Chock

Why I didn't buy FSW (LOL)

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After a week and a bit of playing around with Flight Sim World, largely forced upon me by having been incapacitated and forced to recuperate at home, but what the hell eh? When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. So I figured I'm sort of familiar enough with it to do, not so much a review, more of a 'my impressions of it so far' post, so for anyone interested, here goes...

First, a bit of clarification: As per the title, I actually didn't buy FSW, since it was a 'freebie' from having purchased Flight School (technically that means I sort of did pay for it, since Flight School has kind of morphed into becoming FSW, even though I can still of course play Flight School if I want to, but there you go). In some sense that kind of confirmed what I had expressed in the past, that is to say, Flight School was kind of more in the nature of a technology demonstrator/test for DTG of what they might do with developing a 64 bit version of an ESP-based sim, with some lessons thrown in so that it could also be packaged as a product that can be sold. Of course we'll probably never have DTG acknowledge that is what its main purpose was, but it remains my contention, after all, they would have needed more than mere enthusiasm and fast talk in order to get Orbx, A2A etc on board for creating FSW, and we can see that some aspects of Flight School are not merely similar to FSW, but identical, for example the ab initio training lessons at White Waltham in the Piper Super Cub are identical, they even have much the same load screens. But, I've never really understood why people complained about Flight School, to me it was always rather obvious what its purpose was, and even that being the case, it does what it says on the tin, having some fun and challenging lessons and missions which I may be accused of doing something of a disservice to by saying that they were 'thrown into Flight School' as the voice acting and content of them is indicative of more than something they simply dashed out quickly. Anyway...

As far as Flight Sim World is concerned (personally, I'd have called it Simulator Expansion X myself, just so it could have SEX as its acronym lol), since it expands upon what was done with the Steam Edition of Flight Simulator X, is what one might call the spiritual successor to MSFS, or at least the early access iteration of it. Depending on how that goes, and what features are added, removed, tweaked or whatever, one might retrospectively come to regard the early access as either a public pre alpha, an alpha, or beta test, although I would say alpha, merely because the final features of what will be a release version are not generally locked in until beta testing begins. Suffice to say that we are playing around with something which is clearly going to change as time goes by, with it already having had a small update within the space of a week from it initially becoming available. Anyway, with all those caveats and whatnot clarified, on to what I think of it..

Although some people apparently had to endure a fairly slow download from Steam, most people reported that FSW came down the pipe pretty quickly; that was certainly true in my case and this in itself was a good start given that the FSW folder is a not inconsiderable size (about 40Gb). These days, after having purchased some sims or games via a digital download system such as Steam, one can find oneself dreading the D/L and installation process when looking at that screen which says something like: Download progress 10Mb/45Gb, time remaining, three days lol. The first patch too was a miniscule one which came down the pipe in a matter of seconds.

Firing FSW up shows a revised and more contemporary GUI than previous iterations of FS, it's very clean and for the most point intuitive. Having said that, personally, I do actually like the well compartmentalised clarity of the original FSX GUI, so I'm less than thrilled to see it go, but I guess I will get used to it and I've no real burning dislike of the newer screens. It remains to be seen how well they age of course, graphic trends come and go, right now everything is all rounded-edged buttons and smart-phone-like icons for most software, but like all those buildings thrown up in the Seventies which now look dated and ugly to contemporary eyes, the same may prove to be true of that smart phone look, not that DTG could not change it were that to prove the case. Less pleasing to me is the considerably chopped down amount of sliders with which one can tweak performance. We may of course see these return, since this is an early access release and there is plenty of room on the GUI for such things to be added.

Like most flight simmers who have spent the past 20 years learning far more than they ever really wanted to know about how to tweak things to gain performance, and as a result becoming intimately familiar with what the difference between tesselation and anisotropic antialiasing is, I don't feel the need to be protected from being able to tweak such things with a dumbed-down graphic settings page. Interestingly, Laminar Research have done that too on version 11's GUI, which I found bizarre to say the least, because if anyone is used to DIY on their sims, it is X-Plane users, most of them make their own scenery for Chrissakes, so I think they can understand a few graphics sliders lol.

