A preview of features for Flightgear 3.2

Flightgear is constantly under development and as the feature freeze for the next 3.2 release approaches, it is becoming increasingly clear what the next version will have to offer to users:

Missions

The Flightgear world is becoming more interesting…

A mission subsystem is being added. This allows to define tasks to be completed by a player which then receives points. Visual guidance symbols can be used to indicate the location of the next task. The mission system combines with the Milestone 4 release of the walker,and thus more complex adventures can be built in which the player has to exit an aircraft and walk to a certain location.

The walker subsystem now allows for more complex animated motion and adds NPCs, characters with whom a player can interact. Also, check out the selection of cars and motorbikes to explore the Flightgear world!

Cloud shadows

Finally some shade!

Cloud shadows are notoriously difficult to render, but for Advanced Weather in combination with the Atmospheric Light Scattering rendering framework, there is now an experimental option to add them (at least close to the aircraft) to the experience.

Earthview

See the world from high up!

Introduced to provide better visuals for the spacecraft in Flightgear, Earthview is an alternative rendering engine intended for use at high altitudes. It renders Earth as a simple, textured sphere surrounded by a cloud sphere. The textures are provided by the NASA Visible Earth project. By default, a set of 2048×2048 textures is distributed, but Earthview is intended to allow easy access for users who want to install their own hires texture set. At full resolution of about 21000×21000 pixels per texture provided by NASA, it looks simply spectacular even from just 50 km altitude – see the Vostok capsule above entering the atmosphere.

Built-in http server

Access the property tree in a novel way!

Flightgear now includes the Mongoose web server as a httpd. This allows for interesting new application, for instance merging information from Flightgear and OpenStreetMap or Mapquest, leading to a new moving map application covering the whole world is available which tracks the airplane’s position.

Cloud drawing distance

See clouds out to the horizon!

Flightgear’s weather rendering so far has not been up to the task of showing a plausible view from high altitude. But this has now changed – a new framerate-friendly impostor technique is used to render clouds out to the horizon – wherever that may be (the system has been tested for 1000 km visibility from low Earth orbit).

Rendering improvements

Visuals keep getting better!

Lots of work has been done on the small details. New tree textures at higher resolutions make the forests actually look nice. Novel noise function are used to improve the visuals of snow on steep terrain slopes, to change tree height in discrete patches mimicking patterns of forest management, or to remove tiling artifacts from large-scale agriculture. Enjoy all the details the new version will have to offer.

And many improvements more!

Much work is done under the hood which is not obviously visible:

* The YASim flight dynamics engine is finally being developed further, with some long-standing bugs and limitations being addressed for the time being
* Ground interactions have been added to the JSBSim flight dynamics engine
* a new text-to-speech message is about to replace the old pre-recorded ATIS messages, adding a lot of flexibility
* an interface for allowing add-ons that use FSUIPC (an addon framework for Microsoft Flight Simulator) to talk to FlightGear
* osgEarth integration is still on the horizon

Stay tuned as we fly towards our next release!

63 thoughts on “A preview of features for Flightgear 3.2”

  1. Just wondering if you could add support or even a separate download file for FlightGear 3.0+ for OS X Yosemite. After I installed Mavericks, I could only run FlightGear 2.12, which was actually not bad. However, with all these new features in FlightGear 3.2, I am starting to feel the urge to install the 3.0+ versions, which cannot be run on Yosemite as of yet. As a matter of fact, with the version that I currently have (FlightGear 2.12), my operating system OS X Yosemite doesn’t even allow me to run that! It has something to do with a change in the Ruby-Cocoa Framework as I am told. Would be a great help and favour if you guys could produce something for these new OS for Mac.

  2. made the mistake of upgrading to os Mavericks (10.9.4) and since FG 3.0 only supports up to 10.8 I’m now out of the frame !! any chance this may be rectified soon ?

  3. Is there a way to activate runway lights for night operations? Attempting a night landing without any lights is a little rough on the gear.

    1. If the airport has runway lighting, FG would show it – this appears to be a bug. Can you report this with more details in the forum and/or the bug tracker?

