Thursday, October 21, 2010

Will X-Plane 10 Have X?

If I could have a dime for every email I have received that asks some form of "will X-Plane 10 have X" (where X is a feature or enhancement), I wouldn't need to actually work on X-Plane anymore. (If you think your email triggered this post, well, there are approximately 100 other users who have asked the same thing.)

Simply put: I have no idea and I'm not going to try to answer these questions any more. Here's why:

For as long as I have been involved with X-Plane, Laminar Research has provided free patches to the simulator throughout a major version run, and those patches have included not only performance enhancements and bug fixes, but also major new features.

So the question "will X-Plane 10 have X" can really mean one of two things:
  1. Will X-Plane 10.0 have feature X immediately 'on the DVD'?
  2. Will X-Plane 10.x ever have feature X in a free patch before the major version run is over.
I can answer the first question, because we are relatively locked down on what features are still on the table for 10.0 vs. what must wait, but I think it's at best confusing to do so. If a feature isn't on the DVD, it might be in a free patch within weeks; it might be available by the time you get your DVD. Whether a feature is on the DVD is of interest to us as we plan our release, but I don't think it actually makes a huge difference to users with internet connections.

Consider 64-bit - it's something we want to look at during the version 10 run but we're not going dig into it until after we get 10.0 out. So will 10.0 be 64-bit? No. But there will probably be a 64-bit patch available for free. I think you can see why I don't want to post "X-Plane 10 will not be 64 bit."

I cannot possibly answer the second question, because versions run over several years, and what we code for the end of the version run will depend on market conditions and technology that don't exist now. One of the nice things about patching X-Plane frequently is that we can revise our plans as conditions change.

Consider the question "how many cores will X-Plane 8 utilize" had you asked the question during X-Plane 8.0. When X-Plane 8.0 came out, the answer was "only one" and we had no road-map to change that. For that matter, multi-core machines were rare and exotic beasts at the time, so multi-core wasn't a priority.

Within the three years of X-Plane 8's major version run, we ended up supporting multi-core for scenery mesh loading, something that couldn't have been easily predicted at the beginning of the version run.

Finally, a note on release planning: now is absolutely not a good time to ask for features. The features that will ship in X-Plane 10.0 have already been determined, and since we'd like to ship X-Plane 10 sooner rather than later, I don't think there's anything you can say that would make us add a feature to 10.0.

All future features are going into a 10.x "bucket" for planning purposes. Since Austin, Chris and I are up to our eyeballs in code and the art team is red-lined too, we're not spending any time sifting through 10.x buckets right now. If you send us a feature request, the very best case is that we dump it in a holding list for later; the worse case is that we lose track of the request in the chaos.

That doesn't mean that we don't care about 10.x. It's just that we are very much heads down in the 10.0 release now and won't look up until it's done.


Anonymous said...

Will XP10 have greater than 25 NM max visibility?

Benjamin Supnik said...

(bashes forehead on desk.)

bokepacha said...

I'm sorry but after that first comment we can only LOL and feel sad for Ben xD

Anonymous said...

Ben, I imagine > 25NM max visibility is not a simple thing that could be patched into a minor release.

So if its not in 10.0 I'm assuming it will never be in XP10 at all.

Im guessing its not going to be in XP10 because you've never wanted to answer the question.

With XP10.0 being so close can you please answer this? It will be a big disappointment to a lot of users of its not there.

Benjamin Supnik said...

1. Complexity is not the issue with patches; download size is. I think the list of things we've done in-patch demonstrates this.

2. Visibility limits are NOT dependent on download size, so your assumption that if this isn't in 10.0, it won't be in 10.x is wrong.

3. The feature's status for 10.0 is currently unknown ... it might be in, or it might be out. You assumption that the question is not answered because it is out is wrong.

4. Please do not ask me about any more features re: v10, ever again.

5. Please do not ask me about extended visibility again. I have heard more than enough input from users to be aware of people's concerns re: max vis.

Anonymous said...

Ben, I understand max vis > 25NM is not related to download size and therefore such a feature could be in a patch.

However from what you've said in the past it is a big structural change to the engine. That being the case I would imagine that if it's not in 10.0 then such a big change is never going to be in a patch.

Anyway, even without > 25 NM max vis I'm sure XP10 will have a lot of other great features.

God said...

Will Ben Supnik still have a forehead after the release of X10?

Cormac said...

Are we there yet?

simmo said...

That was very funny, never has RTFM been so well illustrated! I think in these final stages Ben would be justified in preventing any more comments full stop, as they land the 747 in unpredictable weather and to a deadline. Oh, and while still debugging the EICAS..

vonhinx said...

I didn't even know we had less than 25NM visibility tee hee. On the other hand, as I look out my window.... I would not be disappointed if that didn't change but I suspect something will be different enough to satisfy Anon.

