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X plane 8? worth buying?


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#1 Zachary

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Posted 15 September 2005 - 04:30 PM

is it worth it to buy x-plane 8 or not. Any comments?

#2 the Battle Cat

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Posted 15 September 2005 - 06:12 PM

If it is still in production by the time I tire of FPS games then I'll be getting X-Plane myself.
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#3 741

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Posted 16 September 2005 - 03:15 AM

Whether X-Plane is worth it or not depends on what you're interested in. It's a pure flight sim, there are no enemies to shoot down, no missions to fly, and the stock graphics may be bit bland compared to other recent sims. The only real thrill comes from landing your Boeing 777 in heavy fog or thunderstorms on instruments.

If you're interested in flying an airplane or helicopter as realistically as possible (or would like to land the space shuttle), in whatever weather conditions you choose, and don't care as much about the amount of eye candy, or if you want to design your own aircraft, then X-Plane is for you. If you ask me, at 39$ it's a real steal. Also, the sim is constantly updated, and updates are free until the author decides  to move up to X-Plane 9.

The sim comes complete with scenery and aircraft editing tools, which is nice if you're into making your own stuff. All kinds of different aircraft, from Cessnas to airliners to rockets have been made for X-Plane, and there is an active community at x-plane.org.
X-Plane is different from flight sims like Microsoft Flight Simulator in that it determines the flight model based on the geometry of aircraft, rather than using 'lookup tables', so you can create all kinds of wacky aircraft and see how they would behave in real life.

The stock graphics are a bit plain, but some really nice additions have been made by the community and are available for download (some of it may be payware, but most is not), see for instance this thread for some screenshots of custom scenery and aircraft.

#4 Gerwin

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Posted 16 September 2005 - 05:26 AM

Depends. I bought X-Plane to replace MSFlightSimulator when I switched to Apple Mac, and I was very dissapointed. XPlane is focused on getting the physical simulation correct, and in theory this works, but the reality is that in xplane you can do loopings in a 747, because the damage model is bad. Also, the cockpits are lousy, there is hardly any difference between a 747 and a cessna 182. Technically, that doesn't make a difference, but if you want to play pilot, it does, because you never get the feeling of being in a plane and flying some place.
There is no gameplay like in MsFS, no missions, no ATC, well there is, but sounds like robots because it uses your macs speak mechanism, and it doesn't work well.
You also have to remember that xplane doesn't come with any good planes to speak of, you have to download or buy them from others. Some are good, but most are bad, with cockpits that don't match or do not fill your screen (forget about playing widescreen).
So is it a good simulator? Yes, if you're only interested in the theoretical physical model, no if you want to get the feeling of flying somewhere in a plane.
O, and the scenery sucks. They have a lot of detail, but the details are still generic: New York looks like Boston, looks like Texas, looks like Anchorage. No landmarks you'd recognize from the real world. What pissed me of is that when I bought it in December 2004, they promised their new style European scenery to be available in January 2005, but there is no sign of it anywhere.
One other thing: they have updates very frequently, but updating involves downloading hundreds of MB's, and copying even more data from one place on your HD to another. Unbelievable they haven't found an easier way, but that's what the website says and it's really the only way. It's an enormous hassle to update, and it has to be done often.
But if you really want to know: There is a free demo you can download, and you'll get a really good impression of it. You can play as long as you like, only the joystick cuts off after 6 minutes, but you can fly with keyboard or on automatic pilot (if it works), and the distances are restricted to something very generous (1000Miles?).
And if you like it, you can have my copy for half the money, because I think it sucks.

O, forgot: the sounds are rather boring, just two engine sounds: one for jets, which is like a vacuum cleaner in another room, and one for propellorplanes, which sounds like a vacuum cleaner with a slight imbalance in its rotor. If you think that sounds are not an important part of simulation, then it shouldn't bother you ;)

Edited by Gerwin, 16 September 2005 - 08:00 AM.


#5 Frost

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Posted 16 September 2005 - 02:20 PM

I think whether you'll like X-Plane or not really depends on what you want to fly. If airliners and general aviation is your thing, it's fantastic. If you're after military aircraft, I'm sorry, but while it's still fun to play with it's not all that realistic. As I said in another thread, the handling of fly-by-wire is damned atrocious. If you've seen the videos of the F-22 prototype's various control problems (and crash) due to the early generation flight control system, then you'll have an idea of what it's like trying to fly an F-15 or F-16 or F-whatever in X-Plane. Great to toy around with (my personal favorite was dropping an F-16 from orbit and actually managing to land it without disintegrating/burning up/what have you), but you're just plain not going to get a true-to-life flying experience.

