MSFS 2024 Thoughts

Hello and welcome back to my blog site.  Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably already watched the brand new release trailer which Microsoft released over the weekend regarding their brand new Microsoft Flight Simulator 2024.  The announced release date is 19 November 2024.  I’ve watched this trailer now about a half dozen times and very much like what I see.  Of course, I liked what I saw from the very first teaser from last year.

Backing up the Truck

Before I dive into a few things that I’m thinking about after watching the new trailer several times, let me just point you all to a blog article I wrote earlier this year on the subject of MSFS 2024.  This article covers the why behind Microsoft’s decision to release a brand new sim only four years after MSFS2020.  Of course I also talk about a few other things and if you missed it, now would be a good time to go read it.

Thoughts and Concerns

Over the past few days I’ve watched many videos from other flight sim content creators breaking down the new trailer video.  From what I’ve seen across many videos, the concerns of these content creators can be broken down into these following categories.  #1 Flight Model, #2 Old add-on compatibility and #3 new projects slated for MSFS 2020. Let me break these down and provide my thoughts for each.

Flight Model

I’m not a real world pilot of any sort.  Over the past 4 years I’ve heard many complain about the poor flight modeling in MSFS.  Many state that this is the primary reason they do not use MSFS 2020.  Microsoft have stated that there will be an advanced flight model in MSFS 2024.  As for how advanced it will be compared to MSFS 2020, well….we’ll just have to wait and see.  But I believe Microsoft and Asobo have listened to us and will deliver a better flight model in the new sim.

Old/Existing MSFS2020 Add-on Compatibility

Microsoft have stated multiple times that old/existing add-ons for MSFS2020 should work in the new sim.  Of course, what we don’t know is whether this is day one compatibility or whether it will take the 3rd party developers some time to work on.  I think with scenery, it should only consist of minor tweaks to make it compatible.  However, for 3rd party aircraft….this could take some additional time especially if the flight model changes between MSFS 2020 and MSFS 2024.  It is worthy to note that 3rd party developers are just as much in the dark as we are when it comes to MSFS 2024.  At the present time, Microsoft have not released any details which could be used to help speed up the process of getting 3rd party add-ons into MSFS 2024.

New Projects

As the sun is starting to quickly set on MSFS 2020, there are concerns by many that un-released 3rd party add-ons (specifically aircraft) which were slated to be released in MSFS 2020 will be bumped to MSFS 2024.  Many are pointing towards the news that Aerosoft’s long awaited Airbus A330 which was supposed to come out for MSFS 2020 is now being delayed and will only release for MSFS 2024.

To be perfectly honest, the example of the Aerosoft A330 is the only project I’ve heard about that is being delayed to MSFS 2024.  Bluebird Simulations still plans to release their Boeing 757 for MSFS 2020 with a free update to MSFS 2024.  The PMDG Boeing 777 is on short-final and should release sometime this summer for MSFS 2020.  Considering for me personally….I’m not planning on buying the Aerosoft so their decision doesn’t impact me at all.

Final Thoughts

As I’ve stated before, MSFS 2024 most likely will be a day one purchase for me.  However, I have low expectations that my favorite 3rd party aircraft (specifically the PMDG 737 and Fenix A320) will be ready to install in the new sim on day one.  No one knows at this point in time the level of effort needed for the 3rd party developers to make existing add-ons ready for MSFS 2024, nor do we know with any level of accuracy how much these updates/upgrades will cost us.  For me personally, I’m willing to pay a small update price for existing add-ons for MSFS 2024.  But I’m not willing at this point in time to re-purchase at full price.  My investment in MSFS 2020 at the present time is in the thousands of dollars.  But it’s waaaaayyyy too early to get the cart ahead of the horse at this point in time.  So I invite you to join me in just sitting back and taking a wait and see attitude with this.  Because that’s really all we can do at this time.

One more thought

One more thought came to my mind as I was wrapping this all up.  It truly is in Microsoft’s best interest to have developed MSFS 2024 in such a way that requires minimal 3rd party development work to make add-ons compatible in the new sim.  The reason I say this, is many will wait before purchasing MSFS 2024 until some time has passed to see how 3rd party developers react to the new sim and what level of effort is required AND what, if any upgrade cost might need to be passed along to consumers.  If the level of effort is high enough for developers to have to charge full-price for add-on upgrades then I think most will just stay on MSFS 2020.

What do you think?  I’d love to hear your thoughts on what I’ve discussed here today.  Leave a comment and let me know.

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2024

I mentioned a little while ago when I wrote about the recent delay to system update 15 for Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 that I would take the time to write about the new version of MSFS2024 which is due to release sometime this year. While we don’t have a release date at this time, if history repeats itself (as it often does) we could expect a end of summer timeframe release.  But considering (at least in my opinion) MSFS2020 is absolutely fantastic and should get even better once SU15 drops the wait for me is a non-issue.

A New Sim Really?

Like many, when I first learned that Microsoft/Asobo were working on a brand new sim I was surprised.  Of course if you’ve been around the flight sim world as long as I have, you’ve seen many iterations of the sim.  After all, Microsoft released six different versions of Microsoft Flight Simulator between the years of 1996 and 2006.  Each of these new versions contained new features and functionality from their predecessors and in many ways they each took advantage of the quickly developing PC technology of the day.  I firmly believe this is also why we’re seeing a brand new version of Microsoft Flight Simulator some four years after the successful release of MSFS2020.  Let’s face it, while MSFS2020 released to us on PC in August of 2020, the planning and actual development began many years before.

Most Popular Sim?

As I’ve said before in other blog posts, when MSFS 2020 released, the flight sim community expanded immensely almost overnight.  This is especially true when MSFS2020 became available on the XBox platform almost a year later.  While the flight sim community might still be relatively small and niche compared to other game genres, we have proven to Microsoft and Asobo that we’re here, we’re active and we want the very best flight simulation that can be developed for the home flight simulation enthusiast.

We may never really know if at the time MSFS2020 was released, whether Microsoft had the plans at that time for MSFS2024.  While they may have speculated it would be a popular release, I think the direction the flight sim community wanted Microsoft to take the franchise has proven to be worth their efforts in continuing the franchise for many decades.

