Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Aerofly Flight Simulator 2 - a quick review



If you follow my Facebook page, you know that, from time to time, I have been making some experiments with IPACS Aerofly FS2 flight simulator. 
This simulator has left the "Early Access" area on Steam and it is now available as a "finished" product. Since many of you are asking if it is any good, I thought it was a good idea to share my opinions - much like I did when it was originally released in Early Access.

Aerofly FS2 is the latest product from IPACS, a Swiss company that produced the popular Aerofly RC series (a series of radio-controlled aircraft model simulators) and Aerofly FS (their take on a full scale flight simulator). The original Aerofly FS was praised for its good performance, nice photoreal scenery and good visuals - although it failed to catch the attention of the vast majority of the simmers community.

The second iteration is in a much better position as its early version was released with native support of the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift right when these two headsets were gaining popularity - and due to its super-smooth frame rate, it quickly become popular within the niche of simmer who own a Virtual Reality headset. I bought it when I got my HTC Vive - and I was amazed on the smothness 
and graphic quality of the experience.


Aircrafts

Although it only comprises fixed wing machines, the aircraft selection of Aerofly FS is second to none. There is something for everyone: starting from the Cessna 172 up to the 747-400 and everything in the middle, including two gliders  
(the ASG 29 and the Margansky Swift S1), twin-props (Beech Baron B58 and King Air C90), a business jet (Learjet 45 of course), unlimited acrobatic planes (Extra 300 and Pitts S.2B), warbirds (Corsair, P-38 and the Sopwith Camel) and military jets (F-15, F-18 and the MB-339 trainer). By downloading and installing the SDK you can also get the DR-400, while the Dash 8 Q400 is also available as free download (and it is probably the best Aircraft in terms of system modeling.
The visual quality is great and very consistent - by far the best default fleet of any simulator.
The flight models are less consistent - some are very good, some are just OK. Most of them will not be as accurate as the most demanding simmers would like, but in general they are acceptable and deliver a good "sensation" of flight.


Scenery 

Much like its predecessor, AFS2 takes the photoreal approach. The base scenery covers most of the West Coast of the United states and includes California, Nevada and Arizona - Colorado and Utah areas are available as free downloads, as well as a higher resolution version of the base scenery. The New York area and Switzerland are available at pay-for DLC (currently 14.99€ each). Orbx has released Innsbruck and Meigs Field, and will release Monterey shortly.

Sticking to the default content, if you are into photoscenery in terms of image quality it does not get much better than this, provided you download the high-res version (pretty big download...90 Gigabytes!!!). Flying over the Sierras or the Death Valley is AWESOME - the image quality is really good and the overall impression of realism is fantastic.

On the bad side, autogen coverage is sparse and inconsistent - some areas are well done and include buildings, some others have just trees - and some other have nothing. Also, there is no shader or mask for water - just the texture... which is disappointing.
Another bad thing is that not all the airports in the base region are included - for example Point Mugu NAS is not there. On the flipside, the default airports are nice and detailed (although generic) - much better than other sims.

Simulation and Graphics Engine

The Aircraft simulation engine takes a very interesting and powerful approach: the core of the engine is basically a rigid body simulator, which includes linkages, servos and dampers - and a number of aerodynamic and system features. It is much more complex and flexible than what most people think.
Its major drawbacks, at the moment, are the fact that it only supports fixed wing aicraft and that it does not support custom code for advanced avionics.

The environment simulation is one of the weakest points. No ATC, no traffic, weather simulation is basically limited to wind intensity and direction - there is a lot of work to do in this area. Also, at least for the moment, NO MULTIPLAYER.

The graphic engine is GREAT for three reasons:
- The performance is really good - you can easily exceed 120 frames per second on a decent machine, and it is definitely good enough for simming in Virtual Reality and 4K displays. Granted, this is also because there is no traffic, nor ATC
- The draw distance and image quality is INCREDIBLE.
- The shaders are quite good. The reflections work well, the glass shader is awesome and the day lighting is very good (I'd say it is the best around as it delivers a good, natural contrast).

Unfortunately the lack of water shaders and masks is a big drawback - and then the clouds are very basic and do not cast shadows. Bummer.

SDK and Third Party Support

Third part support is quite limited at the moment - basically there are just three Orbx airports (Meigs Field, Innsbruck and the soon-to-be released Monterey). They are awesome...and they really shine thanks to the smooth frame rates and draw distance. Innsbruck in particular is awesome. A short flight around this airport in VR in a Cessna 172 is incredibly immersive.

The SDK is quite powerful (it is the same tool used by the authors)...but also poorly documented. Developing or converting an aicraft is not very difficult...but requires A LOT of manual text editing. A LOT. On the other hand, once you get used to it, the process of converting an aircraft from FSX is straightforward and not very long (probably around 20 hours tops).

GOOD:
- Fantastic frame rates and overall performance
- Great selection of aicrafts with excellent visual models
- The high-res version of the base scenery is awesome
- Fantastic sense of immersion in Virtual Reality 

MEH....
- No water masks and shaders
- Clouds are very simple and don't cast shadows

BAD:
- no traffic and no ATC
- no multiplayer

In summary, at the moment AFS2 is quite a barebone simulator. There is just your aicraft (with excellent visuals and decent simulation) and there is a huge beautiful photoscenery (which looks AWESOME except for the water)...but this is delivered with an incredibly smooth frame rate and a fantastic draw distance. If that is enough for you, it is highly recommended. It is also highly recommended if you own a VR Helmet.
If you are looking for extremely detailed procedures, ATC or multiplayer, AFS2 is not your simulator (...yet).



