Process Lasso–Boost or Bust?

For as long as I can remember, the desire to eke out another frame or three has been the desire for many who constantly stress over FPS (Frames Per Second).  I’ve stated my opinion on FPS many times and will do so again.  Basically I tune my P3D setup for maximum smoothness.  I don’t have stutters, I don’t have blurries (at least not many) and  I don’t lose sleep at night over a few  FPS here and there.  About the only time I even check FPS is during initial setup of the sim or after installing a new airport scenery and my own curiosity gets the better of me. 

Snake Oil Everywhere

Image result for snake oil salesman For nearly as long as we’ve been chasing the near unobtainable 60FPS in FSX/P3D, many have developed solutions and/or come up with tweaks to the .cfg file claiming/guaranteeing more FPS if you buy this or if you change that.  While I’ve tried some of these over the years, I’ve just learned to laugh the rest away as simply being snake oil.  If you’re unfamiliar with the term “snake oil”, it originates from far simpler times, when someone who knowingly sells fraudulent goods or who is himself a fraud, quack, charlatan etc. etc.  Unfortunately, there’s just very little that can be done to P3D to increase FPS other than lowering graphics settings or investing in higher performance hardware.

Even with the 4th generation of Prepar3D finally taking advantage of the performance advantages of a 64 bit architecture, the application itself continues to be much more CPU intensive than GPU and still struggles to take advantage of multithreading at the CPU level.  This means if you simply look at task manager/process manager, you may very well see core 0 is 100% maxed out with the other cores simply appearing to do nothing.  Would you go to the grocery store and queue up behind a long line of customers standing at check-out lane #1, when other check-out lanes have no wait?  But I digress…

Hyperthreading and Affinity Mask

Depending on what you’re reading, where you’re reading it and who is discussing it…you’ll find different schools of thought regarding hyperthreading and affinity mask settings.  With regards to hyperthreading, the term hyperthreading is a technology developed by Intel which essentially doubles the cores on the CPU.  I’ve tested with hyperthreading enabled and disabled.  At one time I myself believed turning HT off was the better solution.  However, as P3D has evolved, the development team at Lockheed Martin have done a better job at getting P3D to utilize multithreading and I personally believe with P3D v4.4 and v4.5 you are better off with Hyperthreading enabled. 

Affinity Mask is another tweak/buzz word from many years ago.  The tweak was made directly to the .cfg file and was based on the number of CPU cores.  Like previously mentioned, there’s very little need with the latest version of P3D to make ANY changes to the .cfg file. 

Back to the original question

The subject of this writing was supposed to be about Process Lasso.  To be honest, in the late days of FSX and the early days of P3D, (before P3D v4 64bit) the above mentioned tweaks and the use of Process Lasso was something I held in very high regard.  Applying these in just the right way would often mean the difference between a smooth running sim (yes, with optimal FPS rates) AND less likely to run into OOM’s or out of memory errors versus throwing your hands up and heading to the corner to cry.  However, with my most recent gaming machine build, I’ve found these to be more problematic than not.  I’m also not the only one who once swore by all these tweaks to abandon them. 

But….but, yes if you have a less powerful PC and struggle to get the most out it then I would strongly suggest giving Process Lasso a try.  Process Lasso can be downloaded for free from the bitsum.com website and it’s a 100% safe website/download.  Once installed, Process Lasso is easily configured.

In the Process Lasso application, click on the Active Processes tab.  With P3D (or FSX) open along with all the normal add-ons you typically during a flight. 

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The first suggested change is to classify P3D as a High Performance Process.  Right-click on the Prepar3D.exe process and select the “Classify as a High Performance process”.

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Again, P3D on some CPU’s might gain some performance by setting the CPU affinity to dedicated cores.  Typically we would reserve cores 0 and 1 for all other applications and set P3D to the rest. 

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As you can see below, I’ve set P3D to cores 2 – 11. 

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The screenshot below is how I set up all other running applications I use alongside P3D. 

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It’s really that simple.  Process Lasso will automatically start and apply these settings each time you startup the PC.  I would highly suggest you first establish some performance benchmarks.  In other words, load up your sim at an airport and try to setup the exact same conditions for each test.  Then apply the settings I’ve suggested above and test again.  If you’ve gained a few FPS and all seems to be stable, then leave it and enjoy a few flights. 

