back to article Flight Simulator 2020: Exciting new ride or a doomed tailspin in a crowded market?

Earlier this week Microsoft announced that it was getting back into consumer flight simulation, nearly 15 years after abandoning the PC gaming field it largely pioneered in the public mind. As we reported, Redmond has published a glitzy trailer video that is long on graphics and noticeably short on detail. Thirteen years ago …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Now *this* is what VR is for ....

    A couple if years ago, I was pottering though the "new" New St. Station in Brum ("Grand Central") when a floppy fringe approached me and invited me to have a go in a "virtual reality" lounge that had opened (and has since closed). I passed on the offer learning that there was "no demand" for flightsim VR. (Despite, as he told me "everyone asks about it").

    I'd happy pay a few beer vouchers for a chance to sit in a VR flight simulator for an hour or so.

    1. toxicdragon

      Re: Now *this* is what VR is for ....

      Its not VR but Virtual Aerospace does do virtual flight experiences with a real cockpit.

    2. Annihilator Silver badge

      Re: Now *this* is what VR is for ....

      Find someone with a PS4 VR setup, Ace Combat 10 (and for a low earth orbit equivalent, the Call of Duty Jackal Assault extension) show the promise of what VR can do.

      The only negative is the VR content is limited to 3 missions.

    3. MyffyW Silver badge

      Re: Now *this* is what VR is for ....

      "fangirl ourselves into a puddle" - only if it involved the TSR2 ...

      1. The First Dave

        Re: Now *this* is what VR is for ....

        More to the point - does it have a 737MAX model?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Now *this* is what VR is for ....

          Dammit. Beat me by 3 mins.

          Not for commercial use so probably MCAS'd if it does.

          (Unless the Boeing streetsweepers have done their job)

  2. stiine Silver badge

    speaking of flight simulators

    There used to be one that run under Cygwin on Windows back in the late 90's early 00's. They have since shut down after announcing their own end. Does anyone remember what it was called?

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: speaking of flight simulators

      Sounds like FlightGear which started around the same time, only that's not shut down.

      1. stiine Silver badge

        Re: speaking of flight simulators

        That may be it, if not I'll keep looking (somewhere I have a cd with it saved...somewhere).


  3. Mike 16 Silver badge

    Changed the (IT) world

    I recall the days around the adoption of SubLogic's Flight Simulator by MSFT, and more importantly by IT (then often called MIS, if not DP) departments.

    IBM's failure to prevent "clones" originally promised "A thousand flowers" of PC innovation, but it soon became clear that much PC software bypassed the OS to bang directly on the hardware. The funkiness of early drivers may have had something to do with this. Purchasing departments started evaluating the "quality" of prospective vendors by running, you guessed it, Flight Simulator. Although companies claimed that they were buying PCs for word-processing and spreadsheets, ability to run Flight Simulator became the Gold Standard for "IBM PC Compatibility".

    This meant that trying to compete on features like CPU speed, power-supply reliability, or graphics was pointless. The only real criteria were "bit for bit and bug for bug" behavior, and of course price. This drove "white box" clone prices through the floor, while simultaneously reducing the need for shrink-wrap software developers to produce various versions of the products. One (later two) floppy disk format, a handful of glitch-compatible video cards, and we're done. Truly a Golden Age.

    Yes, I remember Turbo Buttons, and how infrequently they were used (or, presumably, tested).

    But imagine a world where PCs could compete on something other than price, and software developers could code to a published standard with confidence that a rising tide of PC performance would lift at least a few boats.

    Yeah/no nevermind

    1. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: Changed the (IT) world

      Shoot... I recall flying Sublogic's flight sim on my TRS-80. 128x48 resolution, IIRC?

      I probably would have cried if you told me about Kerbal Space Program.

      1. Totally not a Cylon

        Re: Changed the (IT) world

        ZX81 Flight Sim, provided you had the wheels down a power dive from 32,000 feet resulted in a bounce. 16bit signed int for altitude hence 32 & a bit thousand as max altitude. (Maybe, it was a long time ago and much whisky has been consumed since)

        1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Changed the (IT) world

          On the Spectrum version, a loop-the-loop (IIRC) resulted in flying backwards, which was fun...