The F-15E modeled by MilViz is part of the default aicrafts...and looks awesome. The cockpit looks great, but its functionality is limited. 



   
The Dash 8 Q400 is available as free DLC...and it is probably the best aicraft of AFS2 in terms of simulation...it may not be on part with the best of the best we've seen in other sims, but it is not bad.  

The draw distance and frame rates are amazing

Orbx Innsbruck is AWESOME - extremely detailed (same as the FSX/P3D version) but with the added bonus of the frame rate and image sharpness of AFS2.


The first attempts to export my SIAI S-211 in AFS2.







Wednesday, December 6, 2017

P3Dv4 x64 COMPATIBILITY PATCH FOR PAYWARE F-35 LIGHTING II PACKAGE


Here is an "interim" patch to solve the compatibility issues of the payware F-35 with P3Dv4.
In the long term, I'd like to release an upgrade version of the F-35 which will include a number of improvements and minor bug fixes... but at the moment I do not have the time for that.

The payware F-35 can be installed in P3Dv4 simply pointing at P3Dv4 main folder during the installation process. However, the F-35 uses some special x86 dlls which will not work in P3Dv4.
This patch will fix the outstanding incompatibility issues of the payware F-35 with P3Dv4, namely:
- STOVL functions not working
- Miscellaneous sound effects missing
- ICAWS audio alerts missing
- Miscellaneous issues with the fuel system

TO INSTALL THE PATCH:

1) If you have not done it already, install the F-35 into P3Dv4 (just point to P3Dv4 instead of P3Dv4 when prompted to indicate the installation folder)

2) Take the "panel" folder contained in this .zip file and paste it in the F-35A folder. Allow files to be overwritten if asked (NOTE - to do this you must be an Administrator).
The operation most ONLY be done on the F-35A folder. The -B and -C version read the code from there.

3) ...that is it. To verify the installation is OK, just cause any event that triggers the ICAWS and hear the alert, or try the STOVL mode.
 Note that the STOVL green copyright notice will not appear anymore.

CREDITS
*******
X64 Sound module and x64 Fuel Dump module are copyright of Doug Dawson
Maryadi, for the X64 STOVL module (see rcb-gauges subfolder for full readme on this module)

The patch can be loaded from Google Drive by either clicking HERE or from the side bar (payware section).

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Projects Update and Roadmap for Fall/Winter


As I have received a lot of  emails of the "what will be your next plane"/"can you please do [insert favourite aircraft here]" type recently, I think it is time for a quick update on the projects I have been working on, and my roadmap for the next six months or so.

SIAI S-211This is the main project I am working on a the moment - the external model is almost done and I am working on the VC. The flight model is being worked on by Roy Holmes - so I am sure it will be a high quality job. If time and resources will allow, the package *may* include a Aermacchi M-311/M-345 rendition.
This is a payware project - price has not been set yet, but it may be 17.50€ + taxes (if only the S-211 included) up to 25€+taxes (if it turns out to be a full package).
Release date - hopefully - is late November 2017.

Eurofighter and F-35 Lightning II updates
I am still working, from time to time, on updates to both the Eurofighter and F-35 projects. Both will receive a P3Dv4 update sometime in the future - but until VRS releases Tacpack for P3Dv4, their natural habitat is still P3Dv3+Tacpack
As of today this is the status:

EUROFIGHTER - a number of small improvements/bug fixes have been already implemented in my internal build. There a about a dozen points that need to be addressed, some of them coming from real Eurofighter crew, but there are no major issues... expect a product update by the end of September. This *may* be preceded by a test version (in form of a patch) to be released on this blog.

F-35 LIGHTNING II - The loss of source files was a major blow to this project. But I am slowly rebuilding them (at least for the VC). Future updates may include cockpit improvements, new repaints and a better flight model.

Now, these are the potential future projects (meaning I may have already done some work on these, but they are mostly in my mind/dreams)...

T-45C Goshawk PRO version - A programmer from MilViz has kindly offered me a much better, more complete T-45C avionic suite he has made as test bench for their new development process. It is awesome, but I am struggling to find the time to work on it... and then it would be a great chance to make a V3 Goshawk that could include a T-45A too... We'll see.

Aermacchi MB-339
- Other developers are working on a MB-339... it looks good so far, so I *may* decide to quit the development of my version... we'll see.

F-14D Super Tomcat update/remake - I'd love to do this... but the loss of the source files would make me lean towards a full remake - for which I do not have the time.

E-2 / C-2 Package - Another project I'd love to do... we'll see.

T-50A  - This is another trainer I'd love to do... I started planning for this, but then it looked like other developers were doing one, and I put the project on hold. Now it seems that the situation is different and I may want to resume it.

....that is all for now. Feedback is welcome as usual!


Thursday, June 22, 2017

Military Avatars Package Freeware Release


NOTE - UPDATED TO VERSION 1.04 TO SOLVE MINOR MISTAKES (YOU MAY WANT TO DOWNLOAD IT AGAIN IF YOU HAVE 1.03).

