A New Week

This week has been uneventful with flight simming. Don’t get me wrong, I really wanted to do a couple of flights, but I couldn’t convince myself sitting for 2-3 hours flying from Copenhagen to Greece unable to play anything else, including the new Assassin’s Creed or Forza Horizons 4.

I did get a few console games this week: The World Ends With You Remix, Crypt of the Necrodancer, and WWE2K19. I’m enjoying the former two, but the last game I’m mixed on. The controls are just too damn awkward, resulting me in losing nearly every wrestling match, on easy. With that said it’s still a good game, and I love the intro animations for many of the wrestlers.

Not much else to talk about today. Just going to enjoy the rest of my last day off before heading back to work tomorrow.

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Gaming Week

I really want to do some simulation stuff, but damn…it’s expensive.

Let’s start with X-Plane 11. I wanted to do a flight from Stockholm to Copenhagen. It crashed before I even got off the ground, not once but twice. I still can’t figure out why the sim is crashing, but it only seems to do it on one particular aircraft. Another issue I had with the flight was the STAR approach was not playing well without ATC guidance. Basically I’d have to vector myself to the airport which is unrealistic.

P3D solves that problem, I haven’t had a crash on that program in months and I have an excellent ATC program that gives me the correct vectoring I need to begin my approach. The downside is that it’s hella expensive. The default airport for Copenhagen looks like ass, and if I want to purchase a professional version of the airport it’s going to cost me $30.

So in the meantime I’m not playing either sim. I just don’t have patience for it at the moment.

In the meantime I’m filling my time with other activities. I picked up Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, which is sucking up most of my time. I’m also playing through Forza Horizons 4 which is the best racing game this year IMO.

I’m watching a lot of One Piece and finished the Skypiea arc. I’m bouncing back and forth between the anime and manga. While I enjoy the art, music, and voiceovers from the anime, sometimes the pacing is a bit off, so I’ll switch to the manga which has much faster pacing…but just reading it I feel a bit bored when I can just lay back and watch an anime for 20 minutes.

I’ve also lost my 3DS. I’ve looked all over the house and I can’t seem to find it. Fortunately Monster Hunter Stories and Phoenix Wright is on iOS so I’m just playing those games on my phone instead.

So that’s that for the weekend. Not sure what else to do except just relax and try to get some stuff done around the house.

A Tale of Two Sims

So last week, I picked up the FSLabs A320 and London Heathrow scenery for Prepar3D. To my horror, the frame rate averaged about 15FPS. I spent an entire evening trying to improve this, but could barely increase frames to 25FPS by disabling practically all the autogen scenery. In other airports, I can top 30-50FPS. It’s just London that’s bad.

To make matters worse, throughout yesterday’s flight to Frankfurt, the scenery textures took a nosedive somewhere over Germany and ended up a blurry mess, also messing up my destination airport with trees popping out of the runways and taxiways. There’s some fixes online that I’ll have to investigate…one of which is limiting the FPS to 30FPS, which allows my video card to prioritize scenery loading over frame rate, and a reinstall of Frankfurt airport addon. Still, for now I’m putting Prepar3D on hold.

I had similar issues with X-Plane 11 last week that I believe are now resolved. I had missing tiles and my approach to Venice ended up with a missing runway. I disabled the ortho scenery, overlays, and prefab scenery. I didn’t run into any problems during this flight. I’d like to try the same flight again in Prepar3D but I’m not keen on spending 2 hours on a flight to find out it’s blurry and unflyable by the time I hit London.

I can’t tell at this point which simulator I prefer. Each has its flaws. I do like the fact that I can render orthos with X-Plane 11, but at a cost of HDD space, tile issues, and clouds over the satellite scenery (sometimes engulfing entire towns)…it’s not worth it. I’m sticking to just HDMesh v4 for now.

The GA aircraft selection for X-Plane 11 is fantastic, as well as the local scenery…I can literally follow the roads to my house. It’s missing a lot of VFR landmarks, which is somewhat fixable, except I’m running into some issues in parts of London that aren’t rendering due to lack of OSM data. That said, if I want to follow I-5 from Bellingham to Seattle, it’s much easier to view the highway than trying to identify the flat textures of P3D.

