It’s not been such a well-guarded secret around Chaos Manor, but Drzewiecki Design’s EPWA Warsaw Chopin is one of our favorites airport files, and the louvered/slatted Ground Control tower is, to our eye, anyway, the best such structure in X-plane. So, yes, on top of TNCM and Corfu this week, along comes a completely revised v2 for EPWA – and all of a sudden my poor wallet is beginning to feel a little like someone taking a ride in the back of an ambulance – at about the time the paramedic shouts “Hey, Joe, better step on it!” – as he pulls out the paddles and shouts “Clear!” And we’re only a week into April!
But there’s some good freeware coming out too, and we don’t want to ignore that side of the equation, or things may get way out of balance. So, we’ll look at a eclectic collection of a files today, including airports in mid-America, Africa, the Canary Islands, the Inner Hebrides, as well as a decent new commercial airport in central Sweden – right after we look at things in Warsaw. Oh, and some fun stuff out west, too.
No charts, no maps, and no list of airlines and destinations today, just the liner notes and some images. We covered all the rest back in November – but that was a half past a year ago, wasn’t it? Oh dear, but time does fly so fast these days, even in X-plane.
Anyway, here’s the changelog, just FYI:
⦁ Most up-to-date airport layout
⦁ XP11 AI/ATC compatibility
⦁ Lighting done from scratch
⦁ Helicopter apron
⦁ All gates with moving jetways and VGDS
⦁ New ground traffic
⦁ New specular maps for all objects
⦁ New vertical signs
⦁ New static aircraft
⦁ Animated elevators at some gates
⦁ Walking people inside the terminal
⦁ Many smaller issue fixed, like autogen, default roads, etc.
Drzewiecki Design released several videos to accompany this release so do drop by Threshold and give them a look. And yes, you read that correctly: moving elevators. Watch the videos!
Take a look at the image above, a long look.
The tower? Improved, with new lighting in the control room. See new ramp activity? Yup. The glimpse inside the A319 through the open aft doorway? Very kewl, and the aircraft adds contextual action to the scenery. All are impressive in their own way, yet my guess is your eye probably went to the brightly lighted passenger concourse first.
I guess the fact of the matter is simple. This file is a case study in how to put together a totally immersive airport file for a flight simulator. ANY flight simulator. That this file is available in X-plane…? Yikes…aeroSOFT’s EDDF and Short Final’s KABQ have been at the top of the Very Best list since last December, but I guess their reign had to end someday. The incremental improvements in this file vary – from subtle to in your face – but taken as a whole the improvement in quality of the various elements in this file add up to a most impressive airport. When you add it all up, when you put all these elements into one seamless package, the results are almost shockingly lifelike. If EDDF and/or KABQ can integrate interior elements as impressively as what you’ll find here, well, yes, we can talk…but for now, as of early April 2018, this is probably the best large airport we’ve got in X-plane. If you disagree, look over these images and think about it a while. EDDF is close, KABQ is closer still, but the scale here is deceptively large, and all of it is exceptionally well-detailed. Just study the details in these images first…start with the auto ramp just below…look at the change of incline near ground level. No short-cuts here. No lazy excuses, just technical perfection.
In the middle image (above) you’re looking “up” through an opening in the roadway/parking deck in front of the Marriott; now look at the image below and you’ll note the rectangular opening – in front of the Marriott. Now, look at the matrix of interconnecting roadways, and on multiple levels, around the Marriott. Can you find any messed up roads, any unnatural curves or sudden drop-offs? I couldn’t. The fact of the matter is simple, too. You could use this airport file in X-plane to give someone directions on how to drive from downtown Warsaw to the airport Marriott…and now, think about how many files you have in X-plane that sport this level of accuracy. This is really impressive detail.
You can also hold up this airport file as a benchmark. This is the type of detail every good developer needs to be striving for.
So you pick up glimpses along the way, but the main event here is the interior of the terminal building. Sorry, but as definitively excellent as the exterior and all the rest of this airport is, the interior is shockingly “in your face” – especially at night, and the immersive nature of the sight is something you need to experience personally in order to fully appreciate the effect.
We’ve tried to make the point, and for several months now, that modeling a terminal’s interior is a pointless exercise if the interior elements are hidden from view. From the pilot’s view, that is, as she or he pulls up to the gate. I can talk about this until I’m blue in the face, but the odds are you won’t know what to make of this statement until you pull up to this airport at night, either in X-plane or in your own A319 at the real airport. Assuming you don’t own an A319, why don’t you try it here first and see what I’m trying to get at. When you pull up to this gate, Gate 14 at DD’s EPWA, and you see “people walking along up there” – I’d like you to also imagine this file with a series of smeary blue window textures, too – and then you tell me which you prefer. Now, assuming you like what you see, why are you willing to settle for expensive payware files that offer you the smeary blues instead of lifelike realism? I know, I know, because only a few developers are making interior models…but if you make your feelings known, guess what? Things will change.
