Hello to all,
time has come to finally present our next product, which you might have seen hinted on the main webpage as "Coming Soon". It's called XPOI
, which stands for: Points of Interest for Flight Simulator X
It's our first product written entirely using our new Python scripting/simulation engine for FSX and, as you might have imagined, is a native FSX-only product.What is XPOI ?
XPOI is a geographical information tool, that will open up an entirely new dimension for your VFR flying. It has been often said that FSX is the better VFR sim. With this tool you'll be able to enhance your visual flying experience, getting to know what's around you. Flying in unknown areas will become an entirely different experience, and flying over your backyard might give you a new perspective of your local area.How it works
XPOI runs as a plugin of the Couatl script engine for FSX that you already encountered at JFK airport. This is how it looks like during flight when is activated:
Here, we are flying in the Milano area in Italy. The Points of Interest will appear as 3D icons around you, with their names and a different icon to represent their category. There are many different categories of POIs, from airports to populated places, to mountains, rivers/lakes, landmarks, cities, but also smaller features like schools, postal offices, rail stations, etc.
With an Hotkey (CTRL+F11 by default), you'll be able to immediately turn off/on all the 3D POIs, which is very convenient in case you want to return to the standard way of flying, or if they clutter the screen (more on declutter options later on)
The coverage is GLOBAL
, this means you'll have the Entire World
at your disposal. Here's another screenshot, flying around Munich, Germany:
An example of a famous landmark here. The Olympia Park is categorized as a Park, so it shown with its appropriate icon:
Another screenshot, flying close to Haneda International Airport, in Tokyo:
Wikipedia at your disposal
One of the more innovative features in XPOI, is the ability to query Wikipedia, to give you more informations about your surroundings: by pressing another Hotkey (CTRL+F9 by default), the Wikipedia menu will appear:
All geotagged Wikipedia entries for the area you are flying will be presented, sorted by distance from your position. Similar to the default ATC airport list, the menu is dynamically updated while you are flying. When you select an entry from the menu, a red arrow will appear over the object and a short summary of the relevant Wikipedia article will appear on top of the screen, like this:
In this case, we selected the BMW building in Munich, and the information is displayed...in Italian
Of course, we have a solution for this, by opening the XPOI Settings menu:
It's possible to change your preferred language for the Wikipedia articles. Of course, the number of articles and coverage can change depending on languages, because that's how Wikipedia works. Usually, querying in English will get more results, but it's nice to know that the information is available in many languages. Here's the same article, when English is set as the preferred language:
But wait...there's more...
If you want to know the FULL story about a specific point of interest, there's an Embedded Browser in the product! By using another Hotkey (CTRL+F10 by default) a window will open, pointing to the full Wikipedia article for that place, like this:
The embedded browser is compatible with FSX Full Screen mode, but can also be used on a separate monitor, which is very convenient.
In case the selected point is not in front of you, there's an handy Wikipedia compass that will help you locating the point, just follow the pointed arrow:
Flying in the "Middle of nowhere"
It's usually very boring, because you might not know the place, or the detail might not be very exciting, apart from vast areas of autogen...with XPOI, you'll find new interest flying into unknown areas, here's an example of the 1st airport in the FSX list, "108 miles ranch", which is located somewhere in Canada:
Of course, we still have Wikipedia info at our disposal:
Another interesting place: Juneau, Alaska:
"I wonder what mountain is that...". This is something you'll never say again, with XPOI:
Note that some icons are bigger than others, because things like mountains are supposed to be visible from a greater distance than, for example, schools or postal offices.
Screen cluttering and customization
In some areas, you might find there's simply too much information available to be able to clearly make out all features. For example, here's a screenshot taken on the runway of the Tahiti airport:
Using the XPOI Settings menu, it's possible to customize very precisely which points will appear on screen:
POIs are categorized with a Major Class (like Population, Hydrology, Vegetation, etc.) and with several sub-classes. It's possible to turn on/off an entire major class, or to fine-tune the settings to selectively turn on/off individual sub-classes. For example, you might want to turn on Airports, but turn off Hotels, even if they belong to the same Major class.
Here's Tahiti again, with only Populated Places on:
Wikipedia, even in this far far away place, is still available:
There's an inherent problem with any kind of geographical tool: the database and the issue of keeping updated. The quality/coverage of the database can really make or break a product and if distributing a complete database can be painful, keeping it updated it's even worse.
XPOI solved this problem at its root: there NO DATABASE included in the product!
The database is entirely online
, and it's not maintained by FSDreamTeam. It's mantained by the whole Geographical Community at www.geonames.org
, and everyone is able to contribute to it, even you!
There's no way a single company might be able to provide such huge amount of data for prices compatible with a Fllight Sim addon, let alone keep it updated. Being entirely online based, XPOI will be constantly
updated, even as we speak because each day, hundreds of new data, correction, small fixes, are always put in and they will appear immediately in XPOI, while you are flying!
Everybody is contributing to this database, not just Flight Sim users. But you wil be able to contribute as well, if you want. By registering for free to the Geonames.org website, you'll be able to post your own fixes, and these will be immediately available to everybody, both to the Geographical community, AND to other XPOI users. As the time passes, XPOI will automatically gets better, thanks to users contributions.
Of course, the same applies to Wikipedia articles, which are based on the same approach.
At this time, the database contains over 8 milion of points
, plus about 800.000 Wikipedia articles
in the different languages (English alone has, as of today, 171.000 articles). But these numbers will of course keep growing in the future.
XPOI will be released in mid October, probably the 16h, the price is not set in stone, but it should be in the range of 21-22 EUR, about 29$. As usual, we'll offer a freely downloadable Trial version, that will work for about 20 minutes at time, in selected areas around the World.