Hey X-Plane Community!
Thomson here. We have some exciting dev updates on the way for you: a more realistic Airbus experience, some significant VRAM optimization, cloud improvements (including new cirrus clouds!), plus all sorts of other bug fixes and improvements. I’d like to outline what you can expect in our next few X-Plane 12 updates. And, if it has been a while since you tried X-Plane 12, you can always download our free demo to check out all of the improvements we’ve made over the past few months.
What are 12.0X releases for, anyway?
Our goal with each of 12.0X releases is to stabilize the product, complete/tune planned features, and improve performance.
Since its initial Early Access release in late 2022, we’ve been improving the sim experience and maximizing the potential of X-Plane 12.
So far, we have:
- released all sorts of bug fixes
- cleaned up rendering artifacts (most of which were related to volumetric clouds)
- introduced Zink for improved performance on AMD graphics cards
- refined the NOAA weather data processing for more realistic weather
- completed a long list of other improvements (read the full release notes)
Version 12.05 is currently in RC. Details on that are below. Our 12.06 priorities are well-defined internally so I took the chance to add some previews of that update as well.
Beyond 12.06, we are (mostly!) settled about what comes next, but the allocation to a specific release name is not set in stone. That’s just because development can be unpredictable. Features that look hard at first can turn out to be quick ones…and vice versa. There are still a few items to share, though!
Here’s What You’ll See in 12.05
A Whole New Experience Flying the Airbus A330
The main focus of X-Plane 12.05 was implementing the fully custom MCDU/autopilot and flight systems in the A330. We can’t wait for you to experience flying the Airbus with these improvements – it really takes the immersion of flying this aircraft to the next level.
Flight Model Improvements
As Austin continues his studies of aerodynamics and collecting feedback from pilots and engineers, he refines the flight model in X-Plane to better match the real world. These tweaks are often incremental but contribute greatly to the fidelity of the platform over time.
Critical ATC Bug Fixes
These fixes benefit stability and make the sim less likely to crash when out-of-range values are produced in the AI system.
12.06: Better VRAM usage, Improved Clouds, and More
The 12.06 release lineup has lots of fun stuff in it! It is the result of three months worth of rendering engine improvements. New cirrus clouds, lower VRAM use, improved cloud rendering in general and OpenXR integration to make the X-Plane VR ecosystem easier to access for 3rd parties.
Improved Video Performance
The VRAM re-architecture and improvements coming out in 12.06 will mean improved performance and reduce the risk of blurry textures.
Goodbye, Awkward Zebra-Stripes!
I’m really excited about the visual improvements coming for clouds. Those zebra-stripes and funky real weather cloud pyramids have been resolved for 12.06.
Clouds Improvements and CIRRUS!
12.06 will have some major improvements to the flexibility and visual quality of our clouds. We will also introduce cirrus clouds to our volumetric 3D cloud engine for the first time.
Opt-in OpenXR support
Hello VR Fans! Our new opt-in OpenXR support will translate into easier access to the X-Plane VR system for 3rd parties. This will increase the variety of VR headsets compatible with X-Plane over time. The Varjo will Just Work™️ in X-Plane 12.06 when OpenXR is enabled.
Aircraft Carrier Deck-oration (sorry, had to do it)
The aircraft carrier in X-Plane will have a full complement of static aircraft, cranes, tugs and more. These additions, including a fully animated SH-60 Seahawk patrolling the vicinity, help us better capture the dynamism of carrier operations. We can’t wait for you to give it a try!
Other Highlights from 12.06
There’s a long list of ATC/AI improvements and fixes (see Appendix for more details). AI aircraft (especially helicopters) how operate more realistically. This helps us better convey the experience of flying in the vicinity of other airplanes in real life.
On the Horizon: 12.07 (and Beyond)
The X-Plane dev team will be firming up the details for 12.07 and priority projects after that, but these are some of the most likely improvements you’ll see next!
If you’ve landed a seaplane on our new 3D water recently, you probably noticed that the water looked WAY too clean! You can see the submerged part of your floats super clearly…but that’s not so realistic.
This was the result of a water rendering bug that we have fixed for X-Plane 12.06 — enhancing the realism of operating on and around water.
Bug Fixes and Ex-Visuals as Monitors
You’ll be seeing atmospheric improvements (more accurate scattering). These are all based on mathematical calculations to create a more realistic lighting environment within X-Plane.
This work will allow aircraft authors to better capture the performance of turbine engines in their models.
Turbine engines are sensitive creatures that can get expensive very quickly if not operated properly. Increasing the fidelity of our turbine simulation in X-Plane allows for better pilot training and a superior understanding for all users.
These improvements are our team’s version of eating their vegetables. Perhaps unpleasant — but in time they will yield significant workflow improvements for all aircraft authors (internally and for 3rd parties).
This means that your favorite authors will be able to create the aircraft you love more efficiently (and with fewer grey hairs along the way)!
Try the X-Plane 12 Demo for Free Today
Thanks for reading our roadmap update and for being a part of the X-Plane community! We’re working hard to continue bringing you the best, most realistic flight sim experience possible. We appreciate your support
If you haven’t tried it yet — or you only caught one of the early releases of the X-Plane 12 demo — I hope you’ll experience the latest, greatest X-Plane yet. Download the free demo of X-Plane 12 and experience all of these updates for yourself!
Till next time,
These features and fixes are planned for X-Plane 12.06:
- ATC is aware of TCAS (i.e. plugin-controlled) aircraft
- Controllers now use multiple available channels, reducing radio contention
- Parked AI aircraft were not always created at the starting airport
- Wake separation is taken into account when issuing line-up or takeoff instructions
- Line-up time calculations were wrong for some runways
- AI conformance to ATC instructions is better
- Global region now uses mbar instead of inches of mercury
- AI can now properly navigate great-circle routes
- AI can now fly polar routes
- Fixes for routing where multiple waypoints with the same name exist
- Auto-router will consider great-circle routes
- Generated flows now align to the longest runway instead of always cardinal directions
- Generated calm flows only used one runway
- Fix approach being canceled if you are a long way out but perfectly aligned with the runway
- Fix approach cancellation not always being spoken
- AI now see the user’s aircraft if it starts on the runway, does not move and does not interact with ATC
- Add flight-plan dialog options to transfer route to and from FMS
- Add some missing spoken airport names
- Several problems with direction after a missed approach
- Nag for late contact to next controller was broken
- AI did not always call downwind when needed
- Allow editing of basic flight data if something required is missing, even if the flight is already under way
- Potential fix for incorrect warnings for altitude compliance
- Missing phrase for a low-visibility ATIS message
- Descent time calculations changed slightly
- Visibility at high-altitude airports improved (i.e. will be poor if the METAR says so)
- Pyramid cloud formations fixed
- Metar reports from XPLM didn’t use the next available data