203: FTX Global First Impression

Even though I don’t quite appreciate Orbx’s approach on developing addons for FSX, the company’s product, however, are no doubt much better than the default FSX and well gain a seat among other quality developers.   With the release of its FTX Global, I (same to most flightsimmers) am expecting all ugly default scenery to be gone for good — in theory.

Unfortunately, my first impression on it is: not yet and not quite, in my opinion. (Edit: see update in Post 204)

PART 1: INSTALLATION

After downloading the file, the first thing I did before installation as usual was backing up all my important FSX files, including Autogens and directories where scenery.CFG and fsx.CFG are stored, because FTX Global is somewhat a major upgrade to the whole FSX system, especially under the FlyZone Approach I’ve been using.

I also used True Image 2013 to back up my whole OS and FSX drives.   Besides, I also cleaned up my Windows TEMP directory in order to find out what files would be created during the installation.

The zipped package weighs to 4.17GB and took about 20 mins to get it from The FlightSim Store using Free Download Manager.  Inside the package, there are 10 files including an Important Read Me, which instructs users to switch to FSX Default Region via FTXCentral.

FTXGB-00

Actually, when the installation is done, a detailed User Guide for the product will be saved under ORBX’s User Documents folder.   This approach is being used among all Orbx’s addons.

Frankly, this approach sounds a complete stupid to me because no users can read the Quick Installation Guide and other notes about pre-installation preparation and information about the product from the manual before the installation.   We paid already to get the package.  I don’t see the logic why Orbx has to keep the user guide hidden until the installation is complete.  (Edit: just found that Orbx’s Forum is now providing the download of the manual.  But still, why not doing it right from the beginning?)

The product took about 2:45 mins getting verification from the store.

FTXGB-01

Then a screen popped up suggesting user to backup system’s original World\Scenery\Texture.   Even though I had done the backup already, I followed the instruction and it took me about 3:30 mins to backup all 10,569 files (6.13GB) in the directory before moving on to the next step.

FTXGB-02

At nearly the end of the installation, an error message popped up telling me that the FTXCentral was still open.  I had to turned it off to continue the installation.  Although it isn’t a big issue, I think the installer should have a note informing users to close the FTXCentral after switching to the Default region or before the start of the actual installation process.

During installation, three folders were created under the Windows TEMP directory.   One of them contained the 9 files similar to the zipped package.   Actually, the one named OrbxFTXGlobal100.exe in this temp folder should be the actual installer after the package was unzipped.

FTXGB-03

From what I experienced with previous Orbx’s products, running this exe file directly would allow users to skip the verification process.   However, this directory was immediately deleted after users pressing the Finish button from the installer.

FTXGB-04

The whole installation process, including the texture backup, took about 19:07 mins on my system.   The size of my FSX drive increased from 145GB to 147GB, in which 2733 files and 14 folders were new.

Under ORBX directory, a new folder called FTX_OLC was created, which contains scenery and texture files for the global region.  Also, a number of FTX Global folers were also created under the ORBX’s Scripts directory.

FTXGB-05

Moreover, the AutogenDescriptions.spb, default.xml and RoofDescriptions.spb of Oceania, Europe and North America were mostly updated.   And surely many texture files under World\Scenery were modified.

The scenery.CFG file has been updated to include FTX Global scenery (OLC_AA and OLC_EU1).   The DLL.XML, exe.xml and fsx.CFG were untouched.

For the installation part, above basically highlights most elements that have been changed.

PART 2: WHAT I THINK ABOUT THE PRODUCT

For the quality and performance of the product, let’s see some images I captured from Sion, Switzerland and Hong Kong below before moving on to what I think about it.

From Sion (Click Image for Bigger Size):

FTXGB-06-SionS FTXGB-07-SionS FTXGB-08-SionS FTXGB-09-SionS FTXGB-10-SionS

From Hong Kong (Click Image for Bigger Size):

FTXGB-11-HKS FTXGB-12-HKS FTXGB-13-HKS FTXGB-14-HKS FTXGB-15-HKS

At first sight, the overall image quality is enhanced, compared to default FSX.   That’s for sure and shown clearly in Sion’s pictures.

