As we were preparing X-Plane Mobile for its next major update as well as our presentation for FlightSimExpo last weekend, we knew we were going to show off global scenery on X-Plane Mobile. 35,000+ airports and the ability to fly virtually anywhere on the globe is a huge undertaking, but we weren’t satisfied and wondered if we could take the 3D airports from our Scenery Gateway as well.
The first step was getting Desktop’s scenery library (the “Lego bricks”) converted. Mobile has very specific needs to hit its performance budget, so we asked Petr (the amazing artist behind all the scenery library improvements that X-Plane Desktop has gotten in the last couple years) to take a look at migrating them. In no time, he had nearly 1,000 art assets ready to go, including:
- Terminals, hangars, & ATC towers
- Other buildings like fire stations, gas stations, & business centers
- Jetways, baggage carts, & belt loaders
- Cars, parking garages, & parking lots
- Fuel tanks & water towers
- Miscellaneous “clutter,” including fences, noise barriers, picnic tables, light poles, flag poles, traffic cones, & barbecue grills
This let Ben get to work porting rendering engine features to make Mobile support the new toys from Desktop, and it let me work on the scenery system infrastructure necessary to use the new art.
Eventually we got to a point where we were running global terrain, with Gateway airports, just like we do on Desktop.
X-Plane Mobile now has a total of 35,659 airports, of which 10,257 have 3D scenery. And it just works. When you start a new flight, we download the scenery you’re missing, and you can delete it from your device later when you no longer need it. You can plan a long route and we’ll download all the scenery you’ll need in advance—perfect for when you’re traveling or otherwise without an internet connection.
Going forward, we’ll be able to take updates from the Scenery Gateway, too. Every few months, Desktop users pick up some 500 to 1,000 new 3D airports from the Gateway, plus hundreds of improvements to existing scenery. Now we can bring those same ongoing improvements to Mobile as well.