Anyhow, notwithstanding the chopped down options, cranking up either a free flight or a mission or a lesson in FSW, I found that it loaded quickly and in this case I do actually prefer the graphic look of the load screen; a little animated aeroplane icon whizzing around in a circle is a good visual indicator of whether one's program is struggling to load or not, or locked up or whatever and this is infintely preferable to a percentage progress bar on a black screen. As noted, FSW does seems to load a bit quicker than FSX-SE to me, although it would be difficult to make an accurate comparison without having the same settings, aircraft, scenery etc installed in both sims.

Upon loading up, one was immediately struck by the blindingly white runway, a feature which thankfully got toned down in that first small patch, although I think it could do with maybe a little further tweak. What is also immediately apparent is that this thing has more autogen than you can shake a stick at, even on minimal graphic slider settings it still kicks a lot of it in, this being overlaid on photoscenery with texture shadows. The overall look of this is one which works well at various altitudes and it is not a million miles away from my own personal preference for scenery in FSX-SE, where I have phototerrain with custom autogen over the top of it, something I spent a lot of time and not an inconsiderable amount of cash to achieve in FSX, so for me personally, to see this occurring by default in FSW is a big positive for it. Another graphic whistle which immediately grabs one's attention is the rainfall effect on the windscreens. This is well on par with that in XP 11 (i.e. excellent). Over the years, some people have really got a weed up their arse about wanting this effect, so if you are one of those people, that is sure to please. It's not perfect however, open the DV panel in a VC and you will see those raindrops magically crossing the bit where there is no longer any perspex, it having been opened (a glitch I reported incidentally, so you don't have to). Still, all in all the graphics are colourful, generally pleasing and feature some nice touches.

Many of the aeroplanes in FSW are Carenado models, and so they of course look great, however at this stage there are many anomalies in functionality of systems, for example, try getting the nav lights on without also having the VC panel light on, or try to make adjustments to the autopilot functions and you will find much of this is either intermittently functional or just plain not possible. I have not taken the trouble to report this as a bug or glitch, since it is so widespread across the sim that one cannot imagine it is anything other than a sim-wide feature having been either removed or balked and so I expect they'll get around to sorting it. Since we are taking about GA aeroplanes being the content of FSW, such glitches do not actually prevent one from flying around, since most GA stuff involves a lot of hand flying. Nevertheless, the somewhat iffy autopilot functionality can make longer flights a bit of a pain in the arse to achieve. As far as hand-flying goes though, FSW seems to make a decent job of it, no doubt aided by the built-in functionality of A2A's AccuFeel.

At the point where there are no add-ons available and no additional aeroplanes or utilities either (unless one starts indulging in a bit of creative DIY), a big plus is the missions and lessons when testing the waters in FSW. Most of these are fun and challenging. Some are really great, such as the mission, 'At a Stretch', where you have to glide a Super Cub over some mountains to reach an airfield after you run out of gas, however I did actually post a bug report on one of them, namely the last of the Piper Super Cub flying lessons where one takes a 'test' to gain a 'Light Aircraft Licence', the parameters for which are clearly busted to hell: No matter how accurately I rolled out onto the requested headings on that test, the AI instructor insisted I had messed it up to the point where one was looking in disbelief at the DI nailed perfectly on the requested heading as the AI examiners says, 'I'm sorry you've failed', leaving me thinking: '##### are you on about?! Are you on crack or something? That's goddam perfect. I didn't even do it that well on my real PPL test and passed that with flying colours' lol. So yes, there is a lot of fun to be had with missions and lessons even whilst content is limited in FSW.

