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Microsoft Flight Simulator (microsoftstudios.com)
598 points by doener 4 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 228 comments

Story time: as a kid I would use FS to do intercontinental flights with my cousin. My (small) room would be divided in two: passenger seating, and cockpit.

We would sit down at my computer and take turns flying. I would convince my little sisters to sit down in the passenger area which were two chairs behind a curtain (they for some reason found it less entertaining than we did and often decided to leave early in the flight...).

We even had a little toy kitchen (borrowed from said sisters) to serve cheerios as inflight meals.

Fun times.

Kidzania in the UK has a donated giant plane for kids to pretend to be pilots and stewards. The parents sit inside as passengers and get served plastic food. It's so cute.

> get served plastic food

An authentic experience.

My brother did a real-time flight around the world (with something like 5-8 hops). Every time he'd reach a waypoint and get his next bearings, he'd set autopilot and watch another show on TV, because it was boring to just stare at the blue ocean. :)

Plus, he'd cheat by slewing if he messed up a landing (instead of just turning around). I gave him a lot of grief for that.

I love this. Reminds me of the happy parts of my childhood, though my imaginary excursions were more automotive/train based (with simulated accidents which my passengers did not appreciate).

I think there was also a Train Simulator by MS? :)

Thought I was the only one that did this. Except instead of my siblings I would use my mom and feed her ham sandwiches :)

There was a sketch show in the UK called The Fast Show, and they had a character in it called Colin Hunt who was the office "joker". One of the episodes showed him flying a female colleague to the Seychelles on a flight simulator in his living room. I wish I could find the video clip.

https://youtu.be/cBjpROfzoos?t=14m20s because I both love the fast show and a challenge

Thanks! I tried to search myself to no avail. I was hoping if I threw it out there someone would find it :-)

I stuck to continental trips. I wasn't very good at landing so just drove instead. I had fun plotting the trips and coming back later to fine-tune my direction and finally arrive (never having left the ground...) I don't remember which version it was, but apparently it was one that was flat and without much water.

I started on Flight Simulator 4 way back in the day; I think on my 286. I remember when I first moved to Chicago I wanted to check out Meigs Field, the airfield you started on. It's gone now, and has a really crazy story of how it got turned into a park:


Looking at the previews for the new FS, I wonder if it will require an Internet connection. It seems like way too much content to download/pre-install. Will it download content as you travel?

Wow, just one look at the airfield was a massive hit of nostalgia. I crash landed a thousand times as a kid there. At 5 frames per second on my 286. Thank's for the link. Mayor Daley did not mess around with closing it down. From your link.

>In a controversial and illegal move on the night of Sunday, March 30, 2003, Mayor Daley ordered city crews to destroy the runway immediately by bulldozing large X-shaped gouges into the runway surface in the middle of the night.[14] The required demolition notice was not given to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) or the owners of airplanes tied down at the field, and as a result sixteen planes were left stranded at the airport with no operating runway, and an inbound flight had to be diverted by Air Traffic Control, because of equipment scattered on the runway.

You can now easily do that in a browser[1], if you need a quick fix. It's the version with aircraft and scenery designer and the audio upgrade. I had to tune the DOSBox clock speed a bit with Ctrl-F12, but it works pretty well (manually go through the start menus!) and I just flew the good old Cessna around Sears Tower :-)

[1] https://archive.org/details/msdos_Microsoft_Flight_Simulator...

I flew around the Bay Area a bunch of times on my Amiga in FA/18 Interceptor, in the late 1980s

- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F/A-18_Interceptor

Now that was a classic game. I played it a lot on my old A1200. Walk down memory lane!

Whoa, the number of times I lined up a landing on Meigs field... it's hard to imagine. I didn't realize it was gone, of course, I'm sure I wouldn't have known anyways, but thanks for the reminder :)

I never used the MS versions, but spent a lot of time on the Amiga version of FSII by Sublogic. According to Wikipedia that version was closer to the featureset of MS FlightSim 3.0 than 2.0

I think I can still hear the droning noise of that Cessna engine.

I know flight simulator with the Piper Cherokee Archer from the C64, coded by SubLogic laggy as hell with 3 secs input delays

Totally me too! My first trip to Chicago absolutely required a trip to Meigs Field, and I almost felt like I could navigate the plane around the city as we passed over it on the way out from ORD :)

Wow, this brought back some memories.

Developed by Asobo Studio[1], french video games studio in Bordeaux. I used to work there, top engineers, confident they'll do a good job.

[1] https://www.lemonde.fr/pixels/article/2019/06/17/ce-que-les-...

French video game company with a Japanese name producing a major software title for an American company that sells worldwide.

That might seem unremarkable by today's standards, with practically everything being global in nature, but I appreciate details like this — logiciels sans frontières !

The trailer link on this page is very impressive. Here is the direct link to the trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ReDDgFfWlS4

I'm stunned. Imagine all this tech was open-source. The projects people would make.

It is not open source, however, the platform is very open and a large ecosystem of third-party developers has existed for decades. It is like Windows vs third-party software. Windows isn't open-source, but people can still use it for amazing projects that go far beyond what Windows offers out of the box (e.g. MS Paint vs Photoshop).

Microsoft had a brutal effect on IT through its anti-competitive practices, especially in its earlier years, when it was extremely influential. Lookup "embrace, extend, extinguish" and the memorable quote "Linux is a cancer".

I can appreciate that the simulator offers a modder friendly environment, but really that's comparing a prison yard to a forest.

The game looks impressive!

As an aside, how do major companies - computer graphics companies especially - still upload letterboxed videos? If I'm watching a 21:9 video on a 21:9 monitor, there shouldn't be black bars on all four sides; it should fill the screen. The entire video was shrunk down just so that the final five seconds could be a green-colored screen with a little xbox logo in the center?

So I'm not the only one here with a 21:9 (3440x1440). It's pretty frustrating!

The YouTube app that’s built in to my DVR has major issues with anything wider that 16:9; for something very wide and not letterboxed like https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lztj7kFIMhA, it gets displayed small and windowboxed on my normal 1080p TV. Possibly there’s some outdated targeting of the lowest common denominator by these companies.

