Live Dev Q&A - November 17, 2021

All credit goes to @N316TS for this summary!


Jorg – Game of the Year is coming out tomorrow. We won a few Game of the Year awards. Benelux just won “Best Game of 2020-2021” from Tweakers, a tech site. Yesterday, we got a nomination for Best Sim and Best Strategy Game for the Game Awards. GOTY is meant as a “thank you” to the community for your feedback and support and for making this game better.

Reno is coming out tomorrow. We have been flighting this, and people saw how much fun this really is. 12 or 13 of the 40 Reno pilots we worked with pinged me to tell us how close it is to reality. David made a Feature Discovery series on Reno that will be launching after this stream.

World Update 7 Announcement

Jorg – We skipped a world update because of Xbox, Reno, and the Game of the Year Edition. World Update 7 will drop on January 25th. It will be Australia. We will have new POIs, new DEM, new aerials. The Bing Maps team has a ton of city data. We are crunching photogrammetry data. We do not know how many cities we can have, but we will probably have more 3D cities than in any other update.

Local Legend # 2 – Southern Cross

Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith, typically known as “Smithy”, did the first trans-Pacific flight in 1928. He was on the $20 bill in Australia. We have a “new” development partner, who is not a “new” development partner: Orbx, which is located in Australia.

Anna Cicognani, Orbx – The plane, Southern Cross, is a very historical piece for Australian aviation. As Jorg was saying, “Smithy” was an aviator who broke a number of records. He flew from Oakland, CA to Brisbane in 10 days in the Southern Cross. The original Southern Cross is actually kept in Brisbane Airport, encased in glass. There is a replica in Shellharbour, NSW that Orbx has had access to. It’s a trimotor Fokker plane. We are still working on the plane, with a team all over the world developing this. We will probably do two different cockpit versions, one with instruments so you can fly today, and one with an original cockpit. When they did this flight, there were four people, and the pilots were separated from the navigator by a big fuel tank. Pilots had to pass notes to each other with a stick. This was the first time they navigated with instruments.

Jorg People have asked for the missions that these local legends are famous for. Starting with this one, we will have the missions of the local legends. And we are also working on a manual.

Third Party Partner – PMDG

Jorg – We have been talking with Robert Randazzo from PMDG way before we launched. Their first plane is finally coming to the Marketplace!

Robert Randazzo, PMDG – I am excited for Anna’s Southern Cross plane, and I am excited for Reno. We raced an SNJ-6 (a naval version of the T-6) for many years in Reno.

We are one week away from getting the DC-6 in the Marketplace. It’s the first of 14 products in the pipeline for the Marketplace, including the 737 product line, the 777 product line, the 747 product line, and another product line that we will talk about in the future.

The 737 will release on…oops, my audio dropped out. :slight_smile:

The team that built the DC-6 really does involve a tremendous amount of input from the Asobo side. Tons of questions answered. The same process is taking place with the 737.

Chat question – Can I come by and visit?

Robert – The DC-3 lives in Manassas, VA. If you happen to be at the Manassas airport, come by and say hello.

Chat question – What’s the hardest part of the 737?

Robert – We’re working with an entirely new flight model. We have a process that we’ve developed over 25 year and we’re very comfortable with that process. MSFS is a new platform that comes with entirely new tools and capabilities, and learning to work with those and change the methodologies and approaches we take to solving problems…that’s really the hardest part.

Chat question – How are you faring with the SDK?

Robert – It’s getting there. There has been a lot of conversation between PMDG and Asobo where we’re highlighting areas that are unclear with the SDK, and Asobo provides us with feedback. And there are things that we ask for that have to be fit into a larger development agenda. Seb and his team try very hard to get us what we need when we run into those problems. It’s not just about us; it’s about all developers who have been in the marketplace before. We’re all collaborating to ensure we get the tools we need to succeed, and I think we will start to see those shine as we move into 2022.

Chat question – What are the differences between the PC version and the Xbox version?

