Reader Question – Bredok3D A380

I realize this is the third “Reader Question” post I’ve made in recent weeks.  Yes, that’s true!  I’ve obviously been holding out waiting for the release of the PMDG 777-300ER as that will be a day-one purchase for me and within a few days I’m sure I would write about it.  So until that happens, and I’m still holding out we’ll have it before CTP on 20 April, (but that is looking less likely) here is another email question/comment from one of our blog readers.

Hello, I’m new to your blog site and have already discovered a wealth of information that has helped me tremendously in my flight sim hobby.  I’m considering purchasing the Bredok3D A380 from the MSFS in-game MarketPlace.  Do you have any experience with this aircraft?  I’ve read that FlyByWire is developing an A380, but as the A380 is my favorite aircraft I’m wondering if the newly released Bredok3D version is worth the money.  I have experience with the Fenix A320 and PMDG 737, is the Bedok3D A380 similar in quality?  Can you help?

Well….to answer your question, No….I do not have any experience with the Bredok3D A380 and I don’t plan to purchase it.  In my opinion it is a waste of money.  To take this one step further, I doubt I would even install this aircraft into my system if it were free or if I were given a copy of it.  I just dislike these Frankenstein type of aircraft that mostly utilize the default aircraft systems (in this case the default A320).  There are just too many developers that have taken this course with releasing add-on aircraft that may look from the outside to be what is advertised, only to find out they utilize the default aircraft.  Another example of this is CaptainSim’s Boeing 777 that when released used the default Boeing 747 systems.

I suppose you could consider me a bit of an add-on aircraft snob.  I don’t mind spending my hard earned money towards something like the Fenix A320 or the PMDG 737 (or hopefully soon to be released B777-300ER), but I’m just not going to waste my money on this trash.  It’s just not worth it in my opinion, especially considering that a freeware version of the A380 will release soon from a reputable developer (FlyByWire) who has a proven track record with their A32NX.

While I can appreciate that the A380 is your favorite aircraft, likewise the Boeing 777 is mine.  I’ve never been tempted to purchase anything other than the PMDG version once it releases and it’s been a really, really long wait as I completely uninstalled P3D about 2 years ago once the Fenix A320 and PMDG 737 released.  So it’s been more than two years since I’ve flown a 777 in the sim.  But the wait will certainly be worth it.

Bottom line and my complete open and honest opinion for you.  WAIT!!!!  Don’t spend your money on the Bredok3D A380 as in the long run I think feel you’ll be disappointed.  Especially when you state that you have experience with the Fenix A320 and PMDG 737.  Trust me, even without flying the Bredok3D A380, I can tell you the level of detail, level of quality and level of immersion in the Bredok3D A380 will be absolutely NOTHING like the Fenix or PMDG and I’m more than certain that the FBW team will blow everyone out of the water with their A380 once released.

If you’re just craving some larger, long-haul type aircraft until the FBW A380 releases, then have a look at the Horizon Simulations Boeing 787-9 or the Kuro Boeing 787-8.  Both of these are fine freeware representations of the Boeing Dreamliner.

There are far too many other quality aircraft which you can fly until the FBW A380 releases.  Have you tried the Horizon Simulations Boeing 787-9 or the Kuro Boeing 787-8?  Likewise, the Headwindsims Airbus A330-900Neo is likewise a fairly descent aircraft which I also have in my virtual hangar.

Scammers/Scamware

Final thoughts on this subject.  Some in the community refer to Bredok3D, CaptainSim etc. as scammers and call their products scamware.  While I’ll stop just short of calling them scammers and development of scamware, I will just say that buyers must beware of what they are getting from these types of developers and this is part of the problem.  Since the release of MSFS 2020, a very large number of newcomers have entered the hobby.  This is a very good thing for the hobby, but these individuals haven’t been around to witness the behavior of developers like this in the past and don’t understand the questions to ask.  They just see a shiny, new Airbus A380 and think that will be a quality aircraft.  Unfortunately, developers like Bredok3D, CaptainSim and many others like them are not going to stop doing what they are doing until such a time that their Frankenstein projects no longer sell.

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

T-Minus 8 Days and Counting….

