Releases seem to be picking up momentum now, the post-Christmas doldrums behind us once again. There are several notable, and quite large, payware scenery files in the final stages of production, so the next few months should see a blitz of activity. Then again, we have freeware developers like ruifo and tdg that are burning the midnight oil, filling our SSDs with top quality files at an incredible pace – and no doubt frustrating the Dickens out of more than a few execs at aeroSOFT et al.
So, what could possibly be more appropriate today than tdg’s latest, and this time for one of the biggies on the tourist circuit: LIRQ Florence, Italy. We’ll start there today, then move on to a new file from a developer many are unfamiliar with: FlyDesign. Next up: a second look at EDDS Stuttgart, as aeroSOFT has released a v2 file and it’s very good, maybe as good as EDDF. Last up, a quick look (in passing) at EDFE Frankfurt Egelsbach, and we’ll do so – in passing – from the seat of an intriguing new freeware acf. So, if you’re ready to go, buckle up and let’s take a look at a few surprises.
I do not know how this guy does it. A few weeks ago, ESSA Stockholm, then a week later LEPA Palma de Mallorca. Today, LIRQ Florence, and each one seems to be better than the last. It would be one thing for him to produce one or two files a year of this quality, but…oh, no…it’s more like one a week! Even that might be semi-understandable if he was cranking out crap files, but they’re not. Far from it and anything but, tdg’s files are getting to the point where they’re the equal of many payware files.
So…for all you payware developers out there, I have a novel idea. Hire this guy. It’s the only way you’re going to get him out of your hair. It’s insane that files this good are free.
Okay, rant-joke mode switched to OFF.
Florence. Yeah. Where do you start? Here?
Florence is engrained in western consciousness, whether we understand that or not. Western political theory is grounded in Machiavelli, art and scientific theory in Michelangelo and Galileo, all Florentines. Once you walk these magic byways at night, under torchlight, you’ll understand this city’s magic. A consequence of that? There’s a steady stream of air traffic into this little airport. I’ve flown on Lufthansa and Sabena, both times on BAe146 (or is it RJ100?) aircraft. I’ve pictures on my wall of my son, then not yet ten years old, sitting on the little fenced-in viewing area atop the dome in the image above. The way up spirals, between two layers of stonework within the dome, to a small viewing platform up there. It did my best to smile after I saw the iron railing was rusted and some of its bolts missing.
Or, you can stroll over to the Uffizi…
…and take in a Botticelli before lunch…
Anyway, it’s an amazing city, yet the airport, the real airport, is a little underwhelming:
But that in no way applies to tdg’s little file. He’s packed big detail through his adroit use of scenery library objects, and, as is usually the case with his work, when he needs a custom building he simply makes his own. How he does it in the time available…again, I have no idea. Take, for example, this control tower…
It’s accurate, and it’s very nice looking. And tdg creates a web of landscape details all around this airport, from warehouses and other industrial buildings to everything you see around this little corner of the airport, below, where helicopters hang out.
Note the fencing, the houses and Quonset huts in the background, all part of the file.
Or the fuel truck by the pad, and yes, that’s a helicopter hanger and control tower, below, for the flutterbugs based there.
Another view of the hanger, fencing, and parking lots.
The landing pad is, of course, lighted.
Now let’s move over to the commercial ramps, first, with satellite imagery, below…
And tdg’s ramps, at night. The first thing you need to look at is the static Air France 320. Yes, he’s now putting catering trucks, baggage loaders, and fuel trucks under his static aircraft… When is this guy going to let up on you payware developers?
Above, of course, the JarDesigns Ground Handling Equipment package under the Toliss 319. This adds so much to any scene.
tdg’s choice of objects and night textures is, as always, good, and the ramps feel immersive. No errors intrude, I guess, is another way of looking at it.
When you look beyond the ramps you’ll see an incredible level of detail, like around the equipment yard, seen below.
So many developers, payware and freeware alike, ignore an airport’s entries and parking areas, yet the best developers never do.
tdg never does.
Below, look closely at the building in the foreground. Outstanding!
Or, below, this transit station, complete with bicycle racks.
Look over the list of airlines and routes here. Also, note that BA flies direct to London City from this one. Them be some fun flyin’, Jethro…!
This is an airport file you’ll want to get onboard asap, and my guess is you’ll keep this one – and use it – for years to come. I know I will. Again, many thanks to tdg…I know a few payware developers are cursing you right now, but c’est la vie. A 10/10 must have file.
This payware file came out of the blue this afternoon and I was curious. With Team DD having built out the region with Warsaw and it’s three volumes of Polish airports, can this developer compete? I mean, DD is a powerhouse developer, so to go up against them in their own backyard takes some kind of nerve. I got my copy at the Org Store; it’s less than 20 bucks.
Well, first things first: look at the control tower (above), or the military ramps full of Antonov-26s, below. Fire station, blast fencing, lighting, and taxiways all appear top shelf. And the tower has an interior! Lighted, too!
Kracow is almost as close to Wien and München as it is to Warsaw, and yes, this is in the heartland of old Europe. The plains around this city are where the Second World War kicked off in earnest, too.
The facility is older, though it went thru an extensive modernization program in the early 2000s. Real image below…not from the file.
And though the developer has the form down, some textures, especially the night textures, are garish, and at times, visually more than a little confusing…but we’ll get to that. This main terminal building would be a complex undertaking for anyone, though it looks decent enough, especially from a distance. Get too close and the illusion breaks down quickly. It feels like the details are lost in textures that provide little in the way of visual cues.
But…step back and all is well. Again, this is a very complex group of buildings, yet the closer you get the more problematic they become.
In other words, they look better from a distance. That is not so good.
And at night, it’s almost a toss-up again. From a distance, things look pretty good, but get up close, and, well, what do you think? Yup, chaos.
The tower and helipad area looks good at night…
And in daylight, very good indeed. Another highlight? The grass is really good!
See what I mean?
And this area beside the runway offers two kinds of grass.
In fact, this area looks so nice in Xp11 I’d be tempted to call this a daytime airport.
Note the interior of the control tower?
Ah, here’s the satellite imagery:
Now, let’s dive into the night textures…
I can’t quite call the textures above the smeary blues. They just aren’t. It’s more like they’re a texture of the interior that’s distorted by the lattice-work over the windows.
Below, the repetitive amber textures on the upper level just have no context. I have no idea what’s going on up there. Below, doorways, to, perhaps, hotel rooms?
Now things just get weird. Yes, I know what this is… Forced perspective images, repeating over and over again, but the perspective in the texture is so askew it almost looks like a fireworks display…! or a fountain? It does not look the interior of an airport terminal building.
Even from a moderate distance, the windows just look weird.
Ramp lighting is v11 compliant and works well: ramps are nice & bright.
Next several images include the JarDesigns GHE package.
The only acf used that gave me performance issues was the FF320U.
Now, three regrettable flaws in the textures.
Below, circled, is this an error, or a weird angle…?
Below, I can see the ramps beyond the terminal through the (solid) roof.
And again, below, textures not lining up…and that weird amber texture is applied here, too.
Things are just better in daylight here, and the countryside in Xp is really nice looking:
I like this airport. A lot. There are a few glaring issues with night textures that keep it from scoring higher than an 8 out of 10; that said, I hope the developers revise this one and release it soon. I’ll use it for now “as is,” but in daylight only.
As mentioned up top, this aeroSOFT file was recently revised to full v11 compliance in a version 2 release.
You can pick up reflections in daylight on walls and windows, and on the ramps.
The terminal building came in for a makeover, too.
Details are in “the amazing” category.
But night textures, while clear, exhibit some forced perspective issues too.
Still, this is a good update, and highly recommended.
EDFE is an older file that still looks quite good in v11; even better with a wild looking acf like the BD5J that released this past week at the Org.
The airport is in the shadow, literally, of EDDF Frankfurt – as you can see below, and yes, this is a GA only airport, dedicated to training and sport flying.
And NOT, I’d imagine, to splitting the sky open in a micro-jet painted like a dragon.
The terminal building and restaurant are the main attraction at this airport, and very well done in this file. The window textures are very well done; hangers, too.
This is a potent combination, too. Fun aircraft and a sweet looking airport.
There are bizjets on the ramps, but I think GA singles and twins are the norm these days. Runway 08/26 is 4593 feet long, paved. There’s a shorter one, too.
Again, the window textures here were a big deal when this file released. They still look good.
A little gulashesuppen, I think, would go good right here.
Now, about this little jet. This is not a supersonic fighter; it has a Vne of less that 300KIAS, though with about 3oo pounds of thrust on a 3oo pound airframe, vertical acceleration and maneuverability are exceptional. Follow the smoke trail in the image below. Ever done a Cobra before? This little jet can do it. Oh, you probably didn’t know that this airframe is alive and well again; they’re being used as manned drone targets. If you get where that is going, anyway. Kind of like Hal Jordan in The Green Lantern…?
Anyway, the acf is a blast. Very solid flight model…assuming you know what it felt like to begin with. There are very few people still around who do, besides Octopussy, and her boyfriend…
Later – A