Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Sorry for lack of updates!

One of the latest images from Microsoft Flight team - it seems that the Beta will be held in February

All, my apologies for the lack of updates and communications in the past few months. I have been quite busy with my job and I had not much time to spend on my hobbies - nor the will, honestly, to spend even more time in front of a computer screen than the one I have to spend at work.

Hopefully I will have more time to work on Flight (Simulator) designs in the following months but I am not sure. Also I am still waiting for some informations on Flight and its development tools, in order to see how the development process will be different from FSX (not too much I hope) and what will be the possibilities of the new simulator. It looks good - much better than FSX in some areas - and I cannot wait to try it. By the way, Microsoft it seems that Microsoft is planning a Beta stage for February - which means probably a release in summer or early autumn.

Here is a brief update of the projects in my folders... although I did very little in the past few months.

T-45C Goshawk - NO UPDATES. I am quite happy with the latest release... I am just curious to see how easy it will be to import that into Flight. If it will be possible to convert it to Flight, it will be freeware.

New F-14D Super Tomcat - External model is almost ready and I am really happy for its quality (, while for the internal I am a bit undecided between making only the pilot cockpit (by reusing most of the geometry from the previous model) or do also the RIO one (which means many more hours of design). In both cases the plan would be to have completely new hi-res textures. Although I paid a significant amount of money for professional 3d data for this project, these have been covered by donations and revenue from the payware F-35 so I still plan to release it as freeware. But I have no idea on when.

F-35 Lightning II - As you may be aware of, I am working on a new high-res model based on quite expensive high resolution meshes. It is not far from being complete - but there are some bad news. It is a frame rate hog. It looks beautiful, but the vast majority of the users will not be able to run it at decent frame rates. I have tried several solutions, but they do not seem to work for several reasons. I am undecided what to to with it. Maybe Flight can handle it in a much more efficient way? I do not know - and again I do not know how easy it will be to import it in Flight. It probably requires 12-15 hours of work before release.

So, again, my apologies for the lack of updates. Also, my apologies for the lack of personal contact information - I am not using the old email anymore. I have a new one for "personal" (i.e. non FSX) uses and I may need to set up a new one for FSX... for the moment, this blog is the only way to contact me - although I cannot guarantee a reply or any level of support. Sorry for that.

Last my apologies for having having rejected all the friedship requests I have received on facebook. Yes, I am on facebook. But I have decided to use it as a communication tool for "real life" friends only - so I am rejecting all requests from all people I have not met in person. No offense intended, I just prefer to stick to that decision.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Instructor cockpit

A couple of (unusally) rainy days and several requests...and the instructor cockpit for the Goshawk is almost done. It is not ready to be shown yet, as it is missing the textures, but it is coming along quite nicely - and shoul be ready by the end of the month.

Quite honestly, I'd prefer working on the new Lightning II or on the Tomcat... but it is true that the Goshawk without the instructor cockpit is somewhat incomplete. By the way the two cockpits are similar but not identical - and the unique controls of the rear cockpit will not be functional (as they either have no function in FSX -like the ejection seat sequence control switch- or too long/difficult to implement - i.e. the gunsight).

A note to repainters (if any): the rear cockpit will need an unique texture sheet and changes to the existing cockpit textures, but the outer model and its texture layout is unchanged.

Also, if I will have the time, I will also add a "Pensacola" Goshawk and an USMC repaint (as there is only one currently in the package).

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Now that the Goshawk has been released...

