Hello there!

Well, this is embarrassing. I’ve been meaning to post to the dev blog for months now; all sorts of new features, important bug fixes, and interesting tech has gone by. As you can imagine, it’s been really, really busy with the release of X-Plane 12 and subsequent updates, plus a number of us spend time in the dev lobby trying to help third parties and sharing pre-release experimental code.

So this post will be a quick overview of some of what has been going on and what is coming.

Move Fast and Fix Things (Hopefully)

Since we shipped X-Plane 12.00, we’ve been aiming for a fast tempo for updates and patches; more frequent, smaller patches so we can get key bug fixes to the entire community quickly. X-Plane 11 had one or two updates a year, and each update would take three months in beta because it was crammed to the gills with features. We’re targeting less than a month with these patches.

Here’s what we have shipped so far:

12.01 – lots and lots of bug fixes, new weather datarefs, and new OBJ features to help aircraft authors move to X-Plane 12.

12.02 – fixed memory leaks.

12.03 – scenery fixes, approach light fixes, and library elements to unlock the X-Plane Scenery Gateway

12.04 – in beta now! New plugin APIs (dataref introspection, sound APIs, weather APIs), weather fixes.

If there’s a theme here, it’s sanding down the rough edges of 12.0 and making sure third parties can create add-ons for v12.

Some Details: Sound

In X-Plane 11, we moved to FMOD as our sound engine; in X-Plane 12, X-Plane does not use OpenAL at all. Add-on developers have two choices:

  • You can still use OpenAL, but you have to include it in your add-on yourself.
  • Use FMOD! The X-Plane SDK has a new XPLMSound API that provides basic sound capabilities and a bridge to FMOD for advanced use.

Using FMOD lets your add-on create sound within X-Plane’s 3-d environment.

Another way to add sound: in X-Plane 12, objects added by plugins via the XPLMInstance API can include .snd files and attached sounds, just like aircraft. We use this on our ground trucks, and you can use it too.

Some Details: Approach Lights

In getting the scenery system ready for Gateway authors to create airports, we fixed a few long-standing problems for approach lights:

  • Approach lights will now appear over water even if you use a pier. So you can model the piers for approach lights (e.g. at KBOS, KSFO) while using the built in approach lights.
  • Approach lights can sit on top of gantries when they need more height, like you’d see at KBWI (see runway 10) or Dallas Love Field.
  • The scenery has the approach lights and approach path cut out from the autogen so you can see the lights and make it to the runway. You don’t need to use exclusion zones – the cut DSFs are more precise.

Always use the built-in approach lights – you cannot create the ‘rabbit’ strobe in an approach sequence by hand-placing the lights, so we wanted to make the built-in ones work.

What’s Coming Next

There’s a lot more we’re working on, which I’ll discuss in a future post, but here are a few hilights:

  • The airbus FMC is close to being ready to show – there’s a ton of new tech there.
  • We are rewriting a piece of the rendering engine to use VRAM much more efficiently. This should help fix blurry textures.
  • Lots of bug fixes and improvements to cloud rendering, including performance optimizations.
  • Bug fixes and improvements for physics and systems.

Several features are down-stream of improving VRAM efficiency:

  • We’re not happy with how orthophotos and the new water system interact, but we need the more efficient VRAM system to fix this. I’ll post about orthophoto authoring as soon as we have more information.
  • We have improved bloom, also dependent on the new VRAM system.
  • We may bring back a lighter version of exposure fusion – this will be up to the art team to decide if or how they want to use it.

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.

52 comments on “Testing 12.01, 12.02, 12.03

  1. The gap between developer blog comments was just simply too long. I understand that the development process is hard, even cruel sometimes and time is precious… but we need, needed more information on what was going on at a vital time in the beta process…

    1. Yeah -a lot of things that would have been posted here were just discussed in the developer lobby….when those things affect 3rd party development that’s probably fine but it does leave a gap in everyone else’s knowledge.