However, when you look at the details of it, there are fields over the mountains — possibly due to inaccurate or not yet implemented landclasses etc.

The issue is further amplified in images from Hong Kong.  The buildings, or simply the whole area, turn out to be a terrible mess.   The quality is way below default FSX’s level, not to mention the well-known Hong Kong Airport add-on from FlyTampa.

It is true that Orbx has announced their plans to release specific landclasses for respective regions in the coming future.  Above issues should then be fixed.   Also, after some adjustments, above issues could be slightly alleviated, I guess.

FTXGB-16

But really, the return from the current FTX Global, so far, is not enough.   Just better graphics quality is not enough.

The price of this product alone is already a double more than FSX itself, not to mention the money to be gone to Orbx’s pocket for the several coming landclasses.

Also, its integration with existing Orbx regions under hybrid mode is not flawless.

FTXGB-17S

Above image was captured around Bowerman KHQM.  In addition to the total number and composition of buildings are changed, there are odd bluish color spotted on the walls of many buildings as well.

Besides graphics issues mentioned above, I also encountered a number of system errors after installing the add-on.

For example:

• Many flight session loadings stuck at 6% for up to 1:30 mins and take another 2 to 3 minutes to load the remainings;

• When switching airports (just selecting, not loading), FSX in many instances takes more than 1 mins;

• Also, when quitting, sometimes FSX takes nearly 1:30 mins, sometimes FSX just hanging there and doesn’t quit at all.

There should be more reportings about this and that errors from users in the coming weeks or months, I believe.

Is NOW the right timing to make the purchase ?

Indeed, this post is not at all a comprehensive review of Orbx’s FTX Global product.  There are many aspects I still haven’t covered.  But above findings and comments are based on the initial contact I had with the product in the first few hours.

Definitely I will further test it under different settings and add-ons.

But the answer for now is:  No, Not Now…I would say. (Edit: see update in Post 204)

I would recommend people holding their purchases until Orbx releases its update patch, or wait further until the specific landclass of their favorite region is launched.

This is my first impression so far, even though you could disagree.

==========

Pros

  • Enchanced Graphics
  • Better integration with existing Orbx’s products
  • No noticeable degradation in performance

Cons

  • Long session loading time (solved)
  • Long airport switching time (solved)
  • Messed up landclasses and autogen items (improved, in general)
  • FSX hangs more frequently (solved)
  • Odd colors found on buildings under hybrid mode
  • This and that error to be found
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23 thoughts on “203: FTX Global First Impression

  1. Hello,

    I installed the Orbx Ftx Global , but I noticed that all airports backgrounds (polygons) turned green (grass), even desert airports, which looks bizarre and incorrect. Is there any solution to correct it?

    Thank you

    Like

  2. Hello,

    in your report you mention a few cons marked as “solved”.

    Long session loading time (solved)
    Long airport switching time (solved)
    Messed up landclasses and autogen items (improved, in general)
    FSX hangs more frequently (solved)

    I have the same issues.

    How did you get these solved ?

    Regards.

    Eddy

    Like

    1. Hi Eddy,
      It’s a bit of everything. Finetuning, adjusting fsx.CFG and scenery.CFG, etc, etc. And minimizing scenery.CFG is key.
      Sorry my answer may sound vague but it’s really as what I said above.
      Tom

      Like

  3. Hi Tom
    Thanks for taking the time to show us all how it looks and installs.

    But I’m a little bit confused by this new Global product.

    I fly mostly in and around Australia & New Zealand. I own the complete Orbx Australia add-on, along with their New Zealand North & South Islands. So my question is this…what would FTX Global add to these areas/regions that have been fully covered by Orbx in the past.

