Thursday, November 1, 2018

PROJECT ROADMAP FOR 2019

The E-2/C-2 project is close to completion, and given that this 2018 is slowly approaching to its end, I though this was a good time to share my current projects for 2019.
But first, let me thank you once again for your continues support to my projects - you enthusiasm and appreciation for what I do is much appreciated!

So, let's start with the easy things...

 UPDATES TO CURRENT PROJECTS:

As usual, I'd like to keep my projects up to date whenever possible...so here is what I am working on:

SIAI S-211 - A small patch is in the works to fix a couple of minor glitches. I am also looking to add a couple of liveries, a (much requested) smoke system and some sort of aiming support for weapons release (at least for the HUD-equipped versions). At least the glitches will be fixed before the end of 2018.

F-35 LIGHTNING II - Minor fixes to the BFI and MFD, possibly new liveries. The patch will be for P3D versions only. Release is planned before the end of 2018.

EUROFIGHTER TYPHOON - Also for this one, fixes to minor glitches are planned. I'd like to rework some aspects of the cockpit model too...but I am not sure I can find the time. Release date TBD.

F-14D SUPER TOMCAT - Although this project was "closed" years ago, I've been working on a P3Dv4 version to provide full 64 bit compatibility and AO support. I am not sure when (and if) it will be ready, so release date is TBD.

NEW PROJECT: McDONNELL-DOUGLAS TA-4J

If you follow my Facebook page this is hardly surprising, but my next project will be the TA-4J. The scope is to deliver a high quality rendition of this aircraft. By similarity there is some chance that the project scope may creep towards the inclusion of the TA-4F and/or the A-4F...but at the moment the focus in on the TA-4J.
With the current pace, a Beta version may be ready in spring 2019.
Lead Platform is Prepar3D v4, but with backward compatibility to FSX:SE in mind.
Also, the model will be built with provisions for an easy export to other platforms.


External model of the TA-4J in P3Dv4.3... it is already 50% complete.
Very early look at TA-4J cockpit… it will require months of work!

NEW PROJECT: BOEING T-X

I have been following the TX competition quite closely - and I have to confess that, technically, my money was on the T-50. However, for a number of reasons, seeing the victory of Boeing/SAAB design was hardly surprising.
I have been working on a T-X model lately, although at the moment, the information about the cockpit and pilot interface is insufficient for a reasonably accurate simulation. Provided that more information will become available in time, the T-X project should be available before the end of 2019.
Lead Platform is Prepar3D v4, but with backward compatibility to FSX:SE in mind (but chance is that the MFD may be too complex for FSX...much like it was for the F-35).
Also, the model will be built with provisions for an easy export to other platforms.

Early picture of the Boeing T-X in P3Dv4.3

...AND NOW THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM: THE DECLINE OF FSX

As much as it is hard to admit it, I think that FSX is now technologically outdated, and its popularity is declining (albeit more slowly than most people predicted). And, while P3Dv4 is a good step forward, unless Lockheed Martin pulls a rabbit out of the hat with new shaders or a better rendering pipeline, chance is that P3D will follow. 
Continuing to support FSX is getting harder and harder, as basically you cannot use the new features of P3Dv4 if you want to maintaing backward compatibility - and developing multiple versions requires a lot of effort - especially if you are a small developer like me.
For these and other reasons, in the past years I have been closely looking at other platforms and made a number of experiments.
Still, at least for the TA-4J, I'll continue supporting both FSX and P3D as main development platforms. Then we will see.

X-PLANE 11

Unknown to most users, XP11 has a number of limitations in the aicraft modeling which make the conversion from FSX/P3D to XP11 not trivial (see the document I have published some time ago). Also, in terms of avionics, XP11 has almost everything you need for civil aviation...but not much for military planes, especially if they have digital instruments, MFDs and HUDs.

Anyway, I am moving forward with the conversion of the Siai Marchetti S-211, which feels at home in XP11, and, in 2019, the TA-4J. Given their avionics and cockpit features, they are relatively easy to convert.

I have been experimenting with the conversions of other aircrafts, too… but at this time I have nothing to announce.

The SIAI S-211 Flying in XP11 - it is almost complete...it just needs some work on the cockpit but it is already flyable.

AEROFLY FS-2 

While it is not much popular, I really like this sim for VR, sightseeing flights. Its excellent frame rate and high-resolution photoreal terrain make it the ideal showcase of my HTC Vive when friends come and visit me.
Unfortunately, with the current status of the SDK, developing aircrafts for this sim is very time consuming.
This is why I have recently released the unfinished S-211 for free lately.
I am not sure I'll have the time do other projects in future, but I'd like to, and then may be IPACS will improve the SDK. We'll see.

