I recently picked up a new toy called the Razer Orbweaver. Now I must admit, I have been looking at these types of programmable keypads/gameboards for sometime. I had been seriously looking at the Logitech G13, but eventually decided on the Razer Orbweaver as I felt it gave me the greatest flexibility.
Essentially this is a USB enabled game pad which gives you 30 fully programmable keys and an 8-way thumb pad. The primary use (for now) is with flight sim to control my camera views via the add-on Chaseplane. Chaseplane is a great add-on which allows me to control my camera angles and create cinematic shots while I’m flying in Prepar3D. But I do have plans to add a few extra key commands for Farming Simulator 17 and both American Truck Simulator and Euro Truck Simulator 2.
While there are many alternatives in the form of button boxes and other programmable controls, I felt this would serve me best for my intended use. Of course your mileage may vary.
What’s up recently with all these bad, rotten attitudes coming out of our hobbies in recent time? I realize for the most part these situations are not new, for the past several months I’ve been somewhat focused on the Farming Simulator side of the simulation gaming hobby and haven’t spent a great deal of time reading content from the other areas. However, in just the past few weeks I’ve been reading up on topics related to the flight sim hobby and just truly amazed at the rotten attitudes I’m seeing and hearing.
In the past several weeks, we’ve heard from one after another mod developers dropping out from the Farm Sim mod community due to a variety of reasons. But mainly these reasons can be categorized under mod theft and abuse. I’ve discussed this ad nauseam both in written form (on this blog) and in verbal form on the GrizzlyBearSims YouTube Channel. I really don’t know what else to say regarding these topics other than we (those of us who truly care) need to do our best effort to help the newcomers to our hobbies. The more we demonstrate good behavior, positive attitudes etc. the better our communities will become. But unfortunately…not all communities are created equal.
I’ve been involved in the flight sim community even before the internet age. But just about as far back as I can remember, there’s been a cancer brewing inside and this cancer comes down to ego and attitude towards newcomers to the hobby. It’s somewhat funny in a way, the flight sim community have been begging for more modern versions of our platforms to be developed. Just as I blogged about on Saturday, history will claim “2017 A Great Year for Flight Simulation”. With new versions of both Prepar3D and X-Plane, plus the much anticipated entry from Dovetail Games….you can’t argue that there is no better time to become involved in Flight Sim than the here and now. But with all these new entries, the saying of “If you build it, they will come” will prove to be very true. But what will these newcomers think of us old curmudgeons?
Bad Attitudes, Bad Communities
As is the case in all the general simulation gaming communities I’m involved with, there are some good ones, but there are a ton of rotten ones where the cancer of individual bad attitudes is just boiling over. The truly sad thing is for the most part the admins and moderators of these various communities in many ways are the major source of the cancer as they either refuse to do their job or even worse, they contribute to the overall sense of negativity.
Whether you want it or not, updated releases of our popular simulation based games will generate brand new interest in these hobbies. In addition, for those of us who produce content on YouTube, Twitch etc. we are also very much a contributing factor of this revolution. After all, that’s one of the main reasons I created my YouTube Channel.
It’s always been my policy to not use my blog or YT channel for negative purposes, so with that said…I’m not going to “Call Out” by name or slander the communities I consider to be negative. But later in this article I will mention one very good community which I not only belong to, but I also serve as an admin.
Want to know one of my biggest pet peeves with the various communities attempting to support these simulation game interests??? Well, I’m going to tell you. My biggest pet peeve is when someone (anyone) asks a question in a forum or community and the response they get is to berate (scold/criticize) them for not taking the time to search or Google for the answer themselves.
When I run into these types of situations I truly feel like asking the owner of the community specifically why they even bother running their forum/community? After all, isn’t this the reason why we have forums?
I realize there are certain individual types out there that simply expect everything be handed to them. These are the types of people that instead of trying to learn something on their own, they simply want (and expect) others to do the hard work for them. These types are easily identified and should be handled on a individual basis. But this is a small issue overall. I truly believe that most individuals do try to search first before asking, but sometimes (actually more times than not), the search results can create more confusion for the new person.
In just the past week some news broke in the flight sim community regarding a piece of software which had historically been distributed as freeware or donation ware. However, due to real world issues the original developer of this software either didn’t have an interest to develop it further, didn’t have the time or perhaps some other reasons. In any event, the software was going to essentially die the slow death.