Well, now that the Goshawk is done...I'm still working on the Goshawk. By my standards the T-45C has been an outstanding success so far as has been downloaded several thousand times in less than 3 days... still, a couple of observations set the spotlight on a couple of defects of which I was aware of... and I considered minor issues.
So, I'm still trying to fix some of the issues that still plague the v2.01 release... namely, so far I've already:
- fixed the sound bug while opening the canopy (by making the opening faster...trivial fix!)
- fixed the weird red reflection that happened sometimes (in the "glass" the separates the two cockpits)
- (almost) fixed the "stance" which was way too high. This is not as trivial as it may seem as involves quite a lot of trials and tweaks to make sure that the gear dynamics work properly in every condition, while landing on a carrier. At the moment it is not perfect, but the aircraft sits more or less in the way it is supposed to. Still...more tweaking to be done on this. Here is where we are right now:
I know that the most wanted improvement would be the addition of the instructor VC... but at the moment I cannot promise I will do it.
I will gather all the modifications and improvements I can implement before my summer vacations (that will start on August 1st) and release an update before leaving.

Also, as you might be aware of, I am working on two "remake" projects: the Grumman F-14D Super Tomcat and the F-35A Lightning II.
At the moment, it is really hard for me to tell what, when and even if they will be available... I am working on them, but I am also sitting on the fence for Micorsoft Flight. I think (and hope) that there will be a way to convert .X files into whatever format Flight will support (I guess it would be another iteration of the .mdl format...). Anyway here is the situation.

F-14D Super Tomcat: the external model, based on professional meshe, is 80% done and works quite well. The virtual cockpit will be a (almost) complete remake of the current one. I know that a working RIO station would be great...but that is far beyond the scope of the project. If I had the time, I would do it...but I don't.
At the moment, this project is likely to be freeware. I had to face some significant expenses for the 3D mesh, but that was covered by the donations and the income from the payware F-35. So, unless I incur in some unexpected events, it will be free. It may well take 5-6 months before a test release is ready.

F-35A Linghtning II - This, too, has been created starting from professional (and quite expensive) 3d meshes. I cannot say I do not like my current F-35...but it does not capture some of the details of the F-35 design. The problem, with this model, is that the original mesh is using way to many the optimization work is long and tedious. What I have on the screen is quite amazing...but a lot of work is needed to make it run at an acceptable speed.
The current plan for this project is create a "production" model (albeit the picture shows the AF-1), improve the virtual cockpit (but most of it would be reused from the current one) and use the current flight model. So this project is mostly a visual improvement. Most likely this project will be payware - but as for the previous F-35, the price will be low.
As it is not a complete remake, I expect this to be flyable in late September.

Of course, every sentence above is subject to change... mostly depending on the Flight release date, characteristics and (mostly) the possibility to import/use my models in the new Simulator (which looks amazing IMHO)...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

T-45C cleared to taxi and hold short

Yesterday night I've finally completed a T-45C build that I consider good for release. Not all of the bugs have been squashed, but most of them are - and I think the overall quality is much better than the test version. There are a lot of changes with respect of the Beta build, and all of them have been carefully evaluated and implemented. To name a few:

- There is a new, custom made collimated HUD courtesy of Jivko Rusev and Scott Printz. The new HUD is almost identical to the real one, and has a "gun simulation" mode. Also, Jivko provided code to have a working Data Entry Panel (Bingo, LAW, CRS and HDG can be entered in using the keypad as in the real plane)

- There are a lot of improvements in the virtual cockpit: more clickable switches, more functionalities, more accurate caution/advisory light systems, some minor visual details. It is still far from being perfect, but it is definitely better.

- The visual model is improved, too and now there are optional (cosmetic) bomb racks, baggage pod and a several repaints, including CoNA ones.

- The flight model is better, too, with enhanced engine dynamics, drag table and much more accurate landing speeds (once again thanks to Jivko).

So, it is ready for release - but I still need to update the manual, write the readme file, zip and test the whole thing etc. - I'll do that asap. I am not sure when, but definitely it will be within the next weekend.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Slight delay in the release of the Goshawk...

Well, I planned to release the Goshawk this weekend but I could not for several reasons - mainly because of the lack of time and also because I've been experimenting with some features that were not planned originally.

Unfortunately, there is no way for me to add the instructor virtual cockpit, at the moment - as it would take too much time. Maybe I'll include that as an update later on this year.