Robert – In the DC-6, there are none. That is one of the things that Jorg and I disagreed upon pretty strongly in the beginning. But over the next couple of weeks, we’re going to see that play out pretty well. Having a unified development process that can play out on both platforms. It’s easier to support. Does create some challenges for us, and that speaks back to those new methodologies that we’re working on. But from a developer’s standpoint, folks are often surprised to hear me say that I’m excited about Xbox. It allows gamers who might be interested in airplanes to discover an aspect of gaming that they might not otherwise not have considered. If we can convert even the tiniest percentage of Xbox users into simmers, that makes for a much more vibrant Xbox marketplace and that benefits all of us.

Chat question – Is there any difference between the version on your website versus what’s coming out on the Marketplace?

The version on the Marketplace will have some liveries embedded in it. We did that because Xbox users won’t have the benefit of using our Operations Center, which is the tool that we use to install liveries. When you buy from us, you have the Operations Center and you can install whatever you want. If you buy through the Marketplace, some of those liveries will come pre-installed, specifically for the Xbox community. If you buy on the PC side, you will automatically start out with more liveries than everybody else, but you can also use the Operations Center to more if you like.

Implement Weather and Terrain APIs

Jorg – We heard you. The team was so busy with the GOTY Edition and Reno and SU7. We will look more at this in the coming weeks, and we will have an update next time.

Helicopters are a Must

Seb – This week, I have been able to fly on two aircraft with the new propeller system. It’s the first step. It’s moving forward, and I really like the cross benefits from helicopters over to airplanes. The new propeller system is much richer. It’s very subtle differences, but you clearly feel them. It’s closer to reality. This new system will be optional for all aircraft, so planemakers have time to test to see if they’re going to work. Sometimes it might be compatible right away, sometimes they may have to adjust the propeller settings. So, the first step is in progress, and it’s going forward well.

Chinese Localization

Jorg – Chinese will be shipping with Sim Update 8 in late February.

Can you provide a more detailed update on multi-screen support?

Martial – We’re working on some features, and after that, we will have to check everything related to do with multi-screen and widescreen and the FOV and UI that come with it. It has been started.

Replay Functionality Missing

Sim Update 7 is upon us tomorrow. The replay system in Sim Update 7 is the video team at Asobo uses to make trailers. That said, it is not the slickest UI ever, and we are looking forward to feedback.

DirectX12

Seb – Sim Update 7 features a new option in the graphics menu. You can switch it to 12. I have seen a lot of speculation: It doesn’t come with any new features or specific optimization. It’s just a straight port of the sim to DirectX 12. The goal here is just to have a test. We are doing a lot of testing. We think everything is working. Performance-wise, there will be potential for improvements. It is not yet faster. On my machine, the current version was 10% more efficient on CPU and a little bit slower on the GPU, and so overall you won’t see the difference. This is the very first implementation. We found a lot of potential for GPU optimizations that will add on top of CPU optimizations. Over the next month on updates, we will get more performance on DX 12 than DX 11 eventually. I am hoping for 10, maybe 15%. And we will start adding new effects related to DirectX 12. So currently, it’s really just a port you can test. But if you want more performance, you should stay on DirectX 11. We’re hoping for feedback, bugs, and start to see updated drivers.

Logbook Should Not Pop during Shutdown Procedure

Martial – There’s an option and you can turn it off or on, and you can choose when the logbook is displayed, starting with SU7.

Scenery Gateway System (Community Content)

Jorg – Last time we talked about looking for a dev. We found one. This work is kicking off. It will take a while, but we have a prototype. We now have the resource, so it’s coming.

Improve AI Traffic at AIrports and in the Air

Jorg – Kai [from Alpha India Group] just wrote us a long email. We know there’s lots to be discussed on improving AI traffic at airports and in the air. Kai, your feedback was great. We will use this as a platform for further discussion. We know there are problems with planes turning around. As we said, Sim Update 8 is about bug fixing, mostly. We had this gigantic mountain with GOTY and Reno and now we’re coming down the other side and now we can look at these things. Kai is active, he is speaking for you, we are looking at the addon that Aerosoft just put out. More to be said about this one.

Please Support Korea Subtitles!

Jorg – They are coming in the third quarter next year.

Crash to Desktop without Error Message

Jorg – Jayne is relaying your voice. She asked if we should remove this because it is from August 2020. I think the answer is no. Are there crashes in the sim still? Yes, there are. There are completely different ones than they were back in August 2020. But we want to keep it up here, and we want to get more transparent with exactly what’s happening.

