Flight Simulator Blog

Laminar Research X-Plane 12 Keynote

UPDATE: Enhancements of the upcoming X-Plane 12, such as a new weather engine, volumetric clouds, 3D trees, ambient sounds, and seasons, among others, were introduced on September 25. No release date or pricing known yet. Watch the full keynote held at FSExpo and the interview with X-Plane 12 developers below. Also, a written Q&A of the keynote is here.

ENHANCED SKYSCAPES WITH ACTIVE SKY XP: Due to the Enhanced Skyscapes addon will only replace the 2D clouds of X-Plane 11 with fully volumetric clouds, it’s preferred to use it with the Active Sky XP weather engine addon. There are some settings you need to adjust to get the best experience. In ASXP Options, go to Simulator Depiction options and enable the Use Global Static Depiction Mode. Under the Clouds options, set the Cirrus Cloud Generation to zero. Also, under the Visibility options, set the Maximum Surface Visibility to 99. I’m running X-Plane 11 on Intel Core i7-9750, RTX 2060 6GB, 16GB RAM, and 512GB SSD. For the ES’s settings.txt file, I’ve learned the best settings without the frames-per-second hit are the following.

clouds/resolution_ratio=0.25
clouds/skip_fragments=2
clouds/maximum_drawing_distance=100000.0

Since the latest Updates introduced even more problems with the MSFS and failed to fix old bugs, I searched for an alternative flight simulator to keep flying my online IFR legs without the same old issues and inaccurate live weather conditions. I’ve always considered X-Plane as the other possible sim along with Microsoft Flight Simulator. We know Laminar Research announces the release date of the next X-Plane at the end of September, meaning XP11 isn’t getting any new updates. I never thought I would buy the already aged XP11 until I ended up on the HST Simulations website. They are polishing the soon upcoming xAmbience Pro, a next-generation weather engine addon for X-Plane 11. The price of this addon is USD 34.95 which sure is an affordable option to enhance X-Plane 11 until MSFS is more bug-free.

The soon upcoming xAmbience Pro addon for X-Plane 11 includes many new features not yet seen on the base sim. Some to mention are the dynamic procedural sky, accurate aerosol conditions, voluminous photoreal clouds, full range of cloud types, smooth live weather transitions, real-time seasonal changes, snow accumulation on aircraft surfaces, and many more. The default scenery of X-Plane 11 is sure not VFR navigation compatible if you don’t download the large satellite imageries. For IFR flights, I’ve been happy with the default sceneries out of the box though. All I need now is this next-generation weather engine for X-Plane 11 until Asobo Studio gets their beautiful sim to the state it’s flyable again for other flights than just look out of the window, aka VFR.

Many of you who have been flying with X-Plane 11 already have been using the HiFi Simulation Technologies weather addon called Active Sky XP. It’s said to be the best addon to inject real-world weather conditions to XP11. It’s possible to use Active Sky XP with xAmbience Pro but then you will miss some of the new features that are soft weather changes, fog layers, and extended cloud draw distances. HST Simulations recommends using their build-in Weatherman only which comes with xAmbience Pro. It’s the engine of injecting real-world weather conditions provided by aviation weather reports and satellite data. At this time we are not sure how Weatherman’s accuracy differs from Active Sky XP, but we will find out after it has been released and reviewed later this autumn.

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