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About Paraffin

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    Member - 2,000+

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    Pacific Northwest USA
  • Interests
    Civilian and Combat flight sims.

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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. This should be prioritized, not just for accuracy but also for marketing screen shots. One of the reasons some of the MSFS screen shots look so spectacular isn't just the world rendering, but the fact that you can pick the perfect sun angle for a shot by adjusting time of year when you're somewhere in the northern or southern latitudes. I was so used to XP's fixed sun angle that I didn't even realize it worked that way, until I tried to make some screenshot comparisons in the early MSFS alpha test. And then I realized that XP doesn't change the sun path because there is no calendar.
  2. I don't spend a lot of time in the other forum here on Avsim, but between that and flying the other sim I think there are some gaping holes in Asobo's approach that they haven't yet filled. I don't get the impression that they have a good handle on the code they're working with in many areas. The most glaring example is lack of a dedicated helicopter flight model, but there are other things. Icing has always been wonky, and now I think they included a setting to just turn it off. I don't think they've managed a supersonic flight model yet, which is important for mil jets. AFAIK, the turboprop engine model is still lacking, compared to what Auistin had built into XP. It's not that Asobo can't eventually fix these things, again it's just an impression that they don't have a handle on their own sim the way Laminar does as a result of the maturity of the code, and experience of Austin and the Laminar team. Gradual improvement of a mature product may always be a step ahead of a dev team working with, and to a degree struggling with, a "new" sim engine that's at least partially built on FSX code they didn't develop themselves. There is also a question of how much Asobo's work may be hindered by having to develop for a game console in parallel with the PC version. There are some indications that this is causing problems (the LOD degradation and then revert to a prior version just now), but I think we can't tell anything definitive about that yet. It will take more time to evaluate. Laminar has a mobile version, but I don't think we can point to anything about that being a problem on the PC side.
  3. If one sim looks better, and the other sim has more accurate and immersive flight and systems modeling, then which is "best?" Which do you want to spend more time flying? It's a rhetorical question because the answer will be different for everyone. BTW, I would add realistic and immersive weather to that comparison, because weather can't be divorced from flight modeling. It's the medium we fly in.
  4. Why does it have to look like the other sim? Here's how I see it. Laminar can't compete with the one huge accomplishment of MSFS, which is a world engine based on highly detailed orthophoto and photogrammetry-based scenery that doesn't take massive space on the user's hard drive. Laminar doesn't have the server infrastructure for that. But Laminar doesn't have to match it. For anyone more interested in accurate flight dynamics and high frame rates, the scenery only has to be good enough to be plausible. Not everyone needs to see their home town looking exactly like it does in real life. Heck, mine doesn't even look that way in MSFS because the data is sparse, even though I'm just 100 miles from Seattle. Austin has always preferred a procedural approach to building scenery, which is an alternative to keep hard drive space lower. From the previews it looks like he's pushing that to the next level. Seasonal changes, better trees, and (I hope) a vastly expanded set of autogen buildings to better represent the world outside the USA might be good enough for those who care more about the aircraft. Another way to compete is with weather modeling, if Austin finally wants to get serious about it instead of offloading to 3rd party developers. The weather system in the other sim is closed to outside development. I think that's the right way to do it, but frankly it's not very good if you go beyond surface appeal. It's more eye candy and pretty sunsets than the dynamic weather we get when flying in the real world. A truly stunning new weather system in XP12 could lure some people away from the other sim, especially RW pilots. The only thing that concerns me in the long-term is whether enough 3rd party aircraft developers can stick with XP. Laminar alone can't fill out the fleet. If XP12 is sufficiently backwards compatible to allow smooth import of XP11 aircraft it will keep the sim alive for a while, but people like to see new additions during the life cycle of a new version. If most of the major developers are working on the other sim, that's not going to happen very often. It's too soon to worry much about that, but it is a concern.
  5. It's a modern high end simulator but the development team is tiny compared to modern AAA games. Look at the size of a developer outfit for the two games I'm playing now, Stellaris and one of the Total War games. Paradox has something like 560 employees, Creative Assembly has 800 employees. Some of the other AAA studios in the FPS and MMO genres are even larger. Last I heard, Laminar Research has 24 employees (plus a few outsourced devs). That's more like a small studio indie game developer. You usually won't find elaborate graphics settings for that kind of game because it's too difficult to test and support. One other thing -- burying the settings in a config file allows Laminar to include things they're really not crazy about, but that some users still want. Like the "art" controls. Ben has deprecated the use of that, but it's still there (last time I looked) for those who want to mess with it, on a "you're on your own" basis.