Bottom Line

Most likely if you have a similar beast of a machine like I do, then most likely these tweaks really aren’t necessary.   As I’ve stated above, I’ve tried all the tweaks which once worked to give a slight increase with earlier versions of P3D and FSX, but didn’t see any performance gain on the new machine.  As a matter of fact, I’ve experienced some issues during testing and come to find out, many others experienced the same issues. 

While P3D v4.5 is still somewhat built on the old ancient FSX foundation, the developers at Lockheed Martin have truly moved the chains in the right direction and I’m confident one day soon we’ll get to where we need to be.  Thanks for reading.

Until next time…

Spend more time flying, than tweaking!

Jerry

Flight Simulation–The Struggle for Balance

While I’ll be the absolute first to tell you that Prepar3D, Flight Simulator X (FSX) and X-Plane are NOT video games…they are computer based flight simulators!  It certainly didn’t start out this way.  As I often show my age when I speak about the fact that I’ve been flying computer based simulations since the early 1980’s…really and truly at that time, the ancestors of P3D, FSX and X-Plane were just simply games.  At that time, I really don’t think anyone (perhaps other than the developers) could imagine what these games would become and the industry which would rise up to support it. 

A Picture is Worth…

They say “A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words”.  The top image is what things looked like back around 1984 on the Commodore 64.  I spent hours upon hours and a few hours more sitting at my desk flying around Chicago Meig’s Field. 

Advance the calendar some 35 years and this is what the above evolved into.  The image below is from my own Prepar3d version 4 setup and the PMDG 747-400.  I believe I captured this screenshot on a flight from Denver to London late last summer (2018). 

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The stark contrast between those two images is truly amazing.  From a very basic 2D cockpit with very limited controls to the flight deck of the Queen herself where just about every button, every switch and every dial does something is again just simply amazing.  While I often envy the younger generation who have basically grown up with only knowing the more modern of things, I do consider myself lucky to have had the opportunity to witness this first hand. 

There’s an interesting backstory with the above image.  I have this image on my work laptop and Windows 10 automagically changes out my desktop image every 15 minutes.  I have two very large external monitors in my office and they are situated where if someone stops by to visit, they can see the desktop image if I have my applications minimized.  One of my co-workers stopped by one day, saw the image and asked me where I found it.  I explained that I captured the image (that’s all I said), he looked at me and said “how the hell did you manage to convince the pilots to A. let you onto the flight deck, and B. convince them to step out so this picture could be taken.  LOL  I explained this was a screenshot from my home flight simulator setup.  I think we spent the next hour discussing the hobby.

The Struggle is Real

While I can’t speak for all who are involved in the hobby of flight simulation, I would wager to guess that most (at least some) struggle with the balance between ultimate realism and beautiful/stunning eye-candy.  Which is more important and does it really matter? 

As Microsoft Flight Simulator evolved over the years, there was still a time where third party add-ons were somewhat rare.  Especially what I would refer to as complex versions like we have today from the likes of PMDG, FSLabs and A2A.  So I would say (for me), as the complex aircraft were slowly starting to come onto the scene, I was still stuck in the “I care more about eye candy” mode.  What I wanted was simple.  I wanted an aircraft which closely resembled what ever I wanted to fly (Boeing 727, 737, 757 etc.), I wanted it to have decent flight characteristics (meaning perform better than a brick) and I wanted a livery for which ever real world airline I was simulating at the time.  Again, at that time….all the rest wasn’t a concern.  I also wasn’t all that bothered if the aircraft didn’t have a virtual cockpit.  I would guess this was the time frame of about 25 years ago. 

The turning point for me was sometime after the dawn of the SATCO/VATSIM age (circa 2000-01).  Of course, this is also around the same timeframe when internet based virtual airlines began popping up and the interwebz made the world a much smaller place. 

Immersion is Key

I think with any simulation based title, the immersive experience is due part from the software itself and also from ones own imagination.  While I’m not suggesting any of us sim gamers go around thinking (or certainly not pretending) we’re farmers, truckers or pilots…but I believe, our own imagination certainly makes up a small (perhaps larger) part of our overall experience. 