Performance even on one of my older computers is very good and I've literally never had it crash or go out of memory, and this I imagine is before they've even optimised it as best they can, so that part bodes well. In short, I think DTG are off to a good start with Flight Sim World. It will be a good while before it becomes a go to sim, since it is still limited in content, but I can certainly see the day when it might be that for me if it keeps progressing. For 20 quid (or free if you bought Flight School), it's definitely worth a look and since both LM and DTG are now in the 64 bit ESP-based flight sim business, they will presumably be a spur to one another as far as performance and features go, so the future looks quite bright to me.

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Wow! Wall of text! 
You may have to warn people in the first paragraph... :biggrin:

Thanks for the insights, Chock. Always a pleasure.

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The aircraft are a total mess at this stage. Nothing in the VC works as expected. This is the last of the problems for FSW, though, I understand that the development team has bigger and more urgent issues to solve now.
I have an idea: when the time comes, I'll propose a fundraising to have Bert Pieké two days at DTG. I am absolutely sure that this would be enough to have all the stock hangar in perfect shape for the market. Jokes apart, I think all aircraft have great potential for a default stock, yet they all need a serious rework.

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Why I didn't buy FSW.

And no, I really have not bought it.  Why?  Because my computer fails to meet the bare minimum requirements, that's why. :biggrin:

I am watching the progress of FSW and P3D v4 to see which one will actually be better for me.  As for the Carenado made products not working correctly in FSW, well, they don't exactly work perfectly in their native FSX either, so color me "not surprised".  We'll see how all of this sorts out over the coming months.

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5 minutes ago, stans said:

Why?  Because my computer fails to meet the bare minimum requirements, that's why. :biggrin:

I am watching the progress of FSW and P3D v4 to see which one will actually be better for me.  As for the Carenado made products not working correctly in FSW, well, they don't exactly work perfectly in their native FSX either, so color me "not surprised".  We'll see how all of this sorts out over the coming months.

I'm running it on a computer that doesn't reach the minimum specs either (ATI Radeon 6900 with 2Gb of vram) and it still runs okay as evidenced by my Steam stats telling me I've apparently played it for 58 hours and gained 70 percent of the lesson badges.

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I borrowed a few words from Chock

"Less pleasing to me is the considerably chopped down amount of sliders with which one can tweak performance. We may of course see these return, since this is an early access release and there is plenty of room on the GUI for such things to be added."

I'm hoping to get back some sliders, after all with them we have a greater control of how to optimize things.
I am also below minimum requirements, my computer is not new, the sliders that were removed help a lot, but I have had a good time with FSW.
Maybe until the end of the week, a few more modifications, I have a great, great hope of the youngest grandson of MS FSX!

 

João Alfredo

 

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I think regarding the omission of the sliders for graphical functions, in some of the EA titles I've seen the sliders are the last things to be enabled. Especially early on, while features are being worked on, having to maintain and test the results of those features against sliders/graphical options is going to increase testing massively. The UI being mobile friendly with the missing sliders indicates that maybe the sliders were left out perminantly. However I don't believe this to be the case, once the product is closer to release these sliders and graphical options I'm sure will return.

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30 minutes ago, dtrjones said:

I think regarding the omission of the sliders for graphical functions, in some of the EA titles I've seen the sliders are the last things to be enabled. Especially early on, while features are being worked on, having to maintain and test the results of those features against sliders/graphical options is going to increase testing massively. The UI being mobile friendly with the missing sliders indicates that maybe the sliders were left out perminantly. However I don't believe this to be the case, once the product is closer to release these sliders and graphical options I'm sure will return.

Yup, that's my supposition too. In fact I would not even be surprised if some bits intended to be in the final version of FSW are not yet '64 bit-ized' from their FSX original state, as it it easy to break things when making such a conversion and requires some testing to ensure that is not something which has occurred. So it would kind of make sense (to me at least) for its changeover to be somewhat compartmentalised where that developmental stuff is concerned, so they can test it all out properly. I am in no rush for it to be completed, I've got plenty of nice sims to play with and I would rather they get it right than release something fully which did not come up to snuff. It's fun to play with in the meantime of course.

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