All The Benefits

There are many, many benefits to us as consumers of flight simulation add-ons (including both software and hardware) for Microsoft to continue updating the sim for hopefully decades to come.  While the software add-on market has always been relatively strong, the hardware market is also making a huge comeback.  The hardware market had sort of become a bit stale in the last few years before the release of MSFS2020.  Today we have many different hardware developers creating everything from yokes, joysticks, pedals, throttles and all the various components to truly become free of needing to use the mouse and keyboard.  I firmly believe this increase of the number of software and hardware developers is testament to the success of Microsoft Flight Simulator.

MSFS2024

I’m sure everyone has already viewed the teaser videos Microsoft released around the time of the announcement last year.  Much of the new mission content are things I’m really not interested in.  True, while I will probably spend time doing some of them…it’s just not something I’m overly excited about.  For me, what I enjoy about any flight sim is the open world opportunity to fly what I want to fly, wherever I choose to fly it.  But what might we expect to be included in MSFS2024 that we don’t have available today?

New Aircraft

I would expect much of what we consider the default aircraft included in MSFS2020 today will be made available in MSFS2024.  But there are a few new aircraft which should make their way into MSFS2020 such as the Beluga Airbus and Airbus A300M.  But again, these are probably aircraft that I will rarely fly in the sim.  But wait…there’s more to MSFS2024.

Weather Data Capabilities

Asobo have commented in a few of the developer streams of late that MSFS2024 weather data is going to get some changes from what we know about weather in MSFS2020.  Could we finally be able to import historical weather into the sim?  Again, time will tell and this is one of the reasons I’m holding out on purchasing ActiveSky FS which I discussed a few weeks ago.

Freeware Marketplace

Now this I’m potentially excited about.  The amount of good, quality freeware add-ons that we have witnessed come onto the scene with MSFS2020 is exceptional.  While I own a great deal of payware airport sceneries for MSFS2020, I’m using several freeware airport sceneries in some locations as either there is no payware available or the freeware looks and performs better than the payware.  But Microsoft have noticed the demand of freeware content and may one day offer it to be available in the Microsoft Marketplace.  Like I said, I’m really excited about this as while I keep track of all the scenery I have installed in my sim (which you can see here), having this ability to install from Marketplace and hopefully be notified of any updates is a game changer for me.  This of course will also be HUGE for those on the XBox platform.  But we’ll see if this comes to fruition.

Release Date

As I’ve previously stated in this article, at this time we do not know when MSFS2024 will be released.  While history can always be a good indicator of things like this, we really just don’t know.  We may learn more after the FSExpo taking place in June (21-23 June), but I’m going to take a huge guess and say that MSFS2024 will release sometime between August and the end of the year.

Future of MSFS2020

I’ve spoken to many fellow flight simmers and currently it’s about a 70/30 split on whether they’ll move to MSFS2024 once released.  This being approx. 70% saying yes to MFSF2024 and approx. 30% have said they’ll stay on MSFS2020 for now.  But what is the future of MSFS2020?  Well we do know that sometime in 2025, Microsoft/Asobo will release SU16.  With SU16 Microsoft/Asobo might bring some of the features that will be available in MSFS2024 into MSFS2020.  How much or how little just isn’t known at this time.

800lb Gorilla

I can’t close out this article without addressing the 800lb Gorilla in the room and that of course has to do with all the purchased add-ons from MSFS2020.  What will be available?  When will they be available and what will it all cost?

Unfortunately we really don’t have an absolute set of answers to those above mentioned questions.  What we do know is the vast majority of 3rd party developers have publicly stated while they are just as much in the dark as the rest of us concerning when MSFS2024 will release and the amount of changes required to make their add-ons available into the new sim, they all have plans to make them available for MSFS2024 just as quickly as possible.  In addition, most have stated that any already purchased MSFS2020 add-on will not require a full repurchase once available for MSFS2024.  However, depending on the level of effort to bring them into MSFS2024 is simply unknown at this time and therefore I suppose there could be a minimal charge necessary to offset any of this development work.

Once again, if history repeats itself….most 3rd party developers will not have access to MSFS2024 until we all have access to it.  So the clock starts on any work required on these 3rd party add-ons the very same day we all can make our purchase of MSFS2024, download and install it.  While some in our community will be absolute idiots and begin posting in 3rd party developers forums, Discords etc. about when XYZ will be available…I urge everyone to be patient and just wait.  It will happen and it will happen just as soon as possible.

In Summary

For me, Microsoft Flight Simulator 2024 will be a day one purchase for me.  I will take the same, exact approach I did with MSFS2020.  I will install it and I will experience it most likely in a default Cessna 172.  I will continue to use MSFS2020 as my primary sim, utilizing the PMDG 737, (hopefully the 777-300ER), the Fenix A320 (and hopefully their A319/A321 as well) and patiently wait.  At such time these aircraft are available in the new sim, I will add them and progressively utilize MSFS2024 more and more,  Then at some point down the road MSFS2020 will be uninstalled and simply forgotten about just like P3Dv5 was.

Oh, One More Thing

Join me in crossing your fingers, toes etc. and perhaps even going so far as asking St. Joseph of Cupertino (Patron Saint of all things aviation) to intercede on our behalf, that from day one, MSFS2024 will open up their camera API functionality so that third party developer //42 can finally bring Chaseplane to MSFS.  While over the past couple of years I’ve managed to get somewhat used to the MSFS default camera system, for those of us that used Chaseplane back in P3D this would be a true game changer if it could be developed for the new sim.

If you’ve made it this far, Thank you!  My apologies for the lengthy blog post, but there was a lot that needed to be shared.  I will continue to share what information I can find on MSFS2024 as soon as more is known.  Of course, I’ll blog about all my experiences in the new sim once it’s on my PC.  What an amazing time this is for those of us involved in the hobby of flight simulation!

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

Is Prepar3D Dead?