        2. Anonymous Coward

          Re: Changed the (IT) world

          I remember Carrier Landing on the original 1K ZX81.

          A highly realistic experience, honest Trump.

          That was so long ago, we had a girl as PM; err , wait..........

          1. Sir Runcible Spoon

            Re: Changed the (IT) world

            I distinctly recall landing an f-16 upside down on an aircraft carrier on my amiga back in the day. Those tailfins sure are strong!

            1. Blane Bramble

              Re: Changed the (IT) world

              Or the joys of F15 Strike Eagle on the ZX Spectrum, so much engine power that you could get your wings blown off and fly back to base just by keeping the nose up.

              1. m0rt

                Re: Changed the (IT) world

                My favourite 'sim' was Microprose's Gunship 2000.

                Both on the 128K speccy and the C64.

              2. Luiz Abdala

                Re: Changed the (IT) world

                A certain Israeli Commander did just that with a F-15 in real life, but he tore just one wing off by bumping into an A4 Skyhawk's belly... that promptly crashed.

                I think you heard about this accident on the interwebs...

                1. Wellyboot Silver badge

                  Re: Changed the (IT) world

                  The A4 crashed, How the F15 actually landed really was a WTF! moment.

                  History chanel interview with pilot here!


      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Changed the (IT) world

        "Shoot... I recall flying Sublogic's flight sim on my TRS-80. 128x48 resolution, IIRC?"

        Ditto, and you are correct on the resolution. And for you kids out there, that was in black and white too. Not even grey scales!

        1. Simon Harris

          Re: Changed the (IT) world

          Indeed, and if I remember correctly, created using 64 'teletext' style 2x3 block characters in the normal character cell rather than being properly bit-mapped.

      3. LeahroyNake

        Re: Changed the (IT) world

        EF2000 by DID what a awesome game, think I was playing it on a P1 but could have been a cyrix 686 or something.

        The replay feature is better than anything that I have seen since, you could view from any angle, speed up slow down and pause... Think Racedriver GRID but in planes with a shed load more options.

    2. Totally not a Cylon

      Re: Changed the (IT) world

      Glad I'm not the only one who remembers Flight Sim 4 (I think) as the test of IBM compatibility.

      Or all the 'bootleg' copies being passed around the Physics/Engineering dept at Uni.

      Running in glorious 4 color mode on CGA, or fake VGA because an Oak graphics card had both connectors and DIP switches to tell it which type you had......

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Changed the (IT) world

        I recall the flight sim on the Silicon Graphics SGI machines. Spent several hours mucking around with that.

  4. werdsmith Silver badge

    Learning instrument flying in the early 90s, I spent many hours practising approaches and departures on MS Flight SImulator. The equipment was faithful to the real thing as were the ground based radio nav installations, and saved me a lot of £££ in reduced training time. "Flying the back of the needle" localiser back-course approach really is one of those things that is good to get under your hat on the ground before you attempt it in a noisy light aircraft.

    1. notamole

      They started marketing the old Flight Simulators a a tool for pilot training (with some iffy claims of counting toward your license by some less-than-reputable people). My joystick broke years ago but I think this might be worth a HOTAS investment.

      1. LDS Silver badge

      2. werdsmith Silver badge

        To get the thing properly working with a VR headset has real potential for useful simulation.

        1. notamole

          It definitely will be, but it won't count toward your flight time, which was a thing often claimed about FSX.

          1. werdsmith Silver badge

            Don't think any FTO ever claimed FSX Sim time could be logged, but it definitely does enable your actual flight time to be more productive and reduce the number of dual hours required to get up to standard (as most people use more than the minimum).

        2. Johnr

          VR will be great . Enough of trying to position 3 monitors to give you the "immersion" you want

    2. W@ldo

      I've been licensed for a long time as commercial, multi-engine & glider. The flight sim as the poster mentions is great for working out instrument procedures in an environment where you can have unlimited time to get it right. Training in an aircraft is expensive and anything you can do to shorten that amount of time saves money.

      My use case was to shoot several approaches into an unfamiliar airport prior to flying to that destination. It helps to get the basics of each approach down and to have the frequencies/procedures in your head for quick recall. This provides a lot more confidence when shooting the approach down to minimums. Sure, you cannot log the hours, but that's not the point. Think of it as a way to maintain proficiency, shorten the learning curve and save on actual aircraft instruction time.

