Discovering Elite Dangerous in 2019

Are we there yet?

Elite Dangerous is a massively multiplayer online space game by Frontier Developments. Although the game requires a persistent internet connection it also features a solo or single-player mode. Elite Dangerous is the successor to Elite which was first released in 1984 and now 30 plus years later, the game has seen quite a change.

My history with Elite Dangerous is virtually non-existent aside from hearsay about a learning curve and how fantastic the game is to play in Virtual Reality. Now it’s true I have interest in open world simulation games such as X-plane, Microsoft Flight Simulator and both Euro and American Truck simulators but interest in a space game not so much. It seems most space games are about aliens, monsters and mostly shooting other spaceships in an arcadey fashion. Something about the wide open vast nothingness of space travel also hasn’t had much appeal….but then again I have never encountered game quite like Elite Dangerous.

Sidewinder training

What Learning Curve?

Something about Elite Dangerous seemed different. Oh and there’s that learning curve I kept hearing about. A learning curve to play a game? There is always some learning when you are starting a new game especially in flight simulators but this game simulation was suppose have a notable learning curve and was not meant to be taken lightly.

And so armed with a wee bit of knowledge of what I might be getting myself into only through those online game reviews and gameplay, I took the plunge into beginning my journey into the world of Elite Dangerous. And what a journey it has been.

A new ship, another Starport

Read the Manual and Make Friends with the Options Menu

Now I don’t consider myself a very fast learner and besides that I prefer to take my time to make sure I’m understanding what I learn. And so after 14 hours later, I was able to fly my first ship! Did I mention I like to take my time? You see, perhaps Elite Dangerous is a game at heart but it’s also a simulation that takes place in space. It must be experienced and that’s not even with VR! Now I generally do not enjoy multiplayer games and so my time in ED has been spent in singleplayer (Solo) mode, along with training tutorials and the options menu for keybindings and that is probably one of best places to start in Elite Dangerous.

If you aren’t familiar with the game, within the universe of Elite Dangerous there are 400 billion star systems as part of the in game reproduction of the Milkyway galaxy. All these systems can be seamlessly traveled to in a spaceship which you can upgrade as you gain credits. You begin the journey in a spaceship called the Sidewinder. If you die or crash in Elite Dangerous you will get your Sidewinder back but will have to start over. Later, when you buy a different ship, you will need to pay a rebuy amount (5%) of your total ship value should you die or crash it.

Find the dock

Flying and docking is an accomplishment in Elite Dangerous

For me the learning curve in Elite Dangerous has been first and foremost related to keybindings and understanding both the game, menus and ship systems terminology. At the start you will want to take a look or two or three at that Elite Dangerous manual which gives a nice overview of system terms. Of course you will need to learn how to operate your ship and it’s not a point and click operation (at first). Each ship features a six-way on-board thruster system (vertical(up and down), lateral(side-to-side), forward and backward and don’t forget about pitch, roll and yaw) somewhat like trying to fly a Harrier jet in space. But unless you would like to go spinning uncontrollable toward the side of the spaceport you might want to leave Flight Assist on.

If you have familiarity with flight/combat simulators then learning to fly in Elite Dangerous will a piece of cake, maybe. Your ship features thrusters are not unfamiliar but figuring out your keybindings just might be! I am using a Flight Stick with throttle control – Thrustmaster Hotas X (Hands On Throttle and Stick). Also a keyboard, a mouse and a Xbox controller. I have heard you can fly with a keyboard and mouse only but I haven’t tried it.

Hyperspace Jump

Moving your ship to another star system is another accomplishment

Moving from one star system to another within the galaxy is also a new experience which must be learned. We just don’t do that kind of thing on Earth!

Likewise docking (landing) in a spacestation-like port is also not like driving to grandmas around the block in your car unless you use AutoDock which is a newer feature of the game. (Note: All ships come equipped with AutoDock, Auto Launch and Auto Cruise. Auto Cruise can be useful when hyper-traveling around the galaxy.)

Focus on the task at hand

Doing most anything successfully in Elite Dangerous feels like an accomplishment

So you can move around in Elite Dangerous and you’re learning the keybindings and termology? Good. Now what? As a noob to ED at just over 80 hours (at the time of this post) I have learned about a few things you can do in this vast openworld galaxy. There is a war going on within the game but it appears to me, at least visually speaking, to be a nearly silent war (maybe it’s different in Open mode with human players?). But nevertheless, space is really big and so unless you go looking for a fight you might not find any. Each port features a news and mission board which displays information about the faction war and their particular allegiance (if any). You can choose to do missions for the leaders of the factions to earn credits (in game currency) or go exploring on your own.

I have found that doing Courier jobs at first helps as you are learning how to jump from star system to system and it doesn’t require any cargo space. The data is store on your internal computer and if you get scanned by another ship or pirate they will not try to steal your stuff. NPC’s or none playable characters are all that is found in the solo mode but in Open play mode you will encounter human players.