Ultrawidify on Firefox is doing a pretty good job at stretching it out to 21:9 (dynamically so it switches on the xBox logo part).


Ex-game dev here, though not a graphics programmer.

I didn't see anything in the video that looks particularly difficult to achieve in a modern engine. The volumetric fog and clouds are really nice and might be difficult but I'd be surprised if they weren't doable.

Everything else just looks like good models, textures, and lighting to me. I don't even see any particularly difficult techniques.

And there are things that definitely scream "real-time" to me. In particular, the shot of the jet taxi-ing looks like it might have some poorly tuned screen space global illumination around the jet. Notice that fake looking soft shadows around the engines that move with the plane.

Obviously, the whole world isn't going to be modeled and textured with the level of fidelity you see here. The trailer is only going to show the "hero" locations that get a lot of care and attention — Seattle's space needle, the pyramids of Egypt, etc. But I see no reason why the in-game experience wouldn't look like this in those areas.

> Obviously, the whole world isn't going to be modeled and textured with the level of fidelity you see here. The trailer is only going to show the "hero" locations that get a lot of care and attention — Seattle's space needle, the pyramids of Egypt, etc. But I see no reason why the in-game experience wouldn't look like this in those areas.

Strictly speaking, this is true, but note that using modern datasets (like the ones used by Google/Bing Maps with the extensive lidar/photogrammetric/whatever 3D data) and modern internet speeds and infrastructure for streaming map data (again like what's used for Google/Bing Maps/Earth) will mean that the filled in areas are far more expensive and detailed than in flight sims of the past that had to assemble their own scenery and distribute it themselves via one-time download or physical media

For some idea of how amazing this will be, check out Google Earth VR.

The first thing I noticed was the small tell tale artifacting from lidar scans in the city areas, which actually gave me a lot of hope that this will be pretty damn awesome to fly in.

Another thing that I noticed was some rock clusters that accidentally covered roads on the terrain, which makes me think there will be a lot of proceduraly generated content to add details into to the big open areas.

Those two things combined I believe will make it possible to do the entire globe to levels of fidelity that will be incredible to fly in. Some areas might be a bit more "imagination" than reality, but hundreds if not thousands of cities have really great lidar scans they could incorporate. It's going to be an insane leap forward, and as they're scans it will be like flying over the real thing. In theory, I could fly over my own house in the city and actually see it.

I guess we'll see what kinds of concessions they've had to make to fit it into a realistic game package, but I'm pretty hopeful as is probably evident.

You're probably being downvoted for the time of your post but I wouldn't be surprised if it's actually true. E3 demos are notorious for being pre-rendered moonshots far removed from reality once the game hits the market. Some more egregious than others. That said, if the actual game is only half has gorgeous as this video, it's still crazy good looking.

The video seems to be a weird mashup.

If you look closely, some scenes are photo real. Other scenes, like the giraffes and a few frames before that, seem to be in the uncanny valley.

I suspect that this game may be this generations Crysis. It requires ungodly horsepower to render at full settings, and perhaps a more-than-robust internet connection to transfer all the imagery data.

That's okay. Hardware and bandwidth can catch up. FSX was released 13 or 14 years ago and it's still being sold on Steam. I didn't get into until about 7 years ago, and it still got my fans spinning on my dev laptop which had a 4th gen i7 and lots of ram.

But it must be programmed for the next gen hardware. I have a dual card setup with i7 8-core processor and can't run FSX at full settings (around 10 fps for three monitors). Monitoring shows that graphics cards and processor are far from saturated.

The same for X-Plane 11. You can get some decent performance if you let run separate process for each monitor though.

Both indicate to me that the problem lies in software. They also have in common that performance gets abysmal when you add more moving objects.

Why? The Forza games look that good, and Microsoft can just ask the Forza people for the code, they own Turn 10 and Playground Games. It's certainly possible to do that, although I shudder to ask what sort of a rig was required to do that.

The Flight Simulator team at Microsoft takes their work pretty seriously. I very much doubt this is prerendered; they know the cost of BSing their (very hardcore) fanbase.

When you say "Flight Simulator team", are you talking about the team that ported the subLOGIC simulator to the IBM PC?

Seems unlikely - subLOGIC themselves did that port, and Bruce Artwick continued working on Flight Simulator for Microsoft, and there was significant work on Flight Simulator, particularly with regard to realism, in the decades after the initial release of the Microsoft version.

It's not MS doing the game, those guys are: http://www.asobostudio.com

Do you know why is that?

The original flight sim team was disbanded in 2009 during the recession. They’ve since moved on to different companies.

I've been using Flight Simulator since the 80s and it was one of the driving factors that caused me to later become a commercial pilot.

I used to be into the simulation side quite intensely, and I own FSX, P3D, X-Plane and hardware peripherals. However, the underlying engines on these platforms are suffering due to age.

If Microsoft re-enters this market correctly (modern engine, focus on SIMULATION, 3rd-party support, global scenery, etc) this is HUGE for this "niche" market.

> However, the underlying engines on these platforms are suffering due to age.

Is X-Plane suffering? As far as I know, it's the only consumer flight sim that does rigorous physics calculations -- https://www.x-plane.com/desktop/how-x-plane-works/

Or did you mean rigorous simulation of plane systems, ATC, ILS/vectoring, etc.?

Theres basically nothing that can run X-Plane well at higher settings, especially in bigger aircraft. Your best bet is a overclocked high end Intel consumer CPU.

I think that says more about Austin Meyer's insane hacker mentality than X-Plane's deficiencies. Of course he'd allow setting maximum detail/frame levels that are far above what modern desktop machines can deliver -- maybe someone with a 64-core Xeon and paired top-end NVIDIA cards wants to max out such a system :)

More than 4 cores doesn't help with the current engine - that 64 core Xeon is going to be clocked lower than a 9700k and perform worse. You could run 16 instances but none are going to run faster.

I like the idea of it scaling up to full simulation. I'd love for the game to teach you to fly and go through the steps of proper radio protocol, vocabulary and so on. It loooks like they might be leveraging their cloud computing to do things like map simulation and perhaps even air traffic control(!) so I'm actually pretty excited about this.

