It’s been a week since I got P3D2 up and running, and needless to say I haven’t been spending much time doing anything but tweaking lately. To be more precise, I’ve been struggling to avoid CTDs, OOMs and other strange happenings in P3D2. I even had to do a full benchmark of my computer and stress test both FSX and P3D1.4 to be sure it wasn’t my computer it was something wrong with. In the end I decided to uninstall and reinstall P3D2 only to discover more bugs.
I’m realistic. I’ve got a two year old computer, so I’ve been running at very moderate settings, but it seems P3D2 doesn’t like that you enter the display settings menu too often. VAS usage will increase almost every time you change something, and before you know it you are way past the comfort zone. Even if you decide to start turning down settings or restart your flight, your VAS usage will not go back down. The only way to remedy this is to exit and restart the sim. This does not bode well for adding heavy addons into the sim.
As the picture below illustrates, I’m a KJFK with every scenery feature turned off or reduced to its lowest setting, still P3D2 uses over 3,1GB of VAS and tax my graphics card for 1129MB of VRAM.
As I write this my 13th flight simulator based on the original Flight Simulator developed by Bruce Artwick is downloading. It’s hard to fathom that a piece of software has been in development for well over 30 years. When Microsoft abandoned the product in 2009 it came as a pleasant surprise that Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest defense contractor and military aircraft manufacturer, wanted to create a Phoenix from the ashes of the longest running game franchise in history.
Now, the marketing of the new sim from Lockheed Martin has been subtle to say the least. It might be a sign of the times, as the general interest in flight simulators arguably isn’t what it once was. Also there seem to be a lot of confusion around the EULA and who can purchase and use Prepar3D. All I can say about that is: How American! It is after all a country with a political and legal system one step away from that of a banana republic, so it’s understandable that some people are a little paranoid. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of great things about the good old US of A, but for a country and culture so obsessed with freedom, there seems to be a lot of people living in fear of being dragged to court and sued into bankruptcy for the faintest reasons.
While the first version of Preapr3D could hardly be described as a new version of FS, it was a step in the right direction. In many ways it was the missing third service pack that Microsoft never released as they were too busy developing FS11 and TS2. We all know how that went, so kudos to Lockheed Martin for picking up where Microsoft left off. After four upgrades of P3D, Lockheed Martin went silent until they broke the news of Prepar3D 2.0 being in beta. This time a lot of major addon developers had been included in the beta, and as new features were revealed, from both official and unofficial sources, it was clear that Lockheed Martin took feedback from the flight sim community quite seriously.
While Prepar3d 2.0 doesn’t promise revolutionary improvements, it does boost some major upgrades. Rebuilding the graphics engine to DX11 standards is probably the most important change. The current platforms dependency on DX9, which dates back to 2002, was never a perfect fit for FSX/ESP/P3D. DX11 promises offloading a lot of CPU bound resources to the GPU, hence creating a more stable and smooth overall experience.
I do lament that we’re losing the gaming element of FSX with its mission and reward system, but I will fully embrace this new simulator for what it is – a professional tool for learning to fly. While Lockheed Martin might boost it’s ability to use Preapr3D as a simulator for other types of vehicles, I am unable to see past the dreaded graphics at ground level. Even the best addon sceneries aren’t able to mask the fact that the world in FSX/P3D is still too flat and lack scalable ground terrain to replace the dreaded photo textures and lack of micromesh and micro vegetation. Take a look at Outerra, and you’ll see what I mean.
Anyway, time to buckle up and launch the installer. Happy simming to all fellow P3D pilots!
I haven’t really gotten into blogging again after returning from the woods this summer. Some personal matters have required most of my attention and time lately, and it seems I will have to scale down my flight sim activity considerably. That said, I’m not going into hiding. Instead I am narrowing down the focus of this blog.
Since I have recently reinstalled Windows and all my software I thought it fitting to blog about the process of installing flight simulators, configuring them and sharing some thoughts about the addons I use or don’t use. Hopefully there will be something to learn for both novice and experienced simmers. Also, I tend to learn a lot myself by writing. It often reveals gaps in my knowledge and cracks in my logic, and in this hobby knowledge is power! Let’s face it. It takes quite an effort to make these old sims look good. Even the new version of Prepar3D will still pretty much looks like FSX – an ancient piece of software made three versions of Windows ago. I will make tiny reviews of all my addons, payware and freeware, as I install them in FS2004, FSX, Prepar3D 1.4 and Prepar3D 2.0. I might even throw in a few dispatches from various flights I’m doing as well.
Feel free to comment, ask questions or correct me if I’m wrong. I will make all the tutorials into downloadable documents so anyone can save them for future reference.