I've heard Austin is working on improving Fly-By-Wire and has actually done a great deal, but... until I see the Falcon fly like a Block 52 F-16 and not the YF-16, I'm not going to be impressed.
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#6 DaveyJJ

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Posted 17 September 2005 - 10:19 AM

OK, as a former ATC with a bunch of heavy-metail pilots for friends, I really need to take a whack at a bunch of stuff Gerwin's tossed out here. Much of what he's saying is either personal opinion or purely wrong (sorry, Gerwin). let's look at a few of his points, shall we?

Gerwin, on September 16th 2005, 06:26 AM, said:

One other thing: they have updates very frequently, but updating involves downloading hundreds of MB's, and copying even more data from one place on your HD to another. Unbelievable they haven't found an easier way, but that's what the website says and it's really the only way. It's an enormous hassle to update, and it has to be done often....

Wrong. X-plane is implementing a new version updater will only download the small bits and pieces you need to update your files. And until Austin is done fully implementing it, you can always use the excellent inexpensive shareware at http://www.xplaneupdate.com/index.jsp to do exactly the same thing.

Gerwin, on September 16th 2005, 06:26 AM, said:

Also, the cockpits are lousy, there is hardly any difference between a 747 and a cessna 182. Technically, that doesn't make a difference, but if you want to play pilot, it does, because you never get the feeling of being in a plane and flying some place. [and] Some are good, but most are bad, with cockpits that don't match or do not fill your screen (forget about playing widescreen).

Say what??? Here's a screen shot from X-Plane 8.15 showing three cockpits, from top to bottom: a 737-300, a Cessna 172, and a twin-engine Beech 1900. Do these look the same to you?

Posted Image

And since you've obviously never sat and flown in these aircraft (I have in all three types) in the cockpit, or flown that much at all, you don't understand speed. In an aircraft flying at FL340 at over Mach 0.80 you don't get any impression of speed unless you're watching the ground go by out the window or you feel bits if turbulence. The ground is going by at over 600mph and yet you don't get any impression of speed at all. The impression of speed only happens when you're close to the ground ... it's the reason SUV and minivan drivers always underestimate the speed they're driving when compared to a Honda Civic driver.

Most of the cockpits are excellent and have all of the functionality you need to simulate flight. Which one's didn't fill screen for you? I've played X-Plane on 23"monitors and various resolutions and it's perfect. I've even used a projector to display an Airbus 319 cockpit for two cross-Canada flights and it's very impressive full size on the wall.

Gerwin, on September 16th 2005, 06:26 AM, said:

XPlane is focused on getting the physical simulation correct, and in theory this works...

This is the point of X-Plane ... it's a flight simulator, that accurately models, err, flight! It's not a program that uses lookup tables to figure how how an aircraft should basically react. It uses physics to make the aircraft fly accurately. It's a simulator, not an arcade game with filled with eye candy to distract you from how bad the flight models are.

Gerwin, on September 16th 2005, 06:26 AM, said:

You also have to remember that xplane doesn't come with any good planes to speak of, you have to download or buy them from others.

Uh, there's 30 aircraft included in the game including many of your cokmmon types (Cessna 172, Bell helicopters, F4 Phantom, B747 etc) and there's hundereds more, most of whose wquality ranges from good to outstanding available FOR FREE on X-Plane.net. There are only a very few aircraft for sale for X-Plane and the quality of some of the freeware ones equals anything for sale (e.g., the B737 and Airbus models available at http://xplanefreeware.net/).

Gerwin, on September 16th 2005, 06:26 AM, said:

O, and the scenery sucks. They have a lot of detail, but the details are still generic: New York looks like Boston, looks like Texas, looks like Anchorage. No landmarks you'd recognize from the real world. What pissed me of is that when I bought it in December 2004, they promised their new style European scenery to be available in January 2005, but there is no sign of it anywhere.

Most of us fly flight simulators to simulate flight. Eye candy isn't going to make up for unrealistic table-based flight models out of the 1980s. And if you have a graphics card capable of handling it, X-Plane's terrain is more than adequate. Again, this is an opinion, and has no bearing on whether or not X-Plane simulates flight well, as you yourself say ...