Should we land there?

Explore some Planets with Horizons

Recently I have begun to explore systems and map individual planets using the Detailed Surface Scanner (which must be bought at a Starport). The data you get after mapping a planet and from discovered systems can be sold 20ly (light years) away in a different star system for sometimes hundreds of thousands of credits!) If you prefer combat, you can learn how to shoot other ships down and gain credits for doing it. Besides doing missions, you might try mining an asteroid, landing on a planet and disabling turrets on the base for a particular faction leader. This is part of the war except you won’t encounter actual people or aliens walking around with guns. Maybe you like to free-roam and wish to visit a random planet (not for a mission). You can with the included SRV (Surface Recon Vehicle) that is part of the Horizons expansion pack in Elite Dangerous. Horizons is great especially if you want to be able to land on some of the planets and moons. (Note: As of this post there is no life on the planets and you cannot land on any Earth-like planets)

Request docking permission

The Universe in Elite Dangerous is really big

I haven’t really scratched the surface (aside from a few planets) of what this game probably has to offer since I am still quite new. However, I have been able to get a glimpse of what this game is and how vast it is. Elite Dangerous is masterpiece in it’s size and beauty but something more jaw dropping is what this game is based off of. When you go outside on a clear night, look up at the night sky and see hundreds of dots of light and realize those are suns similar to our own—one cannot but ask at least one big question. Who made all this?

I know the Maker of the Universe and perhaps you do as well. But if you do not know the Creator Almighty God, there is a reason why it matters more than anything else on this earth. Elite Dangerous was made by mere men but someday all men will face God. Some will meet God willingly in worship and some will be kicking and screaming but today you have an opportunity to find out who the true God really is and why it matters. Many people believe in Heaven but if hell is real place you need to find out what that means to you. I don’t want anyone to go there. If you haven’t already why not check out the good person test linked at my website or read my post called 5 things you should know before you die. And if you have a Bible start reading in John 1. The good person test and starting with John 1 from the Bible will give you a good start to understanding who God is and why it matters since none of us are promised tomorrow. And in case you wondered, this is a matter of life or death and not about joining a religion or church.

Outpost – Time to fuel up

But after all we’ve learned, is the game any good?

You learn quite a bit in Elite Dangerous, you need to even to survive but is it a game I would recommend? And how about that learning curve? I would enthusiastically recommend Elite Dangerous but especially to anyone with special interest in Flight/combat simulators and/or truck simulation games with a twist. If you don’t mind learning and setbacks and frustrations and grind to get a reward (menial at first) then you might like this game. Each person is different but do your research and then if you still like what you see, get it on sale with Horizons. Naturally, you will need to take your time to learn ED but I think it can be a rewarding experience when you learn something new. I know it has been for me (and that’s saying a lot).

My Rating (out of 10) 8.5 out of 10


AreYouGood.us

5 things you should know before you die

My early steam review

Elite Dangerous Deluxe Edition on Steam

Elite Dangerous Official Site

Elite Dangerous Manual

Watch what hope looks like -FullyFreeFilms.com


images are my own in-game screenshots

2 Things that would greatly enhance and improve X-plane 11

Cessna_172SP_hum2
Cessna 172SP X-plane 11 over Arcata, CA

X-plane 11 is a beautiful looking flight simulator and is currently available for computers but there are two things I wish X-plane 11 would fix or implement to make it even better.

ATC Voices

The ATC voices found in Microsoft Flight Simulator from many years ago (2006) are the kind of audio I wish X-plane 11 would use.  Having realistic voices would greatly enhance this simulator without the need to use and pay for third party software or ATC systems.  There are many users of X-plane 11 including myself who simply use the sim for fun and only wish for some better sounding voices without needing to speak to a real person pretending to be in a tower.

Give Users More Rendering Options in the UI

Another way to improve X-plane 11 would be to add more user interface options for controlling the level of rendering details of autogen.  In X-plane 10 there are many options for controlling autogen and visuals (perhaps too many) but X-plane 11 has appeared to dumb down the UI too much and has unwisely (from a customers standpoint) removed most settings altogether or linked everything together.

The main reason X-plane 11 needs to add more options for autogen settings is because it would allow the player to have better control over the visuals when flying over rural vs urban areas. This is not a frame-rate issue (I know X-plane developers have claimed that is the reason they removed it) but in fact for some of us, its purely for realism in visuals.   For example, where I live there are no trains and generally minimal traffic.  There are not many buildings either but there are lots and lots of trees.  In this situation it would be great to be able to lower the traffic, building and train numbers without lowering the tree density.  And what if I never want deer or birds in my sim? Currently I cannot remove them.  What if I want to have more buildings but less traffic and trees or vice versa?  Currently in X-plane 11 all these settings are connected and it’s frustrating!  Either you get lots of trees, traffic, buildings and trains or, little to nothing at all.  By the way, X-plane 10 handled these decisions much better giving the user better control over these settings and it was awesome.   It’s clear that that having more visual options in the UI would greatly improve X-plane 11 realism.


