Laminar Research, the developer of the X-Plane franchise, gave an update on the state of their platform and what is to come.
In a packed session Saturday at FSExpo, the development team covered a variety of topics including the mobile platform, the current build of X-Plane 11, and upcoming changes to airplanes and scenery within the sim.
Developers began by talking about the advancements in the platform. In 2008, the version platform shared just 1 percent of code with the desktop version. Fast forward to today, and now the mobile platform shares over 73 percent of code with the desktop version.
The developers also spoke about the realism in the mobile version of X-Plane, stating almost all of the switches actually do something, and the aircraft are highly detailed with fully modeled aircraft systems and interactive cockpits.
The upcoming version of X-Plane Mobile means that users can look forward to a brand new selection user interface, which helps them make flight plans and select airports. Users will also be able to fly globally on the mobile platform, with autogenerated cities and towns, over 35,000 airports, and 10,000 custom-built 3D airports streamed from the scenery gateway cloud. The latest version is due for a summer release and Laminar is currently looking for beta testers.
Many attendees were eager to hear about changes to the desktop version of X-Plane 11. Developers highlighted the number of global airports added in 2019, saying over 10,000 airports have been added to the software. Scenery developers will be assisted by the addition of new boats to the object packs, and World Editor 2.0 will allow developers to overlay ortho so that developers can see what they are doing.
The desktop version will see the addition of new landmark areas including Washington DC and New York City.
Developers also touched on updates to sounds within the sim. Both the King Air and 737 will get FMod sounds, and dynamic sounds based on position, and interior and exterior sounds.
The sim will also see updates to airplane systems, including work on the King Air fuel system (support for header/feeder, AUX, and trim tanks), and the ability to transfer fuel both manually or automatically. The sim will also feature a new cross-feed system, and trim fuel for supersonic aircraft. The fuel system also receives attention when it comes to oddly-shaped tanks, meaning it will be easier for third-party developers to direct flow.
The bleed system will receive attention. The system will now be able to receive air from a GPU, and it allows a modular design for up to three packs and multiple isolation valves. These changes also mean that bleed air consumption will affect engine output.
X-Plane will also see improvements to APU systems, DME and NAV radio functions and electrical systems. A beta version with these improvements will be available on Monday.
The conversation shifted to X-Plane and Vulcan and Metal. First talked about over two years ago, developers have said that everything has finally been ported over to Vulcan and Metal. In the move, developers have noticed faster performance, with about a 20 percent improvement rate on frames. Metal also runs faster than OpenGL on AMD/OSX, and there are no lag spikes.
Developers caution that the builds are still a work in progress and that there is still coding to be done (especially on paging processes). Plus, plug-in support needs a lot of work before they will be compatible with the new versions.
Developers hope to have either a preview or the beta ready in 2019, but they have said the final version will not be available before the end of 2019. They have also cautioned that the beta process and debugging all of the add-ons will be a long process.