If there’s one thing I hear over and over from our users, it’s this:
Why are there so few farm animals in X-Plane? The deer on the runway are my favorite feature in the whole sim! Why aren’t there more animals in X-Plane? Please add more!!!
Now first, I’m going to let slip a little secret, because I know you guys are desperate for tidbits on X-Plane 10. The big feature in X-Plane 10 that is taking us so long to get right: moose! While the deer on the runway aren’t going to clock in at much more than 300 lbs, a fully loaded bull moose weighs about as much as a C152 at MTOW. (At least, according to Wikipedia…I’m not convinced a C152 that weighs as much as a moose can get off the ground.) Trust me, you don’t want to hit one of these things, even in a 747.
But that’s not the big news here. The big news here is a new simulator product we’ll be releasing this fall: X-Farm. X-Farm will be the first animal simulator to work entirely from first principles. X-Farm will use shoulder-blade-element-theory to calculate the forces on each part of each animal’s skeletal structure to simulate what the animal would do in the real world. Wanna put the head of an alpaca on a gorilla? Go for it! (Actually, that’s a terrible idea – Camelids spit.) Think Rover would look cute with 6 legs and a stinger? Our animal-modeling application Animal-Maker will let you fully customize your animals.
X-Farm will feature a completely rewritten Animal Traffic Control (ATC) module, with AI Animals that wander around the farm on their own, and herding dogs to chase after them. (The initial version will feature only 20 animals at a time, but we’ll be able to scale this number up over time; the animal AI is fully multi-core for great performance on your new Core i7.)
It’s too soon for me to give specific hardware guidelines, but I’m thinking a DirectX 11-class video card will be best for X-Farm; we’re putting a ton of new shader features into the core engine to support fur on the animals and grass for the fields. The facade system is greatly enhanced and can be used to build a variety of fences and paddocks to keep your animals where you want them.
Finally, I think we’ll eventually be able to get plugin support into X-Farm, so that you can customize the behavior of your animals and create custom animations. Hopefully Wade and I will have time to port XSquawkBox to X-Farm (new name: XSquawk), so that you can create flocks of birds and let them loose in your favorite VATSIM ARTCC. I hear ZBW loves that kind of thing.
*EDIT (By: Chris): I added some screenshots for all the impatient followers who just can’t wait another second to get some sneak previews of some farming. Obviously these are still rough drafts. I’m still working on getting the farmer to look as muscular and rugged as I really do. It’s close but not quite right just yet. Please do NOT ask for more screenshots. We have a pact here as developers that I’ll explain to you a bit since Ben already let the cat out of the bag about the product. Each time we get a request for more screenshots we do two things: 1) We drink from our glass of scotch 2) We go to our whiteboards and move the release date of the product out by one full week. We do this to be spiteful of course. We have so many products stocked up here just waiting for release but it’s more fun to watch the mania ensue. Coming Soon; Surgery Simulator “Demonstrate that steady hand as you remove the remote control that your dog swallowed from his upper intestinal tract”. We’re still working on the price of this one but let’s just say we’ll be doing a wallet-ectomy on you. Post Office Simulator “You get to live the life through Postal Employee Newman’s Eyes. ‘The mail never stops!’ Stack and sort bag after bag of mail trying to beat your best score.” and finally Department of Motor Vehicle simulator “Take a ticket and get back in line”. We’re hoping to release this one around fall of 2012 but that depends on how many screenshot requests we get. This one is very unique. You can play the worker at the counter handing out tickets. You also get to instruct people to get into the wrong line and then laugh at them as it takes them 45 mins to figure it out. There’s also a level where you have to put your “Next Agent Please” sign up as fast as you can. Beat your previous times. Play with your friends on multiplayer! Who gets to take their 4 hour break first?!