Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Sky Simulations Adds Military Variants of DC-9

By popular demand, Sky Simulations has added some new military variants to their DC-9.  These include the C-9A Nightingale aeromedical and evacuation aircraft (USAF), the C-9B Skytrain II passenger/cargo transport (USN/USMC), and the VC-9C VIP transport (USAF).  All of these are available at no charge to existing Sky Simulations DC-9 customers, and are now included with new purchases.  Enjoy!

Flight Sim Labs Shows Off A320-X Screenshots

Check them out here.

Wow - so many neat projects in the pipe.  It's a great time to be a simmer!

Monday, March 26, 2012

External Views of the PMDG 777

PMDG gave us some additional eye candy of their 777, with these screenshots of the external model.  It appears that the 777-200LR will be the initial base model, with the 777-300ER coming along later as an expansion.  Can't wait to hear more on these from the PMDG team!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

GNU Aerospace: Reborn from the Ashes of ACES?

There was another recent interesting announcement in the world of flight simulation this week.  The GNU Aerospace project has been announced.  The goal of the project appears to be to create a new development paradigm for flight simulation, using the "crowd funding" model: the products will be free, but interested customers can sign up to sponsor and fund development of the product.  The initial product will be known as TestPilot, which appears to be intended to be an open source drop-in replacement for FSX.  It will be compatible with FSX add-ons, but will reimplement and update the sim engine's graphics, effects, and interfaces such as SimConnect.  It seems unclear how they are going about this - not sure whether it will be a scratch effort, or whether they will leverage existing open source projects such as GNU FlightGear.  I will have to do some more investigation into this, but it looks very interesting.

Oh, they have recruited two former ACES developers to contribute to the project, too!

Flight Sim Labs Discusses A320-X

Also today, Flight Sim Labs was due to present some additional details about their upcoming Airbus A320 series, which seems to have been tentatively dubbed the A320-X.  I cannot find any specifics about their presentation at the 10th German Flight Simulation Conference yet, which may indicate that there was not much news to tell at this point.  If I run across any details or screenshots from their presentation, I will update this post.

As a refresher, Flight Sim Labs was founded by PMDG alumnus Lefteris Kalamaris, and their first product was the highly-regarded Concorde-X.  Now they have set their sights on an apparent PMDG-level simulation of the Airbus series, which will be very interesting to watch.

UPDATE - FSL has promised to publish an update on the Airbus series as presented at the Munich conference, once everyone has returned home.  Word in the AVSIM forums from those who attended is that FSL demoed a working model of the A320 at the conference, and they expect to release it to the public sometime around November.

PMDG Makes Big Announcements Today

PMDG showed up at the 10th German Flight Simulator Conference (sponsored by Aerosoft) in Munich today, and made quite a splash.  Captain Robert Randazzo showed off some screenshots of the 777, and they look very exciting.

Now, for the best part: apparently, PMDG has been holding out on us.  The 777 is nearly ready for beta stage!  Robert expects beta testing to begin within about two months.  Apparently, it will not be long before the first PMDG 777 models begin to take flight in our virtual skies.  No details yet on pricing, or expansion models, but I will be keenly watching PMDG for more information about the 777 in the coming months.

"But wait -- there's more!"

As has been widely rumored, PMDG has also been working on a refresh of the 747X "Queen of the Skies" product as well.  It is tentatively known as the 747 2.0, and will cover both the 747-400 and 747-8 models.  The same technology and processes used to model the NGX and 777 have also been incorporated in the 747 2.0, which should make for an exciting refresh of this product.  Robert says that they expect to have the 747 2.0 out to the masses about two months after the release of the 777.

Some exciting times for PMDG fans!

CoolSky/McPhat Studios Shows Off Some DC-9 Tails

Elsewhere, CoolSky and McPhat Studios have recently been teasing us with some screenshots of several repaints (tails only) from their upcoming DC-9.  This is usually a very good sign...generally, the fact that they are doing repaints now means that most of the other major items are out of the way.  We could see a release of this one very soonish.

More Original 737 Models for Flight Simulator

I have already touched on Captain Sim's 737 Captain at great length.  In addition, there are a couple of other Original 737 products either out, or due, that look interesting:
  • JustFlight is offering the 737 Professional for US $45.95.  This is apparently the first product produced by BlackBox Simulation, which is the successor to PSS.  Unfortunately, initial reports on this one from the AVSIM Forums have been underwhelming - in particular, the sounds and textures are way below par.
  • A Canadian outfit known as Military Visualizations (MilViz), which is primarily known for producing military aircraft for Flight Simulator, appears to be branching out with development on a 737-200 Adv of their very own.  Screenshots and videos posted so far look very impressive.  No known timeframe exists for a release yet, but it looks like they are coming right along.
The Original 737 is definitely long overdue for a proper treatment in FS, but it looks like it is definitely getting a lot of love this year.

