The full release of X-Plane 12 is now at hand after a series of 14 beta updates and 6 release candidates. The latest edition of this sim with its long legacy continues on with a host of new features. There’s also more to come.
Version twelve point zero
Fans of Laminar Research’s X-Plane series will no doubt be rejoicing at the release of the latest edition of X-Plane. Version 12, as many regular readers will know, brings with it a whole series of updates including core changes to the sim that unlock new potential performance levels, Vulkan API as standard, new volumetric clouds, Laminar’s 4D weather system, new trees, environmental effects like puddles on runways, new autogen assets, and a bunch of new default aircraft.
Yesterday, Laminar Research indicated that release candidate 6 was now officially the full release of the sim. The last couple of updates have brought in additional tweaks to the lighting system and solved a lot of bugs.
There are also some things still on the table that appear not to be quite ready for release. These are listed under known issues on the X-Plane release notes website. Here they are for reference purposes:
- Master-external visual networking
- New XPLM APIs
- Airbus A330 FMC
In progress features:
- Tuning lighting & fog
- LIT textures
- VR holodeck lighting
- Far trees don’t look great
- Better cloud shapes, especially cirrus
- Performance tuning
Of these, I suspect additional performance tuning, cloud and lighting improvements, and the A330 FMC (replicating an Airbus MCDU) will be some of the standout features that are still awaiting release in future updates.
Modern software releases have made the boundary between beta, release candidate, full release, and future support very fuzzy. Laminar have been making available a multitude of beta updates followed by release candidates with seemingly little difference between the release and beta strategy. Traditionally, release candidates and even beta tests tend to not incorporate new features but are tests for the content already developed. Here, however, things were still being added in the release candidate stage.
And more features, including the ones above, are slated to come later. Development will likely not stop although one assumes that the Laminar Research team will probably take some time off around the holidays. Once they are back at it, I expect updates will be forthcoming for quite some time and if X-Plane 11 is instructive, we’ll see new features and revolutionary changes to the sim coming years down the road.
We know thanks to Community Leader ‘triplemon’ on the X-Plane.org Forums that release candidate 5 was intended to incorporate some of the changes to the global scenery set but that there were issues with the release and only the demo area of X-Plane saw these changes.
Additional updates are planned for later on as well. A post release version incorporating some more significant scenery improvements and reopening the door to the scenery gateway submission process.
All not-so-catastrophic scenery bugs, OSM data updates, a good number of features and Global Scenery visual enhancements originally planned for the XP12.00 release will only come out with a minor X-Plane release right after X-Plane 12.00 is officially released. So scenery gateway submissions will also have to wait until that has happened.triplemon on the X-Plane.org Forums
I criticized Laminar Research for not fully addressing scenery in X-Plane during the beta process and they are still somewhat tight lipped on what exactly is coming but I am hopeful that the default scenery for X-Plane 12 will take some leaps forward. Looking forward to this future update!
So there you have it, X-Plane 12 is now “released” but as with all sims these days, this is just the end of the beginning. There’s more to come.