x + sim + reviews ++ KABQ + Part II

KABQ 2 hrd

So, I’ve been crawling around on my knees all night long, and all around this airport, too, and I still haven’t found any green chile stew. I also haven’t found any bugs or glaring errors, either. I did find a few more odds and ends worth pointing out, so here goes.

Ahead of the left wing, above, and out the windshield of the 1900D, below, there’s a pretty good oil spill. It’s either that or someone in coach found some Ghost Pepper hot sauce and put a good dollop in their Bloody Mary.

KABQ 2 oil spill

I was pulling the Beech 1900D up to the jetway and shut down the engines – and then…bells ringing? But…it’s not even Christmas yet! But, then the jetway swung over, lowering as it came close, then it slapped right up against the fuselage. Hot-damn! Slicker then eel snot! A working Jetway?!

KABQ 2 1900D Jetway

In terms of sheer modeling excellence, I’d have to say the radiused windows below rate pretty high in my book. First, because it’s accurate, second, it’s not easy to make these. Next, consider that with XP’s HDR hi-def rendering active all sorts of neat things happen.

KABQ 2 radius window 1

Like when the sun sets off in the west (to the left in the image below) these windows pick up the reflection on the curve – with varying intensities of light and color on display!

KABQ 2 radius window 2

The “tunnel” below may look ordinary, but there was a time in XP when these were almost impossible to do. Now? It just adds another layer of realism that our scenery files lacked. Good on Laminar! Good job Mr X!

KABQ 2 tunnel

In this next tunnel shot, look at the complexity of the model. Each surface has to be textured, by the way. This was not an easy building to create, but the results are crazy-good.

KABQ 2 tunnel 2

Speaking of textures, or more specifically photo-textures, take a look at the rust and chipped paine in and around this Jetway, like here, under the motor:

KABQ 2 rust 1

And again, below, there’s more rust under the coupling, right where you’d expect to find it.

KABQ 2 rust 2


Next? With the FF 757 or 767 there’s all kinds of included ground equipment, yet when invoked there’s no conflict with the equipment included in this file – so far. Good planning, or just good luck?

KABQ 2 AA 752 1

KABQ 2 AA 752 2

HDR lighting-effects make the landing and taxiway lighting look very dramatic, but look at how the light falls off gradually. That hasn’t always been the case, but this subtle shading is fantastic.

KABQ 2 763ed 1

And again, all the Southwest ground handling equipment is accurate, right down to color and insignia.

KABQ 2 SW ramp

I spent a lot of time at ABQ this afternoon checking out a bunch of different aircraft files, including the FF 752 and 763ER, the 733, 737-7, 738, 1900D, C208 and, finally, the C172. None presented framerate issues, which surprised me. The Carenado Beech 1900D is a real framerate hog when panel lighting is turned on, but I must’ve found the secret setting because the Sim was smooth as silk with it running. The EADT x737-7 was super smooth, for some reason.

KABQ 2 SWA r 4

But I’ve found the latest 737-7 to be an all-around super-star file in XP11.

KABQ 2 SWA ramp 3

Oh, there’s more, too.

There is a dedicated cargo ramp east of the main terminal, and it’s as well detailed as the passenger area.

KABQ 2 FedEx 2

Even at night.

KABQ 2 FedEx 1

The default MD80 included with XP11 doesn’t get as much respect as it should, but she looks good here, with HDR rendering at MAX.

KABQ 2 DMD82 1

Below, the EADT x737-7 taxiing for the active, passing the fire station at night.


And here’s the fire station in daylight. Well detailed in every respect, right down to the guardrails and posts flanking the doors.

KABQ ramps 2.2 FD

The brush that lines the runways and taxiways is spot-on. Northwest Texas and New Mexico as full of this prickly grass. This is the stuff that forms tumbleweeds, btw.

KABQ ramps 2.1.jpg

Mr. X’s (er, Short Final Design’s) KABQ got me thinking about something Austin said right before XP10 was released. He stated, and I’m paraphrasing now (and my memory isn’t what it used to be) that his aim was to recreate a plausible world in X-plane.

