xEnviro 1.17 Released

October 8, 2022
X-Plane
OTHER
MSFS

After an extended development time due to real-world circumstances, The team behind xEnviro have finally released their latest version of the product, update 1.17. Containing loads of new features and updates to the weather add-on.

The team at behind the project have worked really hard to get this new version of xEnviro to everyone, considering what happened with some of the developers in the aftermath of the invasion of Ukraine. This update is rather major compared to the recent version 1.16, and contains an overall new look and major changes to the already robust weather plugin. The team will also continue to update this plugin as long as they deem necessary and worthwhile for the people who still use X-Plane 11.

From the extensive forum post project leader Magnus Lorvik made about the update, the post mentions the hurdles and limitations when it comes to bringing the plugin into the newly released X-Plane 12 Early Access, as well as the major updates 1.17 brings to the table.

“X-Plane 12

Sadly, there is some bad news. Laminar Research have turned down the idea of bringing xEnviro into their newly released simulator X-Plane 12 due to reasoning that the team at Threshold cannot understand and find somewhat puzzling. There have been ongoing arguments and conflict issues with Laminar Research attempting to bring xEnviro to X-Plane 12, but as the Executive states “We’re tired of fighting and hopelessly defending long development cycles”. This is not just us that are having difficulties coming to terms with Laminar Research, Developers Enhanced Skyskapes, SkyMaxx and others are also experiencing the same issue. 

VR Compatibility

Threshold has made a main change to xEnviro in version 1.17 by basing it on a spherical buffer. This has allowed them to get a much better performance for lower end machines and higher screen resolutions. Higher end machines also benefit, but not as much. VR is only compatible currently with Vulkan.

1:1 Scale

The team at Threshold have made a main objective to make a true to life representation of the environment as possible and thus we recreate the atmosphere in 1:1 scale. This differs to other clouds in MSFS and X-Plane 12 as xEnviro gives a true positioning awareness when relating to your surroundings in the sky. An example of this is when you fly between two layers of clouds that are close to each other. While in MSFS and X-Plane 12 you get claustrophobic in a 5000 feet gap, you will perceive this as a grand space in xEnviro.

Some Known Issues

The 1:1 scale has its demands on performance. The main compromising issue in 1.17 is obvious when you load into the sim. Movement shimmer. This is not a huge problem when you fly slow and are gone when standing still. The artefacts are especially noticeable around the edges of the clouds. We have added a quality slider to reduce that shimmer - but at the cost of performance. This will be a continuous target to refine and improve for us going forward. 

1.17 Changelog

Added

  • Spherical buffer
  • Full volume rendering implemented. No more separate layer rendering
  • New cloud light scattering math
  • New cloud formation logic. Now we can create clouds of any shape
  • Smooth transition between stratus and cumulus clouds
  • Thunderstorm clouds are back
  • Incloud lightning
  • Clouds screen edge quality slider added
  • Draw high-level clouds checkbox added
  • Updrafts added below cumulus clouds with vertical development
  • Tropopause temperature control
  • Basic VR support
  • Weather search accepts Enter key
  • Added X-Plane rain sound checkbox
  • You can type several icao codes in the weather search window using virtually any separator and then hit Enter to get the list of metar report
  • Added hotkeys via X-Plane key assignment menu to open xEnviro Weather Briefing or Settings window or call for CAVOK conditions. 
  • Passive cloud sync. Clouds look the same for all the xEnviro 1.17 users at a given time and a given location. This feature is important for online flights and shared cockpit sessions. This includes thunderstorms

Changed

  • Atmosphere light scattering revised
  • Visibility maths changed
  • General scene light energy adjusted to match atmosphere conditions
  • Clouds blur level slider changed to clouds dynamic blur
  • Cloud base adjusted to better match reported values
  • The turbulence model is changed to match long-term forces better
  • Wind distribution changed to avail fake forecast reports for aircraft devs
  • Post-processing maths and application order adjusted
  • Increased distance for the city lights reflected by haze
  • Server timeout reduced to 5 seconds
  • New method to hide X-Plane DSF edge implemented
  • Full control over aircraft icing. No more random icing in snowfall

Removed

  • Banding lines on distant clouds removed
  • Clouds static quality slider removed.


Known issues

  • Clouds shimmer, hard edges, terrain blending issues
  • Clouds edge distortion at high-speed movement
  • Clouds can be loaded partially after repositioning
  • Some unpredictable shapes of clouds can form including lines and squares
  • No lightning bolts
  • No sun glow in VR
  • Cloud edges may create artefacts on distant clouds when close
  • City lights through clouds at night in rare conditions after moving aircraft on the map
  • Precipitation follows camera
  • Snow coverage may appear in the regions where no snowfall has been encountered recently
  • X-plane does not provide any option to set precipitation as snow but only as rain therefore it begins to play rain sound even when xEnviro draws a snowfall. We included a dirty fix that temporarily disables X-Plane internal environmental sounds when it snows outside and restores the initial value when a snowfall stops”

If you are a current owner of xEnviro, this update will be free to obtain by heading over to the X-Plane.org Store or the Threshold Store and downloading the latest version. If you are still an X-Plane 11 user and would like to purchase this addon, you can purchase it through both the X-Plane Store for $69.90 or the Threshold Store for $69.69.

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