Upon reading the title I thought this was whether X-Plane 10 would be called X-Plane X, but no... it's all about "please explain."

I must admit though that I do have a bucket list and have been vocal about it on the org. In fact, my bucket runneth over and I'm satisfied that all that can be done will be done by XP10. Or 11. Or when hell freezes over '-)

Anonymous said...

Ben says...

"I can answer the first question, because we are relatively locked down on what features are still on the table for 10.0"

IMHO if an increase to the 25NM max visibilty limit is not in 10.0 then its not going to be coming in any patch either.

We have already heard about the new planes, ATC, AI and weather. I suspect that 25 NM max visibility limit has not been changed otherwise Laminar would have been telling us about it.

Ben has always avoided answering the question. Laminar knows they will get berated if XP10 is still stuck with 25 NM max visibility.

Benjamin Supnik said...

FML. I thought this was pretty definitive.

"3. The feature's status for 10.0 is currently unknown ... it might be in, or it might be out."

We. Don't. Know.

Anonymous said...

Vonhinx says "I didn't even know we had less than 25NM visibility tee hee."

You must only fly GA at low alts? Try flying the 747 at FL330 and compare that to FSX. This is my only real gripe with XP9 and it would be a real shame if its not been address in XP10.

Laminar revamps XP10 to use multiple cores to do weather, AI, ATC etc, but not to fixing the 25NM max vis limit? Well hopefully I'm wrong and the 25 NM limit has been raised.

gthomas said...

The, I repeat: "the", point of the article was/is that he is not going to tell you. Repeated whining simply wastes your time, Ben's time, everyone's time.

When 10 comes out, if you don't like it, don't buy it.

vonhinx said...

Actually I fly most of the time at FL410 and live with the visual limitation. When we get better weather and clouds I will be happy enough as it will probably affect the view.

As far as scenery and visibility is concerned, I'm confident we'll get what we can handle, be it a better fading method from 25NM out or increased distance with some loss of detail. Whatever....

alloycowboy said...

You know what would be really cool is if you guys could program some suprise freak weather for people keep asking anoying questions. When they leave a yellow puddle around their computer chair a couple times they will stop asking anoying questions.

Anonymous said...

Would would be really cool is Ben giving a straight answer.

If the 25 NM limit had already been raised Ben would have said so.

But he says nothing so IMO that means either its not been changed at all and XP10 is stuck with 25 NM or they are still working on it at this late stage of development, which doesn't sound promising.

Benjamin Supnik said...

Anon: This is what I have told you before:

"The feature's status for 10.0 is currently unknown ... it might be in, or it might be out."

This is the straightest answer I give you - it reflects the truth and everything we know right now. That's how software is: sometimes you don't know if a feature is going to ship or not.

At this point I am done with this thread. Any additional comments trolling for hints as to whether the feature will be in or out (which, as I said, WE DO NOT KNOW) will be deleted.

Anonymous said...

Hey Ben,

Maybe this subtle quote will help, seeming as how they missed the whole idea of this post!

"A handful of patience is worth more than a bushel of brains."

-Dutch Proverb

Anonymous said...

Ben seems like a guy with integrity and approves blog posts even if they are somewhat critical. Kudos to him.

This blog seems to be the best way for XP9 customers to communicate with Ben regarding XP10. If people don't continue to air their concerns regarding the 25 NM maximum visibility limitation then Laminar will think its not important and most likely let the feature drop.

Anyway I'm going to stop commenting on this post because Ben and the rest of the Laminar team obviously are very busy trying to get XP10 ready for release.

Even if max visibility remains unchanged XP10 will still be a major advance over XP9.

Benjamin Supnik said...

Two things:

"This blog seems to be the best way for XP9 customers to communicate with Ben regarding XP10."

Not necessarily ... email can be better. Also, until we have a beta out there, communication on v10 is perhaps premature.

"If people don't continue to air their concerns regarding the 25 NM maximum visibility limitation then Laminar will think its not important and most likely let the feature drop."

I think we already have enough input that this feature is 'strongly desired'. Whether it goes in or is deferred will depend entirely on implementation issues, not on how bad people want it.

Ryusennin said...

Ben, you didn't address the most important question: will XP10 be named X-Plane X? (By the way, Marketing Department says hi.)

Anonymous said...

so when will we know if XPX supports greater than 25nm max visibility ?

Anonymous said...

Hey that last anonymous is not me! I posted all the other anonymous posts but this guy is an imposter :)

They will let as know when they are ready.


Anonymous said...

Another tuesday installment and no x-plane 10 scenery... I think we will see helicopters next week. What's the ETA on X-Plane 10 ???

vonhinx said...

It's been asked a zillion times and the answer is still the same - between Christmas 2010 and Q1 2011. If I read that question one more time I'm gonna hurl!

andrew said...

Will there be field mice?

alpilotx said...

No, but big elephants who change the landscape dynamically(!) on the "fly" :-)