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MorsAbAlto

How much more can FSX handle? (be warned, lots of opinion)

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Hello folks,

 

this was going into the 747v3 beta announcement thread at first, but then I decided it would be better as a separate topic, as it became a rather lengthy piece.

 

It's specifically aimed at Kyle and other PMDGers, but feel free to chip in.

 

Sometimes I wonder, how much more of an improvement we can expect in terms of fidelity and memory usage on the FSX platform, especially regarding future products. The 32bit limit is not going away, unless you change to X-Plane or P3D (the latter being cost-prohibitive for modest earners like myself - and according to PMDG forum staff - not even legally sound). 

 

It has been said that the memory footprint of this product (747v3) has been improved over the T7, yet will we have do deal with the same limitations to avoid OOM-armageddon (switching off scenery, dial down textures, etc.)? It sometimes dims my enthusiasm to content with the ancient FSX architecture for the sake of cost savings and legal concerns. The old problem of wanting the newest, most flashy features without investing a fortune. Of course PMDG will not disclose their long-term production schedule here, but how much more can we hope to gain from FSX and PMDG going forward. Seeing the increasing duration of development cycles and how our favorite sim company cranks the dials to 11 every time. How much longer until FSX will be abandoned for the sake of technological progress?

 

I am not a student pilot, not a flight instructor, just a random guy in his thirties who lives the dream of flying an airliner from the front of the tube - being as close to real procedures as possible. I fly only for recreational purposes, so according to LockMart (and PMDG), should not use P3D. Yet it seems to be the most modern, feature-rich and compatible platform out there. I drool over those screenshots in the new 747 thread, fully aware that it will never look like that in my FSX. It feels like standing in front of a Tesla store and dreaming of a Model X in the garage.

 

Yes, many simmers do not care about the legal side of things (hell, not even some of the developers do), they fork out lots of cash to get their fix (then there is the underground pirate community). But I am starting to feel a bit lost in all of this. What does the developer community expect us to do? Flight simming was always an expensive hobby. But the top end of the market moves ever further out of reach for the average simmer. Switching over from FS9 to FSX was alright, but the price point of everything P3D is obviously aimed at the business world. No way am I paying the price of a dishwasher or gaming console on every upgrade cycle. Even if I had the means, it would be irrational. If this trend continues, I would rather earn a PPL and fly for real. 

 

I am worried about the future of my sim hobby. Please, try to approximate your vision regarding FSX. Disregarding eye-candy, will major advancements be omitted on the legacy platform in future releases? What upgrade path would you recommend for the private consumer?

 

TL;DR

Some poor guy is worried about the lifespan left in FSX and is uncertain on how to proceed. Please advice.

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Hi Alexander,

 

I can't offer too much in the way of answers other than to say that I do (and have for some time) share your concerns about this rush towards P3D as 'the future', particularly in terms of cost structure. In that regard, really, most of the eggs are in the Dovetail FS basket, which is based on the FS core and therefore should be the 'consumer' evolution of FSX, provided that DTG get it right in terms of supporting third-party development and provide a solid, global base product. However, we shall see.

 

However, I did notice one comment...

 

 

 


Flight simming was always an expensive hobby.

 

Now, obviously 'expensive' is a relative term and one man's riches are another man's peanuts. However -- I'm not sure I can agree with you on this.

 

I used to race electric model cars. The chassis alone cost upwards of £200 (and, these days, more like £400), before you even put any equipment in to it. You could then add a good £30-£50 for a motor (which, if you wanted to be competitive, you would likely have to replace several times a season). £150+ for a decent electronic speed controller. Anything from £100 to £1000s for a radio system. Tyres were typically around £20-£40 a set, and at the top end you could burn through two or three sets in a single race meeting. OK, some of those items (radios, ESC etc) were more long-term purchases that you could keep for years (although ESC technology in particular, certainly when I was doing it, was updated fairly regularly and so there would come a point after a couple of years when you would really need to update to stay competitive). New chassis tended to come out every couple of years as well and, again, sooner or later you would have to keep up somewhere near the latest model to stay competitive. Add the cost of replacing broken parts when you ran out of talent, the petrol for driving to race meetings, the odd hotel or camping pass... that was an expensive hobby!

