Thursday, June 22, 2017

Military Avatars Package Freeware Release


NOTE - UPDATED TO VERSION 1.04 TO SOLVE MINOR MISTAKES (YOU MAY WANT TO DOWNLOAD IT AGAIN IF YOU HAVE 1.03).

As promised on my Facebook page, I am re-releasing the Military Avatars Package as freeware. This version features some minor changes with respect of the last payware release, such as the removal of the installer and (most important) the reintroduction of the collision detection for Prepar3d V4 compatibility.
I do not like too much the collision detection as it is buggy and you cannot, in some cases, get really close to the aircraft... but its absence seems to create an issue with P3Dv4, so I have restored it.

For those who might be curious, as developer sales figures is a tightly kept secret, the oveall number of payware copies sold was 161 - which, after distributors' fees and taxes - barely covered the development costs.
As side note, source files for these figures have been lost to ransomware -so this package will not be furtherly updated.

Still, I am seriously considering a new version, with fewer but better models and better animations....although that would be definitely more expensive to make.

Anyway, you can download the latest version from the menu HERE or in the side bar of this blog.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Prepar3D Version 4 compatibility statement...and screenshots ;-) !




First, my apologies for the lack of replies and updates both on the blog and on the facebook page... I do not have much spare time for flight simming lately, but rest assured I read all your message and value your feedback.

Second, here is the a brief recap of the status of my projects for what concerns the compatibility with the upcoming Prepar3D V4 release (I had a quick look at the release candidate over the weekend and, you have a good, modern hardware, I highly recommed).

In general, the compatibility of P3Dv4 with addons native to FSX and P3D is quite high, as long as there are no external C++ modules involved in the aicraft systems. For what concerns my aicrafts, they often use Doug Dawson's fuel dump and sound effects gauges respectively to manage some fuel system functions (such as external fuel tanks loading/unloading, in flight refuel etc.). These gauges are currently not compatible with P3Dv4, hence:

- In-flight refuel will not work. Aicrafts with external fuel tanks will have minor issues (such as enabling to refuel non-existent external tanks).

- Custom sounds such as voice warnings and other sounds (e.g. the SideWinder growl) will not be played.

...apart from that EVERYTHING else seems to work (except the F-35B STOVL...see below), so by and large I'd say my aicrafts are compatible with P3Dv4. I will update my aicrafts if/when updated versions of these modules become available.

Also, at present Tacpack is not compatible with P3DV4 - so none of the aircrafts will have tacpack functionality.

F-35 Lightning II

As per the general notes, no custom sounds and minor issue with the fuel system. The F-35B STOVL function will not work - however, as soon as the new version of FSUIPC.dll is released, it is possible that the function is restored by using the alternate STOVL gauge which relies on it (the gauge is already present in the package as a backup solution and it is commented out).

Aside, P3Dv4 will include an updated version of the F-35A - which includes many of the enhancements of the payware version (and a new livery). Note that the bundled version has NO Tacpack functionality.


Eurofighter Typhoon

Same as above... no voice warnings and issues with the fuel system, but pretty much everything else works.


Military Avatars Package

There is an issue with the contact points, so that the Avatars will appear to be literally "knee-deep" into the runway. A small patch to correct this will be released soon.
Anyway, as you know, this package has been withdrawn from sales - it will be re-released as freeware soon (and the release will include the fix).


Aermacchi MB-326

Works fine - except the "phantom fuel tank" syndrome.
By the way, since some of you asked, YES the porting to AF2 is proceeding (veeeery slowly).


 Boeing T-45C Goshawk

Works fine - no issues at all. :-) !
...and, sooner or later, it might get an update with a new avionic suite by MilViz and AO textures (as soon as I can find the time).


Grumman F-14D Tomcat

Same story - minor issues to the fuel system... but in general works fine!



S-3B Viking

Last but not least... and again minor issues with the fuel system, but in general works fine.
By the way, the AI-Tanker version is almost finished!



Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Eurofighter Version 1.08 released


I have just released a new version of the Eurofighter Typhoon to SimMarket, FlightSimStore and PC Aviator. This is basically a "cleanup" release that restores Tacpack Multiplayer Signature and gets rid of some unnecessary avionic code... I also took the chance to add some repaints from the community.
The update will take a little to deploy - you should receive a notification from the distibutor of your choice in a couple of days in the worst case.