  5. fung0

    Things Left Unsaid

    What the article fails to mention is the "Powered by satellite data and Azure AI" notice right at the start of the video. That, together with the ludicrously-detailed visuals, suggests that this will be 100% cloud-streaming. And therefore probably a very limited joyride simulator, akin to Flight.

    This is probably Microsoft's feeble way of distracting Xbox fan(atics) from Google Stadia. Developing a deep simulation would take years, and it's clearly not a task that MS is up to these days.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Things Left Unsaid

      Satellite data were used even in FSX - just not with that resolution. There were add-ons that brought in terrain data with more resolution. Used properly, the AI could bring more realism to the sim - i.e. ATC managing different planes even if there's no human ATC. Could also generate more realistic synthetic scenery from satellite data - and keep those data up-to-date, which would be welcome by those who use a flightsim for real training (but not so welcome by scenery designers, probably).

      It's also a way to bound people into a subscription - which for a "game" aimed at people that may not spend most of their days "playing" it, could not be the right choice. I do still use FSX, when I have some time to dedicate.

      One of the issues that sank Flight - which already had an updated engine - was the very limited "world" available. The little that was available lacked big airports and big planes, and didn't allow for longer flights.

      Updating the world should be no issue - AFAIK even with FSX MS partnered with Jeppesen, and probably used its database to automatically generate most airports and navaids, that's the easy part, I think. Anyway beyond detailed scenarios for a few places, MS did not a little work to add some recognizable places in many cities scattered around the world, even the details were not great.

      The fact they plan an XBox version is an head-scratcher - flightsim are known to become quickly boring if you don't aim to really learn how to fly - and following real rules. There was also Combat Flight Simulator - maybe they will bring it back too? Still, real acrobatic/combat maneuvers require even more skills - even without the G-forces that real pilot have to stand. Still, you can reduce realism settings and play in something that is more arcade-like.

      1. baud

        Re: Things Left Unsaid

        I remember getting splattered by a variety of planes in Combat Flight Simulator, including my own when I got too enthusiast with the rockets

        1. Johnr

          Re: Things Left Unsaid

          Loved that Sim

    2. notamole

      Re: Things Left Unsaid

      I highly doubt that. First off, Azure AI isn't a data storage or streaming service, it's a machine learning service. There's nothing in the trailer that suggests it will be streamed in any way. They would need to use something like Azure to procedurally generate the terrain and buildings from the satellite data into usable models.

      1. Annihilator Silver badge

        Re: Things Left Unsaid

        "There's nothing in the trailer that suggests it will be streamed in any way"

        Watching the trailer, the sheer size of the scenery files to support 4K down to ground level (including cities, buildings, etc) across the globe will mean there will be some level of non-local storage involved.

  6. A. Coatsworth

    As the article rightly points out, the greatest feature of Flight Simulator was the ability to run it in anything slightly more powerful than a toaster. I wish MS would do the same this time around, so more people can enjoy it without having to upgrade their pc. Sadly, I envision it to be always-online, and tied to the latest Win 10 build...

    In unrelated topics, that pic of the restored Swordfish in flight really warms the heart of this commentard.

    1. gotes

      All the aircraft models will be in 2D FLATSO-nic... or something.

    2. LDS Silver badge

      "the ability to run it in anything slightly more powerful than a toaster"

      You lost most of the features on low-power machines. Airports became quite bare, and weather simulation too. You could have been limited to 2D cockpits, and the Garmin G1000 requires some CPU, as detailed 3D cockpits. Sure, you could still learn the basics of flight that way, but the realism suffered, and FPS as well. You can fly decently even around 20 fps, but it's not great, especially close to land.

    3. big_D Silver badge

      The Swordfish was a great plane and useful in many sea battles. I remember the one in Hendon, when I was a kid.

      I'd like a De Havilland Beaver. I've just rediscovered "The Most Dangerous Game" as an audio book - loved the story as a kid - and would love to fly up and down the Finnish/Russian frontier with one.

    4. Aladdin Sane
  7. CountCadaver

    IF they are so desperate for staff then why are they not making more of an effort to train staff or shock.......retrain laid off folks / upskill folk with compatible skills.

