tkyler

First Time X-Planers info

16 posts in this topic

So you're finally ready to try x-plane and see for yourself what it's all about?  Through this posting, I hope to give you a general idea of what you can expect and towards the end of the post, attempt to discuss the direction x-plane might be heading.  So let's just start at the beginning with a bit of esoterica.

The x-plane installation consists of a few key executable files along with a whole lot of support files.  The key executable files are in the root x-plane directory and are as follows:

1.)    X-Plane

2.)    Plane-Maker

3.)    Airfoil-Maker

The support files are things like the terrain database, the aircraft files, bitmaps, plug-ins and a myriad of other files most users will never interact with.  If one is hoping to become a developer, then you will have to become acquainted with all these files and what they do and there is a web page for that, but for people who simply want to fly in x-plane, you generally need not concern yourself with anything other than the "X-Plane" executable.

The x-plane package is available in four different "versions".  There is a “Demo Version”, a "DVD version",  a "beta version", and a "updater version.  Sound confusing?  Where here's some examples to help clarify.

If you wanted to try a demo version of x-plane, you would go to www.x-plane.com and download an installer file.  You would run the installer file and the demo version of x-plane, along with limited scenery area around Innsbruck Austria, would be downloaded and installed in a directory of your choosing.  You could then run x-plane for up to 10 minutes in demo mode.  There are no limitations on the demo mode other than being geographically limited to Innsbruck and the 10 minute time limit whereby x-plane displays a dialog box and negates any control input, but all the aircraft are available to you.

So if you decided you liked x-plane and wanted to buy it, you'd order the latest DVD version of x-plane which will net you 6 DVDs.  95% of the data on those DVDs is the world terrain database.  Now you can choose which parts of the world you want to install and a full install of the world terrain will eat up a good 60GBs of your hard drive +/-.  Any part of the world where scenery is NOT installed you CAN fly in but you will only see water and no land; however, the airports will be in place.  X-Plane has an installer that will walk you through the installation.  I'm not saying it's easy but it seems everybody gets through it somehow.  Feel free to ask question in these forums if something eludes you.

So let's say you've installed x-plane and your part of the world.  Well the version of x-plane you  purchased on DVD and just installed is probably some 'stable' version chosen by the x-plane developers.... let's say 9.20, which is the current DVD versions available online.  An older version like 9.00  might be something you'd buy in Wal-Mart.  The x-plane authors figured these were as good of versions as any to put on DVD so they did it.  NOW....here's one thing about x-plane you really need to understand, and that is X-Plane is updated CONSTANTLY.  Once a stable version get's "burned" to DVDs and ready for shipment, the x-plane authors go right back to programming in more features and lots of cool new stuff.  So rather than let these new features build up and disseminating them in one big release in the future, they elect to offer frequent updates.  So while you may have installed version 9.20 or 9.00 off your DVDs, chances are there will be some new update to x-plane already or if not, then probably in a few months into the future.  There are usually announcement on common forums when an update to x-plane is released.

Now whenever an imminent  update is about to be released, the x-plane authors first release what is called a “beta version” for public testing.  This is a chance for people to test the software and report bugs.  Do NOT expect this beta version to work correctly “across the board”.  If you desire to try the beta version, then you should be prepared to report any bugs you find...that is the  purpose of the beta “phase” of the release.  After some period of time has elapsed and the x-plane authors feel that no more significant bugs remain, then they will declare the release “final” and that release will become what I previously referred to as the “updater version”  So then to recap, the procedure for new x-plane owners is to install x-plane from the DVDs and then check for updates or beta versions.  If you were to do that as of this posting, then what you'd find is that you would probably install version 9.20 from DVDs...and the current “updater version” would be 9.22 and the most recent beta version will be 9.30b7.  When 9.30 goes “final” i.e. all the bugs have been handled, then 9.30 will cease to be a “beta version” and will become the “updater version” and the x-plane authors will go back to adding more features to be released at some unknown time in the future in a new beta version.

So this post will now assume that you have the latest and greatest version of x-plane installed and you're ready to launch x-plane.  After launching x-plane for the first time, x-plane will place you at  LOWI, the Innsbruck airport, which is the same airport as is the demo and you'll be in a Cirrus Jet.  At this point, you can select another aircraft or another airport or both.