  4. I’m from India and I have been enjoying FG since V1.9.8, due to some reason wasnt able since V2.4.0, and today when I saw so many updates, and innovations i’m dumbstruck !! FG team u guys are really awesome, diligent and wonderful. Just missing 707, AN 225, F16, Harrier and SU’s…. hope these all are inducted in V3.2 !! Great going !!! Kudos

  5. very good work!
    for the next release i suggest to improve the weather with stormy clouds and turbulence based on metar.
    also i suggest to implement airport services!!
    thank you for your work.

    i love flightgear

    1. Alas, METAR does not report turbulence (much less aloft turbulence) – so it’s quite impossible to model turbulence based on METAR directly. Advanced Weather however tries to gain an understanding of the reported weather situation and models turbulence based on this already (an unstable convective layer with strong winds will usually be turbulent for instance).

      I have to confess I’m at a loss what ‘stormy clouds’ are. Even a hurricane is in essence a Nimbostratus layer with lots of rainfall. Clouds never move with respect to the airmass they are in, they just move very fast with respect to the ground in such a storm, but for that reason, there are no special ‘stormy clouds’. Unless you mean the Cb towers in a thunderstorm, and we have those modeled already.

      1. sorry for the misunderstanding. For stormy clouds i mean clouds with thunder, with lightning and sound, even with water effect on windows, but maybe I’m asking too much :-)
        thank you for attention

        1. Since what you’d hear and see would depend on what airplane you are in, such effects would need to be implemented airplane-side. A few people have started on adding rain sounds to airplanes.

  6. Wow, this will be a very nice release.

    Please add OSX Yosemite support to your todolist. The Rubycocoa-Framework is no longer supported/installed and Flightgear will not even start without it.

  7. I would like to thank all the people who have put time into this wonderful project to make it what it is today. As far as I know, FlightGear is the only GOOD, free, open-source flight simulator.
    Thank you all, and I love the new distance clouds! :D

  8. Hello, & thanks for your good program. I have a question: my teacher ask me for SILS (software in the loop simulation) to connect between C code & Flightgear(your program) .
    I don’t know what to do. please help me….

  9. Thanks for the continued work on this project!

    I am assuming the Mongoose web server / map integration is only working with mapping sites with API’s, correct? If not, could it conceivably be connected to Skyvector.com?

    Thanks!

    John

  10. flightgear is very good now .
    still can and flightgear will be the best simulator in the world
    still can effort!!!!!!

  11. FG has been an awesome achievement for quite a while thanks to many talented, skilled & dedicated people.

    Just keeps getting better!

  12. This is awesome. From my C-64 days, Flight Simulators were always my favorite computer-related recreational activity. I had Fly! for Mac OS 9 and since moving to Mac OS X so many years ago I never again had one. I was at a local airport event that rekindled the interest, and with my young boys, so I came looking to see what was out there. FlightGear is incredibly awesome! But, as with any open source project, there are many spokes of activity and it is hard to see where they are all at. :) This isn’t all bad, just not one project pushed from one developer. :)

    I really am looking forward to the Google Earth scenery integration project, as for casual use, and for my boys, it would be fun to see actual imagery. But that is not to diminish the great work in the existing scenery, it is truly amazing work!

    If it exists I can’t find it, but one thing that makes some videos of other sims look more “realistic” to me is the moving ground traffic. I don’t find that anywhere in FlightGear, but I may not have found it yet. Small thing, but coupled with scenery this breathes life into it for casual users.

    I just wanted to give a little encouragement after reading some of the negative remarks. Thank you so much for the time that is poured into this project, and for sharing it freely.

  13. Wow FlightGear 3.2 looks to be a great SIM! Another fantastic step sideways. 17 years later and there are already two complete aircraft models in the program. Why bother with completing airplanes, or fixing the VASI at KSFO which is used for the manual tutorial. Let’s make little men walk, preferably on the Moon. While you’re at it maybe add 10 or 20 more half finished aircraft models.

    Seriously, why don’t you fix what’s been broken and complained about for years, FIRST.

    Grant B.

    1. Well, seriously, how are we supposed to fix bugs when they’re not reported to the right channels (in this case the scenery team)? It’s the first time I hear about VASI at KSFO. There’s a scenery build scheduled later this year, that’s the time to get the correction in.

