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ChaoticBeauty

Jörg Neumann regarding the 40th anniversary

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"How well is MSFS doing, and how can you afford to be so generous with free content?"

Quote

How well are we doing? Really well. It’s an unspecific answer, but I think it has exceeded our expectations.

When we first launched on PC in 2020, it did well. It brought in lots of the core simmers that we were hoping for, and we tried to do good. We Tried to listen and still do, obviously.

And then we launched on Xbox, and that basically doubled our audience. Then we launched on cloud streaming just in March, and that again brought in a large, large amount of people who have clearly never played flight simulators before, so we’re really really happy about how many people are enjoying the sim, and are learning about it.

When you think about this, after being absent for all this time and coming back and being really welcomed back, it’s also time to give back. It’s as simple as that. We tried this last year with the Game of the Year Edition, and we always knew that it was the 40th anniversary this year. It was always clear that in November 2022 we’d have the big anniversary, and we’ve always said: “We have to do something.”

"How did you come up with the 40th anniversary content and who made it?"

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I had this idea probably in November or December last year, and it actually started with me seeing the Aeroplane Heaven DC-3, and I was like, “man, this looks awesome!” and I realized it was also in our older simulators. so I called Barry and asked him if he wanted to be part of the 40th anniversary and he was totally on board.

I had talked to the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum, and they have a perfect scan of the Spirit of St. Louis, so we got that, and I talked to BlueMesh for a while – Jimmy (Jimmy Battut, BlueMesh’s founder) is his name – I was impressed with some of the planes he’d made, and I asked him about the Spirit of St. Louis. He was “Yeah, I want to do it!”

Then I looked back at Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004: A Century of Flight, and saw the Wright Flyer, so I thought I had to make that as well, so I acquired a scan for it since it’s also available at the Smithsonian.

Then I had a different conversation with Jim at MilViz (Jim Stewart, in charge of MSFS product development at MilViz) about doing something together, and I was like, “Hey, the Beaver!”

Asobo is working on the Guimbal Cabri G2, and that’s sort of not-so-super-complex, but it’s used by Sebastian to write the fluid dynamics system and he’s testing everything with it, in part because they’re in France right next to Asobo and it’s very helpful just to drive over there.

The other helicopter, the Bell-407, it’s not announced who’s making that, but I think I can tell you, and that’s by Nemeth Design. That’s Tamas and his team, and they’re very well-known helicopter people.

I’ve actually asked Sérgio (Sérgio Costa from Helisimmer) who would be the best people for this, and he gave me a short list of folks and I talked to them. These guys are just super-nice, they really care, and they have the required knowledge.

For the gliders, we’re doing two DG Flugzeugbau and we’re working with FFS, which is a new company associated with Aerosoft. We’ve announced that before in one of our streams. And then we have announced I think five planes, and there are more planes.

The Airbus A310 is a big deal and makes me very happy. The conversation I had with Ubaid (Ubaid Mussa, CEO of iniSimulations) clearly showed that he has a vision of what he cares about. They’re at the very high end of what’s possible and I think he was really sold when I told him that I wanted the aircraft for free and not as a $60 payware aircraft. I wanted everybody in the sim to be able to enjoy it, and he wanted to be part of that.

This is, in my opinion, a long-term relationship. That’s what I want. That’s what Ubaid wants, so… You know, not all the plans are set in stone. We’re talking about all kinds of things.

"Will the 40th Anniversary edition feature more than what has already been announced?"

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Yeah, but I also want to be flexible. If you make too many plans, then, at some point, you’re not flexible anymore, which is not what we want.

And then the four historical planes… there will be more than four.

There are some planes, there are some airports, and things that mean a lot to the… you know… just go back and think about what means something. There are planes that mean something; there may be some mission sets that mean something.

We want to make sure the quality is great, so we’ll see. We’re launching in November, and we have a few months left, and we’ll work hard to make something that hopefully people will love.

"Will you make more collaborations like those with Top Gun and Halo? How much depth goes into that content?"

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This is something that isn’t going to happen at all, but the team at some point was like, “Hey, can we get the aircraft carrier from the Avengers?” Ok… I don’t know anyone at Marvel, but I guess I can give them a call.

I mean, Halo is who we are here at Xbox. Many things were defined by Halo, so they actually approached us, and it was an automatic yes.

It’s like the Top Gun relationship which was such a no-brainer to decide that it fits. We are not an arcade game. We don’t ever want to be an arcade game. We want to be a sim. The Halo people gave us a lot of freedom. They gave us the stats, and then they said, “Please make it as good and as deep as you can.”

We were lucky enough to work with an engineer from a manufacturer that is not making that plane but they’ve done some of these things in the past, and it’s not just a rocket going straight.