Disclaimer:  The opinions and information expressed in this review are my own and are based on my own experience.  These views or opinions are not intended to reflect the views or opinions of Laminar Research nor any of the developers of X-plane 11 in any way.

 


X-plane 11 Official website

X-plane 11 community

X-plane 11 on Steam

Movies everyone should watch before they die

Get Hope

Find me on Steam

My X-Plane 11 Review on Steam

 


Images are my in-game screenshots from default X-plane 11.05

 

Is Transport Fever a good game?

Transport_Fever_open.png

Is the game Transport Fever any good?  Is it for you? Let’s find out.

The year is 2000 and you watch as your stage-coach from 1875 comes rolling into town just past the electric tram. Your fully loaded stage of 4 passengers stops at the airport as the 747 Airline to Dallas is just taking off. Why? Because you can in Transport Fever!

Is this game perfect? Nothing rarely is but if you enjoy Cities Skylines or SimCity you just might really like Transport Fever even more.

The not-so-good (probably)

Before I mention all that’s good about Transport Fever, let’s get some of the basics, technically speaking, out-of-the-way that could be considered negatives with this game.

Tycoon Game?

Users have mentioned that Transport Fever is not a true transport tycoon game because there is no competition with other networks.  You are alone in this game as you build your networks and try not to go broke in the process (unless you are using the no cost mod of course).

Learning Curve

There is a learning curve in Transport Fever but it’s mostly due to a somewhat poor designed menu system that appears to be a bit out dated IMO.  The fonts in the menus are also smaller than they need to be which can make general navigating a daunting task until you get used to what the options do and where they are located.  You will also encounter some redundancy in menu options which can be quite confusing at first. For example, opening up the new line option can be done by clicking on multiple locations.  (Note: Fonts can be scaled larger in the settings menu (upper right) but doing this enlarges the bottom task bar and other menus to something too large for my liking!)

Laying Train Tracks

Generally track laying in Transport Fever is fun but sometimes you will find the track (and roads) do not want to go where you want them to due to uneven and height variations in terrain.  Using the in-game terrain height overlay option can help.  (It is located in the bottom right menu.)  Helpful note: A flat terrain works best for track laying but mountains and hills are fun and challenging maps to play.  

If your computer CPU and GPU are not very powerful, like mine, your frame-rate will suffer on larger maps and in later years when more transportation networks are working at the same time.    (My system: AMD Phenom II 945 x4, 8gb ram, GTX 750ti 4gb)

YouTube Gameplay of Transport Fever can help when you are just starting out or anytime

I highly recommend watching YouTube videos of basic gameplay and read about the game in the steam community for Transport Fever. (On YouTube I suggest Skye Storme or Colonel Failure as great places to start.)

 

The Good

 

A little bit like a Virtual Model Railroad

Create Virtual Transport Networks to watch the trains (boats, and planes)

Transport Fever features virtually unlimited track manipulation for creating a simple model rail system. Don’t want to mess with the mechanics of transporting all the goods?  In Transport Fever you don’t have to.  Want to transport only food? You can.  If you just want to transport people from various cities and watch your towns grow, you can do that too.  And with the no cost mod enabled you can create rail lines, ship lines and air transport lines galore.  While Transport Fever can be a great sandboxy type game for laying rail, it is not a very realistic virtual model railroad because you do not have as much control over your trains as you would in a real model rail layout.  Also, Important to note you cannot drive the train but you can ride along with it.   Note that in later years, a better computer system will be desired to fully enjoy your extensive transportation network. 

Graphics and Optimization

Transport Fever looks and plays better than Cities Skylines and I have an old machine (AMD Phenom II 945 x4, 8gb ram, GTX 750ti 4gb) until you get into the later years especially on the larger map sizes.

Sound

There are lots of sounds in this game. Some are wonderful and some can get downright annoying and repetitive (I’m thinking of the default airport, birds and train stations). But guess what? If you enjoy tweaking game files, (back up originals first) you can remove or even change certain sounds in the sounds folder. (HINT: There is a silence.wav sound which I found came in handy if you simply desire, silence. )

No Cost Mod and No End Year Mod

The Cost option comes included with the game and it makes Transport Fever the ultimate model railish transport sandbox. Enjoy laying train tracks, roads, airports? Lay them at your heart’s content and why not put in multiple tunnels underground or a giant bridge across the lake, because you can.
The game also includes a NO END YEAR mod so you can use that Stage Coach in 2047 and beyond.

Mods

This game uses community mods and they make an already great game expandable. The creators of these models and mods are truly talented artists!

I will list many of mods I use here that I believe are essential to have a great sandbox experience in Transport Fever.   (Note: As I live the USA, I enjoy mostly American looking models)

One of my favorite collections featuring Santa Fe and BNSF

A big thank you to the creators of these great models, skins and mods!