    I never get why if the govt wants to up tax take and get folk off the dole, that they don't do the following: 1) offer companies a juicy tax break / payment for training and employing candidates they refer 2) hire some folk to do some intensive skills assessment of those signing on / just laid off / just graduated and highlight positions they might have an aptitude for but were unaware of, 2b) send them on literacy/numeracy courses if necessary 3) refer / introduce candidates to relevant employers.

    Its radical but the job centre have been failing folk for years on end, the stick isn't solving the zero hours contracts, the skills shortages in various industries, the lack of tax take due to people in low paid jobs that they are underemployed in and if they were employed to their potential then they would be paying a decent chunk of taxes and not need govt top ups like universal credit etc....

    Sell it to your votebase quite easily - Tories - we're prioritising british workers, overcoming the skills shortages industry is grappling with and raising people out of a cycle of dependency into good paying work so they can stand independent and hold their heads high.

    Labour: We're giving thr working man and woman a leg up, forcing businesses to train british workers and not undermining their wages by bringing in low cost workers from elsewhere


  8. Netgeezer

    Since the early days

    New pilot possibilities aside, I remember playing FS2 2 in my Dad's office in the 80's. Played versions through the years until the early 2000's.

    When I saw the video for this I could easily see me merrily crashing ridiculous aircraft while trying to land and getting it all hopelessly wrong. Just as I did when I was a kid.

    I even have a HOTAS used for Elite...

    Halcyon days.

  9. Tromos

    If it's an outright purchase and capable of running offline, sign me up. I do not rent or lease software or subscribe to clouds. If it isn't effectively an upgrade or better version of FSX that's where I'll stick, dated or no.

  10. [VtS]Alf

    So, not a native English speaker over here, but I read this article like; MS _will_ bring out a new FS(2020) and while we enjoy the 4K trailer, we are still assuming that MS will use the old physics engine, so it _might_ suck anyway. But until there’s more information released, we actually don’t have a clue, but try to bloom it with ifs and maybes. ¿Que?

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Welcome to English-speaking journalism. Not having the info is not an impediment to writing an article.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        I suspect that may not be an exclusively English speaking disease.

  11. cageordie

    Will it have more accurate aircraft models than X-Plane? By more accurate I mean engine performance, including modeling fuel burn and thrust changes with weather and altitude. Will it fly correctly? Will MCAS shove you into the ground on a 737 Max? Will it have all the switches on the overhead live and controlling the right systems models? If it won't then it's another junk toy. If it will then I'll take a look.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Still, Lockheed Prepar3D was born out of FSX, not X-Plane.... yes, that Lockheed....

      Anyway, while the default airplanes in FSX may not have been that great, especially the big birds, many third-party ones were extremely detailed and very close to the actual airplanes.

    2. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

      How much do you think Boeing will be prepared to pay Microsoft to ensure that MCAS does not, in fact, "shove you into the ground"?

  12. the Jim bloke Silver badge


    Will it run on Win 7 ?

    Looking at some old bills, its been almost 10 years since I bought my gaming PC, and a major reason I havent replaced it is the abysmal operating systems that MS have decreed are the future.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: So...

      Well, given that Win 7 is EOL, I doubt that Microsoft would allow it's next-generation flight sim to run on that creaking platform.

      Even though it could probably use the Win 7 population to get more subscriptions, while teasing them about how much better the game would be in Win 1 0.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So...

        As with everything these days, MicroGit will claim it will only work on the current OS; and the day after it is released someone will post a hack that lets everyone using an OS back as far as Win95 play it.

    2. LDS Silver badge

      Re: So...

      It will require DirectX 12 or whatever is current now, so it won't run on earlier OS. Moreover 7 will be out of support in January 2020, so I can't really see any reason to support it, no matter how I personally dislike Windows 10.

  13. Mike Lewis

    I never got the hang of Flight Simulator, crashing every time I tried to land. My brother is the same way. He took flying lessons. They asked him to stop.

    1. Chris Parsons Bronze badge

      If it's any comfort, I have a PPL and Instrument Rating. I find FSX MUCH harder than the real thing.

  14. Roger B

    I'd assumed this was going to be running on a PC, not necessarily on the Xbox One console, due to there not being enough buttons, although m&k support is available. Being a MS title it will be part of the Game Pass subscription service for either PC or the Xbox, and available for digital purchase for those of you scared of such modern business plans, and yes it will be Windows 10 only.