For example, I have my own rules for how I enjoy flight simulation.  First, I almost always begin a flight from the last airport I previously landed at.  There are a few times in my mind I will just say “jump seat” and start off from an airport I hadn’t just flown into…but that’s rare.  Second, I’m also not the type of virtual aviator who fires up a flight and then either goes to bed, goes to work or goes shopping.  While I’m not going to lie and tell you that my rear keister is always firmly planted in my chair for every minute, every hour of a flight….I’m generally not far away.  After all, pilots in the real world will get up and stretch their legs and go to the toilet.  Finally, when I was single…I would often heat up a “TV Dinner” which I would eat on longer flights.  But hey…I was eating a lot of these types of dinners when I was single. 

The Trade Off

Unfortunately, it wasn’t that long ago most of us had to make a decision.  Did we want the experience which the complex, advanced simulation add-on aircraft would deliver…OR…did we want the breathtaking visuals?  Because it wasn’t always money that determined the path. 

Before P3Dv4 was finally capable of taking advantage of a 64 bit architecture and move beyond the 4 GB virtual memory limitations, we all found it hard to mix both together.  You’ll find older writings of mine on this blog site where I attempted to marry the complex and the stunning visuals….yes it was doable, but it required significant compromise. 

It’s All a Balancing Act

Today, I enjoy a perfect balance between the more advanced simulation add-on aircraft and the stunning visuals.  With the advancement of hardware, software and the financial ability to marry both together…I can finally shove those graphic sliders to the right and enjoy the challenge of learning and flying some of the greatest machines ever invented and experience the visuals as if it was really happening.  My friends…that’s how you define the tagline “As Real As It Gets”. 

Until next time…

Enjoy the experience however you define it.

Jerry

How to update Prepar3D

There seems to be a lot of confusion regarding the process of how to update Prepar3D.  While the geniuses at Lockheed Martin have created a super easy to follow instruction manual, the confusion regarding this process seems to run rampant on social media.  I’m not sure why really.  Perhaps it’s the reluctance of reading the manual or perhaps the manual just contains too much detail and not enough step-by-step-by-step guidance.  In any event, I’m going to do my best to provide you a step-by-step guide for how to update Prepar3D.  Or at the very least, how I update my own instance of Prepar3D.

About this guide

This step-by-step guide was written specifically for the Prepar3D version 4.2 to 4.3 update and written/published in late June of 2018.  Lockheed Martin released P3D v4.3 on 25 June 2018.  If you are referring to this guide anytime after version 4.3 (v4.4, v4.5 etc.) then this method should also work as well.  Unfortunately my crystal ball isn’t working for peering into the future, so who knows how the update process will work for P3D v5 (if there is such a thing).  What I’m trying to say here, is content on the Internet tends to live forever and you might be stumbling on this writing a year, two or more from the time I wrote it.  Just keep that in mind.

The Update Process

Just a little background for those that may not be aware.  I believe, starting with P3D v3.x, Lockheed Martin developed P3D to be somewhat modular in the way one can update and maintain the simulator.  This modular setup consists of three main files with the first being the Client, the second being the Content and the third being the Scenery.  When Lockheed Martin develops, tests and deploys an updated version to us, we no longer need to completely uninstall the entire P3D application just to take advantages of the updates.  In many cases, only the “Client” portion of the update needs to be applied.  But you should do your homework to best determine exactly what you need to update to take advantage of all the new bells and whistles available.

Prepar3D version 4.3 Change Log

To aid you in understanding all the changes included in the P3D v4.3 update, please follow this link.  Use this information to determine what you want to update.

My Update Process

I’ve studied the change log and have determined my action plan.  In short, I don’t see enough value add in the Scenery updates to worry at this time with updating.  That’s really the beauty of this modular update system.  However, I will of course update the client and also the content.  If you are not interested in flying the six different versions of the C-130, then I suppose you can simply skip the content portion.  But as I previously stated, my update plan is to update both the client and the content portion of P3D.

Step One

Make note of P3D Settings.  Before I perform an update, I typically will start up P3D and take screen captures of all the settings screens.  This way, if anything gets changed during the update process…I’ll be able to quickly reset everything back to the way it was before.  I like to run P3D with the updated version with the same settings I ran on the previous version first, before tweaking anything.  This way I have a better determination on just what improvements were made and how these improvements impact my setup.

Step Two

Download the update files required.  As I previously mentioned, I’m only planning to update the Client and the Content.  So you’ll need to login to the downloads section of the Prepar3D website with your license or account credentials.  Once there, click to expand the individual component downloads section and download the following four files:  Install_Client.msi, Install_Content.msi, cont1.cab and cont2.cab.  Once downloaded, I typically place all the files into a new folder I create on the Windows desktop for ease of access.