    Kind regards,

    Darren

    Like

    1. Hi Darren,
      Basically nothing added from FTX Global to your areas. It replaces textures in default FSX. AU and NZ are on top of it. So you won’t see any difference. If you seldom fly in other areas, the AUD 100 is a waste.
      Tom

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      1. HI Tom,
        Thanks for explaining what FTX Global changes regarding to owning other Orbx products. I did feel a bit silly asking at the time. But I’m sure that other flight simmers have also wondered at some point.

        Thanks again,
        Darren

        Like

  4. Tom, Got to say I do appreciate people like yourself taking the time to give products a thumbs up or down based on your own personal likes or dislikes. I do have a question for you based on your experience. I fly mostly low and somewhat slow in Alaska. I have Ultimate Alaska X added and enjoy what it brings to the table. However, do you have any recommended scenery add on’s for Bush Pilots like myself? I am looking at area wide addon’s, I don’t have much need for the Anchorage, or Juneau city add on’s as I don’t fly in the cities all that much. Again appreciate your time and respect your opinion.

    Regards,

    Tom

    Like

    1. You are welcome, Tom.
      I like flying low myself and Alaska is one of my favorite place as well. Dutch Harbor from Aerosoft is a good one. Also, Fjords from FSAddon is pretty good too which covers a wide area in south Alaska. And it includes some very nice small- to mid-size airports in the region. They shouldn’t be missed in my opinion.
      In addition, small airports in Switzerland from FlyLogics are pretty good too, not to mention the Innsbruck LOWI from Aerosoft. It’s gorgeous.
      Tom

      Like

    1. Not quite, Mauricio. What FTX Global does is replacing many of the default FSX textures with its own so that it could better match their products and stamp with their own signature. If you like Orbx’s region addons, FTX Global soon or later will become a part of your collection. If you find your existing configuration with FSGlobal2010 good enough, FTX Global is not a necessity.
      Tom

      Like

  5. Thanks, Tom for your review!! And so fast after release – respect!!
    I´ve already bought it yesterday… I coudn´t wait. ;-)
    Together with UTX it makes sense and I like what I saw until now. Here and there are some graphic bugs but I´m sure they´ll fix it. Specially the Baltic areawith OLC looks nice…

    By the way, I know that hanging at 6% for some time, but this I had already before due to another Addon.

    cheers, Stephan

    Like

    1. Hi Stephan,
      The post was based on my personal idea and people like you may have different views about it.
      The most important thing is: as long as you find it amusing and entertaining, that’s good enough.
      Tom

      Like

  6. Tom,
    Thank you for your honest review…And doing this on your weekend!
    I am picking up a new FSX computer next week and will stay with GEX for now
    Thanks again Tom

    Rick

    Like

  7. Muito Obrigado, eu também vou esperar um pouco e é lógico fazer o backup da imagem do HD antes. Sobre as pastas scenery e texture eu ja imaginava que alterava mesmo, isto vai ser um problema, pois tem regiões onde o FTX global não fica ligal, principamente na Nova Zelandia, onde eu prefiro o VLC 1.3. Vamos ter muito trabalho para deixar a ordem da biblioteca dos cenários certa para não alterar os cenários que temos e que levamos tanto tempo para deixar tudo certinho. A Sorte está lançada e vamos aguardar, Abraços…

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      1. Thank you, I’ll also wait a bit and it is logical backup the hard disk image before. About the scenery and texture folders I already imagined that altered it, this will be a problem, because it has regions where the global FTX is not ligal, principamente in New Zealand, where I prefer Godzone – REAL NZ – Supercity. We will have much work to leave the order of the library of scenarios right not to change the scenarios that we have and that we take so long to make everything right. Luck is launched and we wait, Hugs …

        Like

      2. Yes, our system consists of more than just one company’s products. So we need to pay extra attention when adding or changing addons.
        I have Godzone’s addons, too. They are quite good.
        If you mostly fly in some specific areas, there is no need to go FTX Global. At least, no rush for now.
        Tom

        Like

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