Quick Review: X-Plane 11 (Should you buy it?)

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This post is a quick review of my experience using X-Plane 11.

X-plane 11 is an advanced flight simulator by Laminar Research which utilizes modern 64-bit architecture found in today’s computers along with the latest GPU’s and CPU’s. I will list the pros and cons I found in using the X-Plane 11 Demo and ultimately purchasing the complete X-plane 11 simulator on Steam.

This quick review represents my experience after running X-plane 11 on an older computer.

My Computer Specs: CPU- AMD Phenom II 945 Quad Core, MEMORY- 8 gb ram, GPU- GTX  750ti OC 4gb memory, HARD DRIVES- Two 500 gb, One 250 gb

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Pros/What I do like

User Interface (UI): 

Pleasing to the eyes.  The UI in X-plane 11 has been given a complete and welcome overhaul from past versions of the sim. Old and new users will find the settings easier to navigate and understand. Whether configuring a joystick, flight yoke or tweaking the sim’s graphics, the simple sliders, added search function and visuals make configuring X-plane 11 to your liking fun and intelligent.  I personally enjoy the new layout and views for displaying aircraft, airports, weather and the visual representations of various flight yokes and joysticks simply wonderful.

Lighting: 

Impressive. The lighting in X-plane 11 is amazing and in my opinion, more realistic than ever.  I have been using X-plane 10 global the past few years and after first running the X-Plane 11 Demo, I immediately noticed a vast daylight improvement over the previous version of the sim.  The sun is more dynamic and bright, with better rendered shadows as one would expect on a bright sunny day.  At night, HDR lighting adds more realistic vibrant lights on cars, buildings, aircraft and runways.  (Need a good graphics card for this at least 4 gb of ram)

Sound:

Good. Aside from ATC audio, general environment and aircraft sounds are quite realistic and pleasing.  Audio for default X-plane 11 aircraft is generally acceptable.  I have found aircraft audio mostly depends on the aircraft you fly and the original quality whether payware or free.  (As expected payware aircraft tend to be more realistic both visually and audio-wise)

Clouds: 

Clouds appear to be softer and whiter in X-plane 11 but my FPS did take at least a 10 point frame rate drop when flying in heavier fog/cloud layers.  Clear skies it is.

Frame-rates (FPS):  

I have been pleasantly surprised by the improvement in frame-rates in X-plane 11 over X-plane 10.  (Settings for my machine are 4x anti-aliasing, HDR High,  Shadows on,  Scenery Options Medium -Low,  Reflections off. ) My system is quite old but even with my older processor and the GTX 750 ti 4gb I was able to hover around 30fps when flying in my hometown  (KEKA, KACV)*.   At these settings within the Demo Area I was able to get around 22-23 fps, clear day and even better FPS at night. )

Graphics/Autogen: 

Overall the default textures for terrain, buildings, road-networks, airports etc. are fantastic in X-plane 11.  Days (and nights) are more realistic  than ever in X-plane 11 with the new haze (particle system?)  that has been added to the atmosphere.   As mentioned before, HDR lighting makes street lights, runways, and aircraft lighting look real.  Yes I enjoy lights. With a decent graphics card (the more memory the better)  visual settings and lights will look great in your sim.  The trains/traffic have even been updated in X-plane 11 too!

Addons and Tweaking

If you like tweaking,  modding and using addons you will love X-plane 11 because adding custom content is a breeze in X-plane11.

Note for new users:  Some default airports in X-plane 11 will not include buildings but updated airports which include buildings, hangers and terminals are being added to X-plane via updates.  Find out about the airport gateway hereBuild/improve airports with World Editor (WED)


Cons/What I don’t like

 

User Interface (UI): 

While completely enjoy and welcome to new easier to navigate and appealing layout of the UI, I still find myself wishing I could control certain settings.  For example I would like to be able to disable birds, deer and boats. I see no options to disable those.  And if fire and balloons still exist within the game (haven’t seen them yet in X-plane 11) a disable option for those too.  I would also like to be able to control the number of cars on the road separate from the number of buildings.  For me this for cosmetic and a realistic stand-point.  (My town has many roads, but very few cars.)

Sounds: 

ATC in X-plane 11 make work more realistically than in it did in previous versions of X-plane but I wouldn’t know because I haven’t tried it yet.  I find the synthesized voice that is used completely unbearable to listen to.   Some default aircraft such as the helicopter produces some wonky rotor sounds which sound more mechanical than realistic.  Screeching tires sounds are better but still exist in the default Cessna 172 which I don’t like.

Steering/ Controls: 

It might be just me, but I find the steering/rudder controls of the default Cessna 172 and helicopter erratic and difficult to control on take-off.   New users may have some difficulty at first.

