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Snave

Oh dear, this could be Bad

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I wonder how this situation affects future FSX sales... Now that it's all finished, I really think your FS9 sales will increase as a lot of folks may default back to FS9...

I just really think it's time to reconsider the viability of FS9. I know you guys can push the code further for even better quality!! I think no matter how much complex a senery you can make for FS9, there are already systems avaliable to run it to the max!

Unlike FS9... People are going to get tired of the FSX slow framerate slide shows...

No, FS2004 is limited in so many ways, it is 1998 standard.

- We already done aircraft that were as complex as could be compiled several times. FS2004 simply does not allow more complex models.

- We experimented with high density scenery many times but with only a single CPU that can be used you hit CPU limits about the same time as you hit limits that are given by the scenery engine (texture density, no bumps etc)

- We always wanted to do more interactive things but the lack of animation tags, user interface etc all stopped us. With missions and the almost unlimited animations we know can do that.

And slow... we'll it might be if things are not done well. But look at the image I attach. That's a solid 50 fps in an environment you can't call simple. in fact FS2004 is simply not able to display this complexity and most certainly not at 50 fps. I'll also attach a image of the Catalina we are doing. The complexity of modeling is about 4 times as detailed as FS2004 could handle. Simply 4 times more polygons then FS2004 accepts. And it is plenty fast, flying the last beta over default Alaska I get FPS that are about 20% slower then the default Goose but still over 80 fps.

Feel free to enjoy FS2004, I know I do at times. But FS2004 is a platform we exhausted. We simply got no options to do more stuff that's really special and exiting. And most of our customers see that and while our FSX sales increase the FS2004 sales decline (with a few exceptions) even though we do had serious FS2004 developments in the last 6 months. It's rather silly to ask us to go back to FS2004 at this moment. We could only repeat what we done for 3 years while we got an exiting, almost limitless FSX to play with and the customers who buy it. Again feel free to enjoy FS2004, we hope to make a lot of stuff for it you will enjoy. But please be realistic. Both technically as well as commercially.

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Sounds like PR mumbo-jumbo. How exactly are they going to develop new versions of the title without developers? The short of it is MSFT disappointed in it's earnings release. They needed to show some fast cost cutting to support the stock price and cutting heads is the fastest way to do it. ACES was an easy target because it wasn't contributing much in the way of revenue growth right now and likely the titles in ACES was below average company margins given the low revenues and high head count.

As I written, it is not unlike MS to close down a studio when it is not delivering what they wanted and moving the development to another structure. They have done so many times.

Your arguments do not make a lot of sense to me. Aces was 20 people. MS is worth $230.000.000.000. You really think stock owners will feel more secure when the closed a 20 person studio? I own MS and I know I was not impressed and I must be one of the least knowledgeable stock holders, lol. This closure has very little to do with economy, I think it has much more with structure and restructuring.

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The only difference in this case is that the `hire and fire` MS approach could backfire when they decide - as they inevitably will - to resurrect the franchise in whatever format.

They then may discover that not only the market, but also the talent, has passed them by. You don't just create an ACES team by utilising any old developer with gaming and DirectX API experience, they need to have collateral experience - hence the reason the great majority of the team were pilots.

If that talent is working elsewhere developing next-generation flight simulation product, then it is only MS that will have suffered. And then the policy will most assuredly be revealed as having been short-sighted.

And we will be flying around on some other code. And some other developer will have the money.

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As I written, it is not unlike MS to close down a studio when it is not delivering what they wanted and moving the development to another structure. They have done so many times.

Your arguments do not make a lot of sense to me. Aces was 20 people. MS is worth $230.000.000.000. You really think stock owners will feel more secure when the closed a 20 person studio? I own MS and I know I was not impressed and I must be one of the least knowledgeable stock holders, lol. This closure has very little to do with economy, I think it has much more with structure and restructuring.

Mathijs,

The statement Microsoft made regarding the closing of ACES is very similar to what they said when they announced the closing of the more profitable and main stream Ensemble Studio and the future of the Ages of Empires franchise (which there still is no visibility on.) Therefore I call it PR mumbo-jumbo. It is a canned, vacuous PR line and it is impossible to read much into it.

