For those of you who have been around enough, will easily recall the days of what I would like to call "turning points" in flight simulation. These turning points were solely driven by Microsoft each time the company would introduce a new platform. 2 of the biggest was the jump from FS2002 to FS9 and from FS9 to FSX. Following the demise of the Microsoft Flight Simulator platform, the community has grown quite stagnant and thus we entered for the first time in history a "comfort zone" one that is free of emerging platforms. Where one could literally en masse thousands of addons. This has been a gift in disguise because developing addons for one platform for a prolonged period of time meant developers could focus on pushing and even redrawing the boundaries never before thought possible. But this gift has also has it's limitations and as a community we have been forced against these limitations for far too long.
But something like this is also without a doubt very difficult to walk away from and 2017 and the years following is going to be extremely difficult for many. Why? Because we are once again emerging on the dawn of another turning point. One that is unlike anything we have ever experienced. With Microsoft, it was simply a continuation of a family line. But this time, it's the emergence of new platforms all at once. And at least one trying to finally get a seat at the table.
FSX is basically what it has been since it's inception. P3D is what FSX always should have evolved into 8 years ago. Microsoft Flight was the prefect FS11 and had Microsoft not screwed that up it indeed would be what we are all flying right now. Hell who knows, maybe Microsoft will even try to make a comeback some day. In fact I would almost bet that they actually might! And perhaps sooner than we might all think. Impossible? Hell, man flying was always thought as impossible till it happened.
But in the meantime, we have an ever evolving P3D and just like the Moon and Earth, P3D is constantly pulling away from FSX with great strides every year and at some point soon, the ease of compatibility will be broken. Second is XPlane11 really wanting a seat at the table where the masses sit. XPlane has always been that outcast sitting out in the rain looking in while the majority of FS enthusiasts ignore it time after time and whereas it's finally got our attention, it's still falling short in several key areas. But this doesn't mean it wont make up this ground over the next several months and this probability is why we are remaining so focused on it like never before. Well that and coupled with the fact that it's extremely good at what it does good!
Next is AeroflyFS2, I have been talking about this platform for years [see one example from 2013 here] AeroflyFS2 has immense potential and I strongly consider it as a major contender in the race to the FSX replacement entertainment platform. Indeed it's still in it's early days but what this team has accomplished thus far is nothing short of stunning in every aspect. And once the third party development community gets on board following Orbx who is leading the charge, interest will sky rocket. I'm telling you, keep your eyes on this platform over the next year.
And last but not least is whatever Dovetail is cooking up within their auspices. FlightSchool was absolute garbage and their full fledged platform simply can not follow in this manner. I strongly believe they are keenly aware of this which is also why I hope they are taking this seriously. Their next generation train simulator is impressive to say the least which is currently the only indication leaving me to believe they are taking this flight sim platform seriously as well. I'd like to think Dovetail knows where the FSX glass ceiling is, where the P3D glass ceiling is, and what to beat in competition against XPlane11. Why competition do you ask? Because if Dovetail Flight Simulator (is that what they're calling it?) is to be successful in this community, it needs to surpass the options & features already at our disposal otherwise it's nothing more than more Steam fodder for the Steam community and whereas it may do well there, it will simply be another red headed step child on the outside looking in (no pun intended).
I like to see this future as very bright and the fact that we have all these upcoming options tells me if nothing else, that we matter. This hobby matters, and that perhaps we are not as back alley niche as we always thought. Orbx is leading the charge and I am calling upon more developers to begin looking at the feasibility of these other platforms over the coming year as well. Orbx has just laid out their plans (via source link) of how they intend to embrace this new turning point and how it affects you. Needless to say, of the nearly 25 years I have been engaged in flight simulation, never has there been a better time for us than right now. I look forward to an amazing new year of exploring these new options and I think you should too!
Now go play with your toys...