x+s+r // memorial musings

xsr DDv2

Random thoughts on KMBS, DD’s Polish Airports Volume 1 v2, and what it all means – for Xp going forward, and…

When I look back on the journey many of us have made in Xp over the years, it’s almost impossible to tally-up what we’ve witnessed over the past few decades. From 512Kb processors and 256 colors – which was a huge leap up from grayscale, believe me – all the way to Xp 11.20 (with almost infinite processing power now on hand), so to say we’ve come a long way is almost a joke. When you look at early screenshots from the earliest versions of MsFS and X-plane, and then you look at a recent image, say like the one below, with the IXEG 733 on a long downwind over KMBS Saginaw, Michigan, all that earlier imagery looks like dusty animation cells from an old cartoon.

But that’s the nature of progress, isn’t it? Still, the gradations of color and light in this image tell us everything we need to know. It’s twilight, the sun hasn’t peeked over the horizon yet, speed brakes are up so the pilot’s slowing…but the airport in the background looks interesting, while the 733 just looks perfectly real. And just a few years ago…this image was impossible.

xsr dd1

We’ve seen Orbx come to X-plane this year, entering the market with their rendition of Meigs Field, and Fly Tampa came to the party too – finally. And now Turbulent has claimed their place at the top of the development world in X-plane – for now – with their hyper-realistic KMBS. So maybe now would be a good time to look back at where we were just a few years ago…

…yet somehow I don’t think so.

Maybe a more interesting exercise would be to speculate about what we’ll likely see in Xp in just a few years time…

…but no, such efforts are often little more than trivial pursuits, simple wastes of time.

No, something else has been weighing on my mind the past few days, and that’s the proliferation of “Memorial Day Sales” we’re seeing everywhere – from car dealers to furniture stores to, yes, X-plane add-on stores. Strange, as here in the United States, Memorial Day was created to memorialize our fallen brothers and sisters, or to think about those of us who lost their lives in war.

And lest you feel that this is a distinctly American observance please consider that since 9/11 the entire world has been in an almost constant state of war. Some of these were American interventions, yet in the end these wars pulled America’s allies into one of the most serious expenditure of arms and blood since 1945 – and few nations have been exempt from the letting. From ‘shock and awe’ in the skies over Baghdad to the sidewalks of Paris, this ‘war on terror’ has effected us all. And now it has a new name: the Forever War.

So while this may be a good time to pause and reflect on how X-plane has progressed over the years, perhaps this is also a good time to think about all the ways our little world had changed during that same period, too. I kept thinking about the idea of Memorial Day as an American holiday, and how that idea may finally be obsolete. Sure, most countries have their own versions of our memorial day, a day to commemorate those who have fallen in wars, but really, with our world so interconnected now, isn’t it time we stopped and thought about the idea of all the people lost in all our wars – in just the past few years?

And I got to thinking…if we have indeed entered an era of “forever wars” – and as we enter a prolonged era of resource depletion and population overgrowth – how much more important is it that we pause from time to time, that we step from all the killing for a moment…at least long enough to think about what it is we are doing to ourselves.

KMBS 2

So, back to X-plane. DD has released a decent new revision to their Polish Airports volume 1 file, now at version 2. There’s an extensive change-log but in the end the decision to upgrade rests on how much of an improvement is there… The two airports that stand out most (to me) are EPGD and EPRZ, and here they are, with GD up first:

DDcomp1

Those funky night textures are still used here, whereas a modeled interior would have made this a knockout file. And here’s EPRZ, which, again, has no modeled interior:

DD comp 2

Okay, so none of these get the interior treatment we found at EPWA Warsaw Chopin, but really, I suppose the reason is clear enough. Four airports for roughly 20 buckeroos – or 5 bucks per airport – and so maybe it’s not fair to expect that level of detail for so little $ per airport. To me, the updates at EPRZ made the difference so I went ahead and upgraded, but I was disappointed the Org didn’t apply the discounted price for existing users. If you use these airports frequently the upgrade makes sense, but for most that use these only occasionally, there’s not much of a compelling reason to pull the trigger, especially with no upgrade price available, as at the Org. So yeah, I’d pass if paying full price for the second time. That really left a bad taste in my mouth.

Need another destination in Greece? Have you considered LGSK – Skiathos Island available at X-Aviation? Decent airport, tons of local scenery (including sailboats tacking out there in the bay…), nicely detailed tower, and, like TNCM, you’ll find interesting approaches lined with spectators – as well as a decent location near Athens, so on the Aegean side of things.

XA LG

In the end, the week was indelibly marked by the release of Turbulent’s KMBS. I know there are a limited number of airports out there that are so interesting architecturally, but if Xp had a dozen or so airports like this, the way we experience our sim would be altered completely, and for the better, I think. I look at the image below and am blown away every time I see it.

How many recent payware files are out there with nowhere near the quality of conception or execution? How many possibilities exist for updates or even upgrades to these existing files? How many developers will even consider this opportunity to better the sim? Time will tell…

turb 2

And, perhaps, the weekend was marked by thoughts far beyond this little hobby of ours, but time will tell – A

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