November 30, 2016 / admin / 0 Comments
I want to share with you a solution I found to help with low FPS rates in the X-Plane 11 beta software. First, remember that X-Plane 11 is still very much in beta. It will likely be considered beta for some time. When a software product is considered to be in beta, it means there will be bugs. There will be issues and most importantly…what you see is NOT what the final product will resemble. I’ve spent approx. 2-3 hours in X-Plane 11 beta and initially I was a bit disappointed when I fired up Fraps to check my frame rates or FPS. Now keep in mind that I’ve learned a long time ago that FPS is not the end all, be all. In my P3D setup when flying PMDG 737 NGX my max FPS is about 30 FPS on average. As you can see from my hardware setup, that I have a fairly beefy machine. Well…at least it was considered beefy a few years ago. But as you might can imagine, when I initially launched XP11 and noticed I was getting less than 30 FPS in the default Cessna, I was sort of disappointed. But then I remembered what beta meant and I also remembered my thoughts on FPS.
However, all was not OK. I was experiencing some serious lag when flying around KSEA and in the various preview videos I had watched on YouTube I didn’t see this same behavior and also worth nothing I didn’t hear these YouTubers mention this behavior. So I started to do a little research to see if others had experienced this and what (if anything) they have done to work around it. Again, while X-Plane 11 is very much beta…the stuttering I experienced really was a game changer. I couldn’t play like that. Period!
Thankfully, there is a very active community within the X-Plane world and everyone is very helpful. A quick search and read through gave me something to try, and once I applied this little fix my FPS increased just slightly…but more importantly the stuttering was gone. As I’ve said before, I really don’t care what FPS number is displayed…as long as I have a smooth visual experience….I’m happy.
Here’s the info regarding the fix. From what I can tell this only applies to Nvidia GPU’s. But basically the fix is to turn off “Threaded Optimization” in the Nvidia control panel. When I first launched my Nvidia Control Panel my setting was set to “Auto”. I switched it to “Off” as recommended in this Avsim thread. See image below….
Again, just to reiterate. X-Plane 11 is in beta. There are bugs, there will be many more bugs found and perhaps most important to remember is X-Plane 11 hasn’t been fully optimized. Additionally, this low FPS Fix is not going to give you double your FPS. I was getting (on average) of 25-30 FPS (but with bad stuttering) before I applied the fix and afterwards my FPS has increased to 30-35 FPS with NO STUTTERING! I’m a happy camper.
I hope this helps you. Until next time….
November 29, 2016 / admin / 0 Comments
A few months ago I wrote a blog piece discussing my plan to take a very close look at X-Plane 10. I took that look, didn’t really like what I saw and I promptly requested a full refund via Steam. There are a few reasons why I believe my initial X-Plane (XP) experiment failed. The first, and perhaps foremost reason was my very, very long history with the Microsoft Flight Simulator franchise (including Prepar3D). While I certainly understood that these two platforms are as different as daytime versus nighttime, I had hoped things would be a little more intuitive. For example, I spent an extremely long time just setting my my CH Products Yoke and Pedals. While controller setup in FSX/P3D has never been anything to write home about, I found the setup in XP to be even worse. The user interface (UI) in XP10 had the look of something developed way back in the mid 90’s.
Perhaps the real reason my X-Plane experiment failed was because I compared just about everything to my long history with MSFS/P3D. But who can blame me? My history with computer based flight sims goes all the way back to the early/to-mid 1980’s when I played a version of flight simulator on the Commodore 64. My experience with PC based flight sims started in the early 1990’s and I owned and very much enjoyed every version of Microsoft’s Flight Simulator all the way to FSX. I will even admit how disappointed I was (crushed even) when Microsoft went the direction of MS Flight and then eventually killed off the franchise. While Lockheed Martin has carried the torch now for many years, I’ve always had some level of issue with the whole licensing framework. Some seven years into the P3D experience, and they still aren’t licensing for personal (home entertainment) use. Of course, I also understand the reasons.