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!  The annual Navigraph flight sim survey results were released just before the holidays and the survey says…..P3D is dead!  In all honesty, I’m not surprised.  After all, many of the top 3rd party developers have all but stopped creating add-ons for P3D and have moved to Microsoft Flight Simulator.  This year over 25,000 of your fellow flight sim enthusiasts participated in the survey (up by over 1,000 from the 2021 survey).   The 2022 version of the survey included 67 questions ranging from VR Headsets, graphic cards and of course which flight simulator platform is most popular. 

Just to show a comparison, I’ve posted screenshots from both the 2021 and the most recent 2022 survey.  These results show a continued downward trend with the use of P3D and a continued rise with MSFS. 

2021 Survey Results

survey 2021

2022 Survey Results

survey 2022

Of course I realize not all flight sim users participated in the survey and certainly not all P3D users participated.  Some MSFS users are still flying P3D at this time due to the lack of long-haul, widebody aircraft which I discussed back in November 2022 in my reader question response for “Where are the widebodies?”  But the continued rise in popularity of MSFS and the subsequent decline of P3D certainly can’t be ignored. 

While there are rumors floating around the flight sim community that Lockheed Martin is looking into utilizing the Unreal Engine for a future release, the same more than a decade old problem is still a possible concern.  Of course I’m talking about the way that P3D is licensed and the EULA or End User License Agreement which looms over the P3D franchise. 

In summary, when Lockheed Martin acquired the intellectual property and source code for the Microsoft ESP product, an agreement was signed which limited how Lockheed Martin could sell and distribute the Prepar3D platform.  This licensing agreement restricted Lockheed Martin from offering a “For Personal, Home Entertainment” license.  This of course had an impact on the pricing for not only the sim itself, but also for many of the 3rd party add-ons.  Specifically PMDG changed their pricing structure from what had been established on the FSX platform.  Of course, Lockheed Martin could release a completely brand new product developed on the Unreal Engine and thus render the agreement with Microsoft null and void. 

Regarding the rumor about P3D using the Unreal Engine, Lockheed Martin has publicly stated the following:  “We have no plans to make major architectural changes that would undermine existing third party add-on compatibility with the platform”.  I firmly believe this statement tells us that Lockheed Martin has no plans to use the Unreal Engine at this time. 

In any event, I honestly believe the future for Prepar3D (at least for the majority of flight simulation enthusiasts) will continue to decline further during the new year.  As most of us expect, PMDG will release their Boeing 777 for MSFS sometime in 2023.  Most likely this won’t happen until the later part of the year. But once this does happen, most who are still  hanging onto P3D just for the 777 will most likely make the move to MSFS.  In addition, many other widebody aircraft are due to release for MSFS (example the Airbus A380) in 2023.  Microsoft/Asobo will continue to further enhance the MSFS platform beyond the current capabilities which will continue to increase the gap between MSFS and the other platforms. 

Does all this mean you must abandon P3D?  Absolutely not, fly what you want to fly….however, my advice to anyone who is new to flight simulation is to use caution when choosing to further invest money through 3rd party add-ons for the P3D platform.    Any add-ons purchased today for P3Dv4 or P3Dv5 would most likely be obsolete if LM were to move forward with the Unreal Engine concept at some point in the future.

In closing, I realize this article might read as if I’m hating on P3D.  That couldn’t be further from the truth as for myself and many others like me, P3D served as an important bridge between the days of FSX and MSFS.  But the reality is Microsoft/Asobo really hit the ball out of the park when they developed/released MSFS and through that effort progressed the flight simulation community further than had been done since the very beginning of the franchise.  Regardless of which camp (P3D or XPlane) you favor, MSFS can’t be ignored as to what this platform brings to the flight simulation community and where it stands over two years after its release. 

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

Reader Question–Where are the widebodies?

Hello to all my loyal readers.  I recently received an email from one of my long-time blog subscribers that I wanted to answer and share with the rest of you.  I figure many of you might be wondering the same thing as well…so let’s get started.

Hello Jerry,

I hope you and your family are doing well.  You might remember me from many years ago.  I’ve been a subscriber of your blog site from the very beginning and you helped me with some issues I had been experiencing with FSX and the PMDG 737 about 10 years ago.  Like you, I recently made the transition to Microsoft Flight Simulator and have been having so much fun in the PMDG 737-800 and the Fenix A320.  I’m amazed at just how far flight sim has come over the past decade.  I’m curious if you have any insight into when we might see our first study level widebody long-haul aircraft?  By the way, thank you so much for the article you published back in September about using caution when purchasing add-on aircraft for MSFS.  I had been tempted to purchase the Captain Sim 777, but I vaguely remember you writing an article about that plane many years ago in FSX.  Anyway, I hope all is well and I look forward to hearing from you soon.   Randy

Before I get into answering Randy’s question about “Where are the widebodies” allow me to just briefly explain exactly what a wide-body aircraft is in relation to Microsoft Flight Simulator.  By definition, a wide-body aircraft is any aircraft which is wide enough to accommodate two passenger aisles with seven or more seats abreast.  Popular wide-body aircraft are the Boeing 747, 767, 777, 787 or the Airbus A310, A330, A350, A380.  The typical wide-body aircraft I just referenced are also sometimes referred to as long-haul aircraft due to their range.  In comparison, a narrow-body aircraft (like the Boeing 737, 757 or Airbus A320 series) has a single passenger aisle.   Of course, in modern day aviation we’re seeing many narrow-body aircraft replacing their wide-body counterparts on transatlantic routes.  But I digress….

Now in some respects, I personally have only started missing the wide-body aircraft I knew and loved in P3D and were lacking in MSFS when SU10 released in late September.  The reason I say this is before SU10, MSFS would typically crash on most users after 3-4 hours of flight due to a memory leak that has existed in the sim for some time.  But with this issue now resolved, I’m truly looking forward to the availability of my favorite wide-body, long-haul aircraft so I can stretch my wings and do some transatlantic flights in MSFS.  I’m currently tracking the progress on several planned wide-body aircraft which I want to share what information I’ve learned with all of you.  Let’s get started!

iniBuilds Airbus A310-300

Depending on when I actually finish this article and publish it, the first wide-body aircraft I want to discuss is the Airbus A310-300 which will be part of the Microsoft Flight Simulator 40th Anniversary Update (Sim Update 11) which is scheduled to be released on 11 November.  SU11 will include the much anticipated Airbus A310-300 which was developed in partnership with Microsoft/Asobo by iniBuilds. The iniBuilds A310-300 will be the first complex, immersive wide-body aircraft for the MSFS platform and will (at least temporarily) fill the void in the wide-body category. 

