Friday, February 29, 2008

First leg success + changes...

Ok, the first leg of the RTW journey, from Beale to Honolulu, went relatively well. We do have some *mega* lag issues though, so here's what we're gonna do for the next legs...

First, I'm not going to host the session on gamespy for the future legs, just too much interference going on there I think. I will host them on my lan mode only and you will have to connect directly to me. Sorry but I'm near the end of my rope with GameSUCK these days, Peb is too. To connect: go to LAN mode at the main multiplayer screen, (do not log into gamespy), then select 'connect directly' and enter this IP address:

If we all refrain from connecting to gamespy for the session it should free up a ton of bandwidth, and a side benefit is that we cannot be interrupted with private message requests. Text chat in the session will still work fine though.

The next session is at the same time tomorrow night, Saturday March 1st at 7:00 pm PST.

Second, please turn down your graphics settings as low as you can tolerate and set your frame rate limit to a value you can always hit easily, even in dense scenery. When your cpu becomes starved of free cycles this kind of lag is what happens in multi. Also please keep any other internet background tasks closed, like IM chat programs, browsers etc. Thanks.

Cheers, and thanks to everyone that came along, and see you tomorrow evening as we continue on to Wake Island and possibly Kadena AFB in Okinawa. The Wake Island run is quite short.

By the way, we completed the first leg from liftoff to touchdown in 1 hour and 40 minutes for an average speed of 1296.4 kts, not bad! :)

Wingview that Mr. Airliner Pilot. ;)

-lotus out

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Small fixes for the Alphasim SR-71 (FSX)...

For those coming along on the world tour, and who have the 2007 version of the Alphasim SR-71 Blackbird, but are seeing some reflectivity issues in the VC, I have a fix for you here. For the tour remember that you will need to have downloaded and installed the Blackbird multiplayer model fix from the Alphasim website, which is accessible through your store account there, from the same place you originally downloaded the SR-71. You must download and install that first if you haven't, and then install the fixes in this post.

There are two fixes in the zip below. The first is a modified aircraft.cfg file which forces all of the SR-71A variants to use the multiplayer model, not just one. This will preclude your system crashing should someone bring in a version other than the multiplayer one. You will lose such things as the starter cart and air-stairs, but you can always change them back later. It is those extra model features that caused the multiplayer crash in the first place.

The second fix is a modified panel.cfg file to address the VC gauges, which in SP2/Acceleration have some material issues. If you're seeing some gauges as either transparent or reflective in the VC, this panel.cfg should fix that.

I did not include paths in the zip file as people often have different layouts for FSX, so you will need to navigate to the appropriate folders and overwrite your files manually with the ones in the zip.


The aircraft.cfg file goes in:

(your fsx folder)\SimObjects\Airplanes\ALPHA SR-71A 2007\

The panel.cfg file goes in:

(your fsx folder)\SimObjects\Airplanes\ALPHA SR-71A 2007\Panel\

Replace the files there and you should be good to go.

These fixes are only for the SR-71 "A" model. We will not be flying the B/trainer version. (too slow!) :)


I know that Alphasim is coming out with a full FSX/SP2 patch/upgrade for the Blackbird, but I have no idea when that will be ready. These fixes will keep you flying until then. :)

-Lotus out

Monday, February 25, 2008

Habu World Tour!

Well guys it's time to separate the real pilots from the wingviewers.

Here's the deal. Starting at 7 pm PST, on Friday the 29th of February, the Lotus Films crew is going on a little trip... all the way around this rock. The interesting bit? The bit that sets us apart from those Avsim/Flightsim/Simouthouse round-the-world pilot wannabes?

We're doing it in the most amazing, sinister looking, fastest, and entirely bloody unforgiving aircraft ever made, the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird. Specifically Alphasim's amazing version of it. This is the Uma Thurman of the aviation world. She's gorgeous, and she'll put a knife in your throat for so much as looking at her funny.

Two years ago Pebble and I did this trip in RealAir Spitfires, an incredible journey. It took us 76 legs and the better part of a year to complete. This trip is only 12 legs, and it's going to take a week or two. However, given the challenges we're facing those twelve legs are going to be anything but mundane.

The sessions will have the standard name but I'll be putting a note in the session info when it's a Blackbird RTW leg and so please check that info and plan accordingly if you want to come along. SR-71s, whether freeware, the Pilot's version, or Alphasim (the BEST) are welcome. If you have an XB-70 Valkyrie that is also acceptable. Simgameit aircraft however will not be accepted, nor any other fighters etc. Blackbirds only, Valkyries in a pinch.