      As for aircraft completeness, a simulation is never complete. It just gets closer and closer. Different aircraft maintainers have different aims – some want to create something that is easy to fly and looks good, others delight in implementing all real-life procedures. From the point of view of sim development, FG is just a platform in which you can simulate aircraft, and aircraft maintainers aren’t forced to a particular goal by the project.

      I guess all in all you’re confusing FG with a commercial project in which someone needs to judge your complaints automatically relevant because you paid for it. Different people simply have different ideas on what’s important, and in this case they happen to differ from yours.

    2. This is an open-source project. The developers do not work for you!
      They have made this flight simulator in their spare time for no money, and you should thank them for it instead of complaining about it.

      Thank you all devs!

  14. FG was the original FS for Linux. Yes, I know the Linux Legion is fragmented, opinionated and generally fascinating.

    It would be nice to have a “regroup”; I see some developer activity here… :) and ensire that the core program is fully evaluated by the Debian based (Ubuntu specifically, and the LTS versions explicitly) community, developers and testers (moreso over the Win and MAC, Mobile and other OS users who have a plethora of sims to fly).

    An additional humble request on this regrouping would be to the independant developers of the associated GUI programs, to update, correct and validate their integration into this, the latest FG release.

    Finallt, a big thank you to all, and Happy Flying!
    MRK

  15. Feature to imports fsx aircraft would nice and also flight gear traffic feature with all the liveries that can flyable too would be nice , those 2 features will make people leave fsx for flight gear and your community can grow bigger than fsx, at the moment these 2 important features are missing are putting users off flight gear and they only stick with fsx

    1. Please note that the comments section here is actually a very bad place for feature requests, because almost none of the core developers read this…

      FSX aircraft run internally on a different flight dynamics, they are rendered using DirectX whereas we use OpenGL, the model format is quite different, FG uses an internal scripting language which FSX does not use,… they really have nothing in common except that they simulate aircraft, but the context in which they do is very different. It’s like asking for a conversion tool from video tape to BlueRay – both formats store movies, but they have really nothing else in common :-)

      AI traffic with all available liveries is going to blow your system memory… I’m not sure you really want that. There’s a whole lot of liveries available.

      1. It’s easy to convert from video tape to blueray. Converting FSX planes to FG ones is more akin to converting a movie on DVD to a live theater play.

      2. FlightGear already blows memory. The project is not been correctly supervised, so a lot of code can get in, making it consume 8 GB of RAM which is just ridiculous.

        1. A correct statement would rather be that FG allows the user to choose scenery, LOD ranges, visibility settings and object layer overlays which use lots of memory. Which is desirable for users which have the memory available, but not if the memory is not there.

          However, choosing the less detailed scenery, no object overlays and less ambitious LOD ranges, FG is known to consume less than 2 GB of memory. Basically, maxing out all the options on a lower end system is asking for trouble, but I fail to see that FG would necessarily consume 8 GB independent of user settings. These tests have been made.

          In any case, 3.2 will be somewhat more resource friendly.

  16. I think bug fixes are essential. The current version is crashing quite often. But every time I’m using the reporting functionality, so there should be quite some amount of bug reports available.

    1. The automatic bug report feature is sort of experimental, so don’t rely on it :-/ We’ve had lots of ‘out of memory’ related crashes reported which could be traced back to the 2.0 scenery – which is more resource-demanding than the old world scenery. There are things in motion (e.g. a LOD system for terrain), but it will be a while till they will appear in a release. If something is not related to memory, you probably need to get in touch via the bug tracker and supply additional info.

  17. Good!!! Thanks to the community :)

    I hope it’ll improve stability, FG 3.0 chrashed so frequently to me (single or MP) that I had to switch back to 2.12.1. The latter also crashes, mostly in MP, sometimes I dream about a “resume fly” feature from where it crashed…

    Personally I prefere a simulation like now, not a game you have to unlock planes/airports/etc, there are lots of such games, in FG the spirit is to learn, train, explore. But, related to that, there is a feature I thought to suggest, a personal log with statistics: total and per aircraft hours/miles of flight, number of takeoff/landing, day/night, kind of weather, and things like that.

