After the X-Plane Developer Conference in Montreal this weekend (thanks to everyone who came and especially ToLiss for hosting/making us feel totally at home in Montreal) I thought “I should probably post something to the dev blog talking about what we’re up to.” I logged in and saw…I haven’t posted anything in four months.

So that’s not great. The truth is the X-Plane team is larger than it was in the v10 days and I spend most of my communications time talking to the internal team and third party developers.

I’m going to try to post once a week here. This sentence may be an embarrassing monument to lofty but impractical goals in another four months, but putting it in writing is a way to commit to it, and it won’t be the most embarrassing thing I’ve ever done.

Two Quick Store Notes

We announced the X-Plane Store plan in Montreal; Dellanie’s got a great FAQ there, but here for developers I just want to make two points clear:

  1. We are not locking X-Plane down. I totally get why people might think this because the iPhone app store is (1) a very prominent way to do in-app purchase and (2) the iPhone is locked down. But we are not doing that. All of the ways you get stuff into X-Plane will still work, including add-on installers, dragging folders around, you name it. Going through the store is not a requirement, and everything that works now will keep working. You won’t have to pay for freeware or re-buy anything.
  2. You will not have to be online all the time. Our current policy is that if you have an online license (an “XDD key”) you have to log in every two weeks or more to renew it. We are not going to switch to “all online all the time” – we know that this is impossible for a lot of our users and we consider maintaining this “renew the key every now and then” policy to be a requirement.

What’s Next: 12.1.0 and 12.2.0

We have two “big updates” planned right now:

  • 12.1.0 will ship next and is primarily a graphics release. RCAS, bloom, DoF, shadow softening, cloud shadow fixes, new decals, you get the idea. This update will also address a number of real weather bugs and transition to the new real weather servers.
  • 12.2.0 will ship after 12.1.0 and is primarily a flight model release. All of Austin’s advancements in prop blade dynamics, stalling and turbulence, etc.

Both releases will have a bunch of other stuff too; they’re big patches. I’m pointing to the graphics/FM divide because the decision to push one of graphics or physics in each patch is intentional to keep the scope of the beta under control.

We are aiming to get 12.1.0 into private testing this month.

What’s Up, Docs?

Probably only three people on Earth care about this, but after a decade (more walk of shame) I was trolled into updating the .net file format specification. So if this is interest to you, I apologize both for the delay and for the pain you are about to suffer. The road art file format in X-Plane is incredibly complicated and I don’t actually recommend anyone try to hack it, but it’s also not meant to be a secret.

Scenery, Now and Future

I am working to get water and orthophotos sorted out, hopefully for 12.1.0. We will also have a DSF recut (hopefully for 12.1.0 but maybe for 12.2.0) to address gateway airport boundaries and runway undulations.

In Montreal I discussed a little bit about the future of the X-Plane scenery system, but that’s complex enough to warrant another blog post.

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.

34 comments on “Blog Post Walk of Shame

  1. Thank you for this! I am curious about something tangentially related: how often do one or more people get excited about adding X or modding Y only to be reigned-in by someone else indicating that there’s only so much time that you all have?

    1. Every day ending in the letter Y? We have a long list of things we want to do, and for some it’s sad that they’re stuck behind must-do’s. I have a design for a next-gen particle system that is going to be wicked glorious, but it’s after a lot of other vegetables I gotta eat.

    1. Respectfully, that thread is more around what the X-Plane store will do to and its store rather than the XP community as a whole, sprinkled with some fearmongering and exaggerations from the “old timers” for laughs.

  2. “I’m going to try to post once a week here. ”

    *aggressive happy noises*

    dev blog posts are usually the highlight of my week… now if every week is highlight week… 😀

  3. A classical off-topic-comment-that-shouldnt-be-posted-here-and-will-make-Ben-mad: the angular dimensions of sun and moon still seem to be wrong. Is it considered a bug, and can I report it as such?

    1. Sun angle’s always going to be wrong because scatter from the near the sun disk is so much brighter than the screen exposure that it looks like it’s the sun itself. If you see the actual disc (we can do that in code, it’s analytical and exact), it looks stupid. So this one is, I fear, an aesthetic argument.

