Couple of weeks after release of FTXG, the hype has settled and more truth has been shown on the FTXG, what the product really is. The problem however is that ORBX doesn’t really want to show it – whatever the reason for that.
For those not knowing what this is: FTXG is a global set of textures replacing default FSX ones with new (realistic) ones. The change is global, meaning it doesn’t look better or worse in any part of the world (like ORBX FTX regions products do). FTXG replaces textures only, it doesn’t place roads, mesh, autogen or anything. They do however also replace default autogen textures with what they say is better too. In a whole, ORBX produced quite a good replacement for default FSX. This whole product however, doesn’t only come at the financial price, but also at another price…
The problem (or the advantage, depending how you look at it) is with FTXG, as many probably don’t even know, that it changes the core structure of the FSX, NOT following the FSX SDK, thus causing potential problems. Those problems will show themselves usually in combination with other addons. I intentionally said potential, so the problems show here and there.
I had one-two errors flying around, others have reported other errors. The problem on the whole is that no-one’s Sim is the same! ORBX doesn’t provide an easy way to turn off FTXG (like they do with their regions), nor does it provide an easy uninstaller, so having it installed, you are left only to wonder if it’s FTXG causing the problem, or something else!
I have a specific problem at a Croatian airport Dubrovnik (LDDU), where trees grow on runways since I installed FTXG. It is an airport I like flying to, but since the FTXG I am unable to. It’s not a great looking airport and is not up to today’s standards, but it is an airport in my homeland, and I simply like flying there.
Now, I also read about removal of the cvx files (a custom landclass?), which might be FTXG-incompatible. Anyway…
The explanation from ORBX was following and I quote:
“it looks to me as if the issue with the trees on the runway is due to the Croatia add-on not using one of the default airport grounds landclass types, which don’t have autogen. There are some non-airport classes in default FSX that also don’t have autogen but they do in the FTXG replacement textures and thus add-ons that use these classes will display unwanted autogen. In short, this isn’t an issue with lclookup.bgl or terrain.cfg but simply default versus FTXG textures and autogen with an add-on that uses a non-standard class for their airport grass polygons. Kosta, does the situation change at all whether you select FTXG hybrid mode or not?
The easiest fix would probably be to add local autogen excludes with ADE or SBuilderX, by someone who owns that add-on, and then share those files in our compatibility subforum with other users. (Holger Sandmann)”
So, ORBX changed the core files of the simulator, rendered my addon unusable and the world is fine. Even from reading occasional posts about FTXG on their forums, I was never aware that FTXG will make such changes. And I am probably one of the most advanced users in the community when it comes to FSX. And the errors have been reported by other users too.
So, what happens when a simple user crosses this? He won’t even know where to begin.
Again: they “announced” the core file changes over the forums. But they neither warned users prior to installation, nor before purchase, nor do they provide ANY kind of switch or removal.
In other words, ORBX are forcing you to use FTXG after you decided to pay them a substantial amount of money. Not giving you an option, forcing.
They have also announced that an uninstaller is in the works and testing, however why do they delay – what can be so hard to make an uninstaller, if I can restore the files inside of minutes manually, after a little research? Why did they release a product without an uninstaller or without the OPEN EXPLANATION on how to back-up your sim prior to installation and warning you to do so! FTXG saves your current state of textures, but it does not save everything (eg. does not make a full copy of your scenery\world\texture folder, in which it installs its textures) nor it does backup anything else changed. At least not in FSX.
So what does FTXG installer really change:
FTXG installer backs up all the files in the scenery\world\texture folder, but it omits the backup folders made by other addons in that folder. So if you were to remove the old folder, you would also inadvertently remove those backups. Ain’t a big of a deal though, if you know what you’re doing.
Then come the core files:
Holger says they are to be found here: \ORBX\Scripts\FTXCentral\InstallBackup
But hey, funnily enough I find them at another location: \ORBX\Scripts\Backup (and I don’t even know if that’s right!). They could also be region backups. My backups are the whole images of my drives on another drives, which I backup monthly, so I really have no problems restoring. But what about hundreds of other simmers who most likely don’t?
(- Extrusions.spb) – not sure if FTXG
(- Materials.spb) – not sure if FTXG
You might or might not be aware, but these are really important files in FSX and changing them basically changes the underlying structure of FSX, something other addon developers rely onto. So basically, if they change this, other addon developer must ensure fully compatibility with FTXG, and I have already began to see the first. Some might call this progress, but if ORBX decides to change the core of the simulator, they should make those changes and new landclass lookup tables (and whatever else is there) publicly and freely available for any other developer out there.
Now, there is also a folder \ORBX\Scripts\FTX Global\Backup which contains custom.eu files (and here are some of the files from above, the “core” files from FSX). I reckon these are the custom files to change the FSX core to display their region. And THIS has been always known, that if you have a FTX region active and fly somewhere else, you might start seeing errors, due to custom jobs ORBX has done to autogen, lclookup etc.
So, basically, what ORBX did with their regions, is now doing to the whole world, without giving an ability to the user to switch back and forth! Reason: the world the way ORBX imagined it. Fine! I agree! I like it! But you can’t make it incompatible with other addons (or at least not without warning the user with a big fat warning field!), no matter how many or which, and not give the user ability to switch FTXG off. It is simply unfair to the less knowledgeable users, who would have no idea how to “fix” the errors, if some arise.
In my opinion, the best thing for everyone would be for ORBX to provide a user not only with the ability to uninstall the product, but also with an ability TO SWITCH THE TEXTURES JUST LIKE THE REGION PRODUCTS!!
I am not going into guessing why it all transpires as it does, but I would like to warn every future FTXG buyer to BE AWARE of what you are getting. No mistake, FTXG is a beautiful upgrade for the whole FSX world, with many upsides and also some downsides, however at what cost really?
Nick Needham on Simforums was so kind to write up a detailed way for those wanting to remove the product manually: