First, let me say that this post represents my opinions and my thoughts and does not reflect the official view of Laminar Research.

I’ll be the first to admit that the news and events that have “leaked” out regarding v10’s release date have created quite a bit of confusion, controversy and general discomfort amongst you guys; our fans/customers etc. I’m sorry to see the drama unfold in this manner. It’s certainly not intentional, it’s not a sign of v10 being delayed further and it’s certainly not a sign of v10 being canceled.

As i’ve said a dozen times already, v10 is very much alive and kicking. It consumes about 99% of all of our (the staff) time. It’s our #1 priority, it will remain our #1 priority and it has been for a long long time. There are many factors that contributed to the original delay of v10. I’m not going to go into internal details but I feel that it’s going to be a better product as a result. We’re not slacking off here. I don’t think there’s a single LR employee who’s put in anything less than a 40 hour work week in the past 3 years. I actually think the average is quite a bit higher and has been for some time.

One of the reasons for this tech blog is to give those of you interested an inside view into what it takes to write a flight simulator. It’s no simple task. In fact, in some ways it is rocket science!

I’m amazed by the amount of attention to detail that goes into XPlane’s development. Just as a quick example, I was  recently working on some ATC code and wanted to get a list of the runways at a given airport that had full ILS approaches. I was expecting there to be some kind of database lookup in the simulator that would say “oh runways 06 and 33 have full ILS approaches”. That’s a pretty basic assumption. “It’ll take 2 seconds to wire up” I thought….but that’s not how it works. There is no magical database for ILS approaches. XPlane doesn’t know about approaches directly, it knows about antenna types and location, OBS and glide slope angles. What I mean is, the database says “there’s a localizer antenna facing 036 degrees magnetic at lat/lon x/y and there’s a glide slope at x/y with a 3.5 degree angle.” This made my job a little more difficult because i needed to then compute the geometry of the localizer, glideslope and runways to determine what runway would benefit from a signal in that direction (don’t forget about parallel runways!). That kind of realism is unparalleled. What it means is that if a localizer antenna is offset at an airport because of obstructions (like runway 15R at Boston), XPlane will model the approach angle perfectly just like in the real world and you’ll come in at a slight offset. This is not new, the sim’s always been like this but it’s a new discovery for me. I guess my point is, sometimes even tasks that seem simple on the surface can be a bit more time consuming because we care about realism and the world is not a simple thing to model accurately…and that’s why this blog exists. We like to share with our users how COOL all of this stuff can be.

Getting back on track here, this blog gives you guys an inside look into our world so you have some insight into what kind of moving parts are in there. Our conscious decision to open this kind of dialog with our fan-base is a great thing, but it also can sometimes lead to miscommunications. Sometimes, we might say something in an innocent manner and you might take it out of context and misinterpret what we meant. For that, I’m sorry and we’ll take the blame.

With that said, I must ask and beg and plea that we all think twice before jumping to conclusions, trying to read between the lines and make inferences from quick unofficial statements made in a forum, a blog, facebook etc. Please do not assume that if a 3rd party vendor makes their own prediction of when v10 will ship, that it’s evidence of an official ship date. Please do not assume that if Austin himself says “by the end of the year” that he literally means “the end of the year.” If it shipped tomorrow, that would technically also qualify as “by the end of the year”. And NO, it’s not shipping tomorrow either. I can’t say that I blame people for wanting to hang on our every word and analyze our statements down to the verbiage but as much as I understand it, please try not to continue doing it. Official news, announcement of official features and official dates will be clearly marked as official. You will not need to read between any lines or make any assumptions.

So if v10’s not necessarily shipping in August and if “by the end of the year” does not necessarily mean “the end of the year”, then when is it shipping? The answer is….I don’t know! And that’s why there hasn’t been any official news yet. We’re not thinking about official dates yet because the date is arbitrary to most of us. When we’re all done with the core features and when it seems stable, then it will be released.

And because every post is better with a picture….Here’s a quick visualization of the math behind computing some ILS antenna intersections. The green line represents the localizer antenna beam. It starts in the background at the localizer antenna’s location and extends outward at the “OBS” heading of the antenna (note that in this unusual case, the localizer is NOT down the centerline of the runway!). The blue line starts at the glide slope antenna and extends outward at some angle above the earth’s surface. Typically this angle is about 3 degrees. The red line just represents the runway end. The point of this visualization is to see if you were perfectly aligned with the localizer AND the glideslope when you crossed the runway, where would you be? The intersection of these three planes is that pink dot.

About Chris Serio

Chris is an electrical engineer and commercial pilot who got roped into software development by Ben because misery loves company.

41 comments on “V10 Release Date Mania

  1. Can’t wait, really hope media shots, etc become more abundant like the former V-10 Tuesdays in the nearish future and or once the ball starts rolling regarding a stable platform 🙂

    Thanks for this public response to all our replies from the beta post. Good customer relations.

  2. When it’s done it’s done!
    We ALL can wait 🙂

    Thanks for the info & cool pic of things in the “background.”
    I’ll be looking forward to V10 whenever it’s done.

  3. exactly know what you mean…i’m developing plane for xplane and learning way more than i actually realized by flying the models done by others

  4. Thanks for clarifying, Ben. Waiting impatiently 🙂

    Interesting picture, by the way. Note how the “pink dot” is not overhead the centerline – this is correct, on most offset approaches (mostly the non-precision ones) the azimuth of the guidance aid is positioned to intersect the extended runway centerline when the aircraft is at the MDA (or DH in case of a precision approach). So in this case it would be at about 200 feet, I guess, which is roughly half a mile before the runway beginning.

  5. Thanks for clearing it out – but it is ofcourse that way – it’s up to you when to release – and i think waiting is better than getting a half finished product.

    A thing i have noticed on all the screens is that the ground textures are always really lowres – will this improve?

    Also the shader look is a bit too x-plane 9’ish – do you intend to improve that as well to get a more 2011 look according to current level og gaming graphics?

    Will the planes feel more heavy in XP10 – in XP9 i think its too easy to make a 747 lift – you can do it easily at low speed with flap 0.

    Keep up the good work?

    1. I can’t really answer any of your questions directly but what I can say (that may answer some of the questions) is that I typically run the sim at the lowest res settings for everything. Why? Because when I’m working on ATC, I could not care less what the sim looks like. I need to load and reload the sim all day every day so my goal is to minimize my load time and speed things up in general. Also, any screenshots that I post are of v9 global scenery because I don’t even have v10 global scenery. 🙂 So the moral of the story is, never try to pull any information out of developer screenshots outside of what the screenshot was taken to demonstrate (in this case the ILS antennae).

  6. Thanks for this, Chris Serio. Your dedicated work has been greatly appreciated. It shows itself in every version and update you guys produced. And I’m confident V10 will be no exception. Thanks again

  7. The dangerous thing about not having a strict deadline, is that a complex project like a flight simulator is never truly finished. At some point you have to say “OK, it’s good enough. Let’s polish it up and ship it!”. There will always be little bugs and glitches, or some cool feature that you would really have like d to implement but didn’t have time for.

    Also, you need at the least a few months at the end of the development cycle, when no one is allowed to add any new features. That time is needed to polish and debug existing features. With everyone adding new features or changing existing ones all the time, the sim will never be “finished”, because there’s always some brand new feature that’s still kind of glitchy and unpredictable but very cool.

    Let’s face it, X-Plane 9 was *far* from finished when it came out in 2007. The difference between 9.00 and 9.6x is just like night and day, two different sims.

    1. Hi Jimmy, you’re correct in your viewpoint. There will ALWAYS be some way to make things more realistic, prettier, faster and with more options. We’re not waiting on perfection or completion but there is a certain level of quality that we expect of ourselves and our customers will certainly expect from us. Once everything is perceived to be at or above that level, that’s when we’ll ship. And of course, v10.000 will be inferior to as we’ll continue to make things better. That’s the cycle of the product.

      As far as the strict deadline goes, I’ll have to disagree with you there. There are only so many things you can adjust. Date, feature set and quality are the big three. You can’t adjust one without affecting the others. We could certainly stick to a ship date but we’ll either have to drop promised features or decrease the quality. We can cut back (temporarily) on the quality of certain features but only so far until it becomes a product that people are very dissatisfied with. We chose to keep the feature set and quality constant and adjust the date.

      1. Hi Chris,

        Regarding ATC (I don’t want to pose this as a will-you-model-this question), by full approach, do you mean that I might have a chance to request, say,, a full ILS to a certain runway and be cleared to proceed via a chosen IAF?

          1. Thanks for the answer: I would like, as a hopefully-future-real world instrument pilot, like to add ONE more feature request (I’ll promise to just let you code after this, okay).. namely, assigned holding patterns/speed restrictions based on AI traffic density. I’ve lectured both air traffic controllers and pilots and many have hoped that you might be able to do the ATC features MS never did, at least some of them. Dealing with holding patterns and speed restrictions is a big part of the aviation-psychological unpredictability for people flying IFR, that could be practiced by people such as those I’ve taught aviation psychology to that could be practiced safely with XP (NOT VATSIM because of the lack of continous control coverage) . Thanks for listening to us pros as well — no pressures, just put these on your list somewhere if possible…

      2. “Date, feature set and quality are the big three. You can’t adjust one without affecting the others.”