From what I have gathered MGS, especially after the management changes in last August, has undergone a strategic review of the direction it wants to go and I think it is pretty obvious that they are moving away from developing PC-based games in-house. Most of the in-house studios have been gradually closed down over the last 2 years: FASA, Carbonated, as well as Ensemble. Even Bungie, which is more closely aligned with the direction MSFT wants to go and made the future of the Xbox secure, became external with MSFT only taking a minority stake. There is some well reasoned speculation that MGS is shifting its internal game development focus on producing more mass market casual games in order to compete more directly with the Wii.

I don't think the 40 people at ACES in and of it self would satisfy shareholders. Even the 1,400 total layoffs across the firm were criticized by many shareholders as too little. Maybe MGS was given a quota from the top to cut of a hundred people or so. Management looked for areas where they could cut people without hurting revenues too much and given the pipeline at ACES over 2009, combined with the direction they were moving MGS in, it was an easy call. Presumably MSFS had been a kind of sacred cow of sorts up until recently given the length of the franchise and its history with the company. I'm not saying MGS will not develop games internally but the model of in-house design studios certainly is dead and the future of PC-based titles is questionable. But you have to wonder why, if MSFT was committed to the franchise but just wanted to roll the development directly into MGS; they would toss out the developers. If it's true what is said about the shelf life of the code then it sounds like rebooting to develop FSNext is going to put the next version far off into the future at the very least.

There is no information out there yet that would indicate for certain that the future of the franchise is dead. But there is certainly a big question mark hanging over it. When they say, in relation to the closing of ACES, that it is, "to align our people against our highest priorities" it doesn't make me very confident. And even if we do finally see a new version it will likely be so far in the future that it isn't even worth thinking about right now. In the interim, like some of the Ensemble team did, my hope is that some of the ACES team will decide to form a new independent studio and continue to support the current platform until MSFT decides what to do with the IP.

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The only difference in this case is that the `hire and fire` MS approach could backfire when they decide - as they inevitably will - to resurrect the franchise in whatever format.

They then may discover that not only the market, but also the talent, has passed them by. You don't just create an ACES team by utilising any old developer with gaming and DirectX API experience, they need to have collateral experience - hence the reason the great majority of the team were pilots.

If that talent is working elsewhere developing next-generation flight simulation product, then it is only MS that will have suffered. And then the policy will most assuredly be revealed as having been short-sighted.

And we will be flying around on some other code. And some other developer will have the money.

OK, I read you. But it also opens a discussion on how effective ACES was. No matter how much we tell everybody how much WE love it because it works for us, there is a rather large group of customers that decided they don't like it. FS2004 was a success in with customers (after a tough first 3 months) but FSX is not out of that tough period as we speak. I think there is nobody here that feel ACES done a great job on FSX. Sure we don't know the conditions they were working under but there are a lot of issues, a lot of buggies and a lack of speed that was only solved by the CPU's that came online in the last 6 months.

A game like FS consists of 4 parts (sure there are other parts like sound, nav databases etc but these are all simple compared to the 4 below) :

1) modeling (aircraft, scenery, landscape etc). All stuff Aerosoft could do. We got more modelers in our offices then ACES ever had.

2) the mathematics (flight models, weather etc). Not saying this is easy stuff, but you can buy it. We done so for professional projects and it surprised me how straight forward it is.

3) the game engine (rendering agent). You don't develop those, you buy them. Costs a bloody fortune but they are done by teams of amazing people who work years and years on them. Problem is that they don't really fit an wide environment as FS needs and will need adapting.

4) fitting it all together. The most complex bit, the project management bit and where I think ACES was not as efficient as it could be.

What's interesting is that you can BUY 1, 2 and 3. It does not need to be done in your own office. Item 4 is the killer however.

Now Aerosoft is by far the biggest FS addon company. We got somewhere around 30 full time employees and 50 external developers at any given time. But there is no way we could afford an investment like this (certainly not with credits as tight as this). And then I am not even thinking about the million dollars or so you need to position this product as MS done with FS. You simply need deep pockets or patient banks. We got pockets, big enough to support rather large developments spanning a year or more, but not on this scale.

