Tonight we have our first preview of our first non-FSX product in seven years, and our first non Microsoft Flight Simulator based product in twelve years!
As you know, we have been taking some time to being the process of moving our development process in the direction of supporting Lockheed Martin's Prepar3D (P3D) simulation platform, as well as Laminar Research's XPlane 10 (XPL). This process has been a slow one because it was necessary to very carefully map out a development process that would allow us to begin supporting multiple platforms without disrupting our existing product line for FSX.
Many of you have been telling us that you are excited to have us support P3D and XPL- and we are very excited that within the coming months we will be supporting project releases on all three platforms!
As we get ready (prepar3d? Oh... bad pun... must be the end of a long week! :) to roll these products out to you in preview form over the next couple of weeks- please keep in mind that we are showing you preview images, and that many details are still taking shape as we overcome the inevitable stumbling points in our progression.
Okay- so... This proves to be a fun couple of weeks, since we have LOTS of stuff in store to show you- so lets begin with a shot that I think shows off a really fine feature in P3D: LIGHTING!
When I first began to work within P3D, the thing that struck me most strongly was the outstanding change in lighting within the simulation. The lighting of the environment around the aircraft is as dynamic as lighting in the real world, with cloud shadows slowly changing the scene, and the lighting ambiance around the airplane and on the flight deck where we spend most of our time.
Active shadowing models have been introduced to lend an incredible sense of realism and depth to the simulation, along with a very realistic atmospheric lighting model that brings our lovely PMDG 777-200LR into some magnificent photo settings...
This image, taken a few moments later gives you a really good impression of the dynamic lighting environment that has been created by Lockheed Martin. In this image, look at the interplay of the airplane's shadow as it lays across the right engine intake and the surface of the wing. The blending and shaping of light gives the 777 a life-like magnificence that many of us just aren't used to seeing in the simulation world.
One last external shot of the 200LR, and if you look closely you can see some very realistic shadowing at work on the underside of the airplane along the gear doors, the trailing edge flaps and the flap jack fairings.
Switching to an internal view- this is where I became a true believer in the importance of shadow models... This image was taken during the same photo-shoot, and the sensation of "being there" as the light from the setting sun drapes across the complex surfaces and shapes of the flightdeck is truly amazing.
The effect is not a mere texture trick, the shadows are dynamic, and the effect of the ambient light changing color between dawn, day and dusk gives you the sense that you really are watching the last rays of sunlight spill over the horizon before leaving you to navigate the vast oceans of air in the dark solitude of the 777 flight deck...
(Okay- so I'm trying to avoid being poetic, but flying through a sunset has always been one of my favorite aspects of flying- and for the first time I think we can really capture that experience in the simulator!)
The following image, taken during higher daylight hours gives you a good sense of the dynamism of the coloring, and also gives you a good view of how well the shadowing works with the complex shapes within the cockpit... Look at how the light falls across the knobs and buttons on the center pedestal!
This conversion is not all about lightness and fluff, however- as we are hard at work tweaking and tuning the 777 to make certain that it matches the capabilities, realism and performance that you are used to seeing from PMDG products. (This has proven to be a bit more challenging than we had anticipated, but we are through the tough parts now, I believe...)
This has involved making quite a number of changes to the product, as well as making modifications to various internal logic and the Operations Center so that this product line will support itself within Prepar3D completely seamlessly from the customer's perspective.
A quick shot of the PMDG 777-300ER as well:
Those of you who are familiar with our PMDG 777-200LR/F and our PMDG 777-300ER simulations for FSX will really appreciate how nicely this simulation is taking to Lockheed Martin's Prepar3D simulation platform. This product will be the first of a couple that we roll out to the P3D environment as we are currently evaluating transition of the 737 product line and the JetStream 41.
The 747-400v2.0 will be available in the Prepar3D platform, as will a new project that is nearing beta test... (No- I won't tell you what it is!)
I will get around to updating the P3D development thread a bit later, but please allow me to summarize a few details:
1) We anticipate the PMDG 777-200LR/F for P3D and the PMDG 777-300ER for P3D being released before year end.
2) We are very hard at work on the conversion of this product line to the new P3D platform, while also evaluating what will be required so that we can update to x64 when/if Lockheed Martin releases an x64 version of P3D.
3) We are not making any functionality changes to the 777. If we wind up doing so (Because sometime we cannot help ourselves) we will update both the FSX and P3D platforms with those changes... (But there won't be any... really... We mean it this time!)
4) We anticipate the PMDG 737NGX product line being released for Prepar3D sometime during 1Q15. It will be a straight port of the existing version and will not include any major changes/additions from the existing FSX version. (We will be working on a much larger update for that product in both the FSX and P3D formats at a later date- but we haven't scheduled the development resources for this yet... stay tuned for more information...)
5) The PMDG BAe Jetstream 4100 will be available in P3D late in 1Q15 or early 2Q15.
6) The 747-400v2.0 is planned to be available on P3D almost immediately upon release in FSX. (We are prepping your first preview of this product... wahoo!)
Okay- I think that covers the topic for now- I am sure I will think of things that I have forgotten, so watch the P3D Development Update Thread in this forum for more information...
I know many of you are interested to know more about pricing and license type availability (Academic, Commercial, etc) but we are not yet able to answer these questions as we are still working out final details with our licensing partners... Once we have them nailed down I will pass them along.
Hope you all are having a good weekend, wherever you might be!