X-Plane 10.20 beta 3 is out. This build went out without new art assets. We have a pile of new art assets waiting to go out the door: autogen from Alex, more terrain textures from Albert, an airplane upgrade from Javier, and fixes to airplanes and aircraft from Tom.
But I held them back and kept them out of this release. Why am I such a bastard?
The answer is: two complex low level changes went into this beta, and I want to capture at least one beta’s worth of crash report data to check for destabilization. The new art assets may use more memory (especially if users crank them up to see what’s going on); if we rolled everything into one beta, we wouldn’t be able to tell art-induced crashes from code-change induced crashes. So we’ll roll things out in steps. As I have said before, the purpose of betas is not to have an awesome flying experience, it’s to find bugs!
Bear in mind that not all of the bugs reported are fixed; we cut beta 3 to get these two specific code changes fixed; more bug fixes are coming soon. Please see the release notes for what is fixed. please do not re-report bugs unless they are listed as fixed but still show up as broken on your machine.
I’m hoping to get a beta 4 out over the weekend with art assets if beta 3 goes smoothly.
So What Did You Do?
So what are the two bug fixes that are major enough to warrant their own beta?
- A change in the load order between X-Plane’s sound code and OpenAL. I realized that the old way we load sound (e.g. in 10.10) makes it virtually impossible for a globally installed plugin (one in Resources/plugins) to share OpenAL, even if it follows all of the rules set out in the OpenAL plugin tech-note. This change fixes that, apparently fixes conflicts between Gizmo and SASL, and hopefully should let plugins do the right thing. Plugin developers, see here for more info. (The original load order assumed that OpenAL would be more robust to two copies being opened; it now appears that this is not the case and OpenAL can be quite picky at times.)
- The OS X 64-bit memory layout has been modified to be compatible with LuaJIT 2.0, the Lua engine inside most Lua-based plugins (e.g. Gizmo, SASL, FlyLua, etc). This does not entirely fix the porting problems developers have been seeing with LuaJIT, but it at least makes the plugins work under light memory conditions. (These plugins would fail 100% of the time in beta 2.) Here’s the technote; I am in contact with most of the plugin developers using Lua, but if you use Lua and haven’t heard from me, email ben at x-plane dot com.
These are not the only bug fixes in beta 3, but they are the two that are weird enough that we want ‘clean’ bug data, without additional art assets to cloud our view.
So: hopefully these two changes will go smoothly and we’ll get on to beta 4 and art assets soon. The artists work their butts off to create this stuff and we want to roll it out!
Will Lua Ever Work With 64-Bit OS X?
A few developers who depend on SASL and Gizmo have asked me whether Lua will work with 64-bit X-Plane on OS X. The only answer that I can give is that I do not know, but I am optimistic that we will engineer a solution. I consider making Lua work to be a very high priority.
Lua is in almost every commercial third party airplane we’ve seen in the last few years; the market has spoken and third party developers have said “we like Lua.” So I think it’s worth doing some serious engineering to keep Lua working. Making Lua work with 64-bit OS X is currently my top priority bug.