Welcome to the home page of Faelandaea. Here you will find information about me personally.

Category: Journal

The Best of the Best – Aircraft for P3Dv3

During my streams I am asked often, “What is your favorite aircraft?” To be honest, that depends on my mood. However, I suppose it is more easier to assess the question as “What aircraft do you recommend?”  Now THAT is a different story altogether, because when it comes to recommending aircraft for others, it goes beyond mood … now it becomes a matter of quality and simulation.  And let’s face it, this IS a simulator, so simulation IS what we all truly want.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at which aircraft I would recommend for any category …

 

Single Engine Land – The GA Pilot

When it comes to the basics, and the passion, our roots always lie in General Aviation.  I took my introductory flight and a few lessons in a Cessna 150.  But the bulk of my PPL training took place in a Cessna 172M – N9614H.  She is no longer owned by the FBO I trained at, AND she has even been repainted, but I will always have her in my heart.  It is with that in mind that I fell in love with the closest possible thing in the Flight Sim World – A2A’s Cessna 172 Trainer:

She may be another model, but her numbers … her performance … everything matches right up with the Cessna I learned to fly in, right down to weight and balance.  With full simulation of wear and tear on systems, as well as a dynamic passive system that actually simulates the aircraft in the hangar … with your PC not even on … it is truly remarkable.  If you do not fly this bird at least once a month, it will let you know, and you will likely be looking forward to an extra oil change if that happens.

Once you get the GA basics down and get your PPL, you can move on to more complex versions of SEL aircraft.  For this I VERY highly recommend the Cessna 182 from A2A …

She has a full array of options, including integration for the AWESOME Flight1 GTN650 and GTN750 systems.  And she handles so beautiful.  She makes her way into many of my streaming adventures.

For those who like low-wing operations, A2A also has a VERy wonderful pair for you … the Cherokee 180 and Comanche 250 (Screenshots not included here, but their web site can show you what you need).

To take a look at these beautiful birds, hop on over to A2A simulations HERE!

For the Twin Engine GA Pilot

While A2A simulations dominates in the SEL (Single Engine Land) category, Flight1 came in on top for my twin engine aircraft of choice.  This covers both prop and jet transition, with their B200 and Mustang fitting the bill quite nicely.

The B200 is an outstanding simulation, not only being an esier learning curve in the Turboprop range, but also carrying that responsibility and complecity that comes with the basic operation of any aircraft.  Mismanaging your flaps, engines, gear, brakes or other systems will yield in failures and extra maintenance, so take good care of her.  But, take good care of her and she will indeed take good care of you.  And she is a dream to fly.

Once you feel you are ready for jets, transitioning from the B200 into the Cessna Citation Mustang becomes a breeze, as Flight1 has integrated the same G1000 avionics system into both aircraft.  This alone clears a huge learning curve between the two categories, as not all you have to work on is the dynamics and procedures of jet training.

Oddly enough, the fact that the mustang flies really no faster than the B200 makes it easier for me to decide what mood I am in on a given day … Prop or Jet.  And the fact that the Mustang is not a speeding bullet makes her an easier choice for jet transition.

I’d also like to include ESDG here as their Mustang has some great reviews, but I have not had the pleasure of flying that one since the old FS2004 days, so I do hope to be able to try V2 out in a few paychecks from now.

In the meantime, have a gander at the Citation Mustang and Beechcraft King Air B200 over at Flight1 Software.

Into the ATP World – Regional Airliners

It is absolutely, positively, no contest when it comes to deciding my choice for regional turbo-props.  Majestic Software nailed it right on in all aspects with their MJC8 Q400 Turboprop aircraft.  One would be hard pressed to find a single country in the entire world that does not see one of these fine aircraft flying somewhere within it at some time or other.  She looks cool, she sounds cool, and she handles cool.  I started with the Pilot Edition and very quickly ended up upgrading tot he pro edition, which adds on a HUD and some extra back-end options.

