Monday, May 21, 2007

SP1 second impressions, and more FlightGear

Having had SP1 for, oh, five days I guess, I'm finding it's not quite as good for me as originally seemed, but still it's pretty good and definitely an improvement over the original experience. But I have not yet tried any config file tweaks, so more improvement may be on the way.

The airport shot is from Logan Airport, with about 33% traffic. I assure you that 20 FPS indication is not typical. Usually I get around around 11 FPS. While not ideal, it is definitely possible to fly at this rate. This is one of the first situations I tried, in order to give the patch a good test, and I was very impressed at how well it handled everything in this very busy scenery.

I typically fly suburban and rural areas, and found that the FPS increase, while appreciable, was not as high as I had hoped. I think the trees, in the quantities I need, might be more demanding than a lot of the urban scenery. Also, the more I fly, the more I notice intermittent blurries. This seems to be the most common complaint on the forums, and my single-core system is running into this more often than I'd like. You can see the blurries in the second shot. I'm also noticing and occasionally being annoyed by autogen popping. Aces' Phil Taylor's blog mentions that they implemented some kind of batch processing for autogen, and acknowledged that scenery popping may occur.

As I mentioned in my last post, the one improvement that has really made me happy is the fluid panning with either the hat switch or mouse, and instant view changes using the number pad preset views. It was the lagging view changes that caused me the most grief before the patch, and after a few hours I have not had any poor performance. For me, this one big improvement makes the other minor issues easy to swallow.

My third FSX shot shows a goof that perhaps might have been there before SP1, but I only just noticed it. The cargo doors on this jet remain open, even when it takes off. I don't get incensed by this kind of thing the way some people do, but rather find it mildly amusing.

I have gone back to FlightGear a few times since SP1, just to see if my earlier enthusiasm for this product was more than a flash in the pan. I'm convinced FG is the genuine article. I continue have lots of fun and look forward to the new version, whenever that gets out. This morning I tried a back-to-back flight around the pattern in FSX and FG. Besides the obvious differences (FG loads in a fraction of the time, FSX looks much prettier) I have to say the flying enjoyment (Flug Vergnugen?) is about equal.

The last shot shows my first attempt at a carrier landing in FG. It was a sucess! However, you'll have to take my word for it. The screenshot here is from a replay, and I discovered that the AI carrier continues along its path during replay, so by the time you reach the original landing spot you've missed the boat.

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