Have we Outgrown Flight Simulator?

Archive: March 18th, 2013

[EDITORIAL] Over the years I’ve watched the slow progression of development advancements relating to flight simulation add-ons. It started with a little extra detail here, then a little more animated movement there, next some added dynamic randomness, then on, and on, and on... So what’s the problem with innovation you ask? Well, nothing in principal. The problem is that I think developers have outgrown the current flight simulation platforms, namely FSX.

Mainstream flight simulation developers have discovered some fantastic methods of circumventing or enhancing basic FSX limitations. The problem however is that FSX is becoming something it was never meant to be, a “super duper” flight simulator. This means it is theoretically possible to fly a highly realistic commercial jetliner into a realistic, dynamic, and animated airport using exact real time weather. Throw in loads of realistic simulated air traffic, hundreds of miles of accurate terrain and landmarks surrounding the airport, even some road and boat traffic to boot. Sounds like paradise does it not? Well, in reality what we have here is a disaster...

We have too many choices for enhancing our flight simulation experience, the problem being that many want to experience all these wonderful additions at the same time. Instead of a fantastic lifelike flight most users will simply experience the all too familiar OOM. Even if the simulator manages to avoid the dreaded crash, smooth fluid performance is almost out of the question in this type of maxed out scenario given the platforms inability to properly utilize current high end hardware.

Now we can’t blame the developers for this as each has done the best job possible within their specific niche. We can’t really blame users as it is reasonable to desire the best available in flight simulation technology. Hard to blame Microsoft as FSX was released long ago before our current high end hardware or advanced operating systems existed. So who can we blame? Nobody really, we’re just sort of up the creek until someone comes out with something better.

Perhaps we should learn to dial down our expectations for the time being, I know I have. This doesn’t mean I avoid the latest FSX releases, it simply means I do not use them all at once. I understand that the combination of a highly detailed airport along with an advanced commercial jetliner likely means I can’t enjoy immersive real time weather along with dense AI traffic and moving vehicles. Sadly, that’s just the way it is. 

So, like most of you here, I patiently wait for the next big thing…..

-Mark Hrycenko