As for regional jetliners, I have been searching high and low and have yet to find one that I even like … BUT … Aerosoft GmbH has recently announced they are in testing phases on a CRJ series.  I plan to hold out until this comes to light, but rest assured with Aerosoft quality that CRJ will most likely end up in this list for sure.

In the meantime, stop on over to Majestic Software to have a go at their Q400.

And of Course … The Airliners

To be honest, I am a lover of both Boeing and Airbus aircraft.  However i find myself flying Airbuses more and more, not because of any preference I have to the aircraft, but because of the outstanding customer service I receive from the developers.  When you buy an aircraft from them, they treat you like a customer.  PMDG, which is where the niche is for Boeing Aircraft … well … they developer fantastic simulations, but they have absolutely no human regard for their customers at all.

I drop close to 100 bucks on their 777, then a few moths later make the switch to P3D.  All other developers, Aerosoft included, easily accommodated my transfer and I managed to keep the products I own and love.  Even majestic gave me a license for both.  However, PMDG’s stance on someone in my situation is, “We don;t care how much money you’ve given us … you don;t get so much as a discount on anything at PMDG!”  Wow.  just wow.  So I get the “honor” of dropping ANOTHER 100 bucks … wait … MORE than 100 bucks … for some BS “license” to use the SAME product in P3D.  Utter BS indeed.

Thus, it is with customer service and how we as customers are treated in mind that i am NOT going to include PMDG and Boeing in this article today.  Sorry, PMDG.  Even other developers who do have separate product licenses at LEAST offer a discount.  Oh well.  Instead, I will stay on the Airbus side and show you the wonderful world that is Airbus:

For those wanting to get into the heavier long hauls, they are currently developing an A330 that I will be very excited to open my wallet for.  But in the meantime, you can sink your teeth into their Airbus Bundle, which includes the A319, 320 and 320 for a great price.

That’s all, folks.  I know I fly lots of other aircraft in the simulator, but these are the ones I would take seriously when recommending to any avid simulation enthusiast.

Changing of the Guard

Okay, so maybe not the guard, but there will be a changing of my controllers this month. They are bulky and not that easy to swap out constantly, so I tend to do my simulation games in rotations based on major releases. This month, Farming Simulator 17 releases. Also, there has been a LOT of changes to Euro Truck Simulator 2 (ETS2), as well as American Truck Simulator (ATS). So on October 25th, I’ll be changing out my CH Flight Yoke and Pedals for my Logitech G27 Shifter, Pedals and Wheel.

As such, my Twitch Stream will also be focusing on driving type games rather than flight. At least for the time being. I am trying to rotate out every few months to keep both hobbies alive for me.

In other areas of gaming, I have been trying some new things. I watched the Anime titled Arpeggio of Blue Steel (I hope I spelled that right) and it got me into a naval mood, so I decided to give World of Warships (WoWs) a try. It was amazing to start playing the game and find out that they actually have special events where you can earn ARP ships. Totally blew me away. I always thought WoWs was pure historical ships, but it turns out the ARP thing is kind of a big deal in this game. You even have the option of the Yokosuka port, which you have to be stationed in to see ARP content.

I also bought Naval Action from Steam … and played it for 1 hour … then got a refund. I understand the game is in Alpha, but it certainly has a LONG LONG LONG way to go before even coming close to being called a game instead of a concept. Fortunately, Steam can refund you if you have played less than 2 hours of the game, and they promptly did so. Thank you, Steam.

As for Final Fantasy XIV (FFXIV), I tried to get back into it, but found I am still on burnout from it. So I’ll just keep checking every couple of months on my house. I do plan to sub to Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR) and catch up on the stories there. I have honestly been enjoying the new storyline, but hate the fact that it is pretty much turning the game into an online single player game, and these new companions you work so hard to get are only usable sometimes. I understand immersion and all that, but you’d think you would be able to go back and visit a planet, not necessarily doing missions, and be able to use the companions you earned from before. Regardless, I still enjoy the story, so every few months I re-sub and catch up.