So, we just sit, stay on industry standards with all we do (who would have thought there is interest in a static trainer for a Catalina?) so we can move in any direction and wait it out. As I said before, there WAS no announced FS11 a few weeks ago and we did not expect anything until late 2010. So until that time nothing changes. But if MS wants to continu with flight sims (and all indications so far is that they do), closing ACES will not be the major problem. It's easier then you actually think.

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Simon, in my opinion you are you are forecasting something that is not going to happen anytime soon. By this I mean your presumed take over of what MSFS has become by somebody else. If MS could not make the numbers work then who on earth is? Austin and his X-Plane? I think not. It is one thing to develop a Flight Simulator, it is quiet another to get users of FS9/FSX to "jump ship" to something else entirely. I am sure that more people are downloading the X-Plane demo since the demise of ACES but this does not mean that all of them are finding it to their liking - in fact a lot are not given some of the threads on AVSIM. The consensus seems to be that X-plane is a loooooooooooong way off from being FSX.

MS, if and when it decides to carry on with FSNext development, will simply lay the neccesary cash down in front of some of the most talented people in the industry and bob's your uncle, they will have the right team for the job just like that. And those ex ACES team members who are still holding a grudge against MS can carry on doing whatever it is they are doing.

As much as we all love to hate MS, the fact is that these are very rational people who take measured decisions just like me and you. I am more than sure that MS would not burn it's bridges with the ACES team anymore than it absolutely had to. You are just presuming that the ACES team was treated very badly by MS as there is no real evidence to support this - the media obviously picked up on all the worst details (fired by email! etc) but we do not really know what went on there. Phil Taylor left for the Larabee team not so long ago - it seems clear to me that he knew what was in store for ACES, and I am sure that most, if not all of ACES knew it too.

Konrad

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Mathijs,

The statement Microsoft made regarding the closing of ACES is very similar to what they said when they announced the closing of the more profitable and main stream Ensemble Studio and the future of the Ages of Empires franchise (which there still is no visibility on.) Therefore I call it PR mumbo-jumbo. It is a canned, vacuous PR line and it is impossible to read much into it.

From what I have gathered MGS, especially after the management changes in last August, has undergone a strategic review of the direction it wants to go and I think it is pretty obvious that they are moving away from developing PC-based games in-house. Most of the in-house studios have been gradually closed down over the last 2 years: FASA, Carbonated, as well as Ensemble. Even Bungie, which is more closely aligned with the direction MSFT wants to go and made the future of the Xbox secure, became external with MSFT only taking a minority stake. There is some well reasoned speculation that MGS is shifting its internal game development focus on producing more mass market casual games in order to compete more directly with the Wii.

I don't think the 40 people at ACES in and of it self would satisfy shareholders. Even the 1,400 total layoffs across the firm were criticized by many shareholders as too little. Maybe MGS was given a quota from the top to cut of a hundred people or so. Management looked for areas where they could cut people without hurting revenues too much and given the pipeline at ACES over 2009, combined with the direction they were moving MGS in, it was an easy call. Presumably MSFS had been a kind of sacred cow of sorts up until recently given the length of the franchise and its history with the company. I'm not saying MGS will not develop games internally but the model of in-house design studios certainly is dead. But you have to wonder why, if MSFT was committed to the franchise but just wanted to roll the development directly into MGS; they would toss out the developers. If it's true what is said about the shelf life of the code then it sounds like rebooting to develop FSNext is going to put the next version far off into the future at the very least.

There is no information out there yet that would indicate for certain that the future of the franchise is dead. But there is certainly a big question mark hanging over it. When they say, in relation to the closing of ACES, that it is, "to align our people against our highest priorities" it doesn't make me very confident. And even if we do finally see a new version it will likely be so far in the future that it isn't even worth thinking about right now. In the interim, like some of the Ensemble team did, my hope is that some of the ACES team will decide to form a new independent studio and continue to support the current platform until MSFT decides what to do with the IP.

Ok, good comments (those are rare these days, lol).

First, forget about the ACES guys doing it separate from MS, there is so many copyrights on the code they would have to start with a totally empty screen and if MS likes to do so it could make life totally impossible for them. There is not need for them to support it as they never did (or hardly did). Actual support from ACES, even to major addon companies like Aerosoft was always serious appreciated but rare. To be honest, in some way they needed our help as much as we needed theirs. ACES gone does not affect our support one little bit.