2017-05-15
Product update to version 1.08
- Restored Tacpack files signature for multiplayer

- Further tweaks to the control surface animations
- Fixed bug preventing AoA bracket to show while in landing PoF
- Cleanup of avionics code (should solve or at least reduce the "freezing" issue experienced by some users)
- Added "500th Eurofighter Delivered" repaint, courtesy of Rob Skipworth
- Added "Diecimila Ore, 4 Stormo" repaint, courtesy of Tim Brennan
- Added "Tiger" repaint, courtesy of Antonio Diaz
- Added "RAF 41 Sqn Centenary" repaint, courtesy of Rob Skipworth
- A copy of this manual is now stored in the docs folder



Monday, April 24, 2017

Eurofighter Version 1.06 Released!


***IMPORTANT!***
I forgot to "sign" the Tacpack files for multiplayer anti-cheating in the1.05-1.06 update to the Eurofighter... as result, if the server has anti-cheat enabled, you will be kicked out of the session. Please download the signed files (that must go into the main Eurofighter folder) from the side bar, if you want to use the updated Typhoon in multiplayer. Sorry for the inconvenience.

*** EDIT - A SIGNIFICANT BUG HAS BEEN DETECTED IN VERSION 1.05 - WILL BE FIXED IN VERSION 1.06 ***

A rainy Sunday is a good day for some "housekeeping" of my projects... so I have released a small update to the Eurofighter project which hopefully solves some of the problems detected in these first two weeks of deployment. There are still some issues to be solved, but given that my time for the Eurofighter in the next few weeks will be very limited, I decided to release it today.

You should receive an email notification from your distributor of choice that the installer has been updated to version 1.05. This is a full install that will overwrite all the existing files, so if you have installed additional repaints you may want to make a copy of your aircraft.cfg first. Changes are as follows:

2017-04-24
Product updated to version 1.06
- Fixed bug that made the elevon movement to be reversed
- Furtherly reduced excursion of canard motion

2017-04-23
Product updated to version 1.05
- Improvements to flight control animations
- Improvements to flight model stability in certain conditions
- Fixed bug which prevented external fuel tanks from being replenished in the configurator
- Fixed bug which prevented external fuel tanks from being replenished in in-flight refuel under Tacpack
- Fixed bug in TRK autopilot function
- Fixed bug in STA4 pylon visibility condition
- Adjusted position of guided bomb hanging from pylons
- Changed "Ready for Takeoff" condition so that Avionic Master is now set to ON
- Added missing white navigation light
- Fixed several bugs preventing correct frequency-to-channel Tacan conversion
- Fixed bug that made ZOOM IN/ZOOM OUT key functionality to be inverted in LDP controls
- Fixed minor bug in FUEL format

Friday, April 14, 2017

Roadmap for 2017-18 (Spoiler...more trainers!)

So... with the Eurofighter out of the door, it is time for me to think what to do next.
Well, in reality of course I have been planning and making some reseach for my new projects for several months...and here are my current thoughts.

F-35 LIGHTNING II UPDATE

I have been (slowly) rebuilding the source files for the cockpit, in order to create a new, official update to to the F-35 package. The update will be free for existing customers.
It will gather all the changes released through patches on this blog, and will also take advantage of some of the things I have learned and experimented with for the Typhoon (for one, better readability of the MFD and HMD, and improvements to the cockpit interface). I was trying to release this by the end of the month, but I am not sure I can make it. Here is how it looks like right now:


EUROFIGHTER TYPHOON UPDATE

I have also been working to fix the bugs and make some improbements to the Eurofighter package I released 10 days ago. Actually I have already a patch that will fix some of the issues in the current release, but I am waiting another week or so just to make sure that there no other high priority issues arise from the much larger user base (by the way...in 10 days on SimMarket the number of copies of the Typhoon sold has already surpassed the F-35 ones... which tells a lot about the popularity of FSX vs P3D, and of the Typhoon vs the Lightning)... The update will be released as a full installer in a couple of weeks.

SIAI MARCHETTI S-211

This is a small jet trainer, I have been working on for quite a while. After the ransomware attack I wanted a fresh start with a simple project (before deciding to resume the Typhoon) and since a privately owned S.211 is at the local airport I decided to do this. This project looks really good - although I realize that most people don't know this aicraft and may be a little puzzled by the unpopular choice. The extenal model is almost done, while I have dozens of great pictures of the cockpit taken at the local airport - so I believe this may be the best looking cockpit I have done to date (and possibly the most realistic aircraft I have made so far)...