Well, that’s my gaming update. I’ve made a decision that I want to sync up my posts with VF, Facebook, Twitter and my own web site, so regardless of where I know you, you’ll be reading this on your own terms and not chasing me down elsewhere for updates. 🙂

Time for work, so until next time, all. Be safe.

American Truck Simulator – The Review

One thing that has always been a constant in my life is simulation games.  I take them very seriously.  Simulation games have actually been responsible for real life career moves I have managed to get into.  Years ago, flight simulation resulted in my curiosity leading me to take a flight lesson in real life.  About 6 years later I was a commercial pilot and working hard in the aviation industry.  Now, due to medical issues, I have had to leave the commercial aviation business, although I still fly as a private pilot locally.  I have gotten into other simulation games such as Farming Simulator 15, Euro Truck Simulator 2, and Scania Truck Driving Simulator. Most recently, American Truck Driving Simulator has grabbed my attention.  Notice a pattern there?  It seems I have taken up a love for driving commercial trucks.

American Truck Driving Simulator has grabbed a LOT of controversial reviews from the internet.  Whenever SCS posts a blog about something, there are the usual trolls and all-out attention seeking crybabies that thrash around looking for attention on every single post – from Akula being his usual “I supposedly hate this game so much but I am posting here more than even the fan boys do,” to someone else posting for Hungarian paint jobs on literally everything, even if it is not even related to Europe.  It’s amusing, to be honest.  However, there is a disturbing trend as of late of even loyal SCS fans starting to cry out against American Truck Simulator.  What is happening here?  Well, let’s take a look.

One of the primary out-cries focuses on the same, outdated game engine being used.  For the most part, ATS is being looked upon as just a re-hashed ETS2 map with American textures applied.  When I play ATS, I love the American feel.  California feels like California, and the scenery feels like America.  But, when it comes to prefabs and the game engine, those crying out are actually correct.  There are SOME original prefabs used in ATS that were not used in ETS2, but for the most part, over 75% of all the prefabs are just reskinned ETS2 Scandinavia DLC assets.  Admittedly, with all of the new engine technologies out there for simulation games, I was surprised SCS stuck to their old engine to create a new software title. 

When confronted about this, the stand by SCS is that using the same engine and file structure enables the modding community to easily make mods for both ATS and ETS2.  At first I supported this, and was actually very excited about the idea, but once the release came and the game went live, I was quickly plagued by the worst part of this idea ever.  The modding site I like to download from – http://atsmods.lt/ – was plagued almost instantly with people slamming piles of European crap all over it.  Scanias and other cab overs, European trailers … pretty much everyone went rampant with trying to port over every ETS2 asset they could into this beloved American environment.  I had to sift through pages of useless, unrelated Euro models just to find a mod that was actually American.  I’m not racist, and I love Europeans.  But this was supposed to be an American game, and it took literally over a month before the mods on that site started to match the theme.  It was frustrating.  Even today people keep trying to upload mods that convert the game to Russian languages, etc. trying to convert it into another ETS2.  So I have officially gone from excited over cross-compatibility to being seriously disappointed and regretting my support of the idea.

Another outcry of the community, and this one I am a part of, is the scale of the map.  One of the things I hated the most about ETS2 was their map scale and how time flows on that game.  I literally refused to move the truck until I opened the console and typed in “warp 0.8” so that I could at least somewhat move the truck without feeling like Mario Andretti.  ETS2 was on a 1:19 scale, so it felt like there wasn’t much detail at all there and that getting between cities just took too long.  I always felt more like a short-haul package delivery guy than an OTR driver in the game.  A lot of people argue that making a simulation like this 1:1 would be far too boring and that “No one does that and succeeds” … for those who say that, I’d have to draw your attention to great flight simulation games that game me HOURS upon HOURS of enjoyment, such as FSX and Prepar3D, among others.  Those were 1:1, real-time simulators with great realism involved.