 

Conclusion

Learning curve, room for improvement? yes and yes but I highly recommend this game for the beautiful trams, stage coaches, trains, the sounds, the planes, the trucks, the endless train tracks and the fantastic working mods and models found on the Steam Workshop…….

Need Help?

As always feel free to ask if you need some basic help with Transport Fever and I will try to point you in the right direction.

 


Transport Fever on Steam

Transport Fever Workshop on Steam

Transport Fever Industrial FlowChart

How Transportation Works in Transport Fever

Transport Fever Wiki

Transport Fever Official Website

Map Creation Tool for Transport Fever

Fantastic video on how to Create your own terrain map for TpF using Minecraft WorldPainter

World Painter

Hope

Audacity

Fullyfreefilms.com


Image source

Transport Fever: The virtual model railroad (sort of)

Transport_Fever_open.png

Is the game Transport Fever any good?  Is it for you? Let’s find out.

The year is 2000 and you watch as your stage-coach from 1875 comes rolling into town just past the electric tram. Your fully loaded stage of 4 passengers stops at the airport as the 747 Airline to Dallas is just taking off. Why? Because you can in Transport Fever!

Is this game perfect? Nothing rarely is but if you enjoy Cities Skylines or SimCity you just might really like Transport Fever even more.

The not-so-good (probably)

Before I mention all that’s good about Transport Fever, let’s get some of the basics, technically speaking, out-of-the-way that could be considered negatives with this game.

Tycoon Game?

Users have mentioned that Transport Fever is not a true transport tycoon game because there is no competition with other networks.  You are alone in this game as you build your networks and try not to go broke in the process (unless you are using the no cost mod of course).

Learning Curve

There is a learning curve in Transport Fever but it’s mostly due to a somewhat poor designed menu system that appears to be a bit out dated IMO.  The fonts in the menus are also smaller than they need to be which can make general navigating a daunting task until you get used to what the options do and where they are located.  You will also encounter some redundancy in menu options which can be quite confusing at first. For example, opening up the new line option can be done by clicking on multiple locations.  (Note: Fonts can be scaled larger in the settings menu (upper right) but doing this enlarges the bottom task bar and other menus to something too large for my liking!)

Laying Train Tracks

Generally track laying in Transport Fever is fun but sometimes you will find the track (and roads) do not want to go where you want them to due to uneven and height variations in terrain.  Using the in-game terrain height overlay option can help.  (It is located in the bottom right menu.)  Helpful note: A flat terrain works best for track laying but mountains and hills are fun and challenging maps to play.  

If your computer CPU and GPU are not very powerful, like mine, your frame-rate will suffer on larger maps and in later years when more transportation networks are working at the same time.    (My system: AMD Phenom II 945 x4, 8gb ram, GTX 750ti 4gb)

YouTube Gameplay of Transport Fever can help when you are just starting out or anytime

I highly recommend watching YouTube videos of basic gameplay and read about the game in the steam community for Transport Fever. (On YouTube I suggest Skye Storme or Colonel Failure as great places to start.)

 

The Good

 

A little bit like a Virtual Model Railroad

Create Virtual Transport Networks to watch the trains (boats, and planes)

Transport Fever features virtually unlimited track manipulation for creating a simple model rail system. Don’t want to mess with the mechanics of transporting all the goods?  In Transport Fever you don’t have to.  Want to transport only food? You can.  If you just want to transport people from various cities and watch your towns grow, you can do that too.  And with the no cost mod enabled you can create rail lines, ship lines and air transport lines galore.  While Transport Fever can be a great sandboxy type game for laying rail, it is not a very realistic virtual model railroad because you do not have as much control over your trains as you would in a real model rail layout.  Also, Important to note you cannot drive the train but you can ride along with it.   Note that in later years, a better computer system will be desired to fully enjoy your extensive transportation network. 

Graphics and Optimization

Transport Fever looks and plays better than Cities Skylines and I have an old machine (AMD Phenom II 945 x4, 8gb ram, GTX 750ti 4gb) until you get into the later years especially on the larger map sizes.

Sound

There are lots of sounds in this game. Some are wonderful and some can get downright annoying and repetitive (I’m thinking of the default airport, birds and train stations). But guess what? If you enjoy tweaking game files, (back up originals first) you can remove or even change certain sounds in the sounds folder. (HINT: There is a silence.wav sound which I found came in handy if you simply desire, silence. )

No Cost Mod and No End Year Mod

The Cost option comes included with the game and it makes Transport Fever the ultimate model railish transport sandbox. Enjoy laying train tracks, roads, airports? Lay them at your heart’s content and why not put in multiple tunnels underground or a giant bridge across the lake, because you can.
The game also includes a NO END YEAR mod so you can use that Stage Coach in 2047 and beyond.