And so, when you get tired of sloppy roadways and bogus control towers, let the developer know you’re tired of their nonsense, too. And maybe, just maybe, things will begin to change. In the end, you get what you settle for, even if you settle for junk.
This updated file represents “the way things should be,” and none of us should settling for less.
I’m sure there are a bunch of people who’ll look at this file and say something along the lines of “so what?” or “who cares?” And yes, while I understand where you’re coming from the point that needs to be made here is a far simpler one. This file, and files like this, were not made for you. If you’re the type of user who is content with the Gateway Airports included with X-plane, and even simple freeware files, then yes, these files will most likely mean nothing at all to you – and that’s fine. No one is judging anyone here. X-plane is a flight simulator, and you don’t fly airports. You fly TO and FROM airports. Yup, we get that too.
If, however, the immersive factor of an accurately modeled and rendered file is important to your experience of X-plane – whether it be an airplane or an airport package – files like this EPWA package, or even the recently reviewed EPSY file by FlyDesign – really do make a difference in how X-plane is ‘enjoyed.’ Purely subjective terminology, true. Just like one Scotch whiskey is as good as another, or one cigar, or even that a Ford Focus is just as good as a Mercedes S-Class sedan. From a simple utilitarian perspective, these are all valid statements, too.
But…look at the image below and let me know if the sight doesn’t make you drool. If it doesn’t…well, maybe you should take up knitting.
Oh, a word about framerates. I have the Warsaw City file installed, and that nasty bugger is one of the biggest framerate hogs I’ve ever run across, so be careful if you decide to install both of these files. That said, the City of Warsaw looks very nice with this airport installed, yet I’m reluctant to recommend the City file. You’ll need a real brute to run EPWA with the City file onboard, as the City’s objects are close to the airport and that proximity effects everything that happens around EPWA… Together, these two files make an impressive combination, but they put a staggering load on your GPU.
The updated v2 EPWA file is available from multiple outlets; I got mine at the Org., and with a 70% discount through the v1-to-v2 upgrade program, my cost was about seven buckeroos. Can’t beat then with a California roll…
I like this file – a lot. Nice feel when you land and taxi up to the gate. Be careful opening up here with a larger aircraft like the 738, however. As you can see above, lower right, the nose is too far into the parking area and the wing is inside the Jetway. Oddly enough, if you reload the .acf the aircraft placement is suddenly correct, and framerates improve significantly.
Nice building details, good peripheral details too, especially the parking lot and entry area. Night is a mixed bag, however, with the simple window textures a smeary yellow. Still, as this is a WIP file we’ll keep an eye on this one and let you know what develops.
From Xp-Russia, here’s URRP Rostov-on-Don. Well done exterior with very nice interior detailing and decent ramps. Good night lighting on the ramps and solid runway & taxiway details make this a solid effort. Located in SW Russia and very close to the EU, the airport is served by most Russian carriers, and Czech flies to Prague, while Greek carrier Ellinair flies A319s to, get this, Corfu! Have fun with this one!
An incremental update to this important file, looks like more city/shipping details were added and the terminal area just gets better with each update.
Update your file through the link here.
This one’s still in the early stages, but it looks promising – worth keeping an eye on, anyway. Still pretty bare bones, but always nice to have an airport in Iowa.
Link here. We’ll advise when this one looks ready to rock and roll.
Yeah, Scottish Wings is at it again, with another pastoral scenery file set in the wild Inner Hebrides. These are the islands off the northern and northwestern tip of Scotland, and sunny summer weather is cause for celebration up there. My guess is you’ll celebrate too, after flying around these islands for a few hours. Wild beauty, I suppose, does that. There is a dedicated livery for the Twin Otter to go with this file, too.
Get the airport file here.
Oh, yes. There’s a new file adding quirky refinements to KSFO and the surrounding area, and it seems to be under almost constant revision. I’m poking around, building a map in Google Earth, but so far it’s like trying to nail Jello to a wall because so many ‘things’ are being added, from lighthouses to squadrons of Sikorsky helos flying around the Bay Area. You might want to get this one onboard if you fly around KHAF or SFO a lot, because this is getting kind of fun. Oh, try to get AlpilotX’s UHD packs for the region; the results are especially fantastic in and around KSFO.
Anyway, that’s all, folks. We’ll see you later in the week – or sooner, if something major breaks. Have fun flying, and keep your powder dry – A
Oh, scroll on down for part 3 of our TNCM series. After that, you’ll find our review of Fly Tampa’s Corfu…so go get some coffee and settle in for a long read.