Monday, December 20, 2010

X-Plane 9 is here for Android

It shipped! X-Plane Mobile is now available for Android phones - look in the Android market under "X-Plane 9".

Edit: Chris sent me this QR Code - scan it to go to the store listing.

Edit: if you either cannot see X-Plane in the Android market or you cannot download it, please first look here for trouble-shooting tips, then contact customer support (info at x-plane dot com). Please do not use the comments section of this blog for customer support; if you need help we will need to contact you one-to-one.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

X-Plane for Android

As some have noticed on the org and on FaceBook, Randy mentioned that we may be able to ship X-Plane Mobile for Android. Some users were quite befuddled to learn that we were aiming to ship X-Plane Mobile for Android so soon when X-Plane 10 is delayed. Here's the full story.

Chris, the third and most recent addition to the X-Plane programming team, began a port of X-Plane Mobile to Android a while ago; this was the second port of X-Plane Mobile after our port to Palm WebOS. He was able to accomplish most of the port fairly quickly; hence the video floating around the web of X-Plane on a Nexus One back in May.

Unfortunately we ran into some issues that stopped ship; it looks like Google may have them fixed shortly, hence our hope of finally shipping the app. So while Chris has spent a little bit of time recently working on the last few Android issues, our hope is to release a product that we already put development time into a while ago.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

X-Plane vs. Blender Normal Maps

Propsman pointed this one out to me yesterday: apparently Blender tangent-space normal maps run from a value of Z=-1 (no blue) to Z=1 (100% blue). This is not how X-Plane normal maps work; our normals go from Z=0 (no blue) to Z=1 (100% blue).

This difference is easy to miss because X-Plane has to renormalize the normal map as the last step of processing the normal map. This turns a big artifact into a small one. The general effect of using the Blender convention rather than X-Plane's is that your normal map will look 'less bumpy' for fairly extreme amounts of bump.

To fix this, simply remap the colors of your blue channel in PhotoShop or some other image editing program. Basically you'll want to set what was 50% blue to 0% blue, and keep 100% blue the same. This will extend the lighter half of the blue channel over the entire blue channel.

If you have any blue less than 50% in the image, um, that's a normal that points backward, and X-Plane doesn't support that.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Updating to OS X 10.6.x

If you have a DirectX 10 or 11 class video card (that is, a GeForce 8nnn or newer or a Radeon HD card) and you're on a Mac, consider updating to OS X 10.6.x if you're still on OS X 10.5.8.

10.6 has performance enhancements in the video drivers that I suspect will benefit X-Plane 9 users, but it will really matter for X-Plane 10. We need OS X 10.6 to expose some of the OpenGL extensions that these cards have. Thus 10.6 will get you faster frame-rate, more realistic lighting, and more efficient VRAM use.

(If you have an older card, I don't know if you'll get any benefit, although I doubt you'll see a performance loss.)