So what was so great about 1:1 simulation games such as the flight simulators I mentioned?  More choices.  People on the “keep the scale small” side of the debate argue that if the scale is 1:1, they won’t be able to drive any routes and the game will quickly become very boring.  However, in 1:1 scale simulation games, we get the chance to make that choice for ourselves.  If ATS were 1:1, we could make our own choice:  drive a short route, or make progress on an long haul route.  One of the most satisfying things I did in flight simulation was to make a flight around the world.  I’d spend a few hours per day on a leg of the flight, not only performing all of the procedures of a real world pilot, but taking in scenery that I will probably never have the chance to enjoy in real life.  Once I started growing tired of being in the game, I’d land, and the next day or so I’d plan my next leg and continue from there.  The very same could be done with ATS. 

So do you remember how I stated above that ETS2 was on a 1:19 scale and bugged the heck out of me?  Well, get this.  If you are not already aware, ATS is on a 1:35 scale.  What does that mean?  That’s right – time flies … fast.  I have to literally struggle to drive the truck any distance at all before nighttime sets in.  I never get the satisfaction of doing a long drive because even driving all the way across two entire states takes a total of maybe half an hour.  No matter how much I try to immerse myself into the simulation aspect of driving in a game like this, I literally cannot spend more than a couple of hours in ATS due to boredom and frustration over the scale.  At this point, even if they reverted to the 1:19 scale they used in ETS2 I’d jump for joy.  1:35 … that’s simply too small.  I can understand such a scale in ETS2.  But in ATS, we really need the feel of long-haul OTR driving.  Even when other states release, trying to get the feel of a long drive isn’t going to happen, because every few minutes the sun is going to set, and even with HDR on I absolutely hate night driving in the SCS game engine.  I play ETS2 and ATS to take in scenery while operating big trucks.  It is hard to do that when daytime is so short.

This next issue has gotten mixed responses on the forums, but to those of us who actually drive in real life, it is a HUGE issue.  The infrastructure in the game is far from realistic for an American environment.  Freeways NEVER come to an intersection – ever.  You will never come to a stoplight or intersection on an interstate freeway.  In order to access a freeway, even out in rural areas, you need to use an exit/overpass.  In rural areas, we have small roads called “frontage roads” that go along the side of the highway for local traffic to access farms, businesses, homes, etc. that lie alongside the interstate.  For someone there to access the interstate, they need to get on the frontage road and drive until they come to an entrance ramp for the interstate. 

Speed limits are also a huge issue, and are actually related to what I mentioned above.  On an interstate, in every state in America, the MINIMUM speed limit is 55.  On average in populated areas it is more like 65.  Then when you get out into rural areas, it becomes more like 70 to 80 miles per hour.  This is also tied in with the map scale.  Even with a high horsepower engine, on my longest haul I can NEVER get to an actual truck freeway speed limit before having to slam on my brakes due to some ridiculous low speed coming out of nowhere for any number of reasons.  There are sections where road construction brings freeway speed limits down to 30 MPH.  That never happens in real life.  Here in Colorado, unless the road construction is REALLY major, speed limits in a construction zone drop to maybe 55.  The lowest I have ever seen it is in the middle of Denver, where the major T-Rex project occasionally had sections that dropped traffic to 45.  And that was in the middle of a metro area.

Speaking of intersections and speed – that brings me to two other things which I have found I am not alone on in ATS – signs and wrong signs.  I’ll start with the wrong signs.  NEVER in my many many years of driving all across America have I seen a stop sign at an intersection that has a traffic light.  In game, however, you’d think we had this at literally every intersection in America.  All intersections in the game, regardless of if they have a traffic light or not, have a stop sign.  Now, I suppose this could be considered a small cosmetic issue and could be ignored, except you have an aspect in the game that does NOT ignore this – the AI traffic.  I have had to sit through MANY green lights, not able to move, because the AI traffic in front of me ignores the traffic light and stops at the stop sign, treating the intersection as if it is a 4-way stop.  I posted about this on the forums, and out of many people involved in the conversation, I had only one individual reply that stated he has ever seen a sign at a traffic light like that.  I did Google searches, and researched as much as I could, and although some light intersections have stop signs NEAR them which sometimes confuse drivers because of frontage roads, etc., there has never been a stop sign actually posted AT an intersection that has a light.  It makes no sense, it is confusing, and confusion on a roadway makes driving dangerous.  SCS absolutely needs to get rid of these signs or at LEAST program AI to ignore them when a traffic light is there.

