This summer when Marty asked if we could run the Vulkan version of X-Plane on our machines at the show I laughed a bit and then said “hell no” – at the time we were running scenery packs in the sim with default aircraft, but Vulkan was still a work in progress.
Vulkan is still a work in progress, but there has been a lot of progress, so when the marketing guys asked again I said “sure, yeah, what could go wrong” and Sidney cut them a build. We also told them not to throw out the shipping version, but if the app is well behaved people at the show may get to fly the Vulkan build for the first time.
Betas, Betas, Everywhere
At this point I’d judge us to be in the middle of the X-Plane 11.40 beta run. Beta 6 is reasonably stable and has fixed a bunch of problems that broke third party aircraft, and it’s now available to steam users. We’re still tracking down a bug where the physics code produces a NaN value. Since it just happens while flying and we haven’t gotten any useful reproduction steps, we’re pursing it by adding more checks and looking at automatic crash reports.
Please, always auto-report your crash. We don’t need you to fill out the description text field – just the auto-report and email is enough. We are looking for as many reports as possible, and we will probably stick with two betas a week until we chase this one down.
Third parties: if you haven’t yet, please test your add-on with the experimental flight model off against beta 6 – we don’t have any known bugs with the legacy flight model and third party aircraft at this point.
We are also killing off the last beta bugs in the new version of X-Plane mobile. There’s some really cool tech going into the lighting on mobile that I’ll write up soon in a blog post.
Beta 6 is now available for LR customers, and we expect Steam to be available within 24 hours.
This is another small update, with the main bug fix being for plugins trying to override engines. We also added a new feature: aircraft authors can now specify a preferred climb speed for when their aircraft are used as AI.
UPDATE: We received a high volume of crash reports over the weekend with this beta. Because of this, we did not release it on Steam. We hope to have another beta out ASAP to help address the crash frequency.
After some unfortunate delays, the 2.49 converter is released! The instructions for installation, configuration, and use are quite long, so I won’t copy them here as usually do. To download the files, scroll down to the bottom of the page to “Assets”.
The GitHub page has an updated copy of our the 2.49 scripts. Download and install them.
The converter will only get better from real world examples, so please send me your feedback and screenshots so I can fully understand the world of 2.49.
And don’t worry, it was designed to work without Blender 2.49 if needed.
Download here! I can’t wait to see life breathed into these old projects!
We have a lot of exciting news for XPlane2Blender users on three fronts: the Blender 2.49 Converter, Blender 2.8 support, and v3.5.1-beta.2!
Firstly I want to say a huge thank you to all the community for all your patience, advice, and support during this time of heavy development and slow releases. One of the biggest changes, I think, to XPlane2Blender in the last few months has actually been all of you! I’ve asked for advice and gotten constructive comments in droves, I’ve asked for projects and I’ve gotten example files to work with! I even asked for help with contributions to the project and gotten several pull requests to merge! Your passion for Blender and X-Plane inspires my passion for making the tools you want and need!
Now for the details!
The 2.49 Converter
The XPlane2Blender 2.49 converter has been in development for nearly a year, and the alpha is almost here. Some doubted if it was even possible to save these old projects, but the results speak for themselves. Observe these screenshots of Laminar Research’s KingAir C90B, F-4, and Boeing 737 that have been converted and exported with XPlane2Blender for 2.79!
McDonnell Douglas F-4
These are not proofs of concept, they actually work very well! Animations, manipulators, panel textures, meshes, lights, OBJ directives like shading, no shadow, DISABLE_DRAW, ATTR_light_level, and more, autodetecting textures, and preserving workflow features like picking the same OBJ file names and BULK export vs Regular export are all in the alpha. Basic scenery objects also convert, but some directives aren’t included yet.
We are not feature complete, and it will never be perfect: pre-conversion and post-conversion fixes will likely be necessary. However, spending only a day or two for the conversion is far better than redoing years of work!
