Looking at X-Plane

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Yes…you are reading this correctly and NO it’s not a delayed blog posting which should have been uploaded on April 1st  (April Fools Day).  I’m actually starting to consider purchasing X-Plane version 10.

For the sake of bringing everyone up to speed, I’ve been flying computer simulations since the early to mid 1980’s.  Yes…I said 1980’s.  It all started with the Commodore 64.  As I moved into the world of PC’s in the early 1990’s, I began playing the Microsoft Flight Simulator version and owned each version up to FSX.

A few years ago when Lockheed Martin came onto the scene with P3D v1.0 I passed on it.  I didn’t actually take the plunge into P3D until version 2.3.  I moved up to version 2.4 and finally version 2.5 as they were each released.  During this timeframe, I was mostly using P3D, but still had FSX installed and would occasionally fire it up.

When P3D launched version 3, that was around the time that I also decided to move from Windows 7 to Windows 10 and in doing so I decided to do a complete rebuild of my gaming system.  When Windows 10 came online, I installed P3D version 3.0 and never touched the FSX disks.  They still sit in my bookcase to this day.

More than just an investment

My history with FSX and P3D is more than just a financial investment.  While it is true I probably have several thousand dollars invested in hardware and software (add-on aircraft, airport scenery, weather etc. etc.) it is also about what I’m truly used to.  Since P3D for the most part is just a enhanced version of FSX, the functional aspects of the application (and my experience) goes back a long time (almost 10 years).  Making the move from FSX/P3D to X-Plane is (in my opinion) would be a financial sacrifice, it also will very much be a mental sacrifice.  But why would I even want to consider this move?

Looking for stability

While it is true LM has made significant advances in controlling the memory beast that comes with a complex 32 bit application like P3D.  Especially when factoring in some of the beautiful add-on scenery and complex aircraft systems, but P3D just remains so darn fickle.  After you spend hours and hours and even more hours installing P3D, all the add-on airports, add-on airports etc.  there just are no guarantees that some future Microsoft Windows update won’t cause everything to explode.  Ok…perhaps not literally.  But you understand what I’m saying.

Many (even including myself) were disappointed to learn that P3D v. 3 was not 64 bit and even more upsetting to learn that Lockheed Martin may not even have any plans at all to develop a 64 bit version of P3D.  But is 64 bit the end-all, be all?  No, but it does go a long way.  But as I stated last year, IF Lockheed Martin developed a 64 bit version of P3D…this will cause a ripple effect throughout the flight sim community and would most certainly require all 3rd party add-ons to also be re-developed into 64 bit versions.  As there is no magic 32 to 64 bit conversion process…the simple fact that I purchased (as an example) an Orbx scenery 5 years ago for FSX and have since enjoyed a P3D v2.x AND a P3D 3.x version (with no additional cost) would most certainly be a thing of the past.  Said in another way, the day a 64 bit version of P3D releases…that is when we all start over.

800 Pound Gorilla

Yes…there is an 800 pound gorilla in the room which we all just tend to ignore.  If we don’t look at it, then it really isn’t there.  Right?  What am I talking about?  Well…I’m talking about those four letters that make up that very nasty word.  NO….not that word.  I’m talking about EULA.  The vast majority of P3D users are breaking the EULA each and every day.  Most of the “famous” YouTubers and Twitch streamers are doing it in plain sight.  Yes….even yours truly is breaking the law according to those four letters EULA.  By the way, EULA stands for End User License Agreement.  It basically is a legally binding document which tells us just how we can use the P3D software.

It should come as no surprise that I would bring this up.  I’ve been talking about the P3D EULA since the days of v1.x.  It was the EULA which kept me from purchasing P3D until version 2.3 and then I knew I was in the wrong, but there was nothing stopping me.  With version 2.x I only owned the academic license.  With version 3, I did plop down the $199 and went with the professional license.  But as I’ve said over and over and over.  I don’t fit into any of the license categories and as previously stated, most don’t either.  The EULA clearly states that Prepar3D is not to be used, offered, sold or distributed through markets or channels for use as a personal/consumer entertainment product.