Mods

This game uses community mods and they make an already great game expandable. The creators of these models and mods are truly talented artists!

I will list many of mods I use here that I believe are essential to have a great sandbox experience in Transport Fever.   (Note: As I live the USA, I enjoy mostly American looking models)

One of my favorite collections featuring Santa Fe and BNSF

A big thank you to the creators of these great models, skins and mods!

 

Conclusion

Learning curve, room for improvement? yes and yes but I highly recommend this game for the beautiful trams, stage coaches, trains, the sounds, the planes, the trucks, the endless train tracks and the fantastic working mods and models found on the Steam Workshop…….

Need Help?

As always feel free to ask if you need some basic help with Transport Fever and I will try to point you in the right direction.

 


Transport Fever on Steam

Transport Fever Workshop on Steam

Transport Fever Industrial FlowChart

How Transportation Works in Transport Fever

Transport Fever Wiki

Transport Fever Official Website

Map Creation Tool for Transport Fever

Fantastic video on how to Create your own terrain map for TpF using Minecraft WorldPainter

World Painter

Hope

Audacity

Fullyfreefilms.com


Image source

X-Plane 11 – Should You Buy It?

Cessna_172SP_hum2
Cessna 172SP X-plane 11 over Arcata, CA

This post is a quick review of my experience using X-Plane 11.  I hope to help you answer the ultimate question of Should I buy it? while I add some personal comments along the way.

X-plane 11 is an advanced flight simulator by Laminar Research which utilizes modern 64-bit architecture found in today’s computers along with the latest GPU’s and CPU’s.    I will list the pros and cons I found in using the X-Plane 11 Demo and ultimately purchasing the complete X-plane 11 simulator on Steam.

This review represents my experience after running X-plane 11 on an older computer.

My Computer Specs: CPU- AMD Phenom II 945 Quad Core, MEMORY- 8 gb ram, GPU- GTX  750ti OC 4gb memory, HARD DRIVES- Two 500 gb, One 250 gb

Cessna_172_Hum

Pros/What I do like

User Interface (UI): 

Pleasing to the eyes.  The UI in X-plane 11 has been given a complete and welcome overhaul from past versions of the sim. Old and new users will find the settings easier to navigate and understand. Whether configuring a joystick, flight yoke or tweaking the sim’s graphics, the simple sliders, added search function and visuals make configuring X-plane 11 to your liking fun and intelligent.  I personally enjoy the new layout and views for displaying aircraft, airports, weather and the visual representations of various flight yokes and joysticks simply wonderful.

Lighting: 

Impressive. The lighting in X-plane 11 is simply amazing and in my opinion, more realistic than ever.  I have been using X-plane 10 global the past few years and after first running the X-Plane 11 Demo, I immediately noticed a vast daylight improvement over the previous version of the sim.  The sun is more dynamic and bright, with better rendered shadows–as one would expect on a bright sunny day.  At night, HDR lighting adds more realistic vibrant lights on cars, buildings, aircraft and runways.  (Note: need a good graphics card with at least 4 gb ram I recommend for HDR and to utilize maximum effects within the sim)

Sound:

Good. Aside from the ATC audio, general environment and aircraft sounds are quite realistic and pleasing.  Audio for default X-plane 11 aircraft is generally acceptable.  I have found aircraft audio mostly depends on the aircraft you fly and their original quality, whether payware or free.  (As expected, payware aircraft tend to be more realistic both visually and sound-wise)

Clouds: 

Clouds appear to be softer and whiter in X-plane 11 but my FPS did take at least a 10 point frame rate drop when flying in heavier fog/cloud layers.  Clear skies it is.

Frame-rates (FPS):  

I have been pleasantly surprised by the improvement in frame-rates in X-plane 11 over X-plane 10.  (Settings for my machine are 4x anti-aliasing, HDR High,  Shadows on,  Scenery Options Medium -Low,  Reflections off. ) My system is quite old but even with my older processor and the GTX 750 ti 4gb I was able to hover around 30fps when flying in my hometown  (KEKA, KACV)*.   At these settings within the Demo Area I was able to get around 22-23 fps, clear day and even better FPS at night. )

Graphics/Autogen: 

Overall the default textures for terrain, buildings, road-networks, airports etc. are fantastic in X-plane 11.  Days (and nights) are more realistic  than ever in X-plane 11 with the new haze (particle system?)  that has been added to the atmosphere.   As mentioned before, HDR lighting makes street lights, runways, and aircraft lighting look real.  Yes I enjoy lights. With a decent graphics card (the more memory the better)  visual settings and lights will look great in your sim.  The trains/traffic have even been updated in X-plane 11 too!