They'll probably let "proper radio protocol" be handled by 3p extensions, that's the general trend of the market. Take a look at services like https://www.pilotedge.net/ for the current gen of simulators.

Open source community project: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FlightGear

Glad someone mentioned FlightGear. It is a pretty nice simulator, with pretty accurate flight models, although not too friendly to setup. Once you do though ... . I used to do IFR practice in FlightGear, first for my IFR rating, then for the ATP. Unpublished holding patterns, weird approaches (single engine partial panel NDB was an ordeal ...), I could do thirty a day, free. It really helped. I would script random weather, instrument failures and clearances (with festival, I believe it was called). Not the same as a real airplane but still a very helpful tool.

Took me a while to find a current list of commits, here it is: https://sourceforge.net/p/flightgear/flightgear/commit_brows... (the Github mirror is not updated)

> Cross Platform (Mac, *nix, Windows)

Actively maintained (lots of current updates/fixes) too!


I'm so glad that this is a thing now! My first memories of MSFS was FS98, which was one of the few games which ran acceptably on our dated 531MHz Pentium 3 desktop. I remember getting FS2004 a few years after and I was never so simultaneously excited and disappointed to play it when our poor desktop could only sputter out 4-5FPS with all the settings turned down to the absolute minimum.

Years later when we upgraded to a more acceptable desktop, I spent hours of free time in middle school trawling simviation for the most absurd addons, including a Flying Hawk, a cruise ship, a space shuttle, and a BMW 760Li, because why not? My FS2004 install swelled from its initial 3GB to 12GB with all my addons. I've done a countless number of commercial flights and became a lot better at landings thanks to the FSPassengers mod which added some life to the barren FS2004 world, complete with options to serve your passengers drinks and listen to their screams when going stalling into a free-fall :)

I grew up playing MS FlightSim, and my main memory of it was that we never (for 15 years) felt like we ever had a computer powerful enough to run it at full detail, full FPS.

Now I know that it was because their engine was never really fully optimized for a GPU. But my brother still uses FlightSim every single day. I'm so happy for him, but I want my kids to also learn how to fly on it. My son's already started (mainly holding the yoke while we fly it).

So a big fist pump for this news, every single word here makes me happy. (Emphasis on "Simulator", PC-first, etc).

> Accessibility is important to us. Whatever your abilities are, if you want to fly, we are going to do whatever we can to make that happen. Yoke and pedals, mouse and keyboard, controller, etc. No pilot should be left behind.

Although not needing it myself, as an interaction designer I was really impressed by the accessibility support for the Xbox One[0]. Glad to see Microsoft keep up their commitment to this!

[0] https://www.xbox.com/en-US/xbox-one/accessibility

Microsoft's advancement in accessibility support has found itself new respect from me. I wish they expand their commitment to general computing apart from gaming.

No mention of VR support yet. If this comes out without support it will be quite sad. Xplane 11 in VR is amazing (if you can get the framerate of that old engine high enough)

It would be so surprising if they didn't. People put a lot of money into their rigs. VR is such a natural thing to move to here.

I have a kinda pricey VR setup at home with a ton of added software, P3D, and some physical controls, in addition to an HTC Vive Pro. I also am an IRL private pilot. I'm not going to lie; it's not the same but boy it scratches the itch really, really closely. It also allows people like me to fly big airliners, which short of making it a career one never gets to do. I have friends who are commercial pilots who swear by the fidelity of the systems recreation in some of that software. In VR, it truly feels as real as it gets. Short of a level D sim, it's the best immersion you can get, and feels super, super real.

My Flight Simulator story: I lived in Philadelphia well into adulthood and played extensively with MS Flight Simulator. At the time, the game would start in Oakland and you would fly across the bay to San Francisco International airport.

One day, I had to fly for business to San Francisco, my first time being there. As the jet approached for landing, I got an overwhelming sense of deja vu looking out the window. I almost jumped out of my seat! Then I realized I recognized the scenery from all those hours flying across the bay in MS Flight Simulator.

I’ve only been to San Francisco a few times, but every time I fly over, I have the background music from Sim City 4’s region view stuck in my head. Because I always played the game with the Bay Area map.

Microsoft Flight Simulator brings back very fond memories of my childhood. I can remember learning to fly with a joystick that pushed in and out up and down just like real pilots!

I could never master the helicopter and I’m pretty sure I crashed into the Sears tower a LOT.

Helicopters are hard as hell to fly. Just look up vortex ring state: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vortex_ring_state

It's basically the rotors losing power because of their own turblence. Helicopter pilots amaze me.

I really miss SimCopter. The missions were so interesting.

SimCopter was one of the most underappreciated Sims ever! Especially fun was loading up the cities you built in SimCity and flying around them in SimCopter. Oh man, good times.

Don't know how good it is, but there is Heliborne available on steam, reviews seem decent.

The cheats that got you an Apache gunship were awesome.

I assume that joystick was a Logitech Extreme 3D Pro. I owned one for years that had this functionality, it also had a throttle wheel on the side and a bunch of macro buttons. It was seriously awesome as a peripheral.

Insightful commentary about the trailer by Tim Stone at Rock Paper Shotgun: https://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2019/06/14/the-flare-path-f...

In the 80s, I used to play the subLOGIC Flight Simulator II on my father's Apple //e. Later, I wondered whether this was a predecessor to Microsoft's Flight Simulator. Apparently it sort of was:


Played this as a kid (or it's predecessor FS1 perhaps?) with wireframe graphics only on an Olivetti M21 with monochrome screen.

subLOGIC also released another very addictive game, "Night Mission Pinball".


These two games were my first encounter with PC gaming, along with the Infocom games (zork etc).

I think the original MS Flight Simulator was essentially a licensed version of subLOGIC Flight Simulator.

Side note: subLOGIC also made another combat-oriented one around that same time called Jet which I think used the same engine as MS FS and subLOGIC FS because all of them could use the same scenery disks as I recall...

This brings back memories. I still have the paper subLOGIC Flight Simulator documentation that came with my copy for my TRS-80 Model I. The blocky graphics made it so that it only looked good if you were banking.

Oh interesting, I assumed the original MSFS was a port/enhancement of FS2 from the various 8-bitters. But apparently it was the other way round.

