Thursday, May 9, 2013

Black Box Simuations Unveils Their Airbuses (Airbii?)

Black Box Simulations is working on both an Airbus A320 and A330 series of Airbuses.  They have adopted the Captain Sim release model, where they release development versions to the public ahead of the final official release.  In essence, the public becomes paying beta testers of the product before it is released.  These are known as "Prologue" versions by Black Box Simulations.  These are interesting, and it will be worth watching to see how they turn out.  My only hesitation here is that 45.00 seems really steep for a prerelease product.  I think I will just wait until it reaches a released state before I jump on board.

Could they give FlightSimLabs a run for their money on the A320?  The FSL A320 seems to be the top tier, purporting to offer a PMDG-level experience of flying an Airbus.  But with the public clamoring for anything better than the old Wilco Airbus products, BBS might have a niche for themselves if they beat FSL to market.

It is worth noting that BBS is the successor company to Phoenix Simulation Software, which has a very bad reputation in the flight sim community due to the sudden way they closed up shop and left many customers out in the cold.  I was not personally affected by this at the time, but I know there are many lingering hard feelings toward PSS - and by extension, BBS.  Let's hope BBS has improved in this respect.

PMDG Showing Off The 777

PMDG has been very low key about their upcoming 777 for the most part, but there are signs that this is beginning to change.  Robert Randazzo has been giving a nice preview of the 777 model - with some very intricately modeled features - in a couple of threads over at AVSIM:

  PMDG 777 External Model Preview #1 of 2

  PMDG 777 External Model Preview #2 of 2

He has promised an in-depth look at the flight deck soon, too.

Usually, when we get to this point with a PMDG product in development, we are within a few months or so out from a release.  No timetable has been officially given by Robert yet, and for all we know, he might just unexpectedly spring it on us one day.  But we are getting very, very close.  This will no doubt be an exciting complement to the NGX for long-haul operations.

PMDG has also been showing off some 777 liveries over at their Facebook page lately, as well.

Elsewhere, at the recent FANCON gathering, Robert also had some interesting things to say about the future of flight simulation, among other topics.  Enjoy!

Majestic Dash-8 Q400 Released

Majestic Software recently released the Pilot edition of their highly-anticipated Bombardier Dash-8 Q400 turboprop for FSX, on sale from JustFlight or simMarket for around US $60.

I snagged this one right away, and let me just say that I really like it so far.  While the price is a bit on the high side, it is totally justified in this case.  Majestic has gone all out with a PMDG-like simulation of a Q400.  I am having a lot of fun with this one, as the Q400 is a regular feature in the skies here in the Pacific Northwest with Horizon Air (now branded as Alaska Airlines).  I will be doing a mini-review of the Q400 very soon, I promise!

L-1011s from Captain Sim and JustFlight

Captain Sim recently released the latest offering in its line of classic jetliners: the L-1011 external model.

While there is a part of me that is really intrigued by this - and I really love the idea of the L-1011 in FSX, I am still rather underwhelmed by their 737 and 727 products, among others.  The 737 still has a number of bugs in particular that I wish Captain Sim would hurry up and fix before moving on to other products.  I will be watching it with some interest, but I think I will be reticent to jump in until Captain Sim improves their reputation for quality first - or offers another 9.99 sale..

Elsewhere, JustFlight also has an L-1011 out.  Reviews on AVSIM indicate that it is not particularly realistic, much more like a CLS product.

Too bad in some ways - the TriStar was a grand old plane, and she deserves a top-notch simulation in FSX.  Hopefully Captain Sim will deliver.

Let's Spin This Thing Back Up!

All right, so I know the blog has been in the virtual equivalent of mothball storage in the desert for a while.  I just had too many RL things going on over the last several months to keep up with it.  However, there have been a number of exciting developments in the flight sim world recently, so let's pull this thing out of storage and see if she still flies!  :-)

Friday, January 4, 2013

Happy 2013 Everyone!