The software in question is called Prepar3D Tweak Assistance (PTA). Basically it is a software tool to allow flight simmers to automate the tweaking and fine tuning of different configuration parameters in P3D. As previously mentioned, the developer of PTA made the decision not to further develop PTA for the brand new 64 bit Prepar3D version 4 flight simulator.
However, another interested party stepped forward an offered his expertise and even offered a dollar figure to purchase the original source code of PTA with the idea this individual would carry the torch forward to keep this tool alive and well for years to come. With his original offer, this individual planned to continue to leave it as donation ware…but to bring a long-story somewhat shorter, the offer was rejected and after some time the parties agreed on a new offer. But with this new offer being a larger investment, the decision was made that it would change from freeware/donation ware to a payware product.
OMG! You would think some how this decision was going to end the world as we know it. This decision would also lead to catastrophic flooding, the return of the plague etc. etc. The reaction this news should have received was “Thank You” for stepping up to save an extremely valuable tool.
Folks, stuff happens. Plans change….it’s part of life. While I often think back to the days in the flight simulation hobby where awesome things (aircraft, scenery, utilities etc.) were created/developed and openly shared with everyone…many times these things always died the slow death because the original developer simply lost interest or life simply took over.
While I had never used PTA, I did purchase it when I came out and WOW…Just absolutely WOW! It has truly been worth the small investment and I’m extremely thankful to Matt for rescuing this wonderful tool and making it available. If you are a P3D v4 user and interested in the PTA tool, learn more here.
Please and Thank You
While I’ve discussed some things that I feel the leaders within our communities could do a better job controlling, we’re not all innocent. We all need to remember the manners we were taught in our young age. Please and Thank You are two of the most important words we can say and if you’re going to say them….you need to mean it.
Earlier in this article, I discussed some of the issues concerning many of the various communities designed to support a particular simulation interest. A community which I’ve had the pleasure to be a part of and also serve as an administrator and moderator is PC-SG. PC-SG was launched just over two years ago and has become an extremely popular community supporting various PC simulation gaming subjects including Farming Simulator, Truck Simulator (ATS/ETS2) and even Flight Simulator. Our team of moderators/admins are the best in the business and we’ll never criticize for asking questions. While much of the conversation in recent weeks has been related to farming, I’d really like to invite those who may be new to Flight Simulation over to PC-SG and help us build up the interest.
The title of this blog post ends with the word “Hobbies”. Hobbies are meant to be fun, relaxing, entertaining etc. etc. While I enjoy the ultimate realism these hobbies provide to us, we all need to relax and understand that most involved have lives outside of the gaming hobby (myself included). Our individual lives including our work, school, family, health etc. SHOULD ALWAYS come first.
Back in the early days, we didn’t have much choice when it came to selecting flight simulator software. When I was a teen back in the early 80’s, I had a Commodore 64 computer. I had a version of flight simulator which ran on the Commodore 64 computer. In those days you only had a small selection of airports to fly to and from and typically only one type of aircraft. I spent many, many hours flying the Cessna around Meig’s Field in Chicago.
As time passed, the sophistication of the various flight simulator software titles evolved from just one aircraft and a few airports to any aircraft one could imagine and an entire globe full of airports with tons of eye candy to look at while flying from point A to point B. Today, flight simulator enthusiasts have many different software platforms to choose from when it comes to setting up their flight simulator.
I’m going to break down the options you have in the various flight simulators available today and provide a brief description and even some opinion regarding each of the available options.
Microsoft Flight Simulator
I’m starting off with Microsoft Flight Simulator since I very much consider this the grandfather of all today’s flight sim applications. While Microsoft discontinued their popular Flight Simulator franchise many years ago, many enthusiasts continue to use their two previous editions of Flight Simulator 2004 (FS9) and Flight Simulator X (FSX). Actually, the first several titles I’m going to list below were all born from much of the original FSX code. As I stated, many still use both FS9 and the original FSX boxed edition today. However, due to their age…I feel for those looking to get started in this exciting hobby entertain other available options.
Dovetail Games – Microsoft Flight Simulator X: Steam Edition
In July 2014, Dovetail Games announced a licensing agreement with Microsoft to distribute the popular Microsoft FSX via Steam. Dovetail Games made a few minor tweaks to the application to help improve performance and fix many issues which Microsoft had failed to patch before they mothballed the flight simulator projects. The Dovetail Games Microsoft Flight Simulator X: Steam Edition (FSX SE) is still available to purchase via Steam for $24.99. Since the release of FSX SE, many third party payware add-ons or DLC have been made available.