I just want a pretty flight sim with a handful of planes that lets me fly everywhere in the world without dollar signs appearing in the menus.

Actually I'm finding myself giving up on video games for the exact same reasons I gave up on television 20 years ago, I'm tired of everyone trying to sell me more shit during the increasingly rare free moments I have.

There's still non-cash-grab yet AAA games out there, depending on what type of game you enjoy of course. For action games there's Horizon Zero Dawn and God of War on the PS4; HZD has some optional DLC but it's just a bit of extra content, and GoW does not (will not?) have any of that. Just a complete game, no attempts at upselling, etc.

Its not the prettiest, but here's a flight sim with (more than) a handful of planes that lets you fly everywhere in the world without dollar signs appearing anywhere (it's FOSS).


Why did Microsoft let the Flight Simulator franchise go to the back burner for so long?

I know these vast corporations have to focus but it is still a mystery to me why they let it go. Does anyone have any idea what the thinking was? What has fundamentally changed for them to want to get back to it?

I suspect FSX was a pet project for someone at MS and after it sold below projections or MS was struggling with some other bureaucratic bullshit, someone told Jim or whoever that he needed to quit focusing on his video game and get some real work done.

I'm sure this led to the creation of Windows RT and everyone pat themselves on the back.

I believe it was very much Bill's pet project, and neglected after he left.

Microsoft as a whole pivoted hard from the PC as their preferred gaming platform to the XBOX as their preferred gaming platform. As for the whys at the time i assume they wanted to make sure that their console was competitive and didn't just die on launch. They probably also considered the PC gaming environment to be so healthy producer and publisher wise as to not find it worth their time to do in-house development for the platform anymore. As for MSFlightSimulator it didn't fit in the console portfolio at the time, mostly because of how those systems are usually interacted with, and also because the install of a basic global world mesh is huge. Good luck landing a 747 with functioning cockpit knobs with an XBOX controller, and say goodbye to the limited hard drive of a console when you have to install 70GB of world mesh to make it the global experience everybody expects. So making it a good cross-platform game on 2002-2015 tech would have been an exercise in making both console and PC gamers unsatisfied.

What you see now though is that MSFT is pushing really really hard into cross-platform play, and investing directly in gaming companies to make sure that the XBOX remains a competitor to the Playstation environment as Sony has been on a roll when it comes to impactful exclusive games for their platform for a while. Their latest E3 presentation really showcased just how much they consider this a priority, and how hard they are currently working to get their own environment of exclusive publishing houses with AAA games up to the standard of Sony. Due to the narrowing of the gap between high powered consoles and high powered PC's in the later years it makes sense that they would do this now as at this point they can offer a flight simulator experience across both platforms that is (hopefully) not only incrementally better, but transitionary better.

> Why did Microsoft let the Flight Simulator franchise go to the back burner for so long? I know these vast corporations have to focus but it is still a mystery to me why they let it go.

The ACES Studio was dissolved in its entirety in 2009 while Don Mattrick (best known for his blunders during the Xbox One's launch and his failure to turn around Zynga) headed up Microsoft's gaming efforts. Despite the fact that it turned a small but steady profit, the thinking seemed to be that PC gaming was dead and that consoles were the future.

As for why it stayed on the back burner so long, the terrain mapping team, the flight physics experts, and all the other specialized expertise in the studio was scattered to the four winds. Did Microsoft rebuild it? Who knows? While the new FS has pretty graphics, the true test will be whether it has the accurate flight physics and global map that FS grognards have come to expect or whether its a merely a coat of paint over a hollow shell.

I'd forgotten that they even let it slip like they did. Last one I used was Flight Simulator X, but I haven't touched it in years. Now if only Microsoft would bring back their excellent and largely forgotten Space Simulator: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_Space_Simulator

I miss that game!

Kerbal Space Program has mostly replaced it in my mind, though. It's really an incredibly deep game.

While this doesn't answer your question, it indicates people on the team realize folks outside would ask - what happened? From the page:

"..Thank you for being patient enough to weather the turbulence caused by some of our previous missteps. Thank you for being willing to look to the possibilities of the future while asking us to be accountable for the past. .."

Xbox and the casual games market is something Microsoft leadership better understands now.

It's a niche product that requires a specialized and no-longer-common controller. Market growth was in other places and Microsoft chased that.

Now the market is gigantic with plenty of room for rebooting beloved-albeit-neglected franchises.

When MSFS was in its heyday flight yokes were <$50. And they were a super common accessory. Now, you can’t find anything for less than $180 on Amazon.

I'm not convinced flight yokes were ever cheap, meanwhile a Logitech 3D pro is 3 axis plus throttle for ~$35 https://www.amazon.com/Extreme-3D-Pro-Joystick-Windows/dp/B0...

That's even more specialized! I meant joysticks which were even more popular as were 'mainstream' joystick-based games.

Flight simulator X has a premade controller profile for xbox controllers as well as functional controls for using a mouse as a yoke.

Sure, Quake comes with a premade keyboard-only profile as well.

And I'm sure plenty of people played and enjoyed it with the keyboard controls. FSX by default ships with the simulation realism toned way down, so it can be a lot of fun with simple controls. See also Forza: It's a hell of a lot of fun with a gamepad even though enthusiasts would rather by a wheel setup

Uninformed guess: Maybe it relates to their other success at maintaining and re-releasing their well-known and well-loved games?

e.g. it's apparently been worth it for them to re-release Age of Empires II (as an HD edition in 2013), then Halo Master Chief Collection (2014). AoE is re-releasing again with a "Definitive Edition", and Halo MCC will be releasing to PC soon.

Something I also wonder, but in respect of Ensemble Studios and the Age of Empires.

I remember Flight Simulator making a lot of news in the Fall of 2001, and then Microsoft seemed to let it go dormant for a while. Maybe they didn't want more news stories like that.

Terrorism, they stopped making FS after 9/11.

Flight simulator X was released in 2006

Come a long ways since 1.0: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=27szyA9mZ8Q.

Spent countless hours flying around with FS as a kid. A friend and I would also connect up our computers over dialup and fly around together.

Did anyone participate with any virtual airlines on AOL way back in the day?