 

Likewise, I've been looking at how much it costs to join the local golf club... safe to say, it would be a lot more than I spend on flight simming annually for a lot fewer hours...

 

Like any hobby, flight simming can be as expensive as you want to make it. If you want to own every payware scenery that comes out, everything that PMDG (and other developers) release, fly it with PFC controls and have hardware MCPs etc, then you can spend a heck of a lot. But for a relatively small outlay on a few things (basic flight controls, a weather engine and a decent aircraft or two) you can have literally thousands and thousands of hours of fun. Loading up FS costs me nothing (electricity excepted); no petrol, no parking fees, no fuel for the aeroplane, no landing/handling/maintenance fees. I can fly all day if I want, burn as much virtual fuel as I like and still have an intact wallet :). If I were to divide the number of hours I've flown (or even the number of flights) by the money I've spent it would work out as a very favourable number, definitely by comparison to many other hobbies.

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If I were to divide the number of hours I've flown (or even the number of flights) by the money I've spent it would work out as a very favourable number, definitely by comparison to many other hobbies.

 

I agree. Think about how many hours you're spending in your sim. When you buy an airplane for your sim. how many hours do you fly it? Divide that with the price and it really isn't that "expensive" when you think about it. After a while you're down to less than one US dollar per hour  :wink:

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Yea, and compare to the price of hunting, fishing, golfing, tickets to college football games, eating out or bar hopping etc. is really that expensive? Of course if you want to go for real world flying and have the cabbage get after it while you can! But even then do you think you'll ever get into the front end of a T7 or 747?

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At the moment I think my 737NGX is costing me some immeasurably small amount per hour, she sees more action than the rest combined. At least, she did before the Saitek yoke became possessed by some act of the robot devil.

 

But I appreciate where the OP is coming from, I have basically stopped all scenery and add on purchases until I have a better idea of which way sim platforms are developing. 64 bit platforms are just a matter of time now, and as I don't want to repurchase add ons for 64 bit compatibility, I will wait to see what develops, and decide which way to move.

 

I do hope that DTG keeps investing in maintaining FSX SE for a long time as I have a really nice set up that I'm happy to keep for as long as the platform remains feasible. But when it comes to new stuff, I'd rather move to a new platform that can utilise 64 bit programs and all the accompanying bells and whistles.

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DTG is not doing anything to FSX other than adopting the improvements already done by the Microsoft Aces Team that didn't make it into an update before closing Aces.  As much as I personally dislike the Steam product channel, FSXSE does represent the best that FSX is going to be.

 

The best that FSX is going to be is good enough for budget minded flight simulation hobbyists in most folks opinion.  If there is a larger budget available then the best option is P3D, which is under continued development and many of the changes already incorporate significant improvements.

 

It simply boils down to individual economics. 

 

As far as cost even for the most expensive P3D solution with a high performance system and big 4K displays, it's very insignificant compared to the cost of most hobbies that require the purchase of equipment and material, even a night at the movies is more expensive per hour.

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One doesn't have to be budget minded to question the sense in buying the same thing twice, it is my intention to populate a future 64 bit sim from whoever with whatever new products are released for a 64 bit platform. Whatever I have for FSX SE, planes and scenery alike, will live and die with that platform. It'll be sad if it comes to that, but what I want from my sim experience can be equally provided by new releases designed for new platforms. Of course, there are any number of assumptions that go into that statement, but I think the current situation in the sim world makes adopting a wait and see approach perfectly reasonable.

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This is not the place for EULA discussion of other products.

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Please, gentlemen. No discussions concerning the EULA. Everyone that's been around here for more than a week knows this.

 

Thanks.

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Please, gentlemen. No discussions concerning the EULA. Everyone that's been around here for more than a week knows this.

 

Thanks.

 

Too right! Anyways, back on topic, Flight Simming is a hobby as others have said. And it really comes down to what its worth to you. Value is subjective depending on who is being asked. 

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Sometimes I wonder, how much more of an improvement we can expect in terms of fidelity and memory usage on the FSX platform, especially regarding future products. The 32bit limit is not going away, unless you change to X-Plane or P3D

 

P3D is still a 32-bit platform; although, I suspect the 64-bit version may not be too far off...

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P3D is still a 32-bit platform; although, I suspect the 64-bit version may not be too far off...