While FSX SE remains a 32 bit application, with the impressive list of available add-ons (which most have been optimized to function well with FSX SE) this simulator remains an excellent starting platform for the brand new flight sim enthusiast.
Dovetail Games – Flight Sim World
Around the same time Dovetail Games announced their licensing agreement to distribute the above mentioned FSX SE, they also announced they had plans to develop their own flight simulator platform. Just last month, Dovetail Games announced and released Flight Sim World as an early release (beta) product. Flight Sim World currently sells for $24.99 on Steam.
At this point in time, not a whole lot is known about the future of Flight Sim World (FSW). There’s a wide variety of opinions regarding this simulator and how much support it will receive from 3rd party developers. I recently wrote an opinion piece regarding my experience with FSW which you can read here.
In a nutshell, Flight Sim World is not a complete re-write. There’s still a lot of the old FSX baseline code which exists within the sim. However, Dovetail has developed it into a 64 bit application and of course this is great news from a systems performance perspective.
Unfortunately, the “what we don’t know” about Flight Sim World is about the only thing giving me some pause. The way I see it, (and this is just my opinion) but as FSW is born from FSX…if Dovetail doesn’t get the 3rd party developers involved and allow them to develop the content we all expect to see in a sim, then this may never get off the ground.
The Importance of 64 Bit
Before I proceed with my article, I just want to touch on one very important piece and that is the importance of a 64 bit application in today’s modern technology world compared to the older 32 bit architecture.
I’ve written many pieces regarding the obstacles we’ve all faced in trying to wring out as much performance as we can from the older 32 bit applications like FSX (and early versions of P3D). As we drifted further and further away from the date the original FSX code was developed, we’ve pushed harder and harder on that ever important envelope referred to as VAS or Virtual Address Space. Essentially available RAM.
Unfortunately, simply adding more RAM to a PC isn’t the solution. A 32 bit application (like FSX) will only utilize up to 4 GB of available RAM regardless of the amount available in the PC. Running down to the local hardware store and buying an extra 8 GB of RAM will do nothing to help prevent those pesky OOM’s or Out Of Memory Errors. Of course, these OOM’s are (for the most part) self-inflicted by piling on visually stunning add-on payware in the form of ground textures, enhanced airport scenery and highly detailed study level type aircraft. In other words, for the most part….the base FSX application works well until you begin adding the eye candy.
Let’s continue with the list….
Lockheed Martin – Prepar3D
In 2009, Lockheed Martin announced they had negotiated with Microsoft to purchase the intellectual property (including source code) from the Microsoft ESP side of their flight simulation division. ESP was the commercial side of Microsoft’s business in developing flight simulation applications. Prepar3d version 1.1 was released in 2011, P3D v2 in 2013, P3D v3 in 2015 and finally Prepar3d version 4 (64 bit) in May 2017.
For me, P3D v4 has become my personal standard and it is what I use for my day to day flight simulation enjoyment. While P3D v4 (just like versions 1-3) still very much contain original baseline ESP code, and much of the base scenery hasn’t been updated since the days of FSX….the 64 bit architecture is a noticeable “night versus day” difference maker for this very popular flight sim application.
Unfortunately, the only real drawback to P3D comes down to their EULA or End-User License Agreement. To put it mildly, it’s confusing. Essentially, P3D is licensed under the following structure:
Academic – ($59.95) Designed to offer the academic community a platform to develop hands-on STEM lessons. While the academic version of the software is the same as the professional version, there is a watermark visible signifying the acceptable use of the license. The academic license is provided at a discount for students. Currently, there are no requirements to prove eligibility for the academic license.
Professional – ($199.00) The P3D Professional license does allow for training, instruction, simulation and learning.
Professional Plus – ($2300.00) The P3D Professional Plus license is designed for real world business customers who are going to use the software for extensive training purposes.
Developer – ($9.95/Month) Registered software developers can subscribe and receive two full copies.
I’ve written about the confusion of how the P3D EULA simply doesn’t offer a license for basic entertainment purposes only. It is for this purpose, I personally purchase the “Professional” level which does specifically identify simulation as part of the acceptable use of the software. I feel this is also the right thing to do considering that I do often stream and record my flights on YouTube, Twitch etc. Plus….I’m not a student.
All versions of P3D are still available for purchase on the Prepar3D website and all are offered at the same price. So if you are truly interested in the P3D platform, I would saddle up with the brand new P3D version 4.