Back in 2009, Microsoft sold what was their MS ESP platform to Lockheed Martin. ESP was essentially the commercial side of Microsoft’s core flight simulation business. From the early days of the Prepar3d v1.x release including present day, the licensing has never included “personal consumer entertainment”. Of course, we can stretch the heck out of our collective imagination and make the wording they use in the EULA (Training, Instruction, Simulation, Learning) work for our individual situations. As I’ve lamented time and time and time again on this blog site, legally speaking…the majority of P3D users really shouldn’t be using the software.
In 2014, Microsoft granted the rights to Dovetail Games to develop the next flight simulation and per this arrangement also allowed Dovetail to release FSX on Steam. I’ve heard from many individuals that the re-release of FSX on Steam has been met with a positive experience. Perhaps Dovetail better optimized FSX or they are including a little bit of magic pixie dust….whatever the cause, FSX via Steam does perform slightly better than the old boxed version of FSX. This is a good thing. But, I must remind everyone of the following statement Dovetail made back in 2014. This came from a press release around the same time describing FSX Steam edition and outlining the future of flight simulation and reads as follows: Dovetail “is currently investigating new concepts in this area and is expecting to bring a release to market in 2015”.
No, you didn’t miss it. 2015 came and went….and there was no new flight sim from Dovetail released. Of course the target date moved (as these things do), and Dovetail once again was quoted as saying “Dovetail Games Flight Simulator, built on the foundations of Microsoft’s Flight Technology will be released on PC for 2016”. Now we find ourselves two years down the road after the re-release of FSX via Steam and we still don’t have the new and upcoming flight simulator from Dovetail Games. Oh wait….yea….I almost forgot. Yes…Dovetail did release Flight School in May of this year. While I did see some cool things in Flight School, “like sands through the hour glass”, time is quickly slipping by in 2016. But just last week Dovetail did release a press release basically saying there would be no new flight simulator coming in 2016. Please take a few minutes to review that press release….but here’s my cliff notes version.
First, it wasn’t 2016 when they “announced” the development of their new flight simulator. That was actually in 2014.
Second, they state “based on your feedback, we have been focusing on three key areas: visuals, performance and experience”. Sounds to me like any of their structured plans which they may have come up with in 2014 and 2015 were ripped to shreds when they FINALLY decided to listen to the flight sim community. While I’m not a betting man, I would be willing to bet Dovetail’s original plan was to pickup where Microsoft left off with that crappy Microsoft Flight game. Microsoft Flight was an arcade game and not a simulation. Finally, I also wouldn’t be surprised if Dovetail’s partnership with folks like Aerosoft, Orbx and PMDG also didn’t help shift their focus back towards true simulation.
To be honest, I haven’t really spent any significant time with flight sim in many months. Actually, perhaps the last time I did any sim flying was the few hours I spent messing around in Dovetail Flight School. While I do long for getting back into the virtual skies, I’m also sick and tired of being frustrated.
If you look through my blog archives you will notice that in recent months I’ve written more articles regarding simulation game titles such as Euro Truck Simulator 2, American Truck Simulator and Farming Simulator 15 and 17. While these game titles are not perfect, for the most part they are stress free. You install them and you play them and they work. I get a smooth game playing experience from each of them without much need to constantly tweak the game or tweak the system. Of course, I also am perfectly aware of the vast differences between those games and flight simulation. Sadly, perhaps most of my problems with flight simulation has been with the vast amounts of add-ons I use. While most are quick to blame a dodgy mod for causing issues with ATS, ETS2 or FS15/17….it’s really not the same with Flight Sim. Perhaps a very high 90-95% of add-ons for flight sim (P3D) are payware. I’ll admit, with regards to flight sim…I’m addicted to eye candy. I very much want my eyes to see the same thing at KDEN (Denver International) in P3D that I would see if I visited the airport in person. This perhaps is another reason why I wasn’t impressed with X-Plane 10.
