Thomson and Dellanie posted a preview of what’s coming in X-Plane 12.1 – click over to the news blog to see the pretty pictures. Short story long, it’s a graphics-intensive release, but it’s also a big release, with weather, systems, avionics and ATC updates too. What follows here is a few details for developers.

Private Alpha Builds Soon

As with all past X-plane 12 patches, we are planning to do a private “alpha build” test run with the developer lobby before public beta. We do this both to find out about add-on compatibility and to get the worst bugs fixed with a smaller test group. As of this writing, ATC is at the end of bug fixes, the last graphics changes are being tested, but my weather work is still mid-development.

New Toys for Scenery Developers (and Aircraft Modelers)

This release turned out to have a lot for scenery developers:

  • Water bathymetry and turbidity should be sorted out, making orthophoto base meshes with 3-d water possible.
  • The material system now features normal-map decals. These decals add high-frequency ‘texture’ to a surface by perturbing the normals (direction of light bounce) instead of just “painting’ them. This means better looking materials at different lighting angles.
  • LOAD_CENTER is now usable on OBJs. This means you can set the resolution of an OBJ to be based on distance to the aircraft (just like draped polygons and orthophotos); I think this has the potential to ensure that “land mark” OBJs (models used exactly once) are at their highest resolution when the user is near them without hurting VRAM in general.
  • If it passes test (crosses fingers), particle systems can be used directly from DSF objects.

The entire DECAL system (existing and new normal map decals) are also usable in OBJs for aircraft as well, and the particle system has received some upgrades that can be used everywhere.

One warning: the old “smoke puff” directive for OBJs from X-Plane 8 is now inoperative; with 12.1.0 we finally removed the old particle system completely. I suggest using the new particle system as it will give you real control over what kind of smoke comes out of your models.

New Plugin APIs

Two new plugin APIs are planned for 12.1.0:

  • New navigation APIs
  • An extension to XPLMAvionics so add-ons can create their own glass screens.

We are still putting finishing touches on the avionics APIs now, but this tech is very close to complete, and definitely usable.

Unfortunately we will not have a low level weather API in 12.1.0 – R&D on this is ongoing, but at least in better shape than it was before due to fixes to the internal weather code.

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.

18 comments on “A Few Notes on 12.1.0 for Developers

  1. Will the new bloom effect be noticeable in reflections too? (Sun reflection on fuselage, sun reflection on metal/glass buildings, light reflection on the fuselage…)

    Or is only noticeable on direct light sources?

    1. Yes, it will be noticeable on reflections. And as usual, we tried to mimic the way the _eye_ perceives the bloom, not a camera.

  2. I really hope that Laminar Research paid special attention to their SDK, in particular all the new features that came with X-Plane 12.

    I know a lot of people who want to create scenery for X-Plane, but cannot find detailed information on many things and do it at random.

    If you look at the number of sceneries that go into our simulator, their number is noticeably less than it was before. I think the best way to increase their number is with a high-quality and detailed SDK. Help them – and they will help you popularize the platform.

    It’s easier to make addons – there are more of them. More addons means more interest from users. More interest from users means more from other addon builders. And so on in a circle.

    I would like to see something really convenient and understandable, ideally video lessons or at least a text version with pictures and detailed descriptions.

    1. With 12.1.0 we’re catching up on docs too – we’ll have complete docs for DSF usage in 12, water usage, and we have dev conference materials we can turn into docs on the icing system.

  3. Hello Ben
    Thank you for keeping me updated. If I understand correctly that DSF will still be compatible and the water and orthophoto texture issues are to be fixed, does this mean that the meshtool terrain will work again? I currently have extremely detailed terrains and watersheds created in meshtool (Water from hydrometerology institute and for mesh geotiff at 10k lidar gen 5 resolution, +10cm resolution). I use them as terrain without orthophoto or as orthophoto with water carved out (bacgroun terrain natural, geotiff 0, shapefile terrain water) I insert bathymetric data from global scenery and everything works, even 3d water, just not overlaid with transparent texture. If I want working 3d water and overlaid texture I use terrain from meshtool and over it polygon with ortho,bathymetry again from global scenery and everything works beautifully.
    Will these sceneries still work in XPL 12.1?
    Another question is whether the patch in 12.1 will work with the meshtool scenery as before: bacgroun terrain natural, geotiff 1, shapefile mask water, geotiff 2, ( because this is currently absolutely not working in xpl and when I add bathymetry data from global scenery)
    So, after many weeks of trying, I’ve gotten this far, so I’d like to know which of these approaches will work or if neither will work.
    It’s also possible that this procedure of mine will help other amateur developers, as I haven’t shared this working procedure anywhere yet.
    Thank you for any answer

    1. Are you using overlay .pol files (like in WED) or overlay orthophotos fed directly into MeshTool? Your questions seem specific enough you should probably ping me on the developer lobby for a real discussion with other scenery devs.

  4. Ben, I would *assume* that using the new XPLMNavigation would *not* be backwards compatible with X-Plane 11.

    However, if the target AP data hasn’t changed format, it makes me wonder if I _shouldn’t_ be using the word *assume.* I only ask because users are still hangin’ on to the old version of the sim, and dropping support so that we can use our new toys is going to cause massive wailing and unchecked angst the likes of which have yet to be heard this side of the millennium.

    What do you think (or really, what do Amy and Philipp think?)…?

    1. You are correct. New XPLM APIs introduced with a new sim version require that host sim version or newer to support that functionality. We are not porting any SDK capabilities back to v11.

  5. Hi, I hope that the memory management, Host and in particular DEVICE memory, has been improved in situations of consumption greater than 8- GB of VRAM (I have a GPU with 16GB which I cannot exploit 🙁 ), with custom-scenario and plug-ins installed, because I have noticed that it goes into error (e.g. VK_MEMORY_PROPERTY_DEVICE_LOCAL_BIT) . Good continuation

  6. Please consider adding scenery view on each individual monitor. Removing aircraft paneling would allow better visualization of runway while in the traffic pattern.

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