    There are a few promotional pictures on the assets page of the Xbox news site for anyone wanting to have a browse.

  15. Graham Triggs

    Flight Sim World

    Interestingly, nobody has mentioned Flight Sim World when covering this.

    Yes, it was a Dovetail game - but Train Simulator / TSW came out of the development of Microsoft's Train Simulator, and Dovetail had taken on Flight Sim X and out of the old Microsoft platform came Flight School and apparently FSW (the details of the engine were, iirc, a bit sketchy).

    Is there a relationship between FSW being canned last year, and a new MS Flight Sim announced this?

  16. Howard Hanek


    The Laws of Aerodynamics are not easily mastered. Most people who play this game have absolutely no clue what they are and how they work.

    Lift, drag, thrust. The venturi principle that makes wings lift. A/C specs, center of balance, stall speeds, the stresses aerobatics place on the a/c.

    In real life what causes most crashes are not pilot error but mechanical and system failures.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Physics

      BIRD: What the devil are you doing up here?!

      ARTHUR: Falling!

      BIRD: Then get on with it! Go on.

      ARTHUR: But the drop will kill me!

      BIRD ONE: Well, you should have thought of that before you started out. No point in saying “I think I’ll just go for a quick drop and if I get tired on the way down, I’ll jump onto a passing bird”. It’s not like that up here, you know! It’s all to do with the harsh realities of physics, up in the sky; it’s power-to-weight ratios, it’s wing cross-section, wing surface-areas. It’s practical aerodynamics! It’s also cold and extremely windy! You’ll be better off on the ground.

      ARTHUR: No I won’t, I’ll be dead!

      BIRD ONE: Well, it’s your habitat, not mine.

      ARTHUR: It’s not a question of whose habitat it is; it’s a question of how fast you hit it!

      1. imanidiot Silver badge

        Re: Physics

        In case anybody DOESN'T get that reference, start listening over here

      2. Aladdin Sane

        Re: Physics

        You deserve 42 upvotes for that.

    2. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: Physics

      "In real life what causes most crashes are not pilot error but mechanical and system failures."

      uhhhmm, No. The root cause is rarely mechanical or systems failure. Every single country that keeps statistics and does investigations finds that while mechanical and systems failures are often contributing factors the main killer for aircrews/pilots is "Loss of situational awareness". Focus on problem solving the system failure (even if it's not critical) leads to loss of awareness and pilots stop doing the important job of flying the aircraft.

    3. Adrian Harvey

      Re: Physics

      Before criticising others’ understanding of Aerodynamics it’s a good idea to make sure your facts are correct. The venturi principle [sic] has little to do with wing lift. See this NASA link for detail

      1. M E H

        Re: Physics

        Did he mean the Bernoulli principle?

        1. Adrian Harvey

          Re: Physics

          Possibly - the Venturi effect and the Bernoulli principle are related. Roughly speaking, Venturi observed the effect, Bernoulli did the maths.

  17. 9Rune5
    Thumb Up

    Ready for takeoff

    I own two copies of FS:X. One bought way back when (complete with box and manual -- at least I think there was a manual, but I could be mixing with Falcon4 which is probably the last game ever to bundle a proper manual) and of course I jumped at the Steam version, because then I wouldn't have to deal with any physical discs at all (they're all in the attic).

    I believe a part of me died when I realized FS:X was to be the last of its kind. I really hope the new FS will prove me wrong.

  18. bed

    Flying in the clouds

    Articles elsewhere on the internet suggest the processing will be done in the (Azure?) cloud which means the client end will have less processing to do but latency issues may restrict usuability and, perhaps, this is more hand held console stuff than full-blown multi-4K-monitor stuff.

  19. David Pearce

    Any modern PC should be capable of running a single screen flight simulator smoothly, Flightgear runs nicely on an I3 class, FSX used to run well on PCs with a graphics card much slower than most built in graphics are now and only a GB or so RAM back then.

  20. Marty McFly Silver badge

    Microsoft Train Simulator

    Now there is a niche title I would like to see updated. Never would happen, but doesn't mean I wouldn't like to see it.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Microsoft Train Simulator

      Ha ha! Great little program that one. Yes.