Before I venture away from the topic of P3D allow me to address one thing. Many are upset, disappointed etc. with the fact that Prepar3D version 4 is simply a 64 bit update of the original ESP code. Meaning, much of how P3D looks by default hasn’t changed since FSX hit the store shelves almost a dozen years ago. While I truly understand what many are saying….I must also remind everyone that P3D has never been directly marketed to the general consumer for mere entertainment purposes. The real target audience of P3D is the commercial, professional and academic side of things and I suggest that perhaps…just perhaps the criteria is just different.
Needless to say, I for one am extremely pleased with P3D v4. If Lockheed Martin had followed the suggestions from those demanding a new game engine, the wait would be much, much longer. P3D v4 is performing extremely well on my gaming system and is allowing me to finally enjoy ultimate realism without the need to worry about the crash due to running out of memory.
Just a reminder, my list is not ranking the titles in any particular order. X-Plane has been around for a number of years and it should be noted that X-Plane was the absolute very first to release their flight sim platform built on the 64 bit architecture. Their recent release of X-Plane 11 has been making news and is certainly a worthy consideration. One of the great things about X-Plane is the community behind it. It truly reminds me of the old Microsoft Flight Sim days where the community truly worked together to develop quality freeware add-ons. Unfortunately, for the FSX, FSX SE and P3D titles….most add-ons will be payware (with a few exceptions).
For me personally, while I do own X-Plane 11, I’ve really found it to be a struggle to forget the old Microsoft ways of controlling the sim application. Fortunately for my old mind, much of how FSX was controlled (again from the application level) is absolutely the same in the most recent version of P3D v4. Plus my extensive collection of add-ons continue to work well.
Freeware/Open-Source Alternatives and a warning
There is an open-source alternative to flight simulation software available from FlightGear. While I’ve never spent any time testing or flying using the FlightGear flight simulation software, I know others do use it and there are methods of importing planes from Microsoft Flight Simulator into FlightGear. In addition, there is also an on-line client for the VATSIM network called SquawkGear that will allow you to use FlightGear to fly on-line. It is extremely encouraging to see developers like FlightGear contribute to the flight sim community with their open-source program.
Unfortunately, there are some individuals who have taken the open-source code from FlightGear, made a few minor modifications and are attempting to market the product under various names such as Flight Pro Sim, Pro Flight Simulator etc. I first learned about this back in 2010 and blogged about it here and here. But please….don’t take my word for it. Read the official statement released by FlightGear and judge for yourself.
What should you choose?
Unfortunately, we all have different interests and we all have different budgets. If you’ve previously been involved with the flight simulation hobby and are looking to get back in…then I would recommend either Prepar3D v4 or X-Plane. What we know about these two platforms should prove these will both be around and will see continued improvements and enhancements for many years to come.
However, if you are brand new to flight simulation and are looking for simply an entry level starting point to help you understand some of the basics of flight and serve as a litmus test if you want to pursue the hobby further, then I suggested giving the new Dovetail Games Flight Sim World a solid look. While this sim is in early access (beta), the current price of $24.95 won’t be money wasted even if you decide in six months you want to move to P3D or XP. I’m very impressed with the tutorials in FSW and believe they can be most helpful in helping you achieve a better level of understanding in the principles of flight. I believe this to be extremely helpful.
As time permits, I do plan to feature more flight simulation content on the GrizzlyBearSims YouTube Channel. Most likely, I will provide some videos from Flight Sim World and of course also Prepar3D v4. While I do own XP 11, I’m really just not comfortable enough with that platform to do it justice.
If you are curious as to what add-ons are currently compatible with the 64 bit version of Prepar3D v4, then look no further than this extensive spreadsheet list which is updated frequently as more add-ons are released for this awesome sim.
The highly anticipated 64 bit version of Prepar3D (P3D v4) was released only one week ago, but already dozens of 3rd party add-ons have been either made compatible or confirmed to already be compatible with P3D v4. On the very first day of release, many 3rd party developers already had released new installers and the list continues to grow.
Over this past weekend, PMDG released their almost new Boeing 747-400 Queen of the Skies II for P3D v4. While I own the PMDG 737 NGX and the beautiful Boeing 777, I had yet to pickup the 747. But I’m excited to say that the Queen now lives in my hangar and here’s a recent flight image of this beautiful airplane.
I can also report that on the above mentioned flight using the PMDG 747-400 (flying as Atlas Air Cargo), I departed from Denver KDEN (Flightbeam add-on scenery) and arrived in Dallas/Ft. Worth KDFW (FSDreamTeam add-on scenery) with all graphics settings maxed out and P3D v4 performed like a dream. I simply could not do that in P3D v3.x without an Out of Memory error crash.
