Since the launch of 1.16 (The Vulkan hotfix for 1.15) on January1st 2021, a lot has happened. The development cycle of 1.17 has beena nightmare timewise, and we acknowledge that the timespan has beenvery long. I will not elaborate on the events since all the factorsinvolved are private. But significant external factors such as Covidand the war in Ukraine have been fundamental for the dev team membersand had their toll on available development time.
In January 2021, we started on the â€œSpherical Buffer pathâ€ since itis the last performance-increasing direction we had on our list. Wechose this last since we knew it would take a while to finish and sowe could release 1.15 (later 1.16). 1.17 was anticipated to take 6-8months. In pure development time, this is approximately where we aretoday.
X-Plane will be released as a public Beta. xEnviro will not bereleased in this Beta run. Laminar Research has closed off all accessto the platform by not giving access to the 3D draw callback, depthbuffer and so on. X-Plane 11 was already limiting us and thus demandeda lot on performance to work. Especially when Vulkan was released,and our dynamic seasons got abruptly cut off.
However. We are in a dialogue with Austin on the matter, and I amoptimistic that we will find a solution to our limited access so thatwe can release 1.18 in XP12. Regardless of when this access is given,we must finish 1.17 in XP11.
Where Are We Now?
We have tried not to get "greedy" with the possibilities theSphericalBuffer has given us. We could never foresee the impact theSphericalBuffer would have on performance. But some new features arebuilt-in into this version:
- Full volume rendering
- Unlimited layers of clouds and layer mixing
- Full 3d uninterrupted and non-divided smooth volume rendering
- Different cloud types (Including towering CBâ€™s)
- Dynamic cloud density
- VR groundwork for future VR compatibility
We are currently finalizing the rebuild of xE and getting the betatest team back up and running. I am still afraid of publishing a timeframe. The situation for the development team is still uncertain. Butthe progress we have had the last month has me optimistic, albeit noETA will be given...
To return to a, for some, familiar analogy: Weâ€™re at the finalstretch before the chicanes that lead to the finish line.
Again, no ETA will be given. We don't give any regardless but timesare, as I said, uncertain.
Performance So Far
Performance wise it is impossible to say what the result will befor you. But it does look promising at the moment. Here is oneexample:
On a Laptop 1060 GPU @ 2k resolution (2560x1080) we see a 40-100%FPS increase. This WILL vary from system to system since it depends onmany factors but we are pretty sure you will see a good boost fromprevious versions.
Beta Testers Needed
We are soon entering beta. And we are looking for beta testers. Asmentioned xE1.17 will be for X-Plane11 but as soon as we get theaccess we need from Laminar we will embark on XP12 immediately.
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