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Step Three

We’re going to uninstall one component at a time.  I’ve found this to be the least error prone way of doing this.  On your Windows gaming PC, go to Control Panel > Programs and Features.  From here we’re going to uninstall the P3D Client ONLY.

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When prompted “Would you like to deactivate your P3D installation?”, Click NO!

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Step Four

Next we’re going to install the updated P3D Client which we downloaded in step two.  As previously mentioned, after I download all the appropriate files (in this case four), I create a folder on my Windows desktop and place all the downloaded files in that folder.  Right-click on the Install_Client file and select Install.

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Pay very special attention during the install to make sure the updated client is being installed in your specified P3D install directory.  In my example, everything defaulted in just as it should have.

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Step Five

Return to Control Panel > Programs and Features and locate the P3D Content component and just as you did before, uninstall this component.

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Step Six

Again, as before…right-click on the Install_Content file and click Install.  The Install_Content installer will automagically access the two cab files (cont1 and cont2) as necessary to perform the updated content installation.

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Step Seven

Pending everything installed successfully, reboot your PC.  While the P3D update/install files will not prompt you or even require you to reboot, it is ALWAYS in your best interest to reboot after installing software and we’re wanting a trouble-free upgrade…so just reboot!  Trust me, I’m an IT Guy!

Step Eight

Once your Windows gaming PC has successfully restarted, launch P3D.  Don’t be alarmed if P3D takes a little longer than normal to launch the first time.  P3D is doing a lot of work behind the scenes and in my experience it took perhaps an additional 1-2 minutes than normal.

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Once P3D launches, pay special attention to the screen below.  If all was successful with your update, you should see the new “Add-ons” button at the bottom.  If so, SUCCESS!  Pat yourself on the back as you’ve just successfully updated P3D.  At this point, I closed out of P3D as I still needed to perform a few other updates to software accessories such as ActiveSky, Envtex etc.

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Additional Notes of Interest

I’m writing this just a little over 24 hours from when Lockheed Martin released the update for Prepar3D v4.3.  At the time of this writing, third party developers are working hard to update all the various add-ons which required some level of change due to the new P3D update.  Within just hours of the P3D update, ActiveSky, Chaseplane, Envtex/Envshade all had updates available for P3D v4.3.  Once I updated these add-ons, these along with all my other 3rd party add-ons work including all my PMDG aircraft, QualityWings 787, A2A aircraft, Carenado aircraft and sceneries including Orbx, FlightBeam, FSDreamTeam etc. etc.  all worked as expected.  In other words, I did not need to reinstall any add-ons.

Benefits to Updating?

After I managed to get everything updated and launched P3D, I noticed a much faster load/launch time and I’m seeing a very slight increase in FPS performance.  The amount of time it took me to perform the update process was about 15-20 minutes.  But I can certainly understand ones reluctance to updating…especially if your current v4.2 setup is running stable.  To my knowledge, no 3rd party add-ons at this particular time require version 4.3.  However, if you’re an Aerosoft Airbus fan and are anxiously awaiting the release of the A318/A319 and A320/A321, then you may need to update to 4.3.  But as the release date for the Aerosoft Airbus has been pushed to sometime in mid-late July, you have plenty of time.

Final Thoughts

Over the past 24+ hours I’ve seen a lot of frustration from others who have attempted to update P3D to 4.3.  This is one of the reasons I decided to document my update process in the hopes it helps others.  However, let me say this.  My gaming PC is 100% rock solid.  I was experiencing zero issues before deciding to update to v4.3.  P3D v4.2 was stable and the only CTD I’ve experienced was caused by the wx radar in the QW787.  If you’re experiencing issues with your gaming machine, if you’re experiencing issues with Windows on your gaming machine and especially if you’re experiencing issues with v4.2, then your upgrade/update process may not go as smooth as mine did.  While this process is super simple (especially following my method), it won’t solve problems which exist in your system.  These problems (what ever they may be) may result in a less than desired outcome.

I wish you the very best of luck.  I truly believe if you follow my guide step-by-step as I’ve laid it all out, you’ll have the very best chance for a successful update.  Again, the best of luck to you and I hope to see you in the virtual skies very soon.

Until next time….

Happy Updates!