Today I’m having a relaxing semi long-haul flight out of the new iniBuilds OMDB Dubai International Airport enroute to London Heathrow in the Boeing 787-9 by Horizon Simulations and flying as British Airways.  While in the real world BA operates this flight in a Boeing 788 or in a Boeing 777-200.  Well….I had been doing some flying in previous days in the 789 and I wasn’t sure if the 788 was updated to the latest and greatest version and of course we still don’t have a Boeing 777 available from PMDG and that sort of brings me to the main topic of this blog post.

As the title reads, we are just 8 days away from the VATSIM Cross The Pond event and the last update we’ve received from PMDG regarding progress of their Boeing 777-300ER was a week ago.  To the best of my knowledge and after scouring various Twitch and YouTube channels, I see no one streaming any pre-release content regarding the PMDG 77W.  While I generally “never say never”, it’s becoming increasingly less likely that we’ll see the PMDG 777-300ER before the VATSIM CTP event on 20 April.  So…I’m afraid the prediction I made way back in early March is just not going to happen.

On Thursday, Microsoft announced a new tentative release date for Sim Update 15 (SU15) to be 30 April.  While PMDG have publicly stated that the release of their Boeing 777-300ER is not dependent on SU15, they may still decide that a “wait and see” release is in their overall best interest.  After all, if I were in charge of one of the most highly anticipated aircraft releases of this year, I believe I would make this same decision to wait until SU15 was publicly available, test thoroughly in that release and schedule a release date sometime afterwards in very early May.

Of course, (and this is just an effort to keep the dream alive) a lot can happen in eight days.  PMDG may be tying up the last of the loose ends with a plan to release the 77W to a few select content creators this weekend and if all goes well could still release it mid week just ahead of the CPT event.  But I believe it is safe to say that if this hasn’t happened by Wednesday, 17 April or Thursday, 18 April at the very latest that it just won’t happen before CTP.

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!  (Just not in the PMDG 77W YET)

Jerry

Where Art Thou PMDG 777?

With the arrival of the recent Fenix V2B2 update, the next question on everyone’s mind (including my own) is when will we finally see the PMDG Boeing 777 for MSFS?  Of course I know only what you all know. If you’ve been following along with the development process you know that Robert Randazzo has provided us a few sneak peeks into the process.  His most recent update, dated 24 February he states “Things are coming together nicely” and “It won’t be long now”.  He further comments about how some bugs users have been seeing in the 737 are also appearing in the 777 and testing is underway with a fix package and if that resolves the issues, then we should see an “emergency update” headed our way for the 737. 

Naturally, PMDG is remaining very tight lipped regarding any possible release date for the Boeing 777.  This is 100% natural for PMDG and is directly from their playbook.  While some developers might stick their neck out a little and suggest a future release date for their add-ons, PMDG just doesn’t play this game. 

So when do you think we’ll see the PMDG Boeing 777?  Well….I believe it is safe to say that we will have the PMDG Boeing 777 in our virtual hangers sometime this year.  But I’m going to go a step further and make a prediction.

Of course, my prediction takes a few assumptions.  First and foremost, PMDG will absolutely NOT release the 777 if there are major issues.  Second, PMDG isn’t going to rush to get the 777 into our hands just for the sake of selling an add-on. 

We now know that Microsoft/Asobo are shooting for a mid March release of sim update (SU) 15.  So it is safe to say that PMDG will not release the 777 between now and the release of SU15.  Even if PMDG is currently testing the 777 on the public beta of SU15, I believe they will wait until SU15 is released out of beta and they can spend the necessary time testing the aircraft in the same release of MSFS as we all have on our PC’s. 

There is another key date which is part of my overall assumption.  20 April 2024.  On 20 April 2024, the annual VATSIM Cross the Pond Westbound event will take place.  This is a major online VATSIM event where hundreds of virtual pilots will depart the UK and Europe for destinations in North, Central and South America destinations. 

My prediction, if PMDG believes their Boeing 777 is ready for release, they’ll release it sometime after SU15 releases and 20 April 2024.  Of course if 20 April comes and goes and we still don’t have the PMDG 777, then obviously my prediction was wrong.  But I think if my assumptions are correct, I do truly believe we’ll have the awesome PMDG Boeing 777 sometime in early to mid April. 

