Status Update – Q4 2022

Dear friends,

I begin this status update, deeply apologizing with all of you for the lack of updates and a very long silence throughout this 2022 nearing end, and also for not delivering updates continuously as expected in this industry. With the exception of the Saab 340, where there is a team of three people ahead (myself included), I have been working on my own for years (with little help on the road), since NextGen began operations almost 10 years ago.

So, if you thought NextGen Simulations is a big company, you are wrong. For that time, it has been a unipersonal company, managed by me.

Because of the latter, and because I have been out of office for half of this year due to important and extreme changes in my private life, such as moving abroad and leaving my country of origin for reasons I will not explain now, it has been hard for me to work in the same pace I had before this year began. I know all of you love the EMB-110 so much (and I do as well), and you also requested me not to abandon it. I know that from the bottom of my heart, just please bear with me. I am doing my best to settle down and gain again the pace of work I had before, 2022 was a very tough year for me in my personal life. I will do my best to regain focus and deliver updates more continuously since 2023.

I have been working very hard the last quarter of 2022 on the EMB-110, improving features and performing major modifications, that I will tell you in a while. Unfortunately, and in case you may ask, the next update is not ready yet, but instead until the end of Q1 2023, or before, trusting God.

Following is a summary of what happened behind the scenes. I know that what you will read may be so long for you to read, but I kindly invite you to take the time to fully read it, so there are no misunderstandings or anything like that. Okay, let us continue.

EMB-110 Bandeirante Version 2.0
This “secret” development was previously announced only on Discord, but not everyone knew. Until now.

I am working on the EMB-110 v2 for MSFS (simultaneously with the S340, so do not worry as it is still in progress), and the big reason why I decided to work on it, is to remaster texture sets, thanks to the training I had in the Substance 3D Painter software, for which I hope to make this and all future products to be on par with the industry standards in the modeling and texturing fronts, and also to perform improvements to the product in general.

Now, ¿what is being addressed in v2.0?

  • Major texture rework and 3D model improvements. For now, and while I get models and textures ready to export to the sim (long story because I have to redo the entire project organizing, due to the changes made effective since SU11), I will showcase below some renders from 3ds Max and Substance 3D Painter, teasing some of the model improvements and major texture rework that is being done behind the scenes. I am initially re-texturing the entire cockpit, as well as re-modeling certain details in the flight deck, and re-arranging the instruments panel. But, throughout the development, I am also going to remake the exterior PBR and normalmap textures, as well as update materials and enhance details, so that I can not only make the aircraft be even more realistic than what it is now, but also can I update the entire product and make it to be on par with the current development standards, as I said before.
  • Improvements for the C++/WASM gauges. The KPI553A displays, KAS297C display and IVA81D VSI display are being updated, including fonts’ styles. The KAS297C WASM gauge logic was also updated, matching the functionality from its XML counterpart especially regarding the variables used in the PMS50’s APGA (autopilot gauge), for which the KAS297C XML gauge will be completely deprecated.

NOTE FOR XBOX USERS: Until Microsoft & Asobo Studio update the sim’s core to allow WASM support, the Xbox version will still use the XML gauges in the meantime. Once the sim enables WASM support on Xbox, I will perform the required updates to make the gauges run on Xbox and ask Microsoft to perform tests during the ingestion to the Xbox Marketplace. This also applies to the weather radar (more details below).

  • Manipulation of Levers Issues on Xbox, using the Xbox Controller. I am currently reviewing what went wrong in regards to manipulation of the ECU levers (throttle, propeller, and fuel condition) using the Xbox Controller.

To be honest, it is very weird for me; I own an Xbox Series X console, and I performed tests on Xbox after the product became available on the Marketplace of that platform, and I could move the levers without any issue, using all the controller, keyboard, and mouse. Also, Microsoft did not find any issues in this regard either. If so, Microsoft would have rejected the package for uploading, which did not happen.