Other Future Wide-body Releases

Unfortunately, all we really know about possible future wide-body aircraft releases for MSFS are simply the what and by who.  In other words, we have a general idea on what the aircraft type will be and who is developing it.  But as for as expected release timeframe….well that’s anybody’s guess at this point in time. So let’s break this down by developer and I’ll share with you what I know about each. 

PMDG

Out of all the wide-body, long-haul aircraft that we know about currently being developed for Microsoft Flight Simulator, the PMDG 777 and 747 are perhaps the most anticipated (especially the 777).    PMDG long ago announced the release order for their MSFS products which included the 737-700, 737-600, 737-800 and finally the 737-900.  As we all know, only the –700, –600 and –800 have been released at the time of this writing.  The –900 is long overdue but we certainly know that PMDG is burning the midnight oil to get it out to us as soon as possible.  We’ve also been told that once the complete 737 series has been made available (including the EFB) the next aircraft we will see from PMDG will be the Boeing 777, followed by the Boeing 747 and then finally the Boeing 737 MAX. 

While I’m sure the PMDG team can multi-task and have some individuals working on the 777 alongside the 737-900, but if I were a betting man, I would wager we won’t see the PMDG Boeing 777 until late Q3 or Q4 of 2023 at the earliest.  Of course, we could all be surprised and see it appear earlier….but PMDG is a developer that prides itself on only releasing their products only when they are 100% ready and as bug free as humanly possible.  So with all that said, I seriously don’t believe we’ll see the PMDG Queen of the Skies (747) until sometime in 2024.

TFDi

If you are relatively new to flight simulation you may not have heard of TFDi.   They are a small developer who are behind such add-ons as PACX and if you fly for a virtual airline you may also use their Smartcars flight tracker to log your VA PIREPs.   A few years ago, TFDi released their Boeing 717 for FSX and P3D and we’ve known for some time they have been working on an MD-11.  Their MD-11 for MSFS has been getting a bit of attention in the past few weeks and the expected release timeframe could be as early as the end of September 2023. 

Aerosoft

The team at Aerosoft have been working on their Airbus A330-300 for quite some time and judging from the information I’ve seen on their forums and other social media outlets, we could actually see the Aerosoft A330-300 in Q2 or Q3 of 2023. 

FlyByWire

When it comes to the Airbus A380 we’ve heard of several teams attempting to develop the aircraft for P3D.  Each of these efforts have sadly evaporated into thin air.  However, the team that is behind the highly successful FBW A320 in MSFS are developing an open source Airbus A380 for MSFS.  While there is no release date currently available for this highly anticipated aircraft, the team are steadily making progress.  You can learn more about the FBW A380 from the FlyByWire Facebook page.  Based on what I’ve seen I believe it might be safe to say we could see this beast of an aircraft come to MSFS sometime in 2023. 

QualityWings

Unfortunately, all we know about the QualityWings 787 Dreamliner is the team has plans to eventually bring it to MSFS.  While I understand why developers don’t want to provide key details behind expected release dates, QualityWings has (in my opinion) dropped the ball and gone completely silent the past several months.  But this is really nothing new from QualityWings.  They’ve gone dark before for months and then out of the blue will surprise us with some news and images.  Could we see the QW Dreamliner sometime in 2023?  I hope so, but I’m also not going to get my hopes up based on the fact that we haven’t had an update on any progress in a very, very long time. 

Bluebird Simulations

While this last aircraft isn’t a wide-body, this aircraft is absolutely one of my favorites behind the Boeing 737 and 777.  The team at Bluebird Simulations is developing a Boeing 757 (in conjunction with Justflight).  There will be two variations of the 757.  One will be a simplified version and the second will be a more complex version.  The plan is to release a passenger variant in both the 757-200 and 757-300 versions.  A cargo variant is planned but will be released as an expansion add-on.  I believe the expected release timeframe is Q2 or Q3 in 2023. 

In Summary

As we are quickly approaching the end of what I have said has been an incredible year for Microsoft Flight Simulator, I truly believe 2023 will far surpass what we’ve experienced this year as far as add-on aircraft is concerned.  The sim itself is stable and it’s exciting to see the level of commitment from not only Microsoft/Asobo….but also from all the 3rd party developers who are working extremely hard to bring us all the extra bells and whistles we desire in a flight simulator.  For someone like myself who has been involved in the hobby of flight simulation for almost four decades, this is truly a great time to be alive and be involved in this wonderful hobby. 

Thank you all for taking the time to read.  If I hear updated news on any of the aircraft I mentioned above, I’ll certainly share that information right here on my blog site. 

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

MSFS Beta and Should You Participate

There are many reasons why the user community of Microsoft Flight Simulator or just about any major gaming title (simulation or otherwise) should participate in the various beta or early adopter updates released from time to time.  While in a perfect world, the developer behind any gaming title should have the resources to perform system testing to rule out major issues, the hard truth is most do not and there’s almost no way for any developer to test all the possible scenarios including hardware configurations and 3rd party add-ons/mods which all can and mostly likely will have an impact in the finished product.  In actuality, the developer (in this case Microsoft/Asobo) will perform their very best due diligence to ensure the update performs on a few different hardware configurations and generally leaves it up to 3rd party developers and mod creators to “shoe horn” their add-ons around what they’ve been provided.  So our participation in these beta programs (especially when feedback is sent back to the developer) is instrumental in the overall wellbeing of the gaming title.

