After months of work to develop the platform from version 12.05, Ben Supnik summarised the latest changes and some future plans for the current release of 12.06 and beyond in a development blog post on the X-Plane website.
The latest changes include performance enhancements, cloud and weather changes, lighting development, and changes to the ATC and AI Pilot systems. When it comes to performance, the team has moved away from using their hand-coded rendering pipeline and switched it over to a rendering node graph which is more commonly used with Vulkan generational APIs due to the ability to double book VRAM which allows X-Plane to render effects faster and utilise the VRAM on the graphics card more effectively meaning users should have a more streamlined experience.
In terms of cloud and weather changes, the team has also spent a long time finessing performance accuracy and quality of the clouds overall making them appear less pixelated and ugly. Specifically, Cirrus clouds have received attention to ensure they are more realistic to the real-world cloud type rather than just much higher, thinner stratus clouds. Real-world weather has taken a back seat for this update as the team wanted to focus on improving visualisation results so the additional work on upgrading real-world weather is more beneficial when it is improved.
Although the lighting system hasn’t received an update specifically, improvements come in the form of some fixes for sky colours. Ben detailed that instead of pushing little and often updates to the lighting system, the team wants to release lighting improvements in a ‘measure twice, cut once’ approach to also assist third-party developers when it comes to something like improving dark cockpits as the developers will only have to release one small update to their product rather than many smaller updates which we would all benefit from.
Finally, Ben detailed some top-line changes to the AI and ATC systems within the update but promised a more in-depth blog explaining the ATC changes with an update from Jim Keir. Ben did however speak about how Austin has ‘trained’ the AI pilot system to improve the way they fly ensuring they don’t crash on approach bringing airport operations to a halt or into the side of a mountain bringing the whole sim to a halt and crashing to desktop. The changes made to the AI Pilot should also enable the ATC system to run more smoothly too.
There is still much to look forward to with the development of X-Plane 12 including version 12.07 which should include some flight model changes from Austin, graphics enhancements and more. Changes to clouds and weather should reduce the ‘Minecraft’ cloud visualisation, upgrades to real-world weather implementation, CPU utilisation improvements for those limited by CPU usage, and some ATC fixes and SID/STAR support, all in the immediate pipeline to come.
Simply run the X-Plane installer to update and ensure the ‘check for Beta updates’ box is ticked to install X-Plane 12.06b2.
We will keep you up to date with all things X-Plane, but in the meantime, why not take a look at our interview with Thomson Meeks at last month’s FSExpo in Houston.