There are precious few occasions when on opening a new scenery file in X-plane I’ve almost wanted to laugh out loud. Opening Drzewiecki Design’s new KSEA this afternoon was such an occasion.
First, I have to clarify one point: my laughter was not derisive; it instead reflected almost pure joy.
Well, seldom do we run across files (of any kind) which shatter existing paradigms and, in effect, plant a new flag on the mountaintop, but Drzewiecki Design (hereinafter referred to as DD) has done it again – just as they did at Warsaw Chopin v2 earlier this year. This file breaks new ground, and you won’t appreciate just how much until you open this file and take a long look around.
One other point right up here at the top: DD released two files this afternoon, a Seattle City file and a Seattle area airports file that includes SeaTac as well as Boeing’s facilities at Renton and Everett, as well as a small GA field and a few seaplane facilities (you can see three of the main airports in the banner image above). This new release is similar in scope to Tom Curtis’ old Boeing Country file – that came out back in v9 – but any similarity ends right there…in scope only. DDs new files simply redefine what we should expect from top payware developers going forward. In effect, they have set the bar very high indeed – and most other payware devs are going to have to struggle just to keep up.
And to reinforce that point, DDs two files will set you back almost seventy dollars (yes, as in 67$USD), a breathtaking sum for what amounts to one city and three major airport files, so as we look at these new products we’ll examine not just the nuts and bolts of these airports, but our subjective interpretation of their “value for the money.”
We’ll also look at these four major components over the next several days – as there’s simply too much to go over in one post. So…got it?
Ready? Let’s do it!
KSEA Seattle Tacoma International Airport
Say goodbye to Laminar’s KSEA. Say hello to the future, where the full potential of Xp11’s new rendering tools is cut loose and running wild. In the image above, look at the subtle gradations of light on the ramps, then look at the base of the control tower. And…this is at dusk!
For the sake of brevity, let’s break this post down into four main parts: interior modeling, the international terminal, general details, and some first thoughts about the Seattle city file. So, first up, let’s look at the interior modeling in this newest KSEA file.
In the past, when an airport file had a modeled interior such modeling was often relegated to a few small, prominently featured areas. Not here. DD has provided modeled interiors just about everywhere such detail is visible from the cockpit. Now, look at the sheer size and irregular shape of this terminal complex and then let that sink in before you dismiss this as a trivial undertaking. Don’t appreciate that yet? Well, look away:
If you don’t see waiting area seating, you’ll likely see restaurants or newsstands or airport shops…but…take a look at this next image…closely:
Yes, the food court above, but look at the lower level. A completely realized baggage sorting area behind that walkway, complete with vans, trucks, and baggage carts! This area is almost hidden and could have been ignored, but it’s visible from the cockpit at one gate so it was modeled!
The new skybridge to Terminal 5 (international) is included, another first. Before this was completed, getting from the main terminal to the international concourse involved a series of escalators to a convoluted underground passage, and the walk was quite long…enough to give small children and older passengers a lot of trouble. The skybridge is a straight shot with moving walkways and elevators, a much simpler affair, and once again this is the first time the structure has been so completely modeled. In fact, the international terminal is now spot on, as are the nearby Alaskan and Delta maintenance hangers.
Getting the details right. The tank farm lower left in the image (just below) is below the main grade of the runways. First time I’ve seen this in X-plane, too. All the newest satellite terminals are included here too. The light rail line to downtown and Lake Union is modeled, and the train stops at the airport terminal. The ortho is sharp, almost ultra clear; nearby shops and hotels appear quite accurate.
Trees, foliage, grasses, and radio towers are perfect, as is the huge variety and number of taxiway markings. Finding your way around the airport isn’t as difficult now. Below, the main terminal passenger departures ramp. The only things missing are baggage check-in kiosks and airline markings.
Below, departing to the north, approaching downtown Seattle (under the fuselage) with the harbor’s container docks to the left, and KBFI under the right wing. Paine Field in Everett is just visible in the distance.
In the last image above, that’s Lake Washington with Redmond on the far shore. Redmond is MicroSOFT’s HQ, BTW. The bridge in the foreground is the I-90 pontoon bridge, while the mountain range in the distance is the Cascades. Skiing is usually possible up there several months of the year, right off I-90. The Seattle Space Needle is just one of the included landmarks you’ll find in the downtown area.
We’ll look at KBFI Boeing Field in our next post, as well as more details downtown. See you then.