Welcome to 2022!
All of us at PMDG are happy to shove 2021 into the same containmentbox that we have used to dispose of 2019 and 2020- and we hope youwill join us in celebrating the new year as we dump the entirecontraption down the chute and into the burn pit for properdisposal. (Yes, we do carbon recapture on the burn pit. We are veryenvironmentally conscious here at PMDG!)
All kidding aside, it seems like just a few weeks ago that I opened2021 (or closed 2020, i can't recall which post it was) pointing outthat all of us had been through a unique, generational experience thatbound us all together, no matter where on the planet you call home. Ithink at this point last year we were all feeling pretty hopeful thatwe would see the inevitable transition from pandemic to endemicnormalcy- and that hasn't quite happened. I for one remain hopefulthat we are close to being able to go about our business and enjoy thecompany of friends and comrades.
I've been accused of being an optimist on more than one occasion,but this is a mindset that has served me well so far. I'm lookingforward to this year more than any since 2011, as I think this year isgoing to be truly revolutionary for the entire PMDG product line. Weare rapidly approaching our 25th birthday in August- and beginning toput some discussion to precisely how we would like to celebrate theanniversary with all of you. Whether we do some in-person visits tovarious shows around the world, or some kind of unique virtualget-together, it will be fun to do so with you as we continue buildingour MSFS product catalog and look forward to even a completely newairplane product going forward.
Not content to rest on our laurels, we have been hard at workthrough the holiday period, with a massive amount of refinement to the737 cockpit. The image contained here will give you a bit of an ideawhat we are up to, as we continue to put focus on graphic quality,model refinement, coloration, lighting and really fine-point detailwork.
I grabbed this screen (rather unceremoniously) using windowssnipping tool... so it isn't perhaps the most well formatted image,but I think it gives you a good sense of how the detail work isshaping up. Nearly all of the knobs and annunciators have been rebuilt(again!) in order to bring out even more detail, adding to the senseof immersion.
DANGER: This shot is of an in-development airplane, so you maynotice layout issues, etc. These are to be expected and will be sweptup/cleaned up as a normal part of development.
For my test flight tonight, you can see that I am basing out ofReno, and using runway 7, not because the wind favors it very oftenbut because the terrain past the end of the runway is highly annoyingto EGPWS and the various suppression logical processes itcontains. There is no better way to test that than to point theairplane at the high-desert ridges while hoping your performance datais accurate.
Speaking of EGPWS, you can see the data display function is presentand functional, as well as the profile view of the VSD. The profileview is still being tuned so that the logic redraw call adjusts forairport elevation and I didn't have time to input a departure route soyou can see all of the symbology, but you can clearly see the terrainprofile out ahead of the airplane. The airplane's vector will easilyallow you to see your climb performance vs. terrain which is useful ina place like Reno, especially at night or during inclementweather.
Oh and on the topic of EGPWS: I've seen a few folks refer to it as"terrain radar." That is usually where I make a clucking noise ofdisapproval. Now... It isn't. Radar. And I would hate for any of youto be perceived as un-serious, or ill-informed when you reach theFlying Club Bar and Grille post flight, so follow along with me here:This is a data derived display of terrain information. It comes fromthe EGPWS unit in the E&E bay of the airplane and does not rely uponradar for mapping. After all- radar can barely penetrate harsh rainshowers, so it definitely cannot pass through terrain to show you whatis on the other side... So now we don't call the propeller a "spinnything in the front" so don't go calling this thing "terrain radar."Unless you are flying something that launches missiles- in which case,yes- you may actually have "terrain radar."
(Since someone will want to play "gotcha": EGPWS uses a couple ofradar transceivers located on the belly of the airplane, but those arefor height measurement and do not derive the details of the terrainthat gets displayed. Apparently here in the USA those transceivers arealso useful for receiving bogus signals from 5G antenna installations,thus creating a huge kerfluffle between FAA and the mobilecarriers... but that stuff is WAY above my paygrade so lets just stickto using the terrain radar thingie to help us from smashing the spinnything into the granite things out in front...)
