FSX SP1:Beta3 posted


We just posted SP1 Beta3 to the beta testers.


We had a couple extra 3rd party bugs that needed to be fixed ( animated parts, mouse rects on the panels, lighting ) that we needed to fix and in fixing the stutters with the first round of threading code we lost some perf and had another bad bug lurking in there. And we identified an issue with 3 AI aircraft, 1 of which is fixed in Beta3 - if that aircraft passes muster in Beta3 we will fix the other 2.


We hope Beta3 shows these all as fixed. That does mean we have lost April for SP1. So we are into May now.


As far as how long it’s taken us, it has been longer than we thought and would have liked. Back in January, we clearly thought we had time in front of us. Just not as much as it has taken. We did hope the multi-core work would be done a good 6 weeks before it was. And the beta tests, while valuable, have added their fair share of the "extra" time. We have found and fixed a couple extra 3rd party bugs that we think are going to be of good benefit to the community because of that time investment.


So that was time well spent. As was the performance and thread bake time.


It is what it is; we are trying to get it right. That does take time. And we believe the result will show that care and attention to detail.

Comments (32)
  1. LarryWoodworth says:

    That’s alright.  You probably should get it right before you release it or He Who Is Not To Be Named will whine and pout even more about how he’s already a beta tester. πŸ˜‰  Speaking as one who beta tested Falcon 2.0 for Spectrum Holobyte, I know what REAL Beta versions look and work like.

  2. As Phil has mentioned , Beta 3 of FSX has been posted to the testers. Whilst they are a month or so delayed

  3. blueflamer says:

    AT the end of the day, if SP1 really improves FSX and the sim experience, this late delivery matters very little. So take your time but give us a good product.

    Cheers

  4. Bikedude says:

    Sounds like the beta program is working then. Delays for good reasons are good delays.

    That said, I’m heading off for a two week vacation, so no sweat off my back! πŸ˜€

  5. SubLogicBoy says:

    Personally I’m quite happy to wait.  I’d rather see a performance enhancing patch then a bug infested nightmare that will only squander any good will that Microsoft and the ACES team have built with the Flight Simulator community.  X-Plane fails as a flight simulator because it never feels quite finished and quite frankly, it isn’t and probably never will be.  Microsoft has taken the Flight Simulator franchise and demonstrated repeatedly that they care about the product and the FS Community at large.

    The God of flight is in the details.

    Good work boys and girls and I’ll see you in my six.

    SubLogicBoy

  6. RobMcIntosh says:

    Is there any chance that Microsoft could “leak” out this Service Pack in its present state, making clear that it isn’t supported? I fail to see any reason why it would be a bad thing, since it would please the people who don’t feel like waiting weeks and weeks for a *perfect* patch, getting them off your backs.

    The blokes at SEGA have done something similar with Medieval II: Total War, “leaking” the 1.2 patch because they had run into even further delays (after after about 6 months wait already)

    Please consider this! I don’t mind having a frw bugs, bring on the performace πŸ™‚

  7. blueflamer says:

    And also thanks for keeping us in the loop.

  8. Phil Taylor says:

    Unfortunately, we cant do that. The bugs would likely randomize and frustrate the community, look at what some of the beta testers have done with breaking their NDAs.

  9. ramprat says:

    Hi Phil,

    Thanks for the update.

    I’ve done a clean reinstall in preperation for the service pack. Since I use photoscenery from MegaScenery, do I need to download the "photo-based add-on scenery update" from fsinsider prior to the service pack, or will that update be incorporated in, or not necessary with, the upcoming service pack?

    Bobby

  10. Phil Taylor says:

    Yes, the photoscenery fix is already in SP1.

  11. jonhcod says:

    "We have found and fixed a couple extra 3rd party bugs that we think are going to be of good benefit to the community because of that time investment."

    I also use 3rd part software but let be focus in the main problem: Fix FSX.

    If resouces, and time is a important one, are spent in secundary issues we will never get the SP1.

    My best regards,

    José

  12. icebox says:

    Phil, this is great news.  You’ve been fantastic updating this blog with news of what’s going on at ACES.  That makes the wait for SP1 much more bearable.  Cheers.

  13. mimarsinan says:

    I don’t follow why this is a private beta. For instance, people have joked that with the money I spent on systems that might be capable of running FSX (none of which delivered), I would have already gotten my private pilots license – and its a sad realization that dawned upon me because its true πŸ™‚ But I am denied access to the beta, despite all my investment.

    I truly don’t see what could be so top-secret or confidential about this beta. If you are concerned about the support burden, just write it in big black bold letters in the patch install that this beta is not supported, and should not be installed on a production system (although it might be harder to define "production system" for a game, of course).

    A beta is called beta for a reason. Realistically, I don’t think the community would be upset by any bug, as long as they can see that progress in other areas has been made. Just saying "beta" sets some expectations, namely that the product contains known errors. This would be a way for you to actually gather more community support, rather than lose it – by demonstrating the progress which *has* been made so far.

