[jhb_airlines] Re: FSX Demo

  • From: Phil Reynolds <phil.reynolds@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: jhb_airlines@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Fri, 11 Aug 2006 18:25:02 +0100

You can also configure the 2D panels to be transparent (set as a percentage) so you can see a full view through the panel.


Gerry Winskill wrote:
The aircraft do have the normal 2D panels, so it's possible to escape from VC. A mouse right click, over the main screen, produces a Menu, one of the items being Cockpit. Even my peculiar tastes are satisfied in that I can then unlock the panel screen and move to the second monitor. That was with the Baron so I'll plonk in the APM20's gauges and see what happens.

It's also easy to add VFRGM and Welshpool, after pressing Esc and opting for the Scenery Library. It adds them to the selection menu without leaving FSX. The bad news is that it hangs if you try to locate anywhere over here; even via Map.
Progress of a sort, though, and makes it easier to take a closer look at some of the other features, when you can see out.

Gerry Winskill

Gerry Winskill wrote:

I've just tried it again; previous posting is correct in that it time expires, after about ten minutes.

One FS9 feature has been carried over; the blurries. The Antilles scenery didn't look too demandind, plus I was flying my usual FS9 Farmstrip aircraft, minus gauges etc. Despite this the Default textures eventually went into blur mode.

I don't know whether it was because I was flying an FS9 ac but, seen from spot view, in Replay, the whole scene shuddered constantly.

I probably sound biased against FX but I'm not. Just underwhelmed by what this, presumably Sales oriented, Demo offers. The real thing has to be dramatically better than this Demo, or else why would anyone but gamers be tempted to buy?

Gerry Winskill

Bones wrote:

On my system the default XP firewall recognises that I have a third party
application running and lets it assume control. Windows firewall
automatically cuts in if the default firewall crashes (not a regular thing
but it glitches from time to time).

Agree about the Baron. In fact I spent more time looking inside the guts of
FSX rather than flying it and I've noted several changes in the system. My
worry now is that it is going the same way as CFS3 did which resulted in
many users sticking with CFS2 or giving up on the sim altogether. CFS2 was
very similar to FS98 but with combat ability - and it got very good reviews.
The long awaited CFS3 was a great disappointment - better visuals but VC
mode only and only a basic flight dynamics engine. My worry is that FSX is
going the same way with it Missions and Rewards system.

A quick look at the structure in FSX shows some changes. Maybe the most
significant is that aircraft MDL files seem to have leapt from an average
1Mb in size to a huge 13Mb. This is big - more than four times the size of
the most complex creations in FS2004 (PMDG737 is only 2.9Mb). What the extra
10+Mb is going into I haven't the foggiest idea but it certainly doesn't
show on the exterior. If it is all internal cockpit work (essential for VC
operation) then why does MS need 13Mb for a trike when PMDG only use 5Mb for
their 747?

Second change is that the aircraft.cfg file has changed yet again and it now
contains much more data from the .air file - but not all. The .air file is
still there with a significant number of tables in it for primary dynamics.
Unfortunately AirEd only opens known tables and my guess is that some new
FSX tables may be lurking in it which I cannot see. Yet again to confuse
aerodynamicists there is duplication in parameters across the cfg and .air
files so it will take a while for the gurus to sort out which is essential
data and which is dormant.

A lot remains identical to FS2004. There is no significant change to
Autogen, Effects, Flights or Sound. Gauges are now strictly XML design so
this folder is full of CAB files. More worryingly it also contains some
DLL's too and I can't see why.

A new folder called Missions has appeared but the old Flights folder is
still present. The only difference I can see is that Missions contain added
blurb about the preset flights - HTML files for charts and, oddly, specific
sounds files for the flight. To me this is moving back to the Adventures in
FS5 with such add-ons as Flight911.

Scenery seems of similar structure to FS2004 except that the naming
convention has changed yet again. The folder still has BGL's in the Scenery
folder and bitmaps and AGN files in Textures. However, creeping into this
are new DDS textures. There are a few in the Scenery folder, lots in the
Texture folder and aircraft textures are almost 100% DDS. The new DDS files
cannot be opened in ImageTool so it is unlikely they are DXT1 or DXT3. The
files WILL open in DXTBmp but it doesn't recognise the Alpha channel and
only opens the basic bitmap image. My guess is that these files have a more
complex Alpha mapping to make use of the improved lighting engine in FSX.

