Tantalus, a figure well known in Greek mythology, is most famous for his eternal punishment in Tartarus. He is condemned for his transgressions, in the end, to stand through the ages in a pool of water beneath trees laden with fruit – with their low branches almost within his grasp, and yet, almost mad with starvation, the fruit forever eludes his grasp – just as the cool waters always recede before he can drink. I wonder, will it always be so in X-plane? Will scenery developers continue escalating detail in a mad race to outstrip GPU development, leaving us like Tantalus…the fruit forever beyond our reach?
Take a look at the image just above. What it shows is simply glorious, detail rendered in stunning high definition glory – and detail such as has never been available in X-plane. And with HDR settings, texture detail, and anti-aliasing on MAX settings, the settings necessary to reveal all this glory, and with the IXEG 733 loaded, we are left to ponder this scene from afar, with FPS at 1.9 to 2.8 FPS…
But…before we run for the lifeboats, let’s take a look at this problem – while we look for solutions that don’t require buying massive new computers. The image above was taken with settings as they were during our “First Look” – with the default 738 reaching decent numbers. With the IXEG 733, these numbers fall to the teens, yet the scenery’s buildings look pretty good – at least with the sun out. But…what happens when the sun goes down?
And this ain’t good, is it? There’s a 733 on that tarmac, but it’s hard to tell where it is, so lets cut in a little HDR and texture quality…something like this:
And we end up with something close, yet still with FPS in the 8-10 range. Not good, but still – almost – flyable.
So, with settings pegged there, let’s check out a second aircraft file – and another that’s NOT particularly framerate friendly, the Rotate MD80…an aircraft file that has one of the most beguilingly hyper-detailed, and gorgeous, cockpits in XP…
So, yes, we’re at the same gate, under the same settings. And the FPS is?
Yes. A head-shaking, hand-wringing 8.9 fps.
Okay, disappointing – but not unexpected. So. let’s switch over the to Laminar’s MD80, and see what improvement – if any – we find. But first, let’s get out of XP and do a full re-boot, see if that helps – as it has in the past.
So, into the Laminar MD-80, only at a different gate (as the other wasn’t available!) and the Laminar acf pops into life at 8.6 FPS, with the settings you see below.
Alright, this isn’t working, so let’s radically reduce all settings and try again, and with a known FPS friendly aircraft file, the EADT x737-700. So, what do we get if we drop settings all the way down to this:
In my book, this is dialing settings WAY back, so let’s see what we sacrifice…
And here’s the latest version of the EADT x737-7, running at 26 fps, which is in line with what I was seeing earlier, with the default 738 at dialed back settings. Note, too, that the circular windows on the white building are now smears, that all the buildings are very basically detailed, and that the ramps are almost empty? This is pretty much the way things looked back in XP version 9, so nothing exactly new here but a little disappointing even so. Now, let’s add some graphics elements – one-by-one – and see what happens…
Okay, you with me? See the changes? Adding VE and TQ, and introducing AA. Yield?
And we’re falling back a little, as expected. Let’s add a little more and see what happens…
VE/HDR to MAX, TQ to high, and add more objects. And that takes us down how bad?
Well, not too bad, so let’s try a little more…a bit more TQ, to MAX:
Okay, this is probably as far, maybe too far, as we should go, and note, it’s night now, and that always adds a little more load to fps, yet it’s not too big here. Things outside are as good as they’re going to look – at night – and we have world objects turned up too, so we have lots of vehicular traffic on the ramps again.
Next, let’s throw XP a real curve ball this time. Let’s add a framerate killer, the FF752:
About 15.2 fps, so down a bit. Now, how about the FF767?
Okay, a slight improvement. Let’s use this acf for a while and see what happens, as its representative of what many carriers use here at EDDF…
Pushback starts at 15.2…
Still holding on the taxiway, with no massive drops or gains, anyway…
And, above, turning onto the runway, still looking good.
FPS changed a lot as I moved the view around during takeoff, from almost 20 to as low as 10. In the cockpit, the rate was hanging around 13-16. Well, for this review I’ll use these settings for a while, so let’s see what happens when we toss in the default 744.