  14. spiritmenace says:

    Hi Phil, just a quick question. Will SP1 have better support for ATI video cards?

  15. Flackrum says:

    Phil, can we get someone fired up on making a local.live.com imagery add-on for FSX?

    2 MSFT products that scream for a good melding.

  16. Ian McPhail says:

    It is highly satisfactory to be kept informed.  For my part the wait is more preferable than getting a product with known but unfixed bugs.  I’ll still be waiting excitedly, like a kid for a present, over the next two weeks.

  17. svet-am says:

    just saw this after several days of entertaining my in-laws.  i must say that I, too, much prefer that you not release it until it’s done.  while "when it’s ready" has become somewhat of an industry inside joke these days (Duke Nukem Forever, Daikatana), Blizzard used to use this release timeline all of the time.  The difference was that when Blizzard released a game, the game was solid and ready to play from end-to-end.  They released periodic patches, but those were usually gameplay tweaks.

    As a professional hardware engineer, I fully understand the challenges facing the FSX team.  But, as a consumer and as a flight simmer, I’d much rather wait longer and be _guaranteed_ a solid product, then a have a product (or service pack or update or whatever) rushed to releaes and then be virtually unusable at home.

    take as long as you need guys.  quality takes time.

  18. Phil Taylor says:

    We have a closed beta for several reasons:

    1)so we know who is on the beta and have a tighter feedback loop

    2)to avoid randomizing people because we do create bugs as we fix things, and some people do not have the temperament to go thru this sort of process

    3)to avoid false rumors based on the beta bugs. We had enough of these from people breaking NDA.

    Sorry, thats just the way it is.

  19. Phil Taylor says:

    I am not aware of any additional work we need to do on ATI cards, what is it that you think needs to be done?

  20. Phil Taylor says:

    An add-on that leverages live.com imagery is a great idea and a great opportunity for 3rd parties, it just isnt in our plans this year.

  21. Autechre says:

    Speaking of ATi is there any chance of crossfire support, or is that too difficult?

  22. bobby_macnair says:

    Hi Phil,

    Apologies if this has been brought up before and is a bit off topic….

    i was just wondering why FSX turns Vista’s Aero feature off when fsx starts. I can only imagine the only reason is to save on performance….? There have been quite a few benchmarks and case studeis that show it does not impact performance significantly. I would have expected a game designed for vista to allow the aero feature to run, and have the user choose wether to turn it off if they feel it necessary.

    Its just one of those small things that can impact how people feel about the product… makes it feel a little clunky.

    Dont get me wrong though, i appreciate all you done with flight simulation and hope you continue to make great software!

  23. Phil Taylor says:

    SLI and Crossfire happen completely in the driver. Given FSX RTM is completely CPU bound, thats why these 2 technologies show little positive effect. If we have been successful in driving down the CPU bound nature of the app in SP1, then SLI and Crossfire will show more benefit.

  24. Phil Taylor says:

    There is an slight incompability with FSX and Aero, thats why the feature is disabled on FSX launch by the OS. We shipped before Vista, its really the OS’s issue and that is why the OS disables the feature.

  25. bobby_macnair says:

    thanks for the reply Phil, very much appreciated.

    I work as a software engineer myself for a large software development firm in the UK, working with visual studio and C# mainly (what language do you develop FSX in..?). I  aslo know whats it like with multiple developments going on all at one time. Its difficult to get compatibility between products when the different departments are on their own development cycles and tracks. Ive been working alot with multi thread aps recently as well and have been very interested to here your working this into your code. Speaking from an engineers point of view, i can understand how difficult this can be… especially with an already developed app!

    Gutted i missed out on the beta, I hope i can provide some feedback when the beta ‘goes live’ though.

    Love the work guys, keep it up!

  26. Jim Knows says:

    Phil,

    Will FSX be presented at the Flight Simulator Show in Forli, Italy on May 5th and 6th?  Reason why I ask,

    I will be attending that show and would like to know if on May 5th – 6th if FSX is presented at that show,  will the perf fixes be a part of FSX at the time of the showing?

    Side Note:  I am with most others on this one.  Holding back what you already have that works well, like the performance part of SP1 when hundreds of thousands of people have already purchased the product, doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.  Reasons like:

    "so we know who is on the beta and have a tighter feedback loop" – Why would you have to break up a loop?  Keep your loop together, get your feedback from them?  How does that affect releasing it to the public who have been more than patient and who at this time can barely even use the product?

    "to avoid randomizing people because we do create bugs as we fix things, and some people do not have the temperament to go thru this sort of process" – You are on your own with that one Phil.  Don’t be too hard on the ones that would like to put their hands around your throat for that comment.

    "to avoid false rumors based on the beta bugs. We had enough of these from people breaking NDA" – Rumors?  What rumors?  Every aspect of life, work, entertainment, news, sports, and on and on is infested with rumors?  What makes FSX stand above that?