The astute will also note that I have my 737-700 configured as anearly serial number that uses both the Honeywell mode control paneland the full analog suite of standby gauges. The Honeywell MCP isinteresting in that it has very distinct knob shapes, to facilitatebeing able to make changes without looking at the knob, I suppose. TheIAS/Mach knob in particular is an odd shape to grab with your fingers,which leads to some crude jokes and occasional profanity if you are ina rush to keep up with ATC's speed, heading and altitude change all inone go. You will also notice the amount of detail that has gone intothe face of the MCP, especially the knobs and buttons. Even down tothe odd paint application on the course and altitude knobs. Up close,these things look like they got painted during Honeywell's "bring yourchild to work day" as the finish is a bit odd and the identifyingshapes embedded in the knob caps are actually painted with a brush,leading to normal human imperfections.
It is strange... but this is precisely what it looks like- and itadds tremendous realism to the panel within MSFS.
The analog standby gauges adds the pleasing sound of the standbyaltimeter vibrometer, which always reminds me of my early airlineflying days when most airplanes still carried such a thing. Theincessant clacking would drive you nuts during a cockpit brief buteventually you learned how to tune it out or how to depowerit. (Disclaimer: I would never. Nor do I know anyone who wouldever.
Overall things are moving right along and we are getting into someareas where we are trying to clean up sim-differences that might proveannoying to users and investing some engineering time in trying toclean them up. One example of such a thing is that the standard Boeinglanding gear switch used here is a three position affair, and as suchyou will want to move the switch to the OFF position aftertakeoff. MSFS however has decided that it would be fun to continuallysend your hardware controller position data in real time, so if youmove the switch to the OFF position but you have a gear switch on yourhardware, it creates all manner of mayhem.
In other areas of the 737, we are quite rapidly whittling away atthe list of things we have outstanding. I anticipate that we willbegin integrating the latest Navigraph API for chart display withinthe EFB this week, which will be good as it has long been an item wehave said "we'll get to that right at the end." I have begun shootingvideo for compilation into a few previews, and the process of mappingout the tutorial videos has begun as well... Stay tuned for more onthat.
In Other Areas of PMDG
In other areas of PMDG, here are a few things that are actively afoot:
We are preparing to beta test a pretty significant update to the747 product line for P3D users. Quite a bit of initial testing hasalready been accomplished, but another round is needed in order to vetchanges to LNAV and the flight director control laws that have beenimplemented. We are hoping to get positive feedback from our testersand then the update will roll out to users via the OperationsCenter. I will obviously let you know it is available with anannouncement.
Speaking of the Operations Center: One of the things that caught uson the back foot was just how complex it would be to get liveryhandling for MSFS implemented. There was really not much informationavailable for us to pre-work the solution, so we had to wait for thePMDG DC-6 to publish in marketplace in order to get live test casesagainst which we could build. We made the cardinal mistake ofthinking, "how hard can it be?" After all, we have done this for adecade across multiple platforms, and Asobo has clearly invested timeand energy into unifying MSFS in order to ensure that a single processworks for all cases and across all platforms. Except forliveries. Yeah. Except for that.
I'll spare you the long and languid details, but we are currentlydoing internal testing on a version that we are happy with. We arealso tweaking and tuning the livery import/export process a bit tomake it more useful to PMDG customers by ensuring the functionality inMSFS and P3D is as tightly knit as possible so that you don't have tolearn new techniques as you move back and forth between the twoplatforms.
Note: Just because someone will misunderstand what I just said- Iam talking about user interface issues here, not the liveriesthemselves. P3D liveries and MSFS liveries are totally different andunrelated to one another. You cannot use an MSFS livery in P3D, northe other way around... Just to be clear!
Okay, I think that covers things for tonight.
Once again, welcome to 2022. We hope you are looking forward to ournew MSFS product releases as much as we are looking forward to sharingthem with you. Stick around, as I'll begin laying out the productspectrum in a bit more detail and also begin rolling out some videothat will let you see what the fuss is all about. MSFS makes a greatplatform for our work, even if the initial dev cycle is slower thanmolasses being poured out of a jar on a January night on the ramp atKMSP.
Be well, stay safe and be kind to one another. We have all beenthrough a ton these past two years and a bit of patience andfriendliness goes a long way. (It spreads much further than thatproverbial bottle of molasses I was referencing above, too!
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