Jerry

P.S.  After I have more time to spend flying in P3D v4.3, I’ll post an updated settings post.  I don’t anticipate anything changing, but need to update the page anyway.

Windows 10 Updates

While I’m sure you’ll find many differing opinions on Microsoft’s current OS, I must say that Windows 10 is perhaps the best thing that has happened in the PC gaming industry since sliced bread or a pocket on a shirt.  But the Windows 10 update process does lack a lot to be desired.

My PC gaming experience dates back to the early days of Windows.  Over the past couple of decades (geez, I’m getting old), Microsoft Windows has released some excellent operating systems and a few not-so-great versions.  In more modern times, Windows XP (with service pack 3) was a fairly reliable OS and performed well in its day.  Then there was the infamous Windows Vista (barf) followed by Windows 7.  Windows 7 (64bit) was also a very reliable and solid performer.  In my real life day job, we still have a fairly large number of workstations still running Windows 7.  However, over the next 18 months most of these will be decommissioned.  After Windows 7, we endured the Windows 8 fiasco (big barf) but thankfully Windows 10 came along quickly became the go-to OS.

You Get a Copy, You Get a Copy and You Get a Copy

Sometime in the summer of 2015, Microsoft began handing out free copies of Windows 10 much the same way Oprah handed out cars many years ago.  Licensed users of Windows 7 and Windows 8 could download/install Windows 10 without charge for one year.  I must admit that I was a bit reluctant to upgrade my gaming machine to Windows 10.  After all, I had a pretty reliable process for building/rebuilding my Win 7 system and everything (including all my Steam games and Prepar3D v3.x) was dialed in pretty solid.

However, I had been testing Windows 10 at work and had also updated one of my other home PC’s to Win 10 and was starting to see that Windows 10 was going to be the future of PC gaming.  My current instance of Windows 7 was starting to slow down and things were getting cluttered on the system.  I wanted to take the free Windows 10 update, but didn’t want to hassle of inheriting all the little issues I had been having with the Win 7 setup.  So I formatted my main SSD drive, reinstalled Windows 7 and then applied the Windows 10 update.

Time Flies when you are having fun…

For the past 18+ months my gaming machine has performed flawlessly.  Prepar3D version 4 (64 bit heaven) worked beautifully and all my Steam games performed like a dream.  While this particular gaming machine is approaching 4 years old, I built it with the future in mind and pending no hardware failures, should still handle my gaming needs for another year or two.

Windows 10 Updates

Having the IT background I do, I’m a firm believer in applying updates/patches etc. in a timely manner.  I began experiencing an issue shortly after the new year where my machine wouldn’t/couldn’t install Win 10 updates.  I did some research and tried all the usual things.  Nothing I did worked…but it was only a minor nuisance until about a week ago.

Last Saturday morning, with coffee in hand I went down to my basement office to play a little Farming Simulator 17 and record an episode.  I guess Microsoft was hell bent on changing my plans, because for the past 2-3 months these updates wouldn’t install, but magically they did…but to my fear it left my system in a terrible state.

I did manage to repair Windows 10 to a point where most things worked fine, but I ran into issues with Prepar3D and I just can’t live with that.

I’m a Perfectionist

I really don’t know if being a perfectionist is a good trait or a bad one.  I think it can easily go both ways.  In my real world job, I suppose it’s a good thing as I typically don’t settle for anything less than perfection.  In my personal life…well…it absolutely drives my wife crazy.  But the problem with little nagging issues is they can quickly become really major showstoppers and as I have just less than three weeks worth of recorded content ready to go, I figure now is a good time to fix this mess.

A Change is a coming…

Shhhhh, don’t tell my wife….but I’m about to plop a new 500 GB SSD in my gaming machine.  As I previously mentioned, I did build this machine with the future in mind.  At the time, I installed three 250 GB SSD drives in the machine with the idea that SSD #1 would run Windows, SSD #2 would be for all things P3D and SSD #3 would be for Steam Games.  In addition to the SSD drives, I also have one 500GB SATA drive that I use to capture my video recordings and also use it as a backup drive.

The new plan is to rebuild Windows 10 on the current 250 GB SSD.  The primary Windows drive doesn’t need to be massive and I feel 250GB will be fine.  The new 500GB SSD will contain all my Steam games as I’m quickly approaching the point where 250GB won’t hold everything.  P3D will continue to live on its own 250 GB SSD and finally, the older 250GB SSD will  contain nothing but the Documents folder.  After all, so many of the games I run utilize the “Documents” folder to save files, mods, aircraft, scenery etc.

