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SpiritFlyer

FSX? How are we doing?

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I have been concerned for some time that perhaps the MSFS community may be shrinking more rapidly that I first realized. I have far too much time treasure and emotion tied up in this wonderful hobby to let it dry up without a fight. However, I understand that it is fairly obvious that the shutting down of Aces was critical, as either a prime catalyst, or as a direct result, of the decline, or both. It seems to me that fewer and fewer new people are joining online communities like AVSIM while more and more members are dropping out without saying goodbye. I guess this is natural as MS has ceased to market the title to the general public. Also obvious is that FS addon developers can only market their products to those who remain within the community, as there can be but little or no broader appeal. That leaves a smaller base and lesser economies of scale as time goes by, taking it to an approaching point in time where all new investment of talent and technology, and most of the interest, public and private, will move on to different things. This is all plain to see for anyone that will take even a quick look at both FS9 and FSX as a business model. But, notwithstanding that, I hope we can delay and stall things as long as possible, perhaps even long enough for the bulk of the community to transition, in mass, to something more sustainable. Does anyone have any idea what the objective numbers and statistics that measure MSFS community activity levels actually looks like? Just curious...Stephen

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Since ACES shut down I spend a lot of time now with XPlane, prior to that I never bothered with XPlane. So for me its probably 50% FSX and 50% XPlane, whereas before ACES pulled the plug it was 100% FSX.Give XPlane 9.31 a try, not perfect but not bad either!

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I purchased X-plane in hopes it would be a suitable replacement for FSX but IMO it looks just horrible. I understand its not all about looks and it does give a good sense of flight but after being spoiled with FTX, ASA and REX its hard to compare the two graphically. And yes I have tried some scenery packages and add-on AC and it still looks bad. Currently I share my time with FS9 (heavies) & FSX (GA) as long as developers keep producing high quality packages I can't see myself leaving the MSFS worlds.

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Guest Thaellar

Call me crazy, but I see the Aces shutdown as a positive development. Now the developers can confidently make products for an non-moving target. FSX is just hitting its stride in regards to computers now available with the horsepower to run it adequately. And there are lots of addons on the horizon. PMDG J41 and 737NG, Eaglesoft Cit X, Flight 1 B200, CS B-52, Airsimmer A320.......lots of others for sure.If Aces were still cooking on the new version, it would be announced with a new SDK and all the developers would be saying, "Oh no not again. new coding requirements, that means all our current projects will have issues if we can get them to work at all."FS11 would also guarantee crappy performance on new computers with ANOTHER 2-4 year wait and lots of money shelled out to run it adequately. And buying upgrades and having to replace addons that don't work anymore in the new version.I see a bright future ahead for FSX for several years yet. Thaellar

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I purchased X-plane in hopes it would be a suitable replacement for FSX but IMO it looks just horrible. I understand its not all about looks and it does give a good sense of flight but after being spoiled with FTX, ASA and REX its hard to compare the two graphically. And yes I have tried some scenery packages and add-on AC and it still looks bad. Currently I share my time with FS9 (heavies) & FSX (GA) as long as developers keep producing high quality packages I can't see myself leaving the MSFS worlds.
You're absolutely right on, JohnE; I've been so happy with FSX and the numerous great addons that are now available - and more coming - on my (now) 2-year-old system, that I'm ready to follow Sesquatchtoo with the i7. X-Plane is still waaaaay too immature when compared with FSX. I picked up REX a couple of weeks ago and the sky and water are now reinvented! ASA, GEX, FS Passengers, A2A AccuSim, FSBuild, Radar Contact, all the neat little utilities...... it's just great being a kid again!!! :(

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Wait until solid state hard drives get even better,and come down in price :( That's my next performance upgrade.