The other sign issue is size.  In order to not add too much excessive length to this article, I’ll simply refer you to this forum thread I started on the issue:  http://forum.scssoft.com/viewtopic.php?f=185&t=202823.  Speed limit and other critical signs on freeways are far too small.  Based on the models used in the game compared with the scale of trucks, it appears that the developers chose to only use residential signs for everything, and DOT standards in the US clearly make this not a safe issue.  Freeway signs are huge compared to residential signs, and when you are going at freeway speeds, regardless of if you are in a truck or a car, you need to be able to see a sign coming up with PLENTY of time to react to that speed change.  In ATS, I find myself looking at my Route Advisor almost entirely to get sped information, as I often do not even see the signs on the freeways.  I have no problem on the 2-lane roads, but on freeways, SCS really needs to start using a scaled freeway size sign for speeds.

So with all of these apparent drawbacks to the game, you might be asking, “What makes you stay?  Would you recommend this game to someone else?”  I am going to have to be completely honest with myself here – the only thing keeping me interested in ATS at the moment is the fact that it is a sandbox for my own creativity.  I make models in Blender – PRIVATE mods used only for myself in the game.  I do not upload any of my mods.  I tried that once and almost immediately my work got drug into a major AI traffic mod by an author I actually respect, but received no credit and not so much as an email asking “hey, can I use your stuff?”  But, I digress.  As far as ATS goes, creating stuff, and then seeing it come to life in a game environment, seems to be the only thing holding me to spending any time in ATS at the moment.  Arizona is supposed to release soon, and I suppose I’ll take a break from Blender and drive the roads of it for a few days.  But, as with California and Nevada, due to the scale I’ll quickly run out of roads, and get bored again.

Would I recommend ATS for a new customer?  Possibly.  Even with these drawbacks, there are people out there who might enjoy ATS as a game.  We have to remember a VERY important note that just because the word “Simulation” is in a game title does NOT make it a simulation.  “Simulator” is now a game genre that simply says, “Okay, this is not an MMO, FPS, racing, TPS or 2D arcade game.  The only thing left is “Simulator” for the genre, so let’s put it there.”  I have had some people argue with me on that regard, to which they quickly shut up when I link them to the web site for “Goat Simulator.”  Anyway, with that in mind, if someone is looking for a casual gameplay experience and simply loves trucks, I might recommend this game for them.  If someone wants a more in-depth actual simulator experience, with detail, long hauls and total immersion, then ATS is definitely not the game for you. 

Unlike Flight Simulator, this is a game, not a simulator, and should be treated as such.  Only when we gain features such as 1:1 scale, system failures resulting from lack of maintenance, varying economy and much better time scale will this game come even close to being considered a simulator.  The only realism feature that some folks have asked for that I support SCS on NOT including is visual damage, mainly due to licensing.  No truck manufacturer is going to license their truck to see it utterly destroyed all over YouTube, so for the purposes of getting more brands into our game, I completely understand not having visual damage. 

In conclusion, I have to say that I am a hardcore SCS fan who desperately wants to support and see the Truck Simulator franchise succeed.  However I am disappointed thus far in how ATS has turned out, and hope with all hoping that in the future, SCS listens to serious fans such as myself and brings this franchise up to par. 

American Truck Simulator PROS:

  1. American environment
  2. American trucks
  3. New environment with new textures.
  4. Good game for the casual gamer who seeks more quick fun than immersion.
  5. Recognizable landmarks, such as the Golden Gate Bridge, Las Vegas Strip, etc.