And I said it before and I say it again. There WAS no new version of FS announced so there is nothing 'canceled'. Now IF there would be a new version it would not have come before late summer 2010 so until that time nothing actually changes for the average simmer. At this moment it is OUR problem, not the customers problem. Besides many customers still have FSX to upgrade to and the last week or so we seen many of them do so.

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Btw, this is about the most sensible discussion I seen on forums about this issue. Thanks for the way people take time to write the messages. Many clearly show that the author thought about it.

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Feel free to enjoy FS2004, I know I do at times.

So do I - just to let people know I'm not a FS9 hater, I just believe it had it's time ... now here are a few nice shots I took in FS9 :

( if it's utterly OT here, don't hesitate to move it ... )

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Simon, in my opinion you are you are forecasting something that is not going to happen anytime soon. By this I mean your presumed take over of what MSFS has become by somebody else. If MS could not make the numbers work then who on earth is? Austin and his X-Plane? I think not. It is one thing to develop a Flight Simulator, it is quiet another to get users of FS9/FSX to "jump ship" to something else entirely. I am sure that more people are downloading the X-Plane demo since the demise of ACES but this does not mean that all of them are finding it to their liking - in fact a lot are not given some of the threads on AVSIM. The consensus seems to be that X-plane is a loooooooooooong way off from being FSX.

MS, if and when it decides to carry on with FSNext development, will simply lay the neccesary cash down in front of some of the most talented people in the industry and bob's your uncle, they will have the right team for the job just like that. And those ex ACES team members who are still holding a grudge against MS can carry on doing whatever it is they are doing.

As much as we all love to hate MS, the fact is that these are very rational people who take measured decisions just like me and you. I am more than sure that MS would not burn it's bridges with the ACES team anymore than it absolutely had to. You are just presuming that the ACES team was treated very badly by MS as there is no real evidence to support this - the media obviously picked up on all the worst details (fired by email! etc) but we do not really know what went on there. Phil Taylor left for the Larabee team not so long ago - it seems clear to me that he knew what was in store for ACES, and I am sure that most, if not all of ACES knew it too.

Konrad

I think we agree on timescales - there is no imperative whatsoever for this to transpire anytime soon. However, the sheer business appeal of a void in the flight simulation universe left by MS's `departure`, `stall`, `abandonment` - choose the appropriate semantic to fit the interpretation - will, surely, cause development houses to look again at the market opportunity? One that was previously denied by MS's own presence as a barrier to competition.

The likely candidates would be X-Plane, Oleg Maddox (Il-2) or the TCS (Black Shark) team, all with recent experience of the genre on current technology. But there is nothing to stop a startup, wherever it may come from... ACES2 even, if they wanted to go down that route.

In marketing terms the game is wide open. While a market can usually support two products in a high/low split and allow both to prosper, the unsettling influence of a third competitor often destabilises the whole platform to the detriment of all. Most developers would be cautious launching a FS-related alternative into a market dominated by FSX and supported by X-Plane. But now there is a clear gap...

The one thing that even the most starry-eyed developer can take from all this discussion is that the simmer base wants, expects - hell, needs a next-generation product because ultimately FSX is unsatisfying and is never going to be developed further or have any of the remaining issues addressed... that line drawn in the sand is now written in stone. FSX is a done deal, make the best of it, because it can't get any better - MS have locked the code away to ensure that.

But in the world of software development the difference between cancellation and abandonment, and announcement and commitment is as thin as the line between truth and fiction in a Microsoft press release. There is nothing to stop MS using this approach as a means to actually allow an outside contractor to take the franchise on, then buy them out with an offer they can't refuse and re-brand the product as FS Next... conspiratorially, one might suggest this approach often leads to `fresh blood` and a new focus and initiative, drive and determination. It could also be a way for MS to distance themselves from any criticism of a `future FSXI` that offers no retro-compatibility (something which has always been a hallmark of the franchise until this point).

But in this case I dont think that is true - the mighty monolith has effectively shot itself in the foot and the simmers distrust of MS has now reached new levels. FSX is branded as a DX10 product and now it never will be. So they lied. And now they cannot deliver on the initial promise.

Into that environment, opportunity beckons...

