MSFS2020 First Patch Coming Soon

If you’ve been enjoying or trying to enjoy the brand new Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020, you’ll be happy to note the first expected patch is due to be released in the next few days.  Microsoft recently announced on their dev blog the full list of fixes users can expect in this very first patch

Yes, it’s a short list!

Many in the flight sim community are expressing disappointment with this first patch believing it should include more fixes and enhancements.  I personally believe this update is 100% spot on and is precisely the fixes the sim needs now, versus waiting another week, two or more to include more. 

First, there are many who are still struggling simply to download and install the sim.  If you refer to the patch notes, you’ll see there are several items being addressed which should help the folks who haven’t been able to install. 

Second, the SimConnect FPS drop has all but grounded anyone who desires to use MSFS2020 with the online networks like VATSIM, IVAO and PilotEdge. 

Third, the sim crashes when USB devices are connected or disconnected is another show stopper in my opinion and has been causing issues for many users.

More to Come?

Absolutely!  There are many opportunities which need to be addressed and I’m confident these will be addressed in time.  I’d personally rather see Microsoft/Asobo address the truly show stopper issues first (as they’ve done with this first patch) then hold this patch up several more weeks. 

How to Apply the Update?

That’s Easy-Peasy, Lemon Squeezy.  If you happen to be running MSFS2020 at the time the update is released, just simply shut down the sim and restart.  The sim will automagically download and install the updates. 

We should know more about what’s on the horizon in future patch releases on 3 September.

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

MSFS 2020 48 Hours In

As I type this on my laptop, I’m carefully watching my default Cessna 172 fly low and slow along the Fjords from Stewart, Canada on a flight to Ketchikan, Alaska in the brand new Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020.  I honestly can’t believe my eyes. 

FlightSimulator_Srpk0rZN3l

As Real As It Gets?

What I’m seeing and experiencing today has only really been achievable in real life flight.  Don’t get me wrong, pursuing ones private pilot license will certainly trump any experience on a gaming PC in my basement man cave.  But if you don’t have the time or the money to pursue such endeavors, then one can have an almost “As Real As It Gets” experience with the new Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020. 

For many of us who have been in this hobby for many years, MSFS2020 is exactly what we’ve been waiting and hoping for.  After many felt Microsoft let us down many years ago, I personally believe they have hit a home run with this new simulator.

FlightSimulator_yYf3V81NVP

Is it Perfect?

Of course not!  But we’re 48 hours into what I believe is the future of the flight simulation hobby and a platform that should carry us well in the years to come.  While there’s certainly areas to improve upon (and I’m confident these will be addressed in time) the new sim is stable, performs well and chocked full of hours and hours of flying fun. 

FlightSimulator_LTMtDJjZ2R

Well I better focus my attention on landing in Ketchikan.  I’m loving this….

Until next time…

Happy Flying!

Jerry

Setting My Own Expectations

Like many of you, this past week I’ve been watching a few YouTube videos and Twitch Live Streams for the new Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020.  I’m truly in awe at the nice visuals (aka eye candy) I’m seeing.  As I’ve said before, stunning visuals are a key element in the immersion factor of any simulation.  After all, this is why so many of us have invested a small fortune in add-on scenery for FSX/P3D/X-Plane.  I fully expect my jaw to drop once MSFS 2020 has been downloaded, installed and started up for the first time on my system. 

Having said this, I’m also preparing myself for the fact that most likely on day one our experience with MSFS2020 will be much different than say on day 100.  In other words, in my long history with any version of Flight Simulator (even in the days of the boxed editions) there is a period of time where patches/updates will be required.  This has also been true for other types of simulation games I play such as Farming Simulator or American Truck Simulator.  Yes, this is also the trend in the large scale business software industry as well.  There’s only so much testing developers can and will do before it’s time to turn it loose to the masses and then begin the arduous task of bug fixing.  While many have been helping to test MSFS 2020, it is us the consumer that will ultimately end up shaping what will become the final or near final product.