Tick Tock, Tick Tock

After backing up my precious game saves for FS17, ATS, ETS2 and other important items I began the process by kicking off the built in Windows 10 reset tool and selecting the option to delete all personal data, files, settings etc.  After all, I’m wanting to start from scratch.  This is a excellent feature of Windows 10 and it worked just as intended.  Less than 30 minutes later, Windows 10 was perfectly reset with all patches and updates safely and securely applied.  I then proceeded to update my Nvidia GPU drivers and a few other critical device drivers.  Another 30 minutes or so and I was ready to start installing games and other applications.

Steam – I love it!

I know a lot of people loath Steam and Steam games.  For me, I absolutely adore it and in a rebuild scenario it is your best friend.   As my primary recorded content on my YouTube Channel is FS17, FS17 was the first to get installed.  I changed the install directory to the new 500GB SSD drive and allowed Steam to download and install FS17.  Once FS17 was installed, I launched it so it would create the appropriate folders in the Documents directory (living on its own SSD drive) then shut down FS17.  Next I copied over the saved folders/files from the previous Documents installation.  This brought over all my mods and the appropriate game save folders.  It also pulled in the much appreciated keybindings file which worked perfect.  I fired up FS17, loaded up my new map game save and everything was just like it was on the old setup.  Love it!

Next I installed ATS and ETS2 and followed much the same procedure as I did with FS17.  I’m pleased to report everything is 100% like it was when I last played.  Fantastic!

Finally, I got OBS, TrackIR and a few other things I need to be able to continue producing my  video content on YouTube.  I highly recommend you backup your OBS configurations as it is super easy to import these back into OBS when performing a rebuild like this.  I’m now 100% ready to resume recording my game content for what I’m currently featuring on the channel.  From start to finish, I’d say I reached this point within less than 2 hours from the time I started the rebuild process.  Awesome!

Are we there yet?

My gaming rig wouldn’t be complete without my flight sim setup installed and dialed in to perfection.  While it only took me about two hours to completely refresh Windows 10 and get the rig back to a point where I could play and record FS17, ATS or ETS2.  Two hours is merely a drop in the bucket compared to the amount of time required to get fully airborne.   In February, Lockheed Martin released version 4.2.x of their 64 bit Prepar3D Flight Simulator.  I had been running 4.1.x so I took advantage of this re-birth to go with the latest and greatest.  I installed P3D v4.2.x onto its own 250GB SSD drive and verified all was working by loading up the sim and choosing a default aircraft.  Success!

Next comes all the add-ons.  Now for those of you who enjoy FS17, ATS and ETS2 and enjoy those games with mods, you know we simply need to find the mod we want, download it and drop it in the mods folder.  Launch the game and a few clicks the mod is enabled and hopefully it’s everything we had hoped it would be.  The process for flight sim just isn’t that simple.  Every, single, add-on has its own .exe or some can only be downloaded/installed via a central application (as is the case with Orbx).  Now don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love the new Orbx FTX Central.  Not only does it automate the download, install and updating process…it’s just really cool.  I’ve already praised this new application in a blog post last year.

But to put things into perspective.  In FS17, I have well over 150 mods.  Most likely closer to 200.  Getting FS17 downloaded, installed and running again just where I left off only took me about 2 hours and this included the Windows 10 refresh process.  But Flight Sim is much, much different.  On my mod spreadsheet for P3D, I have approx. 100 add-ons.  Again, each of these are .exe’s that need to be checked if they are the latest versions, downloaded if not, then installed.  With scenery add-ons, it’s advisable to restart the PC and load up the sim between each install.  I would estimate (and this really is a guess), but it most likely takes me well over 24 hours (I really don’t think this is an exaggeration) to get P3D running with absolutely everything I own running and dialed in.  This also includes configuring all my external controls including yoke, rudder pedals and various button/switch panels.  Very little is simply “plug & play”.

My typical approach to reinstalling P3D (which I do every 18-24 months) is to do a little at a time.  I typically install all the Orbx ground texture applications (base, vector, openLC etc.) then proceed to the Orbx regional terrain (Cen. Rocky Mountains, Southern Alaska, NoCal etc.).  Then I install the other add-ons like Weather, Sky Textures, VATSIM etc.  Then I proceed with payware aircraft.  Typically I always install the PMDG 737 NGX first along with add-on airports of KDEN and KDFW.  Then I typically begin installing other airports and aircraft as I fly around the virtual world.

