Flightsimcon 2017

I just got back from Flightsimcon (I live close enough to Hartford that it's a day trip for me), but the show is still going on, and as you might have heard, we have X-Plane set up with built-in VR at our booth -- you can try it! Austin, Philipp, Chris, Marty, Alex and Jim will all be there tomorrow, so stop by if you can.

If you're local, stop by tomorrow - seeing the MD-82 cockpit in real stereo 3-d is something else. I've been working on VR support (on the rendering side) for the last few weeks and it's really made me appreciate what our art team does.

I also wanted to say thanks to everyone there who has been supporting X-Plane, and also to the rest of the LR team who didn't attend but who did the hard work that made today's announcements possible.

There is video of our presentation - if there isn't a better recording, Chris taped the thing, so we'll get it posted probably some time this week.

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About Ben Supnik

Ben is a software engineer who works on X-Plane; he spends most of his days drinking coffee and swearing at the computer -- sometimes at the same time.
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46 Responses to Flightsimcon 2017

  1. Different John says:

    Sorry that this is off topic, but I don't know how else to contact you. Just watched the metal 2 wwdc presentation, and it looks like they have a bunch of features that x-plane would benefit tremendously from, collapsing hundreds or thousands of draw calls to one, and getting a lot of work off CPU to GPU.

    It looks kinda exciting. You might be able to get huge gains from it.

    • Ben Supnik says:

      Yeah - Metal 2 looks like a nice next step for the API. With indirect argument buffers and heaps, Metal is now quite similar in Vulkan in how it addresses the GPU, which is good for us. And of coarse we need stereo viewport render for VR and fast shadows.

  2. Thanks for videoing the show Ben, can't wait.

  3. santiago says:

    I had my first VR contact recently and I was absolutely amazed of how immersing the experience is, I can't imagine how it will be in x-plane, I am sure than more than one person will try to open the MD window if the room is too hot.

    By the way, WED 1.6rc1 is working great, thanks!

  4. Alex Beavil says:

    I hope there's A VAB to go with my new lego Saturn V in 11.10!

  5. Andrew Hellyer says:

    Built in VR? When is this due out?
    I have an HTC vibe and use flyinside XP...are you saying that xp11 will natively support VR headsets soon?

  6. Frank Martinelli says:

    Saw someone else's video on Youtube. The new XP items sound real exciting and closer than I thought. Great job Ben and LR team. Cheers.

  7. Lee Baker says:

    Here's a video of the session. Got the link from Philipp's twitter:

  8. Steaven McKenzie says:

    Wish I could have made it. Baby is too close for me to leave. Really love everything you guys are doing. I always believed X plane is the future and your dedication and willingness to listen to your consumers are I think one of your most genuine strong points. Keep up the awesome work~

  9. Taylor Zoppi says:

    Ben do you have the video that you actually showed during the VR presentation. It was like a 9 minute demonstration video of VR. Thanks!

  10. Udo Thiel says:

    Regarding VR support. Now that Apple announced going big on it, what is the status on X-Plane and VR on the Mac?

    • Ben Supnik says:

      We're glad to see that Apple is integrating Steam VR - since that's our API for Windows it makes porting a lot easier.

      With that in mind, we have to get to Metal for VR. VR is very performance sensitive and VR without stereo-viewport rendering is super painful. So while users will need to wait for High Sierra to ship (to have access to a production OS with the capabilities) our port to a fully working Metal build may take longer. My guess is VR ships before Metal and the Metal port ships with VR "on" from day 1.

  11. Luca says:

    Hi Ben, it sounds great.
    Out of curiosity are you guys planning support or some sort of api for VR in-cockpit dials/knobs switches control? I'm thinking hand tracking really but even VR compatible mouse control would be quite useful in the future

    • Ben Supnik says:

      Unclear - we have thought about it...the old manipulator system had very little third party support, and as a result plugin authors have done crazy things to "make it work." So a "plugin" manipulator driven by API is not insane.

      If you have specific requests that'd be useful for us to understand.

  12. Bruno says:

    Those are good news indeed. So I'll hold off the purchase of FlyInside for now. Hope this is available soon to us!

  13. ChrisOak says:

    VR? Really? I don't belive that! Native technical vr-support? I have been never flown without flyinside for weeks anymore (this great vr-app for x-plane, fsx and p3d). I'm getting to die if there will be native vr support for x-plane.
    Ben honestly you are kidding, don't you?

  14. Steve.Wilson says:

    From what I've seen, this conference only builds more on what we saw last October. Amazing.

  15. Omar says:

    You guys should really upload the VR sneak preview on the X-Plane YouTube channel. I mean WOW!

  16. Tom Knudsen says:

    Could you please elaborate on why VR is so important for X-Plane. I have had dev kit 1 and 2 also tested the Oculus final product. But they all made me motion sick. So ironic enough you could with that in mind be air sick even when stuck on the ground using X-Plane 11.

    So why is it important for LM to do this feature?
    Also, does it not cost a great deal to get VR gear these days?