Addons, Plugins and Tweaking

If you like tweaking,  modding and using addons you will love X-plane 11 because adding custom content is a breeze in X-plane 11.   (The FlyWithLua plugin is a great example)

 

An important note about default X-plane Airports for new users:  Some default airports in X-plane 11 will not include buildings but updated airports which do include buildings, hangers and terminals are being added to X-plane via updates.  Find out about the airport gateway hereBuild/improve your own airports with World Editor (WED)


Cons/What I don’t like

 

User Interface (UI): 

While I completely enjoy and welcome the new easier to navigate and appealing layout of the UI, I still find myself wishing I could control certain settings.  This of course is my coming from using X-plane 10 which allowed control over those settings in the UI.  For example I would like to be able to disable birds, deer and boats. I see no options to disable those.  And if fire and balloons still exist within the game (haven’t seen them yet in X-plane 11) a disable option would be welcome for those too.  I would also like to be able to control the number of cars on the road, and the number of roads, separate from the number of buildings.  For me adjusting them is from a cosmetic and a realistic stand-point.  (My town for example has many roads, but very few cars or buildings.)

Sounds: 

ATC in X-plane 11 make work more realistically than in it did in previous versions of X-plane but I wouldn’t know because I haven’t tried it yet.  I find the synthesized voice that is used completely unbearable to listen to.   Some default aircraft such as the helicopter produces some wonky rotor sounds which sound more mechanical than realistic.  Screeching tires sounds are better but still exist in the default Cessna 172 which I don’t like.

Steering/ Controls: 

It might be just me, but I find the steering/rudder controls of the default Cessna 172 and helicopter erratic and somewhat difficult to control on take-off.  New users especially users coming from FSX may have some difficulty at first.

Clouds

While generally clouds and fog in X-plane 11 are good we know they could be improved visually in terms of their shape, definition and overall appearance.  Thunderheads and storm clouds should appear like tall menacing thunderheads (cumulus cloud) rather than layers of stratus.  Contrails in X-plane 11 need fixing (more on this in the graphics section below).

Graphics:

Of course the visuals can always be improved and I know the X-plane developers are working hard on so many awesome aspects and improvements for X-plane 11, including realistic clouds and autogen.  However, aside from unrealistic ATC audio, two areas that really distract my flying is the terrible rendition of airline contrails when viewed at a distance and the deer/birds that pop up when you least expect them.  Right now default X-plane 11 is showing black/grey contrails which are hardly realistic.  The first time I saw it I thought the plane was on fire.  I will be looking forward to new longer and actual white aircraft contrails (as seen in FSX) which would improve the visuals greatly in X-plane 11.  Being able to disable unrealistic looking deer and birds on the runway would be fantastic too.  Thank you Laminar Research.

 


Should You Buy X-plane 11?

If you love flight sims such as FSX or Prepar3d, than yes of course you should buy X-plane 11.  X-plane 11 runs better and the atmospheric visuals are impressive.  In addition, the improved UI  and the realistic lighting is enough to give this simulator an emphatic positive recommendation from me.  However, I also recommend first trying out the Demo for X-plane 11 before you spend the money on the full version (either on Steam or via X-plane.com).   With the demo version you will be able to see how well (or poorly) the sim runs on your particular machine while you experience the new user interface, flight controls, included aircraft, weather and lighting systems this great flight simulator provides.   And let’s not forget about the plugins and script addons which help this sim too.

Final note:  X-plane 11 is always being updated and improved.  Users can opt in or out of beta’s releases of the simulator if that is something that interests you.

 

*KEKA/KACV –  as of this posting these default airports did not feature airport buildings/hangers but I did add custom created content in my game.

 


Disclaimer:  The opinions and information expressed in this review are my own and are based on my own experience.  These views or opinions are not intended to reflect the views or opinions of Laminar Research nor any of the developers of X-plane 11 in any way.

 


X-plane 11 Official website

X-plane 11 community

X-plane 11 on Steam

Movies everyone should watch before they die

Get Hope

Find me on Steam

My X-Plane 11 Review on Steam


Images are my in-game screenshots from default X-plane 11.05

 

 

 

 

Quick Review: X-Plane 11 (Should You Buy It?)

Cessna_172SP_hum2
Cessna 172SP X-plane 11 over Arcata, CA

This post is a quick review of my experience using X-Plane 11.

X-plane 11 is an advanced flight simulator by Laminar Research which utilizes modern 64-bit architecture found in today’s computers along with the latest GPU’s and CPU’s.    I will list the pros and cons I found in using the X-Plane 11 Demo and ultimately purchasing the complete X-plane 11 simulator on Steam.

This quick review represents my experience after running X-plane 11 on an older computer.

My Computer Specs: CPU- AMD Phenom II 945 Quad Core, MEMORY- 8 gb ram, GPU- GTX  750ti OC 4gb memory, HARD DRIVES- Two 500 gb, One 250 gb

Cessna_172_Hum

Pros/What I do like

User Interface (UI): 

Pleasing to the eyes.  The UI in X-plane 11 has been given a complete and welcome overhaul from past versions of the sim. Old and new users will find the settings easier to navigate and understand. Whether configuring a joystick, flight yoke or tweaking the sim’s graphics, the simple sliders, added search function and visuals make configuring X-plane 11 to your liking fun and intelligent.  I personally enjoy the new layout and views for displaying aircraft, airports, weather and the visual representations of various flight yokes and joysticks simply wonderful.