Whew….well, I need to get busy again installing scenery and aircraft.  After all, it’s not gonna get done all by itself.

Until next time….

Jerry

And then there were two…

Earlier today, Dovetail Games announced “with great sadness” the closure of Flight Sim World (FSW).  It’s been slightly less than one year since I first discussed FSW on my blog site and in late May of last year I wrote about my first impressions after having spent a little bit of time exploring the simulator.   I recorded a few YouTube videos which you can find on my channel.  During the initial few weeks after release of FSW I did manage to spend several hours flying and I must admit I enjoyed my time and felt like FSW had some promise.  After all, Dovetail Games was finally fulfilling their commitment to bring their flight sim to market albeit a few years late.

While I must admit I haven’t followed the progress of FSW in the past 6+ months, I’m actually surprised it took Dovetail Games this long to realize this was never going to get off the ground and compete with Prepar3d and XPlane.  Especially knowing how Dovetail planned to limit 3rd party developers.  As with many of the simulation based games I enjoy playing, 3rd party developers, modders etc. are the lifeblood of these types of games.  When you begin to restrict what they can do and how they do it, you’re going to suffer and I guess they finally realized the writing was on the wall.

While I have many additional thoughts/opinions regarding this news, I’m going to keep those to myself for now.  It appears Steam will continue to sell Flight Sim World through May 24th.  After May 24th the game and all DLC will be removed from Steam, but will still be available in the player/owner’s Steam Library.

Future of Flight Simulation

The future of flight simulation is extremely strong.  Lockheed Martin’s Prepar3D (P3D) version 4.x and Laminar Research’s X-Plane will continue to serve as the flagship titles to support this wonderful hobby.  Both titles have a strong following and both enjoy excellent support from the best 3rd party add-on developers.  After all, we know the saying….two is company and three’s a crowd.

Until next time…

Jerry

The Way It Should Be….

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.

Prepar3D v4

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…

Happy Simming!

J

Prepar3D v4 Add-ons Compatibility List

If you are curious as to what add-ons are currently compatible with the 64 bit version of Prepar3D v4, then look no further than this extensive spreadsheet list which is updated frequently as more add-ons are released for this awesome sim.

The highly anticipated 64 bit version of Prepar3D (P3D v4) was released only one week ago, but already dozens of 3rd party add-ons have been either made compatible or confirmed to already be compatible with P3D v4.  On the very first day of release, many 3rd party developers already had released new installers and the list continues to grow.

Over this past weekend, PMDG released their almost new Boeing 747-400 Queen of the Skies II for P3D v4.  While I own the PMDG 737 NGX and the beautiful Boeing 777, I had yet to pickup the 747.  But I’m excited to say that the Queen now lives in my hangar and here’s a recent flight image of this beautiful airplane.

LByj3Gz

I can also report that on the above mentioned flight using the PMDG 747-400 (flying as Atlas Air Cargo), I departed from Denver KDEN (Flightbeam add-on scenery) and arrived in Dallas/Ft. Worth KDFW (FSDreamTeam add-on scenery) with all graphics settings maxed out and P3D v4 performed like a dream.  I simply could not do that in P3D v3.x without an Out of Memory error crash.

Over the next few weeks, I will continue to get more of my large collection of 3rd party add-ons installed and configured into P3D v4.  At the present time I’m also working on a video review of the new Dovetail Games Flight Sim World and will also begin showcasing some flying action from the new P3D v4 on my GrizzlyBearSims YouTube Channel along with Farming Simulator 17 “Let’s Play series”.

Thank you for reading my blog and thanks for subscribing to my YouTube Channel.

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

Flight Simulator 11 is finally here

While we’re still a few hours away from the official release of Prepar3D v4 (64 bit), over the past few days I’ve watched a few videos showcasing the new simulator and even some comparing it to P3D v3.4.  Not surprisingly, some people are losing their minds and being critical of Lockheed Martin by saying this release should simply be P3D v3.5 or complaining that some of the same issues which have plagued the software since the days of FSX continue to exist.