    I have not tried flying with X-Plane and VR, tried it with War Thunder (steam) but still got queazy

    • Ben Supnik says:

      The dev kits are _not_ good proxies for VR. VR is not going to eat all of flight sim, but it is going to become one of the major ways of interacting with a sim. A single VR headset (now $600 - less than a top tier graphics card) gets you a very immersive configuration.

      The other big win of VR is for VFR flying. Flying a pattern in VFR is much, much better than using a conventional monitor because you can just look over your shoulder to see where the runway is and it's instant, easy, and all of the spatial relationships are exactly right. When you flare, you can just 'tell' how high you are.

      So it's going to matter for flight sim, and thus it's a part (but not the whole) of what we're working on.

      If you get motion sick - don't use it...all of the FPS and quality benefits of the work under the hood (3-d sound, realistic lighting, performance tuning) will still be there even AFTER you turn the VR checkbox off.

      • Tom Knudsen says:

        That is what I did draw from the "state of the platform" talk, so the future is bright.

      • Massimo68 says:

        VR seems really exciting, but for the life of me I cannot understand how one can interact with the physical hardware (yoke, throttle, mouse, ...) since one would be blind in the real world ... could you elaborate how you will overcome this?

        • Ben Supnik says:

          You grab it with your hand. 🙂

          Chris and I have been thinking that a sane way to leverage physical hardware is to use one VR controller. One is enough to touch any part of the cockpit, teleport, and use our UI. Use your other hand HOTAS-style on a yoke or control stick and have tactile feedback.

          You will probably want to put your joystick somewhere reasonable - when you have the VR controllers, their physical location in the VR headset is in "real world scale". In other words, if you take a controller off and put it on a desk, you can probably grab it with your hand _without_ being able to see the room because your body knows where your hand is (proprioception) and your eyes know where the controller is because the headset is to scale.

          • Rolf says:

            Nice approach. We had a project called virtual haptic. It can be that easy?

          • Marius says:

            As a Vive owner, that's exactly what I've been thinking. Just have the controller next to you and use it whenever you need it, and use your traditional controllers otherwise.

            *Really* looking forward to this! Also followed along the presentations online, well done on the presentation and panel!

          • Mark Ellis says:


            I don't know if this has been considered but some of these headsets have a camera. I wonder if a Picture in a Picture approach might work for interactive with a desktop cockpit. As an example, I have the saitek panels and a pair of cougar MFD's. I can control all most all cockpit activities with these. If I could temporarily pop open a picture in a picture showing the headset camera that might help with some real word interaction. Just a thought.

            By the way, I was at the conference and tried your native VR support. The depth perception is what is selling me. I still think I would need to wait for the higher resolution headsets. The cockpit is too grainy for my taste but I can see that this is going to be the future.

    • Hannes says:

      Hi Tom,

      VR is very very important for fixing problems like ground texture shaking.


  17. Marco O. says:

    Hi Ben,

    is it correct to say that the goal for LR is to have 60+ FPS at high settings, so that (for example using things like asynchronous timewarp) it can use a 120Hz or 90Hz VR headset?

    • Ben Supnik says:

      More or less. Our goal is 60 fps on single monitor desktop and 45+ fps VR stereo (including the cost of compositor) so that with async time warp we can run at 90.

  18. Steve.Wilson says:

    Ben - Last fall's presentation was critical of VR's resolution. Has any product reached the clarity level that you all feel it needs to be a full time sim environment, or is hardware still working to catch up to what you can do in the software?

    • Ben Supnik says:

      Simmers always comment on the res. I'd say the shipping HMDs have _not_ reached a res where you'd want to be all HMD all the time for all types of flight. In particular, if you're going to fly IFR heads down, it's not great and res limits hurt. For VFR, what we have now is, I would say, fine. Having flown sims first, flight instructors are always telling me to read the gauges less and look out the window more - VR is perfect for that.

      Samsung apparently announced an 800+DPI OLED, so there's hope in the future for better readability. Right now you're better off if you know where your switches are - you can make them readable by getting close to them, but it's awkward.

      • Steve.Wilson says:

        That's good to know, thanks! After yesterday, and considering the project I'm consulting on now, I started to seriously jones for an HMD as of yesterday - and I'm one of those climb in the simpit sorts of flight simmers. Immediately I thought: best of both worlds. A flip up display...

        • Ben Supnik says:

          Ha - that would have been handy when coding. I'm sitting there with the HMD on and everything dies and .. take the headset off -- oh, a breakpoint. Sigh.

  19. Christophe says:

    Hi Ben, guys,

    What for people with prescription goggles ? is it "wearable" with (small) goggles or do we need to create a setup (if any) with the device driver ? (rethorical question since it's not a good idea to override prescription goggles by something barely tuned)

    Thanks !

  20. Marius says:

    Very exciting times for X-Plane!

    Is there a time frame for the new lego brick items? Will those be in 11.10?

    Also, how many times did you get asked about seasons at the convention? 😉

    • Ben Supnik says:

      We're aiming for 11.10, but I can't promise that any given thing will be in 11.10 - if 90% is done for 11.10 and a few things are not ready, we may kick them to get the release out so that more features ship earlier. They're definitely important to us though!

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