  18. Some work on the Blender ac3d plugin would be nice.
    Even better would be support for native Blender or Sketchup 3d models

      1. Surely FG supporting another 3d format would fall under development.
        Obviously this would be a lot of work

        Asia is badly supported with additional scenery and the cost of ac3d does not help

        1. I don’t think FG has native code for model loading/rendering, that is all done by OpenSceneGraph, so your request should be directed there.

          As for Asia being badly supported, that’s mainly a question of how active the modeling community in Asia is. FG development supplies the tools, not the models. And… an ac3d license cost me 20 US$ or so. If you had to pay for even half an hour of my work, the bill would be quite a bit higher…

          1. Interesting. What version of Openscenegraph is FG3.x built against?
            Looking at the OSG website, it supports a lot more than ac3d, including 3ds and its own native formats

    1. I agree with that.
      I’m having troubles to export sketchup to ac3d. That’s why Dubai Airport is stopped.
      I think that the use of a payware to develop a free simulator sounds like a non-sense. I think that there could be much more developper with the use of free 3d format.
      However, a very nice new version, hope there had been a lot of bug fixing, because the actual 3.0 is quiet unstable…

      1. I get to hear plenty of assertions ‘If only feature X were there, there’d be much more people developing.’ Past experience of trying to implement feature X has shown that in the vast majority of cases, this turns out to be false. Fact is that many people develop for FG using blender (which is free) just fine. So I don’t see why the situation would be dramatically improved if a native blender format could be used rather than the ac3d exporter for it (which is also free).

  19. I’m missing the satellite/orthophoto scenery overlay option.
    It was promised autumn 2013, didn’t make it to FG 3.0 and was never mentioned again ever since ….

    1. Read again the ‘And many improvements more!’ section…

      Btw – the wording in the last preview with regard to osgEarth was ‘might make it into the 3.0 release’ – that’s slightly different from ‘was promised’. People are working on it, it seems to be a bit more complicated than expected.

  20. The new features mentioned are simply amazing, I believe powerful brains are behind them.

    Again: THANKS to all developers and contributors for this beautiful portal to a fascinating virtual reality.

    I really hope there will be no obligation to unblock anything never, and especially not by amount of miles flied: what I do now most of my FG-time is practicing touch and go in crosswind with propeller planes… apart from flying rallies over incredible scenaries with the new friends I’m meeting while flying in FG. We meet through Mumble where we can talk very well while flying, without occupying frecuencies of controlled airspaces ;D

    The social aspect is quite there already IMHO, even without the mission/gaming dimension.

  21. I hope FG 3.2 will also have:

    - Working fgcom on Linux (only heard 10s of voice comm between 2 people once, other times nothing at all, even when knowing that people were using it)
    - Ability to set a microphone device (not just the same as the default output) and fgcom server
    - Visible highways, motorways, railroads, and smaller roads from OSM (right now I only see some highways and near EHAM some part is missing)
    - Map viewer showing the country outline/borders
    - No major performance hit when GUI elements visible (right now I get a major drop in FPS when there are GUI elements visible, yes, even the menubar gives me lower FPS :( (menubar 10% hit, map viewer 50%))
    - Updated 777 Seattle from git (looks really nice :))
    - 787 with proper working PFD and ND, and no buggy CDU and EFB, and proper working A/P that doesn’t bank 80 degrees :p
    - Added A-10, KC135 and MPCarrier

    Other than that, keep up the good work! :)

    1. Quite a shopping list…

      If there’s a bug in fgcom, it won’t be fixed unless people are aware of it, so I would suggest to file a bug report and be ready to supply additional info.

      3.2 will be an FG release, not a World Scenery release (with 3.0, we made them coincide…), so there won’t be more roads. A problem is that they drive up the scenery vertex count to a point that even high end machines are getting bad framerate hits, so more roads require larger-scale architecture changes (a terrain LOD system).

      I’m hearing about framerate hits when the gui is visible for the first time, that sure sounds like a driver oddity, I have nothing like that on my system and I don’t know anyone who has. Again, unless a bug report is filed and sufficient info can be provided, chances of this being fixed by accident are low.

      Airplanes are really up to the individual maintainers – usually they do commit their work before a release.

      Ah – and I think we do have an A-10 (quite a good one at that), so I don’t really get that point.