On Prodigy, there were boards where people would log their flight time on FS4, F-15 Strike Eagle (Microprose) and other sims/games. People would hand out ranks and medals too.

F-15 Strike Eagle II was the first game I ever played on a computer. I wrote an indignant handwritten letter to Sid Meier c/o Microprose praising the game but demanding a replacement floppy when the one with the desert storm expansion got lost. (My mom let me send it after editing out my “By the way...” preceding the request.)

The trailer is gorgeous. I imagine this will take a pretty hefty machine to play at high quality.

I miss the old MS joystick that had a throttle, extra buttons, and especially the yaw twist capability of the stick. Once you got comfortable with it, there was no need for rudder pedals. Flying the helicopter (in full manual) was quite a challenge, but it was doable.

> the old MS joystick that had a throttle, extra buttons, and especially the yaw twist capability of the stick

The sidewinder? I don’t remember it having a throttle though https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_SideWinder#3D_Pro

Looks like there were relaunched and you can still get USB models from retailers.

Yes, that's the one! There were at least to versions (generations?) - at least one had a slider, and the other had a dome shaped knob; both worked for throttle. https://www.x-fish.org/blog_picture/110607_01.jpg

Nice. Dear gods I forgot what nonsense plugs were before USB. Did it plug into a? MIDI? port??

Which, incidentally, can be used as a MIDI port with a converter cable.

Just watched the trailer and another video. Its good, don't get me wrong, but I was left wanting/expecting a bit better. Perhaps it is just my unrealistic expectations and MS are limited by Xbox hardware vs a high end desktop with good dedicated graphics card?

Pretty visuals, but I'm still wondering if the underlying physics are based on lookup tables for stability derivatives, or if it's actually physically modeling pressures on surfaces a la X-Plane. If it looks like a photograph, but is a cartoon underneath (to cater to Xbox players perhaps), I'll pass.

I started playing with Flight Simulator 3 or 4 - not really sure which. During the summer I'd stay at my aunt's for a few weeks at a time, which was mind-numbing since it was in the suburbs away from all my friends.

My cousin had left his screaming fast Packard Bell in his room after he went away to college and since I clearly had decades to kill until my mom came to get me, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out Flight Simulator. I had no idea what I was doing, but I successfully flew from New York to Meigs Field at least once, and always loved to fly around the Chicago skyline since I missed home - and didn't know much else at the time.

I never really played the game much, away from that old Packard Bell, but the game's a big part of my personal journey into computers - at a time when nobody else in my world knew much about them.

I hope this will be one of those games that manages to do one thing better than anyone has before: Volumetric cloud rendering. Kinda like how Sea of Thieves has really pushed the envelope when it comes to ocean and wave rendering.

I'm really excited about this. I spent hours playing Flight Simulator back in the 90s, and it was a great experience, and am looking forward to another generation getting to play it!

I’ve taken to watching Twitch streams, off work pilots playing M$ Flight Sim. They tell some of the most interesting stories. But what interest me the most is the sequences they perform. Try checking some of their streams. Can’t recommend one off hand, all are equally good.

Recommend any? I just searched and no MSFS categories appeared, even a game placeholder.

Edit: Nevermind - it's here: https://www.twitch.tv/directory/game/Microsoft%20Flight%20Si...

I'm ok with this if it brings the flight sims back. But I don't care about Flight Simulator; can we get modern X-Wing and Tie Fighter next? Pleeeeease?

Considering how Electronic Arts has been treating the Star Wars liscence, the chances are poor. If you're into simularors though, I heartily recommend Elite Dangerous, but the learning curve is steep and a HOTAS is almost a necessity.

The first and only piece of software I've ever bought on physical media!

Remember when a guy stole a plane in Seattle that learned to fly via Flight Simulator? https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/12/us/richard-russell-q400-f...

Looks like quite a bit of the footage was not actually from the simulator but real-life 4K footage. The end of the video shows more of the rendered simulation. But all in all, I feel the video started off a bit misleading.

Still looks cool, but wish they would be more honest in the marketing of it.

MS flight sim for Mac was the first game I paid for as a kid out of my own pocket. I also bought a yoke to really “simulate” the experience.

With modern graphics and an updated engine I hope this version really flies! And with VR being in reach it will no longer be necessary to have crazy screen setup.

> And with VR being in reach it will no longer be necessary to have crazy screen setup.

I only have a Vive to compare with, but, having tried a bit of Elite Dangerous on that, I'd say VR still has a way to go - it was hard to read all the text, and a flight simulator will have a lot more dials and the like. It needs more resolution and sharpness first.

Vive is very bad for this kind of stuff (as someone who owns one). However, the vive pro is adequate and a couple WMR headsets like the Samsung Odyssey+ or HP Reverb make text look great (and are cheaper than the vive as well). The tracking isn't as good, but for sims that's not an issue

The "For once you have tasted flight" quote is well-known tob be mis-attributed to da Vinci:


By now, it's probably better to just agree on a new canonical attribution - "Leonard Nimoy, Civ IV voice actor".

How does this compare with Prepar3D from Lockheed. I thought Lockheed had bought MS FlightSim and even hired a good number of their developers and that was the end of MS FligthSim


Hard to say with just a 1m30s preview video to go off, but if those visuals are the "basic" MSFS global graphics then they are quite impressive even compared to copy of P3D that has been modded out with global scenery from third party content providers. If i were to guess, its probably a technological leap instead of an increment, as they'd be disinterested in competing with the X-Plane and P3D install bases unless they knew they had something that was more than a sideways improvement. I would find it weird if they just try to be as good as the rest of the pack, at least.

As for your second question, you're right and wrong. Lockheed got the rights to further develop the old MSFS engine, and to rebrand it as P3D, but only for academic/professional simulation purposes. So they are not allowed to sell it as a game, only as a learning and simulation tool. Here are some of the reqs from the Academic License (60USD) EULA, whereamong you'll find this : (3) in connection with Academic Education, (4) by students, instructors and staff associated with Licensee's Academic Education, .., (6) for purposes other than personal/consumer entertainment. Point (6) also appears in the EULA of the Professional (200USD) license.

Though this has, AFAIK this has been done more for corporate legal reasons than for any desire to go after individual users. I've never heard of any revoked licenses on the above-mentioned grounds.