  2. It’s not embarrassing, Ben; but it’s nice to read you, indeed. 😉

    Thanks for these news, few things are still to iron here and there but v12 is already lovely.

  3. No word on V.R yet ? …when will it be looked at, its really very poor right now, especially the total lack of working anti aliasing . some hope would be appreciated for V.R users !

      1. Appreciate the reply Ben.. for a lot of VR users what we see is WAY worse than the 2D version (AA you already know about ) compared to other sims .
        There was some talk at least of looking into improving VR (maybe even making it run OpenXr natively) is there any timeline for that?

          1. What about performance? There’s plenty of tips and tricks on the interwebs guiding folks to install OpenXR libraries and toolkits to improve performance. Probably also a fair bit of misconception among users regarding what doors it opens on your end.

  4. It’s good to see you back. We’re eager to hear about fixes for AMD GPUs (like zink), FPS drops caused by scenery and for AA.

  5. Stutters with high FPS (up to 100) in 2D but surprisingly very smooth and no stutters in VR (Valve Index). Is that something for which you would want a bug report? If yes, with what supporting evidence?

    1. Not right now, no. We have a bunch of things we are already working on that will change perf a lot and we wouldn’t get to the bug report before it is invalidated by our changes.

      At this point we need to finish what we’re already improving, not gather more data.

  6. Hey Ben, good to hear you are alive!
    Any impressions / shots / details you can share with us from behind the scenes?

  7. Hey Ben,

    Any update on the Anti-Aliasing issues? For my little brain, I would assume VRAM optimizations might affect that in a positive way?

    1. No. AA is a complex subject and needs a thorough treatment. I’ll discuss it here when we have a fix in the works. VRAM and clouds need to get closed out first.

      1. I am *deeply* interested in a thorough treatment of this. I look forward to it 🙂

        As you write it, know at least one person is anticipating it with baited breath.

  8. Any under the hood work on multiplayer going on? I know it’s a long process of integration with the mobile platform, as per Meyer wish, but should we expect anything in that regard this year? At least for the desktop sim?


  9. New plugin APIs (dataref introspection, sound APIs, weather APIs), weather fixes.

    –> I could not find any updated SDK / documentation about it. Any idea when this will be available (or where it is available)?

    1. Real Soon Now™. They’re available in the dev lobby, and we’ll get them on the developer website as soon as we can get the WordPress goo sorted out, something that I think is mostly done.

  10. Hello Ben, good to see some more of what’s in the works. I see clouds are due for some work, which is good as in some situations they are not bad, but in heavy cloud they look like blocks of dirty ice cream.
    Keep up the great work, XP 12 is getting better and better.

  11. Hello Ben, good to see more of what’s going on in the works. I see you are looking at clouds, in light cloud they are not to bad, but in heavy and overcast conditions there’s a lot of blocking.
    All the work is paying off, XP12 is getting better and better.

  12. What’s the word on implementing Zink? I have some openGL windows that are flickering on linux with an AMD gpu.

    Love to see the return of dev blogs! Seeing this program improve real time has been such a nice trip!

  13. Thanks for the updates Ben, missed hearing from you. Awesome to get a handle on the behind the scenes progress for those of us not in the slack group.

  14. Hi Ben, beside AA and strong shimmering which really are a pain in the eyes, my other main immersion problems so far are the black squared artifacts around mountains and inner water (lakes and rivers) coastlines visibile through cloud transparency at sunset.

    Also, inner water coastlines when using a photoreal overlay over the default mesh look bad as the water is many meters below the coastline altitude.

    1. Yeah we’re aware of the orthophoto water issue – we have an idea on how to fix it but we need our new VRAM management system to implement it.

  15. It’s good to have you back Ben. I got the feeling that with the new marketing approach you were taking a step back from the comms, but your insight is not replaceable if I might say so for anyone that wants to be engaged with development and the more technical aspects of the sim.