As the title of this blog post states, Flight Simulator 11 is finally here (or will be in a few hours).  What I mean by this is simple.  Everything which has been released by either Microsoft (MS Flight), Dovetail Games (FSX Steam Edition) and Lockheed Martin (Prepar3D v1 – v3) may have pretended to be the next evolution of the wonderful Flight Simulator we have known and loved going all the way back to the subLOGIC days.  However, everything since the Microsoft original release of FSX has only been  has only been pretending to the next iteration of this flagship product.

Yes, Lockheed Martin did do a wonderful job with the later version of Prepar3d v2.x and with v3.x.  But what we’ve been needing since shortly after FSX was released way back in 2006 was a 64 bit version to take full advantage of the hardware.  Again, everything else has just been marking time until this day.

While I realize X-Plane was the first to introduce a 64 bit flight sim, for some of us who have had a large investment in add-ons for FSX and which have been almost fully compatible through all the versions of P3D AND for the most part will also be made available for P3D v4 (at no extra cost), plus the general working knowledge of the sim is the same all the way back to FSX….well, it’s been a very difficult bridge to cross.

I’ve speculated time and time and time again on where the future of flight simulation is going and who will carry the torch proudly for us.  I’ve felt really good about Lockheed Martin since v2.x, but now…..now this is all new territory and the sky is not the limit.

I can’t wait to purchased, download and install Flight Simulator version 11, errrr I mean Prepar3D v.4.  We’ve been waiting a long, long time for this day and the day has finally come.

Until next time…

Happy Flying in a world without OOM’s.

Jerry

The Last OOM?

In less than 24 hours, Lockheed Martin will release the highly anticipated and very long overdue 64 bit version of Prepar3D version 4.  With this release, will we finally see an end to the out of memory issues we’ve all experienced with FSX and every version of P3D?  Have we experienced the last OOM?  Can we once and for all stop worrying about how much (or how little) VAS we have?  Are those little ding, ding, ding noises just as we are on final approach after an extremely long-haul flight going to be a thing of the past?  I darn well hope so….

If you are an FSX or P3D user and don’t know what the acronyms of OOM or VAS stand for, or you haven’t encountered those ding, ding, ding sounds just before you are rudely presented with the error that says “Too Bad, Too Sad…we don’t care that you’ve just spent 12 hours flying and are in the final 5 minutes of flight, but you’ve run out of memory and we’re about to ruin your fun”, then I suggested you read this post.

Taking the Plunge

Sure…I might as well!    While I owe a review of Dovetail Games brand new Flight Sim World FSW (and I’ll get that done soon), in a nutshell I don’t believe (at this time) there is any chance I’ll spend a great deal of time in FSW.  Reason being is lack of 3rd party aircraft, scenery and such.  I don’t see FSUIPC making its way to FSW anytime soon and without that, it really limits just how much fun I can have in the sim.  NOTE:  I said it will lack how much fun I will have.  Your mileage may vary depending on what you want from a flight sim.

But yes…I do plan to purchase P3D v4.  But I’m also doing so knowing it will be some time before some of my favorite add-ons will be made available.  Some developers will have content ready on day 1, others will have their content after the first few weeks etc. etc.  From what I’ve read, much of the add-ons I currently own will not require a repurchase to obtain the P3D version 4 installers.  This is great news…but it’s more or less the commitment that many of these developers made when we all began speculating about a 64 bit version.

By the way, I have been flying lately as I’ve been playing around with both FSW and enjoying flights in P3D v3.4.  I experienced what will hopefully be one of my last OOM crashes on Sunday when I was flying from KDFW to KMEM.  Just within about two minutes after landing (thankfully) the system just said..”Nope…you’re done” it has used up 100% of the available 4 GB of VAS which is the dreadful limitation of 32 bit applications we’ve all been dealing with.  It was a great flight other than that.

My Future in Flight Sim

All things being equal, in the past 6 months I’ve been using P3D v3.4, X-Plane 11 and Dovetail Games new Flight Sim World.  As I’ve stated many times, I have a large dollar investment in FSX/P3D, so much so that I really can’t afford to seriously look at X-Plane as being a full replacement  and still be able to enjoy the hobby in the same fashion.  I have many years of experience with the Microsoft Flight Sim family of products and still find the X-Plane way of doing things about as difficult as trying to hammer a nail into the wall using only my forehead.

You can expect to read my first impressions on the 64 bit version of Prepar3D version 4 in the coming days/weeks.  I might even record my thoughts and make it available on my YouTube channel.  Stay tuned…

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

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