Sticky

The State of Flight Simming

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I know this subject has been discussed a few times, but I'm curious if opinions have changed with FSW being discontinued. 

Is the cost to develop a flight sim becoming to high for our community?  Is our community aging and shrinking?  Are there enough new people interested? Will another home PC flight simulation developer quit in the near future? Basically, is our hobby doomed in the long run?

I'm not trying to sound like chicken little, but I think FSW ending is a significant indicator. 

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There already is a major discussion going on about this topic in the FSW forum.  I would rather not have to lock this topic.

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Oh, well.... I mean it as big picture, not a complaining fest about Dovetail.

Edited by Sticky
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Generally speaking the costs of development for the plethora of extant sim versions has been going up for the past few years, so I for one am not all that sorrowful to see one of the contenders for my attention fall by the wayside. It simply means I can spend more time on the surviving platforms... :biggrin:

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10 minutes ago, Sticky said:

Oh, well.... I mean it as big picture, not a complaining fest about Dovetail.

That will be perfectly fine, then. As long as this topic doesn't focus solely on FSW going out of business.

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Sometimes competition is good and everyone gets better, and sometimes it saturates a market and consumers are spread too thin. 

I wonder if it's sign that it is simply unfeasible for a developer to invest hundreds of thousands for a market that is shrinking.  I see this as just the first to fall. Honesty, I would be surprised if Lockheed P3D can't justify to cost...let alone enhance the ATC. 

Maybe I'm just being dramatic. 

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It has concerned me that Lockheed Martin is such a big fish and P3D such a small skinny worm...

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10 minutes ago, Sticky said:

Honesty, I would be surprised if Lockheed P3D can't justify to cost...let alone enhance the ATC. 

Maybe I'm just being dramatic. 

In the case of L-M certainly you are. Were we the target for them you might have a valid concern, but quite frankly we "casual simmers" represent at most the cranberry sauce at a lavish Thanksgiving dinner! While it is a nice little addition to the feast, it is not the least bit essential.

On the other hand, the developers who support P3D are most definitely appreciated, as we collectively represent several hundred years of experience at their disposal... :laugh:

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Interesting,

I hope P3D flight simulation offerings are doing well in it's central market place among the real-world flight instruction and educational aviation industries. Does anyone here know how they are doing outside of our own circles?

Other than the strictly controlled P3D webpage, is there much notice or information elsewhere?

Kind regards,

Spirit Flyer 

Stephen

 

Edited by SpiritFlyer

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I share @Sticky's concerns, flight simulation's entry barriers are higher than ever, where will the next generation of flight simmers come from?

With FSW's demise, the only current consumer flight simulator is Xplane11. As enthusiast simmers drop out of the hobby I worry they are not being replaced, are we a dying breed?

Edited by ckyliu

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Nobody will dare to say what is really missing in Flight Simulators today, not even they and do something about it and cash in all that money laughing all the way to their bank. Like an almost Free Will-y fashion? Yeap!

Nothing we can do until then if there is an ever then, again.

Cheers,

 

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1 hour ago, n4gix said:

Generally speaking the costs of development for the plethora of extant sim versions has been going up for the past few years, so I for one am not all that sorrowful to see one of the contenders for my attention fall by the wayside. It simply means I can spend more time on the surviving platforms... :biggrin:

Sir, as usual, you are correct! The state of our hobby is actually just a little bit stronger today than last Friday. 

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Making third-party developers spread their resources over too many different sims drives their costs up, too.  I think for some, even supporting 2 different architectures is a lot to ask.

Really, I think our hobby is doing real good; we have nice 64-bit sims, some really amazing new planes and sceneries, and hardware that can run them smoothly.  \o/

Edited by Buffy Foster
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7 minutes ago, Buffy Foster said:

Really, I think our hobby is doing real good; we have nice 64-bit sims, some really amazing new planes and sceneries, and hardware that can run them smoothly.  \o/

+1  At the end of the day, this sums it all up nicely for those of us deeply embedded in the flight simulation experience.  I see nothing but sunny skies ahead.  Competitors will come and go, and that is healthy.  In the meantime, we have some solid platforms to sink our teeth into, and what's better... they are continuing to be developed.  These are good times for the flight sim community.

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I can assure you (based on actual stats and sales figures) on the P3D side of things the community is growing.. and has been at a continuous rate for quite some time now. I don't foresee P3D going down anytime soon, quite the opposite actually. We've seen a large influx of FSX users recently switch over to P3D which is very nice for ease of development. 

