I gave b10.04rc3 a real long test flight from YMML to WMKK to see if it really does live up to its stable and fast reputation – the results are below and they are very interesting…but first.
EGAL Langford Lodge WWII Airfield – Golf 1 : EGAL Langford Lodge
Langford Lodge is located in Northern Ireland and is the home and test-centre for the famous Martin-Baker ejection seat.
The Langford facility provides full test data retrieval and photographic coverage with all the associated engineering services necessary to support final qualification of the entire escape system for Flight Certification and Service Release. Langford Lodge has a new purpose built seat test centre which includes a large test sled working area, supporting workshops and test instrumentation/dummy preparation laboratories together with supporting customer post test meeting and conference facilities.
Martin-Baker’s high speed rocket sled track (0-650 KEAS) is a NATO and U.S. Government approved 6,200 feet long sled track has been used in numerous qualification programmes including the Eurofighter Typhoon, Raytheon Texan T-6A (JPATS), Boeing JSF X-32, NASA T-38 and Panavia Tornado. Various special sled vehicles are constructed by Martin-Baker and used for development testing. (perfect for the kiddies to have a ride on during airport museum open days).
And it is also home to the home to Ulster Aviation Society Museum and Langford Model Aviation Club.
Sitting by a lake not far from Belfast its a great place to drop in to.
You could be mistaken too wonder why something so violent as an ejector seat could be built and tested in such a serene place – and at least they have a big lake to fall into if something goes wrong.
A hostel on the site, close to the track, provides accommodation, restaurant and recreational facilities is located far left in this picture.
But this very good and well created WW2 era type scenery from Mr Golf.
It does not have a standard control tower but more of a control block (building).
Lots old WW2 era buildings and hangers are very well placed and set out.
It is of course a museum as well with plenty of WW2 aircraft on display.
No night textures to speak of except for a revolving beacon
Certainly well worth the visit.
Quebec CZBM Estrie – Jacques Brault : CZBM Estrie
Mr Canada in Jacques Brault is back with a selection of Airports situated in the triangle of the south-west of Quebec and to the west of Montreal, Canada.
CSM3 Thetford Mines
Jacques is well-known as a good and thoughtful designer and his work is usually well done and he is well-regarded.
CZBM Bromont is the first cab off the rank,
A very nice Terminal area and other airport out buildings.
Lots of lovely placed GA aircraft and gliders and well-built hangers.
All these airport sceneries are all basically the same sort of buildings and similar styles and all have no night textures to see of.
Sherbrook has a really excellent terminal and main hanger areas, plenty of fuel tanks and refueling areas are also situated in every airport as well.
All are slightly different in some way which gives them all the “not all the same but still slightly different place” look, here at Valcourt it a barn type hanger.
CSM3 Thetford Mines:
All are of course outstanding, but there is an overall issue that spoils the scenery from being exceptional.
Jacques uses photo underlay’s under his scenery – and for the limitations of XP9 i suppose, But in Xp10 they don’t fit in very well into the surrounding countryside and look totally out of context and in many areas they look quite flat.
If you fly around the area you can find each airport not by its runways or buildings but by their splat of different colours and shapes on the ground, pretty they are not.
Worse is where there is any water positioned…
…the fake blue covers the reflecting river (water) underneath, my first thoughts on downloading the files was to simply pull all these out and let the XP10 landscape do the job better.
A clean XP10 version would certainly be an interesting visit…but i am not crazy about the photo underlay’s which i feel really let down and spoil this excellent scenery.
YMML (Melbourne) – WMKK (Kuala Lumpur) Flight
After finishing my b10-04rc3-one-of-the-better-updates post – I wondered how really good is b10-04rc3 and does it live up to the claims of is it really now more faster and stable than the earlier updates…Is it really better?
The reasons are many but when you look at an update you are only looking at it sometimes in a certain viewpoint and that is usually within a certain focus and layout.
what I mean by that is that if you say look at Melbourne YMML (Melbourne) you go there and load the scenery, fly around it and usually takeoff and land, then jump to another place and do the same thing again and compare that one with the earlier one.