_

American Truck Simulator CONS:

  1. Map scale way too small.  1:35 is ridiculous.
  2. Re-hashed engine from an already outdated game.
  3. Simulation speed still unrealistic.  Have to use “warp 0.8” to get an accurate feel for driving.
  4. Same game structure is allowing the mod sites to be flooded with unrealistic European stuff from ETS2.  Scanias do not belong on American roads, even though in ETS2 I am a Scania fan.
  5. Graphics becoming dated for today’s gaming technologies – again due to the decision o keep the same outdated game engine.
  6. Stop signs at traffic lights making AI mess up any experience of immersion.
  7. Speed limit signs on freeways too small.
  8. Road infrastructure highly unrealistic, with crazy speed limit changes, intersections on freeways and scale making it almost impossible to keep a steady speed before one of these obstacles forces you to slam to a halt.

Track IR 5 with Pro Clip

So in anticipation of getting my Track IR, I watched YouTube videos on setting it up with games I already have. For Farming Simulator,  it is literally a bloody nightmare, but I am working on that even as I type this.  However, for games like ETS2, it works natively and even has built in profiles to work properly with those games.  I hopped into ETS2 … crashed … realized major patches had come out that broke my mods, and started a new profile.  Ah the joys of a modded game being updated.  But either way, after starting a new profile and hopping into the truck, all i can say is WOW!

Now – a little bit of history here.  I had Track IR already once – years and years ago.  I think it was version 3 at the time.  I’m not sure.  But I was pretty much exclusively an armchair pilot who went on to real flying afterwards.  But in the simulator – FSX – I was strictly a virtual flight deck pilot.  In the virtual flight deck, especially on advanced airliners like the PMDG 737, there were gazillions of knobs and such to click with the mouse to have a smooth flight.  At the time, TIR was so sensitive to my head movement, that I ended up actually sending it back for a refund because I could not hold my head still enough at all to click a single knob on the flight deck.  It made for a very interesting – and very disastrous – test flight that ended in me closing out the game else I’d eventually crash the plane anyway.

Now, years later and coming into 2016, I have been doing a lot of driving games that do NOT need knobs, etc switched on and off around me.  Whatever I do need is hard mapped to buttons on my Logitech G27 setup that I use.  Thus, I decided to give TIR another try.  I am glad i did, but there are some things I;’d like to post here to help save some people some money:

Do NOT bother with the “Pro Clip” add-on.  It;s junk.  Not only does it add an extra wire to the side of your headset for the cat to play with, but it just doesn’t work – at all.  You will see many YouTubers who got it to work, but they are advanced programmers and geniuses who did scripting or something to get it that way, because I guarantee you they didn’t just slide a few sliders and get this thing to work.  No matter what I tried, even positioning the clip just like the ONE YouTube poster who actually posted his clip (straight vertical), it would not read my head properly.  I;d turn left – the camera would go UP and left.  I look right, camera goes DOWN and right.  It kept thinking I was rolling my head somehow.  It also was VERY VERY glitch-ridden in the movements, and it was a nightmare.

I had almost given up and once again pondered a second return of the TIR setup when I noticed on my desk the little hat clip I had set aside.  The hat clip is a reflector only version of the head piece, and it is the basic item you get if you do not want to use the track clip pro.  It;’s passive, where the Pro is active (giving off beams of light instead of just being reflectors).  I scrounged around and found a hat, ditched the Track Clip Pro, and restarted the TIR software.  BAM!  I didn’t even have to configure anything and it worked out beautifully.  All i had to do was hit the hotkey to re-center the camera based on ym new clip position and I was in business.  It was right after that when I went into ETS2 and had a wonderful set of 2 drives with this thing on.

I’ll have to keep posting and let folks know how it works in FS15.  I am following Reef’s awesome advice here:  http://fs-uk.com/forum/index.php?topic=169990.msg1195394#msg1195394

Anyway, for those considering TIR, save your money and just get TIR 5.  Don’t bother with the Track Clip Pro.  I should have researched more, because a Google Search actually found a LOT of people out there who had the same struggle I am having, or different struggles, which all ended the same – with them using the basic hat clip and tossing the Pro Clip back in the box.

SWTOR Character Progress

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