 

Hopefully while we're still in 3.XX!

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I am worried about the future of my sim hobby.

 

I share your concerns. For all the time and money I have invested in FSX add-ons, as well as the significant investment in tweaking a high performance computer around FSX, it makes little sense. I am not going to go to P3D until I have to. That would be something like if PMDG had released the 777 for P3D only. It is what it is, and I have long come to grips that I have to tough it out (which has led to habits like saving my flight 10x before the takeoff roll and every hour until ToD).

 

Beyond P3d, when I look at X-Plane, I want to vomit. It looks like a comic book in there. In a similar vein, I see the differences in P3D on YouTube, but there must be a significant "amount" that is "lost" in the transfer from the sim itself to a video / image online. Frankly, it looks better. But I don't see the "wow!" part. I'm not denying the superior performance of P3D, I just need to see it in person.

 

Here's a noob question: how about DCS? I have never seen it in person but have been on the fence for years about making that investment (I REALLY want that A-10C and campaigns). Would something like that be feasible? For example, terrain textures and stuff look pretty blah, but that would be a new market for REX, AS, etc. Perhaps that's what is already going on with X-Plane, but like I said above, I cringe every time I see the X-Plane world.

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...

Sorry but I call BS.

 

Apart from the dubious legal opinions which you should know better then to raise here, making suggestions such "Switching over from FS9 to FSX was alright, but the price point of everything P3D ..." just flies in the face of reality. I don't know if you are just too young to remember, or so old that your memory is going, but just in this century alone, if you started with FS2000, even if you skipped FS2002, you would still have needed to not only replace all your software when you upgraded to FS2004, but you would have needed to spend at least $2000 on a new computer to run it! That would get you a pretty decent dishwasher and all the gaming consoles you could want! One of the reasons that FSX was a failure was the reluctance of many FS2004 users to take the same pain upgrading to FSX meant it never returned its investment. Granted, the move from FSX to P3D or X-plane is not cheap, but it is a great deal cheaper then previous upgrades because your existing hardware is still good, and you have a reasonable chance (tough not a certainty) that your investment will be good for a few years at least.

 

In answer to your question on the future of FSX, FSX is dead! It still exists because it provides an excellent and cheap introduction to flight simming but it is locked down by limits that seemed reasonable over a decade ago, and that means it has no future. That leaves you with three choices; 1) go do something else, 2) put up with what you have got until something significant changes, or 3) support P3D or X-Plane ecosystem (or both) in the hope that one or other will give you the future you want to be in.

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@William Ezzell, You can try DCS World for free, the base game with the SU-25 is freely downloadable, then the modules are extra from there. Granted the stock SU-25 doesn't have the fidelity of the other modules such as the A-10C or MiG-21 but its a good intro to see if you can run it well, its a bit of a beast. They are pricey normally but frequently go on sale for as much as 70% off. I would recommend the standalone version over Steam, as the Steam version is slower on updates and availability of new modules. And as a bonus, modules bought through Steam sales can be activated on the Standalone install, but not the other way around.

 

One cool thing too, PilotEdge will soon be supporting DCS World with the A-10C I believe on the Nevada map.

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New chassis tended to come out every couple of years as well and, again, sooner or later you would have to keep up somewhere near the latest model to stay competitive.

 

See and the same is true for flight sims. You are in a race to keep your sim up to date and the experience fresh. The "thousands of hours" argument is very theoretical. I do have hundreds of hours in my FSX log, but on a variety of aircraft and routes. Who would ever want to fly the same aircraft between a token few destinations for their whole simming careeer? In reality, people buy newly released scenery and aircraft when they are released and never get "thousands of hours" out of them. So people are spending hundreds of dollars every year. This is not a stab at developers and their pricing, it is what it is for several reasons. 

 

Yes, there are way more expensive hobbies, still we are talking about a consumer grade simulation here and P3D is everything but that (officially). I am not going to discuss the content of the EULA, [MOD: original text then continued to discuss the content of the EULA. Removed.]

 

So in the end it is up to DTG to provide the next big thing and that is a bit worrying, considering their policy with other products. 

 

At some point, FSX will be left behind for the sake of technological improvement. I just want to know if this is happening sooner or later. PMDG are one of the few people that could comment on that, with all their insight of the market. The 747v3 is a must-have for me, but how long until we will see features omitted on the old platform?