Clouds

While generally clouds and fog in X-plane 11 are good we know they could be improved visually in terms of their shape, definition and overall appearance.  Thunderheads and storm clouds should appear like tall menacing thunderheads (cumulus cloud) rather than layers of stratus.

Graphics:

Of course the visuals can always be improved and I know the X-plane developers are working hard on so many awesome aspects and improvements for X-plane 11, including realistic clouds and autogen.  However, aside from unrealistic ATC audio, two areas that really distract my flying is the terrible rendition of airline contrails when viewed at a distance and the deer/birds.  Right now X-plane 11 is showing black/grey contrails which are hardly realistic.  The first time I saw it I thought the plane was on fire.  I will be looking forward to new longer and actual white aircraft contrails (as seen in FSX) which would improve the visuals greatly in X-plane 11.  Being able to disable unrealistic looking deer and birds on the runway would be fantastic.  Thank you Laminar Research.

 


Final Verdict/Should You Buy X-plane 11?

If you love flight sims such as FSX, than yes of course you should buy X-plane 11.  X-plane 11 runs better and the atmospheric visuals are impressive.  In addition, the improved UI  and the realistic lighting is enough to give this simulator an emphatic positive recommendation from me.  However, I also recommend first trying out the Demo for X-plane 11 before you spend the money on the full version (either on Steam or via X-plane.com).   With the demo version you will be able to see how well (or poorly) the sim runs on your particular machine while you experience the new user interface, flight controls, included aircraft and weather and lighting systems this great flight simulator provides.

Final note:  X-plane 11 is always being updated and improved.  Users can opt in or out of beta’s releases of the simulator if that is something that interests you.

 

*KEKA/KACV –  as of this posting these default airports did not feature airport buildings/hangers but I did add custom created content in my game.

 


Disclaimer:  The opinions and views expressed in this review are my own and are based on my own experience only.  These views or opinions are not intended to represent Laminar Research nor any of the developers of X-plane 11 in any way.

 


X-plane 11 Official website

X-plane 11 community

X-plane 11 on Steam

Movies everyone should watch before they die

Get Hope

Find me on Steam


Images are my in-game screenshots from default X-plane 11.05

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Posted in Uncategorized, X-plane 10, x-plane 11

Fixed! Real Terra Haze fix (FlywithLua script) for X-Plane 10.51

Update and fix for Real Terra Haze script

Many of you have noticed that Real Terra Haze stopped working with X-plane 10.50.   I would like to link to a fix and discussion on this issue.

http://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/forums/topic/106587-xplane-v105-and-rth-fly-with-lua/#comment-1050165

A huge thank you to Q8Pilot for this fix and video.  It works awesome.  Thank you!

Enjoy.

 

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Posted in Addons I Recommend, Plugins I Recommend, Plugins Overview, X-plane 10

Opinion: X-plane needs an upgrade in the cloud department

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Foggy weather or storm clouds?

I have been a user of X-plane for a few years now but recently decided to try out an old copy of FSX Microsoft’s flight sim from years ago.   I noticed instantly that the default clouds in FSX  look much more realistic than X-plane 10.   X-plane 10 does produce good fog clouds but that’s about the extent of goodness–since all the clouds look about the same.     Back in FSX, I added a freeware weather engine and freeware cloud textures to the sim and saw it as near as realistic as I have ever seen without getting a payware package like REX.    Now I enjoy flying in X-plane for different reasons but the clouds in X-plane 10 do need work.  Why do they have to look like a fuzzy blobs of fog that all look about the same no matter what kind of weather?   X-plane 10 doesn’t reproduce thunderstorms or cirrus clouds well either just more fog blobs to represent a storm or flat similar looking ovals to represent cirrus clouds.

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Oval-shaped Cirrus in X-plane 10

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freeware HD Clouds in FSX

 

Final note on clouds: X-plane 10 needs better Contrails

When it comes to contrails, X-plane hasn’t been able to reproduce them realistically either.  From the ground they should be (depending on the humidity) well-defined long white lines across the sky–as FSX reproduces quite well.

 

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Posted in Clouds

X-Plane 10 and Windows 10: Do they get along?