Anyway, I recently got an Xbox Series X controller for PC, so that I can use it for this use case and check what happened. Additionally, and once v2 is sent to Microsoft for ingestion into the Marketplace, I will contact them and try to ask them to perform tests in this use case. In the meantime, if you are experiencing this issue, please attach a keyboard and/or a mouse on your console and you should be able to operate the levers. I will do my best to fix this, please bear with me.

  • TDS Sim Software GTNXI VC Integration. This has been requested a million times, and I started work on this feature immediately after the release of the GTNXI’s VC integration feature. Communications between TDS Sim guys and I began in February, before all of you asked me via email and social media. As of now, the GTN Xi frames, knobs and pushbuttons are accurately modelled and textured, so they look and feel like the real-life 750 XI and 650 XI units. However, code is not implemented yet, again due to the major textures overhaul I am performing to the product, and which you could see in the teasers above. Once I have performed the first functionality tests within the aircraft after backend code implementation, I will immediately post a demonstration via video on social media. I am working together with TDS Sim Software, so that these avionics units work as they should on our aircraft.
  • Working Title GNS430W/530W Integration. I am aware of the Working Title’s GNS released together with Sim Update 11, and which will be standardized starting from Aircraft & Avionics Update 1. I am currently reviewing the technical code modifications I have to perform, based on documentation available from Working Title, especially on the GPS hot-switching mechanism side of things, so the WT GNS units will not conflict with the other avionics packages (PMS50’s GTN and TDS’s GTNXI). Once I have this part fixed, I will post some teasers about this functionality integrated.

Currently, I am performing tests in the AAU1 beta, and review if it is possible to live with both the WT GNS and the PMS50 GTN without issues and perform fixes (if required and in case this is not possible). While this is reviewed and troubleshooted, and if you do not need to hot-switch between GPSs, you can either have the WT GNS installed only, without the PMS50’s GTN installed at the same time; OR, install BOTH the PMS50’s GTN gauge, plus the accompanying WTT mode package, so that it can fully disable the GNS, and only keep the GTN instead.

  • Weather Radar (WXR) Display. I am totally aware of this, you asked about this feature a million times that I cannot get this out of my head. Now, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and am going to try making it operative this time. After SU11 release, I was able to get the respective weather radar drawing APIs among the SDK, and I am spending time doing research on how to implement the drawing correctly into the respective gauge. Nothing to show yet, because the code is not compiled yet, and this requires a significant amount of work, because it can only be drawn via NanoVG and not using the GDI+ wrapper, just like I did with the other WASM gauges from v1.5.1. Once I have a functional preview, I promise you to upload some screenshots and a small video showcasing the functionality.

NOTE FOR XBOX USERS: Because the weather radar gauge will be coded in WebAssembly, it will not be included in v2.0.0, unless Microsoft and Asobo Studio roll out the WASM support feature on Xbox with the sim updates and before the EMB110v2 is released. If this WASM support comes before the EMB-110 v2 release, I include the WXR within the initial v2.0. Otherwise, I release the WXR as part of a hotfix, immediately after the WASM support is rolled out on Xbox.

  • New WASM-based EFB Screen. As part of the technologies upgrade for gauges, in which I upgrade the old XML gauges with newer WASM/HTML ones, I am going to remake the EFB screen (not only its 3D geometry and textures), so that I can do the best to improve both performance and functionality, as well as make field for more features that allow for a reusable EFB for our future aircraft.
  • Repaint Kit. Due to the major rework in the texturing side as I mentioned before, this will be on halt until the v2 official release. I will also do my best to include a dummy model, so that all changes made can be previewed before exporting.
  • FSDreamTeam’s GSX Pro Compatibility. On August 2022, the entire flight-sim community (myself included) was caught by surprise with the release of GSX Pro for Microsoft Flight Simulator, by the guys at FSDreamTeam. By the way, I want to congratulate Umberto and all his team for this magnificent release! Most of you asked me if I have plans to make NextGen’s aircraft compatible with GSX Pro. The answer is: YES! I am currently doing some research about how to interface GSX with our aircraft. I hope to have an initial functionality integrated into the EMB-110v2 and the S340, once both products are released.
  • Modern Turboprop & CFD Visualization Models. I know this has been requested after SU9 came out. Unfortunately, by that time I was not totally settled down yet, and I think JayDee already made both available in his unofficial mod. Thanks to JD for this, and I will merge what he made into the base product.
  • Other fixes to address. I am also addressing some other bugs reported by all of you, from both platforms (PC & Xbox), rectifying all systems, details, and parameters, and fixing if required. I am addressing all product areas, from the 3D models up to the installation UX. Sounds are not an exception either.