Generally though, the first thing you'll want to do is set up your rendering settings.  X-Plane has a myriad of rendering settings that vastly affect the quality you see on the screen.  The rendering settings you will choose are directly dependent on the power of your video card.  Some of the common settings you'll want to experiment with are the “texture resolution”, the “anti-aliasing”, “aniosotropic filtering”and “pixel shader”  pull down menus......in that order.  These four settings have the biggest effect on the visual quality you'll see.  You can expect to have to quit and relaunch x-plane to have these settings take effect as this information has to be loaded into the video card during x-plane loading.

After your rendering settings are set, you'll probably want to next set up your hardware if you have any.  If you do not, then x-plane will still allow you to fly using a input device such as a mouse or trackball in conjunction with keystrokes for various functions.  If you do have hardware, then x-plane has a setup screen that allows you to select which buttons on your hardware control specific functions within x-plane.  You can also map commands / functions to keystrokes in another setup screen.

Once you have your rendering settings and hardware setup,  you're ready to start “flying” so at this point, you can select a new aircraft and/or new airport and begin flying. 

The first thing you'll probably notice in x-plane is the lack of any buildings / structures at airports.  Airports are just flat expanses of “pavement”...taxiways and runways.  Where's the tower?  where's the terminals etc?  Well x-plane, like other sims, creates it's airports from standardized information that allows it to populate the “virtual earth” with all recorded airports....5000+ in all.  It is impractical for the authors of x-plane to create individual airport details.  At this point in time, it is left to 3rd party contributors to create 3D scenery for airports.  The x-plane authors are working on creating generic, default airport structures but for exact replicas of specific airport scenery, 3rd party solutions will always be the only option.  I will NOT go into scenery development here, but I will say that all tools and technology exists in x-plane to create as much 3D scenery as one could desire.  In addition,there are tools available that allow one to convert scenery made for MSFS into scenery usable within x-plane.  You might also notice that common famous landmarks are not available either.  This is because the market traditionally targeted by x-plane was not the “visual world” as we know it but this is changing.  The x-plane authors have recognized this and there are aggressive efforts to provide famous landmarks into x-plane.

You're next impression of x-plane will come from the aircraft you've chosen and the performance characteristics you experience.  All aircraft in x-plane are highly customizable and just because an aircraft is included with x-plane as a default aircraft doesn't mean the flight model is accurate or fully developed.  X-Plane has demonstrated the ability to model aircraft flight very well when the time is taken to tune a flight model thoroughly.  So if you're first impression of x-plane is negative because the particular aircraft you selected did not seem to perform as you expected, then just know that aircraft can probably be further tweaked to perform even better. 

You also may note the lack of virtual cockpits on many of the x-plane default aircraft, where only a 2D panel exists.  This is due to the “transition” x-plane finds itself in where flexible 3D functionality for virtual cockpits has been provided by the developers but has yet to be implemented into the default aircraft.  Laminar is currently engaged in an aggressive effort to update it's default fleet to include 3D virtual cockpits for it's fleet.

Another shortcoming of x-plane you may  notice is the lack of AI (artificial intelligence) air traffic.  Now x-plane does have a basic system of AI air traffic, but the system leaves a lot to be desired.  Again, the developers of x-plane realize this and the AI portion of x-plane is being revamped.

Up to this point, we've discussed what can be expected to get  an “up to date” version of x-plane running on your computer, but I suspect there will be lots of features you WON'T see and wonder what's the story on these features.  Well what we haven't addressed is what x-plane CAN do.

X-Plane CAN do anything almost anything MSFS can do.  The x-plane developers have spent the last few years creating a code base and infrastructure that will allow developers to create very powerful results.  What x-plane lacks is development by 3rd parties.  In the same sense that a road is paved into new territory, until that territory is populated with desirables, it will take a while to grow.  The “road” has been built...but x-plane needs developers.  This forum has several experienced developers that are ready to help and assist new users who might have interest in contributing to this simulator and its growth.

As time goes on, x-plane add-ons will increase...we're seeing that now.  High quality scenery will come available...Ortho-photo scenery will come available, 3D airport scenery will come available,  AI traffic will become available.  It will take some time, but the technology is there to develop it.

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Nice article.  Can you expand on your statement "In addition,there are tools available that allow one to convert scenery made for MSFS into scenery usable within x-plane", or is that in another section of the forum?

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Jim,  There's a tool called "FS2XPlane" found HERE

I haven't used it myself, but I do believe it comes with some thorough instructions.