On the good side, the model has now a refined flight model and several enhancements to the 3d models (including cosmetic bomb racks and baggage pod), and a better virtual cockpit - which now sports a fantastic (and very accurate) custom collimated HUD by Neutrino.

I am not sure when I will be able to release it - I hope within few days, but this will be a very busy week for me, so I can't tell for sure...

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Last call to download the Beta - and CoNA repaints!

This post is "last call" for anyone who may want to give a try to the Beta release. I will delete the download link tomorrow morning (European time) as that build is no more representative of the status of the project.

Aside here are two preview pictures of the Centennial of Naval Aviation retro schemes. I would like to do also the two special colors done by TW-2 recently, but I am not sure I will have the time.

Anyway, I'm (slowly) getting rid of as many bugs as I can - but I took the chance and rationalized the coding of some areas of the cockpit, which may ease, in future, the addition of new functionalities. In fact, some unplanned functions are already in place (like a more accurate operation of the launch bar lights).
Most of the recurrent complaints have been addressed, like the cockpit night lighting which has been completely redone (and looks quite good IMHO). Also, the flight model has been tweaked a little - and carrier landing paramters should be closer to the real thing (although I think that carrier landings will be slightly harder for most users).

Last but not least, Neutrino is customizing the HUD so that it will be much more accurate.

Should everything go as planned, the new release will be ready by the end of the month.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

T-45C Goshawk for Flight Simulator X - Beta Test Work-In-Progress Report

This post is meant to be a repository and progress tracker for the public Beta Version of the new T-45C Goshawk for Flight Simulator X. The Beta dowload link can be found in the previous post of this blog, that is here:

Please report bugs, issues and suggestions from the Beta release as comments to this post. I will update this post once in a while but I will review it almost daily for the next two-three weeks. The plan is to release the new Goshawk by the end of June.


1) Main landing gear doors shape is inaccurate. The drawings I've used to cut the polygons were inaccurate in that area. STATUS: CLOSED. ACTION:None. The changes require to the 3D model would require too much time.

2) Aircraft is sitting too high on the ground. STATUS: OPEN. ACTION: TBD. The model previously was previously sitting much lower, but gear dynamics / animation had issues. Correct setting seem to work much better. Unsure to change it or not.

3) Evaluate addition of external loads. STATUS: open. ACTION: try to merge external loads from previous model and see how it looks and evaluate impact on frame rate. This is not a priority for me, but it would be a nice- to-have feature for some.

4) Remapping textures to allow "wrap around" repaints. STATUS: CLOSED.

5) Add missing details to the speed brakes. STATUS: CLOSED (modified 3d model).


External loads:

Bomb racks & baggage pod: it would be possible to reimport them from the old T-45C model. Visibility can be mapped to load stations or doors.



- 165629 / A107 "Eagles" CO scheme
- 165088 / A109 "Tigers" CO scheme
- 167081 / B303
- A101 & B200 Centennial of Naval Aviation "retro" schemes


- TBD Sabrehawk bird


1) HUD parallax effect is buggy (sometimes does not return into its proper position). STATUS: CLOSED (FIXED - removed unnecessary animation of the view cone).

2) HUD missing "E" bracket. STATUS: CLOSED. ACTION: None. This project reuses standard MFDs and HUDs from stock Hornet. It may be possible to install the enhanced HUD from Neutrino and Scott Prinz as a third party add-on.

NOTE: Report from Neutrino shows that the view cone and projection plane should be change to properly apply the improved HUD -> I will modify the drawing accordingly.

UPDATE: First integration with new HUD from Neutrino was positive - and it looks really good!

3) MFDs bugs. STATUS: CLOSED. ACTION: None. Default MFDs from the stock Hornet seem to have issues with the Goshawk. MFD code should be redone from scratch, but I have no time for that and most of the pages and functions work correctly.

