xEnviro 1.14 Released

November 24, 2020

After nearly a year of development, the highly anticipated 1.14 update for xEnviro has finally arrived, bringing with it a plethora of new features and an insight into the addon’s future.

xEnviro became the first addon to bring fully volumetric clouds to X-Plane 11 back with the release of version 1.10, along with a whole bunch of other features.

Starting off the announcement, one of the developers (Magnus Lorvik) admitted that the update took a longer time than expected, stating:

“This was supposed to be just a performance update. Which it is! But we met some restraints early in 2020 that we did not expect and took the chance of rewriting the core of xEnviro.”

Lorvik also touched upon Vulkan compatibility with 1.14, stating they weren’t sure when Vulkan would be released during the early development of 1.14 and didn’t want to risk developing for the beta of Vulkan, making version 1.14 compatible with OpenGL only.

Users have complained about performance issues with xEnviro in the past, though xEnviro has focused on improving the optimization of their volumetric clouds with the release of 1.14. The developer has included three different performance sliders to aid with optimization of the plugin, these three sliders being:

  • 1 - Clouds Static Quality: Adjusts the cloud quality - low may experience BWC (Belgian Waffle Clouds) and other artefacts.
  • 2 - Clouds dynamic quality: Movement artefacts (ghosting) is a thing - hide it with this slider.
  • 3 - Clouds detail range: Static quality for distant clouds - this is an fps hog!”

Lorvik has also admitted to some known issues in xEnviro 1.14, most of which will be fixed upon the release of 1.15 and xEnviro’s expansion into Vulkan. With this leap into Vulkan, xEnviro will no longer be developing for OpenGL after the release of 1.14, with the developer stating:

“We’re done fighting X-Plane in OpenGL, so we’re drawing the line here and moving on. But - by going over to semi full-scale rendering in our core code rewrite we have unlocked a plethora of possibilities.”

The developer has posted a list of all current bugs known with the latest release. To check out which bugs you should and shouldn’t report, check out the source post on the Threshold Forums.

Dark Space also touched upon the future of xEnviro and what it’ll contain, with 1.15 going fully Vulkan. After Vulkan compatibility is complete, the developer will look into multi-screen support, VR compatibility, and thunderstorms. Though these are exciting features, the developer is not sure which versions will contain them. Touching on optimization again, Lorvik said:

“With Vulkan, we will probably see another headroom for fps but do NOT expect too much here! xEnviro is a GPU eater so if you're GPU limited you will probably see 80fps default and come back to roughly 1.14 level of performance in 1.15. So if you're at 40fps in 1.14, you could see up to 40fps drop in 1.15 from default.”

For future updates, Dark Space is going to focus on one item at a time, saying, “The past updates have been way too broad and complicated and thus took so much time.” Excitingly, Lorvik also confirmed that xEnviro 1.15 would not take another year, though no ETA has been provided. 

A rough idea for the road map was also provided: 

  • V1.15 Vulkan
  • V1.16 Spherical buffer
  • V1.17 Low-level fog
  • V1.19 Precipitation volume | Atmosphere shadows
  • V1.20 Thunderstorms
  • V1.21 Night environment

Lastly, Lorvik commented on seasons with Vulkan compatibility, stating that “Dynamic Seasons will be gone in Vulkan version of xE1.15. If we manage to convince Laminar to give us access to what we need in Vulkan, then we will add that in as soon as we have it back!”

Though the developer will leave both OpenGL and Vulkan versions of 1.15 working, meaning seasons will still be useable on the OpenGL version of 1.15.

Ending the announcement off, Lorvik apologized for the lack of updates between 1.13 and 1.14, though assuring users that 1.15 will not take that long.

xEnviro can be purchased from the Threshold Store for $69.90.

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