Announcements on the plethora of betas that went up this weekend.
Edit: beta 5 is temporarily offline while we resolve a missing scenery texture. So you'll get beta 4 if you update.
X-Plane 10.04 beta 5 is now available. Release notes here. I think we will be winding down the 10.04 patch in the next week and going on to 10.05. There are a number of cosmetic bugs that I hope to get fixed shortly; it looks like they'll have to go into 10.05 and not 10.04.
What's the logic behind this patching? Basically we're going to keep doing small patches until we get a certain set of bugs fixed - bugs that we think are important and that we can fix without tearing the sim to bits. The patch runs sometimes have to be closed off to burn new DVD masters* (this is the case with 10.04). In all cases, if you don't want to deal with beta chaos, you can ignore the betas and get a new patch every few weeks with a little more performance and a few more bugs fixed.
I spent some time yesterday retuning cloud performance and the effect of the cloud rendering setting. Besides trying to find a better performance-quality trade-off point, the old slider had way too much range on it. It defaulted to 50%, but that 50% point really represented "a good setting for a high end gaming desktop"; going past that would put you into the range of "this isn't ever a good idea, but the engine can do this without crashing". The side effect was that running at 25% clouds (a very reasonable setting) would feel demoralizing because the setting scale was so vast.
The new scale marks a "100%" point at about where I would put it for high quality if you're just sitting on GPU power (e.g. small screen, nice GPU). You might still want to turn it down for performance reasons. The range from 100%-150% is highly experimental land...if you want to turn it up to eleven, we're not going to stop you.
WorldEditor Developer Preview
There is now a binary build of WED 1.2 (download here). This is a developer preview: WED is still in environment and doesn't meet the criteria for beta software. Basically: do feel free to poke around with it, but don't use it on your real work. Don't edit your scenery packs with it - make a copy first. WED 1.2 has not been tested enough to use for production yet!
The main feature of interest is ATC taxiway editing: WED 1.2 contains complete support for taxiway networks, as well as "flow" information to control the direction of operations. A number of weird ATC bugs actually stem from the automatically generated taxi layouts that X-Plane produces when the apt.dat layout contains no taxi information. By providing a custom layout, you can get the AI planes to behave quite a bit better.
* We periodically re-burn the disc 1 master to put the latest sim on it whenever we are preparing new DVD inventory. If you have an old DVD, please do not panic! Once the updater is run, the sim looks the same no matter which DVD you have.