So Microsoft has always signaled that they consider MSFS a product still in their gaming portfolio. Though people learned to cope with the absence.

Interesting. Thank you for replying.

> So they are not allowed to sell it as a game, only as a learning and simulation tool.

That makes sense finally. I had noticed that when was using it and always thought they just didn't want to bother with the gaming part because there was not enough of profit for them to restructure having to support that market.

Pretty sure it's not a coincidence that the academic edition is sold at video game pricing.

Prepar3d is literally just a licensed version of FSX with UI tweaks. It's not even at the level of X-Plane these days.

It's a bit more than that. They did a lot of work to port the platform to 64 bit and modernize the rendering engine, content, etc. I'm an x-plane person myself as well but p3d is pretty impressive in its own right and probably still has better commercial content. X-plane is catching up rapidly though in that respect and e.g. the recent orbx scenery looks amazing. Also stuff like simheaven and ortho4xp are amazing free add ons for x-plane.

I'm really glad this is coming back - I've bought it several times over the years and really enjoyed flying it. In more recent versions using the ATC and trying to make it as realistic as possible experience - flying around between nearby local airports.

I wonder how this will run on Xbox. I've been out of PC gaming for a while now and no way this will run on my current PC. It would be sweet if you could hook up a flight stick to an Xbox and play this.

This is great news for Allec Joshua Ibay who has a knack for faithfully reproducing airline tragedies via MSFS.

https://www.inverse.com/article/21385-plane-crash-simulating... https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRRGxJkqoOgI3htdVuK5F3A

I have fond memories of both FS9 (2004) and FS X. One of my favourite trips was to take off from Hong Kong and land in Macau in a Learjet - they are pretty close by, you need to make a sharp 90 degree turn, the runway is a narrow strip with the ocean on both sides, and the Learjet 45 is not easy to handle over short distances. All combined to make it a similar to playing a violin piece that you keep on fine tuning the tough parts until it all flows together.


This youtuber does some funny videos about ATC in a video-game. His efforts are a great mix of hopelessness and real ATC skill. A good video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EeC0ZTT8n7E


Requesting Mayday

I loved MS FS back in the day!

According to wikipedia, this new one will feature "Azure AI". What does that mean?

I'm guessing the "AI" was used in the geometry mapping from the sat data they used for their region maps.

Microsoft's Bing maps uses a huge amount of aerial orthophotos as well, not just satellite. Also aerial lidar for DEMs vs satellite radar data (the old srtm 1/3 for us48 states, etc).

I was just going by the trailer, which I'd imagine the Wikipedia page is citing, that references the azure AI and satellite data towards the beginning of the video.

My dream feature would be weather based on live meterological inputs.

You can have that right now for both X-Plane and Prepar3d with a very well made addon called Active Sky by Hifi Simulation Technologies.

Haven't they supported that for ages? I thought even FS2002 had that

FS2004 was the first to feature live weather

FlightGear has that, and is open-source.


I see! I was hoping it would have meant realistic auto generated air traffic :)

Artificial Intelligence could be used for a lot of things, like:

weather generation

ground handling at airports

random bird strikes

controlling in-game aircraft and their routes

Realistic ATC that understands what you say (think Cortana) and responds intelligently.

In the trailer, I saw multiple planes flying alongside. I was wondering whether this meant multiplayer (no idea if this is common in flight sims, they're a genre I still want to get started in), but it could also be a computer that flies alongside?

Azure AI is Microsoft's artificial intelligence platform in the the cloud , running on Microsoft's Azure cloud platform. I am guessing they will be using a cloud based AI service to provide AI features in the game.



Oh boy! I have such great memories of playing this title. Very glad they are rebooting this!

I just watched the trailer and holy goat shit that looks amazing. Great job!

I agree. It looks like they make full use of assets they would have access to for Bing maps. A lot of the progress in e.g. x-plane in recent year has been the use of map data, satellite images, and other geospatial data to generate highly detailed scenery. I have close to half a terabyte worth of auto generated scenery with high resolution satellite imagery, 3d meshes, and open streetmaps based positioning of roads, buildings, trees, etc. For a small company like x-plane it never was feasible to curate detailed scenery world wide and even MS back in 2006 only had auto gen scenery in most parts of the world. X-plane v10 was the first version to include open street maps based scenery and they vastly improved this with v11.

Nowadays, Microsoft of course has access to lots of data; their scientists have developed lots of cool algorithms to synthesize detailed 3d models from photos and other sources, they have access to essentially unlimited hardware infrastructure to process this, they have lots of experience building 3d graphics libraries such as directx and have lots of experience working with hardware vendors to deliver VR. Speaking of which, flight simulation and AR could be an awesome use case for e.g. Hololens.

Putting this all together, they should be able to produce some really detailed scenery and a modern rendering engine to go with that. The only question is why they ever walked away from this. It's such a great show case for a lot of stuff they have.

Yes I would love an explaination on how they actually solved it technically, it would be very interesting. Microsoft has really, really upped their game recently in terms of quality.

Sadly they also have upped their tracking but but, it is still pretty awesome.

What kind of an investment would someone need to make to maximize enjoyment of this game? Could I enjoy it with keyboard/mouse or should I at least buy some specific equipment?

I've no idea about the computer needed. (Graphics conflicts with my extreme cheapness.) But as for controls, you really should get a yoke (or possibly a joystick, but I've found them to be less enjoyable and/or realistic) and rudder pedals.

That's reasonably cheap; beyond that the sky's the limit.

wishing Microsoft the best but it really is a niche market - for one, there are so many aircraft controls that you really do need some specialized controllers (yoke) to make it enjoyable experience. Other factors include rather mundane experience of flying aircraft (from general gamer point of view) as well as the resource hungry requirements (OK, not so much these days but it was quiet expensive game to run back in the days).

You can fly Cessna in X-Plane perfectly fine with nothing but an Xbox controller; left stick is your yoke, right stick for look around, triggers for rudder, bumpers for brakes, the four primary buttons for flaps and throttle, and the 4 cross buttons for trim. Other controls you can use the mouse for in 3D cockpit as you will use them sporadically (eg lights, adjusting instruments, mixture, carb heat)

This is true, but GamePass makes this somewhat interesting.

