Category: News

Status Update For XPlane2Blender!

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!

KingAir C90B

KingAir C90B Cockpit Lit Up At Night
KingAir C90B Exterior, Showing Flaps Animating
KingAir C90B Interior Seating

McDonnell Douglas F-4

F-4 Cockpit Showing Panel Textures And Dials Rotated

Boeing 737

737 Main Gear, Beginning Retraction Animation

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

  1. 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
  2. Ensure that ALL the OBJs in your project exports correctly with Blender 2.49b2 (the last version ever released) and our version of the 2.49 XPlane2Blender scripts.

    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!
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

XPlane2Blender’s UI and Custom Data in Blender 2.80

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!

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X-Plane 11.36r2 is out

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).

For aircraft authors looking to incorporate the new parameter into their planes, there is a much more detailed description here.

Full release notes here.

Edit to add: As usual, Steam release will be delayed about 24 hours–expect it to be live sometime tomorrow.

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X-Plane 11.36r1 Update

A minor patch is now available for LR customers. We expect to release this on Steam in about a day. You will need to run the installer and opt into betas to get this version. It includes improved C172 steering, an asynchronous map, and .lin fixes. Full release notes here.

Update: the announcement here says better C172 steering but actually the aircraft file has not been updated and behaves exactly like the C172 in the previous release. The physics model does have an update that allows authors to simulate bungee-cable steering (like the real C172 has) – we’ll enable this in the default Cessna soon.

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X-Plane 11.35 is final

It’s officially out the door! (Steam should go “final” later this evening, but you can get the final now by opting into public betas — it’s still marked as a “beta”.)  This was a fairly large release, and here’s everything it includes.

We expect to do a bug fix patch in the next week or three, depending on the severity of the seemingly inevitable “bug that got away” during beta testing.

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“But with the blast shield down I can’t even see…”

Observant Steam pilots flying VFR noticed that the Cessna 172’s windows were completely solid gray in 11.35 release candidate 1 – not a huge problem for IFR, but not great for site seeing.

This should now be fixed – if you let Steam update the app you’ll get the clear windows back.

This bug was totally bizarre and astonishing. The interior glass texture for the Cessna was missing from the installation, but not from the master files we build the sim from or from the Laminar version. As best as I can tell, Steam’s tool for building the sim just lost the file randomly. I rebuilt the Steam install this morning and the file came back.

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First 11.35 Release Candidate

X-Plane 11.35r1 is now available. You should be able to auto-update from within the sim as usual with this version.

This update should just about wrap up the beta for 11.35. If you haven’t tried your add on with 11.35 yet, you have pretty much missed your chance as we expect to mark 11.35 final and roll it out for everyone soon.

Release notes here.

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Let’s try this again: X-Plane 11.35b6

Beta 6 is now available to fix the hang with auto update. Please note that it will actually take two (2) rounds of updates to see the complete fix. B6 will still hang, but it contains the fix so that when you update after that, it should work as usual.

To get beta six, run the updater and click “get betas”. Once you have beta six, the next update will work normally.

Release notes here.

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Add-on Developers: Please Try X-Plane 11.35 Beta 4

X-Plane 11.35 beta 4 is now live – run our updater and check “get betas”. Release notes here.

Steam users: we’ll release this tomorrow if there isn’t a sign of a huge fire overnight – it’s already uploaded to the servers.

Add-on Developers: if you haven’t run your add-on in 11.35, please put it through its paces now. Everything that might be risky or weird is already in and we’re just killing off bugs now. If your add-on has a compatibility problem, we need to know now if we’re going to fix the problem during beta. While we’ve tried to make everything “just work” with old add-ons, there’s always the chance that your add-on does something special we didn’t think of. Please test now!

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X-Plane 11.35b3

Beta three is now available to LR customers, and we expect Steam to be available within 24 hours. This beta has the last of our planned code changes for 11.35 (in addition to bug fixes), so we expect the rest of the beta period to be focused on fixing regression bugs.

If you haven’t already, this would be a great beta to test your add ons in to ensure we haven’t broken them. If we have, get at us via the bug report form and be sure to include a copy of your add on.

Edit: 11.35b3 is live on Steam too now.

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FlightSimExpo 2019 Talk

Here’s our keynote talk from FlightSimExpo 2019 last week!

FSExpo 2019

Evans video team really did a fantastic job with the feed this year – everything was live-streamed in great quality, and the talk has a direct feed to the slides and good quality audio. Totally what we were hoping for!

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