Other than all the stunning visuals and what we believe will be a much improved flight model, MSFS2020 will not/does not include magic code to allow it to perform with all sliders shoved right with FPS numbers climbing to the moon.  Even on some of the preview streams (knowing they are using a preview build), FPS numbers on fairly beefy hardware are not any greater than what they experience in P3D or X-Plane.  But again, I’m reminded of what we’ve known for years about flight sim programs.  Unless you sacrifice visuals, you’ll struggle to maintain a constant FPS of 60+.  But then again, I’ve also been saying for years that an FPS of 60+ isn’t needed in flight sim. 

Tuesday, 18 August is the BIG day.  We’ll all wake up and go check to see if the download is available and then hope the Microsoft hamsters can keep up with demand.  Then once the download is complete I plan to fire up MSFS2020 for the first time and see what’s what.  I’ll approach it much like I did with Prepar3d v5 and that is to leave most things default and see what I see.  As time progresses, I’ll inch the graphics further to the right and adjust for smoothness.  Once this is done, I won’t care what my FPS is.

Finally, soon after release we’ll all know for ourselves if MSFS 2020 has lived up to the hype.  If I were a betting man, I’d say it will and perhaps even more.  But prepare for just a little (or a lot) of turbulence so keep those seat belts on and have fun. Just remember how far we’ve come…..

c64-fs2-statue

Screenshot from Flight Simulator Commodore 64 circa 1984.  Do you remember this?  I do!

Until next time…

Happy Flying!

Jerry 

Farewell Prepar3d v4

In preparation for Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 (MSFS2020), it is time to bid farewell to P3Dv4.5 and all the associated add-ons.  While my P3Dv5 instance is still awaiting the availability of the PMDG Boeing 777, I have enough add-ons in v5 to keep me fully entertained until such time as the Triple Seven can be installed.

P3Dv4.5 Was Amazing

I joined the P3D bandwagon when P3Dv2 arrived on the scene and in my opinion, while v5 is finally proving to be stable….P3Dv4.5 was just simply rock solid.  Almost from day one, the much anticipated 64 bit release showed us exactly what a flight simulator should be and remained almost trouble free for just over three years.  However, between the P3Dv4.5 install and all the associated add-ons adding up to over 275GB of SSD space, I need to remove it to make room for the new Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 which is planned to release in just a few days from now (18 August). 

A Bit of a Three Ring Circus

My current gaming machine was designed and built with the future in mind.  At just over two years old now, at the time of the build I installed a 1 TB M.2 SSD as the main drive.  I moved over a few older 500GB SSD drives along with a 500 GB SATA drive for video work.  To maximize the performance of P3Dv4, it was installed on the 1 TB M.2 SSD along side the Windows OS.  I have one 500 GB SSD dedicated to Steam content such as Farming Simulator, Truck Simulators etc. and use the remaining SSD’s for backup and non-gaming content. 

When I installed P3Dv5, I installed it onto one of the SSD drives and it’s performing just fine.  But I believe I’ll want MSFS2020 to go onto the 1 TB M.2 SSD for maximum performance.  So to make this happen, unfortunately I must sunset P3Dv4.5. 

It really isn’t that big of a deal as I’ve been using P3Dv5 exclusively now for over a month.  Now that I have P3Dv5 dialed in, the performance is better than what I had been experiencing with 4.5 so now is just a good time to say goodbye.

MSFS2020 Requirements

According to the published minimum requirements of MSFS2020 as it relates to available disk space, I will need a minimum of 150GB.  Clearing out P3Dv4.5 and all its associated add-ons along with doing some additional cleanup, I will easily have over 500GB of free space on my main 1 TB M.2 drive.  Certainly more than enough.  At least for now. 

Looking Forward, Never Backward

While a lot of flight simmers may plan to ditch Prepar3D and X-Plane on day one of the MSFS2020 release, as I’ve stated before…Prepar3D v5 will remain my main simulator for simulating jetliner flights.  However, between home DIY projects and other responsibilities I do anticipate flying in MSFS2020 with any of the default GA aircraft as I explore the world flying low and slow.  My first flights most likely will be as follows.  Depart KAPA and fly over my house and the greater Denver area.  Flight number two will probably have me depart EBAW (Antwerp, Belgium) and fly over the area where my in-laws lived along with the Antwerp area.  Then who knows?  Most likely I’ll hop around between Alaska, perhaps fly around Innsbruk Austria…really the complete world is my option. 

Until next time…

Happy Uninstalling and Flying!