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I have been concerned for some time that perhaps the MSFS community may be shrinking more rapidly that I first realized. I have far too much time treasure and emotion tied up in this wonderful hobby to let it dry up without a fight. However, I understand that it is fairly obvious that the shutting down of Aces was critical, as either a prime catalyst, or as a direct result, of the decline, or both. It seems to me that fewer and fewer new people are joining online communities like AVSIM while more and more members are dropping out without saying goodbye. I guess this is natural as MS has ceased to market the title to the general public. Also obvious is that FS addon developers can only market their products to those who remain within the community, as there can be but little or no broader appeal. That leaves a smaller base and lesser economies of scale as time goes by, taking it to an approaching point in time where all new investment of talent and technology, and most of the interest, public and private, will move on to different things. This is all plain to see for anyone that will take even a quick look at both FS9 and FSX as a business model. But, notwithstanding that, I hope we can delay and stall things as long as possible, perhaps even long enough for the bulk of the community to transition, in mass, to something more sustainable. Does anyone have any idea what the objective numbers and statistics that measure MSFS community activity levels actually looks like? Just curious...Stephen
First off let me say I first started flight simulators back in the day when SubLogic released Air Transport Pilot before Microsoft bought it and turned it into the Flight Sim. I have seen people come and go for years in the comunity and there have always been times when the market slows. However I believe there is a new aspect to the trend. First of all you have fewer baby boomers and the population is in a bit of a decline just like the economy. There is also the fact that 3D first person shooters can be pumped into the market place with little effort. In my opinion the first person shooters have taken over the game industry and instead of releasing a game that makes you think they release mindless shooting games. RPG and simnulation games are slowly vanishing from the market and just don't sell. How many ways can they think of killing with a gun or chainsaw while tossing in a bit of a story. However people have always dreamed of flight and will always dream of flight. That will never change. Flight simulators in general have a few major advantages in the market.#1 People will always want to fly.#2 The lack of compitition makes a nitch in the market that can be exploited.#3 The game doesn't have a set path to follow or an ending (you can play it forever) while shooters will die and collect dust on a shelf or end up in a landfill.The ACES being gone does being added value to addons for FSX and FS9 however I believe Microsoft should talke a larger role in making patches and putting out expansions adding more life to their game. They never fixed the problems with multiplayer and gamespy. If you make a server on gamespy you can't ban people that cause trouble without taking down the server and trying to find the disruptive player. If the player is spamming over the mic you can't identify who is talking to ban the player. If players have the same tail number it can be hard to use ATC. The host can't change planes without restarting the server etc. The list of bugs goes on and on. However there are options like VATSIM that do solve many of these issues. That brings me to my next bit of a rant. While VATSIM does solve some of these there are some people that want to fly with fewer rules and regulations than what VATSIM and all the other large servers use. Some players just like to fly and chat with friends without ATC constantly asking questions. This can even be a problem in gamespy. With gamespy a server with ATC normaly means people flying patterns around an airport for hours on end. Also the lack of some players having a mic or just being unresponsive can ruin a session with ATC.Next lets look at the Free flight lobby chat. How many times have you gone into the free flight lobby and seen nothing but cursing name calling racist remarks and people talking about sex, homosexuals, porn, etc. I'm sure there are many parents who see this and then won't let them play anymore. There is also a trend of people making servers that say no noobs. I also disagree with this stance. Yes a new player can be frustrating and might not fly as good as someone that has spent years flying however if the player is wanting to learn why exclude that player. If they are being disruptive to the server that is a problem however if they truly just don't know what they are doing then it's better to help them than to kick them till they go away.The last thing I want to touch on is the huge amount of software piracy. Many of the paywhare products flight simmers love are able to be downloaded for free on pirate servers. This makes it hard for developers to make new products as they are unable to pay employees what they should and have money left over for more products. Great companies like Aerosoft and Carenado loose money every month to these people while trying to produce low cost high end products for their customers. The cost of this piracy is passed onto the people that buy the product legit while law enforcement could care less because it's a game. Piracy is so bad people openly admit and even direct people to the web sites in free flight chat where they can pirate as much software as they want and the lobby area continues to go unmoderated adding to the problems. In my opinion there will always be a market for flight sim games however untill the issues above can be resolved the industry will stay in a decline. It's simply much easier to make a game where you shoot at people and they get bored and release a new game 1 month later that is nearly identical to the last one with a slightly different story. Fewer people will learn to think and learn things like VOR to VOR navigation because it's easier to learn to run and pull a trigger than to think about density altitude. Perhaps if Microsoft let you run around the airports cutting up passengers with a chainsaw the industry might grow.Anyhow that's my personal opinion on the subject.

