Wednesday, November 29, 2006

FSX Satisfaction

I've been very busy these last 4 weeks or so and haven't had the chance to post any thoughts on FSX.

Anyway FSX now has been well and truly reviewed so there is little that I can add. I think the series of reviews at SimHQ by Chris “BeachAV8R” Frishmuth are among the more accurate reviews out there. I tend to share most of Chris's observations and recommend that anyone still sitting on the fence on FS X read these.

SimHQ also have a video of TrackIR4 in FSX for download. Impressive and well worth viewing.

I must say that I find flying in FSX an incredibly satisfying experience. The first thing that I always notice is the smoothness of FSX. Even at 19fps FSX provides a smoother stutter free experience than FS09 does at 100fps. In testing my aircraft under development I fly in FSX and FS9 several times a day jumping from one to the other. I also test many other aircraft for comparison. FSX always impresses me in comparison to FS9 and also CFS3 and OFF both in terms of sharpness, detail and smoothness. When it comes to smoothness I find that OFF is the worst performer of the four unless one really turns down scenery and terrain settings in OFF. These days CFS3 performs well on most computers though it too met a similar reception to FSX when released.

It's a pity that people are having issues with FSX. I can understand people who have invested a fortune in FS9 addons not wanting to move to FSX at the present time, though they eventually will want to. When FS9 was released I waited 5 months before buying it. I was quite happy with FS2002 and CFS3 was occupying much of my time at that point. From what I have read demand for the deluxe version of FSX has exceeded supply. So in that sense FSX appears to be a success.

As to the future, MS ACES have a Vista/DirectX10 update planned for next year. Phil Taylor of Microsoft ACES posted a statement at AVSIM a few weeks ago concerning performance issues in FSX and the DirectX10 update. This post was accidently deleted by AVSIM however it was copied and re-posted at simFlight. I'll quote a small part of this post as to what Phil Taylor said ACES are looking at :-

"We are following two paths:

Path 1

An investigation is under way to understand if we can do something that is:
1) targeted and isn’t a complete rewrite, and
2) gives real customer benefit.

That investigation includes areas of performance. I cannot comment on the full roster of issues under investigation, I can only say that if there are results worth reporting I will be back.

Path 2

Aces is making a commitment to a freely available Web download DX10 update that will enable all FSX RTM purchasers to upgrade to DX10 support on Windows Vista with DX10 hardware.

We are making progress on understanding what DX10 does and doesn’t do, and what we can and cannot count on. When we are done with those investigations we will have a fully booked DX10 plan. And then we can turn those screenies into real rendering and not "artistic impressions".

The post mentions that Phil will further report around about Thanksgiving time. So I assume there will be a further post soon. In other words ACES have a DirectX 10 upgrade planned and are looking to see what can be done to improve performance but cannot say anything further until they know what the can or cannot achieved with respect to path 1. So there is reason to be optimistic.

In other news the FSX SDK Service Pack update is undergoing beta test at the moment and hopefully will be released soon.

Animations in FSX

I have also posted this in my other blog the Biff Diaries but would also like to post here.

I have been busy beta testing the FSX SDK update these last few weeks hence the lack of posts here. I have been using one of my current projects, the Bristol F2B to test the SDK and have posted a couple of tips at the Freeflight Design site, which may help a few people while they are waiting on updated documentation for the 3DS Max tools in the SDK. Anyone can experiment for themselves using the released SDK as it currently stands. These tips may save a few people a little bit of frustration while learning the new animation system.

For those who like to create their own 3D instruments for their virtual cockpits I have posted xml code which I have created for the following 3D instruments (Unfortunately the blogspot software screws up this code so I can't post here) :-

Simple airspeed indicator - world war one style as found in a Bristol F2B
World War one Mk5 compass as also used in the Biff. This code can also be used to animate any similar compass.

These are simple keyframe animations, just max and min values and a scale. They don't involve any maths or conditional coding.

I hope this helps a few people.