So you've installed X-Plane 12, now what? For many of us, we are now selecting from between one and four different flight simulator-style programs on our systems. Scan your desktop, how many are you running? Have you installed X-Plane 11, X-Plane 12, MSFS 2020, DSC, Prepar3D? I mean the industry went from having a choice of the "old" Microsoft FSX, Prepar3D and X-Plane 10/11 to a litany of flight simulation choices. Each program has advantages and disadvantages. This is NOT an "us versus them" article. Frankly, I think each one of these flight simulators is great in their own way. As mentioned in my previous article, "X-Plane 12 is out! Our Initial Thoughts" I found the comparison alluring, but not necessary. The fact is, DSC is great for stunning combat action and graphics. MSFS 2020 is innovative in their use of mapping models and graphics. Prepar3D crafted an experience that allows for accurate modeling of different aircraft. Of course, the XP suite of software are a combination of flight models, graphics, realism and interaction between pilots and air traffic controllers.
That being said, I am basically committed to Laminar Research and their products. One might ask why? It is a combination of factors that increases my immersion. At the risk of being called an XP "fan boy", I would like to remind readers that I have been "flying" flight simulators since I was a child - around 1984 on Apple IIe computers - exclusively Microsoft until they let their product fall off. For those who are committed X-Plane enthusiasts, you are most likely at a crossroads, just as I am. I have been ever-tweaking my X-Plane 11 settings, add-ons and aircraft for the better part of two years. Although the continued updates by Austin Meyer kept me aware of the highly anticipated launch of XP 12, I continued to enjoy my XP 11. Then it happened! The last day of the Labor Day holiday - BOOM - X-Plane 12 beta was ready for take-off.
As mentioned in my previous post about our Initial Thoughts of XP12, it was exciting to see this new piece of software come to fruition. However, as I am sure you quickly realized, now I have all of this scenery, aircraft and utility software I am not sure will convert, can convert or convert correctly. A streak of frustration and fear ran through my veins. Truth-be-told, after about two days of XP 12 beta flying, I actually uninstalled it. Not that I didn't enjoy some of the features, but I guess I was just more familiar and "happy" in the XP 11 world. After about a day of watching posts, listening to other comments, I decided to install the paid beta version of XP 12 again and see if I could work with what the Laminar Research team had delivered.
As the XP 12 welcome screen appeared, I began to take deep breaths. I discovered I could copy over several plug-ins and they worked right away. Once again, BRAVO 737 mentioned several that worked immediately in our previous conversation. I flew a few "test flights" tweaked, became frustrated and started again, and again, and again. Finally, I realized maybe I would have to accept the fact I was standing at the starting line of a race I had already finished. Just before I resigned myself to deleting my copy of XP 11, I thought to myself, "Wait! I don't have to do that right now." The thought of removing XP 11 and all of the files, scenery, etc. was like losing my best friend. I just couldn't do it. Luckily, I have several SSD and HD, so space isn't an issue for me.
Now, I have two versions of X-Plane on my computer - so what, right?! But here is the internal struggle that comes over me every time I turn on my computer. Which icon do I click? The truth is, after a couple of weeks with XP 12 on my system, I have dialed-in the new sim as much as I think it can be, at least until the beta version fleshes out a bit more. Do I move forward and fly flights on VATSIM, streaming and others in the new XP 12 with the ever-nagging question about crashing-to-desktop, unknown bugs, errors, etc. OR do I go back to my old friend, XP 11 knowing it is a little older, but a proven system? The answer is, you can use both! What I love about the new XP 12 beta is the fact it is a work-in-progress. It can be refined, molded and shaped. It is a test bed which I can use to really craft and create. Do I fly in XP 12, yes! I have flown five full flights. Of those, two were successful and three had either scenery, aircraft, weather or other errors. Once, the sim just froze! UGH!
That's ok! I still have XP 11 which allows me to fly. I can plan, file, connect and fly as much as I want. XP 11 is still viable. It is still as great as it was before. The reality is, XP 11 will eventually go away. But instead of divorcing myself from it immediately, I have the luxury of bidding it a long farewell. Thus, when you hear the callsign,"BISON26" screaming across the globe, I am most likely flying in an XP 11 world. However, when you see a BRAVO737 painted Boeing parked in the corner of KTUL with little-to-no radio contact, I am diving deep into the XP 12 experience preparing for the next update, the next tool and the next time I can file a flight plan in XP12 knowing I will make it successfully to my planned destination.