Things are really getting interesting in Particle Land…aka Laminar’s new implementation of Vulkan…as all kinds of refinements to almost anything particulate are now coming into the sim. Yup, tip vortices were the first, most obvious manifestation, and yes, those are interesting…but look over the images we’ve got today, because other interesting effects are popping up in the most unexpected places.
No, not just the clouds, but the ambient color of the clouds…as reflected on the pavement! That’s the amber color below, but as far as I can tell the pinkish color may well be coming from the lights on the catering vans. Either way, it’s a pretty spectacular effect. That’s also a spectacular new Varig livery by fscabral for the 767-200 ER.
And if you’ve been flying in low-level cumulus clouds in Xp over the years, you may have been vexed by the inability to render various layers of cloud – other than as one amorphous glob of cloud that seemed to follow your aircraft all the way up to cruise. For instance, setting a single layer of broken cumulus with tops at 10,000…only to have the clouds follow you up to FL330…or…setting multiple levels of cumulus between GL and cruise and, you guessed it, flying through one continuous layer.
Well…those days are gone…
And clouds that sort of leaned up against mountains? Uh, well, note the subtle blending of clouds up against mountains in the images below…
Even ground level cloud formations are rendered distinctly from another level just a few thousand feet above, and the color range seen in these formations is much more subtle than before. No neon apricot clouds at dawn now…but that’s a dramatic sky lingering over UUWW – and down on the ground, too.
And how about fog? Foggy conditions have almost always been a joke, with the airport still visible through the murk cheerfully guiding you down. Uh, oops…hope you weren’t counting on that anymore…’cause those days are gone now, too. In the second image below, the airport is immediately behind the 737, and you’re looking at a 700 ft thick layer of overcast/fog with an RVR of less than a thousand feet (300m), with another layer of goop at 3500AGL. This seems like a really major change…because now if you set Cat III conditions you’d better know what you’re about.
So, there’s a lot going on with these new features, and if you want to sit down with a tall cup of java and read about all the various parameters of the particulate system, boy…do I have a link for you. Try this tutorial from Laminar’s site: https://developer.x-plane.com/article/x-plane-11-particle-system/
And read the release notes to beta 4, where you’ll run across all kinds of new references to an F-14. When 11.30 gets out of beta, you think we’ll see that new Tomcat? In time for Top Gun II? Kind of looks like more than a good possibility of that happening – soon.
So far the most complete implementations of the particle system appear limited to Laminar’s default aircraft, as contrails seen in most other .acf are evidence of a universal implementation. There are images of the default F4 on LRs FB page that look like the wing is covered in vapor; so far I haven’t been about to replicate that but it should be interesting to see.
Oh…Two revised airports in Japan to look at before we sign off for the day, so let’s dive in.
Unlike many of the Japanese airports available in X-plane, RJTO and RJTH make for a very pleasant GA excursion while also being perfect for RJ-737-A319/A320 pilots who want a more laid back experience in VATsim. Both of these airports are located on islands well south of the Tokyo Megaplex, with the farthest away (RJTH) located about 180nmi south. What makes this run so fun/interesting is the stepping-stone nature of the VOR routing, and that these islands are volcanic and so easily visible in the distance. They’re also in a region of the ocean where squally weather is the norm, lending an unpredictable “air” to any excursions “out there.” In other words…FUN.
ANA serves RJTH with 737, 738, and A320 class aircraft, with all flights from RJTH going to Haneda. Flights from RJTO are handled by the New Central Airservice, who fly Do-228s to Chōfu Airport, a small airport on the west side of Tokyo, and Toho Airservice, who use Cessna 172s (you read that correctly) as well as AS350 flutterbugs. Whoever doubted you could use the default 172 in scheduled airline service…oh…well…go for it!
First word of warning about RJTH: set runway follows terrain contours to OFF or the terminal becomes a jumbled mess. I kind of wish this wasn’t so because it alters the surrounding landscape – which is otherwise really interesting.
As I’ve covered these airports before I wanted to dial up the snotty weather this time, and image these in low light and with a fog rolling in. Probably too artsy-fartsy, but here goes. I’m going for tonal range here, not gross detail…
The last night image above is with the file open and Runway Follows Terrain Contours set to ON; the entry simply disappears and the parking lot turns into a hilly mess.
ANA has served RJTO in the past, hence the static ANA 737-7 parked next to my EADT 738. There is a Toho flutterbug on the ramps and a Toho hanger that has an animated door that slides open from time to time. The file is otherwise nicely detailed in all respects, and the control tower/building is really first class work.
I’m glad the current developer is keeping these files up to date; they’ve been in Xp for years, passed along from dev to dev and modified as Xp changes. These are both Must Have files – for the reasons outlined above – so give them a try if you haven’t yet…but do yourself a favor. Go VFR, CAVU all the way. The scenery is worth it.
Hasta later, y’all. Catch you next time – C