Well, that was something. I had a very nice post written up last week on the state of beta. We had spent a week very carefully trying to improve stability and then…beta 5 exploded on the launch pad.
So…let’s try this again. But before we get into beta 6, a few graphs:
That’s a graph of auto-reported crashes over time – the big spike up is April 2nd when 11.50 came out. The gap in the timeline at the end is when our crash reporter temporarily was shut off for exceeding quota! From this I can take derive two take-away points:
- A lot of people are really excited to try the 11.50 beta even though it’s early and unstable and
- The 11.50 beta crashes a lot.
The silver lining is that the crashes we have been collecting are very very informative so it’s been a really great data stream.
Here’s one more graph:
That’s bug reports and they’re up something like 1000% – we have received close to 1800 reports since then. Of these reported bugs, over 500 are in the category of “it crashed” or some other similarly catastrophic, bad thing happened.
So with those graphs in mind, let’s talk about where we are at with the beta.
Crawl, Then Walk, Then Run
If you read the 11.50 beta 5 release notes (and you should if you are filing bugs or commenting on the state of the beta), what you’ll see is a lot of crash fixes. As I said in a previous post, our order of operations is:
- Fix crashes and “that’s not right” bugs.
- Optimize VRAM use.
- Mop up remaining performance problems.
I’ve seen a lot of commentary on performance issues in the blog comments, and one user mentioned an .org thread where people were questioning how much VRAM Vulkan would require. But we’re not there yet.
I repeat: we’re not there yet.
As you can see from the graphs above, we’re still on step one: fix all the crashes! We have lots of ideas for improving VRAM and performance, and great tools to examine your particular case if you are seeing problems. X-Plane 11.50 is the first version of X-Plane where we can get a complete diagnostic picture of the sim on a user’s machine, and I think that’s going to really be great for debugging.
Reporting Crashes, Finding Crashes, Fixing Crashes
With beta 6, we have tried to refine the error and crash reporting when something goes wrong, and fix X-Plane’s on-screen recommendations.
Bugs You Don’t Need to Report
If you are on Windows (and most of you are) X-Plane will sometimes offer to auto-report crashes. This is probably the most useful thing you can do if X-Plane 11.50 crashes. If you send the auto report, you do not need to send us an email via the bug report form as well! As the graphs show, report volume is high and we don’t this duplicate information.
Bugs You Do Need to Report
The auto crash report feature does not work on Mac, so those users will still need to file a bug report manually, and they should make sure to include Apple crash report. In these cases, X-Plane will suggest that you report the bug to us, which you can do via the bug report form.
If you are on Windows or Linux and the auto crash report form does not come up, please try removing all add-ons before filing your bug report–plugin crashes will not bring up the auto crash report form.
Broken Scenery is Not A Bug
Last week we went through the crash reports with a fine tooth comb. One thing I found was hard-to-diagnose crashes due to corrupt scenery files. The sim was exploding during load, and nothing in the Log file could be traced back to the source problem.
We’ve been ramping up validation of these problems, and in some cases, it may result in your being told that a scenery pack is damaged. This does not mean we stopped supporting the scenery; it means it was always going to crash, and now you can see where the actual problem lies. This is not a bug, and you do not need to report it to us, unless you are the author of that pack.
If the sim says a file is damaged, it means the problem with the file is clear enough for the sim to go “nope, that file isn’t cool” without a human here looking at it – hence there’s no need to report to us and no auto-report.
If you are the author of such a file and you are mystified at what you did wrong, then by all means, contact us, and we will help you with the file formats.
Some Stuff Got Fixed
We fixed a lot of crashes in beta 5 and beta 6:
- ATC crashes (including null segments and friends) – four issues fixed. These fixes cover approximately 100% of the known ATC crashes. I’ll be looking at the crash reports like a hawk to see if anything else is still exploding.
- NVidia Macs work with Metal and MSAA; Hackintosh users rejoice.
- Plane-Maker wire-frame is back.
- Preview icon generation is now finally Metal/Vulkan-ready. Preview icons were actually our number one source of crashes!
- VR device lost the second time VR is enabled – fixed!
- Sidney killed off a big pile of bugs inside the Vulkan back-end that could cause device lost or too many command buffers. No guarantee he hit all of them, but hopefully this makes things noticeably more stable.
VRAM, Performance, Etc.
While beta 6 focuses on stability, we have made some progress internally on VRAM allocation and use, stuttering, and background CPU use; that stuff is tracked for beta 7, assuming beta 6 isn’t a door stop. We will post more on performance once we have some of the improvements in shipping betas.