4) FF Indicator. Fix Pound-per-hour/pound-per-minute marking. STATUS: OPEN. ACTION: Modify texture..

5) Turn indicator, Aoa Indicator, Stanby Attitude indicator: add "OFF" flag if possibile. STATUS: CLOSED; ACTION: Modified 3d model, flag shape is not accurate but does its job.

6) Night lighting too bright (especially in DEP area). STATUS: CLOSED. ACTION: reduced considerably the night lighting map for the VC, DEP is now clearly readable - will evaluate dimming the flood light, too.

7) Engine instruments: Check in-game readings versus real values. If possible, modify readings to match the real ones. STATUS: OPEN. ACTION: TBD

8) Speedbrake lights are wrong in color. STATUS: CLOSED (FIXED - redone graphics and visibility conditions, also redone launch bar graphics and visibility conditions).

9) VVI needle not sitting at zero when it should. STATUS: CLOSED. ACTION: Fixed animation in 3d model, also got rid of a bug that made readings not accurate in certain conditions.

10) Fuel quantity gauge inaccurate. STATUS: CLOSED (FIXED - animation was mapped to the wrong variable)

11) MASTER CAUTION light turns on at 50% fuel quantity. STATUS: CLOSED. Action: new .xml code.

12) Tailhook lever animation: mapped to tailhook position rather than the handle. STATUS:CLOSED. ACTION: fixed animation association.

13) Tailhook warning light, 3d model moves during activation. STATUS: CLOSED. ACTION: New visibility XML code.

14) Check functionality and animation of all light switches. STATUS: OPEN. ACTION: check animation and mouse click areas

15) Reprogramming of all warning/advisory lights ongoing. STATUS: OPEN. ACTION: reprogram all the .xml code for the warning and advisory lights for more accurate functionality.

16) Add more conditions to the red/light launch bar light. STATUS: CLOSED: Green light turns off when N2 is above 95% (to achieve a "no lights" condition before launch as in real life) and red light turns on when launch bar is not retracted and plane is airborne.

17) BINGO values can be set correctly and are digested by the system, but they are not integrated in the Caution/warning lights. STATUS: OPEN. Action: edit .xml coding.

18) LAW value can be set correctly but shows only in the mouse information tag. STATUS: OPEN. Action: evaluate integration in the altimeter.

19) Altimeter cannot be set by the VC. STATUS: OPEN. Action: add mouse area for altimeter setting.


1) Catapult endspeed is way too high (above 200 kts). This is due to the fact that the Goshawk uses default catapult dynamics, which are set for the F/A-18 Hornet and cannot be changed (but can be overwritten by additional code). STATUS: CLOSED. ACTION:None from my side. This cannot be fixed without additional code - Sylvain will provide a standalone fix for this.

2) Approach speed and settings: monitor user feedback - IMHO the landing behaviour is.good (but not perfect) and does its carrier-training job quite nicely. STATUS: CLOSED. Vast majority of users is happy with the carrier landing behaviour, however it has been modified for more accurate AoA and speeds (most user will probably find that it is more difficult).

3) Engine settings at idle: engine idle should be around 55+/-2 %, also idle speed should not be able to move the a/c on the ground. STATUS: CLOSED (fixed engine dynamics and gauges animation).

4) Evaluation of several fixes/improvements to the flight model. Most users seem to have no issue with that - carrier landings are close and easy to do but not perfect. I am currently evaluating some changes - I know the flight model is far from being perfect, but I have too confess that I consider the current one to be quite good... hence, I will evaluate each and every change carefully. Flight models are sometimes tricky: you fix one aspect and do not realize you are screwing up others... STATUS: OPEN - ACTION: MONITOR

5) In general, flight emergencies are not managed correctly. STATUS: OPEN - ACTION: See if there is time for better emergency systems modeling - however, proper simulation of emergency procedures is beyond the scope of this project.