Over the next few weeks, I will continue to get more of my large collection of 3rd party add-ons installed and configured into P3D v4. At the present time I’m also working on a video review of the new Dovetail Games Flight Sim World and will also begin showcasing some flying action from the new P3D v4 on my GrizzlyBearSims YouTube Channel along with Farming Simulator 17 “Let’s Play series”.
Thank you for reading my blog and thanks for subscribing to my YouTube Channel.
A little over 5 years ago I wrote a series of blog postings from a “How To” perspective with regards to the exciting hobby of flight simulation. While some things have changed, some things haven’t. Over the next few weeks I plan to re-release these articles, but will tweak and update the information so it’s more applicable today. After all, a lot has changed over the past 5+ years. For todays installment, I’m going to discuss Why Flight Simulation?
To some individuals, a computer based flight simulator is just a game and to many others it is much more, it’s an important hobby. I’ve even known many younger individuals who were inspired to pursue aviation careers and became pilots and air traffic controllers as a result. Regardless of your motive, one can learn and experience many different aspects of aviation and even learn something about geography through a computer based flight simulator program.
For me, flight simulation changed from being “Just a Game” around the year 2000. As it was around this timeframe when I was first introduced to the world of internet based virtual airlines or VA’s. I’ll discuss VA’s in more depth in a future article. Before 2000, I would load up a flight in my simulator, pick a destination, take off and come back in a hour or two and land the plane. I was happy if I could land within a hundred miles or so of the airport. However, with a little practice (practice does make perfect after all), I could navigate my aircraft and found it was actually interesting to fly the aircraft versus letting the autopilot do it.
Tip – It is easy to get caught up in wanting to fly “Big Iron” aircraft like the Boeing 747. However, you’ll learn more about flying and navigating when spending time in the default Cessna type aircraft which are featured in all versions of the popular flight simulator programs. Work your way up from the single engine prop models just like real pilots.
While I have no desire to take flying lessons or earn my private pilots license, the flight simulation hobby has taught me much about aviation, about the world we live in and I’ve met some really wonderful people as a result.
Next time I’ll discuss what flight simulator software is right for you (there are many to choose from) and some tips on setting it up. Thank you for reading my blog.
Until next time…
Fine Print: Unfortunately I feel the need to state for the record that my “How To” articles and tips are for flight simulation purposes only and should not be used for real world aviation.
With new releases from Dovetail Games, Lockheed Martin and X-Plane….2017 is shaping up to be a really great year for flight simulation enthusiasts. Arguably, the above mentioned developers ARE the future of flight simulation and no doubt will bring many new participants into this wonderful hobby.
For me, flight simulation was my very first video game passion which started in the early 1980’s. Over the past 35+ years I’ve learned a lot and met many wonderful individuals through the hobby of flight sim. As I anticipate a surge of new interested individuals to this hobby, over the next several weeks I’m going to write (in some cases re-write) a series of blog articles to assist in eliminating the confusion in all things flight simulation.
Just like other forms of simulation based games, flight simulation offers much enjoyment for a wide variety of interests. Do you enjoy flying low and slow and taking in the scenery? How about high and fast while simulating the captain of a modern jet airliner? Or do you fancy becoming a propeller head and learning the art of flying non-fixed wing aircraft? Something for just about all interest levels can be found in the wonderful genre of flight simulation. Join me as I will help you better understand all your options and help you get started in flight simulation.
In addition to seeing more helpful content on my blog, I also plan to begin featuring flight sim related content on my growing GrizzlyBearSims YouTube Channel, and will occasionally stream flight sim related content to both YouTube, Twitch and Smashcast channels in the near future.
If you have been involved in the hobby of flight simulation longer than 5 minutes, you know what a grueling process it can be to get all your payware add-ons downloaded and installed into the sim. Especially in the past 5+ years when Lockheed Martin has released several different versions of their wonderful Prepar3D. With each version (v1, v2, v3 and now v4) required new installers due to minor or even major updates and changes at the sim level.
I own a lot of payware add-ons for my flight sim addiction. Yea….it’s an addiction and I suppose recognizing it as such is half the battle in dealing with it. But I have perhaps several thousand dollars (shhh, don’t tell the wife) invested in payware add-ons which help to scratch this itch I have for all things flight sim. But each time a new version of P3D was released, it takes many, many hours to round up all the updated installers, patches etc. etc. etc. The other dilemma is when a new version of P3D is released, it takes developers some time to work through their suite of add-ons and publish these updates.