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More interesting is that the MS business argument for FS as an ongoing franchise makes no sense even to the close partners - everyone knows you dont just pluck a complete sim out of hat, it takes long-lead time development and careful market analysis. And if you want platform support from the point of first sale, your developer partners also need a lead time as well... putting it out to pasture while pledging continued support is clearly nothing more than BS.

So, what market analysis have MS carried out? Have YOU ever been asked for your opinion by MS? Seems to me that ACES contribution to forums and blog sites after years of silence was the market analysis - and now MS have chosen to ignore EVERYTHING they've been told. I've monitored gaming sites for years and I have never seen anyone, ever, calling for an online flight simulation `game` with any support whatsoever. So what possible reason could there be for even thinking that MS might go in that direction? Wishful thinking perhaps, that MS would never be so stupid as to abandon something that has not only brought so much pleasure to so many, but also so much income directly and indirectly into the MS coffers.

Maybe - just maybe - they really ARE that stupid.

All of which renders MS pitiful requests for some kind of ephemeral `support` from the community about as likely as FS11 being in the stores for Xmas 2010.

What I did like about the Register article was the insinuation that Windows support isn't necessary for a successful flight simulator. If I could remove myself completely from the MS product range I would love to. One of the main reasons I kept with Windows was because that was the platform on which my simming depended. Everything else I do with a computer could equally well be handled from within a.n.other operating system, and I've already stated that my conversion to Windows 7, a done deal in so far as the benefits to FS were looking possibly substantial, is now on permanent hold.

Perhaps MS will actually suffer for their blundering short-sightedness? Wouldn't that be funny..? ;)

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Snave,

I totally agree with what you say and I'm still at a loss as to why or even what MS is up to! Beggars belief..... but time will tell no doubt, as we all know the next version is not due till late 2010 (if at all now).

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More interesting is that the MS business argument for FS as an ongoing franchise makes no sense even to the close partners - everyone knows you dont just pluck a complete sim out of hat, it takes long-lead time development and careful market analysis. And if you want platform support from the point of first sale, your developer partners also need a lead time as well... putting it out to pasture while pledging continued support is clearly nothing more than BS.

So, what market analysis have MS carried out? Have YOU ever been asked for your opinion by MS? Seems to me that ACES contribution to forums and blog sites after years of silence was the market analysis - and now MS have chosen to ignore EVERYTHING they've been told. I've monitored gaming sites for years and I have never seen anyone, ever, calling for an online flight simulation `game` with any support whatsoever. So what possible reason could there be for even thinking that MS might go in that direction? Wishful thinking perhaps, that MS would never be so stupid as to abandon something that has not only brought so much pleasure to so many, but also so much income directly and indirectly into the MS coffers.

Maybe - just maybe - they really ARE that stupid.

All of which renders MS pitiful requests for some kind of ephemeral `support` from the community about as likely as FS11 being in the stores for Xmas 2010.

What I did like about the Register article was the insinuation that Windows support isn't necessary for a successful flight simulator. If I could remove myself completely from the MS product range I would love to. One of the main reasons I kept with Windows was because that was the platform on which my simming depended. Everything else I do with a computer could equally well be handled from within a.n.other operating system, and I've already stated that my conversion to Windows 7, a done deal in so far as the benefits to FS were looking possibly substantial, is now on permanent hold.

Perhaps MS will actually suffer for their blundering short-sightedness? Wouldn't that be funny..? ;)

MS is not stupid. You don't build one of the biggest companies in the world being stupid. You make mistakes and you fix them

Look for some reason you do not want to accept the fact that MS owns the code of FSX (not ACES) and that they can do what they want. They can hire a new team and do FS12. They closed ACES but they said that they would not abandon FS. ACES did not work out, but FS did. Look I fired the main developer of the F16 because we did not get along anymore and it did release better then it was promised. I cancelled the contract with sibWings on the Catalina because they were one year late and not good enough and look how that project is going now. I choose not to work with those people anymore because they were not able to deliver. I did not cancel the projects. Why can't MS do the same, if only on a different scale? They sure done it before. The canceled TS2 and restarted it, based on the same code, just with new management.

