Monday, April 21, 2008

Six Or Eight DVDs

I made the mistake of nuking this poor user's comment and I can't figure out how to get it back; it's a question that I think a number of people might have, so:
Ben, I am thinking of buying the dvds. I have heard the new (final)
version fills the whole dvd (6gb) whereas the beta took about 1,5 gb.
What is the difference? If I buy the final version, will I get better
geographic detail (more vectorpoints) or what is the real reason?
First, you will not get more scenery detail (geographic, vector points, or otherwise) in the final than beta. The scenery is the same in beta and final.

Generally speaking, every difference between beta and final is available via web download. In fact, the final DVDs are made by:
  1. Installing beta 1.
  2. Running the updater to get the final version.
  3. Cutting a new DVD off that finished result.
So I am quite sure that the final disks are the same as a beta DVD plus update.

Now the question is then, why did we do eight DVDs before and six now? The answer is two-part:
  1. Walmart.
  2. Best Buy.
The retailers prefer a six-DVD pack that is commonly used for software; our distributor therefore wanted us to cut from eight to six DVDs. We did this both by using a more powerful compression algorithm on the DSF (7-zip instead of regular zip for DSFs) and by packing the DVDs much tighter. The old DVDs are one continent-per-DVD, plus the sim; the new set is simply a ton of files packed onto 6 DVDs until they're almost full. Since the new installer lets you pick areas to install, the fact that the files are packed is not a huge problem.

So why did Austin have a sim DVD with only 1.5 GB of stuff? Convenience during beta. Austin updated the beta DVDs at beta 11; by having the sim by itself he could make a new sim DVD and not recut all of the scenery DVDs. (Cutting DVDs takes forever; an hour to burn each one, a lot of testing, a few copies, start all over if you find a problem. It can take me a whole long day and into the night to create a master.)

As a final note, there is a difference between the early US retail six-DVD set and the Laminar one; the installers are different. But they are both six DVD packed sets with scenery on the sim disk (disk one). The retail disks had to be finished first; the new installer was not ready. We will be using the new installer from now on.

The operative point here is: it really doesn't matter what you buy; everything we've released can be web-updated to the current version!


Anonymous said...

This is perfect! Thanks Ben for the quick answer! I'm now heading to the x-plane online shop to finally bring some version-9 action on!

Anonymous said...

When you buy X-Plane at Bestbuy or Walmart, do they give you the global scenery? The retailers description online says that they give you 1 cd. I've been flying X-Plane from v5, and I cannot remember.

Benjamin Supnik said...

If the retail pack has one DVD, no global scenery. If it has six, then global scenery. I believe that all retail packs of v9 are six-disk sets now...for v8 most retail packs were one disk.

OR: just by it from!