As promised on my Facebook page, I am re-releasing the Military Avatars Package as freeware. This version features some minor changes with respect of the last payware release, such as the removal of the installer and (most important) the reintroduction of the collision detection for Prepar3d V4 compatibility.
I do not like too much the collision detection as it is buggy and you cannot, in some cases, get really close to the aircraft... but its absence seems to create an issue with P3Dv4, so I have restored it.

For those who might be curious, as developer sales figures is a tightly kept secret, the oveall number of payware copies sold was 161 - which, after distributors' fees and taxes - barely covered the development costs.
As side note, source files for these figures have been lost to ransomware -so this package will not be furtherly updated.

Still, I am seriously considering a new version, with fewer but better models and better animations....although that would be definitely more expensive to make.

Anyway, you can download the latest version from the menu HERE or in the side bar of this blog.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Prepar3D Version 4 compatibility statement...and screenshots ;-) !




First, my apologies for the lack of replies and updates both on the blog and on the facebook page... I do not have much spare time for flight simming lately, but rest assured I read all your message and value your feedback.

Second, here is the a brief recap of the status of my projects for what concerns the compatibility with the upcoming Prepar3D V4 release (I had a quick look at the release candidate over the weekend and, you have a good, modern hardware, I highly recommed).

In general, the compatibility of P3Dv4 with addons native to FSX and P3D is quite high, as long as there are no external C++ modules involved in the aicraft systems. For what concerns my aicrafts, they often use Doug Dawson's fuel dump and sound effects gauges respectively to manage some fuel system functions (such as external fuel tanks loading/unloading, in flight refuel etc.). These gauges are currently not compatible with P3Dv4, hence:

- In-flight refuel will not work. Aicrafts with external fuel tanks will have minor issues (such as enabling to refuel non-existent external tanks).

- Custom sounds such as voice warnings and other sounds (e.g. the SideWinder growl) will not be played.

...apart from that EVERYTHING else seems to work (except the F-35B STOVL...see below), so by and large I'd say my aicrafts are compatible with P3Dv4. I will update my aicrafts if/when updated versions of these modules become available.

Also, at present Tacpack is not compatible with P3DV4 - so none of the aircrafts will have tacpack functionality.

F-35 Lightning II

As per the general notes, no custom sounds and minor issue with the fuel system. The F-35B STOVL function will not work - however, as soon as the new version of FSUIPC.dll is released, it is possible that the function is restored by using the alternate STOVL gauge which relies on it (the gauge is already present in the package as a backup solution and it is commented out).

Aside, P3Dv4 will include an updated version of the F-35A - which includes many of the enhancements of the payware version (and a new livery). Note that the bundled version has NO Tacpack functionality.


Eurofighter Typhoon

Same as above... no voice warnings and issues with the fuel system, but pretty much everything else works.


Military Avatars Package

There is an issue with the contact points, so that the Avatars will appear to be literally "knee-deep" into the runway. A small patch to correct this will be released soon.
Anyway, as you know, this package has been withdrawn from sales - it will be re-released as freeware soon (and the release will include the fix).


Aermacchi MB-326

Works fine - except the "phantom fuel tank" syndrome.
By the way, since some of you asked, YES the porting to AF2 is proceeding (veeeery slowly).


 Boeing T-45C Goshawk

Works fine - no issues at all. :-) !
...and, sooner or later, it might get an update with a new avionic suite by MilViz and AO textures (as soon as I can find the time).


Grumman F-14D Tomcat

Same story - minor issues to the fuel system... but in general works fine!



S-3B Viking

Last but not least... and again minor issues with the fuel system, but in general works fine.
By the way, the AI-Tanker version is almost finished!



Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Eurofighter Version 1.08 released


I have just released a new version of the Eurofighter Typhoon to SimMarket, FlightSimStore and PC Aviator. This is basically a "cleanup" release that restores Tacpack Multiplayer Signature and gets rid of some unnecessary avionic code... I also took the chance to add some repaints from the community.
The update will take a little to deploy - you should receive a notification from the distibutor of your choice in a couple of days in the worst case.

2017-05-15
Product update to version 1.08
- Restored Tacpack files signature for multiplayer

- Further tweaks to the control surface animations
- Fixed bug preventing AoA bracket to show while in landing PoF
- Cleanup of avionics code (should solve or at least reduce the "freezing" issue experienced by some users)
- Added "500th Eurofighter Delivered" repaint, courtesy of Rob Skipworth
- Added "Diecimila Ore, 4 Stormo" repaint, courtesy of Tim Brennan
- Added "Tiger" repaint, courtesy of Antonio Diaz
- Added "RAF 41 Sqn Centenary" repaint, courtesy of Rob Skipworth
- A copy of this manual is now stored in the docs folder



Monday, April 24, 2017

Eurofighter Version 1.06 Released!


***IMPORTANT!***
I forgot to "sign" the Tacpack files for multiplayer anti-cheating in the1.05-1.06 update to the Eurofighter... as result, if the server has anti-cheat enabled, you will be kicked out of the session. Please download the signed files (that must go into the main Eurofighter folder) from the side bar, if you want to use the updated Typhoon in multiplayer. Sorry for the inconvenience.