6) Landing gear damage threshold is low. Some users experienced damages to the landing gear while landing. The damage threshold was lowered on purpose to force users to perform smotther landings but, with new dynamics and more accurate AoA during descent, it is extremely easy to damage the gear. STATUS: CLOSED Gear stiffness increased to the same values of the old T-45.

1) Flight manual paragraph numbering is not correct in chapter 10. STATUS: OPEN. ACTION: fix source document and pdf.

2) One user reported "click" sounds on the sound package. Cannot replicate that issue. STATUS: CLOSED. ACTION: none - I think the sound pack is quite good, although I am not an expert in this field. Much better than any default alias.

Color key:
Green - issue solved, or mitigated to the point is acceptable or not perceived by most users. Or a minor issue that will be present in the final build as it would require way too much work to be fixed, and does not spoil the general quality of the project.
Yellow -issue open, and could be perceived as product defect by many users. Awaiting action or investigation. Or issue open, mitigated to the best of my knowledge but will still be perceived as defect by users. Or issue open but appears easy to fix.
Red - major issue for most user that needs to be solved before release, or an issue with a root cause not identified as of today. Or the problem is beyond my knowledge or impossible or too difficult to solve.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Open Beta version release soon

The Beta build of the T-45 is ready (and it will be an open Beta), but I have decided to delay its release for a day or two as I am compiling its flight manual. It will be an 80 pages flight manual based on the first 8 chapters of the real T-45C NATOPS - and it will closely replicate its structure and its contents, with clear indication of the differences between the real and the virtual Goshawk. It will cover general information, systems descriptions, operating limitations, standard and special procedures and flight characteristics - but will not cover emergency procedures, all-weather operations, communication & navigation equipment and procedures and weapon systems. It is almost ready - just few more hours of work and its done...

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

T-45C 3D Modeling complete

After some test flights and thoughts, I'd say that the the 3D modeling of the T-45C is complete and ready for testing.
The next step is go through the NATOPS and see if there are any major mistakes in flight and system modeling I am unaware of. I am quite happy with the flight model, and I think it does its job nicely for a FSX carrier trainer. Also, it is well beyond the scope of this project to provide 100% realism and system modeling. Still, a final review before the testing phase is needed - and doing so I am also preparing a (sort of) flight manual.

Should everything go as planned, the Beta test build will be ready by the next weekend. I am still undecided if it will be a "public" Beta or a restricted one. Both have pros and cons - I do prefer a "restricted" one, but the plane is flyable (and "enjoyable") as it is right now... and I don't know when I will have time to fix the bugs in a public release will allow a lot of people to fly a Goshawk that, right now, is already much better than the existing one...

Friday, May 27, 2011

Payware F-35 - closing sales, apologies for the lack of support and 2.0 version.

First flight of the real AF-8, with full mission systems and USAF markings

As the real F-35 project is getting momentum (with first flight of AF-8 and CF-3 pre-series aircrafts) I have reviewed the status of my payware F-35 project.

First, I'd like to thank you all for the support and appreciation - I think it has been a huge success by my standards.

Second, I want to apologize for the lack of support on this project. Unfortunately my usual email address, which is also the one I used for FSX, is bloated by spam and junk emails to the point it is unusable - or more accurately, to the point in which I should spend several hours a week browsing through the messages. Last time I checked I had 1150 (!) unread emails, out of the first 50, just one was an actual, meaninful message.
Again, my most humble apologies for that. I will setup new email addresses as soon as possible.

Third, I just bough some new and more accurate (and more expensive) professional 3D meshes for the F-35 - as I felt that the F-35A was not on par with the new T-45C and F-14D. Therefore:

- A new, updated and more detailed F-35 model is in the works. The new model will be basically just a graphical update, and will be targeted at high-end computers. It will be payware, as the new 3d data was quite expensive for my budget, although it will be in the same price range as the previous F-35. The new outer model WILL NOT be compatible with existing repaints.