      1. I’ll fly to the bug tracker and file some bugs this week then :)

        About the airplanes… these 4 (787, A-10, KC135, MPCarrier) don’t seem to be part of the default installation? I had to download them manually from this website.

        1. Ah well, that’s what you mean. There’s more than 2 GB of airplanes, it’s simply not feasible to include all of them in the base package. So yes, you have to pick the ones you like and download them extra, and that won’t change.

  22. That’s it? Pathetic.. I have to say.

    Also,a lot of work is made to improve the Yasim,what about JSBSim? That FDM doesn’t exist any more or what,not enough sophisticated for you?

    Really,really disappointing. FGSF more and more becomes just a show room ,less and less a proper simulator.

    1. An exercise in trolling?:-) But a fairly pathetic attempt at that – you could at least have tried to get your facts right and your argument straight.

      Fact #1: JSBSim is being developed continuously, YaSim has not been for a while, so it makes sense to mention it. You got it all upside down, there’s probably 5 times more work going into JSBSim.

      Fact #2: No, that’s not ‘it’ – that’s a preview of a collection of selected items (says so in the title), not a definite changelog or release note.

      Fallacy: How can FG possibly become less of a simulator when we add features to it? It’s not like there’d be someone removing quality of the simulation to make room for graphics or so.

      What can I say? Three mistakes in three lines of comments. I sometimes wonder what makes people like you post these things.

    2. David, if you want JSBSim to feature, then talk to the devs, or work on it yourself – there is nothing stopping you. This after all is a community driven project. I could also suggest that if you wish the community to treat you with respect that you consider communicating with them in a civilized manner, instead of blurting out that you think the work done is pathetic.

      Chris W.

  23. Great job guys, been simmimg for 10 + years after ditching fsx trying xplane and not getting on with it came to flightgear and wow :) you look like have a great team just wanted to throw some ideas at you based on what i think flight sim needs to revive the market.
    1: easy repaint tool
    It would be great to create our own/replica liveries and be able to share them the recent forza mptorsport game shows just how powerfull a tool this can be
    2: online mmo
    The thing flight sims have lacked is good online, it would be great to be able to fly with other pilots chat etc do refueling etc definatly needs more of a social aspect
    3: airshows
    With the new walker feature this could really blow the game up to next level say theres a 45 person server people each can select there own plane to be shown parked up then walk around the airshow chat with other users and judge custom painted or special aircraft. And possibly have flying displays the winner would receive in game currency/bragging rights
    4:a levelling system with rewards
    Quite simple you start out at zero more you fly a certain plane or amount of hours you would then receive new planes special liveries missions etc i.e if you fly from u.k to argentina and back in nonstop you would unlock the avro vulcan
    or if you complete missions/tasks you level up
    And unlock new airports planes etc
    Thanks for your time and excellant program

    1. Glad you enjoy FG :-)

      2) What’s wrong with FG’s multiplayer mode? I don’t use it myself, but I’ve seen people doing refuel exercises, air combat exercises, carrier ops, V1 interception in WW-II warbirds and similar things. FGUK in particular hosts weekly MP events.

      4) The devel community views FG primarily as simulator, not as game, so based on that perspective, there won’t be any things you have to ‘unlock’ in any way. In other words, missions is a subsystem for those users who want that kind of thing, but won’t be blocking other aspects of the sim.

      1. hi thanks for reply what i ment by the multiplayer side of things is simply a more out of the box solution as with the rise of social media and online gaming this would make the game alot more accesable to new players as opposed to having to install lots of 3rd party addons mumble and alike. the flight sim market seems fine if you have plenty of experiance but quite daunting to new players, i recently introduced someone i work on the ramp with to simming this is what i found.
        as for the levelling/unlock side of things i dont see it as holding anything back more rewarding players for there dedication i have a family member who works for a large gaming magazine he was commenting how nowdays thats the key to longevity change necesserily isnt a bad thing

        im sold on flightgear i just cant wait for the day where it has graphics to rival tom clancys hawkx of even battlefield series (anyone played the going hunting mission in f18….wow)
        keep up the good work

    2. I once thought about creating a “game mode” to flightgear. Player would get credits from different missions provided by airports. Player would buy aircraft and fuel etc. Maybe with this walker-thing It’s time to start working with these ideas.

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