How many of the CTDs are hardware-related?

Seb – When we get a crash report, we have the exact line of the code where it is crashing. A fair amount says that it is not in our code. So this means it could be a driver, it can be in the system somewhere. It doesn’t mean that it’s a problem with the driver or system; it can be something really wrong. But when it’s not in our code, all we know is it is not in our code, and we don’t know exactly what is happening. There are also some crashes that are related to add-ons that are not compatible. In theory, these should not crash. So we will try to display an error rather than crashing. There are a fair number of crashes that are exits. A lot of crashes are extremely rare, so they don’t ever go up. One person can have a crash and can’t sim at all, so we have to look at the list down there for the rarer crashes.

Martial – We’ve got to process. Steven is dedicated to the collection of the gathering from the Windows team. We are doing the sorting from that. We have started to tackle the most frequent ones, and now it’s very hard to identify because it’s very specific. The sim can be used in different ways. You can have some very different hardware, and it can be complicated to reproduce. We are trying to increase the variety of hardware we are using. If you go to Asobo, you will see different kinds of hardware, inputs, and CPUs. So we are trying to have a wide range of configurations to see the wide range of problems that could happen. And even with that, it is not that efficient. So we are trying hard to fix these.

**New Development Partner – FlightSim Studio AG ** Timestamp

Jorg – Remember when we talked about gliders, and we were looking for the right development partner? We looked for a long time and we found a team that we have confidence in, and we can collaborate well with, and I wanted to introduce him.

Marten Krull, FlightSim Studio AG – I am the project director at FlightSim Studio in Basel, Switzerland, probably a company you never heard of before because we have been in the background doing sim development to suppliers. This is the first time going public. We are very excited about this. Gliders is a passion for us, especially for me. I got my glider license 15 years ago at a major glider airport in Germany. Still flying. It’s like a different world of aviation. It’s magic, but of course, every part of aviation is magic. We stick together a team of very-experienced people. We have very good software developers with aviation backgrounds. We have glider pilots. We have a lot of flight instructors. Very experienced, and competitions and all of that kind of stuff. We are also cooperating with some pretty well-known glider schools that will help us out, doing more testing, bringing in more variety.

Jorg – This is cool because this is co-dev. Asobo has a bunch of work to do on all kinds of things with the engine. We don’t want to talk about tons of features today. Here we have some people who are really passionate about gliders. The very first plane I ever flew was a glider right next to my house. Can’t wait for gliders to show up in Flight Sim. It’s going to be awesome!

Can you discuss the broken aspects of bush trips and when they will be repaired?

Martial – We’ve got some issues with bush trips. The first one is saves. So, we’ve spotted the issue thanks to community feedback. Most of the older save issues have been fixed for Sim Update 7. But it’s not the only bugs we’ve got on bush trips. Also we’ve got some leak issues. So that was brought by the fact that we had decided to isolate it a bit more the legs on the bush trips because we have issues with dependencies and UIs. But by doing that, we also brought some additional issues with the way on how the bush trips were completed. So we’ve got to fix that and work with the community to fix the bush trip that has been created with that logic difference.

And we also know that we need some additional polish, especially on the UI. I was very upset to see the way we are drawing the path on the VFR Map, for instance. It’s an effect of some graphical components. When you’re doing navigation, the legs are not straight, and that’s not good. So we will fix that for Sim Update 8.

Jayne – Are we also working with bush trip developers on the backend for the SDK?

Martial – We have some entries in the forums, and we are trying to fix everything that has been reported there.

Jorg – Somebody from our side reached out to Thomas and Daniel from Asobo. There is an active discussion going on. We are at least getting community feedback that is really actionable, and we are going to go fix all this.

*Question from chat – Will the updated scenery from Reno Stead Airport be visible in the normal game?

Jorg – We flew a plane over Reno three or four months ago to get the latest aerials. That will be in the base sim.

Martial – There were some technical difficulties [with the airport].

Jorg – We wanted to put it in the base sim, but it didn’t work. We’re looking into this. There’s something going on right now with Zürich. There are some things we’ve learned by what we just did.

Do we have plans for AI-based ATC with voice recognition?