Gerwin, on September 16th 2005, 06:26 AM, said:

So is it a good simulator? Yes, if you're only interested in the theoretical physical model

Gerwin, on September 16th 2005, 06:26 AM, said:

O, forgot: the sounds are rather boring, just two engine sounds

Incorrect and opinion. There are more than "two engine sounds" and many of the thousands of freelay available aircraft on X-Plane.net have custome engine sounds. Again, ear-candy doesn't make up for a flight sim that doesn't make the aircraft fly correctly.

Gerwin, on September 16th 2005, 06:26 AM, said:

And if you like it, you can have my copy for half the money, because I think it sucks.

To the original poster ... take him up on his offer. X-Plane 8 for under $20 is a steal.

Yup, if the FAA likes it (they approved it for use in professional full-motion flight simulators used to train real pilots for instrument rating and Airline Transport Pilot certification the only consumer application ever to be granted this status) and NASA and Burt Rutan (Scaled Composites, Voyager, etc) and the USAF use it, I'd say it's worth your while. http://www.apple.com...2005/06/xplane/ X-Plane is an outstanding flight simulator. Period.

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#7 741

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Posted 18 September 2005 - 02:38 AM

DaveyJJ, on September 17th 2005, 06:19 PM, said:

Most of the cockpits are excellent and have all of the functionality you need to simulate flight. Which one's didn't fill screen for you? I've played X-Plane on 23"monitors and various resolutions and it's perfect. I've even used a projector to display an Airbus 319 cockpit for two cross-Canada flights and it's very impressive full size on the wall.

I've run the X-Plane 8 demo on a 17 inch Powerbook with a 1440 x 900 resolution, and also noticed that the cockpits didn't quite fit on to the edge of the screen, with the outside world drawn on either side of it. Maybe it's because of a different aspect ratio, or maybe I missed a setting, but I have to say it wasn't pretty.

#8 Gerwin

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Posted 18 September 2005 - 03:42 PM

@Davy:
I get your points, and I'd like to comment on some of them. I don't really dissagree with you, but apparently, we look for different things in a FS.
Most important I think is that XP indeed simulates flying from a physical point of view. I can only guess that the model XP uses for this is correct, but to me, this doesn't make it a good flight sim. There is more to flying than just the physical model. Like I said, I want to get a complete experience, from standing at a hangar, doing the checklist, getting IFR clearance as well as taxiing clearance to the runway, permission to take off, other traffic getting in your way, etc.
What I also like is to be on an airport that looks like the actual thing, not some generic airport. I think MSFS has this covered and XP has not.
Looking at the pictures from the cockpits you've sent, I see only half of it. The cockpit of a 747 is really much more than just this board, and XP doesn't show it. There is no throttle console on either of them to start with. O, and I have actually flown a Cessna 182, and been in the cockpit of a 747, and the difference in size alone is huge. To learn to fly this not important, as long as the proper instruments are there, but if you just want to experience how it is to be in either cockpit, this is.
And like 741 says, try XP on a widescreen, and it fails miserably.
Well, I think you pointed out perfectly the difference in what we seek in a FS: For me, scenery does count, as well as good looks. For you, it could be the replacement for a professional simulator.
O, about my offer: In Europe, XP doesn't cost $40, but 50Euro, which makes more than $60, and taking in account that they still haven't made the promised European scenery, this is a ripoff.

#9 WSTE_M

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Posted 21 September 2005 - 03:41 PM

About the cockpits...
Yeah some planes have different looking cockpits, most of X-planes planes have the generic 1/2 screen that looks like something from M$ flight game version 4 (back in the days of System 7)
And even most of the airplanes have only the front dashboard, but do not have any views for the sides and rear. You can see your own wings and tail...
Id like to see the cockpits looking sort of like they do in Targetware, only more detailed still.

The scenery in X-plane also is calculated from some database, and while at least you have the entire world covered that way, you cant find any landmarks to speak of either. Just generic scenery I tried to fly accross Europe without any charts and just following the terrain but got lost.

I know that neither of these are that important when you are designing a new aircraft or getting a pilot license, but I fly for the fun of it!

Just my two flying cents.

