We’ve been hard at work preparing a major update for the Islander since its initial release! Our philosophy at TorqueSim is to make the absolute best product we can, and to that end we’ve taken time and considerable effort to prepare the Islander Version 1.1, which represents a massive improvement over the original in all areas.
With this part of the project now on the home stretch, we decided it’s time to share some of the improvements we’ve made with you.
First off, we’re very proud to say that we’ve been able to fix or resolve all bugs reported to us so far, and many more that showed up in the course of our own continued work on the project. Thank you so much to everybody who contributed reports, contacted us about issues, and offered solutions! So many of these bugs would’ve just slipped by us if not for our dedicated beta team and all of you, flying the Islander out there in the wild.
Probably one of the most anticipated additions to our Islander comes in the form of integration for RXP’s GTN simulations (RXP GNSs were compatible on launch, for anybody wondering). From 1.1 onwards, the Islander can make use of both the GTN750 and the 650, either separately or both at the same time, in both the regular and G5 versions of the aircraft.
In addition, we’ve integrated the excellent Avitab plugin, including a way to move it to various locations within the cockpit. It’ll start out hidden on every flight, but a quick click to the center of the glareshield edge should bring it right up when you need it.
In our quest to increase the performance of the Islander on all systems, we’ve undertaken some serious texture optimization, which should render the need for a 2K texture pack obsolete. The new textures retain full 4K format where needed, while selectively downsizing performance-intensive normal maps. Heavier reliance on LIT textures also permits night flights and cockpit lighting with little to no performance impact. A total of only 4 HDR lights have been retained in places where they make sense.
Following some requests to make the overhead utility lights functional… that’s exactly what we’ve done! The utility lights are now fully operational, with individual HDR lights attached to them. No more searching for those overhead switches in the dark.
The other two HDR lights are used in the pilot’s row cabin lights. It made little sense to bake the LIT textures here, as these lights can interact with certain parts of the cockpit, however they should have very little impact on performance.
Further optimization could be achieved in the 3d meshes of the Islander. Many parts contained unnecessarily high numbers of polygons contributing nothing to the overall appearance of the aircraft. These have been eliminated, reduced, remodeled, or otherwise repaired. You should see a marked improvement in framerates in certain areas.
Thanks to the combination of texture and mesh optimization, we’ve brought the size of the objects folder for the Islander down to just over 500 MB (including all objects and textures), from over 1 GB before. Needless to say, these are techniques we intend to apply to future projects.
We could go on and on and on about all the little things we’ve changed and improved for this version, but instead, here’s a quick list of some other improvements:
- Expanded UI with more options for both the aircraft and the passengers
- Manuals now contain useful charts for operating the Islander, including gross weight limitations, take off and landing distances, and cruise data
- Cockpit switches are much more mouse friendly now, and we’ve eliminated the ‘click-and-drag’ style clickspots entirely
- Addition of a CSL package
And last, but not least, a quick reminder that the Islander Screenshot Competition is still going on! We’ve had some excellent submissions so far, and participants have the chance to win their choice of either the TorqueSim Pocket Rocket, AFM M20 Collection, or both of Attitude Simulations “Gate to the Great Lakes” sceneries! There will be three winners. See the competition page for official rules and details. If you haven’t submitted a screenshot yet, now’s your chance, as the contest will end at the end of the month (May 31st)!