Thankfully, much of my flight sim investment portfolio is from Orbx. These are the wonderful and talented developers who have helped to transform old, out-dated (and often inaccurate) ground base textures, land-class textures and some of the most amazing airport sceneries you will ever see. If you are a GA or General Aviation enthusiast (flying low and slow) then you probably already know all about the Orbx magic.
Some months ago, Orbx released an update to their FTX Central application which simplifies the process of obtaining both updates of the products you are licensed to use, as well as simplifies the overall install process of these items. Since FTX Central knows who I am (via secure login), it checks the inventory of items I’m licensed to use along with the inventory of titles already installed and in one central location I can select what needs to be installed and what needs to be updated and the process is both quick and painless. I think we all agree that the less time it takes to tinker with getting software installed, means the more time we have for flying.
The image below shows the Orbx FTX Central application. Within the FTX Global Range of products the items listed have been updated for P3D v4 and ready to be installed.
Installing couldn’t be easier, just click the “Install Product” button and voila…..
I’m really looking forward to experiencing Prepar3D version 4.0 with the Orbx FTX add-ons. We finally have a sim which is capable of running all the wonderful eye-candy from so many wonderful and talented developers. Best of all, from the perspective of Orbx….much of what I own has been purchased many years ago and even though the sim (P3D) has evolved, Orbx has not charged for their updates and this is a truly amazing decision on their part. But of course, Orbx isn’t alone. But this is a topic for another day!
As most should know, Dovetail Games released their “Early Access” version of Flight Sim World (FSW) recently. I wrote about this subject back on 4 May and expressed my hopes, opinions and just general thoughts regarding this new entry. Much of the content I used to form the basis of my opinions came from Dovetail Games Announcement video which you can view from the above mentioned blog post. Outside of that one announcement video I have tried to restrict my viewing of other videos, live streams and blog postings on the subject of DTG’s FSW. It was my desire to remain as neutral as possible so that I could form my own opinions and present them to you here.
Before I begin to open up about my opinions regarding DTG’s FSW, allow me to say the following. The Dovetail Games Flight Sim World is an early access product. As with any early access, beta, pre-release, work-in-progress etc. etc. edition of any software, there most likely are bugs, there could be bugs found and more importantly what you see, may not, most likely will not be what will go into the finished product.
I’ve been flying computer based simulation games since the early 1980’s. My love and fascination with aviation started as a young boy and has progressed into adulthood. While I know longer have the desire to “learn to fly” in real life…flight simulation (much like my interests in other simulation based games) is an important element in my life and serves as a much needed stress reliever when of course the applications are working correctly. LOL
Because of my long history with flight simulation based applications, I’m sure you can understand how difficult it is to simply “turn off” my knowledge, experience etc. with other flight sim titles. As a point of reference, the first flight simulator application I used was on the Commodore 64 in the early 1980’s. This was developed by a company called subLOGIC. subLOGIC sold (or was acquired) by Microsoft in the early 80’s to be further developed into the very popular Microsoft Flight Simulator. Here’s a short video (not mine) showing 60 seconds of recorded footage of what Flight Simulator looked like on the C-64.
Anyway, sometime in the very late 80’s or early 1990 timeframe I graduated from the C-64 to the PC and one of the first software packages I purchased was Microsoft Flight Simulator and I’ve owned, used and very much enjoyed every version up to Microsoft FSX. So having said all this, I have tried to look at Dovetail Games Flight Sim World with an open mind, I’ve tried not to compare it to anything in the past, present or possibly future and most importantly, I’ve approached this review fully understanding what “Early Access” means.
Let’s Get Started
My apologies for taking so long to get to this point in the article, but I felt it was important to lay the cards on the table. One more small piece of information I want to make public is I have not been asked, nor have I been paid to write this review. While I received DTG FSW at no cost, this was only because I had purchased the DTG’s Flight School and in doing so, earned me a no-cost version of FSW. Here’s my open and honest review of the “Early Access” version of Dovetail Games Flight Sim World.
Dovetail Games Flight Sim World
Flight Sim World is the new (currently in early access) flight simulator developed by Dovetail Games and sold exclusively through Steam. At the time of this blog article, FSW is available as an Early Access release for $24.99 as of 18 May 2017. If you purchased Dovetail Games Flight School, then you should have access to download/install FSW at no cost.