    2. Francis Boyle

      Re: Microsoft Train Simulator

      As mentioned above Microsoft Train Simulator has been continuously updated since MS abandoned. And it is still being updated by its current owner Dovetail Games despite Dovetail having brought out Train Sim World which boasts all the glossiness you'd expect from a contemporary title. For the same reason they keep FSX going – huge developer support and a massive back library of addons. Glossiness doesn't mean much if the depth isn't there as I suspect MS will find out.

      1. Patched Out

        Re: Microsoft Train Simulator

        Not to get too off-topic, but owning both Train Simulator and Train Sim World, I can say the latter is more visually appealing, but has not seen large scale adoption from Train Simulator users, since TSW still does not support the RailDriver controller (despite multiple promises from Dovetail Games), which many hardcore TS enthusiasts own (including myself). So much so, that after having bought the core TSW game, many are vowing not to spend another cent (farthing, peso, etc.) on any add-ons until RailDriver support is provided. There are also serious problems with the game optimization that makes frame rates low on even fairly highly spec'd PC's that after over a year (2 years now?) Dovetail Games has still not addressed adequately.

        Meanwhile they released a 64-bit update to Train Simulator 2019 as well as continued add-ons (which I continue to buy), so it is hard to say what their intentions are for continuing support of both simulators.

        I'm being cautiously optimistic about this new MSFS2020, but hopefully MS learn from Dovetail's mistakes and provide advanced controller support from the get go. Supporting only an Xbox-style game controller is not going to fly (so to speak)!

    3. Patrician

      Re: Microsoft Train Simulator

      You wish has been granted:-

  21. Cartimand

    Genuinely looking forward to this.

    I spent a lot of time on FSX, including the around the world in 70 flights challenge in a gorgeous old Lockheed Electra. Also loved some of the built-in FSX missions, notably the Bermuda Triangle one. Have been meaning to upgrade my old desktop PC for a higher spec gaming machine for some time. Guess this will give me the excuse I needed.

  22. Simon

    Having bought Microsoft Flight only to have all the servers shut down and purchases lost I would not buy this.

    Anyone else who bought this can get it running again with Flight Toolkit, no thanks to MS.

  23. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    Love MS flight sim...

    I love Flight sims, but I'm still not building a fully functioning cockpit in my shed. Unlike a lot of other fans of the genre...

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Love MS flight sim...

      Or, indeed, a fully functional shed in the cockpit. Got to have a man cave.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    IFR applies.

    FS in the cloud.

  25. Carl D

    Still using Microsoft Flight Simulator 2002 Professional occasionally which, surprisingly, still works with Windows 10 (1903).

    The only thing that doesn't display is the 'rotating' 3D model of the aircraft you've selected to fly before beginning the simulation. No biggie - doesn't affect anything else at all.

    Also play the original Microsoft Train Simulator from time to time which also works fine in Windows 10.

    I'm more than a little surprised that these simulators work in Windows 10 since both of them were supposed to be incompatible from Windows 7 - or was it Vista? - upwards (and they both worked in Windows 7 and 8.1).

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I played Truck Sim once. Spent the whole weekend sat on the M20 as part of operation stack. Never again.

  27. fpx
    Black Helicopters

    I once spent a nice hour in this flight simulator: It is not full motion, with no force feedback, but the cockpit looks pretty much like the real thing to someone who has not seen the real thing. Controls like sticks, pedals, dials and buttons are in the right place and functional.

    And yet, behind the scenes, it is based on Microsoft Flight Simulator. Pretty impressive! Just the physics part seemed a bit too simplistic, since my co-pilot, with no prior experience, nailed the landing of an Airbus 320 at Hong Kong's Kai Tak airport.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      It could depend on how the realism sliders were set. If they are at their minimum settings, no damages, etc. flying is quite simple, even landing. Crank them up, enable damages, etc. and it becomes quickly quite more difficult.

      One thing FSX sorely lacked was per-plane settings. Both controls settings, keyboard shortcuts, etc, and some realism setting, i.e. gyro drift.

      As third party planes became more and more complex, some were designed with specific settings. I.e. some plane allows for "belly landing" with a landing gear failure, simulating as much as they could the situation (sparks, bent propellers, etc.), but it IIRC works only if terrain impact is disabled - because it just resets the game.