The Future of Flight Simulation
I’ve never considered myself a predictor of anything. After all, I’ve been predicting the Dallas Cowboys would win the super bowl for the past 20 years. Shhhhh, I’m not saying another word about that. But I’ve often put my thoughts regarding the future of flight simulation into words here on my blog site. I’ve been blogging about flight simulation here since 2010 and in this span of time I’ve seen a lot, heard a lot and experienced a lot. I’ve said that I felt P3D was not the future, and I’ve said that it was. But even though I really wasn’t impressed with X-Plane 10 (and I’m not sure this fact will ever change), I must admit that I am impressed with that I’ve witnessed with X-Plane 11. Yep, X-Plane 11 beta was released recently and it looks pretty darn good. I was so impressed with a few videos I watched on YouTube that I downloaded the X-Plane 11 trial just to test it out for myself.
Once downloaded/installed, I fired it up and within about 10 minutes I had my CH Products Yoke and Pedals fully configured. The only challenge I found was XP11 also detected my Logitech G27 and Logitech Extreme 3D Pro Joystick. Not a problem, but in order to get my Yoke and Pedals working accurately, I had to go in and clear out the settings XP11 thought my G27 and joystick would perform. Once I did this, then all my CH Products gear worked fine. The overall UI in XP11 is 100% night and day difference between what I witnessed in XP10.
Bottom line is I’m really impressed with what I’m seeing from the guys at X-Plane. I’m so impressed that I plan to purchased X-Plane 11 (even in its beta state) just so I can spend more than the 15 minutes the trial allows flying. Plus I really want to be able to follow the progress of XP11 through its beta stages and I’m fully aware what beta means. But I really believe the guys at Laminar Research have finally moved the chains further than anything I’ve seen to date. But of course, this is just my opinion.
I do plan to provide occasional updates as time allows. I’ve already stumbled onto one little fix which has improved both FPS and visual performance and I’ll share that with you tomorrow.
Until next time…
November 16, 2016 / admin / 0 Comments
I realize it’s been a while since I published a blog article. While I’ve been busy playing Farming Simulator 17 and recording much of my game play for the GrizzlyBearSims YouTube Channel, I’ve not turned away from this medium. While video blogs (or vlogs) are popular, I believe the written form of blogging is very much needed and I don’t plan to cease creating content in this form. By the way, Farming Simulator 17 is truly awesome. If you’ve been on the fence regarding upgrading from FS15 to FS17, I would certainly recommend making the move. New mods are coming out daily and while we still await CoursePlay, there is still a lot of goodness about FS17 to make it worth the move from FS15.
If you’ve watched my YouTube “Let’s Play” series on Goldcrest Valley (GCV), you know I’m about ten episodes in. For the most part I’m playing it in career mode. My approach to GCV was to take advantage of the new mission system and do as much work for the local farmers as I could. This does two things. First, it generates a nice sum of income. Second, it raises your reputation with these other local farmers and in turn, reduces the asking price of their additional fields. After all, one really can’t begin making a fortune in virtual farming until you own more fields. But I’ve wanted to do something different for some time and have decided to take a new approach to how I start a new map.
Perhaps you are aware of the new farm simulation game called Cattle and Crops (CnC). CnC is due to release (early preview) in the Spring of 2017, then the full version in late 2017. One of the highly anticipated new features of CnC is how it is supposed to simulate seasons. Cool huh? The Farming Simulator franchise (FS13, FS15, FS17) doesn’t simulate seasons by default. The addition of Soilmod sort of helped, but still….it’s spring/summer all year long. While Soilmod is not yet available for FS17, there is a mod called Growth Manager which (in my opinion) provides better crop growth management than what is available in the default game. Yes, it’s still spring/summer all year long….but we can still simulate seasonal farming with a little help from a few mods and our own imagination.
In addition to the Growth Manager mod, I also highly recommend the RealTime mod. This mod changes the HUD in the upper-right corner of the screen to show the game day number. With my new approach to virtual farming, this value is important in understanding the season I’m currently working in. Outside of these two mods, the rest is left up to your imagination.
Let me set the stage…..
First, there is no absolute right or wrong way to how you go about playing farming simulator. You certainly can start out in career mode and earn every hard earned dollar, euro or pound. This IS absolutely fun and extremely rewarding. I recommend following this method on at least one map. I think the satisfaction in knowing you built your farming empire from just a few thousand dollars and basic equipment, is key to truly getting a high level of enjoyment from the game. But, just as importantly….there is no wrong way of doing it either. Enter stage right, North Brabant for FS17.