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

PMDG Egg Nog

If you routinely visit the PMDG forums to catch up on all the development news regarding the 737 and other projects, then yesterday (Friday, 8 December) you may have noticed the tease which Robert Randazzo gave us in the “Other Stuff” section of his update.  Here’s that comment….

RSR

What does this mean?  Well…if we think back to some of the communications which PMDG released some time ago, we know that the first order of business regarding PMDG and MSFS was the release of the 737 product line.  This of course included first the 737-700 followed by the 737-600, 737-800 and finally the 737-900.  PMDG had stated that sometime after the 737 series the next order of business would be the Boeing 777, the Boeing 747 Queen of the Skies and finally the long awaited Boeing 737 MAX.

With regards to the Boeing 737 MAX, Robert Randazzo  has also stated several times that PMDG had no plans of communicating any such release date for the 737 MAX.  Meaning, that more or less one day we would all wake up to find the 737 MAX had been stealthily released with no pre-release hype.  So back to Robert’s forum post from Friday, what could it possibly mean?

Within the Virtual Airline I belong to, some are speculating that PMDG could release BOTH the Boeing 777 and the Boeing 737 MAX on Christmas Day.  I personally don’t believe this and here’s why.  First, while PMDG might feel a bit of pressure since iFly recently teased their 737 MAX for MSFS.  But PMDG has been in business for a very long time and I don’t believe they really pay much attention to those things.  I really don’t think the iFly news would cause PMDG to rush the MAX, especially if the MAX just isn’t ready yet.  Plus, I personally believe that we won’t see the iFly version of the Boeing 737 MAX anytime in the very near future.  Plus, I don’t think PMDG would want to release two brand new aircraft into the market at the same time and especially do it on Christmas day.

So what do I think?  Well….remember, you can’t take my opinions to the bank as they really don’t account for much.  I think we’ll see the PMDG Boeing 777 before Christmas.  It won’t release on Christmas Day as I don’t believe Robert would expect any of his employees to work and provide support on a major holiday such as Christmas. In addition, the time period between Christmas and New Year is often a time when people take time off from work to travel and visit family.  So actually releasing the 777 a week or so before Christmas is almost ideal.

Finally, PMDG released the following teaser image today showcasing the aircraft’s recognizable six-wheel main landing gear.  I’m sure over the next few days we’ll see even more preview images.

IMG_0040

So, could we see the PMDG Boeing 777 sometime before Christmas?  Could we see it before the New Year?  Either way, I certainly don’t think we very far away from having this incredibly awesome aircraft in our virtual hangars.

As for the 737 MAX.  I still believe we’ll just wake up one morning to find that it’s been released
and is available for all of us to enjoy.

Until next time….

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

Reader Question–Paying for Aircraft Liveries

Let’s get right to the question and to the point on this particular topic.  The question today comes to us from a fellow flight simmer named George. 

Hello GrizzlyBearSims, Like you I’ve been around the flight simulation community for a couple of decades.  I’ve noticed a recent trend since MSFS has come onto the scene with some folks selling their aircraft liveries.  I wanted to get your opinion on the matter.  I for one have never paid for an aircraft livery and don’t plan to change this anytime soon.  George

Well George and all who may read this blog post, I’ve been simming for a really long time and while I’ve purchased many third party aircraft and even more airport or scenery addons, I’ve never paid one red cent for any aircraft livery and certainly don’t plan to change this behavior. 

The observation George has made unfortunately is correct.  Since the release of MSFS in August 2020, we’ve seen all sorts of behavior which was almost certainly unheard with previous flight sim platforms.  In the past, individuals would create liveries for various aircraft types and provide them to the community.  You can search all the various flight simulation websites and find hundreds of liveries being offered up by the community at zero cost. Most 3rd party aircraft developers like PMDG, QualityWings, Fenix, FSLabs provide a wide range of liveries which cover most of the real world airlines in operation today. 