  6. FYI, the reason the settings were simplified compared to previous versions, was to reduce the tech support load. The sliders in older versions of XP could be set in ways that interacted to degrade performance, and people didn't understand how it all worked. They would contact tech support complaining about poor frame rates. So Laminar bound the various settings to more simplified sliders that couldn't have bad interactions, and were easier to understand. As said above, you can still dig into settings.txt if you want to, but try to understand exactly what each setting there does, so you don't get into frame rate conflicts.
  7. That's not true, but of course it depends on hardware, settings and screen resolution. Better than 30fps is easily obtainable in MSFS on middle of the road hardware like mine (see specs below) and at one level below highest settings. My usual frame rate in MSFS is around 40-45 fps, and never dips below 35 fps even over intense scenery detail. On the other hand, the degradation of scenery quality, LOD and texture popping is real. And not just with the XBox release. The most artifact-free version for me was actually way back in the Alpha test. It's been steadily downhill since then. Maybe Asobo is content with texture popping artifacts because people accepted it in FSX? I don't understand that. This keeps me flying mostly in XP11 until it's fixed, if it ever is. The other thing that keeps me flying XP11 is helicopters. That looks to be a year away in MSFS and who knows what the quality of modeling will be. There are some 3rd party models available with hacks of the flight model, but that's really not the way to do it, and I haven't seen anything yet with the advanced systems modeling I like to see in the larger helicopters. Yes, VR is an entirely different situation and I can understand the need for higher frame rates in that context. On the other hand, the uptake probably isn't high enough to be a major consideration when balancing performance vs. features. The current XP Usage Data dashboard shows only 6.44% of users have ever flown in VR. I would imagine the stats are similar if not even lower in MSFS.
  8. X-Trident Bell 412, if I had to pick just one. A terrific full-featured model and a blast to fly. Other favorites are the other two that I virtually "owned" in the FSEconomy game, so I have hundreds of hours flying them in different parts of the world: Turbo Goose Carenado Pilatus PC-12
  9. For sure, we all have different tastes in flight simming. Right now I'm flying MSFS very infrequently as a sightseeing sim, because it doesn't yet have enough of the type of aircraft I'm interested in. Mainly vintage radial engine planes, turboprops with better engine modeling, and helicopters. That's what keeps me flying more hours in X-Plane for now, but it could change depending on what's in the pipeline for both MSFS and XP. MSFS is an astounding achievement in modeling the external world, but weather and flight + systems modeling doesn't yet live up to the quality of the world modeling for me. And it's taking much longer than I thought it would, to see a wider variety of high quality payware aircraft models of the type I'm interested in.
  10. I'm not sure where you're going with that, but while I've never piloted a helicopter in real life, I had a career as an editorial and advertising photographer and spent a ton of my clients' money hiring helicopters for photo shoots. Always with the door off, sometimes hanging my butt out in a monkey harness to get a decent angle. These were mostly Jet Rangers, the occasional Hughes 500, and a few odd ones like one flight in a Bell 47 when nothing else was available, and a flight in a Huey in Costa Rica courtesy of the park service. I had to learn what a helicopter could and couldn't do, and I have a pretty good appreciation for what it looks like and feels like to fly in a real life helicopter flown by a competent pilot. That doesn't make me an expert in helicopter sims, but at least I can talk from a bit of experience. I think you missed why I referred to FSEconomy. Those assignments often involve flight distances of 200 miles or more. That is not something I want to hand fly, so I prefer a helicopter model with force trim release and a decent autopilot.
  11. People look for different things in a sim. Personally, I like flying the larger helicopters with more advanced systems like force trim release on the cyclic, 3 or 4 axis autopilots, "beep trim," auto hover, and other features you get on something like a medium twin engine helicopter. So I'm not interested in in this particular standalone sim. The light trainers like R22's are fun to fool around with, but for longer flights in something like FSEconomy it's good to have the more advanced features. Right now, at least until the situation improves over with the "other" new sim, that means flying XP11 for civilian helicopters like the Bell 412 and DCS for the military stuff.