    We do not need to hear from you every week, but a monthly check-in would be greatly appreciated by all of us here, no doubt. 🙂

  16. “New plugin APIs (dataref introspection, sound APIs, weather APIs),”

    These documented yet? SDK link still points to September 2022 version of 400 and I’ve not seen any documentation updates.

      1. When the new SDK goes live for the masses, I’d like to suggest updating the “Hello World” plugin example so as to include Apple Silicon calls. That’s always a good starting point for newbies to plugin development, and sometimes newbies get utterly lost in XCode. 😉

        1. There’s no calls to be changed (and thus nothing in the readable sample to change) – Apple Silicon support comes from (1) the new SDK having ARM64 binaries and (2) the _example project_ that you get when you download having universal architectures enabled. The first thing is definitely a done deal for the XPLM400 SDK, the second thing is in the works but I don’t know when we ship it.

  17. Great news. Thanks you. In the last 12.04b2 i have problems loading scenery texturas. Os this a bug?

  18. Really appreciate the update and loving the new sim!!!

    One observation on clouds … in RL, cumulus at a distance appears to have really crisp edges ( the cauliflowers you see in towering cumulus or CBs )

    It’s only when you get much much closer that the edges become wispy and soft reflecting the fact that this is water suspended in air. Right now, all 3d clouds are “fluffy” with no really perceived “hard” edges.

    IDK if this helps to draw distant clouds one way and nearer clouds in 3D ( kind of like you are doing with 3d trees )

    Just a thought ….

    1. A correct observation – those crisp edges are harder for the GPU to do than soft ones because they require more samples to get the ‘high frequency’ change (sharp = high frequency = more samples = more compute). Daniel’s done a lot of optimization on the clouds internally which will address some quality issues.

  19. Any updates on the sim to be able to show different water depth? Like turqoise water near the shore or in tropical beach regions?

  20. Will the Airbus sounds be included, such as the A/P disconnect cavalry charge, stall warning, GPWS etc. ?

  21. Hello, can’t we have a page dedicated to the weather that we can call with a key and which includes all the data and the wind layers of the place where the plane is and that of the arrival by entering the ICAO code, currently I use the instructor page which is not complete.

  22. I’m impressed with the advances in cloud depiction.
    It appears to me that clouds are being suppressed by a “tops” limit in some way. This gives a flattened unlifelike look when viewed from above.
    The cliffs like shapes seen in cloud formations, might these be caused by weather reporting point regions? Tile edges?

    1. We do sometimes have a tops limit – one of the things that makes it tricky to debug the clouds is that they can do almost anything given the right real weather file. We’re doing a bunch of work on this now.

  23. What is the word on Seaplane and Flying Boat physics with relation to docking with piers? I have witnessed some physics wrt new WED 2.5 hangar ramp starts. Nudge the AC so the CofG is just over the edge of the hangar roof and down see goes off the roof. So it would be nice to coast up to a pier and have friction slow you to a gentle stop rather than climbing up the wharf and tipping over. Not a dev just a seaplane lover and WED artist

    1. The piers don’t work right because facades can’t have vertical hard walls – it’s on my todo list but it’s not first. OBJs with hard walls should work for custom scenery.

  24. Ben, two questions

    1 does Laminar considers doing high resolution areas with important/interesting airports (like SBSP that sits on the top of a plateau or NZQN where, well, have you seen an approach to there?)?

    Finally, I sent a bug report regarding some runway textures and the threshold markings, for FAA and easa being wrong, but not sure if it should be sent to wed or Xplane

  25. Hate to be a pain, but under ‘What’s Coming Next?’, ‘highlights’ is missing a few letters.
    I just thought I would point that out before others do!

  26. I’ve experienced a bug..

    If I move the camera close to water and pan the camera up then the water gets really weired! It make all imaginable artifacts possible, blue all over my screen with many shapes.

    Is this going to be fixed anytime soon?

  27. Please consider reviewing the v12 keynote video and updating customers on features that haven’t been delivered. (Example: civic/commercial/ports/stadiums/lighthouse autogen).

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