Saturday, September 27, 2014

New project announcement(s) and updates for the current ones.

I have completed a feasibility study for an Eurofighter Typhoon and I think I can announce this will be my new project for 2015. This is a quite complex aicraft to simulate, and I can say right from the start that it is not going to be a complete and fully realistic simulation - for one, most of the aicraft documentation is still classified. After collecting the all the data I could get, I believe that, in terms of realism, it could be, more or less, in the same league of my Tomcat.
Preliminary targets for this projects are as follows:
- high detail external visual model and virtual cockpit
- medium fidelity avionic system ("medium" meaning that it will be more or less in the same league as my other projects in terms of realism)
- medium fidelity flight dynamics
- bespoke sound set
- support of working weapons though Tacpack (although other systems can/will be evaluated)
- release date: unlikely to be earlier than summer 2015
- probably payware, but still TBD (please understand this is a very complex project to develop...and may well require some fundings).

By the way, some people suggested I could use Kickstarter. If you have seen the South Park season premiere you have seen the reasons why I dislike Kickstarter. It is cool and everything, but a good platform for scams.

What about the Aermacchi MB339, then?
Well, it will be developed as a "platform extension" of the 326. Flight model, a big part of the avionics and roughly 60% of the visual model can be reused as they are. On the other hand the virtual cockpit is almost completely new, and the textures need to be redone.
I will continue working on it from time to time.

Speaking of the MB.326, the project has slowed down a little... but it is still in a very good shape an I believe that a release within November is still possible. Here are a couple of screenhots of where we are at the moment:

Last, quick update to the other projects.

Grumman F-14D Tomcat:This will be the next of the old projects I'd like to close - there are very few things that I'd like to fix/improve and I am quite happy with it - also feedback from the users is largely positive and seems that there are not big oustanding items to fix.

Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II:
I have several small improvements in the works for it... and if I had more time, with the new functionalities of P3Dv2, it would be possible to create a more complete avionic suite... we'll see.

Lockheed S-3B Viking:I have received many more comments for the v1.00 than I did for the Beta. I think this is partially expected, but the other way around would have been better. Anyway, there are no big changes, and v1.01 is on the way.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

T-45C Goshawk version 2.70 (final?) release

As previously announced, here is a further update to the T-45C Goshawk project. Specifically, and tentatively, this is meant to be the last and final update to the project. Of course it is possible that I have made some mistakes and introduced new bugs... so there may be a fix if there are major mistakes.
Anyway, the intent is to cease the support and updates for this project, given that I do not have enough time to keep on updating my older planes while making new ones. I am really sorry for this, but I cannot support this anymore. So, support and updates for older projects will cease to allow the full scale development of new ones (announcement soon!)...

This version introduces working mirrors for P3Dv2 users (which are OFF by default... you need to manually install the feature...see the information below) and a new canopy glass rendering which includes scratches - I am sure that some of you will not like it, so there is an option to remove them (again, see information below). I also though it was worth making an extra effort and remaster all the external features, which now have more details and should hopefully look better. Here is the full list of changes:

- Improved canopy reflection, which hopefully will fit better to P3Dv2 rendering engine
- Addition of canopy "scratch" texture as implemented in the S-3, with option to remove it.
  NOTE: To remove the scratches from the canopy look into the OPTIONAL FEATURES/NO SCRATCHES subfolder and:
  grab the and replace the default one in the TEXTURE folder.
  You may want to backup the original files.  
- Optional VC model with working mirrors for P3Dv2 users (comes at a frame rate hit)
  NOTE: To install this feature, please look into the OPTIONAL FEATURES/WORKING MIRRORS subfolder and:
  1 - Replace the aicraft.cfg with the one in this folder.
  2 - Replace the T45C2.mdl in the MODEL folder with the one in this folder. 
  You may want to backup the original files. 
- Fix to ADF digital display
- Improved graphics of some gauges, and new ASI/Machmeter and Altimeter models
- Remove the environmental reflection from the external model (users reported rendering problems)
- Fix to a minor backlighting issue in cockpit view
- Fix to a minor glitch in the weapon configurator
- Remastered external textures with additional details
- Helmet visors are now down by default: Exit-3 command will raise them (SHIFT+E and then 3)
- Swapped ADI/HSI default configuration
- Setting pilot or instructor weight to 0 will make the relevant crew figure disappear.

Download from the side bar as usual.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Ceasing support and updates on older projects...

As of today, I have always followed the "continuous improvement" approach - all my FSX projects have been continuously updated whenever possible.
Unfortunately, since the fleet is growing, it is impossible for me to continue supporting / updating older projects and making new ones.
Therefore, I am collecting all the feedback and suggestions I have gathered recently on my older projects in order to prepare "final" builds - after those, no further improvement or support is guaranteed.
I am sorry for that, but I definitely have no time to support my older projects as I did in the past. So, the first project that will be closed is the T-45C Goshawk.

This is the list of changes that I will be implementing - most of them are already in place in the internal build.