Wow, has it been this long since I updated this blog?  Very sorry about that.  Been busy with work, kids, life, etc.  I keep planning to pop back over here for a quick update, and something else seems to get in the way first.  Hope everyone is having an awesome start to the new year so far.

So what's new in the flight sim world?
  • I picked up several new add-ons this fall: the QualityWings BAe146/AvroRJ, the Coolsky DC-9, the Captain Sim 737 Captain, and the Captain Sim 777 Captain.  I'll post mini-reviews in time, but here is a quick summary: I like the Avro, I love the DC-9, the CS 737 needs some work, and the CS 777 is still a work-in-progress, although it is actually in a decently flyable state.
  • PMDG head honcho Robert Randazzo gave the fans a nice status update on the state of various projects over at PMDG.  They are trucking right along on the 777, and it is being modeled in amazing detail.  It will be to the 777 what the NGX is to the 737 NG series.  PMDG is starting to shift some developer resources onto other projects, which is a good sign that they are starting to enter the homestretch.  Beta may begin very soon.  Other projects (such as the DC-6B) have been essentially back-burnered so that resources could be prioritized for 777 development, but we may see more activity on those fronts again soon.  Robert says the next service pack for the NGX (including the next expansion plane) is essentially ready, but they have been sitting on it for a while so that they could roll some changes arising from 777 development into the NGX as well.  I think this has the potential to be a huge year for PMDG, once the 777 is out the door.  Wouldn't be surprised if we will be adding the 777 to our virtual hangars by this summer, although there are no guarantees...PMDG will roll it out only when it's ready.  Apparently the 747X 2.0 is going to be really sweet, too.  Another interesting nugget: PMDG is still working on porting one of their projects to X-Plane.  If they do that, I may finally have to consider giving X-Plane a serious look.
  • Coolsky is readying a SP1 update for their DC-9, containing mostly bugfixes.  Let me say it again: this plane is awesome.  If you are looking for a great classic jetliner to tool around in, and you don't want to endure all the headaches of trying to fix Captain Sim's broken flight models (with their 727 and 737 in particular), then this is the plane for you.  Get thee over to Flight1 and purchase the DC-9 post-haste.
  • Aerosoft has released the Airbus X Extended.  Scuttlebutt on AVSIM suggests that this is a better Airbus than the old Wilco Airbus series, although it lacks the depth of a full PMDG-style simulation.  As for me, I am still holding out for the FlightSimLabs Airbus A320 series, which is promised to be a full PMDG-style treatment of the Airbus.  Rumor has it that the FSL 'bus is in the paint shop now - maybe we will get to fly her in 2013 as well?  That would be an absolute treat!
  • And not to be outdone, the Majestic Software guys have been methodically working away at their Dash-8 Q400 for FSX.  They have even released a cool trailer video, and it is looking really nice.  There are even some rumors out there that we may see this one as early as Q1 2013 - stay tuned!
  • Elsewhere, Aerosoft/DA is still plugging away at their CRJ.  I'm still really looking forward to this one, but development has been rather inconsistent, so it's hard to say when it will hit the streets.  Maybe 2013 will be the year for the CRJ after all!
  • And unfortunately, no news on the Level-D 757.  (Or, as Chevy Chase once said, "Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead.")
I took the PMDG 747X (current version) out for a long spin from KSEA to RCTP last week, and it actually worked flawlessly.  I completed the flight in just over 12 hours.  I guess having FSUIPC installed to override FSX's wacky weather model (especially for winds) makes a big difference here after all.

Still tooling around in the PMDG NGX a lot, too.  It is my go-to plane for most short-haul flights, as it is so well done.  I really, really like it a lot, and it's been out for two years now.

I'm also toying with the idea of getting a SSD drive for my main FSX rig sometime in 2013, and migrating FSX over to that.  I have heard others say that the performance of FSX is in another league when run off a SSD drive.  Can't complain too much about my current setup, but I think I would like to give it a shot.

What are you guys flying these days?  What are you most looking forward to in 2013?