Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Freeware Genova and Liguria scenery for FSX!

Finally a good, FSX native scenery of my hometown...and it is freeware!!!!

Some guys at blogfsx.forumfree.it have created a wonderful scenery of Genova my beloved hometown, as well as a complete 2m/pixel photoreal scenery of the whole Ligurian region (which extends from the French border to Tuscany).

The default FSX rendition is extremely poor and while Utimate Terrain does improve the rendering, the final result is far from being realistic - it is a kind of landscape that it is very hard to render realistically without photoreal textures.

The scenery includes a highly detailed and accurate Genova Sestri Airport (LIMJ), which is where I took my real-life PPL almost 18 years ago, a 1m/pixel photoreal scenery of (most of) the city including autogen and custom models for several landmarks and monuments.
As a further bonus, the whole city of Sestri Levante, including Riva Trigoso and its shipyard, is also rendered with custom buildings.
The scenery is a great addition to FSX. Hopefully the designers will improve it by adding more autogen and possibly making custom sceneries for Albenga and Luni airports,
The scenery can be dowloaded at OZx website.
The authors' forum is here (and in this forum you will also find several other interesting sceneries) and a youtube video is here.
By the way, the Scenery Italy Real X project team has posted a video on youtube about their rendition if Genova some time ago... and it looks even more incredible *BUT* it seems they are having some difficulties, and it is unlikely we will be able to fly it anytime soon. Anyway, here is the link.

Above the Aeroclub parking lot. Note the custom buildings with photoreal texture and the hangars of Piaggio Aero Industries on the background (that is where the Piaggio P-180 is manufactured)

Flying over Genova towards Portofino (note the extensive Autogen coverage).

Flying short final on runway 29 brings back memories of my first solo flight (in truth it was not my best landing...). The area in front of the runway was a major steel mill - nowadays it is almost closed and the area is being converted to other purposes.

The Albenga airport (LIMG) is within the photoreal coverage - it is just the default airport, but it is aligned quite well to the textures. No autogen in this area, however.

The town of Sestri Levante is completely modeled in 3d with custom object (probably the hometown of one the authors) and is a nice bonus. Note the Fincantieri Shipyards of Riva Trigoso in the background (this is one of the major shipyards in Italy - mostly used for military ships)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

F-35A version 1.1 released a SimMarket

The new version of the F-35A is available at SimMarket. It is a full installation - not a patch: new customers will get the latest release, while existing customers should have received a download link to the installer.
It may take a little while for servers to update - if it does not work in few hours please contact SimMarket and/or let me know.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Microsoft Flight

Microsoft has just announced the next iteration of Flight Simulator...which is not "Simulator" anymore:


Needless to say, the fact it is not "Simulator" anymore has caused some panic on some hardcore-simmers... But I am confident that Microsoft just wants to make the game more accessible - and more "game like" - for the ones who like it so (like they did with the introduction of "Missions" in FSX). Most likely, you will be able to set the realism lever to maximum...and have an "serious" simulator (providing you consider Flight Simulator serious)!

My hopes are that this new platform will be built on a more efficient and modern engine, and retains keep backward compatibility... at least at some degree.
My major fear is that Microsoft may want to introduce a Live-only distribution for add-ons (possibly through a certification) which may bring profits to Microsoft...and kill independent developers like me.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

F-35A - patch to version 1.1 almost ready

In the past few days I've been working on a patch for the F-35A. It is almost ready and will be deployed to SimMarket as soon as possible. As many files are affected, I am unsure if it is better to release a patch or a full installation. In any case, customers should be able to download the new files by accessing their customer account.
The patch will include (but will not be limited to) the following features/fixes:

- New wing vapor effects (embedded in the mdl, will not affect third party a/b effects or the light system). The effect shows when pulling more than 4.5 Gs. Wing vapor effects were not meant to be included in the initial release. I've been experimenting with them for a while on older build, using Team KBT effects. The placeholder effect was included in the main release for a mistake - and in fact it was a copy of the Team KBT's effect - my most humble apologies to the authors.

- New "whiskers" effects (embedded in the mdl, as the vapor) nearby the air intake (as seen on some real F-35 pictures. This effect shows when the AoA is in excess of 25 degrees.