So if you hear gloom and doom talk about flight-simming (especially P3D) definitely take it with a grain of salt. 

Edited by Mir // Flightbeam
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2 hours ago, Sticky said:

I know this subject has been discussed a few times, but I'm curious if opinions have changed with FSW being discontinued. 

Is the cost to develop a flight sim becoming to high for our community?  Is our community aging and shrinking?  Are there enough new people interested? Will another home PC flight simulation developer quit in the near future? Basically, is our hobby doomed in the long run?

I'm not trying to sound like chicken little, but I think FSW ending is a significant indicator. 

I dont think so, Laminar and LM are way different in "modus operandi" comparing to Dovetail Games.

The market is still growing for both P3D and X-plane, and i think the future is very good for flight simming...we cant forget that FSW appeared 1 month before P3D v4 and XP 11 as a new product with a very hard task to compete with those 2 giants that had a lot of followers already, i would say that FSW was doomed from the start!

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3 hours ago, n4gix said:

but quite frankly we "casual simmers" represent at most the cranberry sauce at a lavish Thanksgiving dinner!

I’ve often thought that LM regarded us as paying beta testers. I assumed their commercial and professional customers were paying more and expecting more so they would use as to find the glaring bugs before releasing to the demanding high dollar customers. Just an assumption on my part.

Regarding ATC, if LM wanted to develop some ATC training software, who better to start off with us until the product is polished enough to release to the more critical professionals?

My only concern is that a day comes when LM decides P3D is so good they don’t need us anymore and raises the price exponentially.

Ted

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My transition to P3D over FSW was driven by two factors, first one was all my ORBX scenery was ready to use with P3D, the other was I mostly use the PMDG NGX. With those two missing links FSW was never going to be an option for me. I did want to support them but I wasn't going to use a sim that wasn't supported by key developers. I am grateful to have P3D for that. Hopefully now DTG can better support their Train Sims instead

Edited by Matthew Kane

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I am sure that if P3D were to open up their market to the general simmer they would probably make a killing.  

However I still feel that it is like closed shop, and those that are in want to keep the others out.  

Just as a matter of interest how would LM know if you were a Company/Student if you tried to buy it.

 

Chandyrauf

 

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1 minute ago, Chandyrauf said:

Just as a matter of interest how would LM know if you were a Company/Student if you tried to buy it.

 

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Well, I just heard about FSW closing down and have read all of the comments so far regarding that and flight-simming in general.  I have had two main thoughts for a long time about the flight-sim situation.  These are:  (1) I think one big thing that has hurt flight-simming, at least in the earlier stages maybe not as much in the last few years, is that when a person bought a sim they couldn't/can't get it to really run properly without jumping through all sorts of hoops and almost being a computer programmer to get things right.  It's very frustrating to buy a sim or aircraft and have basic things like switches operating backwords, avionics that don't quite work correctly (and the user sometimes spends many hours thinking it is their fault when the problem is really in the programming), and basic sim functions such as ground handling,etc. given little attention.  I always invisioned  a grandma thinking it would be a good idea to buy Johnny a flightsim (assuming Johnny is not 6 yrs. old) and when he tries to fly it he gets a max of 10 FPS (especially in MSFS days) and other thing don't work.  Unless, he is really into messing with computers AND is aware of where to go for help he's just going to give up and say the program was a piece of junk.  And, so there goes another potential hobbyist.

AND (2) Certainly not all, but it seems like a lot of simmers are very tight-fisted when it comes to the money aspect of this hobby.  They want more and more accuracy, features, cosmetics, and constant free upgrades, but if they have to spend $5 more they complain.  Damn, it costs MONEY to develop this stuff, certainly to the level that most seem to want.  Word processors cost more than we pay for a flightsim and I'm guessing that they don't take any more effort/expense to develop (at least at this stage of the game) than a top-level flightsim.   Like most people, I'm not eager to spend money, but people need to realize what it takes to reach a certain level of sophistication that is being desired.  I've often said that it's too bad everyone can't be required to own/run a business for at least 6 months to see what it's all about and it would probably stop a lot of the unfounded complaining.

Maybe the number of active simmers is holding its own right now and is enough to support at least two platforms, according to what some people are saying, but I can't help believe it's not what it used to be or could be.

Jeff Smith

Edited by JNS
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 I thought about this topic today and went back and did some searching from the 1990's up to 2005 and than we had Microprose and Origin and Microsoft. The flight simulations were many and very good. Our times changed with 9/11 and how the public viewed flight sims in my opinion. My last flight sim conference I went to was Avsim in Denver 2004 and it was great. I went online and found a lot of those games and they will run on newer systems with Dosbox.  I hope that the flight sim community keeps getting stronger.