On top of that, each airport is up-to-date as well as nav data. I don’t have to deal with purchasing addon airports to fix missing runways or outdated layouts, and I don’t have to deal with an outdated GNS database to find out that several waypoints are 2 years outdated.

Unfortunately, there’s no study-level 747 or 777 aircraft available for XP11 so far, except for some subquality aircraft. The main draw is the shorter haul 737 and A320.

For Prepar3D, I like the wide variety of aircraft (specifically study level long-haul airliners), study-level GA aircraft, weather generation, ATC interactions, AI traffic, and Orbx regional sceneries for P3D, but at the expense of frame rates, blurry textures, airport issues, and other problems I ran into.

I don’t think I can ever make a firm decision on which simulator I prefer. It’s one of those things that I’m never going to be satisfied with. With that said it’s still nice to have options available to me. If I lived in a perfect world there would just be one simulator for everything that includes both advantages of P3D and XP11, but that simulator doesn’t exist.

It’s an expensive hobby too, but gosh do I enjoy it.

Weekend Update

Heya,

It’s another weekend for me. Currently in the middle of a 3 hour flight from Seattle to Juneau in a 737-900.

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The hard part is the anticipation for many of these flights. I can’t afford to do a 3 hour flight during the week when I have so many other things I’d like to do. Even a one hour GA flight still takes up some time.

With that I’ve been bouncing back and forth from P3D and X-Plane 11 with this Seattle to Anchorage flight. On one hand, if I want to do the flight in P3D, I feel somewhat obligated to purchase the airport addon because it looks really good and it’s a nice destination for some of my local GA flights. On the other hand, I get a very good representation in X-Plane 11 for free.

Both sims feature very good 737 representations. P3D has the PMDG which is the best 737 simulation in the market. X-Plane on the other hand has a really good one (the Zibo 737) that comes in close second.

I think what got me to stick with P3D the expandability of the simulation. With the current addons I have, I get:

  • PMDG 737: Accurate 737 representation
  • Active Sky Next + ASCA: A very good weather and clouds model
  • ProATC: Good ATC system with vectoring and SID/STAR support
  • Ultimate Traffic: Real-world air traffic according to real flight plans
  • Envshade + Envtex: Great Shaders and airport textures
  • Orbx Global, Vector, Pacific Northwest Region, Alaska Region: Great scenery textures and vector information, along with custom objects and autogen.
  • DD Seattle X + Airports: Seattle scenery and local airports
  • Aerosoft Anchorage: Anchorage airport
  • Chaseplane: A very good camera system!

It’s expensive, but it looks great and makes it one of the best simulations in the market.

With X-Plane, on the other hand, I have this:

  • Zibo 737: The second best 737 (for free), with arguably more realistic flight dynamics.
  • HDMesh v4: Accurate mountains, roads, rivers, lakes, etc.
  • DD Seattle X + Airports: The same addon as P3D, takes longer to load though with frame rate issues.
  • xCamera: A decent camera system, not as good as Chaseplane
  • FSGRW: Updated weather generator.
  • Up-to-date airports and navaids
  • Great looking graphics and night lighting out of the box.

That’s about it. The weather texturing and cloud detail I’ve used xEnviro, Skymaxx Pro, and Ultimate Weather XP with mixed results. I’m sticking to default for now.

Orthos is another thing that everyone raves about…satellite scenery that comes at a price of blurry ground textures and massive disk space usage.

No ATC or Traffic coverage (the current options are substandard). There’s also not many landmarks out of the box…so if you want to fly around and see the Hollywood sign, the Golden Gate Bridge, or the Statue of Liberty…you’re out of luck.

Along with that there are no decent long range aircraft, aside from the Zibo 737 and the FFA320, which aren’t as good as the P3D counterparts. There’s no top-line 747, 777, 787, etc…

Don’t get me wrong, out of the box and with free addons, I really like X-Plane in many ways over P3D, and I feel over time the base engine be even better. As far as expandability though, I just don’t think it’s there yet…

Other than that, this week has been mostly productive as far as keeping up with entertainment and such. I’m playing a lot of Yakuza 0, on one hand to “get it over with” and on the other hand to prove to myself that I can at least finish a game, even if it takes me over a year to complete. It’s a very good and compelling story…not sure what I’ll play after this (Yakuza Kiwami? Yakuza 6? Some other game?) but in the meantime I’m enjoying it while it lasts.