        If you’re doing everything in-house, you have the freedom to cut out features, provided you didn’t promise too much of the product, too early. If you cut out an unannounced feature, no one is going to notice 🙂

        Not saying you should, but there’s hopefully an X-Plane 11 planned for the future. Personally I would like to see a more aggressive “major versions” cycle, as those are opportunities to update core components like the scenery system/DVD’s, graphics engine etc. That way, there wouldn’t be such a big “backlog” of stuff that’s starting to feel outdated and needs to be updated/rewritten in the next major version. The gap between 8-9 and 9-10 was a bit long IMO (3-4 years). But then, maybe I’m just impatient 🙂

      3. Hi Chris,

        Sorry for the delay in commenting, but I only discovered your blog yesterday. I have been reading A LOT of them since discovery and enjoying every minute! 🙂

        I have been a professional programmer since… well…, COBOL, DB2 and CICS. So, I think I am qualified to ask/comment the following. FYI – I may come off sounding like a prosecuting attorney, but my motivation is quite amiable. 🙂

        You said… “Date, feature set and quality are the big three. You can’t adjust one without affecting the others.”

        Too true! HOWEVER, there is a trap in those words development-wise. When you stated the focus was only on “feature set and quality” leaving “Date” to be free to roam about the calendar, you implied a reciprocal flexibility to “feature set and quality.” As Jimmy pointed out, this *is* “dangerous!” It is so because without the fence of a “Date,” features along with the quality of the product have no “police” to keep them in line. It’s just human nature.

        In light of the above, let me provide a litmus test which the LR team can use to determine *if* there is real accountability here…

        Q1: Has the “feature set” been finalized, i.e., a checklist of specifically and exhaustively defined features?
        Q2: Has the “quality” been quantified for specific parameters, i.e., FPS on ranges of machines, etc.?
        Q3: Has the actual metrics been graphed against the slope of “planned” completion?

        With the lack of a solid “Date,” the other two *have* to be set in stone; otherwise, you are just kidding yourself. “Scope Creep” can be a development team’s worst nightmare, but in some circumstances, it can also become their best friend as it will allow the innocuous (but deadly), “Oh well, it’ll just take just a little while longer to implement this.” Unless, these “just a little more…” episodes are recorded and tracked a programmer/development team will become immune to their overall effect. They will fade from memory in a fog. Once faded they no longer carry the power to push development, but actually become part of the siren’s song of “everything’s ok.”

        The bottom line is if the LR team has indeed established these constraints to “feature set and quality” then kudos to you and all is really well!

        If there is no whiteboard, blackboard, “NOTICE” stapled to the bulletin board or some other fixed and tangible “ruler” for completion, well, you guys need to rethink some things. I’m hoping for the former, but reality is reality.

        [Disclaimer – Since I am reading your blog chronologically, all the above may be old news, but my comments are based on the *feel* of the tenor and flow of what I have read to this point.]

        See, I told you I was friendly! 🙂

        Thanks for allowing all of us “inside” and may you and the Laminar Research team be blessed with skill beyond your experience and wisdom beyond your years!

  8. I’ll have to ask more as I’m rather excited. Are you planning on airspaces being standard size unless there’s one of these ATC packs installed? And Chris, THANKS for doing this 🙂 Please don’t be hurt or anything by my curiosity, it’s just that we’ve been waiting for something like this for so long…

    1. What’s going to ship by default for sector boundaries is still not certain yet so I cannot say but you will certainly be able to customize each controller’s sector in 3 dimensions to construct it as close to the real world as you’d like to.

      1. Why not ship some of the working custom sectors such as the Boston one you did, if it’s good enough?

  9. I hope theres a Chicago center because I one do not know how to develop or program anything, and second O’Hare is my home airport.

  10. I can’t help but falsely read out your name as chris serrano every single time I see it for a few ms. You don’t happen to like that kind of ham, do you? Anyway. Thanks for all the great input to XP10, I’m sure it will be one heck of a simulator when it comes out!

  11. Chris, thank you for your well reasoned and objective review of the state of XP10 and it’s release date. Your real problem is the disparity between rational public releases and the casual manner of Austin’s release notes. I know he’s the big boss and can say anything he wants. Then, when damage control ensues the masses get mixed messages and everyone goes away confused and uncertain. Simply put, LR’s product has reached a level of maturity where “the boss” should write what he wants to write, but then that gets washed and polished by someone more cognizant of the ramifications of a verbal miscue than Austin apparently is. He’s a wonderful genius and I’ll always be a fan of his product. But publicist and technical writer he is not. Austin: I love ya, buddy, but it’s time to treat X-Plane like the dominant product that it is. The whimsy has to go.

