A few betas went by and I didn’t have a chance to write things up. The short version:
- 11.10b8 just went up – release notes here.
- We’re mostly down to small bug fixes – no more big flight model changes.
- The next build will probably be 11.10rc1.
- We’ll get Steam updated in the next few days – Philipp’s been traveling a lot.
There are no remaining major enhancements that have to go into this beta. Here’s how some of the big technology changes played out:
- The new manipulators are in – I’ll write up a separate post tomorrow on those. They went into beta 6 (hence all of the weirdo bugs) and are now fully working.
- All of the new weapons code is in – dataref access to weapons is restored. Jörg has a few crash bugs to nail down with networking and weapons, but that’s it.
- Audio events had to wait – I’ll write that up in a separate post. They’re something we wanted, but realistically we never had time for them in 11.10.
- The last round of performance enhancements for graphics is going to wait for the next release patch.
The bad news is: AMD users aren’t running 11.10’s fastest path due to problems with our current code and drivers. The good news is: the next round of enhancements do work with AMD cards, so we can get back to treating them normally. That code is now looking reasonably stable, but it wasn’t stable early enough to make it into 11.10. I think it will be available in beta this year though.
Finally, there was an open question of how to use glScissors in a plugin with the new UI features (e.g. floating windows, multi-monitor, 150% UI, etc). As of beta 8 this is fully possible; I just need to get the sample code to Tyler to post.
Two flight model notes for aircraft authors – the executive summary of all of these is pretty much “it should just work and you don’t have to do anything.”
Steering Gear Rate Limiting
X-Plane 11.10 has an option to rate limit how fast gear that steer can turn. This is a good thing – in the real plane you just can’t turn that tiller very fast, but if you have a $20 Microsoft Sidewinder from 2002 with the throttle tab broken off (for example) you can twist it to full deflection almost instantly. When this happens, X-Plane turns the wheels instantly, and since they’re not at a 70 degree angle to your movement path, they skid like Ken Block landing a Baron. Once the wheel is in skid it has pretty much no ability to turn the plane and you just skid.
With rate limiting, the wheel will turn a little bit, and be able to put out side force, helping the plane begin to rotate. As this happens, you can turn more and gradually angularly accelerate the aircraft into a turn.
So … rate limiting is good – you should use it! But the compatibility code in beta 7 was pretty broken – it set the minimum rate to 1.0, which is way too slow for a bunch of aircraft.
Beta 8 fixes this – the minimum rate is 0 (meaning no limiting) and this is the default for 11.05 planes.
Here’s the warning: if you saved your aircraft in an earlier beta, you’ve baked in the long gear deflect time – you’ll have to go into Plane-Maker and turn the value back down again.
Just One Turbo-Prop Model
X-Plane 11.10 had two options for free turbine turbo-prop engine models: the “v10” and “v11” models; all 11.05 planes showed “v10” when loaded in Plane-Maker.
We’ve backed this out – there’s just one model, “turbo-prop (free)” in beta 8, and if you picked the v11 model, we’ll mark it back to v10 for you. (You shouldn’t be shipping aircraft saved in a beta anyway, but we check for this in the sim itself too.)
Here’s the back-story: X-Plane models the compressor turbine speed of a free prop turbine like the PT-6 as “N1” and the prop turbine speed as “N2”. Austin has come to regret this decision, as the prop turbine is a lot more like the turbine that drives a bypass fan in a high-bypass jet engine, and the compressor turbine is a lot like the turbine that drives the core in a high-bypass jet engine.
So Austin cut a new version of the engine model with N1 as the prop and N2 as the compressor, exactly backward from 11.05.
The thing is: while the new model matches Austin’s brain, it doesn’t match any aircraft ever made, and swapping N1 and N2 in an add-on is a pretty expensive update. Realistically we’re not going to ever deprecate the old model for the new one in any time frame if this much rework is needed.
So we’re keeping the new model ‘in the lab’ and not releasing it for now, as it doesn’t have significant changes in how it models the engine itself yet. This frees Austin up to improve it on his own schedule and frees us up from having to maintain another point of version compatibility. Since the new model doesn’t have any enhancements (other than renaming N1 to N2 and vice versa) you’re not losing out as an aircraft developer here.