I wasn’t in the room for the reveal of FSDreamTeam’s latest enhancement to their excellent GSX product, but the excitement from those that were made me want to head straight over to the team to check it out. On their stand was a few posters showing some of the new features of ‘level 2’, but when Umberto and the team showed it off to me in detail, that’s when I knew that this was going to be an incredible enhancement.
“Fans have been asking for 3D virtual passengers for years”, was what he told me. That’s unsurprising because I’ve found myself wanting the same thing for years. With that, Umberto opened the doors to the default A321 and the passenger bus appeared. Not expecting anything too fancy, I was then amazed to see the passengers come out in masses ready to board via the 3 sets of steps attached to the plane. The animations were smooth and looked pretty realistic. Of course, we were sat at a default airport in a default aircraft, so the impact on frames isn’t fully realised just yet, but I was assured it would be very little – no more than what GSX does right now.
Not to stop at just representing the passengers boarding the aircraft, Umberto said he had another treat to share with us. With a quick reload of the sim, he loaded up the same plane and airport, but this time instead of the aircraft departing, we were instead arriving. Once the passengers had poured out of the aircraft, he said “look now” and pointed to door 1L. To my surprise, out came 2 cabin crew and the pilots – complete with crew bags. As they walked down the stairs into the minibus, I loved the small attention to detail given. In particular, I loved how even the bags bounced after hitting each step as they went down.
Of course, the biggest featured confirmed was the implementation of SODE jetways at every single airport in the flight sim universe. Regardless of whether its payware, freeware or default scenery, GSX Level 2 will feature SODE jetways. Umberto took us on a tour of how this system works.
The system works well regardless of whether you’re a developer or simply just using the system to make your airports more realistic. Almost every element of the jetway system is customisable. For example, you can change the colour the jetway, the material type (glass, metal, etc) and also the logos plastered on the side. Every single jetway manufacturer has been modelled in GSX Level 2 giving you the ultimate power over how the airport works. If the building is too far away from the start of the jetway no problem – just extend the bridge from the building to the start of it. Not only that, but you can also choose up to 4 jetways per stand, all of which can attach flawlessly to your aircraft. I was really impressed by how much detail and control the team were giving to both developers and users.
Sadly this is the only screenshot we have of GSX Level 2
The UI of GSX remains mostly unchanged. You can select which component you wish to adjust per stand, and with a few mouse clicks, it can be easily changed and saved. You can even extend the actual bridge to the jetway with a few clicks if it’s not attaching quite perfectly. A quick refresh later and then you’ll be able to use the parking stand/gate without any issues at all. All of these settings can be saved and will be remembered the next time you boot up the sim. This is great for developers as instead of having to develop their own jetways for their airports, they can simply use this system to create an ini file. Once done, they can package that up with their scenery and providing the end user is using GSX Level 2, they too will have an accurate representation of jetbridges at each gate.
The short time we were on their stand with the product being demoed to us, just highlighted how easy it is to use. Of course, it does rely on the developer taking the time to implement this system and also for the end-user to own the product. But providing both of those conditions are met, then we can expect airports in the future to be full of beautiful SODE jetways. Of course, for those airport that already implement their own custom SODE jetways, then you have nothing to worry about as GSX will ignore them anyway as they’re of a high quality already. So just to clarify:
- Payware, freeware or default airport WITHOUT SODE jetways = GSX Level 2 will add SODE jetways
- Payware or freeware WITH SODE jetways = GSX Level 2 will leave them alone and change nothing
The final element of the product which was demoed to us combined both new elements in a very cool effect. The animated passengers I loved walking up and down steps; they also do that down the jetway as well. Providing you have a glass covered walkway, you’ll be able to see the passengers and crew walking down the jetway heading for the aircraft. This technology has been made compatible with FSX and P3DV3, it’s ideal environment is P3Dv4, thanks to the 64-bit nature of the software. The animation of the passengers and crew were smooth and you could see how their skeleton technology has advanced as GSX has been updated. What’s interesting is that aircraft developers will be able to link in with GSX to provide the ‘exact’ number of passengers you’re requesting to board the aircraft. If the aircraft doesn’t do that, then GSX Level 2 will ‘guess’ the rough number of people based on the weight of the plane. Pretty clever.
When it comes to buying it, not release date has yet been mentioned. Nor has a specific price been set. However, it was mentioned that the price will be less than $30 as this will be some kind of expansion to the current GSX. When “Level 2” is released, it will be released as an expansion to the original, meaning to own the full package will require you to purchase both. GSX has been one of the most updated products I own and this new update continues to improve on the technology already seen. Beta testing is due to start at the end of the month
I never thought I would be so excited to see virtual passengers walk towards my aircraft.