    Anyways, do what you want Phil.  You will anyways.  But you sure got me scratching my head on this one.  I just don’t get it.

  27. Phil Taylor says:

    SP1 wont be at the Forli show.

    As far as feedback, each beta release has specific testing goals and specific feedback is needed. It really isnt for all of you to get and experiment with, it is for us to validate fixes.

    As far as temperament, that is what it is. Most people dont have the patience for iteration. I see it in the existing beta testers; where instead of dis-passionate reporting there is much hand-wringing and throwing around of emotion. Its an iterative process, it takes time. This  would be even worse with just anyone involved.

    As far as rumors, the "banana airplane" bug and the "AI aircraft perf" bug are two examples of beta bugs where beta testers broke NDA and posted in public about how "bad" SP1 was and how "disappointed" they were. Do you suppose the general public would understand the process and not make these sort of pronouncements? I dont think so.

    And then there is trackability. It already is almost exceeding my ability to stay on top of issues. Multiply that by 10 or 100 and what value would we get out of the beta? At the end of the day, the beta is meant to provide Aces with enough information to confirm fixes, and not to provide any sort of enjoyment. We cannot sacrifice that.

    Thanks for listening.

  28. Jim Knows says:

    Phil,

    Ok, thanks for taking time out of your very busy schedule to explain this.  I don’t pretend to understand everything thats involved with the computer software business.  You are in a much better position than myself for that.  I am speaking from a "less educated" point of view I guess, but I am having trouble with understanding this.

    Have a good day.

  29. Slaintemaith says:

    I used to work in the Quality Assurance department of Microprose ages ago in the “Hunt Valley” days.  More on what Phil’s saying, I’ll see if I can help clarify:

    Speaking from experience, testers have to be just as intuitive as programmers for ‘what’s breaking this program?’  Sometimes more so.  The reasons for a tight loop of testers are various.

    Best-testers are usually experienced in what they’re doing, i.e., testing (this is not to be confused with playing, mind you) software.  This means they know what they’re looking for, and if a problem occurs, they know how to ‘write it up’ so that the producer (the person in charge of waving all the batons and keeping all the ‘balls’ of a project in the air at once) or the programmers easily understand what the tester is trying to convey.  In my experience while leading test teams, finding the circumstances to make a bug repeat itself reliably was sometimes the most daunting (and rewarding) task I had, since modern programs have thousands upon thousands of variables, and -any one of them- could be the issue.  I think this is what Phil’s referring to as ‘Temperment.’  The plodding ability to keep trying the same thing over and over to get a specific circumstance to happen to prove (or disprove) that something’s working.  Most people will say, “It’s broken.  I don’t like this.”  Others will say, “It’s broken, fix it.”  A tester will list in explicit steps how it’s broken, and take pride in the fact that he broke it.  Programmers get their revenge: he’ll have to repeat those steps to test the fix later on.  

    The fewer non-staff you have testing a product or patch you have the lesser chance someone’s going to break NDA.  This is simple probability math.  NDA stands for Non-Disclosure Agreement. If you have ever done anything making software within a corporate environment, you’ve probably at least seen one.  Basically, it means you don’t talk about what you do or see at work.  You have the option not to sign it, but that basically also forfeits your job, or at least your beta testing status.  Also, if you break an NDA, even if you’re a lowly beta tester, depending on how it’s phrased, you can find yourself in a heap of legal trouble.  ’nuff said there, I think.

    In short: as a beta tester, a company is placing its trust in you to keep some of it’s secrets.  At -best- it’s impolite to break the trust.  At worst, you’d be Bubba’s cellmate.  =)

    Getting a software project published and in stores is an insanely complex process nowadays that can involve hundreds of people from start to finish.  There’s designers, producers, programmers, artists, sound people, testers…and that’s only a part that’s just for the software.  Remember as well that there’s documentation, marketing, legal, finance, PR, and heaps more loops that a project has to jump through before it can get to your home.  Sometimes the problems with projects that are released ‘buggy’ (I worked at Microprose, remember, so I know what I’m talking about here =) are from things you wouldn’t expect.  A VP says a project has to go out before a certain fiscal quarter is up, or a final CD (‘gold version’) has left the studio with a clean bill of health from QA, but there was a problem with the CD label that marfs up the software recognizing the media, or marketing has been promised shelf-space in stores for a short window of time, because other long-awaited releases are on the way sooner than you’d hoped…  And all of these things wouldn’t reflect poorly on anyone–everyone is doing their job right–but the ‘games biz’ is fast paced and tumultuous even on its best days, and people want a finger to point.

    …sorry for the tome I’ve written, Phil.  Maybe I should write my -own- blog.  =)

  30. karijno says:

    Phil,

    Anyone of Aces there will be in Forli ?

    Thanks Fabio

  31. Phil Taylor says:

    I know of no plans for any of us to attend.

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