Generally speaking, most 3rd party developers will participate in the beta programs for obvious reasons. But they do not receive the beta version in advance of the general public.  In other words, 3rd party developers like PMDG and Fenix only have access to the beta when it’s been made available to all of us.  The 3rd party devs will utilize the time between when the beta is released and it becomes GA (General Availability) to work out any issues with their add-on.  Of course in many situations this all becomes a fast moving target as there may be many iterations of the beta.  The time a 3rd party developer spends adjusting their add-on to function correctly with the beta could become a complete waste of time as changes are made and pushed out during the beta cycle.  In other words, in some cases the only way of truly knowing if a 3rd party add-on is going to work is to wait until the beta has become GA and been released to the entire community. 

Over the years, I’ve participated in many beta programs for all sorts of gaming titles.  Some have been positive, wonderful experiences of being able to gain access to new functionality or performance enhancements before everyone else.  But in a few cases these beta experiences have become an absolute nightmare.  In many cases the only way to escape the beta is to complete reinstall the current live version. As you can probably imagine this can be an extremely time consuming process.

A few weeks ago, Microsoft/Asobo began their open beta for the upcoming SU11 update and the word on the street is the experience hasn’t been an easy one.  Especially with some 3rd party aircraft and live weather.  Some 3rd party developers will do their best to provide solutions or workarounds for their products for the beta cycle, but most simply can’t and won’t guarantee functionality on a beta installation.  On the bright side, with regards to the SU11 beta, some users have reported experiencing a significant performance improvement from SU10. 

If you’re wondering if participating in the MSFS beta program is right for you, I would say it depends.  If you mainly fly default aircraft or if you still fly P3D/XPlane then participating in the SU11 beta  (or any future beta release) is probably OK for you.  However, if MSFS is your sole flight sim platform and you’re an every day flyer of add-on aircraft like the Fenix A320 or the PMDG 737, then I would highly suggest you hold off.  Bottom line, if you want full system compatibility between MSFS and 3rd party aircraft, then stay on the current live MSFS build.  Otherwise you may be in for a surprise when you attempt to fly your favorite 3rd party aircraft in the beta build. 

As always, thanks for reading.

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

Flight Simulator Choices In The Year 2022

Unlike other simulation based genres such as agricultural sims, trucking sims (just to name two) these have very little choice and are ruled by two different developers with GIANTS controlling the ag sim with Farming Simulator and SCS ruling the trucking space with American and Euro Truck Simulator.  This lack of competition, while good for the developers is of course bad for us consumers.  But the same can’t be said for the choices available in the flight simulation space.  

In recent weeks, Laminar Research released X-Plane 12 in early access. Of course Microsoft Flight Simulator surprised everyone in 2019 and released MSFS 2020 during the summer of 2020 and Lockheed Martin of course has their Prepar3D version 5 (unclear if there will be a v6), so the flight simulation community has choices when it comes to selecting a platform to build around.  But which is best and which platform is the right one for you? 

In the year 2022, it’s really difficult to specifically state which flight simulation platform is the absolute best.  It’s much like Coke versus Pepsi.  Each have their loyal, dedicated fan base and each produce a quality product.  But of course we all know that Coke is the best and certainly the one I prefer.  Smile

For many of us who have been in the hobby of flight simulation for many, many years we grew up with the various offerings from Microsoft.  When Microsoft abandoned their popular Flight Simulator way back in 2009, the only two choices were either to make the move to Prepar3D or move to X-Plane.  For me, and I’m sure many like me who had made a sizeable investment in FSX add-ons, the clear choice was to go the way of P3D as most add-ons for FSX would work.  Developers made their products available for P3D as quickly as they could and some didn’t charge for the update.  Of course others made the jump to X-Plane and never looked back. 

Certainly before Microsoft re-entered the scene with Flight Simulator 2020, both Prepar3D and X-Plane were very similar in what each offered and many 3rd party developers were supporting both platforms.  But this has certainly changed in recent years and from what I’m seeing the vast majority of 3rd party developers have completely shifted their focus to MSFS and have slowly decreased their development efforts away from P3D and in some cases X-Plane as well. 

Now it must certainly be said that prior to MSFS, X-Plane had a much more active community driven focus towards the freeware development of add-ons than the P3D community.  With P3D everything pretty much shifted to payware as the only option for enhancing the simulator.  Of course in the past two years since MSFS has been around the community focus has returned and we’ve seen some really awesome add-ons released for the new platform as freeware with lots more to come. 

With all that said, what advice can I give to those trying to choose a flight simulation platform?  In all honesty, I believe of the three platforms I’ve mentioned (MSFS, P3D and X-Plane) really it boils down to just two choices with the first being Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 and X-Plane.  But allow me to explain why I’ve removed Prepar3D from the list.

Prepar3D has never been intended to be used in the home/personal entertainment category.  From the very beginning, Lockheed Martin was unable to market/distribute the P3D flight simulation platform for anything other than commercial and flight training purposes.  While this never stopped anyone from purchasing the sim (I’m proof of that), the very simple fact is P3D has always been intended as a training sim.  Regardless if Lockheed Martin introduce a version 6 of the sim, I don’t feel P3D will ever be enhanced to the point of what we’re seeing with Microsoft Flight Simulator and since the debut of MSFS along with the quality of add-on, study level aircraft from Fenix and PMDG (more will come) Lockheed Martin is losing a lot of their customer base which used P3D as an off-ramp when FSX was no longer a viable option.  As already mentioned, many 3rd party developers have fully embraced MSFS and are moving full steam ahead in developing quality add-ons for that platform.  Of course, many users will stay with P3D and I’m sure Lockheed Martin will continue to support the platform regardless if there is a v6. 

As I mentioned at the top of the writing, X-Plane 12 has just released.  From what I’ve seen, read and heard….this latest version isn’t going down as I’m sure Laminar Research had hoped.  As I’m not an X-Plane fan, I have no intention of purchasing the sim.  But from some of the videos I’ve watched, those who are showcasing the new sim have mostly been disappointed in what they are seeing.  Of course, it must be said that this is a early release version and most likely things will change. 