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I tend to agree with all of the above.I noticed a 2005 review of Captain Sim's C130 generated at least ten pages of commentary. It may be my imagination or the summer vacation season, but I seem to remember AVSIM discussion boards having a mugh higher churn rate in the past (I haven't always been a member here under my current screen name). The FS9 - FSX split no doubt contributed, and the hack may have caused some attrition, too. Perhaps the English-speaking world is showing a decline that may not be the case elsewhere. I bet per capita Germany has more flight simmers than the U.S. Whatever the cause, my impression is that there are just not the numbers there were four or five years ago. I am one of those who gave X-Plane a fair shot (because I am a Mac person) but found it lacking in many respects. Believe me, I would love to have a native Mac flight sim because I happen to think that OS X is much better platform and I could junk my PC forever. But as well-disposed as I was to X-Plane, it just wasn't for me, especially for big jets. And how are devs supposed to stay up with all the changes being made constantly?The only problem I see with FSX at this point is that my computer, decent though it may be, still is not good enough to run it perfectly. I expect that to change with my next computer, which I'll probably get next year. New products like the Albatross show that developers can still get more out of FSX, and the mission system has been really neglected with a few exceptions. And the old stuff will only work better. FSX is good enough. Now it is just a hardware issue.Some of the more casual simmers might drop off in favor of the latest shooter, but I think the hard core is here to stay and FSX will remain the platform of choice unless something better comes along. Aerosoft has two: the for-sure one a very limited airline pilot sim, and the second is still iffy the last I heard. We complain about FSX, but I marvel at a simulation of the whole world, with nearly every place you can land an airplane, along with weather, and all the great add-ons we have to choose from. When we're all using computers that allow us to have 100 FPS with everything maxed out, I don't think there will be a whole lot to complain about.Even right now, I have been experimenting as an end user. With no disrespect intended to all those who have shown us how to get the best out of our systems, I no longer think there is a magic bullet. I can get three times the frame rates I ever thought possible by experimenting with sliders. When I want to focus on the airplane, I don't need great-looking scenery. Other times, the looks are what I want. The "received wisdom" of others is no substitue for finding what YOU want on YOUR system for the way YOU fly.I, too, am quite happy not to have to wonder what add-ons the next iteration of FSX will render obsolete.

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Guest ArtieLange
There is also the fact that 3D first person shooters can be pumped into the market place with little effort.
Little effort ? GTA4 took 500 people and $100 million dollars to make, Half Life 2 was 5 years and $40 million dollars to make. Any GOOD game, be it RPG, FPS, etc takes lots of time, money and people to make. Compare those numbers to FS9 and FSX and you'll see way more time, money, and effort is put into todays FPS games than was ever put into flight sim.

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..... However, I understand that it is fairly obvious that the shutting down of Aces was critical, as either a prime catalyst, or as a direct result, of the decline, or both. It seems to me that fewer and fewer new people are joining online communities like AVSIM while more and more members are dropping out without saying goodbye. I guess this is natural as MS has ceased to market the title to the general public. Stephen
I found there was a general decline ever since FSX came out with no really great addons becoming available until much later, the decline was already a dedicated path.And then there was incompatibilities with FS9 "everything"The closing of ACES was a deep cut, and then the hacking of AVSIM was a big cutOnly things like ASA, Mustang, UT2, UTX, FEX, REX etv etc and Aerosoft's treasured artistry (amongst many others now) is keeping us from all leaving.

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Here's a graph of Flight Simulator X interest on Google :http://www.google.com/trends?q=flight+simu...=all&sort=0
Looks level for 2008 and 2009 to me. If you type 2004 in place of X you get a gragh that shows level intrest for FS9 since 2008 also. Hard to chime a death knell for either sim. How many games are selling as much as they were 3 years ago?Bob

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I see FSX retaining a core fanbase like Falcon 4 (and its various offshoots) has retained a core fanbase. One difference is that Microsoft will NOT let the IP leak or otherwise become available as was the case with MicroProse. However, I am under no illusions that FSX was the last of its breed and will get longer and longer in the tooth. Whatever "flying game" MS throws at us may or may not be worthwhile, but I'm sure the "simming" aspects will mostly die while the "gaming" aspects will prevail. As to X-plane, I agree with all those who say that it is a wet noodle compared to MSFS.