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Thanks for the information.  ;)

I bought the DVD version (I believe it is 9.2) after MS announced the discontinuation of MSFS.  Many years ago I bought one of X-plane first CD (I forget the version but the CD was blue with a black aircraft imprint) and I enjoyed it until I started to use MSFS.

I am dissapointed with the latest X-plane version; however, I attribute this to being accustomed to MSFS features, specially in the choice of aircrafts, on-line flying, Squakbox integration; external viewing, cockpits, etc.  It is hard to brake old habits; On the other hand, I am pleased to read about X-Planes plans for the future. 

As one reads the many Flight Simulation Forums out there, you read pros and cons about X-Plane.  I believe, if X-Plane can provide, seamless, features that MSFS pilots are accustomed to, the transition for long time MSFS users into the X-Plane simulation will be easier.

I plan to begin using X-Plane more and I will use this forum to post my comments. 

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Taconce,

I highly doubt Austin will do any real hard work on X-Plane (desktop) for a while now. Like I said in my post above, Austin's focuses are currently on the iPhone, and he plans on releasing several new iPhone apps before starting major development on X-Plane. I'm not saying that he is shoving X-Plane completely off to the side right now, it's just that his interests are currently on something different. Not to mention that he is also quite busy with other things, like X-Plane congress for example.  ;)

Happy landings - Jman

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Thanks for the information.   ;)

I bought the DVD version (I believe it is 9.2) after MS announced the discontinuation of MSFS.  Many years ago I bought one of X-plane first CD (I forget the version but the CD was blue with a black aircraft imprint) and I enjoyed it until I started to use MSFS.

I am dissapointed with the latest X-plane version; however, I attribute this to being accustomed to MSFS features, specially in the choice of aircrafts, on-line flying, Squakbox integration; external viewing, cockpits, etc.  It is hard to brake old habits; On the other hand, I am pleased to read about X-Planes plans for the future. 

As one reads the many Flight Simulation Forums out there, you read pros and cons about X-Plane.  I believe, if X-Plane can provide, seamless, features that MSFS pilots are accustomed to, the transition for long time MSFS users into the X-Plane simulation will be easier.

I plan to begin using X-Plane more and I will use this forum to post my comments. 

toconce,

Welcome to the forums. Nice to have you here, and I look forward to hearing your opinions down the line. X-Plane is in a major growing phase, and everyone is trying to improve the sim as well as make the transition easier for those from MSFS. It's a massive effort at this time. You'll soon be seeing these things trickle in so stay tuned! :D

Taconce,

I highly doubt Austin will do any real hard work on X-Plane (desktop) for a while now. Like I said in my post above, Austin's focuses are currently on the iPhone, and he plans on releasing several new iPhone apps before starting major development on X-Plane. I'm not saying that he is shoving X-Plane completely off to the side right now, it's just that his interests are currently on something different. Not to mention that he is also quite busy with other things, like X-Plane congress for example.  :)

Happy landings - Jman

Jason,

Austin has continually worked on the desktop version of X-Plane and continues to do so. Some of us work with him on a day to day basis, and he's heavily involved with beta updates. While he focuses time on the iPhone, he is still heavily involved to the desktop simulation. I know you've stated that you've spoke to him recently, however, there are a few of us developers who are in contact with him almost daily.

The X-Plane Congress is still a ways away (we'll be attending too), and it's nothing to stress over. Get on a plane, show up, interact, dine, have fun, and come home. :)

Hope everyone is having a good week!

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Thanks for the replies guys. 

I started serious evaluation last nighty; some of the issues I ran into where:  1) The throttle settup is nice, but in the cockpit, it reacts unrealistic with the CH Throttle quadrant; that is, in the setup screen, the green bar follows the axis correctly from full forward to full reverse; but, in the cockpit it performs reverse. Then, if you throttle all the way forward, the cockpit throttle snaps full backwards when the axis reaches the full forward position; and if you throttle all the way back, the cockpit throttle snaps full forward when the axis reaches the full backwards position.  (I did calibrate, and like I said, it worked correctly in the setup screen.)  2) On airport selection, I did not find an option to start from a Gate. 3) it would be nice to have a 135 deg glance view, both right and left, for assignment to a Hat Switch.  Also, it would be nice to assign a key function to a switch.  These are just a few of the issues I ran into. 