*** EDIT - A SIGNIFICANT BUG HAS BEEN DETECTED IN VERSION 1.05 - WILL BE FIXED IN VERSION 1.06 ***

A rainy Sunday is a good day for some "housekeeping" of my projects... so I have released a small update to the Eurofighter project which hopefully solves some of the problems detected in these first two weeks of deployment. There are still some issues to be solved, but given that my time for the Eurofighter in the next few weeks will be very limited, I decided to release it today.

You should receive an email notification from your distributor of choice that the installer has been updated to version 1.05. This is a full install that will overwrite all the existing files, so if you have installed additional repaints you may want to make a copy of your aircraft.cfg first. Changes are as follows:

2017-04-24
Product updated to version 1.06
- Fixed bug that made the elevon movement to be reversed
- Furtherly reduced excursion of canard motion

2017-04-23
Product updated to version 1.05
- Improvements to flight control animations
- Improvements to flight model stability in certain conditions
- Fixed bug which prevented external fuel tanks from being replenished in the configurator
- Fixed bug which prevented external fuel tanks from being replenished in in-flight refuel under Tacpack
- Fixed bug in TRK autopilot function
- Fixed bug in STA4 pylon visibility condition
- Adjusted position of guided bomb hanging from pylons
- Changed "Ready for Takeoff" condition so that Avionic Master is now set to ON
- Added missing white navigation light
- Fixed several bugs preventing correct frequency-to-channel Tacan conversion
- Fixed bug that made ZOOM IN/ZOOM OUT key functionality to be inverted in LDP controls
- Fixed minor bug in FUEL format

Friday, April 14, 2017

Roadmap for 2017-18 (Spoiler...more trainers!)

So... with the Eurofighter out of the door, it is time for me to think what to do next.
Well, in reality of course I have been planning and making some reseach for my new projects for several months...and here are my current thoughts.

F-35 LIGHTNING II UPDATE

I have been (slowly) rebuilding the source files for the cockpit, in order to create a new, official update to to the F-35 package. The update will be free for existing customers.
It will gather all the changes released through patches on this blog, and will also take advantage of some of the things I have learned and experimented with for the Typhoon (for one, better readability of the MFD and HMD, and improvements to the cockpit interface). I was trying to release this by the end of the month, but I am not sure I can make it. Here is how it looks like right now:


EUROFIGHTER TYPHOON UPDATE

I have also been working to fix the bugs and make some improbements to the Eurofighter package I released 10 days ago. Actually I have already a patch that will fix some of the issues in the current release, but I am waiting another week or so just to make sure that there no other high priority issues arise from the much larger user base (by the way...in 10 days on SimMarket the number of copies of the Typhoon sold has already surpassed the F-35 ones... which tells a lot about the popularity of FSX vs P3D, and of the Typhoon vs the Lightning)... The update will be released as a full installer in a couple of weeks.

SIAI MARCHETTI S-211

This is a small jet trainer, I have been working on for quite a while. After the ransomware attack I wanted a fresh start with a simple project (before deciding to resume the Typhoon) and since a privately owned S.211 is at the local airport I decided to do this. This project looks really good - although I realize that most people don't know this aicraft and may be a little puzzled by the unpopular choice. The extenal model is almost done, while I have dozens of great pictures of the cockpit taken at the local airport - so I believe this may be the best looking cockpit I have done to date (and possibly the most realistic aircraft I have made so far)...


LOCKHEED MARTIN T-50A

I have been seriously considering the T-50A, too. It is totally doable and would look great, and makes a lot of sense as an F-35-trainer... problem is that cockpit documentation is scarce, and there are not good pictures of it (especially for the side panels)


C-2 GREYHOUND / E-2 HAWKEYE PACKAGE

Feasibility for this project looks good but not great...I am postponing it to 2018.


SUPPORT FOR OTHER SIMULATORS

It is no mistery that I am playing with both AeroFly FS2 and X-Plane 11. They both have their own limitations, and, all in all, the FSX/P3D SDK is still way more flexible (at least for the 3D modeling and animation) than these two new platforms.
Still, I am considering to port the MB-326 and the T-45 to both platforms, and eventually the F-35A. But do not expect fully functional VC in neither.

Other projects I have been thinking about (or actually playing with):

T-45C GOSHAWK IMPROVEMENTS - There are some potential improvements which may not require the source files...

F-14 VERSION 3.0 - You really think I was not doing anything on the mighty feline? I am thinkering with improvements and new meshes... but I am not convinced it is the right way to go.

NEW MILITARY AVATARS PACKAGE: new models, with higher resolution meshes and mocap animations... this would look cool, but it is also relatively expensive to make (and sales of the current Avatar package are really low)

S-3 AI TANKER - I'll do it, sooner or later!




Thursday, April 13, 2017

Repaint Templates for Eurofighter Typhoon


As some of you are aware of, the Typhoon paintkit was lost in the ransomware attack I suffered from last year. So, in case you want to repaint the Typhoon, the closest thing I can provide you with is the set of uncompressed templates which are the ones I used to create the liveries.

Each texture is stored in a PSD file which contains the following layers (bottom to top):
- Blank texture with mockup color
- Generic UK texture
- Generic Italian texture
- Generic German texture
- Generic Spanish texture
- A "Mechanical Details" layer which contains the texture for the mechanical parts and details (these should not usually be repainted - exception being the refuel caps which are either dark grey or red).
- An "Usually Not Painted" layer which has all the details that usually do not have paint (e.g.radar radome)
. An Ambient Occlusion layer.