  12. That's true of any realistic helicopter flight model. Our desktop joysticks aren't designed for it. I removed the big mainspring from my Thrustmaster Warthog HOTAS set and that makes it easier, but it's still not like having a good extension on the stick. What you can do from there is all down to adjustments in the joystick curves in the sim. And it's still not as good as a long-travel cyclic.
  13. Sorry, not enough coffee this morning. Just do what you did for forward flight translation in reverse. 🙂 Okay, seriously... it's not enough to just lift your nose to bleed speed because that will gain altitude. You want to slow down first by lowering collective a little while raising your nose with the cyclic a little, doing both together in a coordinated way. You'll end up in a glide path similar to a fixed wing landing. You need to do this way ahead of time, anticipating how long it will take to reach the altitude and position of your landing zone. This takes practice and experience. You'll need to anticipate the need for more anti-torque pedal as you slowly transition to a hover. By the time you're at your destination you should be moving very slowly, and can then do a tiny flare up to kill your speed to zero right over the landing zone and softly drop to a landing with the collective. Maintain a crawl speed until you reach that spot and you'll stay out of the zone where VRS can kick in. Try to avoid coming to a hover at a large height above your landing zone and dropping vertically. That's where you might hit VRS. If you feel it kick in (and I don't know how accurately this model is for that), the escape maneuver is with the cyclic -- either a sudden push forward or to one side to get out of the prop wash.
  14. First, get into a stabilized hover at a safe distance off the ground to avoid nearby obstacles in the desired direction of flight, Use anti-torque pedals as needed to maintain heading. From a stable hover, slowly move the cyclic forward just a little to gradually transition into forward flight. If you're lifting from an airport you probably have plenty of free space around you, so you don't need to get much altitude before transitioning to forward flight. Increase collective as needed to maintain altitude during transition to forward flight, but do that slowly as well. Too much collective too fast when you're not expecting it, could overcome your anti-torque pedal setting and get you into a spin. Anticipate what's about to happen. No sudden moves. Ease into forward flight slowly as you translate into cruise. FYI, there is another takeoff procedure for larger twin engine (CAT A certified) helicopters where you first make sure there are no obstacles behind you, then you takeoff vertically and slightly backwards, always keeping the takeoff zone visible below and in front of you near your feet through the lower canopy. When you reach a safe translation altitude you ease into forward flight. This technique is designed to keep a safe landing area always in view below and ahead of you, in case you blow an engine and need to autorotate or use a single engine to land back in the takeoff area. It's a procedure used with restricted takeoff areas and things like yacht or oil rig landing pads. I don't think this kind of takeoff is normally used for smaller single-engine helicopters, but it's a fun one to practice anyway.
  15. What's the actual airspeed of your RC helicopter? I know there are some that have set speed records in the neighborhood of real helicopter cruise speed, but if you're not flying the RC helicopter at those speeds then you won't get the same windvane effect. It's the true airrpseed on the model that matters. There are probably other things at work too, like far greater mass and inertia in the real thing, compared to much more lightweight RC helicopters. If they know what they're doing, they'll incorporate a set of completely different flight characteristics alongside and separate from the fixed wing flight model, rather than just tack extra features onto the fixed wing model. That's what X-Plane does, and I assume DCS also. Changes and improvements in the helicopter flight model can't break any of the fixed wing flying when it's done that way. In those sims, the software "knows" you're flying a helicopter with different response to ground effect transitions, different wing/blade stall effects, and unique hazards like vortex ring state, or "mast bump" in certain models. It's clearly possible to hack the existing fixed wing flight model to partially simulate a helicopter. We're seeing 3rd parties do this right now, since Asobo dropped the ball on developing helicopters for the sim's initial release. However, even if they manage to do a great job, you've got different developers figuring out their own solutions to the problem. That limits the number of great helicopters we'll have to fly eventually in MSFS. The right way to do it in my opinion, is to have these helicopter features built into the default flight modeling in the sim, so every 3rd party developer doesn't have to re-invent the wheel. I hope that's Asobo's plan. We'll get a wide selection of better helicopter models that way.
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