We have a new, über tiny airport in Germany by tdg for you today, as well as a slight rant about Orbx’s GB South “True Earth” texture replacement package, but first we’ll take a look at Orbx’s just released EGHI Southampton. We’ve also just about finished work on our second (or is it third?) TBM900 flight…our night-IFR sojourn, and we’ll try to get that work posted this weekend.
So, let’s head to Germany before talking about Orbx.
Here we are again…back in the Frisian Islands along Germany’s NW coast…one of the wildest, windswept areas in Europe, and a region rich in maritime history. This little airport is located on the barrier island of Baltrum, a motor vehicle free island, by the way, and while residents all ride bicycles tourists are relegated to horse drawn carriages.Most tourists arrive, by the way, by air taxi from tdg’s last airport – and it looks like a small Piper is going to stretch the capabilities of this runway so plan accordingly.
And it seems that tdg, certainly the best freeware scenery developer in X-plane, is filling out this regions smaller airports these days. Maybe a pause in the development cycle of one massive airport after another, these little airport files of his are at their best when you get out of your simulated airplane to get out and smell the virtual roses.
Let’s take a look at the particulars…
One of my favorite airports back in the v9 days was EDWY Norderney, located just to the west of this island, and as we’ve mentioned before concerning airports in this region, of more immediate importance we have the island of Helgoland a nice half hour flight to the north, Hamburg to the SE, and all of Holland and the Low Countries to the SW. With the right aircraft, give Norway a try if in the mood for a long over the water jaunt…but the point here is stunning options for very interesting flights exist. Here’s the real airport, by the by:
Yes, that’s got to be a local on the two-wheeler, but note this just ain’t the biggest airport around. And again, don’t try to land your trusty little E-Jet here. It just ain’t gonna work out real well for all concerned, if you get my drift.
Why tdg has embarked on this journey is beyond me, but I’m glad he has. We’re getting some seriously interesting, almost pastorally artistic airports now, and all in an area well suited to GA VFR explorations. Oh, that’s EDWY Norderney across the little channel in the last image just above. A 10/10 Must Have, and you can get the file here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/47927-edwz-baltrum-airport-germany/
EGHI Southampton is Orbx’s first real commercial airport file for X-plane, and it’s very good in many respects yet somehow it left me a little flat. Like, maybe, I was expecting more…perhaps a modeled interior – or at least better glass textures. Though there are other features that are hands down better than any I’ve ever seen before, the overall effect was like I’d just spent an hour or so looking at a very-very good freeware file. Of course, after you finish this post you might think you understand why…yet I’d hesitate to jump to that conclusion if I were you. Anyway, I have a feeling if you’re reading this you’re probably interested in purchasing this file, and if you’re on a Windows machine you should. If not, you might want to wait a while.
EGHI Southampton is located 54 miles south of London Heathrow and as such avoids a lot of the traffic congestion (sorry, not on the roadways) associated with the whole Heathrow/Stansted/Gatwick mess. Southampton has been a ship building center for a while (Noah’s ark was built on the Solent in case you didn’t know), and many trans-Atlantic cruise ships still call Southampton home, so as a result there’s a good deal of air traffic here. Flybe is the big carrier here but with their finances in such precarious shape who knows how that will remain the case. EasyJet, KLM and Volotea also operate out of here, as do a few smaller carriers.
Let’s look at some images now…and note: these images were made without the GB South terrain file onboard…through no fault of my own, by the way. Note also that I’m now running Xp 11.30rc2…so the exhaust gases behind a few of these .acf look very, very different…like maybe somebody slipped some beans in the fuel tanks?
Yes, the ramps are brick…and the provided ortho is decent enough…while the grasses around the taxiways and runway are very good. (below) The blue clerestory glass (or is that a really long skylight) is a central feature at night, and it’s really excellent. Other glass on the main terminal is less interesting.
Many of the surrounding ancillary buildings are very well executed, yet if you take away the JAR Designs ground handling vehicles there’s not really a lot going on out on these ramps.
And so views from the front office aren’t what I’d call immersive. One of the file’s best features is the multi-story parking garage, while one of the worst is the blurry control tower. Overall, ramp lighting is on the dim side, while airport roadways and pedestrian areas are simply too dark.
So, perhaps, we have another conundrum. This is a decent effort yet it breaks no new ground, and I think Orbx ought to rethink their strategy for coming to Xp. Short Final’s KABQ is a year old now and is a better file in every regard, while DD’s EPWA Warsaw, Turbulent’s KMBS and FlyDesign’s EPSY are so much better than this effort I wonder why Orbx even bothered. Maybe the working assumption is that because its Orbx people will rush to purchase this file without bothering to really look it over. This was good work a couple of years ago, so Orbx either isn’t really in the game yet or they’ve lost their spark.
Our score: 8 out of 10, about 32 Aussie buckeroos at the Orbx store.
(Note: if an MsWindows user you might want to skip this part of the post)
It took a while, but Orbx finally delivered a “MacOS compatible” GB South True Earth file, yet even so whatever happiness I felt evaporated as soon as I tried to get workable results. They’ve delivered “a file” alright, but one that each end user has to convert from Ms Windows format to either Mac or Linux formats, and the end result was a days long process that requires you have upwards of 150Gb free disk space to manage the conversion process. This experience was, to me, pure, unadulterated West Texas Bullshit and one easily avoided. If they can’t be bothered to provide ready to roll Mac or Linux files, or more relevant still, an FTX Central facility for Mac and Linux users, why not just come out and say their products are for Windows only at this time.
To say this experience has soured me on Orbx is a bit of an understatement. One of the nice things about the MacOS and X-plane experience has been not having to deal with the corporate bullies that seem to have always followed in MicroSofts’ footsteps. At any rate, after 11 hours and 120GB plowed through…I simply gave up and threw the file in the trash. I’ve read their forums and their moderators can be a little rough around the edges, and it’s easy to read the end results. There are a lot of pissed off purchasers, and I completely understand why.
Anyway, when trying to get Orbx’s new EGHI file up and running, I found that a MacOS version of the very much required Orbx Library file isn’t out yet. My. How. Surprising.
I mean…I get it…but I don’t get it. This kind of malarkey is almost absurdly funny…in a way Kafka might get. From a customer service point of view most companies would admit they’d screwed the pooch, but not, apparently, Orbx. Have they not heard of Beta testing? Or decent customer service? Or do these guys simply not care that they’re selling a product that is blatantly incompatible with 2 out of the 3 operating systems they claim it is made for – and is therefore at odds with their own sales and promotional material. The more relevant question might be just when does this sort of ongoing carelessness slip into the realm of consumer fraud? I’d imagine it won’t be long before some lawyer decides to take these guys to court, but again, this is all so unnecessary. A robust product testing regime ought to take care of these matters before more blood starts boiling. And until these characters can get their act together, Orbx needs to sell to Windows users only…who I’m sure are just as happy as clams.
Strike two, Orbx.
And that’s all we’ve got for you today. Hasta later –