- I am considering to cease the sales of the current F-35 project. I do not consider this on par with the quality level I expect from the other projects. Unfortunately, agreement with some contributors of the project forbid the release as freeware.

- I am also considering to release the new model as a free upgrade to the existing one, or at a discounted price for existing customers - but I am not sure I can afford that.

- The new F-35 project will be "officially" announced soon, together with screenshots. It will still be an F-35A, anyway. I can tell you it looks really good, IHMO.

Anyway, no final decision was made so far - so I'd like to hear your opinion. The only thing I have decided is that I will make the new F-35 model, because it looks feasible (although requires a high end computer) - and what I have on the screen looks really good...and because I could not resist and already purchased the model from Turbosquid...

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Flight testing and changes to the flight model

Three hours of (mostly) T-45 flight testing today, in order to nail some of the changes to the flight model I had in mind. Although I think the previous flight model did its job nicely, after some thoughts, work and time spent reading the flight manual, I've modified the T-45 file so that:

- The engine response is slightly quicker. In the previous version I wanted to give the user the "sensation" of a trainer and the fact the T-45C is not an F-16. But, the engine response was probably a little too slow, so some users have complained about excessive difficulties in formation flying.

- Drag vs Mach is now slightly lower below 0.80 Mach, resulting in a faster acceleration and more correct climb speed. Also, top speed is close to the nominal Mach 0.85 in most conditions.

- Extending the speed brakes will have a "nose up" effect. This was perceived as "not realistic" and criticized by many users, and I deleted that effect in the previous versions. But then, the flight manual is very clear on this so the effect is back to stay.

- Extending the flap has a "nose up" effect, too, while extending the gear has now a slight "nose down" effect. Again, this is to attempt to replicate what is reported on the flight manual.

- There is now a slight "nose down" tendency above Mach 0.8, again, as per the manual.

Not many changes, then - but as I said I was quite happy with the previous FM. The new one is slightly harder as the pilot will have to compensate for the configuration changes, but I think it is still an easy plane to fly and land - and should do its job in helping simmers to learn how to land on a carrier.

...and yes, as you may have noticed, not all the pictures above are about the Goshawk...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Almost ready for a Beta Build

Some more pics of the new Goshawk. The front cockpit is now functional - more or less at the same level of functionality of my previous Goshawk, but it is definitely more accurate. The external model is done - just a couple of bug-fixes and it is ready. Everything looks good for a test release at the end of this month. It may well be a "public beta" that is I am considering to make a public release of the test version - as it is unclear to me if and when I will have more time to work on this project.

Aside, I also did some work on the new Tomcat - that is the one I'm making starting from professional 3d data I've bought "investing" some of the revenues from the F-35 project. It looks REALLY good IMHO - I will show you some pictures as soon as some of the missing textures are ready. It will be an F-14D Super Tomcat, by the way.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Some screenshots of the new T-45... including cockpit images!

Here are some pictures of the new T-45C Goshawk. I finally found some time to work on the cockpit and the student/pilot station is graphically almost complete - I just have to fix some animations and clean up some textures. From the functional standpoint, some needles are not working yet, and I still have to do the warning and caution lights - and the night lighting. In terms of functionality do not expect any major change from the previous version - the major difference will be that what is there should be significantly closer to the real thing.

I am sorry but I do not have time right now to add more comments - so I hope the images above speak for themselves....

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The real F-35 Full Mission Simulator

The F-35 Full Mission Simulator

As my previous post was about the real T-45C simulator, here is a picture of the first real "Full Mission" Simulator of the F-35, recently delivered by Lockheed Martin to Eglin Air Force Base's 33rd Fighter Wing.
Obviously this simulator sports state-of-the-art fidelity and realism, as well as a top-notch visualization system and, of course, can be set to simulate all the variants of the F-35.

