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FS11: Has development started?

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Just curious about this. I'm sure all actual coding work at the moment will be focused on SP1, DX10, Adrenaline etc. But I'd be interested to know if FS11 has been kicked off at least as a drawing board project yet, or even just as a bucket of ideas that are too big to put in SP1.I guess we can only speculate on what it might look like or what new features it might have. Of course I came to FSX straight from FS2000, so I guess I may have to manage my expectations a little bit. :)

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I would imagine that there have been some discussions regarding features to be included in the scope of the new version. Who knows, maybe there has been a little bit of prototyping or proof of concept work.I would hope that upcoming features for FS11 would take advantage of current and near term technology advancements such as 64 bit computing, SLI, multiple cores, and maybe DX11. I think many of us would love to see some sort of convergence with FS11 and Google Earth or Microsoft Virtual Earth, a much improved ATC experience, and more realistic weather.Can't see a new version, however, released for about another 3-4 years, but when it is released, I would love to see the app take a huge leap rather than an incremental step. Just my two cents.

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Mike707,Well said reply. As far as ideas and design I would like to hope they are in the works but as far as any type of coding, I hope that ACES holds off until DX10 and Vista have their bugs worked out. That way FS11 can at least be coded with a clean and stable technology base.

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I would agree, and I don't think any type of coding that would make it into the production code base has been created, just maybe some prototyping, but who knows. It would be really interesting to be a fly on the wall to hear the conversations that are taking place at Aces regarding the next release, but at the moment I am sure they are talking a lot more about the X-Pack and DX10 release.Hopefully they are taking a lot of the lessons learned from the FS10 release and applying these lessons learned to the FS11 release. The unfortunate thing is there are so many good features that have not had the postitive attention that they normally would have received due to the performance issues related to FS10. Hopefully FS10 gets the credit it deserves after SP1 comes out. I remember when FS2004 came out and reading a lot of posts of people deleting FS2002 from their system. I did not see too much of that this time around.

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The real question is to ask is has Microsoft committed to a new version of Flight Simulator?The time must (has?) come when Microsoft feels that Flight Simulator has reached the practical limit of what can be achieved without a major re-write - perhaps even having to re-code the whole application. At that time, the decision is likely to be purely commercial. Will sales of the new version justify the expense of writing it? Even if they do, there's still the secondary question of whether the expense be applied elsewhere more profitably?Frankly I've no idea but the answer could go either way.

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I would assume that the DX10 patch and Adrenaline would qualify at least as FSX.5.I'm really excited about the latest developments, SP1/DX10/expansion pack. FSX is just the base sandbox. By the time any FS11 will hit the streets, FSX will be a highly modded sim again, which will excel in visual appearance and realism. Maybe MS will even throw in another expansion? Who knows? But it's all great news and exciting times.Just wait for SP1, GE for FSX, Active Sky 7, PMDG and Level-D, plus some new GA aircraft.Pat

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Is the decision purely profit based? I have to wonder if the FS project wouldn't have been canned long ago if that were the case. I'm inclined to think that as long as there are people at Microsoft who care about them having the best flight sim available, and as long as it isn't _losing_ money, they're not going to want to let it slip from its place at the top of the pile.I also suspect, and this is obviously pure speculation, that there is still a great deal of mileage in the existing code base. Yes of course it will need to be parallelized in order to support multi-core CPUs, and obviously that is a major piece of work, but if my own software development experience is anything to go by I think you'd be surprised at how much of the existing source code would still be recognizable as such (to anyone who had the opportunity to actually see it) after the work was done.So I am very optimistic about the long term, and as others have pointed out there's also plenty to look forward to in the short term. Now if only I can get permission from my Financial Controller to part with some cash for some of those add-ons...

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>The time must (has?) come when Microsoft feels that Flight>Simulator has reached the practical limit of what can be>achieved without a major re-write - perhaps even having to>re-code the whole application. At that time, the decision is>likely to be purely commercial. Will sales of the new version>justify the expense of writing it? Even if they do, there's>still the secondary question of whether the expense be applied>elsewhere more profitably?Speculation: sales of the new version will justify the expense of writing it if they don't start from scratch. If ACES has good coders (I have no reason to suspect they don't), they probably made a lot of the code extensible for the future. Say, the mesh system...I would hope they don't have to rewrite that to go to higher resolutions. Same with the textures. Rewriting from scratch would be quite expensive, and would break some compatibility. If you do it right, you can write sub-systems that survive a few versions. Hopefully they're starting from a good position, since so many sub-systems were upgraded in FSX.I know when I'm coding, I'm constantly thinking about how to make the code maintainable and easy to improve in the future. Doesn't always turn out that way, but often it does.

