Laminar Research Q&A Summary (February 2019)
Laminar Research have today held a Q&A session, one of a couple done throughout the year. We have summarised the main talking points of the developments of X-Plane below, but if you prefer to watch the whole video, you can do so here (we strongly advise watching the first minute from 3:20 for a good laugh):
Compared to previous Q&A sessions and expo events, there was not a huge amount of new content to talk about. This is mostly due in part to 11.30 and its subsequent updates (11.31, 11.32 etc.) and the work on Vulkan. The most pressing issue is making X-Plane 11.30 as stable as possible through additional updates, which will happen over the next few weeks.
Ben Supnik, lead developer of X-Plane, is continuing to work on re-writing X-Plane to Vulkan, which will be included in X-Plane 11. Early on in the live-stream Ben detailed how writing X-Plane in GFX calls and sending these to a so-called "headquarters" allows X-Plane to be more easily transferred between different rendering engines, which is why OpenGL will not be dropped in V11, similar to how 32-bit was not dropped in X-Plane 10's product lifetime when 64-bit was introduced.
Next week, the team plan on getting X-Plane to work in the Vulkan environment which has already been accomplished with Plane Maker. By getting X-Plane working with Vulkan, support from corporations such as Nvidia will be better as the technology in use is modern and up-to-date.
As part of Vulkan, multi-threading is already in use in 11.30 - specifically the flight model. Other aspects such as multi-threaded scenery loading will come in the main Vulkan upgrade. Work on upgrading the rendering engine will take priority once 11.3X is stable.
11.30 laid the necessary foundations to build better ATC in X-Plane 11, and with improving text-to-speech, will be made to sound more realistic in the future. A highlight of the new ATC system is the idea to run a concept similar to the airport Scenery Gateway: the new system has the world's aircraft, manufacturer, airline, airport and more names all available to pronounce, but users will be able to correct inaccuracies in pronunciation of certain names, which will have to be improved before making their way into the sim.
There are still a lot of features of ATC that are on the roadmap that cannot yet be discussed, but as X-Plane evolves, these will be announced and added in due course.
X-Plane 10 on mobile will soon get an upgrade that will allow for global scenery on the go. When this update becomes available this year, the app will be known simply as 'X-Plane Global'. Additionally, users will be able to select certain regions to store on their mobile devices to reduce the space used significantly.
The speed of mobile development is very fast, as many features in the desktop edition of X-Plane can simply be dropped into mobile.
Two aircraft were discussed with regard to receiving FMOD sounds. Firstly, the KingAir will soon receive a very accurate FMOD sound-set thanks in part to Daniella, who also made the sounds for the FlyJSim jets for example. These sounds will come to mobile as well as desktop.
The default 737 will also be receiving a sound pack, sometime around June. Again, Daniella is working on these sounds and should be done to demo at FSExpo 2019.
Furthermore, if users would like to learn how to implement FMOD sounds into X-Plane, they can look at tutorials from X-Plane's YouTube channel, or from the developers of FMOD themselves.
- Bone animations are on the to-do list, but will come after Vulkan
- Austin has flown the ICON-A5 and is due to fly the Cessna 172 on floats to gather water physics data. It will include things like damping, water drag and the lateral bouncing of the aircraft floating on water
- Work on improving ground vehicles is also being undertaken by Austin
- The weather download issues are caused by the NOAA upgrading to https protocols, which X-Plane needs to adjust to
- X-Plane may make use of Nvidia's RTX in the future, as Ben sounded very optimistic about using ray tracing in X-Plane, but Vulkan must come first before this can be considered
- World Editor (WED) V2.0 is imminent, with old tools updated and more features to give it its V2.0 designation
Keep up-to-date with Laminar Research through Facebook, their developer blog and their YouTube channel. Their most recent live-stream prior to today's was back in August, which you can see a summary here.