LOCKHEED MARTIN T-50A

I have been seriously considering the T-50A, too. It is totally doable and would look great, and makes a lot of sense as an F-35-trainer... problem is that cockpit documentation is scarce, and there are not good pictures of it (especially for the side panels)


C-2 GREYHOUND / E-2 HAWKEYE PACKAGE

Feasibility for this project looks good but not great...I am postponing it to 2018.


SUPPORT FOR OTHER SIMULATORS

It is no mistery that I am playing with both AeroFly FS2 and X-Plane 11. They both have their own limitations, and, all in all, the FSX/P3D SDK is still way more flexible (at least for the 3D modeling and animation) than these two new platforms.
Still, I am considering to port the MB-326 and the T-45 to both platforms, and eventually the F-35A. But do not expect fully functional VC in neither.

Other projects I have been thinking about (or actually playing with):

T-45C GOSHAWK IMPROVEMENTS - There are some potential improvements which may not require the source files...

F-14 VERSION 3.0 - You really think I was not doing anything on the mighty feline? I am thinkering with improvements and new meshes... but I am not convinced it is the right way to go.

NEW MILITARY AVATARS PACKAGE: new models, with higher resolution meshes and mocap animations... this would look cool, but it is also relatively expensive to make (and sales of the current Avatar package are really low)

S-3 AI TANKER - I'll do it, sooner or later!




Thursday, April 13, 2017

Repaint Templates for Eurofighter Typhoon


As some of you are aware of, the Typhoon paintkit was lost in the ransomware attack I suffered from last year. So, in case you want to repaint the Typhoon, the closest thing I can provide you with is the set of uncompressed templates which are the ones I used to create the liveries.

Each texture is stored in a PSD file which contains the following layers (bottom to top):
- Blank texture with mockup color
- Generic UK texture
- Generic Italian texture
- Generic German texture
- Generic Spanish texture
- A "Mechanical Details" layer which contains the texture for the mechanical parts and details (these should not usually be repainted - exception being the refuel caps which are either dark grey or red).
- An "Usually Not Painted" layer which has all the details that usually do not have paint (e.g.radar radome)
. An Ambient Occlusion layer.

Color reference is as follows:

German Luftwaffe - FS35237 (this has a slight blueish tint to it)
UK Royal Air Force - BS381c-626 (aka Camouflage Grey or "Barley Grey")
Italian Air Force - FS36280 (Approximately - has also been quoted as FS36492)
Spanish Air Force - FS36231
Austrian Air Force - FS36492 (the same as the Spanish Air Force)
Royal Saudi Air Force - Two-tone camouflage - overall BS381c-626 with FS35237 on top

(taken from this very complete post: http://www.britmodeller.com/forums/index.php?/topic/50168-typhoon-reference-information-updated-with-corrected-italian-typhoon-colours/ )

Download link is HERE

Friday, April 7, 2017

Impressions on X-Plane 11


The worst thing of being a flight simulation developer (well...apart from the sleep deprivation) is that you do not have much time to look and play with other people's creations.... there are literally dozens of aircrafts and add-ons that I'd really love to test, but I do not have the time. Let alone testing a completely new simulator.
So, I took a little break after the Typhoon release and had a look a X-Plane 11 while I am trying to decide what is better to do next... and here are my impressions. Please remind that this is X-Plane 11 Vanilla... no add-ons used.

Flight modeling
X-Plane series has always been famous for its flight modeling... basically, the flight model is derived from the "shape" of the aicraft, rather than numbers and parameters like in FSX/P3D. In some sense this is a much more elengant approach.
I do not know the intricacies of any of the stock aicrafts so well to tell "how good" they are - nor I have flown any of them for real... but the impression is that the all of the aircraft I tested had a very solid and realistic flight modeling. I have particularly appreciated the takeoff dynamics... for some reason I cannot explain they give you the best "takeoff run" feeling of any simulator I have ever tested. 