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#10 Huntn

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 09:12 PM

Arriving late to the converstion, I can still throw out some comments. :)

X-Plane is the best civl aviation simulator available for the Mac, but it's not a combat simulator. XP's Space Shuttle approach from 400,000' is mucho fun.  But if you wanna fight, X-Plane is not your choice.

BTW, the instrument panels look great. If you don't like how one looks, build your own! :)
XP has outstanding weather effects and if you don't have it, scenery can be downloaded from around the world. Admittedly it's not the best scenery I've ever seen, but it's accurate based on real world data. The flight model has been certified by the FAA as accurate enough to be used in flight simulator training, it's that good. Lots of military aircraft have been modeled, but there is no damaging modeling in the game....maybe in a future version?

Here is the IMG XP v8 link and an older MacGamer Review of X-Plane v7..., o.k. I admit I wrote the latter. :D

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#11 DaveyJJ

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Posted 14 October 2005 - 10:48 AM

WSTE_M there is new scenary coming. And the new update program works like a dream ... no more downloading 300MB of files and moving stuff around to update.

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#12 Frost

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Posted 14 October 2005 - 11:05 AM

Huntn, on October 13th 2005, 10:12 PM, said:

XP has outstanding weather effects and if you don't have it, scenery can be downloaded from around the world. Admittedly it's not the best scenery I've ever seen, but it's accurate based on real world data. The flight model has been certified by the FAA as accurate enough to be used in flight simulator training, it's that good. Lots of military aircraft have been modeled, but there is no damaging modeling in the game....maybe in a future version?

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Something I've also thought would be cool if they did do that would be building in some good simulation of various ground vehicles as well. X-Tank, anyone? I know I'd love to drive an M1A2 Abrams around, or drop a T-80U from space and check out the impact velocity. :happy:
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When there's a multiplayer version, I'm going to be on Frost's team. Well, except he doesn't seem to actually need a team...I mean, what's the point? "Hey look, it's Frost and His Merry Gang of Useless Hangers-On!" Or something.

#13 teamturbo_2000

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Posted 04 November 2005 - 02:57 PM

X-Plane 8.0 is an excellent game for anyone who's interested in flying.

Being a real pilot myself, the actual simulation is OK simply because a 50$ sim will never be pin point accurate.

Spins and stalls can sometimes be hard to recover from with a 172 R/G. (The fact that I don't use a joy stick adds to the problem.)

Graphic wise, this game is truly amazing.  White/gray puffy clouds, trees, fires, buildings, lighting, smoke, water, ships, bridges, etc, etc looks truly amazing.

Comapred to Microsoft Flight Sim 2004 X-Plane 8.0 (pardon my language) rapes the sim in the graphic aspect.  I run the X-Plane on my G5 iMac 1.8 with 64mb card, and it's the most picture perfect game in my entire collection.

The performance of X-Plane 8.0 is very smooth on my iMac as well.  I have never ran into any rendering problems, and the game is smooth as silk with high detail demands.  

The only problem I find with X-Plane 8.0 is that it's a bit buggy even with the latest version.  For example, I can not use the space shuttle and I can't fly into outer space.  When I try to do so, the graphics of the game turn to 3-4 colors.  Gray, blue, red, and green.  All textures are gone and I see nothing but lines of colors.  

Overall, if you're interested in civilian aircraft flight, buy this game.
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#14 the Battle Cat

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Posted 04 November 2005 - 06:47 PM

teamturbo_2000, on November 4th 2005, 12:57 PM, said:

The only problem I find with X-Plane 8.0 is that it's a bit buggy even with the latest version. For example, I can not use the space shuttle and I can't fly into outer space. When I try to do so, the graphics of the game turn to 3-4 colors. Gray, blue, red, and green. All textures are gone and I see nothing but lines of colors.
Sounds to me like you have a pin hole in your spacesuit, probably caused by a micro-meteorite.  That happened to me once in Marathon in a top side mission from Leela, nothing but gray, blue, red and green all in lines of colors.  Thought I was Merv Griffin too.  Take a hit of O2 right out of the suit tank and it clears up: no colors, no trying to sing like you just met a girl named Maria.  You need to patch your leak.  Try floating yourself in a big tub of water and look for the bubbles.  Your best bet is to patch the suit from the inside when you find the leak.  Hope this helps.
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#15 teamturbo_2000

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Posted 04 November 2005 - 08:28 PM

:lol:  :lol: I'll be sure to do that. :P
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#16 Drinniol

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Posted 05 November 2005 - 08:19 PM

teamturbo_2000, on November 4th 2005, 01:57 PM, said:

Lots of stuff

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I'd just like to address two points - the graphics and the realism, for those who haven't tried:

Environmental graphics are great, that's true, until you hit a city. They're ugly, while detailed. Still ugly. The cockpit art isn't really anything to write home about, except for a few exceptions, but it does the job more than adequately.