Now I know there are a lot of unbelievers when it comes to Microsoft Flight Simulator.  As I’ve mentioned in previous blog postings, even I had my doubts regarding the new platform.  But over time, I believe the sim has matured into a quality flight simulator that I believe to be the “Gold Standard” of the available flight simulation platforms available today.  Both Microsoft and Asobo are committed to the project and I believe what we’re seeing from MSFS today is only the beginning.  In addition, from a cost perspective, MSFS requires a lot less investment to make the ground textures mirror that of the real world.

The 800 lb Gorilla

To address the 800 lb gorilla in the room, many will argue and say that X-Plane (at least historically) has always featured the best, true to life flight dynamics of any of the available sims.  I personally can’t argue either way on this statement.  I’m not a real world pilot, I’m not training to be a real world pilot and personally unless the difference gap was huge, I really don’t care.  It simply means nothing to me.  The aircraft I primarily fly in MSFS (Fenix A320, PMDG 737) compensate for any weakness in the flight dynamics department and I enjoy every single minute of my time in the sim and in those aircraft.

But What About…

Yes, there are two other flight simulator platforms that I have yet to mention in this posting, specifically Aerofly FS4 and DCS World.  DCS World, of course is an awesome flight simulator if you enjoy simulating military flight ops and honestly has some of the very best visual simulations of any platform.  I personally don’t spend a lot of time in DCS, but I do use it from time to time.  If military ops is something you really enjoy, then DCS World will be your best bet. 

Unfortunately, I personally don’t have any experience with Aerofly FS4.  While the platform does have some 3rd party development support with some add-ons, I don’t consider it broad enough to be considered above P3D, X-Plane or MSFS.  In addition, unlike P3D, X-Plane or MSFS, Aerofly FS4 does not include the entire world as part of the base package.  Additional regions must be purchased separately. 

In closing, if you’ve been in the hobby of flight simulation for some time and are already using and enjoying Prepar3D or X-Plane, then I certainly understand why you may choose to remain on those platforms.  But if you are new to the hobby, I highly recommend you do your homework and give consideration towards Microsoft Flight Simulator as I believe this is the very best and certainly will be for many years to come.

Thanks for reading and as always….Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

PMDG 737-800 Final Approach

Good Sunday morning!  We awoke this morning to some really great news regarding the highly anticipated PMDG 737-800 for Microsoft Flight Simulator (MSFS).  Essentially, the PMDG Boeing 737-800 is on final approach and should be available sometime between 23 August and 31 August.  This is excellent news for any fan of the 738.  After all, it’s really been a long time coming.  For me personally, this particular aircraft has been the “missing link” in my MSFS setup. 

Along with the release of the PMDG 737-800, some really cool lighting features are also due to be released.  While I’m not 100% certain of this, but I think these lighting features will be available for the other 737 types including the –700 and –600 which have already been released.  In any event, these new lighting features including spotlights and sun visor/shade devices will be extremely helpful to have in the sim.  A new video was released this morning showcasing these new features.  You can view that below.

Until MSFS came along, I really didn’t have much desire to fly during the nighttime hours.  Oh sure, I loved flying into LAS just before dusk, but in previous sims (FSX and P3D) I found the night lighting to be less desirable and harder on my system.  Plus I just really couldn’t see as well.  With MSFS, all elements of light have been drastically improved from the previously mentioned versions and flying at night is something I actually enjoy now. 

In Other News

Most likely you’ve also already heard that Sim Update 10 for MSFS has been delayed a few weeks. Microsoft/Asobo is shooting for mid September for this update.  SU 10 may prove to be one of the greatest achievements we’ve seen thus far in the life of MSFS as it should deliver many performance improvements. 

CTD’s and Other Annoyances

Have you been experiencing multiple CTD’s (Crash to Desktop) in the past few days?  If so, you’re not alone.  Even after my recent sim machine rebuild and reinstall/reconfigure of MSFS, I’ve been plagued with a few CTD’s.  Fortunately, all my CTD events (knock on wood) have been occurring during the launch process for MSFS and not during flight.  There is a very long thread on the Microsoft forums discussing these recent CTD’s and the general consensus is that they have something to do with how MSFS interacts with the servers controlled by Microsoft/Asobo.

While early speculation pointed the finger at FSDreamTeam and the new GSX Pro, there are other users who have experienced recent CTD’s and haven’t purchased GSX Pro nor own any FSDT add-ons.  You can read this rather lengthy forum post here

Well that’s about all I have time for today.  I’m approaching DEN in the Fenix A320 and need to now focus my attention on a safe landing. 

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

Saying Goodbye to P3D…For now

My current gaming machine is just a little over 4 years old.  Amazingly, it still runs really well.  When I built it back in 2018, I used the latest and greatest components I could.  Amazingly (once again), the machine performs well with the current simulation based games I enjoy playing.  This even includes the new Microsoft Flight Simulator.   Anyway, I designed the machine to use a 1 TB NVMe SSD as the main drive along with a few SSD’s.  At the time of the initial build, I was running P3Dv4 and it was installed on the NVMe drive. 

When P3Dv5 released, I knew it would be several weeks before all the add-ons would catch up, so I installed it on the largest SSD (500 GB).  I ran both versions of P3D for several month with this intention of eventually doing a complete OS reset, then locate P3Dv5 to the NVMe drive.  Before that happened, MSFS released and I kicked the can down the road and delayed the OS reset and just uninstalled P3Dv4 to free up enough space on the NVMe drive for MSFS. 

For the first 18 months of the life of MSFS, I really only used it for GA flying.  But all that changed once the Fenix A320 and the PMDG 737-700 released a few months ago.  Since that timeframe, I’ve only used P3D a few times.  Meanwhile I was adding more 3rd party airport sceneries to MSFS and as a result watching the available space on the NVMe drive get lower and lower. 

On Thursday, I purchased and attempted to install the new GSX Pro from FSDreamteam.  Like many others, I ran into issues immediately after installing.  After reading forum threads and Discord messages, I finally gave up and decided to go to bed and sleep on it.  Oddly enough, I woke up fairly early this morning and decided it was time to refresh the OS and essentially make the move to MSFS 100% and for now, give P3D the BIG Heave Ho. 

