SkyMaxx Pro v5 Announced, Featuring Volumetric Clouds

January 14, 2021

Maxx-XP and Sundog Software have announced the next major version of SkyMaxx Pro for X-Plane 11, with version 5 set to release in the coming week.

According to X-Aviation’s Cameron Son, the v4 run was the longest ever for the product – with it now being time to ‘turn the page to chapter 5.’

“We have wanted to bring what v5 has in it for years, but it just wasn't feasible till now.”

“With that said, SkyMaxx Pro v5 brings GPU ray-casted clouds. Internally, we attempted GPU ray-casted clouds many versions ago, but the performance was just not there.

“However, they will now be the fastest clouds we offer (you read that right...faster than v4!), and they also feature the most complex, realistic lighting effects of any cumulus cloud layer offered (you will still have the option to run v4 style particle-based clouds).

“It is now possible to draw volumetric cloud formations to the horizon with v5.”

The approach is similar to that of weather competitor xEnviro, who have used volumetric clouds since 2018. According to Maxx-XP, however, they’ve been holding off on implementing this method awaiting a time for PC hardware to reach a stage where good performance in a volumetric environment is doable and now appears to be that time.

“These new volumetric clouds use a novel approach to split the computational load of lighting between the GPU and CPU in an optimal manner, resulting in framerates we never thought possible for true 3D voxel clouds.”

“We’ve also come up with some clever ways to minimize the complexity of the shaders without introducing visible banding or slicing effects in the process.”

SkyMaxx Pro version 5 will support OpenGL and Vulkan out-of-the-box, with no additional purchase or updates required when changing between rendering APIs – however, Mac users must use OpenGL rendering as Metal support for custom cloud rendering is ‘not viable’ at the current time. The developer is unsure of when this may change.

In terms of upgrading, a 50% discount will be available to users who own SkyMaxx Pro v4 and will be valid for 60 days after release of the new version. This will take the price down from $39.95 USD to $19.95 USD.

Lastly, a release date was also given out. SkyMaxx Pro v5 will release at 12:00pm Eastern Time on Friday 22nd January 2021.

See the source post for this article on the X-Pilot Forums.

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