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I believe whoever enjoys FSX will continue to and anyone looking for a "simulator" experience will look into FSX. I don't think Aces Studio will make a flip of difference in that.Developers will now explore the width and depth in using FSX as a base for their sims. You should see a trend to run outside programs alongside FSX that expand its potential and present limitations, like A2A is doing with AcuSim (and actually Vertical Simulations has done with its SuperBee in FS9).X-Plane (in a year or so) is going to kick in gear with the release of some scenery and airline simulations that may surpass what we now see in FSX. Don't underestimate X-Plane.I just loaded it on my new computer, along with FSX (and FS9) and expect to see some great things available for it in the coming months.If Microsoft has chosen to turn its back on the flight simulation community for the gaming cash cow, the flight simulation community will not turn its back on their addiction. Flight simulation enthusiast will continue to spend lots of money on new scenery and aircraft to fill up their T-bit+ harddrives and attract the interest of the curious outsider into their web of hopeless addiction.

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Vatsim really is for the hardcore simmer. The people on Vatsim are very friendly and the ATC guys are great. At the end of the day, the "gotta have it now" crowd will probably never end up on Vatsim. I picked FSX back up in the last six months and have been studying approach charts, SIDS and STARS to try and get ramped up for Vatsim. I have been studying the pilot resource guide, installing FSInn and FSCopilot and parking my aircraft in a cargo spot to listen to folks on Vatsim. I have also spent quite a bit of time studing the FMC. Would I have gone through all this if I were ten years younger? Probably not. Back then I wanted to blow away scumbags in Counter strike for 30 minutes with some friends and then do a quick flight from KSEA to KMSO. Keep in mind I have been on and off with flightsims for 15+ years. After getting back into FSX, I discovered things like REX, the PMDG produtcs, VATSIM and all sorts of scenery goodies that will keep evolving FSX for a long time to come. I think that over time, it will become more of an enthusiast platform and less of a casual platform. That could be good or bad depending on how you look at it. There is nothing wrong with FPS types of games and I think a lot of folks here probably get on the XBOX or PC to blow away some bad guys every once in a while. After a while though, the swearing, racist remarks, yelling and screaming and the general nastyness that comes with people getting online with a game like that gets kind of old. It never fails that some 12 year old kid is spewing out stuff that would make a sailor blush because he thinks somebody is cheating and that depresses me. I have found the flightsim community to be a fresh breath of air in comparison. That is why I think that this community and others like it have longevity vs the "What is the neatest FPS now crowd". Developers keep raising the bar when it comes to FSX and I am not too concerned about ACES not developing the next flightsim. The only piece of this puzzle that does concern me is the lack of future updates from MS in regards to flightsim. I am pretty much convinced that since the release, we are a few generations newer when it comes to hardware and you can still bring an I7 to its knees if you want to. I was hoping that they would do a deep dive into the code and really look at optimizing the engine a little bit. That will probably never happen, so we will continue to rely upon third party developers to keep pushing that evolution forward. I don't think that solid state drives will help that much with the fluidity of the game itself even though it probably will help with the load times. I don't think that Nvidia or ATI is spending a lot of time optimizing their drivers for FSX and you see FSX less and less in game benchmarks.