As part of the base package, FSW includes the entire world and includes several single and twin engine prop aircraft to get you started in your flight adventures. The application is 64 bit which meets with the high demand from these types of application games. If you are unfamiliar with the struggles we’ve had over the past several years with under-performing flight sim applications, then please read this article.
Install and Setup
DTG’s FSW installed just like any other Steam application. I was able to quickly configure my CH Products Flight Yoke and Rudder Pedals, but support for my extensive collection of Go Flight hardware is unfortunately not supported at this time.
Application Performance and Stability
Overall I’ve spent approx. 6-8 hours flying around and the overall performance from FSW has been more or less what I expected it to be. For the most part performance is better than FSX but I don’t believe the application itself is as fully optimized as it should be. But then again, this is early access. To be honest, while I did occasionally view my FPS counter, I don’t use FPS as the end-all-be-all in determining how an application/game is performing. Application lag, stuttering etc. were mostly at a minimum and I think would/will be improved as the game matures further along the early access process. During the entire time I’ve spent with FSW, I didn’t encounter a crash or application failure.
As was the case with DTG Flight School, the default visuals are much, much improved from FSX. While it’s not as impressive as FSX or P3D with Orbx Global Scenery, for a default (out of box) product….it’s pretty darn nice.
Flight Dynamics and Realism
This is somewhat difficult for me to judge. First, I’m not a real world pilot and second, I haven’t flown default level aircraft in many, many years. I’m a huge fan of the more complex, study level type aircraft from developers such as PMDG, A2A etc. But FSW does very much remind me of default FSX and I found the aircraft easy to fly.
My overall impression
Again, making every effort to not compare FSW with any other product I will say that for it being an early access product…I was quite pleased overall. However, I feel I must state the following which slightly causes me concern regarding the future of FSW.
Much like we say “behind every great man, there’s an even greater woman”….behind every great simulation game there’s a long list of very successful 3rd party partners which help make the game even better through mods and add-ons, I fear if Dovetail Games doesn’t change their plan on how they may force 3rd party developers to exclusively market via Steam, then FSW may never fully get off the ground. Please read this for background information.
In a nutshell, DTG may require all 3rd party developers to market their add-ons exclusively through Steam. Let’s use PMDG as an example. The almost brand new PDMG 747-400 Queen of the Skies II sells directly from the PMDG website for $134.99. The cost to market something on Steam is somewhere in the neighborhood of 30-40%. So if PMDG truly believes their 747 is worth $134.99 they either will take a 30-40% hit on their profit (not likely) or pass along the costs to us consumers. Therefore, increasing the cost of their 747-400 Queen of the Skies II to a whopping $175. Of course, nothing is official at this time…and Dovetail could re-consider their marketing requirements. Stay tuned…
My Very Bottom Line
I simply can’t deny that in some ways I simply couldn’t prevent myself from making comparisons to FSX, P3D and even X-Plane. I consider myself to be a hard-core simmer with regards to my enjoyment of the flight simulation hobby. I like the eye-candy that some of the 3rd party add-ons provide. I enjoy the more complex aircraft add-ons from the likes of PMDG, A2A, Aerosoft, Carenado etc. I also enjoy using my additional add-on hardware from Go Flight which helps to add to the immersion level. Finally, I do from time to time enjoy experiencing multiplayer action via the VATSIM network and at this particular time…none of these boxes get checked with Dovetail Games Flight Sim World. But of course, I’m reminded of the fact that this is an early access product. Things can and may change….
Should you consider DTG’s Flight Sim World?
It’s difficult for me to recommend an early release product of any kind. After all, it’s your hard earned money and not mine. But if you are new to flight simulation, have a desire to try it out AND have an extra $24.99 in your pocket, then DTG’s FSW might be a good entry point for you. If you don’t like it, or if it doesn’t perform to your expectation you can always request a refund via Steam.
I’m going to continue to keep my eyes and ears open to any news on this subject. I may occasionally test out new enhancements made throughout the early access process, but if you ask me if Flight Sim World will become my “Go-To Flight Sim” the answer is no and I hope to share all the reasons for this along with exactly what my “Go-To Flight Sim” is in a future blog post.
While we’re still a few hours away from the official release of Prepar3D v4 (64 bit), over the past few days I’ve watched a few videos showcasing the new simulator and even some comparing it to P3D v3.4. Not surprisingly, some people are losing their minds and being critical of Lockheed Martin by saying this release should simply be P3D v3.5 or complaining that some of the same issues which have plagued the software since the days of FSX continue to exist.