Jerry

The Future of the Flight Sim Add-on Market

With the upcoming release of Microsoft’s Flight Simulator 2020, many might be wondering what the future holds for the 3rd party add-on market.  In today’s FSX/Prepar3d and even X-Plane environments we must purchase, download and install dozens and dozens and sometimes even dozens more of extra add-ons to create an “As Real As It Gets” experience in our favorite simulator.  While some of the add-on content is freeware for X-Plane users, the vast majority of quality add-ons for FSX/P3D is payware.  All these extra components (while truly awesome) often present challenges in terms of compatibility and reliability of the base sim.   With MSFS2020, will we still need all this extra stuff?  The short answer is yes and no. 

No Longer Needed

While total immersion has always been my goal with flight sim, the eye-candy ranks right up there on my list of importance.  After all, much of what we perceive to be a full immersive experience comes to us through what we see.  Regardless of whether you fly low and slow or high and fast, the ground textures including roads, highways, rivers, lakes and railroads all add to the experience.  In the world of FSX/P3D all this level of detail has generally been provided through various add-ons from Orbx including the Global Base Pack, Global Vector, Global Trees, Global TerraFlora, Global Buildings and different OpenLC products for each region of the world.  Thankfully, right out of the box Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 has us covered with their highly accurate and stunning auto-gen provided by real world satellite imagery.  However, don’t count Orbx out as there will be plenty of opportunity for them to continue to develop their awesome scenery add-ons specifically the smaller airports and perhaps some of the larger ones like KSAN (as an example). 

Another example of add-ons which I believe will be obsolete in MSFS2020 is all the weather, cloud and sky texture add-ons which generally come to us via Hi-Fi (ActiveSky) and REX.  Out of the box, the MSFS2020 weather engine along with the way sky and cloud textures are displayed appear to be as real as it gets. Of course the development teams at Microsoft has completely rewritten the book on how aircraft will experience changing weather conditions to a level not even available to us now with these 3rd party add-ons. 

Finally I believe all these add-on shader type products such as EnvShade, PTA and Tomatoshade will also be unnecessary in MSFS2020.  I truly believe that out of the box the visuals of everything including ground textures, aircraft textures, sky textures..etc. are all absolutely beautiful out of the box.  This is not to say that any of these shader programs won’t make it to MSFS2020…I just don’t think they will be necessary.  At least not necessary for my setup.

Needs Going Forward

Of course at the very top of the list will be all the wonderful add-on aircraft (study level and some not so much) from devs such as PMDG, FSLabs, A2A, QualityWings, Aerosoft and Carenado just to name a few.  The limited information I’ve seen on the default Airbus A320 tells me that while this will be a fun aircraft to fly in the short-term, it’s not going to tick all the boxes for the seasoned flight simmer.  At the time of this writing, only PMDG (to my knowledge) has provided any sort of timeline and that is looking like late Q1 2021.  So we could be talking 6+ months before we see any study level aircraft in MSFS2020.

While many of the top add-on airport developers have posted pictures and details about their plans to release their airport add-ons for MSFS2020, these too will likely not be ready for release until several months after the release of the new sim.  Of course, of the enhanced airports Microsoft is including in the release, it’s unclear to me how these would differ in quality from what the 3rd party developers will provide. 

Expected Add-on Costs

I don’t want to speculate on exactly what the pricing will be for any 3rd party add-ons other than to say that I highly doubt we can expect to see any discounts from previous FSX/P3D purchases and certainly no free upgrades.  While the FSX to P3D jump has been a similar platform and some add-ons purchased for FSX have received 100% free updates all the way to P3Dv5, MSFS2020 is a completely different platform and I believe all add-ons will also be practically brand new versions.  In other words, I don’t believe these will be simple port overs from previous versions. 

Additional Thoughts on Pricing

When P3D was first released, PMDG was the first to increase their pricing.  At the time the reasons provided by PMDG was due to licensing and the simple fact that Prepar3D was not licensed for entertainment purposes like FSX had been.  Here’s an old forum post discussing this (Jan. 2015).  Other add-on developers like FSLabs also introduced their products at a premium price due to the P3D EULA.  As Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 once again is marketed as a “for entertainment purposes” product, can we expect add-on pricing to drop?  Well….your guess is as good as mine at this point in time.  But I would guess if there is any price change towards a new EULA the change will be minimal. 