Jorg – Yeah. We have some investigations into what’s possible. Modern tech is super cool with this and it’s too early to really talk about it. But we are aware that it’s possible. Somebody else said earlier, “I think that ATC’s problems are just about that kind of stuff.” We are completely aware, trust me, of all the things that are currently going on. Kai does a good job of keeping us fully aware of what he thinks. He collects feedback from others. We are looking at ATC, all up. When exactly it is coming, we can’t say yet: We need to do some planning exercises. While the team is going to fix bugs in the next few months, we will actually spend time planning. But we are fully aware that this is important.

Question from chat – There’s been a bug out for a little while with multiplayer planes disappearing. That’s stopped some people from doing formation flying. Do we have an update on this bug?

Martial – We are aware of that. It is an issue with sorting. It’s something we want to work on. Some people are asking for larger groups. So we have some technical requirements for that. We are looking at the code and think we can open the group up to 8 people instead of 6.

Since we’re talking about multiplayer, there is a thread in the forums about talking about the integration of Flight Sim and the equivalent of IVAO and some other services. We’ve been talking with these guys and we’re still looking for opportunities to have better support of these services.

Community question – Can you explain the changes in SU5 that led to color banding and fringes for many users on SDR [standard dynamic range] monitors, and are they fixable?

Seb – Yesterday evening, someone found the issue. The graphics buffers contain matrix transformations for color grading. One of these was changed from 16-bit to 10-bit. In some cases, there is really no change. In other cases, it can change the color slightly. I tried the fix and the color banding is not entirely gone because the monitor in most cases is still 8-bit, but I think that’s what it was last year. So that moved from 16-bit to 10-bit in SU5. I think was just a change that got unnoticed. It’s not extremely visible. A lot of times, when people were showing us the bug, sometimes JPEG or YouTube or MPG also adds its own banding, so sometimes you didn’t see the issue. But this week, we got some pictures where it was very easy to see the difference. So that should be in the next update.

*Question from chat – Where was the information for the F/A-18 sourced, and will it have a digital flight computer and proper AOA [angle of attack] modeling?

Jorg – We certainly worked with Boeing.

Seb – I worked a little bit on the F/A-18. We have a team of plane designers, who copied me only the pages of information needed, and it looked like a POH [pilot’s operating handbook]. It has fly-by-wire. And the roll rates are known and precise. It has some nice new features. It’s the first aircraft in the sim with elevons, where the elevator helps to roll, which allows it to be super-stable when you fly really slow and you lift up the nose. And you’re practically in a stall. And because the wings are stalling, it would flip over, but because you have the elevator helping, it actually stays stable. And it has quite a few features, and most of the data I saw comes from the POH.

Martial – And I would like to say hi to Royal at Microsoft, who is a former Top Gun, and he was a very good source of the understanding flying.

Will supersonic flight, in particular, be available to third-party developers?

Seb – I would say yes. The features we added are available to all planes. Everything we used for the F/A-18 is there

Jorg – Someone was asking if it’s moddable. It’s in the base sim, so in the base sim, we typically do not lock anything, so it should be moddable.

Community question – Will you be expanding the default multiplayer model types to be more representative of what is being flown in multiplayer?

Jorg – We talked about this last time a little bit. It is still the same answer. We have to be careful with memory. I think there are two pieces here: What is your partner flying? Is that the same plane? I think there are some bugs that have to be looked at. But as far as the number of different models you can have, there needs to be some limit. But in general, the goal is to have accurate aircraft, but we need to be careful with memory.

Community question – Are you guys aware of the issue where joystick inputs stop working when using freelook with the mouse?

Martial – I couldn’t speak for this very specific one, but we have some configs with the mouse/keyboard and other inputs. So I know that we fixed a bunch of these issues for Sim Update 7, so please let us know if this has been fixed or not. I think it is.

Chat question – Can you confirm that PMDG planes are coming to Xbox?

Jorg – We can confirm that the DC-6 is coming to Xbox. Robert has to finish his planes, first, but that is the goal.

Chat question – Can we address the brightness in the sim? It’s too bright at night and in the day. Is there something we can do to contrast, especially in VR?

Jorg – There was some talk about a brightness slider. This is something to be investigated.

