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Fall 2022 Development Update


turbofandude

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Fall 2022 Development Update

It has certainly been a while since our last update, but we were holding off making a post to add some highly anticipated features. In the background, we have made significant changes to our infrastructure to support the productivity of our developers and our supporting roles.

With that being said, we would like to welcome @Ethanb_UK to his new role as Support Representative, and @lscott122 on his promotion to Community Manager. We look forward to seeing what both individuals can contribute to their new roles and how it will make a difference to our customers every day.

We've got some exciting content to share today, so read on for more (yes, we know the videos are low resolution; this is to assist in viewing and uploading).

 

PACX

Although we periodically update PACX, it’s due for something new and exciting. @lscott122 and @Jishwaah have been working in the background preparing for the upcoming Voice Packs Expansion!

The Voice Packs Expansion will add a whole slew of new voices (in both their native tongue and English) to further enhance the realism and localization of the PACX experience. With that said, we are pleased to confirm the following languages for the update: 

  • English (United Kingdom, English language only)

  • Australian (English language only) 

  • Spanish

  • German 

  • French 

  • Mandarin 

  • Japanese 

  • Portuguese 

  • Arabic 

As for the question that will inevitably get asked, we do not have an exact release date, but we are targeting a release during Q1 of 2023. 

We are now also hiring for voice actors to support PACX development by lending their voice and becoming virtual cabin crew! This role is open to anybody to apply, regardless of whether they have professional experience or are real-world cabin crew. If you are interested, or know somebody who is, and speak one of the languages above, get in touch today by submitting a short application at https://invernyx.com/apply. Successful applicants will be contacted to arrange an informal interview and to practice with the script before the official recording takes place. If you have any questions about the role, please reach out to Josh Riley via email at jriley[at]invernyx.com.  

 

smartCARS 3 

We have been spending time working on smartCARS 3 behind the scenes. Finally, we are happy to present some solid shots (and a video) of some new features, as well as a more in-depth technical explanation. 

 

Although that doesn’t seem like a great deal of functionality, what is happening under the hood is quite significant. As we have mentioned before, smartCARS 3 is a platform, not simply an application. This platform allows developers (both third-party and first party) to add functionality at any time. What you are seeing above is this concept in practice. 

The flights page seen above is a plugin that we ship with smartCARS 3. That plugin manages your bid flights, will let you search and book a new one, and of course, will let you start a flight the way a smartCARS user expects. The difference is that if a virtual airline wanted to customize their booking experience (think dispatch system, etc.), they could simply create a plugin with our documented SDK that would entirely replace our booking system while still allowing users to benefit from the rest of the smartCARS experience. 

Plugins can add menu icons, provide background services, and interact with the rest of the application with the same level of access we are using to develop core functionality. This means that the days of having to develop or purchase a custom ACARS for a virtual airline are over. You can simply leverage smartCARS and customize it to suit the exact needs of your users. 

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Above, we see the new “Virtual Airline Selector” experience. By default, partner virtual airlines will be displayed with their logo visible. A user can search for their virtual airline via that box and select the appropriate one. You will be able to link virtual airline accounts to your TFDi Design account to make restoring previously selected VAs easier. 

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This new ease of use will not come at the expense of virtual airline customization, however. Virtual airlines will still be able to have custom icons, change colors, modify behavior, and give users shortcuts to launch directly to their instance of smartCARS. 

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Under the hood, there is a plugin repository system, notification system, and inter-plugin communication system driving backend of smartCARS 3. With those features out of the way, you can expect to see significantly more visual progress as we approach the alpha testing/developer preview phase of the development lifecycle. 

 

MD-11 

The highly anticipated TFDi Design MD-11 is progressing well and we are thrilled to announce that the aircraft should be released by the end of September, 2023. We are still leaving this to be very ambiguous, as we would like to allow some breathing room for any issues that may crop up. 

Since our last development update, we have welcomed another 3D modeler to the aircraft design team, with @arwasairl taking up the work on our newly modelled MD-11 cabin. The virtual cabin will allow you to move around the aircraft freely and get the experience of an airline passenger during your own simulator flights. Initial tests in P3D V5.2, the performance impact of the cabin was negligible. It will still be optimized before release, of course, and for those working on more performance constrained systems, we will provide an option to disable it entirely. 

Below are some in-sim screenshots of the cabin! Our cabin is based on the KLM 3-class configuration, so there may be some variances from cabin pictures you may have seen. 

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We have continued work on the systems while the art team has been hard at work on the visual items. The autoflight system has quite a few of its more advanced features in-place. We are still tweaking exact numbers and performance, so we are not going to show it off in-flight just yet, but as of now, the following basic modes all work: 

  • Heading Hold 

  • Vertical Speed Hold 

  • Altitude Hold 

  • Level Change (Speed-On-Pitch) 

  • Speed Hold 

The important thing to note about those modes is that they are the foundation of the more complex modes. We have already worked heavily on the magenta line and navigation data usage (as you can see by the BAYPO9 SID displayed on the ND in the video). We have been really trying to capture the nuances of the autoflight system and it will vary from what you experienced in the 717, even if just slightly. One of the variances in the MD-11 is the pitch up guidance at 80 knots on the flight director (shown below). 

 

 We have also spent quite some time working on the stability assistance systems, the LSAS and RCWS systems. The LSAS is a complex system that assists in landing nose-down authority, speed protection, and pitch smoothing in-flight. We will post another video and/or dev update specifically detailing the ins and outs of the LSAS. We also have the (optional) roll control wheel steering (RCWS) feature. This assists horizontal stability by holding the roll wherever it was left by the pilot. It also will return the aircraft to a standard flight envelope if it is left outside of one (shown in the video below). 

 

Of course, there is the elephant in the room: Microsoft Flight Simulator (MSFS). We have been hard at work testing, optimizing, and refining our code and libraries to run in MSFS. Credit goes to Asobo for correcting a bug in the WASM compiler recently, so that has enabled us to progress further. Rest assured, although we're showing a lot of content in P3D or our standalone environment, nearly all of this progress translates directly to MSFS. We will have updates dedicated solely to MSFS progress over the next few months as we progress toward a fully flyable state.

 

Community 

Discord has recently released a forum feature for channels, and this has prompted an internal discussion from some of our team about the future of the forums on the website and changing to a standalone blog for our development and news updates. A transitional period will then take place as we train our staff and moderators about how to manage the forum topics and how support will be given to customers who request it on Discord, and how downloads will be done. 

Our Discord has proven to be popular and active amongst our community. Please let us know your thoughts, as well – we want to ensure the best experience for our customers and followers as well as paving a more efficient path for our support staff to assist when needed. 

 

Closing 

As always, we greatly appreciate your support! As we end the quiet period of development on both the MD-11 and smartCARS 3, we are happy to start sharing more with everyone as we progress toward an exciting product line-up over the next year.

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