Lighting: 

Impressive. The lighting in X-plane 11 is amazing and in my opinion, more realistic than ever.  I have been using X-plane 10 global the past few years and after first running the X-Plane 11 Demo, I immediately noticed a vast daylight improvement over the previous version of the sim.  The sun is more dynamic and bright, with better rendered shadows as one would expect on a bright sunny day.  At night, HDR lighting adds more realistic vibrant lights on cars, buildings, aircraft and runways.  (Need a good graphics card for this at least 4 gb of ram)

Sound:

Good. Aside from ATC audio, general environment and aircraft sounds are quite realistic and pleasing.  Audio for default X-plane 11 aircraft is generally acceptable.  I have found aircraft audio mostly depends on the aircraft you fly and the original quality whether payware or free.  (As expected payware aircraft tend to be more realistic both visually and audio-wise)

Clouds: 

Clouds appear to be softer and whiter in X-plane 11 but my FPS did take at least a 10 point frame rate drop when flying in heavier fog/cloud layers.  Clear skies it is.

Frame-rates (FPS):  

I have been pleasantly surprised by the improvement in frame-rates in X-plane 11 over X-plane 10.  (Settings for my machine are 4x anti-aliasing, HDR High,  Shadows on,  Scenery Options Medium -Low,  Reflections off. ) My system is quite old but even with my older processor and the GTX 750 ti 4gb I was able to hover around 30fps when flying in my hometown  (KEKA, KACV)*.   At these settings within the Demo Area I was able to get around 22-23 fps, clear day and even better FPS at night. )

Graphics/Autogen: 

Overall the default textures for terrain, buildings, road-networks, airports etc. are fantastic in X-plane 11.  Days (and nights) are more realistic  than ever in X-plane 11 with the new haze (particle system?)  that has been added to the atmosphere.   As mentioned before, HDR lighting makes street lights, runways, and aircraft lighting look real.  Yes I enjoy lights. With a decent graphics card (the more memory the better)  visual settings and lights will look great in your sim.  The trains/traffic have even been updated in X-plane 11 too!

Addons and Tweaking

If you like tweaking,  modding and using addons you will love X-plane 11 because adding custom content is a breeze in X-plane11.

Note for new users:  Some default airports in X-plane 11 will not include buildings but updated airports which include buildings, hangers and terminals are being added to X-plane via updates.  Find out about the airport gateway hereBuild/improve airports with World Editor (WED)


Cons/What I don’t like

 

User Interface (UI): 

While completely enjoy and welcome to new easier to navigate and appealing layout of the UI, I still find myself wishing I could control certain settings.  For example I would like to be able to disable birds, deer and boats. I see no options to disable those.  And if fire and balloons still exist within the game (haven’t seen them yet in X-plane 11) a disable option for those too.  I would also like to be able to control the number of cars on the road separate from the number of buildings.  For me this for cosmetic and a realistic stand-point.  (My town has many roads, but very few cars.)

Sounds: 

ATC in X-plane 11 make work more realistically than in it did in previous versions of X-plane but I wouldn’t know because I haven’t tried it yet.  I find the synthesized voice that is used completely unbearable to listen to.   Some default aircraft such as the helicopter produces some wonky rotor sounds which sound more mechanical than realistic.  Screeching tires sounds are better but still exist in the default Cessna 172 which I don’t like.

Steering/ Controls: 

It might be just me, but I find the steering/rudder controls of the default Cessna 172 and helicopter erratic and difficult to control on take-off.  New users may have some difficulty at first.

Clouds

While generally clouds and fog in X-plane 11 are good we know they could be improved visually in terms of their shape, definition and overall appearance.  Thunderheads and storm clouds should appear like tall menacing thunderheads (cumulus cloud) rather than layers of stratus.   Contrails in X-plane 11 need fixing (see my comments in graphics section below).

Graphics:

Of course the visuals can always be improved and I know the X-plane developers are working hard on so many awesome aspects and improvements for X-plane 11, including realistic clouds and autogen.  However, aside from unrealistic ATC audio, two areas that really distract my flying is the terrible rendition of airline contrails when viewed at a distance and the deer/birds.  Right now X-plane 11 is showing black/grey contrails which are hardly realistic.  The first time I saw it I thought the plane was on fire.  I will be looking forward to new longer and actual white aircraft contrails (as seen in FSX) which would improve the visuals greatly in X-plane 11.  Being able to disable unrealistic looking deer and birds on the runway would be fantastic.  Thank you Laminar Research.

 


Final Verdict/Should You Buy X-plane 11?

