X-Plane 10 was released over the Thanksgiving weekend, so as a fan I immediately put in an order. I’ve been working on a project that revolves around X-Plane, a bit more slowly than I would like over the past month, but I’m still convinced I should do it, as it could possibly make me money. I’ve gotten as far as a skeleton prototype plugin written in Python. We’ll have to see how well it works in version 10.
I also have some first impressions after playing with the demo for a couple of weeks. I think the product has great potential. It’s certainly pushing the boundaries for what flight simulation can be. But I also think it was rushed out the door before it was really ready. Framerates are pretty terrible and not entirely predictable. I’m running on a 3.2GHz dual-core i5 with an ATI Radeon 5870 running Mac OS X Lion 10.7.2. This machine is not top of the line, but no slouch either, and the frame rates can get quite disappointing.
Part of the problem, I think, is that X-Plane 10 looks fantastic with all the settings turned way up, but since few machines can really handle that, you have to make sacrifices, and those sacrifices are disappointing. But no doubt they wanted a good base to build on, and I think they have that. Take a look at some of these demos:
My system isn’t quite good enough to look that good. Here’s one from a helicopter:
You can see the jumpiness as it deals with ground detail, which is what I noticed. Hopefully much of this will be fixed in short order. With Microsoft getting started with betas of Flight, indicating they have not abandoned the flight sim market, Laminar is going to have to move quickly if they want to capture some of Microsoft’s dominant market share in this arena. They certainly have the potential to.