Graphics
The graphic it engine is impressive.... with a couple of drawbacks. Let's start with the things I did not like: the sea/water rendering, the stock textures and the day lighting. The water looks "fake" and a little flat - P3Dv3 makes a much better job in that respect (although still fa away from what modern graphics can do). And day lighting seems washed out - again P3Dv3 is superior in that respect IMHO... and actually Aerofly FS2 is even better - actually much better...it is the only one that manages to capture the intensity of a bright sunny day.
Stock textures are OK, better than FSX/P3D defaults (...not surprising as they are 10 years old!), but nothing to write home about.
And that's it for the not-so-great things...everything else is awesome.
The night lighting is miles above anything else - IT LOOKS REAL. And when you realize that even the cars in the streets have their own light source you marvel at this techical achievement.
Weather is also really good... and gives its best in the rendition of fog and low visibility conditions.
Another fantastic thing is the Autogen system. Much better, more flexible and more complete than FSX/P3D with an amazing level of detail (fantastic for helicopter flying!). By "flexible" I mean that it positions buildings and structures following the streets and the terrain features in a much more consistent and realistic way than FSX/P3D. Awesome job - with a minor note: the buildings look a litte tall, and there are not that many trees in italian cities and towns.
...and NO BLURRIES and NO STUTTERS.

Graphics performance
I would say it is very good to excellent. Sure, you I do not get the 200+ frames per second I get from AFS2, but if you consider how much is happening on the screen it is amazing. Sure, if you max out the sliders my old 3770k at 3.9GHz and the GTX1080 struggle to keep a smooth flight, but in general the performance is better than FSX/P3D in similar conditions.

Stock Aircrafts
Stock aicrafts are good, not great. The selection is OK and includes some planes specifically rebuilt for XP11, and some from previous versions. Considering only the XP11 aircrafts, they are good... I'd say they are great but the modeling and texturing (coupled with the "washed out" daylight rendering) makes it so that they do not look as good as stock AFS2 aicrafts. Still, they are way better than FSX stock aicrafts. In terms of systems and flight modeling they are really good for being stock aicrafts.   

Stock Scenery
EXTREMELY complete. Right out of the digital box you have the whole world, but the vectors and landclass definitions are much better than the stock FSX/P3D database - and they basically have a similar level of detail as ORBX Global Vector. Also, the default airports are much more detailed than in FSX and in general the stock scenery is way better. Still... the stock textures are good but not the best I have ever seen, and while the autogen is extremely detailed, some of its buildings look a little out of place (at least in Italy...but that is always the case in any simulator!).  

Weather
Weather graphical rendition varies from very good (cloud transitions) to excellent (fog). The effects in the aicrafts are just right - but my real life experience of flying in bad weather was really too short to judge.

Sound
Frankly the least impressive part of the package... it is not bad, but on my system it sounds OK but not great (maybe I am too much used to third party sound packages in FSX). Still, no complaints here.

Long story short:

LIKES
  • It is the most realistic and complete flight simulator you can buy for your home computer.
  • Night environment and lighting is absolutely superb.
  • Astonishing level of detail and scalability of the autogen system
  • Good stock aicrafts and extremely complete base scenery
DISLIKES
  • Daylight rendering looks a little washed out
  • Water rendering is not great
  • ...it does not have the same add-ons as FSX ;-)!
Final remarks:
If you are looking for a complete, serious and realistic simulation (and you have a modern, relatively powerful computer) - right now X-Plane 11 is probably the best thing you can buy.
Out of the box it is a solid, complete package that will give you hundreds of flying hours and fun.
You have to consider, however, that FSX/P3D add-ons availability is unbeatable...and new versions of P3D and Flight Simulator are likely to arrive in the near future. Also, P3Dv3 does a couple of things better than X-Plane 11 IMHO.
Aerofly Fight Simulator 2 has its own merits too - but at the current status of its development it is not as complete as the other contenders. Still has the best daylight rendering, the best aicraft models (graphically speaking) and delivers a conving Virtual Reality experience (which P3Dv3 and XP11 do not do with FlyInside). 

The night lighting is FANTASTIC - by far the best I have ever seen in a home flight simulation.

Cloud transitioning in a MD-82 - Weather rendition is very good to excellent. Cockpits are in general very detailed (but do not look as good as the ones in AF2).

Day lighting is not as bright as it should be. This is one of the few things I don7t like about XP11.

The Autogen system places houses and buildings following steets, highways and geographical features and delivers a convincing (but a little "fake"-looking) rendition. Vector database is excellent.