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Based on conversations with ACES team members and others at the AVSIM conference, I've come to view the Flight Simulator franchise as a perpetually ongoing development process. The people at ACES are constantly thinking, brainstorming, and experimenting with ways to move the franchise forward. When it's time to "get serious" about a new release, which seems to be roughly a year after the previous release, ACES decides what features to include, puts together a formal development plan and a timeline for assembling all of the various components into a new package. Then they get to work on making it happen, in what seems to be a truly global development effort. In this sense, ACES isn't just developing FS11, they're also thinking about features that may not be ready until FS12, FS13, FS14, etc. It's a question of practicality and trying to predict the capabilities of PC hardware two or more years down the road. NOT an easy task! It's harder still when your programmers are having to chase the development of a major new operating system. As far as Microsoft's senior leadership is concerned, I think they are justifiably proud of what the Flight Simulator franchise has accomplished both technologically and as one of the top-selling PC "games" of all time. Bill Gates has stated publicly that he isn't a flight simmer, but some of the ACES team members have blogged that Gates was given a briefing on FSX shortly after its release and that Gates spent some time "flying" the sim and experiencing its new features. (Presumably not with all sliders set to maximum!) Gates reportedly liked what he saw. However, I doubt that Flight Simulator will last very long if it is not deemed to be profitable. Gates is not exactly a sentimental guy. Just think of all the other games and home-oriented software (and hardware) that Microsoft has backed out of in recent years. It's actually noteworthy that Flight Simulator has survived these various cutbacks and cancellations. I do believe we are seeing a major paradigm shift in Microsoft's approach to simulation in general. Clearly, they rethought several key elements of the franchise before deciding to release FSX, including greater interaction with the community, adding some key new staff positions, and expanding the franchise to include a new release of Train Simulator and an additional FS expansion pack. While the performance problems with FSX are unfortunate, they shouldn't obscure the fact that Microsoft has done quite a bit to reinvigorate their simulation efforts. (With a near-monopoly in the civilian flight simulation market, Microsoft could just have easily taken a much less ambitious approach and probably could have gotten away with it.) Personally, I'm very happy with FSX and I like the direction in which ACES is headed. I'm sure I'll be even happier when SP1 is released and new hardware is on the market which will allow FSX to be run to the full extent of its capabilities. As for FS11, I believe Phil Taylor has already stated that it will be longer than the "usual" three-year development cycle before it is released. But ACES team members all seem to be talking as if FS11 is not a question of whether, but when and that's a very good thing. It also hasn't hurt that FSX apparently exceeded Microsoft's initial sales targets and is regarded as a commercial success. This bodes well for the future. For anyone who is seriously interested in what the future holds, you should plan to attend the upcoming AVSIM Conference which will be held in ACES' backyard (near Seattle). Even though ACES staff won't talk specifically about future development plans, you'll still gain a lot of insight into how the Flight Simulator franchise actually works and the general direction in which things are headed. It's also a lot of fun to meet other members of the FS community.

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They need to start over from scratch with a new engine. Look at the latest video of Crysis, if flight sim looked half that good it be worth it to say good bye to our thousand dollars of add ons and start over.

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>They need to start over from scratch with a new engine. Look>at the latest video of Crysis, if flight sim looked half that>good it be worth it to say good bye to our thousand dollars of>add ons and start over.Statements like this baffle me.

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Why would it?FSX is not the only software I run for enjoyment on my box, and I'm sure many people around here are the same. It is hard at times to taxi around a runway, and see dismally low textures on buildings, and the trees that continue to make my head hurt. I know there are tons of them, all over the place, but the trees just have never looked right to me. The ground textures have gotten much better thanks to the high res. And, the aircraft textures are crisp and clear. It is just the way that the sim struggles to move around images and graphics (fps) that are not exactly "cutting edge." Crysis, and others are going a different route (super realistic imagery), and I do not want to start a first person shooter analysis vs. Flight Sims. However..he does have a point when he says starting from scratch might be the way to go, I have to agree. Otherwise we will always have bits of the old sims, patched over with some new design/features. If anything at all, I would at least rest a little easier knowing...or hoping/thinking that the code is at least somewhat less bloated after a complete rewrite....?? maybe... my humble opinion.....and yes...I love this sim - even at the occasional or consistent 15fps.Danon O.