I do like the way the setup screens are made and many of the functions provided. There is a lot to learn in X-plane and hard to brake away from the MSFS way of doing things. For the time being I'm going to wait for the next beta or two while getting more familiar with X-Plane before posting more issues.  ;)

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Toconce,

The throttle issue is common. If you launch X-Plane and go back to the Joystick Settings menu you can fix this. Go to where your throttle axis was assigned, and to the right of it, click the "reverse" checkbox. This will fix the problem there.

Some airports have the data in them to allow for gate selection. Some don't. One of the drawbacks sometimes is if you open an airport with 200 different parking spaces, you'll only be able to pick through about 20 on the first screen when you select an airport. One of the remedies for this right now is to go into Location > Local Map and zoom in on the airport. You can then drag your aircraft to the appropriate spot. I'm hoping there is some kind of a fix for this soon.

I'm not so sure about the 135 degree glance view, but you can assign the hat key to buttons. Go into Settings > Joystick and Equipment and select Buttons: Basic. Press your hat key in different directions, and assign them as you go. Common selections for the hat key are the "View: Glance" options.

I hope some of this helps guide you through the settings. I know it's an entirely different world than that of MSFS.

Cam

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Cameron,

Thanks for the replies.  I am aware of all the setup functions as you suggested and I tried many of them; however, I gues I didn't explain the throttle issue very well, so let me try again.  I experienced two issues with the throttle; the first was the reversal function and the second was a performance problem.  On the reversal; yes, by clicking on the REVERSE selection box, it will reverse the operation.  My observation here is that in the setup screen, with the REVERSE un-cheked, the green slider bar follows the actual axis movement; that is, full back = no green slider bar = idle = minimum analog value. And, full forward = max green slider bar = max throttle = max analog value.

The second issue is indepentent of the reversal issue. What happens is, if I move the axis to its extreme, either max or idle position, the throttle displayed in the cockpit will snap to the opposite position when the extremes are reached; That is, if I move the axis away from one of the extremes, and if I keep the axis away from the extremes, the cockpit throtle follows the axis movement, but, if I move the axis to full forward the cockpit follows to the full forward and then snaps back to idle. (Visa-versa when moving the axis to idle).

Maybe this is a problem with my equipment, but it all works perfect with MSFS, the CH calibration software; and the X-Plane Setup Screen.  I treid it with the aircrafts provided with the X-Plane package (C-172 and B-747).

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Toconce,

Did you go into the equipment tab and tell X-plane that you have a CH Throttle quadrant installed?  Reverse thrust will not work correctly until you do.

Additionally, be sure that you have calibrated the throttles in X-plane.

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Thank you for this detailed and helpful article.

I am new here and was looking for some information about X-Plane.

Now I am really looking forward to starting flying here;-)

Steph

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Thank you for this detailed and helpful article.

I am new here and was looking for some information about X-Plane.

Now I am really looking forward to starting flying here;-)

Steph

Welcome to X-Plane and X-Pilot/X-Aviation, Steph

If you need help or want to ask questions or simply say what's on your mind, don't be afraid to post.  You'll find we're all a pretty decent bunch of people.

Goran

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Thank you for this detailed and helpful article.

I am new here and was looking for some information about X-Plane.

Now I am really looking forward to starting flying here;-)

Steph

Welcome to X-Plane and X-Pilot/X-Aviation, Steph

If you need help or want to ask questions or simply say what's on your mind, don't be afraid to post.  You'll find we're all a pretty decent bunch of people.

Goran

Thanks a lot Goran... I am sure I will come back to you ;)

I saw some pics of your Saab... real good work...

Steph

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I'm new I tried flying with my saitek x56 hotas setup but had numerous problems has anyone successfully setup X-Plane with the x56 throttle and stick?

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Hiya,

I can't help sorry, as i don't have that

But if i may suggest ...............

On the main forum page, third down, post in there, the Help forum

I guess you may get fast and rolling help/replies from there on your saitek (if that's the one i think it is, i knew of a guy that's now taking a brake from xp, is it blue led/lcd ? If so, i know his was fine in xp10)

Ohh sorry my manners

Welcome Aboard

Have Fun

Tony

ps : He'd not long got new peds, not CH as i use them, nor Saitek i don't think, could of been Thrustmaster ? (my memory sucks lol) if i see him on discord tonight i'll post back his setup

Edited by Defiance_co
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