Color reference is as follows:

German Luftwaffe - FS35237 (this has a slight blueish tint to it)
UK Royal Air Force - BS381c-626 (aka Camouflage Grey or "Barley Grey")
Italian Air Force - FS36280 (Approximately - has also been quoted as FS36492)
Spanish Air Force - FS36231
Austrian Air Force - FS36492 (the same as the Spanish Air Force)
Royal Saudi Air Force - Two-tone camouflage - overall BS381c-626 with FS35237 on top

(taken from this very complete post: http://www.britmodeller.com/forums/index.php?/topic/50168-typhoon-reference-information-updated-with-corrected-italian-typhoon-colours/ )

Download link is HERE

Friday, April 7, 2017

Impressions on X-Plane 11


The worst thing of being a flight simulation developer (well...apart from the sleep deprivation) is that you do not have much time to look and play with other people's creations.... there are literally dozens of aircrafts and add-ons that I'd really love to test, but I do not have the time. Let alone testing a completely new simulator.
So, I took a little break after the Typhoon release and had a look a X-Plane 11 while I am trying to decide what is better to do next... and here are my impressions. Please remind that this is X-Plane 11 Vanilla... no add-ons used.

Flight modeling
X-Plane series has always been famous for its flight modeling... basically, the flight model is derived from the "shape" of the aicraft, rather than numbers and parameters like in FSX/P3D. In some sense this is a much more elengant approach.
I do not know the intricacies of any of the stock aicrafts so well to tell "how good" they are - nor I have flown any of them for real... but the impression is that the all of the aircraft I tested had a very solid and realistic flight modeling. I have particularly appreciated the takeoff dynamics... for some reason I cannot explain they give you the best "takeoff run" feeling of any simulator I have ever tested. 

Graphics
The graphic it engine is impressive.... with a couple of drawbacks. Let's start with the things I did not like: the sea/water rendering, the stock textures and the day lighting. The water looks "fake" and a little flat - P3Dv3 makes a much better job in that respect (although still fa away from what modern graphics can do). And day lighting seems washed out - again P3Dv3 is superior in that respect IMHO... and actually Aerofly FS2 is even better - actually much better...it is the only one that manages to capture the intensity of a bright sunny day.
Stock textures are OK, better than FSX/P3D defaults (...not surprising as they are 10 years old!), but nothing to write home about.
And that's it for the not-so-great things...everything else is awesome.
The night lighting is miles above anything else - IT LOOKS REAL. And when you realize that even the cars in the streets have their own light source you marvel at this techical achievement.
Weather is also really good... and gives its best in the rendition of fog and low visibility conditions.
Another fantastic thing is the Autogen system. Much better, more flexible and more complete than FSX/P3D with an amazing level of detail (fantastic for helicopter flying!). By "flexible" I mean that it positions buildings and structures following the streets and the terrain features in a much more consistent and realistic way than FSX/P3D. Awesome job - with a minor note: the buildings look a litte tall, and there are not that many trees in italian cities and towns.
...and NO BLURRIES and NO STUTTERS.

Graphics performance
I would say it is very good to excellent. Sure, you I do not get the 200+ frames per second I get from AFS2, but if you consider how much is happening on the screen it is amazing. Sure, if you max out the sliders my old 3770k at 3.9GHz and the GTX1080 struggle to keep a smooth flight, but in general the performance is better than FSX/P3D in similar conditions.

Stock Aircrafts
Stock aicrafts are good, not great. The selection is OK and includes some planes specifically rebuilt for XP11, and some from previous versions. Considering only the XP11 aircrafts, they are good... I'd say they are great but the modeling and texturing (coupled with the "washed out" daylight rendering) makes it so that they do not look as good as stock AFS2 aicrafts. Still, they are way better than FSX stock aicrafts. In terms of systems and flight modeling they are really good for being stock aicrafts.   

Stock Scenery
EXTREMELY complete. Right out of the digital box you have the whole world, but the vectors and landclass definitions are much better than the stock FSX/P3D database - and they basically have a similar level of detail as ORBX Global Vector. Also, the default airports are much more detailed than in FSX and in general the stock scenery is way better. Still... the stock textures are good but not the best I have ever seen, and while the autogen is extremely detailed, some of its buildings look a little out of place (at least in Italy...but that is always the case in any simulator!).  

Weather
Weather graphical rendition varies from very good (cloud transitions) to excellent (fog). The effects in the aicrafts are just right - but my real life experience of flying in bad weather was really too short to judge.

Sound
Frankly the least impressive part of the package... it is not bad, but on my system it sounds OK but not great (maybe I am too much used to third party sound packages in FSX). Still, no complaints here.

Long story short:

LIKES
  • It is the most realistic and complete flight simulator you can buy for your home computer.
  • Night environment and lighting is absolutely superb.
  • Astonishing level of detail and scalability of the autogen system
  • Good stock aicrafts and extremely complete base scenery
DISLIKES
  • Daylight rendering looks a little washed out
  • Water rendering is not great
  • ...it does not have the same add-ons as FSX ;-)!
Final remarks:
If you are looking for a complete, serious and realistic simulation (and you have a modern, relatively powerful computer) - right now X-Plane 11 is probably the best thing you can buy.
Out of the box it is a solid, complete package that will give you hundreds of flying hours and fun.
You have to consider, however, that FSX/P3D add-ons availability is unbeatable...and new versions of P3D and Flight Simulator are likely to arrive in the near future. Also, P3Dv3 does a couple of things better than X-Plane 11 IMHO.
Aerofly Fight Simulator 2 has its own merits too - but at the current status of its development it is not as complete as the other contenders. Still has the best daylight rendering, the best aicraft models (graphically speaking) and delivers a conving Virtual Reality experience (which P3Dv3 and XP11 do not do with FlyInside). 