We’ve been fortunate.  At this very moment you can visit the Prepar3d.com website and you can purchase P3D v3 (or even v2.x) without the need to prove you are a student, professional or developer.  Try to do this with any other form of software which offers discounts for students?  Yea…I think you are starting to get my point.

Actually…while I’m not lawyer (and I didn’t sleep in a Holiday Inn Express last night either), Lockheed Martin is actually in violation of their agreement with Microsoft by even allowing a non-student, non-professional and non-developer to purchase the software.   I suppose there may be some small gray area where Lockheed Martin isn’t actually marketing P3D for personal use.  Also, the reason why I purchased the professional version of P3D v3 was based on the following “Acceptable uses for Prepar3D include Simulation, Learning and Training.  While I’m not using P3D to train, I do firmly believe that flight simulation is “not just a video game”, so I’m simulating the activities of a professional pilot and I’m learning the proper and correct procedures required to simulate the aircraft I enjoy flying.  But this is a HUGE play on words.  Does the glove fit????

Bottom line….while I have a huge investment in FSX/P3D which I’m utilizing in P3D v.3.x.  There are no guarantees I’ll continue to enjoy this.  What scares me the most?  While Microsoft could have forced Lockheed to tighten down their selling practices, it is Dovetail which makes me more nervous.  After all, Dovetail purchased the rights to redistribute FSX via Steam AND what ever Dovetails “New” entry into the Flight Sim world will be, could suffer a financial impact due to P3D.

Change is Good????

Finally, I suppose I’m intrigued by the element of change.  Some suggest that X-Plane has a much more realistic flight dynamics as compared to FSX or P3D.  For me, this is not really as important.  While I appreciate the “As Real As It Gets” experience with FSX/P3D, the fact it may lack slightly to X-Plane isn’t enough reason to make the change.  But having access to different aircraft types which may not be available for P3D v3.x could interest me enough to make the move.  While I absolutely love my PMDG 737NGX, I also very much miss flying my MD80, Boeing 727 just to name a few.  From what I’ve found in my initial research, X-Plane has a very serious following of aircraft developers who are doing their part to keep these old birds flying in the virtual skies.

Next Steps

At this point in time I’m giving X-Plane some really serious thought.  I more than likely will purchase via Steam so I have the option to apply for a refund if I find it doesn’t live up to my expectations.  I’ll be certain to keep you all posted on my decision and my progress should I decide to pull the trigger.  If anything, it will be good for me to try X-Plane for the sake of my simulation blogging efforts.  After all, X-Plane (for Windows) has been around for as long as FSX and it is very much still in active development.

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry


Comments

  1. Jim Estep (scoops)
    May 19, 2016 - 6:42 pm

    Jerry…. I tried X-Plane..I found a few differences between it and FSX/prepar3d. X-Plane is by far, a more stable platform. And, they are always updating as…well we know there are none for FSX. My only complaint, and this is the only reason…I could not get it to play full screen, even tho everyone said it would…plus, I also play multiple monitors (2) , and Xplane doe not support that. I don’t think their fleet is as large as FSX, I could be wrong, but that is another reason. Also, as a added distraction, my peripherals, would not work with them (Saitek). So, I have learned which way to hold my tongue to get it to continue to work.

    • Hi Jim,

      Yea….I’m finding much of the same things. I haven’t had much time to explore, I’ve been watching more YouTube videos trying to gain a better understanding. But I spent a large amount of time just trying to get my CH Products Yoke and Pedals to work. While the flight dynamics “might” be better than FSX/P3D, the level of realism on the ground lacks considerably. My nearby GA airport (KAPA) was where I loaded up the sim and noticed two B747’s taxing to the active runway. I watched a video with a guy flying out of LOWI (Innsbruck) with the same AI behavior. I certainly realize AI in most games all seem to have a mind of their own, but this is all part of my initial experience and I must admit it’s pushing me away slightly.

      Jerry

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