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Little effort ? GTA4 took 500 people and $100 million dollars to make, Half Life 2 was 5 years and $40 million dollars to make. Any GOOD game, be it RPG, FPS, etc takes lots of time, money and people to make. Compare those numbers to FS9 and FSX and you'll see way more time, money, and effort is put into todays FPS games than was ever put into flight sim.
I never said they didn't take allot of time and money to make however there is a difference. Also you are comparing cost, programmers, consultants, testers etc however you only provide data for one side of the arguement. How much money do you think Microsoft has spent on graphic artists, consultants, programmers, height maps for the entire world, testers, etc. With a 3D shooter you can create an enviorment from a simple random heightmap that can be computer generated. For a flight sim to be accurate you have to buy accurate data at the best possible scale to make it as real as you can get and stay in budget. Also once you have the height maps lets not forget checking as much of the entire earth as possible in that data for errors and holes. You can find several examples of the holes in FSX that did not get fixed or were not found prior to release. With a computer generated heightmap your allot less likely to find a hole in the data.I'm not trying to put down the FPS games. There are many talented programmers and artists that make them and I own a few of them myself."Compare those numbers to FS9 and FSX and you'll see way more time, money, and effort is put into todays FPS games than was ever put into flight sim."I disagree with this point for a few simple reasons.A flight sim is a flight sim and so basic principles of the sim can be ported from one version to the other and there is no need to change the code unless it can be done better. Half life 2 has gone through 2 versions while FSX is on 10 versions with microsoft and I believe it was 2 or 3 versions with SubLogic. So much more of the programming that was good could be moved over. This simply means there can be more focus on other areas like graphics and trying to make the game flexable enough to handle future addons. Given the fact that FS-0 for the Apple II started in 1975 and has been an ongoing project till now it's hard to compare the true cost of FSX. I don't think halflife 2 can compare in time considering that it didn't start in 1975 or earlier.FSX is a direct result of time, effort, and money spent from its humble start till what we have now with many versions to take advantage of new programming languages, technology and hardware. Halflife 2 can't even begin to compare with this in my opinion. If you want to quote cost for development to challenge what I said you could at least provide numbers for the cost of FS9 and FSX since you seem compelled to quote the numbers on other games.Now getting back onto the topic of the state of FSX. I agree as others have stated that with the ACES team gone there is allot of opertunity for 3rd party developers to create and expand on what Microsoft has created for us in FSX and those addons will not need to be replaced as quickly. This will also lead to a better leap in hardware and the next flight sim if it does happen will have allot of potential for better graphics and more realistic flight dynamics.

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for the bulk of the community to transition, in mass, to something more sustainable.
And what exactly is this "something more sustainable"??

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Guest RobertAlley

I wouldn't sound the death knell for flight simming just yet.If anything, the virtual monopoly flight sim has been suffering through stifled innovation.X-Plane may not yet be the answer, and I have doubts as to whether Aerosoft will save us; but the demise of Aces has paved the way for a few new Richard Harvey's to convince a few companies flight sim is worth investing in. With any luck whoever produces these new sims will have more brains and they won't be killed in the cradle...Robert

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As with each new MSFS release I always went through the growing pains. The most extreme have been going from FS9 to FSX and losing a few payware planes and a helicopter that will not transfer over to FSX and a small amount of payware scenery that lose some of their details when ported to FSX. But I am growing to enjoy the various views that you can create around the aircraft in FSX. I have not completely gone away from FS9 and occasionally load up and fly in the old stuff and the payware that won't work in FSX. I do think that even if ACES never comes back that FSX will be around for a long time. Everyday I see new addons for FS98 and I ask myself "who is still on FS98?" Even if someone like Aerosoft comes along with a whole new flight simulator, I don't think I will turn off FSX right away. I also have X-Plane 9.xx and have had X-Plane since version 5 or so. There are many aspects of XP I enjoy but a few aspects are rather hard to adjust to. I can relate to the point of view of having a sim that can run on the platform of your choice. My first Microsoft Flight Simulator was available on Mac as well as PC and I logged more than 500 hours of MSFS 5.1 on an old Mac before I could ever save up enough to replace that system. And before the next best software comes around I will probably have so many payware planes and scenery that I will not want to replace FSX. Thank you for this discuss.