You do get numbers doing this but really you are also just getting a snapshot as well, the numbers are correct of course but you don’t really change the situation around it much.
And that was my worry with b10-04rc3 as because on paper the numbers look great…but what if it really had to work hard and go through much more situations and changes and would it then still deliver.
This was borne out back in January, I had toddled around the UK and the east coast of the United States of America for ages until when I finally did a full sector flight of between EGLL (London Heathrow) to OMDB (Dubai) – and I was bitterly disappointed when i finally did so. Because when i finally got up to a reasonable flying height as it was in this case FL355 (Flight Level 35,500ft) i got this picture below.
Other things were not great either, frame rate was so variable it was like sitting next to Forrest Gump and him picking out for me totally different types of chocolates or in this case frame rates, In the end it just crashed altogether.
So my fear was in that in this context of snapshot reviewing b10-04rc3 would be great but in another (so-called) real world running could it fail.
I had to find out and with that it was time to go back a year to my “follow the Grand Prix” trail. What I did last year in Dr Hunter’s Boeing 742F My-Planes was to follow the flyaway races throughout the whole 2012 racing year and fly in X-Plane as if i was moving the actual Grand Prix cars and their equipment to each race around the world (they really use six B744 freighters, This year they are using the B748F).
And the 7h 38m sector this week is to ship the cars from Melbourne to Kuala Lumpur for the next race weekend coming up on the 3rd and 4th of March.
It was a good comparison as i did the same route exactly one year ago in X-Plane9 and all the details like route planning and scenery are already done and in place and so i was already set ready to go.
So first some system details so you know how to compare it to your own systems:
Aircraft : Samen’s Airbus A332F X-Plane Paintshop
Computer : Apple iMac 27 – inch : Processor 2.66 GHz Intel Core i5 : Graphics ATI Radeon HD 4850 512 MB : Software Mac OS X Lion 10.7.3 :Memory 6 GB 1067 MHz DDR3
I don’t have any fancy add-ons or overclocked graphic chips or replaced graphic engines – it is a stock standard iMac straight out of the box, and which i would say is about just slightly above the average in a range of comparable computers.
I picked Samen’s aircraft because it was quite light in size, Peter’s A388 or the default United B744 would have left me little room to maneuver if i wanted to change the settings to push the limits of what i wanted to do – I will run Peter’s A388 to see how that does compare as well but that is of another time.
To get the feel of the aircraft i picked it up at 10NM out from YMML and circled around landed it on RWY19 and headed for the Cargo bay.
Yes I know odd isn’t it – and at least it doesn’t fly like that!
First off my first reaction was “that is far better”, the sky was clear over Melbourne but my frame rate was pushing a nice 38fr and the YMML scenery is a frame rate puller, a week ago I was sometimes pulling 21fr and sometimes a horrible 7-8 frames! – Yes you read that right 8 frames.
The biggest difference was the fact the frame rate was almost constant in every view as i swing around on a complete 180 degrees of the airport, If I had tried that last week it would have shuddered or the frame rate counter would keep reacting to big changes of high to low, now it was clean and smooth, I not saying that sometimes it slightly hesitated because it did usually when it hit the really big scenery numbers – but overall it was smooth and very usable.
Of course no clouds helped and the HDR is off, but overall the numbers were very good, I can use my EGLL (Heathrow) now in the high teens (19-18), were as last week it was usually in the high single digits (8-9).
I tracked and headed for the South Australian border, and a few whiffs of clouds started to gather and my frame rate was in the 73-80fr range because the custom scenery had now unloaded itself.
The horizon was awful and not very pleasing so I changed a few render settings and it made no difference, up at FL330 that bad artifact banding that was so noticeable (upper picture) back in early January had also gone, It was certainly far better but not in a “great better” feeling – as the horizon was just a big brown deep blur that covered the scenery changes behind it.
As my frame rate was high i switched on the HDR…and wow.
Suddenly the horizon softened and it all came to the good, I still feel that a little more adjustment here would help but it felt far nicer and certainly much more realistic.
Importantly the frame rate now was down around (33fr – 34fr) no doubt still a huge chunk of power, but up here it didn’t affect the simulation to much as you had no large chunks of custom scenery coming along and pulling it all down.