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The 747v3 is a must-have for me, but how long until we will see features omitted on the old platform?

 

Not asking about the 747. I know Robert has said there are new and cool features with this product, but are those limited to P3D? I'm not asking PMDG or you, as I don't think there's been any detail in that regard and I'm well aware of PMDG's update policy.

 

What exactly does P3D offer? I understand the graphics are more appealing. However, as you can see with my post above, I question how much better. For example, when I look at the 747 screenshots posted a few days ago, I don't see much of a difference. With Inspector, REX, and Active Sky, mine looks pretty close. I intend to get DirectX Fixer to give me the shade effects. This isn't a knock on P3D - I genuinely ask - what are the things that I would notice immediately?

 

I have some performance issues from time to time. OOMs are rare (but I save progress for that or freezes). I sometimes have slow FPS at Taxi2Gate or FlightBeam airfields when my viewpoint includes the PMDG 777 displays and the scenery (like on a takeoff roll). But it's something I have learned to live with and doesn't bother me that much. 

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I genuinely ask - what are the things that I would notice immediately?

 

The visual differences are immediate and stunning.  DX11 is that big of deal and their HDR is pretty good,  plus they are using the GPU so now you can balance work between CPU and GPU.  That fake head movement effect is gone.  Performance has gotten steadily better and better and they continue to improve it.  They have a game controller interface that is Direct3D compliant and works well without the need for FSUIPC although Pete Dowson collaborates with LM and his latest versions are fully P3D compliant.  The list is pretty long. Check out their web site.

 

Basically you are comparing a 6+ yr old application with a current one.

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NOTE: I'm watching. I woke up to a [stuff]storm of [stuff] that I had to remove this morning for delving into That Which Must Not Be Named. Seeing that I'm on vacation, the threshold for using my Førumner is rather low (for those who don't get that, it's a portmanteau: Mjølner is is Thor's hammer).

 

 

 

For those calling FSX dead, I will disagree with you there. Sure, the environment no longer being developed, but that's not something that's unique. In the past, as soon as a version was complete and a service pack or two was out, it was onto the next one. By the same definition, that would be "dead," but nobody brought it up in the same light. If Microsoft brought a bunch of innovations into the new release that broke backward compatibility for some of the more detailed add-ons, then that usually meant buying your entire fleet again. Sucked, but that was the reality. There were benefits to that: new innovations and so on; there were also drawbacks: the lifespan of a certain platform was about two years, though developers would usually release for N and N-1 (and occasionally N-2, depending on the complexities), and about every other cycle meant re-buying (or dropping) things due to the tech changes.

 

I doubt FSX will truly "die off" until there's some definitive entertainment-realm sim to replace it (then again, we still get chuckleheads asking if our stuff will be FS2004 compatible, so even that isn't completely dead). FSX:SE gave it a morphine shot in the leg and a few optimizations along with it. We have some interesting developments in X-Plane 11, and we also have the DTG Flight Sim up ahead of us.

 

For X-Plane, I'm honestly not quite sure what William is aiming at when he's calling it worthy of regurgitation. The aircraft may be a bit cartoony (currently), but the environment is pretty stellar. It's magnitudes better than FSX at altitude (for free), even when compared to the various (paid) add-ons to improve the FSX environment. It feels a little bit less "on rails" as well, which adds to the experience. Looking at the features of XPL 11, I think that they may end up converting a number of people as they've addressed a lot of the main complaints that people have raised over the years (no aircraft shine, interface issues, sound environment, and so on). XPL already has a 64 bit version too, which is nice.

 

For the upcoming DTG sim, those who have flown Flight School have probably gotten a preview of what you might see in the full sim coming out later. The community hasn't heard too much about it, though, so we shall see. Seeing the improvements in Flight School, I'm hopeful that the full sim will do well too. I believe it'll be 64 bit out of the gates (Flight School is), which will be nice as it gives people a buffer on the VAS limit.

 

 

 

 

In any case, I'm not really seeing a reason to be scared of what is ahead. The only difference between now and then is we haven't had to pay for a new sim version (and the occasional add-on) every two years since about 2006 (within the FSX ecosystem - P3D is ESP, and ESP was a separate ecosystem, unless you were running ESP when ESP was ESP). So, despite the lack of platform progress, we've had it pretty good regarding the typical costs of the hobby since FSX came out and nothing replaced it.