Getting Your Old Projects Ready
The alpha is about two weeks away from release. In that time I HIGHLY recommend finding your old projects and doing the following
Make backups of your files, because there is no return if you accidentally save over a 2.49 file after opening it in 2.79
If you are able to do so and it can run in X-Plane 11.36, the converter has a very good chance of bringing it forward with few things to fix post conversion.
The big thing I’ve noticed is that DataRefs usually need to be fixed as future versions of X-Plane added more that made unambiguous Datarefs ambiguous.
I’ve noticed that some Blender 2.49 Datablocks have become “haunted” – where it crashes Blender 2.49 if clicked on or changed. I have no idea why or how. I can’t see a pattern or do anything about it, so take notes as these objects may need special attention post-conversion. If you have ideas, let me know!
Also be on the look out for game properties with bad values, like an “litlevel” that is missing a dataref, or a “GLOBAL_tint” that doesn’t have two numbers separated by a space. X-Plane may fill in defaults, but the converter doesn’t. Don’t worry, the converter will help find some of these – as long as the property names are spelled correctly!
If you are unable to run Blender 2.49, the converter may still work but you won’t get a chance to clean up the file and correct mistakes – it may require a lot more work post-conversion if you even get the chance. I highly recommend finding an old computer in the attic if needed.
Most importantly, make sure you have the DataRefs.txt that 2.49 was or is using during export. Otherwise it may be impossible to correctly convert animations.
The cleaner the input file, the cleaner the conversion, the better the 2.79 file. That is why I’m releasing this guide before releasing the alpha – so that some of this work can be done beforehand and day 1 questions will be about the converter and not 2.49 problems.
One last note: Releasing our internal version of XPlane2Blender for 2.49 does not indicate support for it. It is merely there to help prepare your project for use with the converter. Remember, we’re trying to run away from 2.49 as fast as possible.
Blender 2.8 Support
A person recently e-mailed me: “Will Blender 2.8 have support before the New Year?” My answer: Yes! Yes it will! Don’t lose hope!
During the alpha cycle for the converter I will be finishing the alpha for Blender 2.8 as fast as possible. We’re very close – the UI is working and I’m about half way through figuring out which API calls need to be replaced and how.
Before September is over you will start seeing more commits on the 399-blender-28-support branch. To keep up the hope, check out this screenshot of the BD-5J Microjet in XPlane2Blender in 2.8!
v3.5.1.beta.2 + Pull Requests
When I put out a desperate plea for some help developing the project I was gladly surprised by Kim Brandwijk, who has made several high quality pull requests that are small enough in scope to be added to v3.5.1.beta.2. I regret that I did not have time to merge them in a timely matter, but now with both alphas releasing soon all users can look forward to some excellent optimizations and speed increases soon. Hopefully the pull requests and community development can pickup some energy again.
I hope you all are as excited about this as I am! It has been a long summer of lots of coding, but I think people will be very happy with all the new features! Stay tuned for more news!
LR customers can now get the first public beta of X-Plane 11.40 by running the installer, checking the box to get betas, and completing the update. Steam will most likely be available tomorrow, barring any unforeseen crises with this build.
This version update includes the modified C172.acf and C172_G1000.acf that use the new nosewheel steering parameters, so you can try out the new bungee steering in default aircraft now. We’ve heard pretty positive feedback on the new handling from the pilots we’ve asked to try it so far!
The interaction of the nose wheel with the rudder and brakes now closely resembles a real C172: The nosewheel is no longer rigidly connected to the rudder, but by a spring-loaded steering bungee. This connection allows a steering angle of about 10 degrees, giving you three times the precision in steering that you had previously! But sometimes you don’t want precision, you just want to make a tight turn – in that case, you use differential braking. This will pull the plane around in a tighter turn, and with the new steering bungee, the nosewheel will follow that turn without skidding, because it can castor beyond the steered deflection.
If you don’t actually have hardware brake pedals, X-Plane will add the differential braking for you when you ask for maximum rudder (using your joystick twist axis).