The clouds pulled in a little more but the “view from up here” was perfect, I was impressed, seriously impressed (26-30fr)
The biggest noticeable thing was it was just so smooth as b10-04rc3 barely flickered up or down in frame rate as we sailed along, it would jump at a tile change and weather updates – but otherwise it was excellent.
The more westward I went the more the clouds built up and they did pull the frame rate down and I had them set quite low at 30%. Now i was now hovering around the 23-25fr mark and with HDR on.
Water reflections was excellent, here you have two, one up near the horizon and a deeper reflection lower in the picture and my water setting is set in the lowest position, there is no doubt and certainly thinking back to the same place last year – Is that XP10 is a huge leap forward visually in this area.
The clouds built up quite high and so down went my frame rate – still it was usable at 19-20fr, but it put you in an interesting position – do you switch HDR “ON” or “OFF”.
I went for OFF – And as I couldn’t now see the horizon anyway and it didn’t make much difference anywhere else either.
That jumped my frame rate back up to a healthy 43fr, I had no doubt it could have still ran smoothly at 19fr with HDR on, but it was more absorbent to the changes of the weather with it switched off. Personally it didn’t make any difference of what was noticeable around me so really it wasn’t needed.
I passed a storm and the weather cleared so i went back to the HDR on – And normal rates resumed.
All these changes and b10-04rc3 was still silky smooth, and very stable.
Arriving close to Kuala Lumpur and the view was simply stunning.
Turning over the coast I suddenly realized it was all very different from last year at the same place, Highways were buzzing with traffic as the lights started to come on, there was this movement everywhere as the highways snaked away from you in all different directions and the main highway was leading you directly to the airport.
WMKK is not as heavy a scenery as Melbourne’s YMML – but to go in with HDR on and not a flicker and good frame rates of 23fr – 26fr was again impressive.
No HDR lighting at WMKK – If there was i think it would still be above 20fr.
XP10 still had another surprise for me…
I had landed and was taxiing to the cargo section when something then caught my eye – It was a Cathay Pacific B748F that landed only a few minutes after i did and virtually followed me in as if we were traveling together, and then I realised that WMKK was swarming with aircraft, ten A.I.s were all on the move all around me.
Again the contrast back again to a dead empty airport last year was also very convincing.
So as a sum up, what was the final verdict on b10-04rc3?
pretty impressive all round…smooth, very smooth as my computer never seemed to be stretched at any point – and no crashes or holding the breath as I twiddled the render settings around quite a lot either, It seemed get smoother as you flew as well and seemed to give more performance at the end than at the beginning of the flight, the HDR was switched on most of the time and still on when landing was a testament to that.
I have no doubt that heavy weather would change this simulation a little or even a lot if I had been using some heavy custom scenery and then if you throw in a heavy file like Peter’s A388 in there.
That would of course is to be expected, but something I did come away with was – for now HDR is not needed as much at low levels or with heavy cloud, but it is essential to be switched “ON” if flying very high.
The buzzyness of coming back to a lower level of highways and aircraft in XP10 is very noticeable – And the sky, light and amazing clouds are the biggest visual differences to XP9′s run last year.
Niggles – Three really and all bugs, first one was every time I reset the render settings I lost the Cathay Pacific Cargo livery and had to switch back and to twice to get it back again, once was fine but doing it every time you adjusted something was annoying, to fix it for now i will just create a file with no liveries – but it is still annoying.
Second was the blur that was supposed to be the engine heat exhaust effect, It is way too big and in the wrong place and if it does look cool on the runway – It then just looks simply silly at height – and all you can think of is that is this effect using up huge amounts of frame rate that could be reduced if it was a just a fraction of its current size – done right I think it would look great, but right now it is just plain silly and wasteful.
Third was that the Weather METAR download failed again and gave me some very bad heavy full slider turbulence and shear at medium and low levels when i arrived at Malaysia to my utter disappointment…I thought that one had been fixed.
So job done and my final thoughts were – Smooth – Impressive and stable…..b10-04rc3 is confidently stable.