Captain Sim Updates 737 Captain to Version 0.6

Captain Sim has updated their 737 Captain product to version 0.6.  This will supposedly be the last version in the "Stage 2" experimental/paid beta mode, before the product revision is bumped to 1.0, and presumably on to "Stage 3" release status.  Here is the list of fixes in version 0.6.

There are lots of 737-200 products out or due soon...more on this in a separate post.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Captain Sim Releases 737 Captain Under New Release Paradigm

I've debated whether I should mention this, but since there isn't much else going on right now, I may as well.

Captain Sim announced a new three stage release paradigm about a week ago:

Stage 1 - Exterior - Call this an early alpha stage of the release, with only the exterior model available.  Interior systems are typically aliased to one of the default FSX aircraft for now.

Stage 2 - Experimental - Work-in-progress version of the product, essentially an early beta.  Product is flyable, but may CTD, and some items are not yet implemented.

Stage 3 - Release - Product is in a state worthy of release.

In essence, if you buy the product at Stage 1, they will charge you around €10.  If you buy the product at Stage 2, the price goes up to around €30.  If you wait until Stage 3, the price goes up to around €40.  They charge you to upgrade at each stage, although the purchase price of the previous stage is applied toward the cost of the upgrade.  So, if you paid €20 for Stage 2, it will only cost you an additional €10 to upgrade to Stage 3.  The 737 Captain is the first product that introduces this tiered release model, and it currently sits at the Experimental stage.

The tiered model seems reasonably fair, I guess.  You can decide to pay to help test what is essentially a beta stage of the product, and then have that amount applied toward the final purchase price of the release version of the product.  I'm not in that big of a hurry to get hold of the 737 Captain yet, so I will just wait a while until the release version is here - or at the very least, something close to that.

This  is also why I am holding off on doing any sort of mini-review of the 737 Captain for the time being - as a general rule, I do not review works-in-progress here, although I am happy to talk about them.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Captain Sim Updates Progress on 737 Captain

Captain Sim appears to be nearing the finish line toward a release of the full version of the 737 Captain (737-100/200 series) product!  They announced a major update today, including some screenshots of the interior and flight deck.  Good stuff.

Included in the announcement were a few other interesting items:

  • 737-200 will now be the base model.  This is a great call, because the -200 was immensely more popular than the -100 model.  Outside of Lufthansa, very few airlines ordered the -100.
  • A 737-200 Adv has now been confirmed as an expansion model.  Unclear if this will simply be the range-enhanced exterior model, or if it will also include the updated cockpit (more 737-300/400/500 like) of the later 737-200 Adv series planes.
  • Price for the base model is confirmed as €39.99, or about US $52 at today's exchange rate.
If you're looking to try out the exterior model, there is now a free demo of the 737-100 available, too.

Looks to be a fun year to fly some classics, between this one and the upcoming Coolsky DC-9!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Microsoft Flight! Released

Microsoft released Flight! on February 29.  The basic game is available as a free download from the Microsoft web site.  Microsoft plans to make money on Flight! by selling add-ons, in a manner reminiscent of MMORPGs.  I downloaded it and tried it out, and my basic reaction is, "meh."  It really seems to be more of a game than a sim.  In essence, you are given little mini-quests to complete, which have the purpose of teaching you how to fly.  I think the graphics do look a little slicker than FSX on some elements, but it lacks a number of features from FSX.  I haven't totally given up on Flight! - it's still on my hard drive for now - but I think I will be sticking with FSX for the time being.

PMDG Releases NGX SP1c

This weekend, PMDG released the SP1c update to the 737 NGX.  Info and links to the files are available here.

The highlights of this update include:

  • Numerous tweaks and fixes (see the link above for details)
  • PMDG NGX SDK - for developers working on products that will interact with the NGX
  • Tutorial #2 - this one teaches a few new tricks with the NGX, via a cool approach.  Capt. Randazzo highly recommends all pilots try this one out.
In addition, Capt. Randazzo notes that progress on SP2 and further expansions has slowed a bit, due to a "lack of data issue on a few key pieces."  Sounds like work is ongoing, but we should not expect to see anything right away.