If you would like to join us in this epic journey please click the link below and read the entire post *carefully*. If bringing the Alphasim SR-71 please pay special attention to the multiplayer model notes in the post to avoid crashing your system. In it I also outline the procedures we're going to be following as we'll be endeavouring to make this trip as realistic as possible within the limitations of FSX.

Lotus Films "Chase The Sun" SR-71 Round The World Tour Info

Cheers, and I hope to see you there! If you have comments, questions etc on the flight plan or aircraft, please ask them here in the comments on this blog post.

You have 4 days to practice. ;)

-Lotus out (at Mach 3.28)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Trailers are stupid...

No I don't mean the boxes pulled behind pickup trucks, though they're mighty stupid too... bane of all sports car owners (who should own the road by default thank you very much).

No, I'm referring to the recent trend where people have been making actual trailers for flight sim movies. Ok, a trailer for a two hour long film makes sense, kinda, but for a five minute long one?

Stupid. Flat out.

So in the interest of putting yet another notch in my cherished Belt of Hypocrisy(-6 to character rolls), here you go!

I tried to make it as cheesy as possible, complete with excessively dramatic and overused 'trailer music'. (ie: great music from an older film because the composers for the actual film the trailer portrays are too damned lazy to get anything done in time) ;)

By the way, the new vid is taking bloody *forever* to make because, hardware and cloud issues aside, it features my favourite aircraft of all time, and unlike all my other films where I make many compromises, I absolutely refuse to cut any corners on this one. I've already tossed out an entire hard drive worth of shots because they just damned well weren't good enough. For those who have been waiting patiently for the next production, thanks, and hopefully it won't take too much longer! The amount of behind the scenes work going into this one is pretty insane and I've had to learn quite a few new things along the way. :)

Rafale. One fighter to rule them all...

Bonus points if you can tell me what recent trailer this music was used in! (hint: Svalbard)

Monday, February 18, 2008


Since I'm on a little internet/grammar/spelling/behaviour rant ( don't worry, it'll be short lived) I figure I'll pass on some wisdom from the gents at Penny Arcade, one of the greatest web comics ever and one which never fails to start my morning with a good laugh. ;)

Check it out, they're geniuses.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Some days...

... I really wonder. Below are this week's comments on "Courchevel - An FSX Movie". If the youtube community has taught me one thing ( other than that the once beautiful English language has officially deteriorated into little more than grunting via keyboard ) it's that no matter how plainly obvious the answer to a question might be, it'll be asked anyway, and frequently...

even if the answer is written...

directly in front of your face...

...multiple times.

Sigh. ;)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Fight's on!

So what to do when you're kinda brain fried working on the next vid, and your favourite aircraft maker shows up in your multiplayer session because he's kinda brain fried on gauge coding and wants a break?

Dogfight of course!

David Brice, the head honcho at Iris, popped into my session with his new Pilatus PC-9 beta (which I was just about to try out myself at the time, thanks David) and so why not see what the lighter and sexier version of the Texan can do? ;)

David got the upper hand early on with a smart reversal when I lost sight of him (yeah, even with my track-ir no less, ugh) but I managed to chase him down in the end after quite a protracted low level lufbery (stalemate turning fight). David's a good sport, and that was just way too much fun. :) Incidentally I owe all of my dogfighting skills to the twelve years spent with the often frustratingly unkillable Pebble on my six. Anyway, I had FSrecorder running the whole time and here's how it played out... enjoy!

By the way the PC-9 is just awesome. Pop over to the Iris Simulations forum and check out the incredible cockpit night lighting especially.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Joining my multiplayer sessions...

So since I've had several requests lately from people here and on youtube about joining my multiplayer sessions, I'm going to run passworded ones from now on and give you the password here. I'll post it permanently on the sidebar to the right as well. Please read this entire post before joining though.

My sessions will still be called "Rafale21 VFR" since that's what the regulars are used to, and the password will be: lotus (lower case). The sessions are always in the free-flight lobby when I'm online, well, when gamespy is working anyway.

I'd love to leave my sessions wide open as I enjoy meeting new people, but ever since Acceleration came out it's just been a disaster every time I do. For some reason the only thing most kids know how to do in FSX is jump in an F-18 and spend an hour buzzing my head. It really gets old. ;) Going with passworded sessions will circumvent the 'friends only' issue as I know it can be difficult to locate my name in the lobby if trying to private message me. Anyway you will need SP2 or Acceleration to join my sessions, and *please please please* have a microphone, I really don't enjoy typing while flying, and often just don't have enough free brain cells for it haha.