As for the flight model, it doesn't feel right when you're sitting in front of a PC with a mouse/joystick. If you hook X-Plane up to a real simulator, though, the whole experience changes. Of course, feel and behaviour of the aircraft are different. The aircraft will behave almost exactly as they should, which is why NASA et al use it for testing. It won't feel the same, because your chair isn't vibrating to all hell, your PC doesn't have a faint vomit smell so often found in rental aircraft, and you center of gravity remains fixed. Try a force feedback stick, though, they're fun ;)
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#17 DaveyJJ

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Posted 06 November 2005 - 09:04 AM

dehulk_9000, on November 5th 2005, 09:19 PM, said:

your PC doesn't have a faint vomit smell so often found in rental aircraft...

I nearly fell off my chair laughing, here. I can remember back in the late 1970s when I was taking flying lessons (in the usual C152 and 150s) that you would occassionaly get into one of them and get that faint wiff of vomit and wet carpet that hadn't been cleaned well and had been baking in the sun in a sealed aircraft for a few days.

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#18 Frost

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Posted 06 November 2005 - 01:38 PM

DaveyJJ, on November 6th 2005, 09:04 AM, said:

I nearly fell off my chair laughing, here. I can remember back in the late 1970s when I was taking flying lessons (in the usual C152 and 150s) that you would occassionaly get into one of them and get that faint wiff of vomit and wet carpet that hadn't been cleaned well and had been baking in the sun in a sealed aircraft for a few days.

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Madre de Dios! That is the worst smell on Earth... I seriously can't think of anything I've smelled that made me feel sicker.

Of course, just being in a Cessna 150 at all also makes me somewhat sick. I dunno what it is but, I just feel like the aircraft is going to come apart around me at any moment flying in that thing... it's like driving a Pinto.

But that's just me. :)
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Eric5h5:
When there's a multiplayer version, I'm going to be on Frost's team. Well, except he doesn't seem to actually need a team...I mean, what's the point? "Hey look, it's Frost and His Merry Gang of Useless Hangers-On!" Or something.

#19 the Battle Cat

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Posted 06 November 2005 - 02:27 PM

Frost, on November 6th 2005, 11:38 AM, said:

Of course, just being in a Cessna 150 at all also makes me somewhat sick. I dunno what it is but, I just feel like the aircraft is going to come apart around me at any moment flying in that thing... it's like driving a Pinto.

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Try sitting in the back of a Cesna 172 while your friend gets checked out for tail spins and recovery with his flight instructor.  The instructor looked back and said, "Is your friend going to be alright?".  My friend answered, "Don't worry, he loves this stuff".  I'm just glad I had the forethought to stuff my shoe down my esophagus using a wing strut as a ram rod.
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#20 Huntn

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Posted 06 November 2005 - 02:40 PM

dehulk_9000, on November 5th 2005, 08:19 PM, said:

Environmental graphics are great, that's true, until you hit a city. They're ugly, while detailed. Still ugly. The cockpit art isn't really anything to write home about, except for a few exceptions, but it does the job more than adequately.

As for the flight model, it doesn't feel right when you're sitting in front of a PC with a mouse/joystick. If you hook X-Plane up to a real simulator, though, the whole experience changes. Of course, feel and behaviour of the aircraft are different. The aircraft will behave almost exactly as they should, which is why NASA et al use it for testing. It won't feel the same, because your chair isn't vibrating to all hell, your PC doesn't have a faint vomit smell so often found in rental aircraft, and you center of gravity remains fixed. Try a force feedback stick, though, they're fun ;)

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My understanding is that X-Plane cities are only as good as someone has modeled them. That does not mean they can't be better. I believe the tools are there to do so. X-Plane cities are continually getting better.

As far as realism of flying on your PC, all though you don't have environmental/physical forces being applied to your body, it's impressive how good X-Plane and other sims such as Warbirds are.

-Hunt'n