  28. imanidiot Silver badge

    If MS wants this to be a succes the it'll have to be:

    - As easy to expand as the original. I don't agree with the author that it has to work with the old ESP framework as anyone who worked with it will know it was clunky to say the least but it can improve on this with actual documentation (Free and openly available) and use of real world units instead of weird scalars that affected 3 different aspects of a model at the same time (an not mutually exclusive of course).

    - Run offline without requiring an internet connection

    - Provide "good enough" flight physics out of the box. No-one into serious simming ever accused the MS flight models of being accurate, but that's where point number one, add-ons, comes back in.

    - Provide the same scenery wise: Good enough elevation data, some detailed large airports around the world, the full Jeppesen database reproduced procedurally (not super accurately, leave that to the community and industry)

    - Priced attractively enough for the general public (80 Euros max for a single not-for-profit license) and for businesses (Offer cheaper single seat, single user commercial licenses and the like)

    1. LDS Silver badge

      "I don't agree with the author that it has to work with the old ESP framework"

      Many flightsimmer have a "huge" investments in add-ons.

      While it is true that not every one should work, and some could be replaced by new built-in features, it would take a long time for FS MMXX to offer the same broad selection of airplanes.

      Even if MS publish the SDK (it was free in FSX, it came with the game CD), and doesn't attempt to set up a walled garden store with huge fees for developers, it will take time to build a new ecosystem around the product. Being able to "import" some of the old add-ons would help to jump-start the new product.

      Many prospective customer could pass if they can't fly their favourite - for any reason - aircraft. This is one area were "Flight" utterly failed - it tried to box everyone into one of the few planes available.

      Hope they learnt the lesson, but I wouldn't be so sure.

      Anyway, many third party airplanes found some limitations in the flight physics - even if built-in airplanes may not push the envelope, if the engine itself has limitations workaround can overcome them only up to a certain degree - they can't replace many of the internal workings.

      When FSX was realeased a lot of PC were still single core, and GPU acceleration only in its infancy - it meant a lot of compromises. Now there's a lot more processing power.

      1. Swiss Anton

        Re: "I don't agree with the author that it has to work with the old ESP framework"

        I sort of agree, I have many 3rd party aircraft, as well as one that I made myself; which I've published as freeware, 900+ downloads to date :-). I've also created new scenery and added all the farm strips that are near to where I live. I'd hate to loose these. As long are there is a way to import these into a new MS FS then I'd be happy even though I will need a new PC & Graphics card to run the new MS FS.

      2. imanidiot Silver badge

        Re: "I don't agree with the author that it has to work with the old ESP framework"

        While I agree it would be beneficial to be able to import the old models, if you've ever tried to work with .air files describing the flight behaviour of the aircraft you'll know it's a pain. By the time of FS2004 and FSX even MS/Aces Studios couldn't quite figure out what each parameter was supposed to do and how it interacted with the simulator framework (As witnessed by the abysmal flight characteristics of the default 747 for instance).

        Many of the add-ons (especially the more extensive ones) were broken between the original FS series as well and required a lot of rework often requiring repurchasing. I don't think this would stop uptake of the new version if it offered enough of an upgrade to do so.

        A better (and more real world units based) flight model could go a long way towards that.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Does the 737 MAX simulation still have the dodgy MCAS software or is the fix extra (Boeing ?) ?

  30. J. Cook Silver badge

    ... At least it's not Goat Simulator?

    Mine's the one with the bite marks in it...

    1. MyffyW Silver badge

      As a Welsh girl all I can really say is "baa"

  31. DropBear

    As nobody mentioned it yet, I'll raise a pint to good ole' Flight Unlimited, he of Looking Glass Studios fame, and its cheerful red-white striped biplane...

  32. adanhamidu
    Thumb Up

    A good chance for MSFS to recognise third world scenery quality by adding more details

    MSFS2020 needs to include detailed scenery of third world airports, the global air navigation charts (that nav map that shows all the waypoints, nav aids, etc.), detailed cockpits with detailed everything active switches and knobs etc. If MSFS2020 can be made to accommodate old nav database AIRACs for free or latest AIRAC cycles for pay, that would be cool.

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