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tkyler

IXEG 733 Development Status

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Hello All.   This post will be locked as its only intended for public statement.  While many people are aware of the IXEG Development status, many others will not and so this post is intended to provide clarifying information.

For a while now, IXEG development has sat relatively idle.  The reasons for this are multiple and have been stated in other forums; however, two significant factors contributing to that idleness have since wained and IXEG are looking at how to best move forward with IXEG updates again.    There are two areas we are looking at for updates, 3D cabin/doors/animations and the FMS.

Regarding the FMS, IXEG are looking at transitioning to the XP1100 Navdata format, which is derived from the ARINC 424 standard.   Moving to this dataset format would yield increased accuracy in the representation of procedures and more practical data with which to improve LNAV / VNAV / performance caclulations.   If it turns out that porting our code to the new XP1100 format is too cumbersome in the short term, then we will seek to patch what we have now and transition at a later time.  The important thing is that IXEG are moving again to improve the FMS.

Regarding the 3D,  this will be a bit more of a undertaking.  The development tools IXEG used for 3D development are nearly fully deprecated and there has been a major transition to newer tools and methods.  This necessitates IXEG reconfigure our source material to the new formats and we have a LOT of 3D material to translate.   This means that the 3D updates will be longer in coming than the FMS updates.   Once the 3D is ported to the new tools though, any updates we implement thereafter would come much quicker, simliar to what was done shortly after our release for those that recall.   

We apologize for the idle time and appreciate all our customers and any patience you've exercised.   We are sincerely committed to making the most immersive and accurate simulation of this aircraft as we can and will continue to push towards that goal, no matter where its end may be. 

-Tom Kyler

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Hello again.  I'd like to give another update.    During our investigation into updating our NavData to the XP1100 format, it became apparent that this must be the way to go for long-term future compatibility and more reliable route calculations, including holds, but would require a significant rewrite of the FMS base architecture to do so.    So over the last 4 weeks, we have done exactly that.  We now have the beginnings of a 2nd FMS running in parallel with... but independently of.... our original FMS.  We are running 'newFMS' on CDU1 and 'oldFMS' on CDU2.  We will NOT be simulating dual FMCs though.   This old/new arrangement only exists so we can compare the new with the old while developing the new.  It is much like building a new bridge alongside an old bridge...and when the new one is ready, we will remove the old.   

Much of the challenges we have faced with regards to drawing routes / vnav have been related to the limited nature of the navData format we have used since we began the project.  Moving to a format which have been designed expressly for "navigation processing" will go a long way towards easing our algorithm development.   The image below shows the two CDUs, both on the "IDENT" page, but clearly displaying differing data as they use differing algorithms/databases....and for those curious, the pilot CDU displays 'odd' formatting simply because we were testing our new display drawing code.

We are very excited moving to this new XP1100  format.  We have, in 4 weeks, accomplished what took us over 24 months to accomplish originally.  Of course we have the benefit of experience, but the elegance and efficiency of the new navData format and architecture allow us to focus on the FMS functionality  by orders of magnitude more than before.  With the new infrastructure complete, we will begin working on the route editing.  The current navData set only supports about 8 different waypoint types.  Arcs are not supported, as is common in today's RNAV procedures, but the new format contains all path/terminator types typical in today's procedures.

As usual, we thank you for any patience you have managed to muster as we work to improve the IXEG 733.

P.S.   Jan and myself will be at Flight Sim Expo in Orlando, FL/USA  in a few weeks if anyone wants to talk shop.

-Tom Kyler

 

image.png

Edited by tkyler
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So its been a while, time for another update.     There was a pause after the rush of FMS work mentioned above.  During this pause, I have finished up my NASA obligations...and demobilized from Houston back to San Antonio, where I live,  and some much needed stability to my schedule.  Last week, I dug back into the FMS code and started coding up the route editing features using the new XP1100 dataset.  This is the backbone of the FMS future with regards to performance.....for VNAV calculations, performance progress and also holds.  Its one of those things that I wanted to be real sure I was ready to dig into before doing so.   This route editing coding will go on for a bit......'route editing' involves building the route data that the FMS will use during lnav and vnav tracking and so is critical to be flexible and correct.  It is my belief that if carefully done now, the FMS will be functional and stable for many years to come, which is the most important thing.