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FS doesn't need a new engine. They need to alter their thinking toward threading- a major shift in thinking. Now that threading is more related to performance, things need to be spun off.They will be in time. Maybe it won't be until FS11. Maybe we'll be on our way with SP2 or the DX10 renderer. I'm very confident that SP1 will yield real improvements, but many will not be satsified.If it's technically possible for third parties to have their aircraft run as threaded modules, Then on multicore systems PMDG will not kill performance. However I do not know if that is possible at this time, even with simconnect.I have a 4 year old system that runs FSX remarkably well. Sure I cannot fly in many cities- but I can fly into Atlanta with Delta and Airtran AI! Other cited are a 5FPS slideshow, but I get over 22 in minor cities like Boise. Needless to say, I fly alot in Boise...

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>....It is hard>at times to taxi around a runway, and see dismally low>textures on buildings, and the trees that continue to make my>head hurt. I know there are tons of them, all over the place,>but the trees just have never looked right to me. The ground>textures have gotten much better thanks to the high res. And,>the aircraft textures are crisp and clear. It is just the way>that the sim struggles to move around images and graphics>(fps) that are not exactly "cutting edge."That's why I'm curious to see how the new Train Sim works out. It's not like you're flying at 3000 ft, you're always right there at ground level, looking at the buildings etc close up. More detail, both in the textures and the complexity of the object meshes themselves, will be needed to keep up with today's expectations. Can the underlying sim engine handle that? Can't wait to see some screenshots.BTW, I still think ACES should create a driving sim too, then package the whole works up as "Trains, Planes, and Automobiles". :D

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>Why would it?>>FSX is not the only software I run for enjoyment on my box,>and I'm sure many people around here are the same. It is hard>at times to taxi around a runway, and see dismally low>textures on buildings, and the trees that continue to make my>head hurt. I know there are tons of them, all over the place,>but the trees just have never looked right to me. The ground>textures have gotten much better thanks to the high res. And,>the aircraft textures are crisp and clear. It is just the way>that the sim struggles to move around images and graphics>(fps) that are not exactly "cutting edge." Crysis, and others>are going a different route (super realistic imagery), and I>do not want to start a first person shooter analysis vs.>Flight Sims. However..he does have a point when he says>starting from scratch might be the way to go, I have to agree.> Otherwise we will always have bits of the old sims, patched>over with some new design/features. >>If anything at all, I would at least rest a little easier>knowing...or hoping/thinking that the code is at least>somewhat less bloated after a complete rewrite....?? maybe... >>>my humble opinion.....>>and yes...I love this sim - even at the occasional or>consistent 15fps.>>Danon O.I should have clarified. The Crysis comparison is what baffles me. And you are correct not to want to get into a FPS/Simulator debate because it is what makes my head hurt. I remember when FarCry came out and everyone was going crazy about the graphics. One of the big things was the flyover of the island, in which they lauded the draw distance...wait for it...of up to 1 Mile! Herein lies the rub. Can you imagine how FSX would look from 40,000ft if the detailed area was 1 square mile of land? I mean the minimum cloud draw distance is sixty times that. You can have 2048x2048 textures on everything, but that is going to limit the number of things you can put on the screen. In Crysis, which I admit is a brilliantly designed engine from the looks of it, the area of detail is not sufficient for a flight simulator. It's just not. Tack on top of that the fact that the levels are pre-crafted geometry, not terrain built on the fly from insane amounts of data, there's no auto generated geometry (maybe the trees, but I think the placement is still controlled) and they aren't simulating a flight model. Top it all off with the fact that I saw a gameplay trailer taken with a handheld camera of Crysis the other day, and it had stutters and framerate issues. So even at that tiny fraction of the viewable distance of a good flight sim, it struggled to keep up. I think if you do the math, you see that Crysis is not a good measure of comparison for FSX.

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The Autogen structures will never look as good as similar objects in Crysis because there are hundreds or sometimes thousands of them. Autogen already sucks a fair amount of CPU cycles...if you used Crysis level Autogen objects, it would slow to a crawl. Also, Autogen has to dynamically create the correct objects in the correct places anywhere in the world. As NotASenator (I have to know...why that handle?) mentioned, most (or all) objects in Crysis are prepositioned.And rewriting code is not always the best thing to do. If you tight code that has been refined over time, rewriting it can introduce new bugs and performance issues. From all the things they changed in FSX, they probably already rewrote or heavily changed a lot of code. You don't want to throw all that work out the window. So you pick and choose which pieces are up to snuff, and which need modifications or rewrites.The terrain does look fantastic, especially with a good landclass.