Free… or… Paid?
Now, for those asking whether this upgrade will be paid or free. In the end, and once released, v2 will be a free upgrade for current users, and also new customers will have this v2 available since the first minute after purchase. This is due to two reasons in particular:
One, due to the way Microsoft Flight Simulator is being updated, in a similar fashion (and from my perspective, please let me know if I am wrong) as how Windows feature updates are rolled out. I mean, you pay once for the OS license, and you get all feature updates for free throughout the OS’s support lifecycle. MSFS is being updated and matured that way too.
And two, the strategy of offering the V2 upgrade as a separate purchase would also be unfair, especially for Marketplace users. Whereas non-Marketplace users would have a discounted fee for the upgrade, as this is allowed by the stores where our products are published, if you purchased the product from the Marketplace, offering v2 as a separate product would make you to pay again for the product with no discounted fees. Again, this is not fair.

In conclusion, and because of the reasons above, this upgrade will be free for current users of the product. Plus, there are good news. Effective since the day v2 is publicly available, the product price will be permanently dropped from $34.99 down to $19.99. That is one of the reasons why I am trying to speed up v2 development and make it publicly available as soon as possible.

EMB-110 Installer bugs, including the detection error bug recently found
Regarding the installer UX, I deeply apologize for all the inconveniences generated by the installation program for 3rd-party-stores’ users. I recognize that deploying the product using the Windows Installer technology was a fatal, fatal mistake. I do not even blame those of you who felt very angry and unsatisfied with the product due to this front, I am completely aware of my mistake, and I deeply regret of doing that.

My intention at first with the current installer was to improve its GUI (Graphical User Interface), making it friendlier for customers while not being so 1990s-ish in terms of visual style, and while also coding its backend in such a way it could do what it was designed for: install an add-on for Microsoft Flight Simulator.

Right now, I am redoing the installation program, so that it is not based on Windows Installer anymore from now on, but at the same time, not based on the old Inno Setup, which although it is reliable in almost all installation scenarios and it served me so well for years, it is not good for me (at least not now) unfortunately, especially due to the lack of long paths support and the old Wizard 97 style.

By the way, this new installation program will be available only for Just Flight and Flight One customers. For SimMarket users, I will use their simInstaller technology instead.

Additionally, I recently issued a Service Bulletin for the EMB-110 product, where some users whose system is running Windows 11 22H2 experienced a very weird bug, where the installation program does not gather the MSFS installation, although MSFS was indeed installed on the affected systems. As I mentioned on the Service Bulletin, this bug is at operating system level, and its cause is currently unknown as of the date of posting this status update. If you plan to upgrade your computer to Windows 11 22H2, please install the product first before upgrading the operating system, or try deferring the upgrade for as much as Windows Update allows. Otherwise, please follow the instructions given on the Service Bulletin posted.

EMB-110 & A Severe Case of Software Piracy
Thanks to reports from some followers of ours on social media, and whose names will not be publicly displayed for protection purposes, I found that our product was pirated and also RE-SOLD by someone (either an individual or a dedicated group) without our consent at Mercado Libre Brazil. This is ILLEGAL. I am SO angry in this regard. Currently, I am attempting to contact the Brazilian Mercado Libre, so that the product can be pulled out from there, as this is a clear violation of our intellectual property rights.

Those who “acquired” the product from that store will have NO rights for support on our side, this is like supporting those criminals. In case those affected persons require support and assistance from us, please LEGALLY acquire the product from our authorized resellers (SimMarket, Just Flight and Flight One, or the MSFS’s in-game Marketplace).

