A few months ago, I posted something about early betas of x-plane 8.50. Well the final version is here and seems to be working as advertised. A lot of feature work has been done in this release, much of it related to the simulation quality but also some nice improvements in the rendering engine.
I just took the Piper single propeller plane that comes with it for a flight from Marseilles to Paris Orly (after first flying from Nimes to Marseille with a custom Cessna 150). This is a nice flight because I have custom scenery for both ends of the flight. Also it’s a pretty long flight and it provides plenty of opportunity to play with various settings and fiddle with the ‘optimal’ throttle, mixture and prop ratio. The latter is pretty realistic because the simulator takes into account all kinds of variables to calculate speed, fuel consumption, oil pressure & temperature, etc (you name it, its there).
The flight was pretty uneventful except that I kept fiddling with the weather. Real weather was pretty awful (about 1 mile visibility) so that was not much fun in terms of visuals and my capabilities (not quite IFR capable yet :-). Also it was a good opportunity to put the new scenery loading logic to the test. Flying to Paris really is not fair because this happens to be 400 MB of custom version 7 scenery. A fresh startup of x-plane with the plane on Orly or Charles de Gaulles typically takes a few minutes longer just because of this scenery.
I’m happy to report that the in the background loading of scenery seems to be working pretty well. The simulator froze a couple of times for loading the stuff from disk (would be nice if that was done in the background as well). But aside from that no more freezes. All the texture loading (to the videocard) and other calculations seem to be taken care of by the second core on my dual core cpu. I think I experienced at most 20-30 seconds freezing overhead over the whole journey. The Paris scenery seemed to come in batches. First I flew into a really nasty ugly empty version 7 area (pretty ugly compared to the default v8 scenery) but then it got better as I got nearer to paris and more textures, 3d models, etc came in visual range. Orly looks great on approach. There were several warning messages about too much textures etc. This is partially due to my rendering settings and also to the fact that the scenery is pretty old stuff.