- Improved canopy reflection, which hopefully will fit better to P3Dv2 rendering engine
- Addition of canopy "scratch" texture as implemented in the S-3, with option to remove it
- Optional VC model with working mirrors for P3Dv2 users (comes at a frame rate hit)
- Fix to ADF digital display
- Improved graphics of some gauges, and new ASI/Machmeter and Altimeter models
- Option to remove the environmental reflection from the external model (for users who do not like it or have problems)
- Fix to a minor backlighting issue
- Fix to a minor glitch in the weapon configurator

If you have further suggestions or requests please let me know asap. I cannot promise I will implement anthing that is not in the list above, but I will surely have a look.

Monday, September 15, 2014

S-3B Viking v1.00 release

Well, I have to confess that the S-3B is still nowhere I'd like it to be in terms of quality. To me, it was not as satisfactory as the previous project, and the resulting quality and accuracy still leaves a lot to be desired. Anyway, I believe it can still be considered a decent piece of freeware and it is probably the best rendition of the Viking around. So I guess I should be happy...
Anyway, I have fixed some of the small issues that emerged after the 0.99 release - and given that I will not have much time in the next few weeks, I have decided to release version 1.00 "as it is" tonight. It is not significantly better than 0.99, but considering that no major bugs were detected I think it should be OK for most users.

With respect to the 0.99 Beta, changes are as follows:

Version 1.00
September 15th 2014

- Improved glass reflection
- Fixed aicraft.cfg entry os that NASA livery was not listed
- Fixed aicraft.cfg manufacturer entry
- Fixed texture on copilot seat (did not match placard)
- Fixed strobe, navigation and formation light switches not working in VC
- Improved flight model, should provide more accurate speeds
- Replaced ASI/Mach and altimeter models with more accurate ones
- Fixed elevator and trim indicators not working
- Fixed landing gear doors reflections
- Fixed APU door is now animated (open and closes with APU switch)
- Files are now signed for Tacpack Multiplayer

- Landing light does not illuminate the ground (compiling the light in the mdl does not work for some reason I do not the light effect is in the aicraft.cfg - this is why it does not illuminate the ground)
- Authrottle not working as intended (root cause not identified)
- Some users reported issues with the launch bar, but could not be replicated (launch bar does not have issues on my system and seems to work fine - if you have "bumping" issues you may consider not to apply full throttle before launching)

File can be downloaded from the side bar as usual.

So, once again, I am not really proud of this one - it seems a little below my other projects. Still the Viking is such an awesome machine that, hopefully, some of its awesomeness will show in this rendition.
One last thing - the AI-tanker model is ready but there is a strange (and not yet solved) bug in the hose animation. I am considering to change it to an on/off condition - anyway I'll try to fin the time to release in the next few days, but do not count on that...

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Current project updates - and a thoughts for the next one...

Above is a picture of the current build of the MB.326 virtual cockpit - it is almost complete. Actually it just misses the gunsight and some warning signs... In the meantime, Alessandro of Sim Skunk Works has been refurbishing the external textures so they look even better than in my previous screenshots (we will be able to show the looks of the updated model very soon). Also Sim Skunk Works is providing a very realistic flight model: Roy is leading the dynamics design while Mario is providing flight testing - both are seasoned real-world military pilot, and given than Mario has hundreds of flying hours on the real 326 I am really confident that in the end we will have a great result. Last, but not least, Serge is at work on a sound package - based on the sounds from the GoPro recording of my unforgettable flight... (by the way, here is a short version of the video - ) - so the project is in a very good shape, and it is done when it is done... but it is looking really good.

Also, as of today, we plan to support both Tacpack and VAcmi - which is a weapon functionality / management package from Sim Skunk Works - you should check it out (and works in P3Dv2, too!)...

So, what about the rest of my stuff?
Well, there are plans to update all the fleet - but I am experimenting some new techniques and I am building a small set of new and more accurate 3D gauges for the 326 - the plan is to progressively retrofit them on the T-45C, F-14D and S-3B. All will be available as soon as possible, but this is a lot of work - so I cannot say for sure when it will be ready.
Also, minor updates await the F-35 too... 

...and after the 326? Back on the deck with and E-2 or an EA-6B? Well, I am sorry to disappoint all the naval aviation enthusiasts out there, but I think I am done with naval aicrafts for a while - the planes I made where the most interesting ones for me, and I will keep them updated.

At the moment I am evaluation two projects:

1) Aermacchi MB.339A - This is the evolution of the MB.326 and the current ride of the Frecce Tricolori (but will be replaced in 2017 by the M345 - a Siai 211 derivative that does not look as slick IMHO). It is a very important aicraft for aviation enthusiasts in Italy, so either it will be good or it will be a disaster. On the good side, lots of documentation available, and I could reuse a lot of the work done on the MB.326 (the most of the airframe is similar)... Here is how a preliminary test looks so far:

Also, it has to be (or have as an option) a low-poly version mode for large formation flying.

2) Eurofighter Typhoon - This is a much more complex and difficult project. Most of the documentation is still classified (actually the Avionc System manuals can be found with Google - but that is not enough to model it). A good, weapon capable Typhoon would be great - problem is development costs and time would be huge (and probably would be in the payware area). Let's see.