I’ve often commented on how much I enjoy the Steam gaming platform update process. Of the Steam games I enjoy (Farm Sim, Truck Sim etc.) when a patch or update becomes available, the Steam client seamlessly (for the most part) installs that update and I don’t need to worry about anything. Likewise, both ATS and ETS2 have even simplified a portion of their mod update abilities via the Stream Workshop. While some gamers might not understand just how wonderful this concept is (for Steam games), it’s only recently made it’s way into the flight sim world.
Historically speaking, anytime we’ve needed to update something in the flight sim arena (FSX and early versions of P3D) it’s been somewhat of an arduous task. Many times applying a service pack or updating scenery would/could lead to issues downstream. I would often forgo taking updates until such time I felt I really either had no choice or perhaps it was time to do a complete and full re-install of everything including Microsoft Windows. But as the title suggests, things have become much, much easier with regards to updating certain elements within Prepar3D v4 and yes….it’s the way it should be.
The P3D update process really couldn’t be any easier than how Lockheed Martin have made it for us. Unless you are absolutely brand new to P3D and only purchased v4 AFTER the latest update (4.1) became available then you probably already know just how easy it is to apply updates. By the way, this same update process existed within v3 (perhaps earlier but I just can’t remember). Essentially you can update P3D by uninstalling only the component you desire to update, then simply install the new updated component. Typically this would be the “Client” component. Complete and easy to follow instructions are available on the P3D website and YouTube also offers dozens (if not more) tutorials on how to safely update the P3D platform.
How we did things yesterday, is not always how we’ll do things tomorrow
Change can be a really good thing! And this is really why I decided to write this article. Upon initial release of P3D v4 some folks began to lose their mind regarding how developers began to change the way add-ons would get installed. Since the dawn of time (as it relates to flight sim) add-ons would get installed in the same directory structure of the sim. This concept worked fine (I suppose), but did present its own set of challenges when it came time to applying updates to the sim. Starting with P3D v4, add-on developers began to utilize the “Documents” method of installing add-ons.
For years the philosophy behind how to build the perfect sim PC consisted of at the very least two hard drives. One HDD which contained the Windows operating system and other applications not related to flight sim. Then a second HDD (preferably SSD) for the sim software. The idea behind this was one could get away with a smaller HDD for Windows and invest their money on a larger/faster and preferably SSD drive to contain the sim and all things related to the sim (scenery, aircraft etc.)
When I built my current gaming machine, I took it one step further and even included a third SSD drive for my Steam games to run on so I could truly keep flight sim separate on its own SSD drive. But with more and more developers moving to the “Documents” method of installing software, things started to get a little tight on my main HDD. Thankfully, if you are also experiencing (or starting to experience) congestion on your main HDD due to more and more add-ons being installed into the “Documents” folder, there is hope for you. You can simply relocate the Documents folder to another drive. As I’m a fan of giving credit where credit is due, I’ll just simply direct you to an already existing YouTube Video which discusses just how to safely accomplish this task.
Now back to the update process discussion….
But it truly gets better…
Oh yes it does! I can’t remember who did it first…perhaps it was PMDG or perhaps it was Orbx, but these were the first two I noticed including a control panel update process for installing incremental updates to their products. Since that time, other developers such as FSDreamTeam and FlightBeam have also moved to this concept and it’s truly amazing.
Specifically speaking about Orbx, I own a lot of Orbx scenery. When I say a lot, I mean….A LOT! Thankfully, Orbx has never charged a fee to upgrade any of their scenery from FSX up to P3D (including P3D v4). Because Orbx has a really large catalog of wonderful scenery, it was somewhat of a daunting task to constantly venture out to their forum site to check when a particular scenery title had made its way to being updated. But through their updated FTX Central client, it knows every piece of Orbx software I own and tells me when that particular title has been updated for V4 or includes an incremental update. As you might have guessed, it really is just as simple as point and click to install scenery or scenery updates.
As I mentioned, both FSDreamTeam and FlightBeam have also developed a similar control panel and it couldn’t be easier to keep everything updated. Thank you to all who have moved to this process.
One can only hope…
that others will follow. I’d love to see developers like Carenado, FlyTampa and others follow suit. Maybe they will….maybe they won’t, but I do feel the developers who have moved in this direction have set the bar which others will be measured against.
Until next time…