Now, while GSX Pro has some challenges and some of the issues experienced on the first day appear to be related to their download servers….but I believe my own issues were a combination of having remnants of P3Dv4, along with P3Dv5 and MSFS.  While it should certainly be possible for everything to live in harmony…something was wrong and I felt just doing a Windows 10 reset was my absolute best option.  Like I said, the available space on my main SSD was becoming a serious issue.

It’s been a long day and I’m not 100% done.  But I’ve managed to get Windows 10 reset, fully patched with all updated hardware drivers installed.  The most time consuming part of the entire process has been reinstalling MSFS.  That took the better part of two hours just to download then apply the updates.  Next getting the Fenix A320 and PMDG 737-700 installed and finally all the add-on airports reinstalled.  I even took time to get the AIG liveries along with VATSIM model matching installed.  (That’s also a very time consuming process, but I had these things backed up so I didn’t have to start from scratch).  One of the last items I installed was GSX Pro and it installed without issue and works as perfectly has it can at this point in time.  I’ll explain more about this in a future blog post. 

As for the future of P3Dv5.  For now it will remain uninstalled.  To be honest, and I’ve said this before in other blog postings, I really only have time for short-haul flights.  While I do love the PMDG 777, 747 and the QualityWings 787, I really don’t have the time to enjoy them to their full potential.  Not to mention, (and I’ve also said this before) that the eye-candy factor is seriously lacking in P3Dv5 compared to MSFS.

Possible Final Thoughts about P3D

My interest in P3D really didn’t start until Lockheed Martin released version 3 in 2015.  I had dabbled briefly with version 2, but didn’t officially leave FSX behind until v3.  At that time most of the 3rd party developers were getting more seriously involved with Prepar3D and it just seemed like the right time to move over.  Of course, when P3Dv4 arrived in 2017 that officially ushered in the 64 bit compatibility we had all been dreaming of.  Finally one could get the true potential from the sim without fear of the dreaded OOM errors which were quickly followed by at CTD. 

When Prepar3D version 5 was released on April 14, 2020 we were in the early stages of the COVID Pandemic and I was working from home.  At this time we knew about the new Microsoft Flight Simulator and I seriously contemplated just staying on v4 knowing/believing MSFS would be the future.  But after a few weeks I finally pulled the trigger and purchased P3Dv5.  After all, I felt it could be at least a year (if not longer) before MSFS would be at a point where study level aircraft would be available and I wanted to experience the latest and greatest for whatever period of time it might be before making the move to MSFS. 

Getting into P3Dv5 from a financial perspective was really only the cost of the sim.  Again, to the best of my memory….99% of the add-ons I had been using in P3Dv4 were made available with P3Dv5 installers at no cost and I certainly got my monies worth out of v5.  All-in-all, as a hard-core flight simulation enthusiast I’m thankful to Lockheed Martin for making P3D available after Microsoft abandoned us.  While I tried XPlane sometime before P3Dv4, but having been such a long-time Microsoft Simmer I just couldn’t get into it.  In any event, at the time Prepar3D v5 was “As Real As It Gets”. 

I know many simmers discount MSFS.  Especially around the flight modeling.  But for me, this is a minor issue and is almost a non-issue with the Fenix and PMDG aircraft we have today.  I believe these issues will all evolve in time and MSFS WILL BE the very best home flight simulation platform. 

Final Thoughts

Just a little over 24 hours later and the rebuild is done.  I completed my first test flight in the Fenix A320 from TPA to CLT.  No major issues. I actually learned something today which I was not aware of with MSFS.  But all the settings including graphic settings, sim settings and controller settings/bindings are all saved in the cloud.  So when you reinstall MSFS, all these settings that often require lots of testing and tweaking to get things the way they were are just the same as before.  This saved lots of times and no doubt allowed me to get my first flight in much quicker. 

Thankfully I landed just when I did as 5 minutes after I shut down my engines and filed my PIREP, my electricity went out.  Thankfully my sim machine is on a UPS and I was able to safely shut down.  But my plans for flight #2 will have to wait a bit.  Until then….thanks for reading. 

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!  (Once power is restored)

Jerry

Microsoft Flight Simulator–Two Year Anniversary

In just a few days, 18 August 2022, Microsoft will celebrate the two year anniversary since the release of Microsoft Flight Simulator.  During the summer of 2019 and somewhat out of the blue, Microsoft announced they were working on the new version of their extremely popular Microsoft Flight Simulator.  I use the words “Out of the Blue” because most in the flight sim community were not aware of this news and it came to us with excitement and even some speculation.  Many of the blog postings I wrote here on my blog were very much mixed with my own personal excitement but also with guarded concerns.  After all, Microsoft had abandoned Flight Simulator and as a result many of the long-time fans of the sim had moved over to Prepar3D or X-Plane.  For the most part, I was certainly happy with the direction Prepar3D was moving in and was having a lot of fun in the sim. 

As we approach the two year anniversary of the release of the new Microsoft Flight Simulator (MSFS) I can happily say that much of the concern or speculation I once held towards the title have been dismissed.  After all, earlier this summer when the Fenix A320 and PMDG 737-700 released for MSFS, I began flying MSFS almost exclusively.  I still occasionally fly P3D when I have a need to fly the PMDG 777 or the QualityWings 787.  But I would say this is perhaps only 1 out of 100 or so flights that I do this.  I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the time I spend in MSFS and the experience gets better and better.  As a matter of fact, I changed my mind on the decision not to purchase the PMDG 737-700 (I initially said I would hold out until the 737-800 released) as the few times I tried flying the 737-800 in P3D, I just didn’t enjoy the experience.  While MSFS may have some limitations, the overall beauty of the sim makes up it.  Plus the addition of the Fenix A320 and the PMDG 737-700 (and soon to be released 737-800) have been instrumental in keeping me flying MSFS and essentially letting P3D gather dust. 