Back to videogames (yes...I am a blasphemer...I still consider FSX just a videogame...) I have some good news. Meaning that I've made some significant progress with the T-45C student/pilot cockpit...and graphically I'd say it is 90% complete - I just miss some minor details here and there and I'd like to redo a couple of textures. It looks good IMHO. It is mostly "hand-drawn" meaning it looks less photographic and a little more stylized - but it is also much closer to the real deal - and IMHO it is closer to the general graphic style of FSX (& Flight - I hope that it will be possible to port it to the new simulator). Long story short it looks better than the previous one - and it is also less resouce-intensive so that it may be possible to model the instructor cockpit too (albeit I will probably not replicate some minor differences between the two cockpits that are there in the real plane - like different layout of external lights controls to name one). Still the instructor cockpit presence is not confirmed - I may not have time to complete it in a reasonable time.

I will post some WIP pictures of the new cockpit as soon as I've placed all the missing details - probably during the next weekend.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Now, that is a T-45C simulator...

That is a wide screen!

This is (or should be) an actual screenshot... Javier's carrier looks definitely much better :-)

I've recently spotted on the internet few pics of the "real thing", that is the real T-45C simulator... So here they are. The simulator is static and sports a pretty wide screen (although we "simmers" know that it is not the best of the best out there) which seems very effective. In terms of graphics, well, Javier's carrier looks much better IMHO :-) but again, these simulators are not made to impress with graphic realism (or have fun), their job is to help you learning the instruments and the procedures... Then, given the high standards of many "hardcore simmers" (i.e. "I bet I could land a real Tomcat even if I've never touched a real plane" armchair pilot) , I'd bet that there is someone that may consider this simulator "too arcade" :-) Talking about arcade games...for those who missed them, there are some new Microsoft Flight screens on the official website (here). The pattern seems to be a monthly update (alternating screenshots and videos). I think it looks pretty good. Although many will think it is very similar to FSX, on closer inspection, there are some interesting tweaks that make it look much better (for example a MUCH better shadow algorithm - which include autogen now). On the graphic side, I'd say so far so good. I just hope the performance will be good. Also, I think that, at this point it seems clear that, in spite of the name change, this seems to be a new version of Flight Simulator. It will probably have some more missions (which I like) and a "casual mode" (which to allow your 5 years old son fly a 747, but I'm sure it will be optional). I'd be surprised if the maximum level of realism will be lower than the one of FSX - and I honestly can't wait to see more of this new release. I just hope that there will be an efficient way to convert FSX native add-ons to Flight...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

T-45C External model complete

My apologies for the lack of updates - I've been very busy in the past few weeks and I had very little time (and will) to work on my FSX projects. Needless to say I've completely missed my target of delivering a Beta version of the new Goshawk before the end of Februrary - and I'm still at least 30 work-hours away from that target.
The good news is that the external model is done - initially I wanted it to be a very light 3d model... but in the end it became a very detailed one (which may disappoint some users with slower machines). On the good side, I am extremely happy with its visual quality - although the outer doors of the main landing gear have a wrong shape.
The virtual cockpit, I mean the student/pilot one, is roughly 50% complete - it still lacks the side consoles as I have not complete their main textures.
The instructor cockpit is still in my to-do list, although I am considering a later release - as I do not have the time and motivation, at present, to complete it in a reasonable time... The main problem is that I work 9-10 hours per day in front of a computer screen, and it is really hard to find the will do sit in front of another computer screen when I am at home!
Also, while I was looking for the right mood to complete the Goshawk cockpit, I did some work on the new Tomcat - the external model is 80% complete and it looks really good too! I'll post some pics as soon as the next build is done.

Monday, January 31, 2011

New Flight screenshots from Microsoft

Microsoft has just published some new screenshots of Flight, along with a much awaited clarification about the Windows Live tag of the new simulator (which generated some speculation that Flight could only be used online).