My Plan

As I’ve stated before, while I will most likely purchase Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 near day one and I will spend some time flying and looking around, I don’t plan to make the move to the new platform until my favorite study level aircraft are available.  As I’m still currently unemployed (laid off in July after 22 years), I will also have to be frugal in my spending practices as I go along.  Most likely I will focus my attention first on aircraft and just make do with the airports that come with MSFS2020.  Then as time goes along and hopefully my job status will resolve itself in time, I can then purchase more things.  But these COVID-19 times are difficult for many and the priorities of my family must come first before anything else. 

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

Can’t Wait for Colorado

co_flag It’s been a while since I’ve paid American Truck Simulator some love here on my blog.  That doesn’t mean I haven’t been enjoying grinding the gears throughout Idaho.  The Idaho DLC was released a few weeks ago and in my opinion, it’s one of the best releases I’ve seen for the trucking simulator franchise.  As a result, I’m really excited to see what SCS Software provides to us in the upcoming Colorado DLC. 

The Colorado DLC has been highly anticipated by myself for many reasons.  First, I live here.  I’ve called Colorado home since ‘98 and have driven all over the state in the 22 years I’ve lived here.  Second, (if done right) I believe Colorado will offer a very unique driving experience which we’ve not seen in the previous state DLC releases.  While many of us ATS fans have had the pleasure of driving in Colorado via the Coast to Coast map mod, I believe the official SCS version will blow us all away. 

From all evidence available via the communications SCS has provided to us, they truly understand how important Colorado is both in the Midwest, the US and North America.  Regardless if you’re driving I-25, I-70, I-76 or the busy stretch of US 287, I believe the Colorado DLC will provide many challenges and a whole lot of fun. 

What’s Next

Of course, ATS always has us asking “What’s Next” as for map DLC releases for American Truck Simulator.  I’ve often tried speculating, guessing or whatever you might want to call it as to which US state will appear on the radar.  For me personally, Texas (my birth state) is also very high on my radar, but could Texas be next?  Or will SCS continue their north expansion out of Colorado and work on Wyoming/Montana?  I’m sure SCS has a clear plan and more should be known once Colorado has been released. 

Until then, I’ll continue exploring Idaho and make my way towards Utah as I believe one of the first drives I’d like to take once Colorado drops is from Utah to Denver across I-70. 

Until next time…

Happy Trucking!!!

Jerry

Default Airbus A320 MSFS2020

I wanted to briefly draw your attention to a couple of YouTube videos which have recently been released by Chewwy94 (AKA Matt) who in my opinion is one of the best Flight Sim YouTube/Twitch content creators.  I’ve been watching and following Matt for several years.  His content is both educational and entertaining. 

Matt recently released two new videos showcasing the default Airbus A320 which will be one of the featured aircraft in the brand new flight simulator from Microsoft.  Microsoft Flight Simulator (MSFS2020) releases on 18 August and I believe will become the new standard for flight simulation. 

While it may be a few months before I fully embrace MSFS2020 as my go-to sim (due to the delayed release of study level aircraft), I fully believe MSFS2020 will introduce many new individuals to the wonderful world of flight simulation.  Being new once myself, (albeit a very long time ago) I cut my teeth on default aircraft and I firmly believe that is the best way to first grasp the art of flight simulation.  Once one masters the basics, then there is plenty of time to learn more advanced aircraft. 

Anyway….back on point!

The two videos I would like to showcase discuss the new flight planning features in MSFS2020 as well as a full flight from Manchester to London Heathrow in the default Airbus A320.  As Chewwy94 clearly points out in the flight video, the Airbus A320 still has a few opportunities (aka bugs) to be worked out and I’m sure the team at Microsoft are burning the midnight oil to get everything sorted. 

Thanks Matt for taking the time to showcase MSFS2020 on your channel and for all your efforts in helping so many (myself included) to get the most from this wonderful hobby.  You truly are a legend!

Please take the time to check out the Chewwy94 YouTube and Twitch channels.  His content is worthy of a Subscribe, Like, Follow etc. etc. etc. 

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

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