About those concerns…

The concerns and speculation many of us long-time flight simulation enthusiasts once had for Microsoft and Microsoft Flight Simulator have (in my opinion) to be null and void at this point.  In all honesty, while it did take me about a year and a half to fully embrace MSFS for my jetliner use, I was convinced that the efforts of both Microsoft and Asobo would truly turn MSFS into the future of flight simulation we have been longing for.  It just took some time for some of the more advanced airliners to make it into the sim and of course it took some time for Microsoft to work out a few bugs.  But as I’ve mentioned a few times, I’ve been enjoying the hobby of flight simulation since the early 1980’s.  The advancement of flight simulation over these past 35+ years is truly amazing.  The dedication I see from Microsoft, Asobo and all the many 3rd party developers certainly have me convinced that Microsoft Flight Simulator earns the right to say “As Real As It Gets” and will only continue to get better as time goes by.

August Expectations

While August is about half way done, I believe we’ll see some amazing things happen this month.  First and foremost, Microsoft/Asobo have been working hard on the sim update 10 release.  While I haven’t participated in the beta, I’ve heard from many simmers who say that SU10 addresses many of the bugs we’ve been plagued with and moves the sim one step further ahead with better performance and features which many 3rd party developers can take advantage of.  While I’m not a fan of Microsoft’s “Must Update Features”, I am anxiously awaiting SU10 and hope the update/upgrade process works as smoothly as all the previous updates have. 

In addition to SU10, I believe we will see the PMDG 737-800 release this month or early September.  The 737-800 is my all-time favorite aircraft to fly in the sim and I’ve missed having it.   Yes, the 737-700 is just a bit smaller,  but I want my 738 and I want it as soon as possible.  I know many of you do as well. 

Finally, I also believe we will soon have FSDreamTeam’s GSX available to us during the month of August.  For those that don’t know, GSX is the ground services component to flight simulation.  GSX controls all aspects of cargo and passenger loading, including the visuals for baggage/cargo being loaded onto the aircraft along with fueling, catering and that much important de-icing during the winter months.  In addition, GSX also does a really good job with aircraft pushback services which are truly lacking in MSFS at the present time. 

The Future Remains Bright

I believe we’ll continue to see some truly amazing things come to MSFS in the later half of 2022 and early 2023.  I’m hopeful SU10 paves the way for Chaseplane to finally come to MSFS and of course we might….just maybe see the PMDG 777 before end of year or perhaps very early 2023. Time will certainly tell.  It’s certainly a great time to be alive and a great time to be a flight simulation enthusiast. 

As always, thank you for taking the time to read and I look forward to returning with a blog post in a few weeks to document my experiences with SU10, PMDG 737-800 and hopefully GSX.

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

PMDG Boeing 737-700

I learned a long time ago to never….absolutely never say never.  Yes, my friends.  I broke down and pulled the plug and purchased the PMDG Boeing 737-700.  Yes, I had previously stated that I had no interest in the –700 since the virtual airline I’m involved with is an American Airlines based VA and American only flies the 737-800.  While we have codeshare airline agreements with Alaska (who do still operate the –700) and most recently GOL Airlines (who also operate the type), the main reason I pulled the trigger on the PMDG 737-700 was mainly due to the desire to fly the PMDG in MSFS.

After having exclusively used the awesome Fenix A320 in MSFS for the past several months (since its release day) and flying over 100 flights, I was seriously missing flying my PMDG.  One morning I fired up P3Dv5, loaded up the PMDG 737-800 and departed DFW airport.  Almost immediately my eyes said NO…Stop This Maddness!  I was quickly reminded as to the many reasons I enjoy the hobby of flight simulation so much. 

While P3D has provided me years and thousands of hours of flight simulation enjoyment.  It just no longer ticks all the boxes for me from a visual eye-candy perspective.  But with the delays in PMDG bringing their 737-600 to market and knowing the 737-800 could still be several months away from release, I just needed to have a PMDG aircraft in MSFS. 

I quickly killed the flight, rebooted my PC and purchased and downloaded the PMDG Boeing 737-700 for MSFS and installed an American Airlines livery.  I loaded it back up in DFW and departed towards my destination.  While American Airlines never operated the –700, my VA allows for this aircraft substitution and the value in having it and flying it outweighs the fact this is an entirely fictional aircraft for AAL.

FlightSimulator_t8T3qVJq5E

Since that first day a few weeks ago, I’ve flown over a dozen flights in the –700 and mostly love the experience thus far.  I say mostly, only because I do still believe in the current state (version 3.00.00.25) the Fenix A320 is a more complete aircraft….but the PMDG 737-700 is still very much fun to fly and only lags behind by a very small percent (in my opinion). 

FlightSimulator_8AfbGEYKBv

Now I have absolutely no plans to purchase the 737-600 which could be released any day now.  While according to PMDG news updates, they are working on the 737-800 in tandem with the –600 and Robert Randazzo even stated the –800 could be ready to release at the same time or even ahead of the –600.  I know from a business perspective, PMDG will most likely release the –600 first and then after some delay the –800 will release.  Otherwise, if PMDG releases the –800 ahead of the –600, then the sales of the –600 will be very minimal.  Most likely the sales of the –600 will be minimal anyway compared to that of the –700.  Personally, I believe PMDG should have followed their strategy from P3D and released the –600 as an expansion for the –700 and then release their –800 with an expansion to the –900.  But I digress…

In any event, I’m absolutely loving having both the Fenix A320 and the PMDG 737-700 in my virtual hangar for Microsoft Flight Simulator.  While I do miss my PMDG 777, PMDG 747 and the QualityWings 787…the time I have available for flights at this moment somewhat limits me to the shorter-haul flights which the A320 and B737 are designed for.  I know in time these other awesome aircraft will one day be available in MSFS.

What are your impressions of the PMDG 737-700 for MSFS?  I’d love to hear them in the comments. 

Until next time….

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

GrizzlyBearSims

9 User(s) Online Join Server
  • MonitoRSS
  • MEE6
  • Dovsiljul
  • DC_Dave
  • GrizzlyBearSims
  • Shadowfax908-CGL
  • BlytungOnkel1
  • DartmoorMike
  • Torrfesk