The new screenshots can be viewed here .
The general opinion is that Flight looks much like FSX - and I think it is true to some extent. Yes, it looks similar... but if you watch closely the screenshots and the video shown so far, you'll notice some significant improvements - like a much better scenery "creation" and better shadows.
I mean the "syntesized" scenery -textures, rivers, coastline, roads and autogen- look definitely better (e.g. coastlines look more realistic) and less prone to some mistakes in the current FSX system (for example the roads and rivers merge much better with the base textures).
As for the shadows, it seems that the algorythm is much more realistic and shadows are much less "abrupt".

I just hope there will be a way to import some of the work done by many designers in FSX. I think it is OK to drop FS9 code compatibility, but I hope the native .mdls can be imported -or at least Microsoft could provide an .X files converter. Should not be much of a problem, as the .X file should be a "DirectX friendly" file format...and then I see the FSX Orion Maule in the screenshots...

Anyway, what we have seen so far looks like a refined FSX. Which is a good thing IMHO. But we all know what we need most: a modern, efficient code that can benefit from current hardware.
Shoul I write a wish list... well, yes, it would be quite long...but if I could just have an improved FSX that runs at full detail at 60fps with some of the most complex add-ons, then I would be happy.
In the meantime, I am still working on the Goshawk... but no significant progress to report so far - mainly due to lack of time.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Another quick update...and a word about facebook and emails.

Just a quick update with some screenshots, including the first images of the new virtual cockpit. The external model is 95% done - it only needs some minor texturing cleanup and a couple of details. It is much better than the previous one IMHO, although it is not as lightweight as I hoped. The cockpit model, on the other hand, is lagging. What you see in the screenshot is what is ready so far - the main panel is ready and so is the canopy - everything else is void for the moment. Let's say it is roghly 30% done. Good news is that it is closer to the real one and uses less resources than the previous iteration - possibly making room for the instructor's cockpit too.
With the current pace, an Alpha build may be ready by the end of February or mid-March. But that is just an estimation and, as usual, it will depend a lot on the time I will have.
Then, a word about e-mails and facebook. Yes, I am on facebook *BUT* I use it to share stupid stuff with my real-life friends. I do not use it to post anything related to Flight Simulator. That is why, while I've received several frienship requests from simmers all around the world, I've always "ignored" them. My apologies for having ignored them, but please understand that my choice is to use facebook only to communicate with people I know in person - it is the only way in which I think facebook is useful and fun for me.
Also, I'd like to apologize for the delay in replying to your emails - unfortunately I do not have time to reply in detail to each one quickly. I'm doing my best - that is spend an hour or two per week replying to my personal email.
Last thing, please do not email me for generic enquiries about Flight Simulator (like how to install scenery, or how to design a plane etc.). I am sorry but I really do not have the time to reply with sufficient level of detail, and, for such questions, you'd better check Google - there are a lot communities which provide plenty of tutorials to do almost everything FSX can do.
Well, that is it for now. I sincerely appreciate your interest in my works and...well...I just wish I had more time!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New T-45C - two screenshots.

Above are a couple of screenshots I posted few days ago at Sim-outhouse... As you can see the outer model is almost done (let's say 95%). It just needs some minor details (mainly in the cockpit), some texture "clean up" and some minor animation tweaks. I have to confess am really happy about its quality so far.
I started working on the virtual cockpit and the main panel is almost done. It has been modeled directly over the NATOPS cockpit diagrams so it should be significantly closer to the real thing (although the previous one was reasonably close). I will post some pictures once a larger portion of it is complete.
For now, the plan is to keep the stock F/A-18 avionics code (HUD and MFDs), so the display will incorrectly indicate two engines and a radar (although I know that a "virtual radar" for the real T-45 is in development - i.e. a "radar simulator" for training). It would be possible to make 100% accurate avionics... but that will require a lot of time and resources.
On the good side the HUD, features some tricks I learned while making the F-35 so it looks better. I have not decided wether to make also the instructor's cockpit or not. I know it would be cool, but I want to keep the project "small" - that is the only way to deliver something.