  12. Chris

    A number of weeks ago, perhaps a month or so, you said you would look to round up another screenshot posting like the neighborhood ones from all the way in early january. Just wondering, (aside from these brief un appealing shots of ILS, facades, etc) if some newer stuff is on the horizon and if the pace of shots will rev up soonish vs months between and or up till the unknown release date thats who know how far off:(

    1. I said that? I think you may have misinterpreted what I meant. I’m only going to post shots of the stuff that I’m working on. 99% of my time on desktop is spent on ATC so unfortunately, there are not really many images that I can post that wouldn’t fall into your classification of “unappealing”. Ben’s the king of the eye candy so if you’re looking for pretty pictures, you’ll have to wait for him to post something.

  13. Can you pass the note on to Ben to please post shots more often in relation to when something is out, even if its a different variation of a previous neighborhood for example. The fan base will greatly appreciate seeing posts frequently, no matter if its brand new or not, months in between is not great for fans. Besides, posting an image takes minutes if not less.


    1. Yes, posting a screenshot only takes a few minutes, but having to deal with the consequences (because there will always people who will read between the pixels, and interpret, and cook up things … etc) might take longer.

      Of course, there are already pretty visuals of XP10 – oh yes, some areas are coming along really nicely – but still many parts of that are “on the move”. And even if on its own the shots might look good (for example for me), lots of guys will begin to whine abotu “oooh, is there now xyz??”, or “oooh, why do you make xyz like that”, or “oooh, that green is not realistic” … etc..

      Still, I absolutely understand your desire for new screenshots (I like them too with any other software 🙂 ) … but Ben and Austin have to decide, when and what could/can be shown.

  14. Will the water/ocean be improved ? It would be nice to see some 3d swells, waves, etc… Take a look at Outerra Ocean Rendering !

  15. Hi, one more thing…

    For XP10, could you look at having the start locations in a drop-down a la FSX to be able to pick from more start locations? Especially now that we have AI, it would be nice to be able to start from more places…

  16. Please give the shuttle the ability to launch from the ground. G’s and stresses on the vehicle are just as important on lift-off as they are on re-entry. You have a whole “Orbiter space flight” international community Very intrested in this as well

  17. Sorry guys, this is not the appropriate forum for feature requests. Please limit the comments to things that pertain directly to the topic.

  18. Chris, thanks for the comments and all your work.

    As anyone knows who builds anything for a living, it always takes 3 times longer than what most people think it should. Expecting you few guys to crank out an “awesome” v10 in less than a year (I say 2 or 3) is really rather infantile. I have images of little children who have so many toys that they tire of a new one after 15 minutes, and want something “better”. No amount of effort from Laminar can satisfy that mentality. Did version 9 (and all the free addons that noone can keep up with) suddenly become completely unenjoyable and worthless just because a “newer version” is being worked on?

    I suggest that the gripers put their misguided energy into building something that actually makes X-plane better for all of us. Pick up the hammer and saw and go to work. Once you see how much effort and strain it takes to be creative in even the small things that you thought were so simple, then you will be able to begin to appreciate the massive effort these few guys at Laminar have been expending. There were hundreds of people involved in making MS2004, and how close to perfection was it? To see the achievement of X-plane from a few talented men is not only commendable, but a marvel. Let’s not expect Divine productions from mere men, but be thankful we have X-plane, with its many enjoyable features, at all.

  19. With the ATC you have modeled so far, how many A/C do you see being able to be simmed? Will you guys leave the door open for add-ons like Mytraffic X/ obviously not that exact program but if a 3rd party wanted to add more A/C and parking will they be able to?

  20. Too bad. I’ve lost interest in ver.10. I think way too much time has been spent developing iPhone versions. Most simmers don’t care about flying the shuttle. How much time has been put into that atrocity! Somewhere the ‘team’ has lost sight on putting out a proper, great, flight sim. Sad. I’ll stick with FSX, because, honestly, I don’t see a ver.10 ever being released. How many man-hours wasted on space flight? When Microsoft shut down you had a golden opportunity. Had.

  21. Hi. I just found x-plane, and was all set to buy my copy when I catch wind of v 10 coming. I would like to know if it would be a waste of time (and money) to purchase v9.XX now? If I DID purchase now and say v 10 came out in a couple months would I get a free upgrade, or would I have to buy it all over again?

    1. This is just my 0.02, and of course I’m biased because I work for the company but: version 9 is really cheap – it’s a pretty good value for all of the things it does. Version 10 will be better, but if you think you might get $30 of value out of a complete X-Plane install, go for it.

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