The unfortunate fact in today’s new world of flight simulation is there are many individuals who are looking to make a quick buck out of those who are brand new and just don’t know any better.  Also, just as unfortunate…there are 3rd party developers who are also doing the same thing by pushing out “Frankenstein” aircraft which utilize the default systems of aircraft.  In many cases they have done this very crudely and in my opinion all in an effort to make a quick buck with unsuspecting new users. 

With the launch of Microsoft Flight Simulator, the numbers of new flight sim enthusiasts have exploded beyond anything I could have imagined and as a result there are thousands of brand new simmers who don’t know any different.  Fortunately for PC users who are in the know, there should never be a need to spend money on aircraft liveries.  But I’m afraid the same won’t be true for those on the console platform as the only way they will have access to aircraft liveries which aren’t included with the aircraft will be to purchase them via the MSFS Marketplace. 

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

Reader Question–FPS Concerns

One of the most common questions I receive from readers of my blog is regarding FPS improvements in Flight Sim and in recent months (for obvious reasons) these questions are concerning MSFS or Microsoft Flight Simulator (2020).  Just in the past few days I’ve received three different emails asking for pointers on just how to squeeze out a few more FPS on the platform.  While I’ve provided a few tips/answers to these emails already, I’ve selected one of those email questions to feature for this article.  Let’s go!

Hello Jerry, I’m really struggling to achieve 60 FPS within MSFS when flying either the PMDG 737 or the Fenix A320.  My hardware setup is not that much different from what you are showing on your blog site and I’ve also attempted to match your MSFS settings.  The best I seem to be able to achieve is about 35-40FPS with mostly clear skies.  But this number drops down to 25-30 FPS in cloudy/stormy conditions and about the best I can achieve on the ground is in the mid 20’s.  I’m fairly new to flight sim with MSFS being my first introduction.  I don’t seem to have these issues when flying the default Cessna and my other games also seem to be fine with 60+ FPS.  What gives?  JP

Thank you JP for your email.  First, allow me to state for the record that I don’t get a consistent 60 FPS in MSFS with my posted settings.  I never have.  For many years I used to really stress over this fact until I finally realized that within flight sim a steady 60 FPS isn’t necessary and second to that, is really, really difficult to achieve especially when flying the more complex airliners like PMDG.  On my current hardware configuration, really the only way one could achieve a steady 60 FPS will require the graphics settings to be turned down really low and that’s just not something I’m willing to do, nor do I feel is necessary.

One of the best solutions I can provide to you is fairly simple.  Setup your sim the way you like it, which will provide you a smooth visual experience and simply forget about the actual FPS number.  I realize this is probably the advice you were not wanting to hear, but trust me….once you get MSFS dialed in where you have stable visuals and just simply ignore the FPS number, your overall enjoyment factor will increase. 

Over the past couple of decades I’ve used all flight sim platforms from FSX, P3D and now MSFS.  I’ve always been somewhat behind when it comes to hardware specs.  Today, my gaming machine is approaching 5 years old.  When it was built and for a few months I perhaps could have considered it the top of the line at that time, but that’s no longer the case.  Even after upgrading my GPU to the 12 GB 3080 Ti back in the late summer of 2022, I’m still running an older spec CPU which went into the machine in 2018.  These specs just aren’t capable of running MSFS at a steady 60 FPS or more with the desired visual settings I require in the sim. 

Having said all that, what I can say is based on my current hardware and my MSFS settings which I’ve posted, I have a steady sim with zero lag, zero stutter and all the beautiful eye-candy that I require in my sim when flying the PMDG or the Fenix.  Some may argue with me, but flight sim does not require a solid 60 FPS to be enjoyable. 

In closing, the Microsoft/Asobo team have made incredible progress with better maximizing the performance of the platform and I’m sure over time this will continue.  In addition, the Fenix team have done the same with even more work currently in progress.  The best advice I can give anyone reading this is to dial in your graphics settings to the point where you can achieve a stable experience with no lag and no stutter, then forget about the FPS number.  Once you’ve done this, I promise you can enjoy flight sim without the stress of chasing 60 FPS. 

Until next time…

Happy Flying!