The night lighting is FANTASTIC - by far the best I have ever seen in a home flight simulation.

Cloud transitioning in a MD-82 - Weather rendition is very good to excellent. Cockpits are in general very detailed (but do not look as good as the ones in AF2).

Day lighting is not as bright as it should be. This is one of the few things I don7t like about XP11.

The Autogen system places houses and buildings following steets, highways and geographical features and delivers a convincing (but a little "fake"-looking) rendition. Vector database is excellent.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Eurofighter Typhoon v1.00


Version 1.00 of the Eurofighter Typhoon has been released to distribution! At the moment the file is only available at SimMarket, but other distributors will have it online soon. Thank you all for your continued support!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

F-35 AVIONICS UPDATE TO V3.23 (P3D ONLY)


During the development of my new project, the Eurofighter Typhoon, some issues with the F-35 have been identified. Most notably, an issue with V3.20 and V3.21 caused the A-A missile seekers not to work as intended if slaved to a radar track.
This patch should solve the issue as a temporary fix, and bring some other minor improvements.
I have a middle-term plan to release an official update to the installer, which will bring also new features - but in the meantime you may want to install this patch.

CHANGE LOG
**********
Version 3.23
- Fixed a bug that prevented A-A missiles to work correctly in radar-slaved mode
- Fixed a bug in reporting FAB fuel quantities
- Increased in-flight refuel rate
- Changed visibiliy condition of landing light (light turns off when gear is retracted)
- Fixed a bug which prevented IFF Mode 4 automatic activation

As usual the update can be downloaded from the side bar, or by clicking HERE

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Eurofighter Beta Test - List of Known Issues


This post contains a list of the known bugs or missing features in the latest Eurofighter Typhoon test build, as well as the latest version of the product manual. The product manual can be downloaded by anyone, and it is also meant as a preview of the Eurofighter simulation functionalities.
Beta testers are kindly requested to review this list of known bugs or shortcomings before reporting a new bug. Please be aware that the simulated Eurofighter differs in a number of ways from the real thing. Several controls and functions have been simplified or deleted, therefore a discrepancy from the real life procedures and operations may not be a bug but rather a design decision. The product manual serves also as a guide on how the simulated aicraft is intended to be operated and what functions are available and what not. Please read the manual fist.

The product manual can be downloaded by clicking HERE (UPDATED, 107 PAGES - tentatively good for release).

Bugs, request for changes and potential improvements in the list below are color coded as follows:

RED - High priority change - this is can be considered a major defect by most users. All "Red" issues must be addressed or mitigated before the product release.

YELLOW - Medium priority change - some users may perceive these issues as a significant product defect. All "Yellow" issues should be addressed or mitigated before the product release.
GREEN - Low priority change - a very limited number of users may perceive this as a product defect. These issues shall be documented and dealt with if possible.
BLUE - Suggestions for changes, additions or improvements.

LIST OF BUGS/CHANGES REQUEST
Last build: BETA 1-bis BUILD 13/03/2017 (limited distribution)
List updated on: 26/03/2017
Manual version: PreBeta 2 05/03/2017 (93 pages)

FLIGHT MODEL
The flight model has been developed by Roy Holmes - as the Typhoon performance figures are still classified, there is a lot of guesstimation in it - but rest assured that every single number has been carefully considered!

FM01 - Drag chute - While it is possible to deploy the drag chute, its effects are almost non-existent. Plan is to simulate it via the FSX flap controls
FM02 - Verify effectiveness of speed brake. SOLVED -> Roy fixed relevant code 07/03
FM03 - Coupled yaw during high-g high-speed turns.  -> SOLVED with new air file from Roy 08/03
FM04 - No G-limiter or Carefree Handling (this is a known issue - we have not implemented one in the simulation as we had no sound implementation)
FM05 - Potential improvement on takeoff/Landing figures in progress (vRAF/Roy). -> New flight model from Roy 28/03

EXTERNAL VISUAL MODEL
I believe the external visual model is relatively accurate. There are three visible mistakes to the trained eye: the nose cone is slightly less "circular" than the real one, the wing in reality is more twisted and the airbrake hinge is round in reality, while it has sharp edges on the borders in my model. I have tried to correct these, but most come from the original mesh I've started with...and fixing them created more issues than benefits...so we'll have to live with them.