For now, this project has a very slow pace of work due to the full focus I have on the EMB-110 v2. Currently, the interior modelling is in progress, and the exterior model will undergo a PBR texturing process, so there are not many teasers of the S340 yet, but in the meantime, here are some teasers of the VC progress as of today (raw from 3ds Max and no textures yet), as well as a preview of some other liveries that will be bundled into the product.

Regarding release timeframe, I hope to fully focus on the S340 immediately after the EMB-110 v2 release and will do the best to get this aircraft ready by mid-Fall 2023 or before, if all goes well and as planned.

Our Future Developments
I told you before that Virtualcol transferred us their developments of their propeller-driven aircraft to us, right? Well, I am currently re-arranging the development roadmap, because I honestly am a bit uncertain of which ones have to be prioritized. And because of this, I am preparing a survey, where I would like you to answer and help us evaluate which aircraft we have to develop or prioritize development of. Once I have it ready, I will share the information about it and the deadline to answer.

Some lines about third-party mods
Now, and before I conclude this status update, I have some words about third-party mods to our products, where product functionality is impacted. Please take note that liveries and texture artwork modifications are not impacted by this change, for which they are allowed. The following applies only for modifications where functionality (systems, backend code, etc.) is impacted.

I am going to review the policy and review our License Agreement regarding these modifications, taking the following items into consideration:

  1. Decrease of support cases reporting broken functionality. More than 80% of the incidents and bugs reported in technical support cases I received throughout the year had been caused by third-party mods available online, including the JayDee’s one. By just removing the mod, the product worked as expected.
  2. Better control over the improvements made. Because of the latter, I have no control over what other users modify to the product, compared to what I fix and/or improve to the product. Please remember that I bring support and assistance to the product we developed and delivered as is, and not to what others fixed via mods.
  3. Equally-benefitted customers. What is improved and fixed into the product via mods is only available for Windows users, but ¿what about Xbox users? They are unable to get those. The purpose is to benefit both PC and Xbox users.
  4. Copyright protection. Yes, the most important one. Since those modifications are delivered without MY permission (because I am the author of the product and hence the copyrights owner), and according to our License Agreement, this is like publishing the product cracked and pirated, for which it can be considered a violation to our copyright rights. I know those users who released the available functionality mods did not release them with that intention, of course. But I have to act in this regard, for the sake of protecting our intellectual property rights. I rather prefer to merge what others fixed and release that in the form of a patch, than allowing those other users to publish mods without my permission.

I would like to thank all contributing users (including JayDee) for all the contributions made in order to improve the overall product experience. Now, and because I am the author of the product, I am going to merge those modifications into the EMB-110, with the help of the mods’ authors, if required.

I am so sorry in advance for all the disagreements you may have in this regard, but any further third-party mod to our products is prohibited without further consent starting now, and until the definitive revision of the License Agreement and the mods policy (about this kind of technical and functionality modifications) is ready. Once I have the mods policy revised, I will communicate you the rules in this regard. Also, the new revision of the License Agreement, including the notes about mods, will be made effective since the zero-minute the EMB-110 v2 is publicly available.

Final Words
I hope I have clarified the questions and given you a reason to be excited and happy right now. I recognize that we must speed up both updates and development, but rest assured that we (especially me) are doing our best to develop and release both new products and current product updates.

I have big hopes that 2023 will be a great year for the company, not only because NextGen will turn 10 years old in January, but also because I hope to re-organize myself on this side of things, especially after the major changes in my private life throughout 2022. I will tell you more details in this front in the NextGen’s 10th anniversary note, that is going to be posted on mid-January.

For now, that is all what I have to tell you in this status update. Thank you very much for your comprehension, your feedback, your biggest patience, and your continued support. May these December holidays be filled with peace, happiness and joy to you and your loved ones! Merry Christmas and Happy 2023 in advance to everyone! May God and the Holy Virgin Mary bless you all!

See you in the virtual skies!

Kind regards,

Carlos D. Gonzalez
CEO, Founder & Lead Developer
NextGen Simulations