The SIAI S-211 in Aerofly FS2

DCS

The question I have been asked most in 2018 is, "Aren't you looking at DCS? Why don't you convert your planes for it?"...well… of course I've been looking at DCS. Below is a picture I took in an early attempt to convert the Eurofighter Typhoon to this platform.
However, the big problem with DCS is that it does not offer a "middle ground"...you either do simple mods (and rely on default functions) or you'll have to model each system on your own - which is very time consuming.
To develop a "decent" (and I am not saying "good" - by "decent" I mean FC3-level airplanes) you still need to assemble a good team, and it still requires a lot of work.
I am looking at different strategies for this, but, at the moment, no one is really a convincing way to move forward.

An early shot of the Eurofighter Typhoon in DCS - Don't hold your breath, at the moment it is just a test and may never become an actual product.

OTHER PROJECTS
...and that is not all. Back to FSX/P3D I have a number of other small projects on the drawing board… which include an MQ-25, the final release of the USS America model and the "pro" version of the T-45.
Also, I have been looking at making the M.C.72 as a divertissment, and I have been discussing cooperations for a number of other interesting projects - which I cannot disclose right now. The main problem is that I do not have much time - and, at the moment, quitting my real life job to only this is not an option...



9 comments:

Robbie Nauffts said...

Have to say I don't blame you for dropping FSX. I haven't touched the platform in two years, but there are a small minority clinging to it and screaming for more add-ons. It's the same as trying to develop performance parts for a truck that is 20 years old. Why?

DCS seems to be the best kept secret in the FS world and if you even did one project for it, I'm sure you'd knock it out of the park.

Fulvio Arman said...

Hi,
grateful as usual for your efforts; thanks for clearly explaining the limitations of XP-11 and its compatibility to mil planes; so, let's wait for this attractive sim (apart for the lack of seasonal sceneries).
Some time ago you spoke about an improvement of my beloved S-3 Viking, but in this 2019 outlook I didn'r read anything. Of course my hope is a payware one.
"Good night and good luck"

Unknown said...

Stopped using FSX & FSX:SE after moving to P3Dv4. And I think that is where your largest user base is going to be. Another add-on maker that is dragging its feet to P3Dv4 is MAIW (Military AI World). They almost refuse to move from FS9 but are finally seeing the light.

Anonymous said...

I would love it if you could do either a Grob 120, a Hawk T2, or model the new HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier!

Dino Cattaneo said...

Thanks for the feedback guys...

For the record, a recent poll I did on facebook showed that, while a large part of my users moved from FSX to P3Dv4 (it was 80-20 % in favor of FSX a couple of years ago), FSX is still more popular than P3Dv4 (about 60-40 % now, still in favor of FSX).

I think DCS is great for military flights and combat - and many of my planes would be at home there... but the fact that (up to now) there is no global scenery is a major drawback from non-military focused simmers.

As for XP-11, the fact that it is missing seasonal sceneries is one of its main shortcomings for some users. I think this sim is very good and definitely superior to FSX/P3D in some aspects, but the fact that some features from FSX are still missing after all these years says a lot on the flexibility of FSX in terms of scenery engine: it was a software ahead of its times...but those times have passed.

In any case, I think that 2019 will be awesome!

Anonymous said...

Really looking forward to the TA-4J! I’d say that your airplanes are the best value out there for the flightsim enthusiast. Thank you for all you do, Sir

Ricnunes said...

I also echo what others have said here. I'm not a FSX user anymore. I don't even have it installed on my gaming machine/PC anymore. For me it's P3D v4 "all the way"! As a small example I enjoy your F-35 very much but I never installed it on my FSX even when I had it installed (I only use it on P3D).
I also thank you for your insight about XP-11 (which I don't have).

Regarding DCS and while I would love to see your F-35 in it, I perfectly understand why do you trend to keep away from it. Honestly DCS is a buggy mess of a game/platform where from what I've been reading whenever a new patch comes up it usually messes/breaks up with many of the so called "3rd party addons" and whenever a new addon aircraft comes up for DCS a new version must be released which makes me question if DCS is actually "modular" like ED (DCS devs) often claims. I don't know for sure if this is actually the truth/facts about DCS but that's the impression that I get about it.

Dino Cattaneo said...

All,

In my comment above I did a mistake - the poll was actually 45% - 55% in favor of P3D!

...and again thank you for your continued support!!!

Rod said...

Dino,

I will continue to use FSX SE for a while yet as it suits our multiplayer requirements.

Can't wait for an A-4F/G and a TA-4F/G as they are basically the same which means RAN repaints will be easy to do....