The North Brabant map is situated in the Netherlands (very near Belgium) and for all intents and purposes, the fields, farms etc. very much look the same between these regions. You may have heard about the North Brabant map in FS15. It was quite popular and Mike-Modding has converted it over to FS17. I believe it is still a work in progress (WIP), but even in its version 1.0 state…it is very much playable and challenging. By default, when you load up the North Brabant map for FS17 you already own a fairly large number of the 47 available fields, 32 to be exact. With the exception of about 7 grass fields, the remaining owned fields need to be planted. Actually, they would need to be plowed, cultivated then planted if you want the highest crop yield.
A Seasonal Approach
My new game play for the North Brabant map, will find us in the Spring (April to be exact). If I understand the Growth Manager mod correctly, each game day will represent approx. one calendar month. In researching available information on the internet, I’ve created a rough schedule of how and what I’ll plant to achieve my seasonal style of play. Remember, with exception of the two mods I’ve mentioned….the rest is going to be left up to your imagination and your own desire.
My researched information and plan is not specific to the Netherlands, Europe or any particular region of the world. I determined through researching several US States agriculture sites when most of the FS17 crops should be planted and when they should be available for harvest. Again, due to the limitations of FS17….this is all only limited to your individual imagination and desire. In an effort for variety, I plan to plant the following crops: Wheat (Spring/Winter), Barley (Spring/Fall), Canola (Spring/Winter), Corn (Grain and Silage), Potatoes (Summer/Fall), Soybeans and Sugarbeets.
As I previously stated, each game day will represent approx. one calendar month. I’ve divided each season (Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter) to represent three game days each. Again, I’m starting in Spring and day 1 is April. The general idea (all subject to change as I truly get rolling) is to avoid the practice of just planting/harvesting over and over in the same fields without any consideration to the challenges of also factoring in the Winter season. In other words, placing a high level of importance of ensuring you have collected enough hay, straw and silage to sustain a large animal population from late fall until ????
Unfortunately, because the game itself will not automagically detect the slower winter growing season (example Wheat) I’ve turned plant withering off. An example of the collected research I’ve performed, shows that winter wheat crops are typically planted between mid-September and mid-October and will be ready for harvest around June the following year. This growth cycle is twice as long as wheat planted in the Spring. So therefore, I’ll simply ignore the fields I’ve identified as being planted in winter wheat until the appropriate time (June). Again, this is all about imagination and good note taking.
From day one, I have established 100 dairy cows, 100 sheep and 50 pigs. Thankfully the Buy Bales Mod is your friend. I’ve used this mod to purchase enough bales to enable me to provide bedding and the creation of TMR for all my animals.
Winter Month Activities
There will be a period of time (approx. Nov. through Feb.) where no planting or harvesting will be performed. However, there will be no rest for the weary. This will be a great time to fire up our greenhouse operations and of course, animals will still need daily attention to keep them fully productive.
This could all end up in a huge mess, be extremely successful or fall anywhere in between. I’ve changed most of the starting equipment and have purchased just about everything I can imagine that I’ll need. I’ve also paid off the bank loan and started with $60,000. If my calculations are correct, the milk income alone from 100 dairy cows should generate a net income of approx. $30,000 each game day. While I’m using some hired labor, I’m making an effort of keeping that cost as low as possible. But the general idea is not the amount of money I’ll have at the end.
You can follow along with my new approach to virtual farming via my YouTube channel and the new North Brabant series. The first video will pickup after about 5 hours of off video work which was required to get everything situated, animals up to 100% productivity etc.
Finally, I would like to thank everyone who has subscribed to my new YouTube channel and “Liked” my videos. I will occasionally provide blog updates on how this approach is working and at a later date, I’ll share my spreadsheet which I’m creating to help keep track of what I’m planting and when it will be available to harvest based on the seasonal approach.
Happy “Seasonal” Farming