Year’s End

This year has been somewhat uneventful. Basically, it doesn’t feel like I’ve accomplished as much as I wanted to, and all I did was just “go with the flow”. Next year I plan for something drastic, and I am starting on that plan sooner rather than later.

I’m also going to set a tight financial budget and I’ll need to exclude any extra unnecessary things to accomplish that. I’ve realized though, that I’ve focused a bit too much on quantity over quality. 

This year, I’ve got more games, more books, more figures. That’s going to have to change next year. I’m going to limit my selection of games, chose only the art books I want to read, and focus on the very best figures. Quite frankly, I have no time to spend on all of my games and books, and I am simply running out of shelf space at home.

With gaming, I’ve established a new Backloggery account. I’m going to focus on two-three games at once. One long game, one short game, and one really short/indie game. I haven’t quite worked out the logistics of how I’m going to rotate out certain games yet, simply because I’d go insane if I was still playing the same game 3 months in a row because of it’s length.

There are games I’ll be deleting from my backlog as well. I’m trying to avoid endless games: strategy games, simulators, and multiplayer-only games. I’m also getting rid of games that simply don’t capture my attention after about an hour or so. With that, it should provide a nice framework of getting my backlog finally manageable through next year.

Ultimately, this plan should put me with greater financial independence in time for 2020, and should provide plenty of fun as well. Let’s see how it works!

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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.

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.

alaska

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!