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So I made the plunge and installed Windows 10….four times.   Why four times?  Because I am a tinkerer and the OS didn’t exactly go on my machine (AMD Phenom(tm) II X4 945 Processor, 3000 Mhz, 4 Core(s), 8 gb ram)  without trouble but that’s a story for another day and another blog.  So what does this have to do with X-plane 10 you ask?  It is related as I hope becomes apparent in a moment.   See, I had been dual-booting with windows 8.1 and windows 7.  And more recently had been dual booting Windows 7 with Windows 10 technical preview until it would no longer update on my computer.  Nevertheless, it has been my experience that X-plane 10 seemed to run more stable for me in Windows 7 so that is where I usually launched the sim from.   (In Windows 8 the game had randomly closed or the OS would bump me back to the infamous metro start menu screen. )

So here comes Windows 10 and because I like to tinker with computer software, I took my time deciding whether I wanted to install over windows 7 (home premium) and get Windows 10 home or Windows 8.1 pro making the OS windows 10 pro.  I have since tried both and have decided to stick with Windows 10 pro.    Now X-plane 10 was previously installed on my computer so when Windows 10 was completed I attempted to launch X-plane straight up.  You guessed it—it crashed.  Naturally I figured there was a conflict with the new OS.   However, I rightly decided to reinstall X-plane 10 and complete the beta updates.  Now my machine is not a beast (probably more comparable to a domestic house cat) but I am happy to report X-plane 10.40b10 has run quite well so far!  I definitely believe the guys behind the code of X-plane 10 are making X-plane 10 better and better with each new update.

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Related Reading: http://developer.x-plane.com/2015/08/major-os-upgrade-what-could-go-wrong/

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Quick! Access a Winter Season in X-Plane 10

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Although not perfect, the winter mod adds winter-likeness to X-Plane 10

Another great feature I recently discovered was that not only is X-plane 10 suitable for plugins but it is able to take advantage of Modifications or MODS as well.  Up until recently, X-plane 10 has lacked any type of season beside summer—and all year round!   A winter modification was developed that once inserted into your X-Plane 10 can give you that snow-covered scene you may have been looking for and all with a simple click of a mouse button.

Now grant it, the winter textures are not perfect but then again when is life?  However, this winter mod will go a long way to help achieve winter-like flyover country above 40 degrees latitude.

What Do I Need To Do To Get Winter in X-Plane 10?

There are a couple of ways to get the winter textures into X-Plane 10 but the simplest (and by far the easiest) and the way I recommend is to download the Jonesoft Generic Modular Enabler (JSGME). Location where I downloaded my copy.

Of course, you will also need the Winter Package Mod package by Xflyer made specifically for use in the JSGME. Winter Package is located here.

Note: To download both files you will need an account (and register) with each forum.

IMPORTANT NOTE FOR INSTALLING JSGME:   Once you have unzipped the JSGME folder be sure to add the CONTENTS of the JSGME folder to your X-Plane 10 root directory —NOT the folder itself.   The unzipped Winter Package will go in the MODS folder.

Complete directions for how to install the Mod enabler (JSGME) and the Winter package will be found with the Winter Package Mod at that download location.  

Posted in Addons I Recommend

Personal Essential Plugins for X-Plane 10: FlyWithLua and Real Terra Haze

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In this post I want to take a look at a couple of excellent plugins for X-Plane 10.  One (FlyWithLua) is actually a script engine but it’s necessary to run a highly recommended add-on (script) called Real Terra Haze (RTC).  Get both plugins here:  FlyWithLua and Real Terra Haze.   Note: If you don’t already have one, you will need an account with the X-Plane.org forum site to download files.

Once you have unzipped both files, RTC and FlyWithLua, you will be able to place the FlyWithLua file folder into your X-Plane 10 Plugins directory.  The unzipped RTC script will go into the scripts folder of FlyWithLua.

What Does It Do?

Real Terra Haze gives a realistic looking blue haze (or whatever color you desire) on hills and mountains in the distance.   As you will note, there are some not-so realistic aspects to RTC (perhaps bugs).  Whatever you want to call them, you will notice an obscenely looking fog band at certain altitudes or if you so choose, a glaring bright horizon band especially over large bodies of water (e.g. the ocean).

Overall, Real Terra Haze is a great, (and for me) it is an essential must-have for helping X-Plane 10 look better and better. Get both plugins here:  FlyWithLua and Real Terra Haze.

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In this particular shot, notice the bluer water and haze. Within the Real Terra Haze plugin, the intensity of these shades can some-what be muted and/or strengthened.

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Posted in Plugins I Recommend, Plugins Overview

Featured Plane – Eclipse 550

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Eclipse 550 in X-plane 10

Periodically I would like to highlight my favorite quality aircraft for X-plane 10 (some will be payware and some free).

Generally to obtain any of the truly quality aircraft available for a flight simulator one must purchase it.   This is considered payware when the developer has created a plane or helicopter of such quality that they can then make well deserved money for their hard work.   Today’s featured aircraft, the Eclipse 550 is free.    It is not only free, it in my opinion is near, if not, payware quality.   This plane package is highly detailed, clean-looking and also contains various liveries (paint schemes for the exterior of the plane) for whatever look you are seeking.

I hope you enjoy this featured aircraft.

You can find this great plane by going to the developer’s site www.aerobask.com

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Bird of Paradise

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