Jerry

The Joy of Freeware

Once upon a time, there was an abundance of various freeware add-ons available to the flight simming community.  During the late 1990’s and very early 2000’s the amount of freeware (as compared to payware) was huge.  Actually the amount of payware content was actually pretty scarce.  Of course I’m talking about the time period when Flight Simulator 98, Flight Simulator 2000, Flight Simulator 2002 and Flight Simulator 2004 (FS9) were in their hay day. 

With the rise of FSX in 2006, third party developers (of whom, many are still in business today) came onto the scene and began producing the most excellent payware products from airport sceneries, ground based textures, weather add-ons and of course some really awesome aircraft.  Unfortunately this is the same time period that we began to experience a decline in freeware alternatives.  Or should I say “Quality” freeware alternatives. 

The freeware decline continued through the life span of the Prepar3D reign.  However, for the most part the X-Plane community during this time frame did have a very active modding community which produced some really good freeware add-ons, but for me I just never could enjoy X-Plane the way I had enjoyed FSX or P3D.  As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, I had a fairly sizeable investment in FSX/P3D that I just couldn’t ignore and was most likely the reason I never considered X-Plane a substitute.  But I digress…

Fortunately, for those of us who are fans of the Microsoft Flight Simulator family (including P3D) the introduction of the new Microsoft Flight Simulator (MSFS) platform has brought about a renewed interest in quality freeware add-ons.  Almost from day one of the release of MSFS back in August of 2020, fellow flight sim enthusiasts have been releasing quality freeware add-ons for the new platform.  Of course one of the absolute best freeware additions has been the Airbus A320 mod from the FlybyWire team.  This team took the default Airbus A320 which was included in MSFS and over time have created a freeware version that rivals that of just about any payware, study-level aircraft on the market today.  The Microsoft Flight Sim family of platforms (including P3D) has never seen this level of quality in a freeware product and the FBW team won’t just stop at the A320.  They are hard at work in creating an Airbus A380 model from the ground up which hopefully will be released sometime in the Q2 or early Q3 2023 timeframe.  I honestly can’t count the number of previously announced A380 projects which have been announced over the years for P3D that have never made it beyond the planning stages and the FBW team will have one in our sims very soon. 

Of course there are hundreds if not thousands of other freeware add-ons available for MSFS including various utilities, aircraft liveries and airport mods.  There are a few airport mods I’m using in my sim today that rival the quality of work we typically see from payware developers.  I frequently check the Flightsim.to website which has become the “go-to” place for creators to host their freeware add-ons. 

Why is Freeware so important to the community?

First and foremost, not everyone can afford to spend their hard earned money on all the various payware that has and will be released for MSFS.  Due to the willingness of these freeware developers to devote their time to creating quality add-on alternatives for the community at zero cost, this allows everyone the opportunity to enjoy the hobby without a huge investment.  In addition, I also believe the vast catalog of freeware options is helping to keep the prices of payware at a more affordable price level.  I believe we’ve already experienced the impact of this with the Fenix A320.  The Fenix A320 is available for an incredibly low price of just £49.99. 

The Quality of Freeware Alternatives

As I’ve already mentioned, we’re already witnessing examples of freeware being on-par with payware options.  In addition to the FBW A320 I’ve already mentioned, another example is the recent release of the Doha Hamad International Airport (OTHH) which released in early December at the price tag of €19.99 by MXI Design.  An absolutely stunning freeware version has been available on Flightsim.to since May 2021 which not only includes the OTHH airport but also various enhancements covering much of the city of Doha is included. 

However, it must also be said that not all freeware is created equal.  But of course the same must also be said about payware options (but I’ll save those comments for another article).  One of the major challenges with some of the freeware airports that I’ve run into has been centered around issues when MSFS has been updated through the various Sim Update versions and the time it takes for the freeware developers to make the various adjustments needed.  Of course, this is not an issue isolated to the flight sim community. We see the same issues with other games which allow mods to be used like ATS, ETS2 and Farming Simulator.

In closing, as someone who has been been enjoying the flight simulation hobby for over four decades and has witnessed freeware come, go and come back again…I’m extremely excited for the future of MSFS with successful freeware efforts at the very heart of the platform. I hope you are as well.

Until next time….

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

Reader Question–MSFS Auto-Update

I have another reader question to explore today with everyone.  It’s a rather interesting one and honestly it’s one of my very own pet peeves about Microsoft Flight Simulator.  Here’s a snippit of the email I received a few days ago. 