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As long as there are those who love flight and/or are marveled by it Flight Simulator and this community will always be around. A down turn is not the death nail for something like this. It took man thousands of years to discover, learn, and exploit flight a passion that is not going anywhere. PC based simulation (MS did it best) makes accessible something that would otherwise be out of reach for many. The backlash to what the powers at be are doing is real. There's many who don't bother with mindless entertainment and want something more challenging. Home simulation will be back in a major way especially when FSX hits prime time (ran full bore on machines accessible to most of us for a fraction of the cost of todays price of admission).Guys everything is in a down turn these days with the economy so people need to save and embrace what they have. People with older machines or limited budgets stay with FS9. Because of it's performance there's not much to talk about when you fire it up and it runs well. The day one can go to Best Buy and pick up an 'E-Machine' type system for $400 or less and fire up FSX with all sliders maxed out with no hint of performance degradation is when you'll see things turn around. When one can buy add-ons like the PMDG 744 in FSX and it runs smooth as silk on an aforementioned priced machine is when the hobby becomes what it was and people can just jump in with limited out of pocket expense and/or headaches (On machines of today no FS9 tweaking is needed outside of the FS9.1 patch. Years of doing this was a fruitless effort in retrospect as all my tweaks are no longer needed. Don't get me wrong on machines of the day tweaking is needed but with the right hardware anything will run no matter how badly programed). Concerning today's conditions, people just don't have the money and/or time like they used to for constant experimentation. If somethings not readily accessible for whatever reason right out the box people don't have the time to figure out why (you'll get about an hour effort and then it's over). People just want products to work right out the box without asking for this and that over and over again aka 'XBOX'... That's the real lesson from all this is 'quality control', make the thing work on what most people have or they'll look elsewhere. People don't have three to four years to wait for hardware to catch up (people have literally taken the stance of 'see you in a few years when this thing works right out the box'). You put in an XBOX title and it runs now back to the kids... Getting add-ons to work is one thing, getting the sim in general to perform shouldn't be an issue if the box states the specs and you meet them. You loose people when the competition consoles (PS3, Wii, 360) can do this and a PC title can't. Whether it's Microsoft or anyone else who takes up the banner it's best not to assume you'll be around when hardware catches up or making products that are so far ahead of the current hardware it's all but unreasonable. Exploit what's there today in hardware and make a product that screams on the hardware of the day just like what's being done for XBOX titles. If you make things too hard you run many away as we all have seen. Like I said when a kid can ask their parents for a computer and it runs FSX without issue is when things turn around for our hobby. It's when a kid (or anyone for that matter) has to keep coming back with more requirements that the feeling wains on a product and people go with what's more simple to operate without all the headaches. I think back to what started this whole computer revolution and that was kids in college. We put cheap things together and came up with the first MAC or the various ideas on top of products like Flight Simulator 5.1. Again once FSX get's to the point a second hand machine can run it people with limited means (which is most people) will embrace it like versions of FS in the past. Least we not forget how long FS has been in existence and those version didn't look a third as good as FSX looks full bore... Things will turn around for sure in a few years as FSX with it's add-ons is the best on the market for PC simulation (I don't see that crown going away for the next 10 plus years. Who has the budget and/or desire to topple FSX?)... It's a matter of time when anyone can jump in and just have fun. We're seeing this with FS9 and it won't be that long before FSX will be the same way and look 1000 times better... :(

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Guys everything is in a down turn these days with the economy so ...
Yeah.Talking about downturn ... Mooney delivered 65 airplanes in 2008, only 5 this year. Hawker-Beech, Cessna, Piper even Cirrus are struggling and laying off workers. Blue Mountain Avionics just closed its doors. If I am concerned about anything relating to flying it is about the GA industry. I am not concerned about the flight simulation (as a hobby) at all.

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Yeah.Talking about downturn ... Mooney delivered 65 airplanes in 2008, only 5 this year. Hawker-Beech, Cessna, Piper even Cirrus are struggling and laying off workers. Blue Mountain Avionics just closed its doors. If I am concerned about anything relating to flying it is about the GA industry. I am not concerned about the flight simulation (as a hobby) at all.
Outstanding point which harkens back to a well running FSX is so viable when pilots can't do it in the real world because of cost... Most of my flying is in FS even though I'm able to do it in the real world... Once FSX (like FS9 before it) becomes more accessible due to hardware maturity people will come back in droves when they can get a great running sim on hardware costing a fraction of what it costs today. Add-ons by then will have price cuts as well like we're seeing with FS9 add-ons... Imagine a 4gig dual core with a 3gig video card and 4 gigs of ram costing as little as $500 dollars (we don't even want to mention the advantages in FSX of solid state hard drives especially when that price is lowered)? These prices are not that far off, I can get a 1gig video card for $180 these days which wasn't possible not that long ago. People everywhere who love flight will be back in the game...I'm not too worried about real world GA as long as the federal government doesn't start regulating all airspace like what's been proposed... People like myself are just using older planes and doubling up on ownership... "Life Finds a Way" as quoted from Jarrasic Park...

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