Hello all. It’s been a nice summer and I’ve been living in the woods staying far away from computers, flightsimming and the Internet. What a refreshing lifestyle – wish I could afford it year round. But now that the days are getting shorter and colder it’s time to get back into simming. There is no better way to unwind and recharge after wasting time in an office during the day. But first I need to get my computer up to the task. That means cleaning my hardware, reinstall and update Windows and hardware drivers, and last but not least, make fresh installs of FSX and P3D. I’ll keep you up to speed on the latter part and create a guide for installing and reinstalling FSX and P3D my way. Have a splendid winter everyone!
I don’t know if any of you have tried out FinladX, but I wanted to pay my respect to Janne Sinkkonen and Tatu Kantomaa who made this incredible scenery!
- Custom landclass based on official Finnish Gouvernment data;
- Custom LOD 9 mesh based on Jonathan de Ferranti amazing data collection;
- Custom autogen to make buildings look more Finnish;
- Custom landclass textures of amazing quality for the wilderness areas;
- Custom iced lakes and iced sea shores;
- Custom seasonal changes for different parts of the country;
- Custom rivers, streams, lakes, roads, powerlines, coastlines and railroads.
But that’s not the most amazing part: The landclass is all custom built using automated polygons from official data, hence giving a much more accurate and realistic landclass coverage than the default grid system of FSX can handle. Not only that, but it comes with a super easy installer and changes to textures, autogen etc. only affects Finland and won’t screw up any other part of the FSX scenery. There is no need for texture/seasonal switchers, control panels or centrals. These guys are in a league of their own, and better than most payware developers.
So if you ever want to fly to Finland in FSX go check it out. There is nothing comparable out there (that I know of): http://files.fsnordic.net/?download=2245
Comparing Landclass addons is a labour intensive task. I visited eight areas that I have been to myself and photographed recently. My findings were surprising and I had much hoped for a different conclusion, but here it is:
1) The quality and accuracy of all landclass products and the default scenery can’t be trusted. They are very inconsistent to say the least;
2) Prepar3D has replaced much of the FSX landclass for Europe, but in terms of accuracy it isn’t necessarily an improvement;
3) Ultimate Terrain X wasn’t as accurate as I had initially thought, still best of the bunch, although it just covers half of Europe;
4) Neither SceneryTech Landclass Europe or Cloud9′s XClass Europe will give you geographic accurate landclass for Europe, but XClass looked better to my eye by a hair. What these landclass products do is add more variety to the default FSX scenery.
So when the time comes to install FTX Global I will do the following:
1) Set up FSX with Ultimate Terrain X and XClass. SceneryTech will be uninstalled.
2) AS for Prepar3D I’d say it does the job just as good as the dedicated landclass products, so they aren’t really needed.
For anyone interested in flying in a geographic accurate simulator world there isn’t really a good product out there. The landclass addons aren’t really needed, and if I had known what I know now I would never had bought SceneryTech or XClass. However, if you don’t care about realism they will add a bit more variety to the drab default FSX landscape and make looking out the window a bit more enjoyable. Looking through the set of screenshots it is apparant that at least one product hits a home run for each area, meaning that realistically it is possible to create a fairly accurate landclass addon even with the restrictions the default scenery grid system and limited selection of textures. The freeware scenery FinlandX shows how it can be done for some countries with a large degree of automation by converting real world data to polygons, hence avoiding the FSX grid system.
Situated in Northern Albania by the shore of Lake Shkoder, the city of Shkoder is the perfect place to get a taste for the history and future of Albania. The nearby defunkt Gjadër Air Base tells a fascinating story of Albania’s military during its isolation years.
The default FSX scenery isn’t bad and makes a decent representation of the area. The mix of cool and dry crops look a bit strange though. However the countryside is way too poulated.
Prepar3D isn’t much different from FSX, but it has more farmland in the left side of the screenshot, which is both correct and wrong at the same time. Just as the FSX scenery the countryside is a bit too populated.
XClass is better than both FSX and P3D. Cloud9 has less forest vegetation, which is spot on, but have missed a lot of farmland and surrounding villages.
Scenerytech has done a very good job with the city and surrounding villages and farmland. They have gone a bit overboard with the forest though. They’ve also made the area very dry.
UTX has selected very dry textures for their farmland also. It’s not bad, but just as with the defualt FSX and P3D scenery, the farmland area is a bit too populated. Strangely UTX has done nothing for rivers and coastline in this area, but then again, it is not listed as a covered area in the advertisment, so this must be a bonus area from Scenery Solutions?
Conclusion: Well, I’d say that in terms of accuracy it is a tie between Cloud9 and SceneryTech. In a few days I’ll be drawing an overall conclusion and rating of the featured products. Doing this review has surprised me, and I find it strange that it hasn’t been done before since these products are pretty old. Stay tuned!