It's sort of like Netflix buying a high production value show that serves a limited audience.

People with GamePass will get to try it, and people in the niche might get GamePass just because of it (and then have access to a number of other sim-style games, including Forza 4)

It strikes me that, as they imported satellite data, they could also provide relatively accurate models of airport interiors ...

Microsoft Flight Simulator is, to this day, literally the only good thing Microsoft has ever done.

WSL, vscode, Kinect, Xbox, plenty of things they did well.

Wasn't the original flight simulator included as an Easter egg in ms excel?

Excel literally didn't exist when the first version of Microsoft Flight simulator came out: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Microsoft_Flight_Si...

I think it was a racing game, not a flight simulator. I used to know how to access that.. but it was 12-15 years ago.

One of the first games I had was Flight Simulator II for the Amiga 1000.

MS Flight Sim might be a good pilot case (pun intended) for WebGL and WebAssembly. The nature of simulator is not that CPU/GPU taxing. I would assume the players play it more for the actual simulation and less for the specular graphics.

> The nature of simulator is not that CPU/GPU taxing.

I think you're underestimating just how much simulation is being done in a proper flight simulator. The really good ones are literally simulating air flow around the aircraft, in realtime, to determine how it should respond.

The actual simulation part is not very taxing; it typically uses less than half a millisecond CPU time per frame in X-Plane, which has the most advanced simulation on the market.

Well I was playing MS Flight Sim 3.0 on 80286 :) Though I assume the simulation had to be look up table based and nowadays you can physics modelling?

Accurate simulation of flight physics is quite CPU taxing.

Does the last version of MS Flight Simulator work well on Wine?

The last published test result is a few years old, but it seemed to work with minor issues: https://appdb.winehq.org/objectManager.php?sClass=version&iI...

Does it support VR?

Given the literally thousands of dollars of DLC available for FSX, it's very possible they'll charge for VR

I think its worth noting that most of the DLC for FSX is is third party.

I didn't know that was a thing. Thanks

It would be awesome if this were on Oculus Quest.

The music is pretty good in the trailer.

I can do a Fyre Festival related cameo about how I learned how to fly with FS :)

My reply is a little off-topic but I wanted to share as it is Flight Simulator related.

Last year an old boss and friend passed suddenly. He had only just turned fifty but the years of poor eating and sitting caught up with him in his late forties.

He was a Flight Simulator addict. He held a private pilots license as well and would fly small aircraft. Took us up a few times which was amazing. Very different to a regular airplane. He had an amazing setup with, I think, six screens, proper chair, and controls. We once got him a pilots cap for a birthday for him to wear :)

So when I saw the new Flight Simulator announced during Microsoft's E3 event the other week my first thought was how he would have loved this. He had moaned for years about Microsoft killing it off so this would have excited him like nothing else. It really hit me in my gut and my heart just how much I miss that guy.

If you are having some small health problems please get them checked out and take your health seriously. My friend was there one day then the next found sitting in his god damn home office with work documents still on the screen. He left behind a wonderful wife and two teenage kids. Rest in Peace my friend.

Long periods of sitting are actually very hard on your system and one of the reasons why so many quit doing what they love.

Also tight deadlines and other maybe less obvious constant stressors might exacerbate pernicious effects.

For that reason even junior and intermediate developers should think twice about fair/sustainable remuneration.

Ageisim diclaimer: That doesn't mean that there aren't lots of people with exceptionable health and/or consistent exercise / eating discipline of course.

What other areas do people with technical backgrounds move into that don't require so much sitting? With degrees in physics and applied math, I'm not sure where I can go and not be at a desk (or take a huge hit in $$).

Just 3 years out from school, and I can definitely notice the difference in my physical health and mental agility. I have taken up gardening to get me outside and eat decently well. I can still feel the effects, scary.

I think it's pretty hard without a radical shift in career. Your training correlates well with sitting/standing & thinking, then writing/typing things.

What worked well for me though was to be quite intentional about a few things:

* started at minimum walking to work - I know this doesn't work for everyone, but some variation (e.g. part way) might. This meant that regardless of how crazy my day got at the very least I had 1 hour of brisk walking - I moved to a 30 min walk from my office.

* got out of the office for a walk of at least 15 min at lunch, pretty much every day

* sit/stand desk and used it, changing position 4x a day usually (i.e. sit for a while, stand for a while, lunch, sit, stand)

* got intentional about some meeting scheduling. e.g. this is going to be a whiteboarding exercise, put it at 10am to break up the morning sitting.

* have a proper fitness routine, and stick to it. Could be activities you like or could be the gym or whatever, but don't let yourself "get busy" and miss too many days. It should be somewhat intense, and somehow cover core & hips & shoulders

Thanks. This is sound advice from what I see. No big spending + No career change but suddenly increases physical activity to a new level. I have piles and going to try this. I'm also 30 minutes from work but I can't walk in the morning so I'll walk back. Also going to purchase myself a sit/stand desk once I get the job change.

Exercise a lot, especially focusing on cardio and strength+flexibility in your hips. Doing this massively mitigates the adverse effects from my job for me; if I stop my routine for a week or two the soreness, tightness and discomfort come roaring back.

You have to go to the gym every day. At least 5 days a week. Heavy workout where you train intensively your upper and lower body. I do this now for about 10 years and the difference is like day and night. Both mentally and physically. The "don't have time" argument is in my opinion not valid. By exercising you gain so much more time just because you work more efficiently.

I agree with you, but I don't think this is great advice. If you tell people that aren't already physically fit that they have to do high intensity training five days per week to be healthy, they'll think it's too difficult and they won't be able/have time to do it. The best advice you can give is to start with a light 20 minutes of cardio three times per week. After getting into a routine of regular exercise they may progress to more challenging workouts.

Mind you, I'm not a health professional, but here are some ideas. Take a walk at lunch. Try hobbies that aren't simply sitting. Even something like woodworking or gardening would have one standing and moving; it's not aerobic exercise, but it's still better than sitting. If you do do woodworking, you could build a little stand for your laptop or keyboard to convert your desk into a standing desk :)

If you can work from home (big if) then you might consider looking into a standing desk + treadmill.