Believing all you read in an article in the Registry is just as silly as believing FS11 would not be based on DX11. You can't be serious Simon when you write that without laughing loudly. What was written in that article was based on a rather silly list of what would be cool in the next sim. Most of it would never have made it to Release Status. I got those lists for every project.

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Snave,

I totally agree with what you say and I'm still at a loss as to why or even what MS is up to! Beggars belief..... but time will tell no doubt, as we all know the next version is not due till late 2010 (if at all now).

The next version was never scheduled before 2010. That's what we have been telling people all the time. Until late summer 2010 the situation will be 100% the same, if ACES would still be operational or if MS decides not to do a new version. So relax and enjoy your sim.

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By the biggest mistake ever about to be made are you referring specifically to the word "Live" in Games for Windows Live?

Konrad

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By the biggest mistake ever about to be made are you referring specifically to the word "Live" in Games for Windows Live?

Konrad

That, or `game` or `Windows`. Take your pick... ;)

No, in truth I mean they fire the whole team in a manner that serves only to p-off the entire community, then have to backpedal like a politician at re-election time, also bringing the whole sorry saga to the attention of the BBC!

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7874937.stm

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I dont think so:

http://members.microsoft.com/careers/searc...;SortOrder=Desc

http://members.microsoft.com/careers/searc...4D-9EB027033424

Either the MS `mistake` is being corrected, or else the biggest ever is about to be made.

I'm not very familiar with Games for Windows Live but it looks like it isn't much more than a multiplayer platform. Just because it works on the service doesn't necessarily mean you will be forced to use it to play the games. Presumably it would be more of a matter of optimizing for compatibility.

If this is the direction they want to go certainly they will focus more on appealling to the more casual player but this doesn't necessarily have to be to the detriment of those that want to use it as a serious simulator. It was mentioned that one of the new features for FS11 would be a career mode. That may not appeal to the hard core FSer but just like the missions I would highly doubt that it would be mandatory that you use it. Besides everyone benefits from MSFS having a larger audience even if some people may not use it the way others think they should.

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I do hope you are right.

But fear you may be missing the point of `broadening the appeal` - It ALWAYS involves pandering to the lowest common denominator.

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But isn't broadening the appeal ultimately the whole point of a flight sim anyway? Both FS9 and FSX have come a long way in broadening the appeal (pretty decent tutorials, learning centre, tons of missions, rewards system, user friendly GUI, lots of realism sliders and options etc) and in my opinion it is vital that FS always remains a GAME. When writing I often hesitate to call FSX a "game", should I use "simulator" instead? This identity crisis is not a good thing at all. FS should always be a GAME first and a simulator second. There cannot realistically be one without the other. Can there? As posted above I also think it is wrong to assume that this is an either/or situation.

Give MS some credit here (c'mon Simon, you can do it! ;) ) - they did an excellent job of bringing casual gamers a casual game and hardcore simmers a decent simulator.

Is this not where X-Plane has a lot of homework to do if it ever wants to be a competitor in anything other than theory?

Konrad

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Has anyone considered that perhaps MS simply does not know (at the fundamental level) what it should be doing for FSNext?

With FSX they missed both the multi core boat (focusing instead on pure MHz speed - which is how it all looked just after FS9 released) as well as the DX10 boat. Today, with 1st gen Corei7 out, Windows7 in 10 odd months along with DX11, 4 cores today but 8 cores (16 with HT!) very soon, PhysX vs Havok vs on-cpu physics, the list goes on and on... Just how many variables are going to change in the next 12 months alone, never mind 24!?

DX11 is obviously one of the most important elements in this equation - the last thing anyone needs is another DX preview mode. With soooo much still to happen just on this front what is it EXACTLY they are supposed to be coding for today, or tomorrow? Lets not forget DX11 GPU hardware which is still a good while away (Larrabee anyone?).

How many fortune-tellers do you think MS consults? What would you do faced with all these relative "unknowns"? Adopt a wait-and-see approach perhaps?

Konrad

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But isn't broadening the appeal ultimately the whole point of a flight sim anyway? Both FS9 and FSX have come a long way in broadening the appeal (pretty decent tutorials, learning centre, tons of missions, rewards system, user friendly GUI, lots of realism sliders and options etc) and in my opinion it is vital that FS always remains a GAME. When writing I often hesitate to call FSX a "game", should I use "simulator" instead? This identity crisis is not a good thing at all. FS should always be a GAME first and a simulator second. There cannot realistically be one without the other. Can there? As posted above I also think it is wrong to assume that this is an either/or situation.