      Moon being the wrong side is almost certainly a bug – please file, I guess. It’s a 3-d model and it’s not actually far enough a way cuz z-buffer, so that’s just a bug. With that in mind it won’t be the highest priority bug.

      1. I suspected that, but I can confirm sun disc diameter is too big even excluding scattering effects (i.e. in outer space). Sun appears 3x bigger, and moon 4x bigger than they should be, so no small amount.
        I reported it as a bug.

  4. Good day Ben
    I’m running a full motion rig with 100% VR on Pimax Crystal and getting ~ 60FPS average. I’ll be happy to help with betas if needed. Doing X-Plane since V10. Mostly fly Toliss AC.

      1. Speaking of FPS, it seems that “performance improvements” are no longer on any list of what’s coming in future updates; have they all happened already?

        1. No, we have more FPS updates, but we are working on visual quality right now first. We’ll revisit perf once some other changes are done.

  5. Glad you’re back jere!
    Actually I had been contacting Austin about two weeks ago ss not even relrase notes for 12.0.9 did exist after having it installed, but Austin was “very busy” (to use these words), so I wondered: Did major team members die, or are they seriously ill? (You see what this silence caused )
    On the two-weeks “renew” requirement: It foes not mean that your license permanently expires If you fail to do so, right?
    For the shop: We don’t get nagging “please buy this and that” periodically, do we? (Owners of Luminar Neo might know what I’m talking about…)
    On docs: The standard planes could need better operating manuals, specifically the improved FMS is not documented for every plane that has it.
    New topic: Translations: Did you ever consider opening the translation process to the public? I once worked for an Android app using // to contribute my translations, and I thought it’s quite useful. From time to time I find some German translation issues, but opening a bug report for each seems overkill.
    BTW: the bug reporter could need sn overhaul: new categories like ATC, ground traffic, translations, etc.

    1. Hi Ulrich,

      I don’t know why you are emailing Austin re: release notes – he is not involved in their production any more than anyone else who codes (in that he is expected to leave some bread crumbs in the right place for the release team).

      On two week requirement: in the current sim, if you have a digital download key and you go off the net, it will go back to demo and stay that way _forver_ (once your time runs out) until you introduce it to the net. It has been like that since its inception in v10, and our view is that online product keys are not a good way to buy the sim for permanently offline sims.

  6. Not a single reminder of improving productivity, ambient lighting and eliminating the disadvantages of dark cabins, which the developers so confidently declared before the new year.
    It’s everything XP users have been begging for.
    This only suggests that the developers either cannot fix these flaws or ignore them.
    XP12 remains dead.

    1. We’re targeting a fix for dark cockpits for 12.3.0; some of the work for that is done and some will continue once 12.1.0 is debugged.

      Since changing the lighting will affect third parties, the plan is to be very careful about the validation of this work and do it only once, rather than thrash the lighting up a little, down a little, and disrupt add-on aircraft with every patch.

      1. Thanks for addressing the problem of dark cockpits. It makes the sim almost unusable for me, in some cases, so it’s a shame it can’t be done before 12.3.0.

    2. I hope this “flaw” includes a switch. As a PPL holder I prefer the realism of the current eye iris simulation.

  7. Nice to see you back and thank you for the notes on the store. I know what would be a great way to make you post more often. a “cone of shame” if you don’t.

  8. You mentioned a while back that there is a lot of artwork from XP11 that didn’t make it into XP12. I see that often enough in the form of small airports in XP12 that don’t have any building and other features, but which did have them in XP11. When is this going to be addressed?

    1. Happening slowly over time. Ex-vis got rebuilt in 12.0.8, new entity sync is happening (probably first visible by locking up the ground trucks) but not sure of the vehicle. There’s some internal work on a multiplayer lobby. But it’s going to take a while to get it all shipping.

  9. Is there any plans on getting new default aircraft for the sim? Or maybe the old aircraft included in X-Plane 11?

    We want the 747 back:)

    Also any news about scenery development? Is satelite imagry coming?

  10. With the scenery “recut” which will address airport boundaries and other things, can we PLEASE do away with the unrealistic “brush” that places an un-natural looking strip of nonsensical shrubery?

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