I think that made us appreciate that there needs to be skill. There are tradeoffs in the physical space, so how do these things actually work? There is a lot more going on to it than simply making a nice model and making it fly around fast. That’s not really what we do.

"Why did you update the United States a second time?"

Quote

In November 2020, we did the World Update United States, but it was only the second, and we were still defining what a World Update really is. It was good, but it wasn’t as good as we hoped in some ways, and the United States is huge.

What drove all this was the fact that we got great new data. I think people think Jorg decides what goes into the World Updates, but actually, I simply chase the data a lot. If there’s cool data, I’m interested because it makes life for the simmers better.

So we have completely new aerials for almost the entire country, which is great, and 42 new sources for DEM (Digital Elevation Model).

"Did Carenado make the Beechcraft Model 18?"

Quote

Yeah! I went to the Smithsonian, and this exact model and livery [one of those shown in the trailer] is hanging from the ceiling of the museum. The hope is that as we go forward, we’ll actually do quite a bit with the Smithsonian. They have a lot of planes, super-cool stuff.

I’ve read a lot of the feedback and wrote a long document this weekend about starting cold and dark on water, the fact that we need more places to start from… that’s understood. I hear you, some of these aircraft are not everybody’s cup of tea, and I need to get out of the twenties.

These planes are not economically wise things to make. I’m losing money, and I don’t care. There’s only one Savoia-Marchetti S.55 left in the world, and if we don’t do this, it may be gone forever at some point. We’re preserving history, we’re ok doing it, and this is in perpetuity. People will have this now and forever.

"Have you started negotiations for the Antonov An-225?"

Quote

We did… and then we lost contact with Antonov again. I’m determined to make the plane. If we really want to celebrate what that plane was, then we need to do it right. We have some of the data because the airplane was very well archived. They have all of the data still and I’ve talked to one of the pilots.

"What future plans do you have for the simulator?"

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There are all sorts of things going on with AI traffic. The thing that really bothers me about it… there is ATC, and we really need to look into ATC more deeply because people talk about it a lot… but the thing that bothers me about the air traffic is that we have sort of chopped-off low-flying traffic completely. We have all the data from FlightAware, and we are cutting off anything below 5,000 feet, which is a lot of stuff.

We’ve gotta be careful. We want to do good, and we want to make people happy, but when we do too much and we break stuff, all the good work is overshadowed by the sometimes small and sometimes bigger bugs that we introduce.

We have the DX12 stuff. We have DLSS. We have multi-monitor support. There are a whole bunch of things planned for the next sim update. If we load up more and more and more, we’re gonna go unstable. If there’s too much at the same time, we risk it being detrimental.

I want to destress development a little bit. The team has told me for a long time that an update a month is crazy, so now we have a little bit more space between updates and that allows us to test longer and therefore we’re going to be more stable.

"Are you planning more improvements to carriers?"

Quote

That’s definitely something we have to look into. We didn’t quite expect that much of a reaction.

I can tell you, Top Gun has been super successful. I think two weeks ago, 50% of all flights were related to Top Gun. That’s like ten million flights, just for Top Gun in a week or so.

I think we can take this further. When exactly we’re going to do it, I don’t know, but the community has spoken, and it’s very clear that they want it in free flight, so we’re, “Ok, cool, let’s put it on the list.”

"What message do you have for the players?"

Quote

For the simmers, this is for them. This is just us celebrating our history together. And for those who aren’t simmers yet, thank you for all the energy you bring in. It makes us all better. Having new eyes on things will probably take us to places otherwise we wouldn’t have gone and I think they’re going to be good.

I honestly think – as I know what our plans are going to be for the next few years – It’ll be a crazy, awesome ride for Flight Simulator. We have so much stuff that’s coming and it’s going to be super-cool.

Check out the full interview here.

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Posted (edited)

Good insights in that twinfinite.net interview!, thanks for share Chaotic.  The bits that stood out to me the most:

- as we suspected based on all the free content announced, MS/Asobo really are doing well user-base and product uptake wise .. and hey the more they're rolling in revenue/uptake that's above expectations, then the better for us :)

- most of the new aircraft coming are being developed by established 3PDs

- "Asobo is working on the Guimbal Cabri G2, and that’s sort of not-so-super-complex, but it’s used by Sebastian to write the fluid dynamics system and he’s testing everything with it" .. looking forward to Seb showing more of the CFD advancements in a coming dev Q&A

- "For the gliders, we’re doing two DG Flugzeugbau and we’re working with FFS, which is a new company associated with Aerosoft. We’ve announced that before in one of our streams." --- the glider partner they announced before was the Swiss company FlightSim Studio (which would be "FSS"), I wonder if that's just a typo in the article

- "The Airbus A310 is a big deal and makes me very happy ... The conversation I had with Ubaid (Ubaid Mussa, CEO of iniSimulations) clearly showed that he has a vision of what he cares about ... We’re also making some other stuff. The reason why I wrote the press release the way I did is that I think of this as a long-term relationship ... Let’s go beyond the 40th anniversary. This is, in my opinion, a long-term relationship. That’s what I want. That’s what Ubaid wants, so… You know, not all the plans are set in stone. We’re talking about all kinds of things." --- really intrigued by what MS and iniBuilds are cooking beyond the A310!