As the title of this blog post states, Flight Simulator 11 is finally here (or will be in a few hours). What I mean by this is simple. Everything which has been released by either Microsoft (MS Flight), Dovetail Games (FSX Steam Edition) and Lockheed Martin (Prepar3D v1 – v3) may have pretended to be the next evolution of the wonderful Flight Simulator we have known and loved going all the way back to the subLOGIC days. However, everything since the Microsoft original release of FSX has only been has only been pretending to the next iteration of this flagship product.
Yes, Lockheed Martin did do a wonderful job with the later version of Prepar3d v2.x and with v3.x. But what we’ve been needing since shortly after FSX was released way back in 2006 was a 64 bit version to take full advantage of the hardware. Again, everything else has just been marking time until this day.
While I realize X-Plane was the first to introduce a 64 bit flight sim, for some of us who have had a large investment in add-ons for FSX and which have been almost fully compatible through all the versions of P3D AND for the most part will also be made available for P3D v4 (at no extra cost), plus the general working knowledge of the sim is the same all the way back to FSX….well, it’s been a very difficult bridge to cross.
I’ve speculated time and time and time again on where the future of flight simulation is going and who will carry the torch proudly for us. I’ve felt really good about Lockheed Martin since v2.x, but now…..now this is all new territory and the sky is not the limit.
I can’t wait to purchased, download and install Flight Simulator version 11, errrr I mean Prepar3D v.4. We’ve been waiting a long, long time for this day and the day has finally come.
In less than 24 hours, Lockheed Martin will release the highly anticipated and very long overdue 64 bit version of Prepar3D version 4. With this release, will we finally see an end to the out of memory issues we’ve all experienced with FSX and every version of P3D? Have we experienced the last OOM? Can we once and for all stop worrying about how much (or how little) VAS we have? Are those little ding, ding, ding noises just as we are on final approach after an extremely long-haul flight going to be a thing of the past? I darn well hope so….
If you are an FSX or P3D user and don’t know what the acronyms of OOM or VAS stand for, or you haven’t encountered those ding, ding, ding sounds just before you are rudely presented with the error that says “Too Bad, Too Sad…we don’t care that you’ve just spent 12 hours flying and are in the final 5 minutes of flight, but you’ve run out of memory and we’re about to ruin your fun”, then I suggested you read this post.
Taking the Plunge
Sure…I might as well! While I owe a review of Dovetail Games brand new Flight Sim World FSW (and I’ll get that done soon), in a nutshell I don’t believe (at this time) there is any chance I’ll spend a great deal of time in FSW. Reason being is lack of 3rd party aircraft, scenery and such. I don’t see FSUIPC making its way to FSW anytime soon and without that, it really limits just how much fun I can have in the sim. NOTE: I said it will lack how much fun I will have. Your mileage may vary depending on what you want from a flight sim.
But yes…I do plan to purchase P3D v4. But I’m also doing so knowing it will be some time before some of my favorite add-ons will be made available. Some developers will have content ready on day 1, others will have their content after the first few weeks etc. etc. From what I’ve read, much of the add-ons I currently own will not require a repurchase to obtain the P3D version 4 installers. This is great news…but it’s more or less the commitment that many of these developers made when we all began speculating about a 64 bit version.
By the way, I have been flying lately as I’ve been playing around with both FSW and enjoying flights in P3D v3.4. I experienced what will hopefully be one of my last OOM crashes on Sunday when I was flying from KDFW to KMEM. Just within about two minutes after landing (thankfully) the system just said..”Nope…you’re done” it has used up 100% of the available 4 GB of VAS which is the dreadful limitation of 32 bit applications we’ve all been dealing with. It was a great flight other than that.
My Future in Flight Sim
All things being equal, in the past 6 months I’ve been using P3D v3.4, X-Plane 11 and Dovetail Games new Flight Sim World. As I’ve stated many times, I have a large dollar investment in FSX/P3D, so much so that I really can’t afford to seriously look at X-Plane as being a full replacement and still be able to enjoy the hobby in the same fashion. I have many years of experience with the Microsoft Flight Sim family of products and still find the X-Plane way of doing things about as difficult as trying to hammer a nail into the wall using only my forehead.
You can expect to read my first impressions on the 64 bit version of Prepar3D version 4 in the coming days/weeks. I might even record my thoughts and make it available on my YouTube channel. Stay tuned…