 

JeffG

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3 minutes ago, JNS said:

Maybe the number of active simmers is holding its own right now and is enough to support at least two platforms, according to what some people are saying, but I can't help believe it's not what it used to be or could be.

If you base you trust on Forums and get your news from CNN,CBS,NBCand ABC then you are pretty much going to worry that #1 Flight Simming in coming to an end and......

#2 It does not matter...The world is coming to an end.

Think about it....If Flight Simming is a "dying" market then why would someone like DTG borrow or invest vast amounts of money in this project. They have been suspected of not being the sharpest knife in the kitchen but they must have seen a chance to pick up a lot of nickles and dimes from someone.

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I don't know if the flightsim community is aging and shrinking, but I hope it isn't.  The commercial vendors would be the ones to ask about this as they can tell by their sales how well things are going, and I'm talking here about the big ones like Lockheed Martin, Xplane, PMDG, ORBX, Aerosoft, etc.

All I know is that the core FSX platform is still pretty darn good and really just needs updating and improving.  Yes, it would be nice to have a brand new simulator platform with all the latest tech and bells and whistles, but that takes a lot of time and money to develop.

At least in the medium term the future of flight simulation looks pretty good.  In the case of scenery, for example, just look at what ORBX is working on with their TrueEarth offerings - pretty nice I'd say.  Also looking forward to PMDG's announcement as whatever it is it's bound to be good.

Dave

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I feel flight simulation is more healthy today that it was in 2005. However, we have a few factors involved:

1.  The adoption of console games and 3D shooters and "why can't my flight simulator look that good"?  Answer is it can look that good IF you have 1 PT (not TB but PT) of SSD or better disk space available, a few high end GPUs, OC'd CPUs, and supporting networked PCs.  Console = $300, Flight simulator PC $1500 minimum on upwards of $20,000+ ... cost to "simulate" is considerably higher than the cost to "play".

2.  Hardware limits, technology has advanced considerably since 2005, but hardware capacity and performance is still not there yet and high end GPUs are considerably more expensive today ($3000) than in 2005 ($500).

3.  The "draw" to complexity and reading manuals and figuring out how stuff works seems to have diminished over the years where instant gratification appears to have gained in desire/popularity (not judging anyone, just stating what I've observed over the decades).  

Personally I see a huge positive momentum in "simulation" with many more titles being released today than ever before ... titles that cover a wide range from purpose driven such as AirHauler or FSPassenger to the incredible complexity of FSLabs A320 and many companies have provided future road maps of their planned products ... these are all healthy signs.  Now that the memory limits are no more (more accurately tied to how much RAM and/or VRAM one has installed) the possibilities are endless?  Maybe add a train/bus/car simulator add-on that can interact with the FS world ... just think, explore the $1000 worth of scenery one has purchased from ground level rather than 30,000 ft below a hazing layer where one can't really see it during most of one's flight?  Can't tell you how many high quality airports I haven't fully explored yet and all I've done is just fly in/out (runway, taxi, gate) and nothing else ... I'm missing 60% of what I paid for.  Products are being released and updated so fast that I honestly have a hard time keeping up.

I recall one user/member comment from some time ago saying "the entire world isn't loaded in a flight simulator", actually the entire world IS loaded in a flight simulator ... it has to be as you can't just stop flight and wait 30-60 seconds (usually covered with render fixed/non-interactive animated sequence) for the "next level" to load like what we see in 3D shooters.  This is why the graphics quality has to be reduced in order to manage such huge amount of texture and object data with the implementation of a LOD radius to manage detail.

IMHO, Flight Simulators are light years ahead of any 3D shooter in what they can do and accomplish with their flexibility ... if not sure, surf thru their respective SDK/PDK's and be astonished at the flexibility.  What P3D and XP11 offer is a core for which to expand on and build an ecosystem.  From a developer's perspective, I completely agree, ONE platform would be desirable because that means a developer doesn't have to figure out how each platforms works in order to provide content.  Somewhat anti-competitive, but when the overall market is small (for reasons #1-3 above) "relative" to 3D shooter A titles, combination of resources can make for the best end user experience.

Re-writing from ground up is not needed, and would be costly and very time consuming and most likely many of the same design decisions.  Best way forward is careful, methodical, and planned changes to existing platforms to leverage new hardware, new graphics API, new CPUs ... this is happening, slowly, but at least the ball is rolling.

Cheers, Rob. 

  

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