Starting with pushback, fps are in the 14-15 range, and note the tunnel.
Holding in there, still around 15.
Not much change…still around 15fps. Note lots of ground traffic?
And fps falls a little once we’re in the ‘pit, but only to 14fps.
Only to 14 fps? Did I just say that? Like 14 is good?
Well, think about it. This is a complicated aircraft at what has to be one of the most extensive scenery files in XP. But consider the other heavyweight airport files, files such as KJFK and KLAX, but do they have such a huge number of photo textures? Yes, they are as extensively detailed, but not all have the XP11 compliance this file does. Right about now 14 fps is looking pretty good to me – because this aircraft file is not sluggish or chugging along. It’s right at the edge of not-so-good, but not there yet.
So, you have to compromise somewhere, and in the battle for fps it’s all about finding a balance between reasonable performance and dramatic presentation. Because I’m assuming you’re laying out dollars – or marks or francs or euros or whatever – for a version 11 compliant file THAT IS GOING TO LOOK GREAT! Buying a file like this and tuning it down to look like a file made for version 9 seems a waste of money, not to mention time, so again, I can deal with 14 fps as long as I’m looking out the glass and seeing what I’m seeing – which is a fantastically detailed airport!
Yes, fantastic – as in – there are layers upon layers of immersive chaos out there, and all of it is hyper-realistically immersive, and that’s in no small measure due to the powerful HDR rendering of the XP landscape…take, for instance, the landing lights reflecting off the fuel storage tanks, above. You turn HDR off and guess what? Poof – gone…!
And when you see how all this has been integrated with an extensive roadway network in and around the airport? Well, it’s just grand.
Take a look at the railings around the overpass. That’s detail. That’s called Grand.
And away we go. Even with World Object detail at moderate, there’s still a lot of clutter around. With less complex acf such as the EADT 738s you can afford to add these objects, but add a more complex file and it’s time to compromise again.
As here, with the IXEG 733 and with settings all the way up, and objects maxed out, too. All I could get at such high settings was around 8.6 fps, which is getting into the seriously unflyable zone. So, cut back to the same as we used for the 767 and I reopened the file at the cargo center, and we were back in the 21-27 fps range, and, as expected, with fps much better than the bigger 752 or 763 files, and even better than the Rotate MD80. Maybe that’s because the IXEG 733 is the best acf in XP, or maybe I’m just biased.
I reset World Objects and TQ to MAX here, and FPS dropped to the 18-21 range, but I picked up some extra visual quality and more objects on the ramps.
Which is interesting while taxiing around the cargo side. Lots of jumbos sitting on the ramps, just waiting…and clutter everywhere. The way a real airport looks, by the way.
Not using the World Traffic paradigm here, yet. Enough just learning my way around here again, but this already feels like home!
Amazing detail for a cargo area. This will be a ridiculously fun airport to use, and for years to come.
Only one last thing to do here now…test the Carenado Beech 1900D, the reigning champ of framerate use, especially at night. The panel lights can subtract a 3-4 fps drop, so use this acf wisely!
It opened at 18fps, dropped to 15 a few times, but acquitted itself nicely. This is an easier acf to fly than the Leading Edge Saab or Tom Kyler’s Mitsubishi MU2, and the panel is simply immersive and a joy to use at night.
So, that wraps up x+sim+review’s look at AeroSOFT’s EDDF Frankfurt. Given AeroSOFT’s dominant position in the XP scenery file market – and with newcomers to XP entering the market with files every bit as good as the best in FsX – AeroSOFT had to hit this one out of the park, and we think the German Airport’s Design Team has done as remarkable a job as humanly possible with such a dauntingly huge airport. That said, EDDF Frankfurt is one of the most important airports in the world, and this file does the real airport justice.
If you can live with the compromises necessary to make this airport work on your computer, our take is it will soon become one of your favorite airports to work out of. Regardless, this airport tantalizes, yet it’s best parts remain just within reach.
Adios, and Happy trails –C&A//xsr