Since the initial announcement back in September, Laminar research has drip-fed their social media feeds with fantastic looking screenshots, direct from X-Plane 12. From volumetric clouds to brand new aircraft, the team are working tirelessly to bring the X-Plane platform into the next generation.
One of the largest improvements to the platform will be the environmental changes including a whole new environmental system which will include volumetric clouds, native integration of an improved librain system as well as seasonal autogen trees and vegetation. In a video where Austin Meyers, creator of X-Plane, shows off the new environment and the new A330, Austin insists there is still a lot of work still to do in terms of performance and graphics optimisation and scenery rendering.
In a blogpost, senior developer Ben Supnik described the theory behind the new lighting system which takes the form of a photometric system that adds a huge amount of detail to how light is displayed and what the user experiences compared to the current lighting engine found in X-Plane 11. A photometric render light system relies on a lot of data to represent more realistic light levels found in the real world. X-Plane 11 currently renders light with a low dynamic range which displays light levels between 0 and 255 which was driven by the limitations in technology found in most monitors at the time of coding. The new photometric system will render light using a high dynamic range (commonly shortened to HDR which you may find in your camera app on your phone) which represents a much greater number of lighting levels that allows X-Plane 12 to render a more realistic lighting representation.
The new photometric system also allows X-Plane 12 to create an atmosphere and realistic sky without using traditional bitmapped textures. The new sky will take the lighting system, factor in the height and viewing angle of the user as well as atmospheric conditions to create a true to life environment to fly through.
In terms of new aircraft, Laminar Research has published further previews of their Airbus A330 aircraft parked at a gate with incredible reflections in the groundwater. The developer has also announced the addition of the Robinson R22 will also be included in XP12.
As Austin eluded to in the preview video, there is still a lot of work left to be completed until X-Plane 12 is ready for release, but it is obvious that the team are working hard to implement a whole host of features in true laminar research style and detail.
To keep up with further developments, keep your eye on the X-Plane Developer Blog.