Wednesday, February 04, 2009

X-Plane 930 Beta

X-Plane 930 has a lot in it - I will try to cover some of the details of the new features soon, but some immediate thoughts:
  • X-Plane betas are open to anyone who wants to participate. You don't have to sign up, you don't have to be approved.
  • If you would not be happy with a buggy, broken, weird, freaked out version of X-Plane, do not get the beta! Just wait and enjoy 922 - when 930 is debugged, it will be free for everyone.
  • If you make a third party add-on for X-Plane and 930 breaks it...report it, don't fix it! Give us a simple report about how your add-on used to work in 922 and is hosed in 930, and show us where to get the add-on. None of the new features in 930 should break 922 content. Pretty much all of them do nothing until you choose to use them.
  • If you make a third party add-on, get on the new betas early; the earlier you report it, the earlier we can fix it.
  • Don't release third party add-ons for 930 until 930 goes final. Until 930 is final, all datarefs, SDK features, etc. are subject to change.
  • Keep a copy of 922 around if you want to fly during early betas.
  • Don't use early 930 betas on critical files - make backup copies!
The first few betas are usually pretty rough...the main reason is that Laminar Research is a small company, and therefore we have a small number of computers; even though I have five machines in my office now (and I think 12 operating systems) there are plenty of combinations of software, hardware and drivers that our users have that we don't have.

So if you try the beta and it just blows up...don't panic! Report a bug, and we'll try to get it working for your machine. The pixel shaders and low level video driver setup code have changed, which means working out the kinks on every hardware configuration out there. (Programmers sometimes call this "write once, debug everywhere".)

With that in mind, there's a lot of cool stuff in 930. Better 2-d panel filtering and per-pixel lighting should make the sim look better for just about everyone; other features like 3-d cockpit lighting will be of interest to airplane authors. I will be updating the X-Plane wiki to document how to use some of these new features over the next few days.

9 comments:

sothis said...

"Don't use early 922 betas on critical files - make backup copies"

you mean 930? :)

Benjamin Supnik said...

oops -- fixed. But, um don't use an early 922 beta if u have one either. :-)

gazrang said...

May I expect more framerate optimization on official release?

Anonymous said...

Hi Ben,

Last night 9.30 beta 1 appeared on the beta page on x-plane.com but has disappeared from there this morning - is there a problem with it?

Secondly, I used the updater2.05 file to update 9.22 to 9.30 beta 1. It gave me the option of installing the beta so I did. 9.30 will not require its own updater?

I backed up x-plane anyway before updating to 9.30.

thanks
austin

Benjamin Supnik said...

gazrang - yes. I'm not sure how much ... bottom line is that I just haven't had time to do much tuning to 930 yet, so I don't even know if it's close or not. Some of the changes already in SHOULD make fps better in SOME cases (for example, the Falcon's 3-d cockpit should be much faster) but on the other hand the per pixel lighting code has not been optimized.

Benjamin Supnik said...

Austin - no idea where beta 1 went...looking at the server list, it still is up internally. PROBABLY Austin has already cut beta 2 because we are getting a huge number of emails about the full screen prefs not being saved, so he wants to get that fixed to cut off the email.

Re: installers...we changed the installers a little bit - from now on all web-base installer updaters allow the option of beta - this has been true since the 2.0 installers, but in 2.05 the beta check-box is up front. It just looks for an exta-new version on the server.

Benjamin Supnik said...

Er: I realize I didn't answer the question:

930 will NOT require its own updater...or rather, the installer version does NOT have to change with each update of x-plane. We only change the installer and updater version (2.05 is current) to fix bugs/make it more usable. So...probably 2.05 will be the current installer/updater version for at least a few more months.

2.05 won't be current forever -- I have some requests from Randy to make the installer easier to use and some bugs to fix.

amalahama said...

Hi Ben!

With pixel shaders, I think that a huge step in X-Plane has been done.

Can we hope for next X-Plane version (9.4 or so) self-shadowing, 3D external light and environmental maps?

Regards

Benjamin Supnik said...

amalahama - I cannot discuss future potential unreleased features.