Community question – Are there any server-side changes made between updates?

Martial – Yes. Server-side, we have everything regarding data. We can change the way the weather gets distributed, we can change the database, and we can change everything that is brought by packages. So everything but the executable, you’ve got some code and planes, animations, some fixes on POIs and airports. These can be done so you don’t have to update the client for that.

Jayne – I don’t know how often it is, but would there ever be a chance to see any of those changes and some insight into that occasionally?

Jorg – That is between you and Laurent just to talk about it. There’s no secrets here.

Martial – So AIRAC would be updated every 28 days, for instance. We are not doing that communication all the time. Same for every single piece of data we’re collecting.

Chat question – Are you planning any updates to the view system so we can make our own views easily?

Martial – It’s also a question that comes with multiscreen, because on multi-screens you have to define different camera points of view. So it’s not the only field that needs to be redesigned for this. So yes, we are talking about changing the way of doing that. And also the way they’re read by simvars.

Chat question – With the replay mode coming tomorrow, the first iteration of it is in dev mode. Will Xbox users be able to use this or is that going to come in a later version?

Martial – For now, not on Xbox. For one reason, the hard drive is more complicated on console.

Chat question – Can you make the timing part from Reno be part of the SDK in the future? So they can have a way to include timing planes through gates. It would be handy for their sceneries.

Jorg – That’s the plan. Any time we make a big update, ultimately that benefits everybody. That is the plan. So we’re doing it, but not exactly sure when.

Chat question – Can you expand the bug list? The bug list is one page, Wishlist is two pages right now.

Jayne – On the forums side, even though we have the snapshots, we have started to implement a bunch of tags in the forums whenever we log feedback or tag something as a bug, so you can always look at that if it’s not in the main feedback snapshot.

Chat question – What time will Sim Update 7 be available tomorrow?

Jayne – 8:00 am Pacific time.

Jorg – All three things are coming out at that point.

Chat question – Since Sim Update 5, the mouse has been freezing on Xbox. Is there a status on this bug?

Martial – I don’t know if this has been fixed for Sim Update 7. Same as the previous bug we talked about. I am hoping it is, but I cannot be 100% sure because I can’t remember everything by heart.

Chat question – Have we considered an in-game livery maker, like what Forza does so players can easily create their own liveries?

Jorg – Yes, we’ve considered it. There are lots of things we would like to do like that. It needs to be prioritized. Right now, it’s not. But we want to.

Chat question – What is the largest sim update so far?

Martial – If we are talking about the number of changes, Sim Update 5.

Chat question – Give us details on seasons! What are we working on for seasons in the future?

Jorg – It’s a big project. When we do something, we want to do it right. Just this morning, for example, we were talking about biomes. It’s not totally detachable. Seasons need to operate on the right things, the right trees. There’s just lots of work. This is going to take longer. But we’re going to do it.

Chat question – When will the weekly challenges come back?

Martial – Good question. I won’t talk about dates, but yes, it’s something we would like to do.

Chat question – Can any of you tell us about the eye tracking software coming up in this update, which is Tobii Eye Tracker?

Martial – It’s now supported.

Chat question – Could you talk about the weather improvements that are coming tomorrow?

Seb – This week, there was fog in Arcachon (near Bordeaux) in the real world because I could look outside. And there was fog in the sim and the view distance was correct, and you could fly out of the fog layer and it was working. There were quite a few changes in the data we get, the data provider has made improvements, and we made improvements in the sim to ingest the data. Now, people will see when the weather is different. But I think one of the big changes is that, if you have a METAR, it should be much closer than it used to be, including visibility.

*Chat question – Do you know what your top priorities as far as fixes to ATC are?

Martial – Just switching to Sim Update 7, we have a few ATC fixes. But we noticed the co-pilot was changing the ATC parameters without us noticing it. That was causing some logic issues. This was fixed. We also fixed the cloud messages on the ATIS.

Chat question – Will the F/A-18 launch with any liveries?

Martial – Yes, we have some liveries.

Jorg – I tried to license some of the famous formations, but that turned out to be impossible. There should be some liveries.

Chat question: Can we expect any improvements to night lighting in Sim Update 7?