Also got Two Point Hospital. I have fond memories of Theme Hospital as a kid, and this is somewhat of a spiritual successor to it. It’ll be a nice change of pace from simulators and story-based games.

I’d like to do some truck simming this weekend. The new Promods update is out and it looks great. I’m going to stick with Promods and the previous version of Truck Simulator for a while. I just don’t really like Vanilla despite the recent improvements, so I see no reason to drop my current profile.

Yesterday

This week I’m determined to play through Yakuza 0. I’ve put in so many hours into it and it feels like I’m getting close to the ending. I don’t know what I’ll play after it though: Yakuza Kiwami? Yakuza 6? Nier Automata?

Ran another flight yesterday from San Francisco to San Diego in X-Plane 11. Ran into some keybinding issues with reverse thrust on landing and a warning about an incompatible airport, but despite that it turned out to be a pretty good flight.

I’d like to try more similar flights in P3D in the future, but I’m probably going to have to deal without ATC or AI Traffic as it’s a bit of an annoyance due to the buggy nature of it.

I think one of the biggest issues I have with P3D is the fact that the best Airbus A320’s available attaches Malware to your PC. On XP11, I have a very good comparable Airbus so I don’t need to install the malware ridden Airbus.

At the same time P3D has a wider selection of aircraft to chose from, a good mix of both short and long haul aircraft. XP11 only has short and medium haul aircraft to chose from.

Lastly, flying through parts of Socal in default X-Plane 11 looks terrible unless I use orthos, since there is no equivalent of Orbx texturing, and weather leaves a lot to be desired (disappearing clouds for example). Yet, despite the engine looks quite impressive and there’s always improvement in future releases.

I’m using both simulators in the meantime, but I wish I could just stick with just one. The main problem lies not so much in aircraft (I’m a Boeing fan anyway and I would rather just keep studying Boeing aircraft.), but in getting addons for particular airports. If I want to fly to KSAN for example, I have a great freeware addon scenery for it. I’d have to pay for a comparable P3D airport or stick with the default which looks absolutely terrible.

Frustrations about Flight Sims

Yesterday put me in a bit of a sour mood as far as flight simming goes.

Flew in P3D using a new ATC mod on a flight from KSFO to KSAN. I’m not really impressed by it.

First, it directed me to the wrong taxiways (or rather, it skipped a crucial one). I had to self-navigate myself using the airport diagram to figure out how to get to the runway. The biggest problem I have is that it wouldn’t direct me to the right STAR. I was expecting COMIX2 to the RWY27 RNAV approach according to the charts and real-world data. Instead I got SHAMU2, which is an approach for RWY 9 LOC. When I was vectored back to the correct runway, I was so confused and flying way too fast that I overshot the runway and well…it didn’t turn out too well…

I do like that it sets up the co-pilot to do some of the tedious tasks (setting up autopilot, putting gear up, etc), and I’m happy that I no longer need to vector myself. but I expected something a bit more realistic.

The other issue I had was the AI traffic is still pretty much abysmal. Perhaps it’s the addon airport I have using wrong data, but I shouldn’t see aircraft crisscrossing the wrong runways, “colliding” into each other.

I’m planning on doing the same flight in X-Plane 11. It’s been a few months since I’ve touched the sim. In many aspects (weather, AI traffic, scenery detail, etc) it’s not as good as Prepar3D, but I get better framerates, better controls, some decent scenery addons, the Zibo 737 mod, and the FF A320, along with a bunch of other good mods. So it should be a bit of fun getting back in the air.

I’ll post some updates later!

Good Week

It’s been a pretty decent week. What have I been up to? What do I plan on doing over the weekend?

Gaming

I’ve just started getting back into Ace Attorney: Justice for All. It’s good so far, though I miss the soundtrack of the first game. Just started Chapter 2 and looking forward to playing more of it.

