Usually, I try to organize these Friday posts around a central theme. Today you get a grab-bag of random stuff that’s floating around my desk (and my brain). Prepare yourself.
Remember the last couple of posts, and how I’ve been harping on realism? For me, that means using a plane that I’m either likely to or have flown in the so-called “real world”, using procedures the mimic their actual counterparts. I really enjoy this kind of flying for the brain-work required, but every now and then it’s nice to cut loose and take a flight of fancy.
A Slick Ride for Virtual Moguls
My latest FS fantasy involves being stinking rich enough to own the world’s slickest personal jet, the Epic Victory. Thanks to Bill Ortis (aka Lionheart), the unwashed masses now get to cruise the virtual skies in their own Victories. Unlike the real Epic, Lionheart is cranking out hundreds of these babies. The price is right, too.
Mostly, this little jet is about sex appeal. I mean, look at those lines! And in charcoal w/flowing stripes? Pant, pant.
Inside, the cockpit is like something from the bridge of the Starship Enterprise. It’s all curves and glass panels, with appointments that’d put the nicest luxury car to shame. Not only is the G1000 avionics suite full-featured, but it’s fairly simple to use as well. I found the tutorial below just this morning, showing this little rocket being set up for an ILS approach.
When you’ve got to get from A to B in maximum style and speed, the Victory is just the ticket.
Doug, the 70-Year-Old Diver
So maybe you’re not in a mood for slick, silent, and fast. Could I perhaps interest you in old, smoky, and slow? Yes, the Douglass Dauntless is not the quickest bird on the block, nor does it have the curves of the Epic. Then again, you can’t pull a 60-degree dive from the heavens and blow stuff up in a Victory.
I love warbirds. They’re loud, dirty, and can be cantankerous to fly. There’s something about Vertigo Studios’ Dauntless that’s appealing — a sort of stodgy, reliable lethality. My favorite part about this rendition is how well they modeled the virtual cockpit. This is top-of-the-line texture and 3D work, so immersive that you can almost smell the burning oil and cordite.
Seems like it’d be a great bird to practice carrier approaches with. Also (insert plug here), it’s a great tourer for plying the skies of the Pacific Northwest. You’ll draw a crowd everywhere you land. Based on this and their other bird, the F6F Hellcat, I’d say Vertigo is a developer to watch.
Orbx Unfolds Their Roadmap
This week, Orbx big cheese John Venema revealed a big box full of upcoming projects via their Product Roadmap. If you’re wondering when they’re going to get around to modeling your part of the world in high-def, check it out. (hint: if you live in New Zealand, B.C., Alaska, or the Rocky Mountains, you’re going to be happy.)
One of the projects I’ve taken on for them is a departure from my usual work. I’ve contracted to create the official FTX version of Portland International Airport (KPDX), which was last seen in the fabulous FlightZone02 scenery for FS2004. They’re big shoes to fill, because FlightZone did an incredible job, but things have moved on technically since those days, and we can add features now that weren’t available then. Plus, the airport itself has undergone a bit of a growth spurt in the last few years, so be on the lookout for sights you haven’t seen before. It’s an enormous project – vastly larger than what I usually do – so it’ll take quite a while to finish. I’ll be sure to post development screenshots as things progress.
And Finally, the Bizarre…
Anybody who has been around computers for more than ten minutes knows that they’re mysterious beasts, more organic and unpredictable than they have any right to be. Given how hard FSX pushes your average system, it’s no wonder that it’s particularly good at pointing out every little quirk and flaw in the host computer.
A few weeks ago, I wrote that I was having some graphical anomalies on my rig. I could start an FSX flight just fine, and things loaded perfectly and performed well. That is, until I changed the view from VC to exterior. At that point, the sim would predictably draw my plane with transparent textures, save for a few parts. Switch back to VC, and everything is fine. Back to exterior, and there’s that magical transparent plane again. Normally, I’d say this is a sign that the system is being overdriven, but even dialing back my graphics settings dramatically didn’t solve the problem.
In addition, if I were cheeky enough to try and load another aircraft, going to the 2D aircraft selection menu and then back into the 3D sim caused all manner of hell to break loose. The sky turned black except for the clouds, pixels would smear across the screen. It was an unrecoverable mess, resulting in a Ctl-C and a whole lot of filthy mutterings.
Fast forward a few days. I downloaded the new ActiveSky Evolution to check out it enhanced real-world weather capabilities. Being a current ActiveSky Advanced owner, it was a free upgrade, and I figured what the heck? It’s worth a try. Worth a try, indeed.
For some reason known only to the gods in Redmond, on my first flight with ASE controlling the weather, the graphical glitches suddenly ceased. I could switch from VC to external and back again with nary a problem. Loading a new plane? No sweat. Also, my frame rates (which were already excellent) got even better. My favorite part of this mystery is that now I can fly, with or without loading ASE, and the sim looks and works great. I’m not saying that ActiveSky had anything to do with this sudden happy turn of events. Honestly, I don’t have a clue what happened. It’s as if some buffer were cleared or incompatibility corrected, and now things are just peachy.
Because life is just weird like that, and FSX is one of the weirder parts of life.
Anyway, I’m off to enjoy my new-found graphical happiness. Have a great weekend, filled with memorable flights.