Martial – Yes, the sepia long-distance draw method has been pushed away because of improved night lighting from close up. Instead of being visible at 50 km, it’s now at 100 km. It’s not gone. If you zoom in, you will sill see it.

Chat question – Is Hans working on the ATR now that the PC-6 has been released?

Jorg – Hans is a busy man. He’s currently finishing the Twin Otter. He’s doing that plane for Aerosoft. Asobo has been working on the ATRs, -42 and -72 as far as models. But I think Hans has been working on finishing the CRJ-900/-1000 update. Now he’s working on the Xbox version for that, Twin Otter. I was hoping we could get this done earlier, for Xbox launch. And then he’s going to go full-time on the ATRs.

Chat question – So we have an update on the Antonov?

Jorg – It’s doing great. The ship date is really soon but I don’t have the license from Antonov yet. It’s complicated to get those licenses. But the plane is looking great. It’s coming together.

Chat question – Does the Australia world update include New Zealand?

Jorg – No. It was a deliberate choice not to.

Chat question – Any plans for a more advanced and full-featured Marketplace, perhaps accessible to a browser?

Jorg – Yes. Sim Update 8 includes some Marketplace enhancements. The goal is to have what we’re calling Marketplace 2.0, as we call it. The browser thing is something I really wanted. I buy everything on my phone, these days. For convenience sake, it would be nice. But the only thing that gave me some pause is the xCloud version. Once you get your hands on xCloud, I wonder if you need the browser-based version. But it’s coming soon, and we will have that discussion again.

Chat question – Asking about the memory leak issue and black avionics screens. Have we made any progress on investigating that?

Seb – On Xbox, memory has been improved for Sim Update 7. I don’t know if it is going to be enough so that it would never happen again. But the frequency would definitely be lower. I can’t guarantee that it would never happen because there may always be a memory leak somewhere with some specific plane, some specific location.

Martial – It’s the kinds of bugs that are super-complicated to reproduce. When you don’t have a repro for 100%, it’s hard to guarantee a fix.

Chat question – Is there anything you can tell us about future updates to Reno?

Jorg – There’s a discussion about private match and when we should do that. There are probably 10 pilots who said, “I want my plane in Reno, too.” We haven’t decided yet, but I think, “Why not?” And some people have asked if this is an eSport. You don’t design an eSport. People opt into an eSport. If there are tons of people playing Reno, and they want to have more tournament-type things and something more structured, we just have to wait and see. This is the exact opposite of arcade mode. You literally fight for every meter. It has potential, but we’ll see. You guys will decide.

Chat question – When you create a VFR flight plan, it creates two parameters, time climb and time approach waypoint. Will we fix that so we could remove those from our VFR plans in the future?

Martial – Would need to talk about that with the design team.

Chat question – Can we get an insight into whether the netcode was addressed to allow you to get close to other aircraft without them skipping under G and jittering forward and back at higher speeds?

Seb – In Sim Update 7, there were a lot of improvements in the online representation of planes, and I think they will jitter a lot less. If you have a bad connection, e.g. a ping with a lag that’s sometimes big and sometimes small, it may be a little more jittery. But I think it will be a lot better than what we had in the past. Some of the bugs may have caused planes disappearing. Martial said that there were also issues of sorting issues, and sometimes planes were also disappearing because of bad trajectories. This is a lot better. I have done a lot of tests in formation flying. It’s much better than before. It’s not perfect yet. I’m not even sure if you can get it perfect in online mode because sometimes you have to predict, and sometimes the predictions are wrong. People doing formation flying will see a lot of improvements there.

Jayne – The feature discovery episode 11 video about Reno Air Races will be out shortly.

Jorg – The Game of the Year thing is what you made it. I’m so proud that we could give you something back with this GOTY edition that’s hopefully fun for the upcoming holidays. The next two years will be crazy chock full of stuff. We just talked about World Update 18. Martial and I were doing some long-term planning. It’s really fun to think about where we’re going to be in the years to come. It’s going to be amazing. There’s so much cool stuff ahead.

Martial – We were talking about 27 updates.

Jorg – We talked about the next 43 updates!

Jayne – Goes to show that we’re definitely in this for the long haul. Thank you for tuning in. Enjoy the update, and we will see you next time!

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