There are some decent options available. The "Autonomous" desk is great, I purchased JUST the legs and use an IKEA top to save money.

Now, I'm looking at the "Treadly" treadmill. Technically, this isn't an "under desk" treadmill, but it's the thinnest treadmill on the market and can be operated without the bars upright. So it's perfect for going under your desk, and then under a bed or a couch when you're not using it.

Uplift[0] also sells treadmills and exercise bikes specifically for standing desks. I purchased one of their desks a few months ago, and while it's a bit spendy, the quality is fantastic. I expect to be using it 15 years from now.

[0] https://www.upliftdesk.com/desk-accessories/movement-exercis...

I'm curious which IKEA top you used. I also looked at the Autonomous frame, but I don't think it'll work with my existing Karlby top (25 5/8" x 74").

You don't need to work from home to get a standing desk.

You could keep doing the work you're doing, but without the sitting: get a stand up desk (if money is an issue, you can get a cheap hand-cranked desk from Ikea) and get an under desk treadmill (harder to avoid spending at least $1k, sadly). I get in about 5 hours of walking per day this way, at 4 mph (I'm 6'2", so that's right around my typical walking speed). I feel infinitely better this way, and it's also an incredible way to burn off calories with minimal intensity.

There's no white collar job that I know of that doesn't require a lot of sitting. Even if it isn't programming, office jobs require you to sit a lot since almost everything is done by computer. The key is to take regular breaks and walk around. Exercise regularly and eat a Mediterranean diet.

Just recently I got a desk which can be lifted and lowered. About one hour a day, I would lift the desk up, and have a standing desk. I also move around, especially when I have phone conferences. I even pace around the room. Although it is a small, I am able to detect a small change in my health and energy.

If you look at some statistics (can't find it now) I seem to recall sales and marketing have lower prevalence of obesity. Meanwhile construction workers have higher. I think what matters more is less stress in a job, eating healthy and doing physical activity regularly.

Alternative explanation: overweight people don't get hired for sales and marketing jobs.

So why do construction workers who are more active still have obesity?

You'd need a wider sample of sedentary office workers than just sales and marketing to make that conclusion.

Okay I finally found the article. https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/03/the-jobs-...

I'd say the physically active jobs are actually on the middle to upper half of the list. Transportation, warehousing, manufacturing and construction for example.

Thank you all for the ideas! I'm blessed to work at home and think I'll definitely look into either building (trying to improve my wood working skills) or buying a standing desk. Maybe a gym membership should be in my future too or bulking more gardens haha.

That’s why I have a standing only desk, didn’t want to give myself the allure of putting it in sitting mode and never putting it back up.

If I sit, it will be somewhere public, so if I focus I have to stand. (Took like 1.5 years to get used to in terms of strength issues etc.)

Thank you for sharing and I'm sorry for you. A professor who inspired me toward applied math and computational sciences passed away a few weeks ago from a heart attack. He was 47 and had several young children. Health is no joke.

I am very sorry to hear that. My thoughts are with you and of his young children.

Made an account simply to share that your post had an immediate impact on me. I was originally planning on canceling a physical therapy consultation I had scheduled to address the problems I inevitably have due to my software engineering job, figuring "It's not urgent, I should do more work instead, it can wait," but after reading your post, I decided to prioritize health and keep the consultation.

I'm so sorry for your loss.

I am very happy to hear you made that decision. I hope your problems are not long term and that by dealing with them now you are able to make a full recovery.

I wasn't sure about posting my comment if I am honest. I even closed the tab. I am glad I decided to do it now though as it has started an interesting discussion and, more importantly to me, it got you to keep your appointment of which I am very happy to hear :)

Take care of yourself maccha, nobody else will or can and you only get the one body.

thanks for sharing this. sorry for your loss.

Thank you. It was a total shock. Even more so as it was my wedding day so I found out in the evening :(

He had been trying to get healthier for the previous two years after being diagnosed with diabetes and high blood pressure but the damage was already done. The thing is though he wasn’t huge. Yes he was larger than he should be but you didn’t look at him and think heart disease or diabetes. He thought he could make up for the years of unhealthy lifestyle by exercising and eating well once he had a problem but it doesn’t work that way.

I am in my mid-thirties and it was a slap to the face that I needed to sort myself out now before I end up the same way.

My friend passed away at 30 due to high blood pressure complications.

Sort yourself out asap. The best time for exercise is like planting a tree - 10 years ago. The 2nd best time is now.

That is awful. I am very sorry to hear that.

Was there an underlying/undiagnosed issue or simply poor lifestyle?

similar thing here -- I am in my mid 30s and I have just quit eating chocolates, junk food, sugary stuff, sodas, etc just 2-3 weeks back. It was painful, I still get headaches but I know its worth it. Next phase is exercising more frequently.

Everybody has a time they will go but how you go can be controlled to a degree and that is what I am striving for.

I am just glad that I am only few kilos (less than 10) overweight so can see light at the end of tunnel.

It would be amazing if they gave this an online battle royale mode.

Hardcore flight sim pilots will scoff at your comment, however, optional gamification (battle royale or missions) would make it more commercially successful, funding future development.

Create a competitor to Digital Combat Simulator with this engine and watch the fanbase jump.

In this case, they should make a fortnite clone that is played in real cities.

The downvotes are disappointing. If you don't have think it would be fun, just don't upvote maybe?

I'm excited by the idea but I have to agree with an analysis by Frooglesim: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HbTSy409BjY).

Microsoft has closed down their Flight Simulation franchise twice now, presumably because it became unprofitable. Microsoft isn't launching this new simulator for nostalgic reasons - they are a business.

This next incarnation, as many have speculated, will almost certainly NOT be a program you install locally. So what happens when the servers go down, or your internet connection is not working?

Most importantly: Many people are speculating that 3rd party content will only be available through MS's online store. So not only is the simulator NOT installed locally, any add-on aircraft or scenery you purchase will also only exist in your online account.

People could easily spend several hundred dollars for add-on aircraft and scenery, so what happens if this venture isn't the success MS hopes it will be? They may close it down again and this time, all your stuff goes "POOF". Do you get a refund? I think not.

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