- New weapon configuration with two external fuel tanks and two Jdams (the "unusual" shape of the tanks should be the actual one - according to the information I have)

- Fixed main wheel texture mismatch

- Minor graphics glitch in the FUEL page

- Minor optimization to the MFD rendering resolution (should help lower-end systems)

- Minor optimization in the visual model visibility conditions (should provide minimal frame rate increase)

- Alternate .cfg with wrong contact points but no micro-oscillations of the cockpit

- Fixes miscellaneous typos in the aircraft.cfg

Monday, August 2, 2010

F-35A Lightning II for FSX:Acceleration - Support post

F-35 Lightning II for FSX:A soaring over Nevada desert
First, I'd like to thank you all for purchasing the F-35 and, most important, for the very positive feedback I've received and the nice comments I've seen circulating on the Internet.
Second, as the project is lacking a support forum so far, I thought it was a good idea to create this post as reference for the known product issues and fixes.
I will release a patch, in future, to address all the issues I can - although I am not sure I can fix them all - but I will not do that immediately, as I think it is better to wait a little in order to collect feedback from a wider user base (by the way the patch will be available though SimMarket - by accessing the customer account page).
By the way, I'd like to thank Orion Lyau for his corrections to the product manual.
Here is the list of the question I've received or issues highlighted by current customers, and their fix if possible:

Wing Vapor Showing when the "L" key is pressed

Reason - this is a mistake from my side during the final build compilation. I've been toying with additional special effects for a while but I've decided to leave them out. Unfortunately I've left the provisional vapor effect file in the final build.

Fix - either remove the F-35 vapor effects or the entry in the lights section of the aircraft.cfg (I will provide more specific indications soon - as I am not writing from my FSX computer). Will be addesssed in the next patch/upgrade.

The plane rotates slightly when it is parked or still on the ground

Reason - this is the same "micro-oscillation" issue described in the FAQ section of the manual. For some reason, there is a contact point instability that causes some "microbouncing" when the plane is not moving - the resultant effect is a (very small) rotation. This was solved in the Betas by modifying the gear points location, but in the final build I've preferred to use the right location for more accurate landing behaviour.

Fix - no proper fix available as the exact root cause has not been clearly identified

Slow frame rates in the virtual cockpit on some systems

Reason - Some systems may not handle too well the complex, high resolution MFD and HUD. The settings I've used in the final build provide the maximum clarity, but it is possible to reduce rendering resolution of the digital instruments in the cockpit by editing the panel.cfg file.

Fix - it is possible to decrease the resolution of the digital displays by editing the panel.cfg file. I will include an alternate panel.cfg in the next patch/upgrade, but a do-it-youself solution is provided in this thread of the Sim-outhouse forum

Q - Is (or will) the F-35A available for purchase on other websites or methods other than SimMarket?

A - No. The F-35 is exclusively available through SimMarket. Besides I would have no time to manage direct sales or other accounts.

Q - Will you make a simplified version that could work on lower end computers?

A - No, I'm sorry. The F-35 project was aimed at high-end systems from the beginning. Redesigning it would be too time consuming, and definitely out of the project scopes. The new T-45C I'm working on, on the other hand, has been designed to have a good performance - as I think this is essential to that project.

Q - Are you making the F-35B and F-35C, too? If so, are they going to be free upgrades or stand-alone products?

A - I have not decided yet. The F-35B and F-35C are very different from the F-35A - most important, it is technically difficult to modify the F-35A model to replicate those planes. I've been working on a "transitional" model for a while, that is a "neutral" F-35 model that could be more easily turned into an F-35B and -C, but I have not decided yet what to do. Besides, the F-35B would require external code (Rob Barendregt's VTOL code+FSUIPC) to perform proper STOVL operations, and I do not have the resources to support that. Aside, the F-35B and -C would need dedicated virtual cockpits. Long story short, I've not ruled them out yet - but I may need to simplify the project. As for their distibution method it is, of course TBD.

Q - What is the next project you will be doing (off topic, but frequently asked)?

A - I will make a post about my current projects soon. I'd like to do a lot of things, including the much requested MB-339, but I do not have time. I have a full time "day" job...and, believe it or not, a full and satisfying social life. This leaves very little time for my hobbies - and, if anything, the F-35 project is showing me that breaking even with FSX payware is a success. In any case, this is what I have on the drawing board.

  • T-45C Goshawk remake - the project goals are a more accurate visual model optimized for better fps; more accurate flight model; actual two-seat student/instuctor cockpits; in general, higher accuracy and fidelity to real NATOPS manual. This will surely be a freeware project.
  • F-14D Tomcat remake - I'm still not happy with the current Tomcat and I've already acquired professional 3d data and textures to work with. In this case, the scope would be maximum detail and accuracy. It is a project that is pushing FSX at its limits. I'd like it to be a freeware project, but there are some issues like data licensing and associated costs that I need to solve - I'll see what I can do.
  • Aermacchi MB.339, Aermacchi M346, McDonnell-Douglas TA-4J "Scooter, North American T-2 "Buckeye", Socata TB.9... all of these planes have been on the drawing board, for some reason or another. Some of these are just sketches, some others went as far as having some textures done and actually flying in FSX. But honestly, it is very unlikely I will ever find the time to complete them.