 

-TomK 

Edited by tkyler
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another update, for those who may not have seen discussions in other threads.  As much as I've spoken about FMS work...that was mostly because all the other aspects of our project, the 3D, the sounds, etc....were bound up in deprecated technology and tools, making it VERY difficult to update things....whereas the FMS was just code work.  This was not really a lack of foresight on our part regarding the 3D tools, but rather being so far ahead of the game way back when we started, we came up with our own solutions.....that were not quite compatible with the way X-Plane moved with regards to developer tools.   WELL.....thanks to Ted Greene of Laminar.....he has coded up a "converter" between the old toolchain we used and the 'toolchain of today'.    Only in the last week did we work out some critical bugs that allowed us to begin converting all our assets into the modern workflow supported by Laminar.  We are currently in the process of converting all our work to this new toolchain and have converted some of the most complex aspects of it already...so we do not anticpate much resistance converting the rest of the work.  This converter by Laminar is a huge lifeline of sorts and will allow us to again respond quickly to bugs and manage updates once we establish a new baseline with these tools.

-TomK

Edited by tkyler
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So the following screenshot tells two stories.  1). We have almost completed the conversion of all 3D assets to to the new Toolchain.  Two assets remain and I'll probably knock that out over the weekend.   The second story....is that with the upgrading of our assets, we finally have a workflow between 3D and Substance Painter® for texturing....in this screenshot the glare shield has a bit of a texture to it, nothing major, but adds to the immersion that's so important to us.   We'll be able to start sharpening up several 3D elements that are a bit low-res by todays standards.   The roadmap after this 3D conversion is to then convert the sounds to FMOD, upgrade the 3D a bit,  including a revised cabin and working doors and make any adjustments required by the X-Plane flight model itself for stability and we'll probably put out an update then.  Then I'll move back to the FMS to finish up my integration of the XP1100 data format and get the holds integrated, the VNAV cleaned up and several other FMS polish work.

-tkyler

 

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Conversion of all 3D to the new toolchain is complete and we have exported out all of the 737 objects from the new version of Blender.    Jan and I will begin testing the functionality to see what I may have missed in the conversion as I had to hand-edit an enormous volume of elements to prep it for the conversion software.  Next up is converting the sounds.  The attached screenshot shows a "quickie adjustment" I made to test drive the 3D update process......about 15 minutes of fooling around in Blender to see how quick I could make an update to the 3D with the new toolchain.  (I know, the circle isn't perfectly round....but it was only 15 minutes)

-tkyler

3d_test.png

Edited by tkyler
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So this is a heads up that it might go quiet for a few weeks.  Not because we're not working on it, we definitely are, but the conversion of sounds to FMOD is going to be a very intense task.  We wrote our own sound engine before X-Plane adopted FMOD....and our system is quite versatile and very quick to add sounds in code, but its also based on OpenAL, which is going away in XPlane 12 IIRC.  Now we could probably distribute an openAL DLL as a solution; however, that is probably asking for more trouble trying to play alongside X-Plane's FMOD sandbox....so we might as well tough-it-up and make the change.   We have over 1400 lines of code that control various sounds in the sim...and we have to go through each of these situations, audit the behaviors and then port that behavior to FMOD...probably having to write new code just to drive the FMOD inputs.   In the same way we ported the 3D, we will chip away each day on this task until its done and report back as we progress.

-tkyler

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Hello all.   I have not been able to get onto the FMOD sound conversions as of yet for personal reasons; however, things have transpired during the reorganization process such that we are now maintaining two development branches. A longer term branch which will use the new XP11 navdata I've written about above, with revised FMS and we'll also maintain a "now" branch which we'll use to make compatibility patches and small fixes as able until the major revision comes out.  The 'now' branch is a combination of our current FMS code base, but with the new 3D development pipeline....and juxtaposing those two elements has been the focus over the last few weeks.  As many have noted, this tact will allow us to not have to wait for "big ticket' items like the FMS/FMOD conversions in order to get the smaller improvements to the current product.  Until we finished our "pipeline renovation" though, this wasn't as easy as it sounded.

We have begun flight testing again and making tweaks to the flight model as X-Plane updates come out.  In particular, we are working with the 'experimental' flight model in version 11.41+ as we feel that will become the norm.  In addition, we have  XP 11.5+ test builds so we can test the Vulkan and Metal graphics also.  The plan now is to get a XPlane compatibility update out asap, with scroll wheel support.  This patch will have small fixes for the exterior lighting/MCP issue and flight dynamics etc.  After that,  we'll resume our development in earnest.

-tkyler

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