Hello, I recently stumbled onto your blog site and found your content to be extremely helpful as I slowly wade into the world of flight simulation.  I read your recent “Reader Question – Where are the Widebodies” posting and it inspired me to email you with my very own question to see if you can shed any light.  Like many I’m sure, I don’t have a lot of time to devote to flight sim.  I have a young family and once I’m home from work, have dinner and help get the kids all in bed, I generally enjoy taking a short flight a few times a week.  I have even less time on the weekends as the kids all seem to have different activities and sometimes at opposite ends of town. Anyway, I was hoping to spend a quiet Friday evening flying my favorite PMDG 737, but instead the entire time was spent downloading updates.  By the time MSFS finished updating, it was time for bed as I had an early start the next day.  So my main question is why are these updates forced on us and is there any way to disable them?  My sim has been working just fine and I would have rather waited until a more convenient time to apply the updates, if that is even possible.  Thank you for your time.  George

Oh boy!  I for one certainly understand George’s frustration.  While I’m retired and don’t have kids that need to be shuttled around from one extra curricular activity to another….when I decide to sit down and fly….I want to fly!  Over the past four decades that I’ve enjoyed the hobby of flight simulation starting on the Commodore 64 all the way through each generation of Microsoft Flight Simulator and throughout each of the versions of Prepar3D….MSFS is the very first which has had this auto-update mechanism built in that upon launch and regardless whether you want  to update or not, you are forced to download/install the updates. 

During the Prepar3D (P3D) years, I would make it a matter of practice to always wait several days, perhaps even several weeks before downloading and installing an update.  Generally speaking, it could take several days, perhaps even a week or two before 3rd party developers could provide patches to their products to make them compatible with the most recent P3D update.  In addition, by deferring an update also allowed time to research the various forums to determine if the update caused any game breaking issues which could require a hot-fix to resolve. 

Having said all that, Microsoft Flight Simulator is a completely different sim from all those in the past.  Part of what makes MSFS the gold standard (in my opinion) is the fact it’s cloud based.  All the beauty and majesty we experience while flying around the virtual world is streamed down to our PC’s on an “On-Demand” basis.  The cloud based design allows for a much smaller footprint on our SSD’s or HDD’s and only needs to download the data specific to the location we’re flying.  As a result it’s necessary for all client machines connecting to the MSFS systems to all be running the same version of the base software.  Thus why we have the mandatory updates. 

I have read some comments on various forums and other social media platforms that suggest one can avoid the mandatory update process by disconnecting your network connection, start up MSFS and then reconnect once in the main menu.  While I’ve not tested this process, I believe avoiding updates is not the best practice in the long run and may lead to issues especially if you connect to the MSFS multi-player environment. 

Of course this cloud-based setup can lead to issues which we experienced a few months ago where many users experienced unexplained performance and CTD (crash to desktop) issues over several long days. I wrote about my own experiences in a blog posting titled “And Just Like That” where I discussed the issues I had experienced and my belief at what caused these issues. 

If I’m honest, I do have some long-range concerns regarding what may or may not happen as MSFS ages beyond the next several years.  There is a rather surprising number of simmers who still fly FS9 and FSX on a daily basis even though these platforms are almost two decades old.  While both Microsoft and Asobo appear to be fully committed to the success of MSFS 2020.  But depending on their long-range plans, it might not be possible to use MSFS in the year 2040 if something else has taken its place or God forbid the program is completed shelved.  Let’s face it, it costs a lot of money to operate the data centers and cloud solutions which allow us to fly around the virtual skies.  The powers that be at Microsoft will need to see a solid return on this investment over the years to come.  But hey, this is probably a discussion to have at a later day in time. 

Bottom line (and in closing), as I’ve stated many times before, I believe Microsoft Flight Simulator is the gold standard of all flight simulator platforms available today and I also believe, will be so for some time to come.  Despite the pain points we occasionally have to suffer through, when it works (and for me it works flawlessly 99.999% of the time) it brings me more enjoyment than I’ve ever experienced in my long history with flight sim. 

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog posts.  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

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