EXT01 - FCS overreacts at AoA when the aircraft is still on the ground (animation only). FIXED on internal build 09/03
EXT02 - Landing gear stem animation has a weird angle during extension and retraction. -> SOLVED in the internal build. Gear animation sequence redone.
EXT03 - Minor light leakage on fueleage openings nearby the cockpit (not really much visible, but noticable in VR pre-flight inspection). -> Partial solution applied. Minor gaps due to mesh disalignment...difficult to recover. Create "gap filler" geometry so that the issue is not that visible anymore. 07/03
EXT04 - Light leakage in the main Landing gear pivot -> Fixed 3D model in internal build. 07/03
EXT05 - Request to smoothen the radar radome -> Minor tweak to radar radome geometry... not a big improvement, but still.... 07/03
EXT06 - Canards should be linked to speedbrake only on the ground -> SOLVED in internal build. Fixed animation code. 07/03 -> UPDATE 11/03...turns out from that it may not be true either. Canards are Always independent from speedbrake activation. FIXED
EXT07 - Landing Lights do not illuminate the ground -> SOLVED in internal build 07/03
EXT08  - Landing/Taxi light visible when gear is up -> Made it so that taxi/Landing lights are turned off if gear is up.
EXT09 - Request to revise inner pylons geometry. -> Fixed in internal build 10/03
EXT10 - Slats to deploy only depending on AoA -> Fixed in internal build 12/03

EXT11 - Request to improve the pointiness of the radome -> Attempt done...not sure if it looks really better, but still...11/03 - Changed radome shape in Beta1bis 15/03
EXT12 - Nose wheel does not rotate -> Fixed in internal build 10/03
EXT13 - Request to implement red anticollision
EXT14 - Fix squadron logo for german repaint -> Done 15/03
EXT15 - Create Spanish aicraft livery -> Done 15/03
EXT16 - Evaluate creation of Austrian livery
EXT17 - Evaluate creation of Saudi Arabia livery
EXT18 - Better color matching of pilot uniforms
EXT19 - Improve Brimstone Textures-> Done 23/03

VIRTUAL COCKPIT AND AVIONICS
Note that the VC is though to be "Cold and Dark" compatible. When the aicraft starts on the ground, several switches/avionics will be turned off. When it starts in the air, most (but not all) of the key switches will be set to ON.
Note also that clicking on the rear view mirrors in P3Dv3 will make them become reflective. Clicking on the stick will make it disappear. To make it appear again, click on the bolts of the pedestal.

VC01 - NAV/TAC soft key selection missing from the HSI page -> Fixed in build 24/03
VC02 - HUD Declutter can be improved -> Fixed in build 24/03
VC03 - Allow Aircraft refuel when on the ground through the FUEL page -> Implemented in build of 23/03
VC04 - Allow Weapons configuration from the STOR page when on the ground -> Implemented in build of 23/03
VC05 - Emergency IFF controls don't work -> FIXED 23/03
VC06 - Initialization and "ready for takeoff" conditions must be perfected -> Improved 23/03 
VC07 - Park brake switch activates Smokewinders when on the ground (it is meant to work only in the air). -> SOLVED in internal build. Smoke system behaves as intended now: smoke is either trigged by the VRS Trigger or by the Brakes control if not on the ground.
VC08 - Fuel flow indications not working -> SOLVED in internal build. Typo on MFD3 code. 06/03
VC09 - HUD still reports the IAS -> SOLVED, replaced with equivalent airspeed. 08/03
VC10 - Make ladder non-retractable without weight-on-wheels. Ladder now auto-retracts with weight off wheels. 23/03
VC11 - Check mouse areas alignment on some buttons

VC12 - Some buttons can be operated only once? Need investigation - Likely to be the same issue as VC15
VC13 - IRST/FLIR button graphic is shifted when activating IRST -> SOLVED on current build 10/03
VC14 - Reversionary instruments panel is improperly labeled "Missile Launch Button" - Fixed in the internal build
VC15 - Request to Always confirm selections with ENTER key on DEK - FIXED on build 11/03, also, many improvements and bug fixes to DEK.
VC16 - Request to code proper RAD1 / RAD 2 switchology (at least for the battery gangbar) - RAD1 switch now works as Avionics Master and turns on the radios. RAD 2 switch acts as "Receive both" switch. PTT selector now allows selection of either RAD1 and RAD2.

VC17 - Canopy open/close button is in an incorrect position (but no clear photo available of the actual location) - Remodeled area. Fixed 10/03
VC18 - MASS positions are reversed (ARM should be outward) - Fixed in the internal build 09/08
VC19 - Check RADALT against the flight manual

VC20 - Transonic warning at 0.97 M not at 0.99 - Fixed in the internal build 09/08
VC21 - 5000ft voice warning is not present in current Eurofighter versions. - Removed from build 24/03
VC22 - Reflex of anticollision lights red (why not white)?
VC23 - Request to add countdown
VC24 - Cannot get back to the root menu once selected one item in CHKLST mode - Checked, current implementation seems correct. By deselecting the SEL button, the page reverts back to main menu.
VC25 - Check autopilot functionality
VC26 - Transponder mode A has no 0 digit - Fixed, graphical issue only. 10/03
VC27 - Some mouse areas cause a FSX crash (only one report on FSX-SE so far) - evaluating replacement of 2D Mouse Areas with 3D. FIXED - the applied fix seems to work.
VC28 - A/S and XMIT caps not lit  -> Solved on current build 09/03
VC29 - Pedestal panel to lit -> Solved on current build 09/03
VC30 - NVE switch can cause CTD on FSX:SE on some installations -> SOLVED on current build 09/03
VC31 - Barometric pressure change to show only for 5 secs (currently 10) -> SOLVED on current build 10/03
VC32 - Cannot add a new WP until Direct-to route is present
VC33 - AT not operational