A plausible world. Think about that…for a moment.

We used to talk, and write, a lot about what that meant in our “version one ” of this blog, and I harped and harped about immersive chaos, immersive visual chaos, and how that ought to be the aim of all scenery developers in any simulator. I’ve always felt this is true, too, perhaps more now than ever.

I think I first started to think about this when I recalled a night a long time ago, a bunch of us taking our turn up front going for our check-ride, and I was flying into Houston Hobby at three in the morning, tired as hell too, when the weather turned to shit. Sitting up there in the dark with an FAA examiner breathing down my neck, trying to make out the runway through scudding clouds and bad windshield wipers, trying to filter the relevant information out there from all the other noise just beyond the cockpit…and I realized that’s exactly what a really good flight simulator can be good for. That last thirty seconds before touchdown is where it’s at, and with a million things competing for your attention you’ve got to be on your game. Cars, trucks, trains, blinking signs, and always the unexpected, just waiting to pop up in front of your aircraft  – just as you pass the inner marker. A deer on the runway – even teenagers jumping the fence and darting across the runway – all these things happen, and when you least expect it. That’s why immersive visual chaos is such a good training air, and the more developers focus on that final approach phase of the landing the better.

KABQ 2 XP11 Plausible World

We tried to get developers to take this message to heart, and even a few tried, yet unless you’ve been up there in the ‘pit you may not grasp what we were trying to get at. Anyway, whether he knows it or not, Mr. X’s ABQ comes close, real close, to achieving “immersive visual chaos,” and that’s a very good thing to see. But let’s get back to Austin’s idea of a plausible world in X-plane.

AeroSOFT’s EHAM Amsterdam was, if I’m remembering correctly, the second major file they released for XP, and hard as they tried there were just too many barriers to getting the roadways around that airport right. Roads in the Sim ended abruptly, and details like roadway tunnels were dismal approximations of the real thing, so, in the end, these things really detracted from the overall effort. Well, it looks like the crew at XP have tackled these issues and the way ahead is prepared for scenery developers to create some truly amazing files.

Obviously HDR lighting effects are one such improvement.

KABQ 2 SWA ramp 3

The subtle shading on the terminal building, and even on the ramps, is just amazing, yet even the Interstate highway snaking up the valley in the distance is accurate as can be, and that adds a lot to my experience of KABQ – because, again, I know this place, and well.

KABQ 2 ramps 1

But Short Final Design has really gone way above and beyond with this release, and I mean that both literally and figuratively. Let’s take a look at the ups and downs of this release, because, again, this is all pretty new to XP.

KABQ 2 Parking 1

So, we’ve got massive parking garages here at KABQ, but they’re multi-level affairs – and partially underground. X-plane does not, or has not in the past, handled “underground” very well. So, what have we here?

KABQ 2 parking 2

Well, we got levels comin’ out the yazoo here, don’t we, and some of it appears to be “underground.”

KABQ 2 parking 3

But how many scenery developers can you recall who have spent this much time and effort – on a parking garage? And it’s perfect!

I know…because I’ve carried my bags through this parking lot a few dozen times. It’s just perfect. Even the adobe-colored walls are perfect, the sage green window frames, too. Perfect. The tumbleweed grass…perfect. You may not even realize it, but this is a masterpiece of modeling, because it’s honest. This is an almost perfect recreation of what’s on the ground in New Mexico…and how many scenery files for XP do you have on your PC that you can say that about?

KABQ 2 parking 4

Anyway, all this takes me back to Austin’s “plausible” comments, now almost ten years in the past. And as I moved through this file I got to thinking about that more and more.

Well, with KABQ, Austin’s plausible world has now, finally, arrived.

Mr. X, whoever he is, just fulfilled your promise.

Don’t pass this scenery file up.  It’s amazing.   C

This entry was posted in Scenery: Americas, Western US Regional Routes and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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