If you love flight sims such as FSX, than yes of course you should buy X-plane 11.  X-plane 11 runs better and the atmospheric visuals are impressive.  In addition, the improved UI  and the realistic lighting is enough to give this simulator an emphatic positive recommendation from me.  However, I also recommend first trying out the Demo for X-plane 11 before you spend the money on the full version (either on Steam or via X-plane.com).   With the demo version you will be able to see how well (or poorly) the sim runs on your particular machine while you experience the new user interface, flight controls, included aircraft and weather and lighting systems this great flight simulator provides.

Final note:  X-plane 11 is always being updated and improved.  Users can opt in or out of beta’s releases of the simulator if that is something that interests you.

 

*KEKA/KACV –  as of this posting these default airports did not feature airport buildings/hangers but I did add custom created content in my game.

 


Disclaimer:  The opinions and information expressed in this review are my own and are based on my own experience only.  These views or opinions are not intended to represent Laminar Research nor any of the developers of X-plane 11 in any way.

 


X-plane 11 Official website

X-plane 11 community

X-plane 11 on Steam

Movies everyone should watch before they die

Get Hope

Find me on Steam


Images are my in-game screenshots from default X-plane 11.05

 

 

 

 

KACV: Welcome to the Airport With a Long Name (That’s Kind of Hard to Remember and Say)

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Good Intentions and a Long Name

I’m pretty sure when the fine people in my hometown county of Humboldt decided to give the largest airport in the county a new name they did have the best of intentions.  I think.  For decades, the airport has been called Eureka/Arcata airport or Arcata airport even though it’s not really located in either place but rather in nearby McKinleyville, California.   Like most of us who call this county home, we all should be awestruck by and not forget the visual wonders of God’s creation that can be seen here.   We do have an ocean, lots of trees, mountains and green or brown hills depending on the season.  And like most of us who live here or have ever visited, we realize the folks who chose the new airport name probably wanted visitors (and visitors to be) to know that our airport now called California Redwood Coast Humboldt County Airport, is not just any airport in California.  To land at this airport is to land at a different yet special kind of place.  Let me explain.

Tall Trees and more

To begin with,  with such a long name I think the creators of it wanted you the traveler to know your precise location and to have the chance to make a memory at this place–even if you don’t necessarily remember the name of the airport.

Besides knowing ones precise location from the name alone, one can glean even more from its detailed length.   By being in the state of California (which BTW also happens to be a long drive from here to SoCal so maybe flying is a better way) they wanted you to know that once at the airport you will also be among the Redwoods.  Yes, these are those super tall trees you may have heard about in your favorite travel magazine or TV documentary!   And not only will you be near the Redwoods but those same Redwoods are the ones that occupy the west coast in California.   And should you land at The California Redwood Coast Humboldt County Airport would also mean you’d be on the same Redwood California coast as those Redwoods!    I don’t think any of us truly grasp the magnitude of what this means.

Let me try to explain further.  Once your plane lands on the newly conditioned asphalt runway at California Redwood Coast Humboldt County Airport you will not only have landed on the Northern California Coast but near a cliff that is a drop away from the Pacific ocean!  And if this weren’t enough to wet one’s traveling spirit to see and hear all that this place provides,  remember you will also be stepping foot in the county known as Humboldt (yes, that Humboldt).   This is that Humboldt which is located in California on the coast by the ocean with the really tall trees called Redwood trees!  (Yes there are lots of them)

It can be amazing here but I do have a minor suggestion if you are traveling from this airport to see the trees or the ocean or even the coast.   Try to overlook any unpleasant distractions or smells one may encounter on the way….   But I digress.

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Embraer E-175 at California Redwood Coast Humboldt County Airport (Image- FlyHumboldt facebook page)

Long Name and Long Runway means Larger Planes (I hope!)

However, what probably amazes me most about my home county airport is not simply its amazing location of that being near a cliff on a coast with the Redwoods by the ocean in California but of the sheer length of the airport name and tongue twisting characteristics.

(Note: For those who are interested, the name is not the only thing that has been lengthened.  The runway now sits at a length of 6046ft!  Now let’s see those big jet airlines!)

Having a long runway is good, but I still wonder about the long name?  What good is a really great name if it is hard to remember or even say?  This is maybe where the name falls short, or long depending how you perceive it.   Ultimately of course tourists will get to decide as the airport’s new name becomes more widely known. (along with this post)

For now I think I’ll just call my county airport the Humboldt County Regional Airport or maybe a better fit should be:  The Airport With a Long Name (That’s Kind of Hard to Remember and Say), unless you’d rather keep saying California Redwood Coast Humboldt County Airport over and over until it rolls off your tongue like water on your cat’s back.

Either way, welcome to Humboldt!

 

Related interest:

FlyHumboldt (Facebook)

FlyHumboldt!

California Redwood Coast – Humboldt County Airport

 

Top Image (X-Plane 10 flight sim night landing at KACV)

Lower Image source