- The Bell-407 is being made by https://www.nemethdesigns.com, do any of you heli experts know more about this developer? They have made the 407 for P3D/FSX/etc: https://www.nemethdesigns.com/product/bell-407-p3d-fsx-fsxse-2/

- They seem to be focusing on AI and ATC as big improvement areas for near future, as they should

- "But here’s the thing I’ve learned with the sim updates starting with Sim Update 9. We’ve gotta be careful. We want to do good, and we want to make people happy, but when we do too much and we break stuff, all the good work is overshadowed by the sometimes small and sometimes bigger bugs that we introduce." --- As they already alluded to in the last Q&A, they seem very aware of their pattern of regressions and breaking things due to doing once-a-month releases trying to pack in as much new functionality as possible, so that's a good lesson they seemed to have learned, let's see how they execute >= SU10

- "We have so much stuff that’s coming and it’s going to be super-cool." --- looking forward to the remainder of 2022, 2023 and beyond for MSFS!
 

Edited by lwt1971
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Len
1980s: Sublogic FS II on C64 ---> 1990s: Flight Unlimited I/II, MSFS 95/98 ---> 2000s/2010s: FS/X, P3D, XP ---> 2020+: MSFS

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All sounds pretty good, i understand the need to bring in the likes of the Top Gun, and now the Halo craft. And hopefully it encourages more to try the other great aircraft we have in the sim. good to note Jorg recognises the AI issues and ATC, i don't think anyone expects it to be fixed overnight. But if there's a steady improvement over time, i think most of us can live with that.

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I'm glad he at least mentioned ATC and see it's an important topic. I understand that he can't throw too much stuff at the next SU. 

 

The Marvel Carrier would be actually awesome. Just imagine that huge thing hovering in the air, but with an actually working ATC that is fitted to the theme. Create custom fictional AIRAC data and fictional charts and you still keep the simulation and realism. This could also be combined with a tutorial explaining charts and maybe finally introducing charts+ 
Maybe even add a small chance to see Iron Man taking off form there as a little Easteregg. Would be funny to place a VATSIM controller there with a bit of serious roleplaying...
 

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Great comments and thanks for summarizing as always @ChaoticBeauty.

Hopefully all of us can see that despite the grumbles, the continuing (sometimes new) bugs, the marketing tie-ins that may not tickle our personal pips etc., our hobby is in a really good place with one of the world's leading software companies putting huge resources into it. I sometimes have to pinch myself at all of the free stuff they drop on us.

Never been a happier simmer / gamer / user.

 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, ChaoticBeauty said:

There are all sorts of things going on with AI traffic. The thing that really bothers me about it… there is ATC, and we really need to look into ATC more deeply because people talk about it a lot… but the thing that bothers me about the air traffic is that we have sort of chopped-off low-flying traffic completely. We have all the data from FlightAware, and we are cutting off anything below 5,000 feet, which is a lot of stuff.

Great to hear this part.

Interview overall was really interesting and insightful.  I'm glad MSFS is such a commercial success to the point that they can shower us with lots of high quality free stuff!  I hope more people can keep that in mind when grumbling about some DLC that doesn't personally interest them.

Awesome as well to hear that Nemeth is the dev behind the Bell 407...I kinda figured it was them given Miviz is already in for one aircraft this time around...

Edited by regis9
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Dave

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5 minutes ago, regis9 said:

Awesome as well to hear that Nemeth is the dev behind the Bell 407...I kinda figured it was them given Miviz is already in for one aircraft this time around...

Ah I was wondering about this as I have next to zero experience with helicopter sims and 3PDs that specialize in them.. so Nemeth is at a level like Milviz and put out good heli sims? Have you flown any of theirs in FSX/P3D? 


Len
1980s: Sublogic FS II on C64 ---> 1990s: Flight Unlimited I/II, MSFS 95/98 ---> 2000s/2010s: FS/X, P3D, XP ---> 2020+: MSFS

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22 minutes ago, regis9 said:

Awesome as well to hear that Nemeth is the dev behind the Bell 407

Made my day that has!    

