The X-Plane team at Laminar Research has been busy reviewing their plans with the X-Plane 12 platform, and how they can improve on the popular simulator. When we spoke to Thomson at FlightSimExpo 2023, he shared some details surrounding how the platform was in a phase of maturity, before the team could then take things to the next level. In the latest blog post from him, he gave a bit more detail about how the future will look.
A bit of background first with the release of X-Plane 12.07. This update improved the VRAM usage, developed improved clouds (and introduced new cirrus clouds), along with OpenXR integration to make VR usage much simpler in the simulator.
New Version Numbers
It may not be the most exciting part of the update, but Thomson really wanted to clarify to users that X-Plane 12 will be shifting to a new version numbering system. So far, they have only used a ‘one dot’ system (e.g. X-Plane 12.01, X-Plane 12.02), but as of the next update, will move to a ‘two dot’ system. That means the next version of X-Plane will be X-Plane 12.0.8.
X-Plane 12.0.8 will have a big focus on the flight model. This includes improvements to engine performance, especially on jets and turboprops – following data much more closely. Engines aren’t the only improved area, as landing gear has seen an overhaul. In particular, the code for the controls wheel inertia, weld modelling and the ABS has all been revised to produce more realistic landings and less forward pitch/slamming during rollout.
Another area that X-Plane 12.0.8 will see improvement in is projector warping/blending. This is a feature for those on professional licenses, but now a new grid system will help you blend your multiple projector displays much easier than before.
Other improvements to this version also come to the networking capabilities, a fix to long pauses when popping out windows and also ensuring the “totally out of VRAM” crash has been resolved.
The first major update release, X-Plane 12.1.0 will be where all the “fun stuff” that the graphics team has worked on will appear in the simulator. Expect improvements for the real weather, cloud shadows, better bloom effects, software ground shadows and improved performance on the CPU.
More information on what X-Plane 12.1.0 will come in the future.
Other In Progress Items
Thomson also listed a bunch of other things that are currently in the works at team X-Plane in order to improve the simulator.
- New G1000 pages
- G1000 Synthetic Vision
- Airliner-style weather radar
- Plugin-created glass avionics
- Depth of Field effects (for pretty pictures)
- CACAO fixes (small SSAO update)
- New Particle Effects
- Sparks from engines/fuselages touching the ground at speed
- Ground spray from wheels/engines
- Helicopter Brown-Outs/White-Outs
- Virtualized VRAM – using the virtual memory capabilities of modern graphics cards, we can pack VRAM more tightly, waste less VRAM and not have to move things around like a number puzzle. This should result in sharper textures and less likelihood of out-of-VRAM crashes.
- Light Level Tuning
- Sky Exposure Recalibration
- Clouds Affect Haze and Sky
- Local Rain and Fog Affects Visibility
- Foggy Lights
- Fix Dark Cockpits
- Multiplayer Bug Fixes
- Improved synchronization between external visuals monitors – ground trucks, etc.
Changes to Pricing
In order to take X-Plane to the next level, Laminar Research is increasing the price of X-Plane 12 to $79.99. Thomson said that this is to enable the team to expand the team to provide the “most realistic flight simulation experience imaginable.” This is for X-Plane 12 and future projects that have yet to be shared.
That concludes the lengthy blog post from Thomson about X-Plane 12’s immediate future. We’ll of course keep you covered with any future developments on their roadmap.