And, in fact, I have just cracked this puzzle. The new DDS bitmaps are in
fact DXT5 images with a full 8 bit Alpha channel set for transparency. The
main image is full 24bit with not a mipmap in sight (I may be wrong here
though as I haven't looked at all the DDS files).

So far so good. Aircraft designers will have a headache unless they built a
VC for the aircraft, learn the new DDS texture format and get to grips with
the new aerodynamics. They should already know how to build the XML gauges.
They will have to create a second sound set though as aircraft now sport a
separate SoundAI folder.

The added advantage with FSX is that designers are no longer limited to
making just aircraft as the sim now has a specific folder for moving
objects. Skills can now be turned to ships, vehicles and possibly trains.
These objects have a similar folder structure to aircraft with model, panel,
sound and textures but the aircraft.cfg and aircraft.air files are replaced
with a simple Sim.cfg file. This records only a few parameters - max speed,
acceleration and contact points. As far as I can see they cannot be driven
but are designed to be added to the AI system. We'll have to wait for TTools
3 or similar to see how they work. My guess is that the structure may be
similar to flightplans but with Lat/Long points instead of airfield codes
for routes - which would suggest a very similar system to the old dynamic
aircraft in FS98 using DOD and Dynkit.

A new section called ShadersHLSL has appeared. The structure of the included
FX files suggests that they are Effects files specifically dealing with
lighting and reflection. At the moment I can't work out the code but the SDK
should explain this.

Just to test the new sim I dragged the prototype Spitfire folder into it -
and the associated gauge files - and it worked.

I won't describe any actual use of the sim here as you no doubt have already
tried it yourselves and formed your own opinion. I will try it over the next
few days but paying a lot of attention to the aerodynamics to see if they
have altered. We already know that dynamics were much lower quality in
FS2004 to FS2002 so I am hoping they are not being taken a step further in
this direction.


-----Original Message-----
From: jhb_airlines-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
[mailto:jhb_airlines-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Gerry Winskill
Sent: 11 August 2006 12:06
To: jhb_airlines@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [jhb_airlines] Re: FSX Demo

Well, that's one way of spending the morning, installing SP2. Which leads
me to the first question; do I disable ZoneAlarm or the MS
firewall? At the moment ZA seems to sidelined by XP.

With SP2 installed, the FSX Demo could be installed. What a shock. It's
like going back to the dark ages. I just managed to do a circuit in the
Baron. This despite the fact that it only runs in VC and the views
outside make the Vulcan's look like a conservatory. If the final version
only has VC then I'll definitely not be buying it.
The available options, warnings about uncompleted features, all make me
wonder why they took the risk of issuing the Demo, in its present state.
Even the exterior views of the Baron don't seem to be up to FS9 standards. I
think the Default ground textures look better than FS9 but I could see
so little that I can't be sure.
What an anticlimax. Or am I overlooking significant goodies?

Gerry Winskill

Bones wrote:

It more than likely is. I think you might have to bite the bullet and
install XP2 - not the least because many programs are now seeming to
need it. I've grabbed a few in the last few months that ask for your OS
version and XP2 is listed separately from XP.


-----Original Message-----
From: jhb_airlines-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
[mailto:jhb_airlines-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Gerry Winskill
Sent: 10 August 2006 22:48
To: jhb_airlines@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [jhb_airlines] Re: FSX Demo

My past has caught up with me. A second instal stops with the message it needs XP SP2. Is that the XP upgrade I shied away from installing because people were experiencing problems?

Gerry Winskill

Gerry Winskill wrote:

I've downloaded and run the installation programme and rebooted. No
ikon to be seen. How do I find and run the demo?

Gerry Winskill

FrankTurley@xxxxxxx wrote:

Downloaded and installed, some differences -

No 2D Panel, its all VC

When in Spot View, hold down the number keys to move around the view
point. Also in VC mode, hold down the + or - keys to zoom.

Control+S doesn't give you the top down view, which I often use on
the ground to navigate taxiways.

Seems to be time limited, I managed a circuit in the Baron, rather
extended as I got lost and resorted to using the map view from the
world menu, and got back on the ground. I was experimenting with the
views, then got a time expired message.

Worth the download time, also allow another 20 minutes or so for

Frank T.

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