For those who haven't flown with me before, I have no rules in my sessions other than politeness to others, in both verbal comms and in flying style, which means flying into others or being a pest won't be tolerated. I'm an anarchist in the strictest sense of the term which means I absolutely hate rules, but those are two I have to keep for everyone's enjoyment. ;) Also, note that if you bring an airliner in you should be prepared to be poked, prodded, and generally made fun of for doing so. ;) You'll mostly find us flying fighters, warbirds, general aviation, or helicopters. I used to be quite into running ATC, and I may yet again one day for kicks, but formation flying is most often what you'll find us doing.

Honestly our non-filming sessions aren't uber-exciting since most of my friends and I play FSX simply to unwind, relax, cruise around and see some pretty sights, but we do have some great and often highly philosophical discussions along the way. Either that or we just blab about meaningless crap, depending on how many bottles of Stella are involved. :)

As a final note, all of our flying group's members are adults, so if you're under 18 our sessions are really not for you. Our discussions enroute can end up on mature topics and that's a freedom I will be maintaining in my sessions. That means that with few exceptions anyone under 18 years old will likely be asked to leave. Sorry, but that's the way it is.

Anyway, if you'd like to fly along with my friends and I (and you're over 18 haha) then please feel free to pop in and say hi if you see my session up. Please also let me know your Youtube name if you've left any comments on my films, so I can put two and two together. I don't expect the password to change unless the aforementioned screaming 10 year olds in F-18s start showing up. :)

Cheers, and hope to see you in the skies!


Monday, February 4, 2008

A peek behind the curtain...

Nope, not another preview, but a blog post about a little road trip I took on Friday, back down to Seattle, to visit the wizards themselves, ACES Studios. Paul Lange, the lead designer on FSX, invited me over for a tour of their shop and to meet the FSX team, and I have to say I was highly impressed. I'd had the pleasure of meeting Hal and Mike Singer at the Avsim conference but it was great to meet Paul and Phil Taylor and many of the other team members and see the shop itself. And before you ask, yes I got a look at some FS11 stuff, and no I'm not saying a bloody word about it, sorry. ;)

What I can tell you is that they're a seriously cool bunch and I was really impressed with everyone I met. Their passion for flying is simply indisputable. Unlike any other game developer I've worked at or even visited, these guys and girls really do care about what they make. I've been in the business long enough to know the difference.

I'm not sure what struck me more, seeing the truly *insane* amount of aircraft paraphernalia and models on every wall and desk (and floor) or the single unopened Flight Simulator 1.0 box I saw in a glass case. That was quite a moment, had to sort of stop and stare at it for a minute. Thanks Bruce Artwick, we all owe you one. :)

We spent a lot of time talking about FSX and the future of flight simulator and I was really surprised at how many things we agreed on, right down to recent addon aircraft we like. Despite the limits imposed by current hardware and systems their vision of where the software could go is pretty cool and far reaching, and while I can't talk about the bits they're working on for the next version I can say that there's going to be some pretty serious wow factor in it if things go according to plan. Even at this very early stage in its development I was impressed with what I saw. Secondarily I had a little bit of a "cult hero's" welcome there from several people which *really* threw me off. I have a few fans at Aces it seems and I found that quite humbling haha.

Their place itself is quite nice actually. Externally it's your typical business park type layout, though at least they have real trees all around it (are you listening San Jose?) but inside it's anything but dull. Bright, spacious, airy and colourful, lots of windows, plenty of toys around and a very complete hot cafeteria (good calzones!). They have quite the art collection of screenshots on their walls as well, many of them by Mango and Cell, two of the best FSX still photographers out there. I also had a look at some of the art in Train Sim 2.0 and found myself remembering a time when I was very young, a rare moment long ago when trains were actually cooler to me than aircraft. :)

Yeah, ok, that didn't last, but I can see that project being a fun alternative for their art team for awhile especially. I can tell you from personal experience that you can burn out on game art pretty fast if you keep doing the same damn thing version after version, year after year. Franchise games are particularly hard on artists and programmers, so for anyone who thinks they should forget this train stuff and get back to FS, think of it instead as a working vacation for them, good for their well being and by extension for the well being of Flight Simulator.

So my thanks to Paul and the Aces team for a great and highly informative afternoon. It was pretty awesome to meet the people who make a product I've been addicted to for over 20 years. ;)

I didn't even get stuck at the border for three hours on the way home as I usually do. Maybe Canada Customs finally located their brains.

Lotus out.