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1 hour ago, ChaoticBeauty said:

The team has told me for a long time that an update a month is crazy

Jorg has probably driven the Asobo devs nuts pushing that schedule if this line is any indication 😄

I love this interview. I know MSFS has a long way to go (though personally I'm enjoying the ups and downs of the journey), but it almost gives me butterflies to see this kind of passion. It's not the same kind of passion as someone diagramming aerodynamic modeling excitedly, but it's still a great thing to see and I love to see the desire to highlight/preserve aviation history, as well.

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Posted (edited)
7 minutes ago, Dermot McClusky said:

Jorg has probably driven the Asobo devs nuts pushing that schedule if this line is any indication 😄

I love this interview. I know MSFS has a long way to go (though personally I'm enjoying the ups and downs of the journey), but it almost gives me butterflies to see this kind of passion. It's not the same kind of passion as someone diagramming aerodynamic modeling excitedly, but it's still a great thing to see and I love to see the desire to highlight/preserve aviation history, as well.

But is has been 40 years, and this new crew still now less than two years?  Great progress but any 40 year celebration should absolutely include Bruce and Stu, and likely others along the way, including third parties. But Bruce and Stu? Without the two of them we would likely not be here celebrating.

Edited by fppilot
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Frank Patton
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"I will never put my name on a product that does not have in it the best that is in me." - John Deere

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2 minutes ago, fppilot said:

But is has been 40 years, and the new crew still now less than two years?  Any celebration should absolutely include Bruce and Stu, and likely others along the way, including third parties. But Bruce and Stu? Without the two of them we would likely not be here celebrating.

You are 100% correct, of course, and I think they and every flight sim developer since should take a share of the credit for pushing things forward. I'm just glad we continue to have passionate people heading up these things.

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33 minutes ago, Dermot McClusky said:

You are 100% correct, of course, and I think they and every flight sim developer since should take a share of the credit for pushing things forward. I'm just glad we continue to have passionate people heading up these things.

Can't also forget the current leadership and senior brass at MS, especially its new CEO who is a refreshing change from past MS leadership... they obviously saw the benefits of the MSFS vision not just from a perspective of their computer entertainment division's bottom line, but also from that of their various technology stacks involved including cloud and AI and how MSFS can be a showcase of their uniquely combined usage, and serve as a springboard for non-flight applications.

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Len
1980s: Sublogic FS II on C64 ---> 1990s: Flight Unlimited I/II, MSFS 95/98 ---> 2000s/2010s: FS/X, P3D, XP ---> 2020+: MSFS

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4 minutes ago, lwt1971 said:

Can't also forget the current leadership and senior brass at MS, especially its new CEO who is a refreshing change from past MS leadership... they obviously saw the benefits of the MSFS vision not just from a perspective of their computer entertainment division's bottom line, but also from that of their various technology stacks involved including cloud and AI and how MSFS can be a showcase of their uniquely combined usage, and serve as a springboard for non-flight applications.

But how could they allow their chosen developers to ignore already existing simulator developments like more deeply modeled aircraft models, realistic ATC, OEM-based avionics, live weather infusion, improved weather textures, live traffic, etc.  What was used was mostly their own satellite assets (Bing). That admittedly was a clear improvement over previous satellite based photo-real scenery in prior sims. Great for simple VFR flying,  However.  If there was a Hall of Fame here they would fall short, all things considered.  Too many already readily-available features were ignored or cast aside.  Likely much was due to a rush to market.  But then why after two years is so much of that in pre-existing capability still trailing until who knows when.......

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Frank Patton
MasterCase Pro H500M; MSI Z490 WiFi MOB; i7 10700k 3.8 Ghz; Gigabyte RTX 3080 12gb OC; H100i Pro; 32GB DDR4 3600;  Gold RMX850X PSU;
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VG289 4K 27"; Honeycomb Alpha & Bravo, Crosswind 3's w/dampener.  
Former USAF meteorologist & ground weather school instructor. AOPA Member #07379126
                       
"I will never put my name on a product that does not have in it the best that is in me." - John Deere

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4 minutes ago, fppilot said:

But how could they allow their chosen developers to ignore already existing simulator developments like more deeply modeled aircraft models, realistic ATC, OEM-based avionics, live weather infusion, improved weather textures, live traffic, etc.  What was used was mostly their own satellite assets (Bing). That admittedly was a clear improvement over previous satellite based photo-real scenery in prior sims. Great for simple VFR flying,  However.  If there was a Hall of Fame here they would fall short, all things considered.  Too many already readily-available features were ignored or cast aside.  Likely much was due to a rush to market.  But then why after two years is so much of that in pre-existing capability still trailing until who knows when.......

The simple answer is, it’s nuts how long things take. There was an interview with an xplane developer about rewriting parts of the atc system and he’s been doing it for a year. That doesn’t include the less common actions like emergencies etc. Things just take a lot of time when you’re creating them out of nothing. And getting them to production level takes even longer.

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