VC34 - Request to add scroll system for Low Height
VC35 - Flickering Speedbrake animation from VC - Fixed, animation glitch. 10/03
VC36 - Pitot tube icing - Fixed, pitot tube Always on. 15/03
VC37 - Master Starter switch has incorrect animation _ Changed animation sequence 29/03.
VC38 - Check Velocity Vector diamond behavior

VC39 - FUEL page has some flaws. Center tank should only display if external tank is mounted, refuel probe icon is incorrect. SOLVED - Fixed in current build,
VC40 - HSI compass rose to appear over map view, if map is invoked (note: the current rendition is correct for early T1 software releases)

VC41 - Add ZOOM+/ZOOM- functions to PA format - FIXED on 26/03
VC42 - Slow Refuel rate (need to be redone on F-35 too) - FIXED - Greatly increased fuel transfer rate.
VC43 - ATTACK format does not return to VS once format is changed. - FIXED on 26/03
VC44 - LASER ACTIVE crossairs missing from LDP page. - FIXED 15/03
VC45 - Laser designation was not selectable by the user as intedend - FIXED 15/03
VC46 - HSI HDG bug not properly centered - FIXED 23/03
VC47 - Taxi/Landing light switch position is reversed - FIXED 24/03
VC48 - TFLIR Image shows even if gimbal limited or masked - FIXED 28/03
VC49 - Implement selective jettison/tank jettison/emergency jettison - IMPLEMENTED 27/03

TACPACK AND WEAPON SYSTEM FUNCTIONALITY
Note that as for many European aircrafts, there are two safety switches that need to be "ON" before releasing a weapon. The Master Armament Safety Switch (MASS knob on the right console, three positions: SAFE, STANDBY and ARM) is controlled either in the VC or by pressing control+alt+A. The Late Arm Safe safety is on the stick, and can be operated by either clicking the button in the VC or with control+A.

TP01 - Laser Guided Bombs may fail to hit the target in some circumstances. Root cause not identified yet. -> Minor bug apparently fixed. LGBs seem to hit target now. Reports from testers that buddy-lasing seems to work.

TP02 - Meteor does not follow targets. Identified major bug in Tacpack code, A/S system tried to load GPS coordinates on any seeker including missiles. Hence the missile seeker dropped the radar track slaved mode. It affected all the missiles. Potentially affects also the latest F-35 release. SOLVED on current build 10/03.
TP03 - Flare dispensing direction is incorrect. Fixed in the current model 16/03
TP04 - Request to add Brimstone. Added 23/03
TP05 - Storm Shadow fins should be retracted. Fixed in the current model 10/03.
TP06 - Request to make STA5-6 and 8-9 independent.
TP07 - Request to add data cartridge functionality
TP08 - Check DASS system (apparently display not working in RMHHD)

TP09 - Radar detection range is currently linked to A-A missile selected. Request to change it. Implemented 26/03


SOUND
Another great job by Serge Luzin!

SND01 - Request to improve the switch sounds -> Implemented alternate switch sounds.
SND02 - Fuel Boost Pump Switch have default noisy sounds. Request to change them.

OTHER
Misc01 - External tanks and CFTs are not replenished in the configurator
Misc02 - CFTs cannot be unloaded in the configurator -> SOLVED in internal build. Reworked configurator code. Loads can now be deselected individually. 07/03
Misc03 - Manual is still missing some images and weapon information
Misc04 - Configuration file was missing the descriptions. -> SOLVED in the internal build.Misc05 - GBU-10 non deselectable in configurator -> SOLVED in the current internal build

Eurofighter Typhoon Beta Application * CLOSED *


*** DUE TO THE OVERWHELMING NUMBER OF APPLICATIONS RECEIVED, NO MORE APPLICATIONS WILL BE ACCEPTED. APPLICATIONS WILL BE REVIEWED DURING THE NEXT FEW DAYS, AND INVITATIONS WILL BE SENT AS SOON AS THE BETA IS READY. THANKS FOR YOUR INTEREST IN THE TYPHOON PROJECT! ****

The Beta of the Typhoon is *almost* ready, so, if you want to help by speding few hours in her cockpit, here is you chance... *but* first some rules:

- This is a closed Beta. Sorry for that, but having hundreds of emails will not help the testing process. A total of about 15-20 testers are needed. I will decide, after reviewing the applications, who gets a Beta and who does not. I will not have time to reply to everybody, so if you do not get an email invitation to the Beta by March 3rd, please assume you have not been selected.

- This will be a two-stage Beta: a first, non-feature complete, version will be released before March 1st. A second version, with additional features and bug fixes will be released later on. So, before reporting that a function does not work, please check that it is not in the *missing features list*.

- Please TAKE YOUR TIME to evaluate the product. It is not a race to who posts feedback first. It is a rather complex aicraft, and it may take some time to understand how it works. PLEASE have at least 4-5 flight hours before reporting any malfunction. It will not take much less than that to get acquainted with the aicraft cockpit and systems.

- Before reporting any bug or malfunction, PLEASE read the list of known/reported bugs on THIS PAGE of the blog. The same page will contain a WIP version of the manual.

- The preferred method to report bugs is to comment on THIS PAGE of the blog. You can also send me an email, but the comment is preferred so that other users can see and discuss the issue if need be. Please DO NOT send facebook messages if not strictly necessary.

- If you do not have time to test the Typhoon, please do not apply.