so common in real-world aviation. Having this feature embedded in the sim as part of the cockpit is more immersive than tabbing out of X-Plane to a browser window. There may be other applications, but this seems like enough justification to me, if it can be merged smoothly enough with add-on developer use of the CEF protocols. Edit to add: And probably for VR users as mentioned above. But I think the two reasons I'm mentioning here are justification enough.
  15. Laminar isn't a large company, but they have enough staff to work on "fixing the broken stuff" while at the same time finding ways to move the sim forward with new features. The alternative is the FSX model. Make the sim, and then freeze it in amber with no upgrades, so developers have a 100% stable platform for 12 years. Then you have tons of add-ons to choose from, and no improvements in the basic sim. Me, I'll take the first option -- a flight sim that's constantly being improved at the basic level, with a more limited pool of developers who are able to keep up with the changes. You can't have it both ways!