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>As NotASenator (I have to know...why that handle?) mentioned,I live in Washington, D.C. at the moment, and it seems, at times, that I'm the only person around who's not a politician. :(

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That's good. Hey, while I got you, I've asked this in the Help forum twice, and messaged three admins about it. No one answers. I can't find it in the FAQ, either. What are the rules about links in signatures? Can one link to their personal website?Thanks, and sorry for interjecting this off topic question.

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To get back to the original topic a bit...The ACES team were featured guests at the last Avsim Convention in Washington. They did speak at length about the FSX development process. If memory serves, some time before that, there was discussion that MSFS would pull the plug at FS9! I am glad that things turned around to the point where we do have FSX.Also, if memory serves, ACES spoke of a commitment to at least two more iterations of MSFS past FSX. I'm not trying to make an official statement, as I wasn't taking any notes at the Con, I'm just going by my own recollection of events. As a guess, I would think that FS11 would probably be something of a refinement on FSX, and less a paradigm shift in technology like FSX is over FS9. That seems to fit a pattern that I see: MSFS makes a tech leap, then the next one makes refinements, lather, rinse, repeat. As for calling for a total rewrite of the sim engine, no doubt that ACES has thought of that. The traditional commitment to MSFS is to make it backwards compatable to at least the prior version. Should they break that tradition? If I was in charge of the production funds for developing MSFS, then that would be a question where I would want more information on hand before I came up with an answer. So far, though, the answer has been, no, let's stick with what we've got so far.To demand that MSFS needs to rewrite their sim engine, and yet have no responsibility in the development process is akin to demanding that the GM should fire the team's star pitcher even though you've never even been to a baseball game in your life. Sure, you should have your opinion, but without any weight of responsibility behind that opinion, you can't expect to be taken seriously, right? I don't want to sound harsh, it's just that asking for a total rewrite, and comparing the process to that of the development of a first-person shooter, that's a big pill to swallow. Again, this is my personal opinion, and may not reflect any official psoition Avsim may have on this matter.Jeff ShylukAvsim Product Reviewer

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>I should have clarified. The Crysis comparison is what>baffles me. And you are correct not to want to get into a>FPS/Simulator debate because it is what makes my head hurt. >>I remember when FarCry came out and everyone was going crazy>about the graphics. One of the big things was the flyover of>the island, in which they lauded the draw distance...wait for>it...of up to 1 Mile! Herein lies the rub. Can you imagine>how FSX would look from 40,000ft if the detailed area was 1>square mile of land? I mean the minimum cloud draw distance>is sixty times that. You can have 2048x2048 textures on>everything, but that is going to limit the number of things>you can put on the screen. In Crysis, which I admit is a>brilliantly designed engine from the looks of it, the area of>detail is not sufficient for a flight simulator. It's just>not. Tack on top of that the fact that the levels are>pre-crafted geometry, not terrain built on the fly from insane>amounts of data, there's no auto generated geometry (maybe the>trees, but I think the placement is still controlled) and they>aren't simulating a flight model. >>Top it all off with the fact that I saw a gameplay trailer>taken with a handheld camera of Crysis the other day, and it>had stutters and framerate issues. So even at that tiny>fraction of the viewable distance of a good flight sim, it>struggled to keep up. I think if you do the math, you see>that Crysis is not a good measure of comparison for FSX.I think this is a flawed argument - there's something called LOD in game engines. Of course a Crysis-like FS engine isn't going to have first person-shooter type detail across the entire field of view out to the horizon from FL370. But you don't have that sort of detail in real life either - you lose the ability to resolve detail with distance. I think it's entirely possible however for them to create a sim engine that *does* have that kind of detail and fluidity when you're up close. I'm thinking about things like on the ground at the airport, down really low to the ground, etc. There's this huge misnomer that you can't have high detail FPS-type environments just because "FS is the whole world" or something. It doesn't display the whole world at once.

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>That's good. >>Hey, while I got you, I've asked this in the Help forum twice,>and messaged three admins about it. No one answers. I can't>find it in the FAQ, either. What are the rules about links in>signatures? Can one link to their personal website?>>Thanks, and sorry for interjecting this off topic question.I don't see why not.Plenty of people do it (including me)Just make sure it's appropriate.

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>To demand that MSFS needs to rewrite their sim engine, and yet have no responsibility in the development process is akin to demanding that the GM should fire the team's star pitcher even though you've never even been to a baseball game in your life. Sure, you should have your opinion, but without any weight of responsibility behind that opinion, you can't expect to be taken seriously, right?Im not sure who that was replying to, but I don't recall anyone "demanding" a rewrite. This was a thread based on speculation, and debate - which is what is going on. Nothing more, nothing else. At the same time, praise of the current state of FSX has been expressed by all parties as well.--off to fly...Danon O.

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