The drought in new file releases continues, giving us time to get caught up imaging long neglected airports. Today, a perplexing UK2000 EGBB Birmingham, so let’s jump right in and take a look around.
Here’s another medium-large airport in the British Midlands, Birmingham being located SE of Manchester. East Midlands is nearby as well, at 27nmi/34º. The basic model is well executed but once again various detail elements are absent, and I’ll hold off talking about this distraction until the end of today’s post, but this is another very good file that’s hurt by these annoying omissions.
While no charts are included, all major charting packages include complete coverage. Once upon a time all reputable developers included such things; today only a few do.
There’s direct/non-stop service to most of the better European payware airports available for X-plane 11, including Corfu. Take a look at the list of airlines and destinations here. No North American markets are served. Nearby VORs are included here:
|ID||Name||Freq Radial / Range|
The file includes a fair amount of surrounding ground detail, so lets start there: rail lines, including the old Brit Rail terminal are modeled/included, and roadway detail is generally well integrated. Roads inside the terminal area, however, are less successfully implemented, and the light rail line from the railway station to the main terminal is included but non-functional. Car parks? It’s the same story here as it is with many of UK2000s other large airport files: most are smeary orthos yet a few are, oddly enough, well modeled. These are, unfortunately, far from the action and from where they’re needed most. Let’s take a look:
These car parks work visually from pattern altitude but, of course, break down at or near ground level. There’s also some stray fencing located around the perimeter that is misplaced, as seen just above.
This file was released in September 2017 and has NOT been revised since; as such, you’ll find this airport currently has no static aircraft and the ramps are almost devoid of clutter or other animated objects. If interested in such things, you WILL find the JarDesigns Ground Handling Equipment package a welcome addition here.
Night textures and lighting need some help but are, for the most part, quite workable. Windows are the by-now recognizable night textures UK2000 uses at their other airports, so you’ll find the same blue and blue-green treatments found at, say, Manchester and East Midlands. The textures used here do not appear to be as crisp as those at the recently revised Manchester, and all my rendering options are the same so I can’t account for the discrepancy. Even so, some textures are better than others, so perhaps they were made at different times? Still, on balance they’re quite nice, and much better than the smeary blue textures that remain all too common with less conscientious developers.
The terminal entry areas are modeled nicely; ramps and taxiways – as with all UK2000s efforts I’ve looked at so far, seem quite sparsely marked. Surface textures are well done here, with pavement cracking and drainage grates standout features. PBR materials appear absent.
I keep thinking about these UK2000 airport files because something bugs me every time I open one like this. They have tremendous potential, and when compared to what was available in Xp9, or even early Xp10, they’re far and away much better files than what we had not so very long ago. Even so, when you think about what these files might look like if this team fully embraced the HDR/PBR paradigm, well, they’re almost disappointing. Too, I grouse about static aircraft and fully modeled car parks because my computer can handle such things, yet for a time aeroSOFT took care of this by making available multiple files for the same airport, including variants with and without static aircraft as well as with and without orthos. To this is it too far a stretch to add “with or without static cars in car-parks?”
Without all these embellishments EGBB looks deserted and, well, almost bland, rather like Manchester did before its recent revision. Without these aircraft EGCC looked dreadful, yet most airport files so presented look, I think, equally bad, so it’s not the basic model that’s the cause. aeroSOFT’s Rome would look fine with bustling ramps and aircraft at most every gate, so why not do so? Have WT3 and X-life so enabled a kind of lazy, hands-off approach to such assets being placed? If so, as we’ve mentioned before, this is a big mistake, and opening UK2000s revised EGCC feels like opening a completely different, brand new file.
It’s kind of obvious at this point that Laminar has missed the boat by not incorporating something akin to WT3 as a core element, and one that’s truly “hands-off,” but until that happens it would wise if developers kept including static aircraft. Ramps that aren’t cluttered with all the things you expect to see on a modern airports apron are missing the boat, too. One that better freeware developers are more than willing to exploit.
So – if, say, a competent freeware developer comes along and uses library objects to fully flesh out all the details missing from an airport like this, who’s going to lose out? Or, say a potential customer is to choose between two files this weekend, due to budget constraints, perhaps. He then looks at this EGBB and DDs Warsaw. So, who’s in a better competitive position to earn this purchase? When I read through forums one comment I see time and again starts off something like this: “You know, I like this file but I can’t afford to purchase more than a one or two files, and at that maybe only a couple of times a year…” So, if the flight sim world is populated with people who don’t make hundreds of thousands a dollars per year, then the reality presented in this scenario is more common than not.
And that’s what’s called a highly competitive environment.
And that’s why files need to be as impressive as possible.
And perhaps that’s why we’re hearing grumbles from FsX/P3D developers, that they’re not selling as many files as they thought they would. And you know, from what I’ve seen recently, if they keep churning out conversions of ten year old files, well, good luck to them but I can just about guarantee they’re going to fall flat on their face – and not know why. And as we mentioned yesterday, DD and Fly Design are bucking this trend, leading the way in this regard. Orbx? Hell, I just don’t know yet. I’ve yet to see a complex airport from Orbx, so they’re still an unknown.
As it stands, UK2000s EGBB is a nice looking, though deserted, airport. And as EGCC is so close – and now fully developed – this Birmingham file becomes somewhat redundant. If fully developed? Well, the choice becomes quite different at that point, doesn’t it? Maybe it will come down to the airlines and aircraft you want to use, but having both on hand really rounds out the Midlands area. Until this file is revised, it’s decent but doesn’t fall into the Must Have category.
Still, I can’t see trashing this one just yet…so I think I’ll keep this onboard a while longer, see if I end up using it more than EGCC. Say, for instance, load the A319 with Austrian paint and fly to LOWI, then LOWW, then on to the Ukraine or Moldova? Look over the list of airlines and destinations again, then think about the possibilities here before you discount this file.
Later – A