I tried a bit of Shenmue. I enjoy the world immersion it gives me. Just spending half an hour going through drawers in my own house…that level of detail is unprecedented. I haven’t even left my house yet, which I plan on doing soon. The only downside is that the graphics and audio are dated, and the controls just feel weird compared to modern game controls.

I’m planning on playing more Yakuza 0. One of these days I’ll eventually finish it, then I can move on to Yakuza Kiwami or Yakuza 6 (or finish 5 even?). I love this series and it’s always on my top games to play.

I’d love to try to get into Monster Hunter World, but Monster Hunter Generations is coming out for the Switch next week. Having a portable MH game, especially one with better graphics than the 3DS version, and more features is definitely something I’m looking forward to.

Listened to some soundtracks this week, mostly Final Fantasy and Nier Automata. Which reminds me how much I need to continue Nier Automata…it’s such a good game and one definitely worthy of attention, if only my time wasn’t taken with Yakuza 0.

Hobbies

Finishing up on the MG Jesta (Gundam) model kit. I have to finish up the backpack, the weapons, and the decals. I won’t be painting it or adding finish to it, for now at least. I’m trying to wrap it up so I can work on a new Voltron LEGO set I picked up. Over 2300 pieces…this is going to be a massive project!

IMG_1174.JPG

Simming

I did some livestreaming last week and it ended up being pretty successful. Some of my family members watched me play Euro Truck 2 and I got to talk to a person about the German PZB train system during a Train Sim World session. I might do some more streaming again this Saturday, if I’m up for it.

I’m currently torn on Euro Truck Simulator 2 though. On one hand, if I want to play using a more detailed and expanded map using Promods, I have to downgrade to 1.31 and miss out on the new trailer ownership features, but I get the ability to travel through an updated UK, visit more cities in Spain, and I can travel all the way to Greece and Cyprus. On the other hand, sticking to vanilla I get an updated Germany, in-game events/external contracts, and trailer ownership.

I don’t have that problem with American Truck Simulator, fortunately. In fact, the next year looks bright for the sim. Oregon will be coming up soon, which goes into familiar territory for me…and rumor has it based off extraction of the in-game map files…Washington will be coming out next along with Utah and even parts of Texas. This is really good news!

In my flight sims, I’ve done a couple flights. One flight was in a PA-24 Comanche from Cologne to Trier, which the scenery over the Rhine and Moselle Rivers was jaw-dropping. I used a new GNS750 addon for the flight, which by far beats the default GPS system, and is compatible with all of my addon planes.

The other flight was from Juneau, AK to Seattle, WA in a 737-900. I ran into some minor issues, mainly graphics related due to the date being set wrong (which made the weather to be incorrectly displayed), and there was an issue with the gates not showing up at Seatac, which was an issue with SODE that I was able to fix after the flight.

One thing bothering me is the AI traffic and the ATC. When I tried to land at Seatac, there was already aircraft lining up on the runway. Since the default ATC doesn’t have SID/STAR support, I’m basically vectoring myself to the runway. Without ATC coordination I have to manually disable AI traffic in order to land without crashing into the AI.

The other issue with AI traffic is that the addon I’m using is utilizing old liveries for many airliners (such as Lufthansa and Alaska), travelling at KSEA and seeing a mix of new and old liveries is visually grating. Also if I add too much aircraft, it clogs up the gates, making it very difficult for me to find a place to “park” the plane. The floating red text is annoying too, but I can turn that off.

2018-8-23_10-55-25-749

Seattle + Seattle Airports for X-Plane 11 came out. I’ve been waiting months for this, and…I’m not going to get it…for now at least. It feels like I’ve invested so much into P3D addons at this point that X-Plane 11 just feels average at best. Everything from the weather, the scenery, the shaders, even the aforementioned AI traffic simply works with P3D. The only thing I’m lacking is professional quality international airports, which I’m picking up slowly throughout the weeks.

Not sure where my next flight will be. I’m thinking of picking between San Francisco, San Diego, and Palm Springs. I haven’t decided yet on any GA routes either, though I’d like to perhaps tour the West Coast, or do an East Coast to West Coast flight. I can also do some FSEconomy flights and visit some random airports.

Got plenty to do this weekend. Looking forward to my next update :).