 

Also: getting into real world flying to stave off flight sim cravings is a losing battle. I wouldn't recommend it. If you really want to fly, then absolutely go for it, but if the reason is to save money, that ain't gonna happen...believe you me...that ain't gonna happen.

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For X-Plane, I'm honestly not quite sure what William is aiming at when he's calling it worthy of regurgitation. The aircraft may be a bit cartoony (currently), but the environment is pretty stellar. It's magnitudes better than FSX at altitude (for free), even when compared to the various (paid) add-ons to improve the FSX environment. It feels a little bit less "on rails" as well, which adds to the experience. Looking at the features of XPL 11, I think that they may end up converting a number of people as they've addressed a lot of the main complaints that people have raised over the years (no aircraft shine, interface issues, sound environment, and so on). XPL already has a 64 bit version too, which is nice.

I'm glad you are talking positively about XP and I'm looking forward to PMDG's future development for it. I assume you can't say, but do you know if PMDG has worked with Laminar Research at all on anything related to XP11? If I remember correctly, you were in contact with Laminar Research to add a few features needed for the DC-6, so I was just interested. 

 

P.s sorry if this is slightly off topic

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One of the reasons that FSX was a failure was the reluctance of many FS2004 users to take the same pain upgrading to FSX meant it never returned its investment. Granted, the move from FSX to P3D or X-plane is not cheap, but it is a great deal cheaper then previous upgrades because your existing hardware is still good, and you have a reasonable chance (tough not a certainty) that your investment will be good for a few years at least.

 

In answer to your question on the future of FSX, FSX is dead!

For a failure FSX has done remarkably well. Still selling copies ten years on. I'd guess many more copies than FS9 sold. Did MSFS ever give Microsoft a return in any of its forms? I doubt it, it was something of a marketing tool.

 

My move to FSX wasn't that expensive because I chose not to try and set the sliders all the way to the right. Microsoft always intended FSX to be a sim that had potential to get better as hardware improved.

 

As Kyle said, FSX isn't dead. The products still being developed and launched for it prove that.

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For those calling FSX dead, I will disagree with you there. Sure, the environment no longer being developed, but that's not something that's unique. In the past, as soon as a version was complete and a service pack or two was out, it was onto the next one. By the same definition, that would be "dead," but nobody brought it up in the same light. If Microsoft brought a bunch of innovations into the new release that broke backward compatibility for some of the more detailed add-ons, then that usually meant buying your entire fleet again. Sucked, but that was the reality. There were benefits to that: new innovations and so on; there were also drawbacks: the lifespan of a certain platform was about two years, though developers would usually release for N and N-1 (and occasionally N-2, depending on the complexities), and about every other cycle meant re-buying (or dropping) things due to the tech changes.

I think we are saying much the same thing in different ways. A two year cycle to stay latest and a four year cycle to stay in contention, but beyond four years and you where just behind the times. Of course there would still be some new stuff for your platform on the market every now and again, and of course they would usually be better then what came before, (how long has it been since the MD-11?) but attempts to demand support and updates from suppliers would be met with chuckles if not derision. Had that cycle continued, FSX would be a dim and distant memory four or five versions behind the times. It would probably be described as 'good in its day' by its fans and 'over ambitious' by most others but nobody would seriously entertain the thought of actually still trying to use it anymore then people would load up a copy of FS2000 to fly the Concorde.

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In answer to your question on the future of FSX, FSX is dead! It still exists because it provides an excellent and cheap introduction to flight simming but it is locked down by limits that seemed reasonable over a decade ago, and that means it has no future.

 

Hah! There are still a few years in FSX. http://forum.aerosoft.com/index.php?/topic/115546-annual-poll-on-platform/ suggests that with Aerosoft customers, currently P3D and FSX are level. As not so many are switching over 30% of the community will use FSX next year. In lands other than Europe and US, many people are not even into FSX but are using FS9.

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So, despite the lack of platform progress, we've had it pretty good regarding the typical costs of the hobby since FSX came out and nothing replaced it.

 

+1

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