We hosted a keynote event at FlightSimExpo to give the community a taste of what we have been working on for X-Plane 12. You can watch this presentation above and then scroll down to read a Q&A from our development team. These have been sourced/adapted from user questions from the internet and our live session at FlightSimExpo.
Q: Backwards compatibility: What happens with stuff that works in X-Plane 11 now? Will it work in X-Plane 12?
A: “We have made sure that the existing OpenGL bridge continues to work with v12 the way plugins expect. We expect the majority of well behaved add-ons to continue to work the way they did in v11, which includes everything from third party scenery and aircraft to general plugins. This includes existing add-on ortho-photo scenery.” – Sidney Just (Graphics Developer)
Q: Is X-Plane 12 finished yet?
A: “Nope! Our team is still working hard to integrate features, resolve bugs, etc. This keynote is intended to give you an early look into the features that we are developing.” – Thomson Meeks (Marketing)
Q: Regarding the weather system, do you have any system where it looks over the mountains and the wind interacts with them?
A: “We have had this for many years, actually…” – Austin Meyer (Founder)
Q: Are there any plans to improve the default ground textures?
A: “Yes, we have a plan to make some improvements. Only some changes will be available for the initial releases of X-Plane 12, notably for airports and urban terrain. You can expect more changes in a later v12 update.” – Petr Bednar (Scenery Artist)
Q: I own X-Plane 11. What is the upgrade process like?
A: “New versions of X-Plane are always a paid upgrade because they represent years of past work by our development team and subsequent work for future of incremental updates. Once you purchase X-Plane 12, you’ll get free incremental updates for the life of the sim, just like we did for v11, X-Plane 11.30, 11.50, etc.” – Thomson Meeks (Marketing)
Q: How does the frame rate/performance of X-Plane 12 compare to X-Plane 11? What kind of computer will I need?
A: “We expect X-Plane 12 will require more GPU power than X-Plane 11, but no one needs to panic about some of the new features that have been moved to the GPU – the GPU is really good at these things.” – Ben Supnik (Lead Developer)
“No requirements yet, it’s too early to say with confidence what is required.” – Sidney Just (Graphics Developer)
Q: For the new default jetways, Is there any support for say two jetways for wide body aircraft?
A: “Sceneries can (and do already) show multiple jetways in the parked position, but initially only one of them will be animated to dock. The system itself is architected to allow showing multiple simultaneous docking jetways in the future.” – Michael Minnhaar (WED Developer)
Q: Will there be support for different color runway markings? For example orange markings instead of white or yellow in Arctic environments?
A: “Yes, the new apt.dat specs do include this. We have that in WED and we do have the shaders to enable this.” – Michael Minnhaar (WED Developer)
Q: When can we try X-Plane 12?
A: “Our first milestone is getting X-Plane 12 ready for a private beta for 3rd-party developers. After that, we will offer a public Early Access. That’s when the community will first be able to get their hands on v12. Those who purchase X-Plane 12 during Early Access will receive access to X-Plane 11 as well.” – Thomson Meeks (Marketing)
Q: Regarding the new cloud system, will there be support for the individual different types of clouds?
A: “Yes. In the new cloud system, the type of cloud and coverage of the cloud are separate. A cloud can be cirrus, stratus, cumulus or cumulonimbus, and the engine supports blending between the types e.g. a cumulus cloud can morph into a cumulonimbus cloud over time. The cloud types control the visual properties of the cloud and are available to the flight model. Coverage is independent, so a broken sky could be a stratus or cumulus layer. The cloud height is also independent so a “towering” cumulonimbus is what happens when you make the cloud really tall.” – Ben Supnik (Lead Developer)
Q: Do you have any limitations when it comes to the flight envelopes when it comes to altitude or speed? Is anything locked out or can you go to any altitude as long as there is enough air or engine power?
A: “There is no possible way I would apply any preconceived notion of a flight envelope to any airplane, ever. I mean, for version 10 we were flying the space shuttle from de-orbit burn. Any artificial limit would clearly be contrary to everything that X-Plane is designed to do. Physics clearly govern the acceleration of the aircraft at every single moment in time… And acceleration is integrated to velocity and velocity to location without any artificial limit at all.” – Austin Meyer (Founder)
Q: Will there be mesh editing tools for scenery developers of X-Plane 12?
A: “This is not a v12.0 feature.” – Sidney Just (Graphics Developer)
Q: Regarding the weather system, I’ve dipped my wing into a cloud before and you get turbulence on one wing but not the other. Is that something that the cloud and rendering system is tied to; the physics engine in some way?
A: “I have developed all the math for the clouds down to a resolution of 1 km for X-Plane 12 then Ben gets the higher level detail than that to render. Next Ben passes the higher accuracy data back to me to apply to the flight model. I don’t guarantee I can get my accuracy down to less than the wingspan of an airplane, but it will be close enough to give turbulence in the clouds, icing in the clouds, rain in and under the clouds, and things like that.” – Austin Meyer (Founder)
Q: Do you have any improvements planned for VR integration, particularly with the UI?
A: “Not for the initial release. We have a bunch of feature requests for VR including OpenXR support and better integration for plugins that we’ll look at after we ship.” – Ben Supnik (Lead Developer)