Give MS some credit here (c'mon Simon, you can do it! ;) ) - they did an excellent job of bringing casual gamers a casual game and hardcore simmers a decent simulator.

Is this not where X-Plane has a lot of homework to do if it ever wants to be a competitor in anything other than theory?

Konrad

The nature of all massively multiplayer online (MMO) games is that they are competitive, combative and ultimately destructive, acquisitional games with a clear `winner and loser` reward-based system - or in the case of MMO Social games , have become nothing more than an excuse to meet online for a chat and the nurturing of cliques under a broad `common interest` spectrum where the `game` is subservient to the `community`.

Through all this (and indeed preceding all this be a decade or more) Flight Simulation - or more accurately flight simulation - has ploughed its own unique furrow, freed of the shackles of `winners` and `losers`, buddy-driven `join my club` acquisitive (or in some cases suspect) narrow-interest exclusivity and the inane need to have victory over everyone. Able to BE all those things to those that want, while still standing apart from the most vacuous of elements that inexorably lead to the Diminished Condition - the attraction of stupid people who only want to drag the `game` down to their level.

FS has - pretty much uniquely - avoided most of the pitfalls of Lowest Common Denominator gaming by steering clear of the elements that potentially, they now seek to embrace.

The unanswered question - and as I alluded to earlier certainly in my case it's never even been asked - is this: Could the success of the FS franchise, it's long term stability and steady, universal growth be precisely because it eschews those puerile `scores & prizes` in favour of personal growth, individuality and a superior sense of self-satisfaction..?

After all, the areas that would most closely represent the activity base of the MMO - VA's and Mission-based awards are only an infinitesimally small part of the user base, and have consistently failed to attract a substantial proportion of new entrants. Granted the enthusiasts are enthusiastic, but then I'm sure the users of Sociolotron or Red Light Center are equally enthusiastic in their MMO of choice, and surely nobody could wish to be part of that here..? (you might need to look those up, if you're over 18).

If FS pursues the path of MMO, then it's finished. Not in the the early stages, as no doubt some of the avaricious and violent social misfits who inhabit the virtual worlds elsewhere will pop across to see if they can be a success in this world after being a loser in theirs, but the absence of a goal-based multiplayer strategy system ultimately makes FS the success it is, not a failure that needs a `revamp`. The typical MMO enjoys a degree of modest success in the early stages through the attraction of newness, then becomes a sad, declining place as other MMO come along, and the part-time players move on to something else. All you do is exchange long-term failure and inanity for short-term promotional benefit. EVERY MMO I have ever experienced is divided along `us` and `them` grounds, with a dominant `character`. This is the very antithesis of what flying is all about.

Sure, accommodate the online gamers. But this hobby already does, and the structure, format and usage of VA's is already established and meeting the needs of the online few, leaving the rest of us, the many, to enjoy the sim world in our own way. And most choose the solitary path. The question MS needs to ask itself is this: Is the very reason for the endurance and longevity of the flight sim franchise precisely because it provides a sanctuary from such banality and repetition..?

The only other reason for making FS into an MMO is to create a fee-based system. And there is no way on earth I'm getting into a subscription-based service with MS. An MS who, need I remind, decided arbitrarily to close the studio and with it the support we had already bought and paid-for...

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I will be the first to admit that I have spent neither cent nor second on MMO's. I have read a lot about them so am familiar with the model. I do not at all think that Live=MMO.

Bandwidth allowing of course Live could be so many things - streaming of photoscenery/autogen/weather on the fly from dedicated servers via subscription, perhaps doing away with AI altogether - just mirror real world flights in FS direct? Imagine flying in the Cape Canaveral area in "real time" to witness the launch of the shuttle as you watch it happening on CNN - the possibilities are endless... this is what I envision Live to mean.

Konrad

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That is exactly what I fear - that to fully encompass the experience one must be online - with all the costs and cretinosity that represents.

It's a glass half empty versus glass half full argument, and only time will tell.

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