Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Flight Simulator Franchise Crashes to Earth

This bummed me out. It's a couple of months old now, but I hadn't heard about this until tonight.
Redmond, Washington-based ACES Studio, the Microsoft-owned internal group behind the venerable Microsoft Flight Simulator series, has been heavily affected by Microsoft's ongoing job cuts.

Development sources have told Gamasutra that a large portion of the dev house's staff has been let go - with multiple reports indicating that the entire Flight Simulator team has been axed.

The Microsoft-owned Flight Simulator is possibly the game industry's longest-running continuous franchise.

I've been playing Flight Simulator in its various forms since I can remember. It followed me throughout so many phases of my life.
  • As a child, I played the original version on my dad's Apple II computer in all its monochrome glory.
  • During my teenage years and the era of Flight Simulator 4, I had a ball swooping around Chicago's Meigs Field and exploring the seemingly endless polygonal world.
  • FS 2004: A Century of Flight opened up a whole new world of flying for me, with its mix of detailed vintage and modern aircraft. I still have the little metal DC-3 they released with it on the first day. Alaskan bush flying, helicopter piloting, airline routes - I tried it all.

    The morning of my first real flying lesson five years ago, I remember creating a custom session - a C172 departing Tamiami airport in Miami - and flying the heck out of it. When I got in the real 172SP's cockpit a few hours later, I already knew where everything was and what most of it did.
  • FS X Deluxe Edition was in my hands the day it came out. Along with my college classes and my consumption of everything ATC, its online ATC multiplayer component gave me my first taste of controlling live traffic piloted by live people. It definitely helped with my phraseology and helped me build situational awareness.

    To help myself out with my Virtual ATC-ing, I actually designed my own Strip Bay software to work in conjunction with FSX. One of the FS X developers mentioned it in his blog way back when.
Flight Simulator wasn't just a game. It was an institution, that rare piece of software that was both entertaining and a learning tool that opened up the fun and demanding nature of flight to everyone - from the novice going through the flight school tutorials to the virtual heavy driver flying the Level-D 767.

It will be missed by this particular Flying Penguin.


Anonymous said...

Don't waste your time on FS ATC, join VATSIM!

Brian said...

Well that was a quick plug for an organization.

For a community with real ATCer's as instructors, and real pilots using just FS X (no outside programs required):

(sorry FP, had to defend :)

Wicked Penguin said...

Brian, I totally agree.

I tried VATSIM ages ago. I found it convoluted and difficult to setup, with its myriad of apps and settings. It's just so complicated it makes it hard to get started.

On the other hand, FSX's ATC and online multiplayer works wonderfully right out of the box.

* Built-in voice chat, with the ability to assign your headset to a different channel than your airplane sounds so that you can have your engine coming out the speakers, but your voice comms in your ear - like a real airplane.
* Multistation aircraft, so you can have an actual crew - Captain and FO - flying the airplane and working together.
* Distinct frequencies for each airport's Local, Ground, CD/FD, and multiple Approach positions. You could literally have a full Up/Down facility in operation, with a real person on each position.

Also, is an excellent community. You guys really care about proper phraseology and procedures.

panthr41 said...

I never figured out VATSIM, I kind of thought maybe I wasn't smart enough. But I had an awful lot of fun in FS Multiplayer and I miss it.

I had IP sessions going, doing Tower and Approach at the same time, I would use the map view and tower out-the-window view. The best time I had was when a Canadian Forces student pilot checked in (in a Tutor trainer) and used authentic comms and everything. We did some breaks, closed patterns, etc.

Thanks for that link, I'll check it out.

Comrade E.B. Misfit said...

What I liked about FS4 was the ability to play with the parameters of an airplane. I could design a quasi-U-2 that would cruise at FL 1000; it really showed the "coffin corner" behavior