• FSX 10th Anniversary - A Decade of Fun!

    FSX 10th Anniversary - A Decade of Fun!

    By Michael Hayward

    10th Anniversary of FSX

    The 10th October 2016 marked ten whole years since Microsoft Games Studio and the ACES team released FSX to the world. In this article we'll take a look back at the history of the development of the simulator, the fall of the ACES team, and the split which resulted in the eventual creation of Dovetail Games Flight School, their future flight simulator, and Lockheed Martin's Prepar3D.

    A Brand New Flight Simulator

    After the major success of Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004: A Century of Flight (FS2004), Microsoft was quick to push a new simulator into the market. This simulator also showcased a brand new API they had developed - DirectX 10 (within FSX, you can turn on DX10 Preview Mode in the settings). This new release also included a revamped multiplayer element which added features such as cockpit sharing and allowed users to be air traffic controllers. Many new graphical enhancements were also added to this tenth release, making FSX the best looking version to date. Apart from the numerous scenery and environmental enhancements, other visual effects included animated jet bridges and wing flex on aircraft.

    FSX anniversary - Paul Lange
    Hal Bryan in front of the Microsoft Flight Simulator awards cabinet. Bryan was a Flight Simulator Community Evangelist who would respond to comments about Microsoft Flight Simulators on the Microsoft Blog and Forums. He would also attend different Flight Simulator events.

    (Photo Credit: Owen Hewitt)

    A new API called SimConnect was also added to the simulator, which gave third party software FSUIPC-like access to the flight simulator's numerous functions and variables. Other additions included an improved 'Learning Center' with real-life flight instructor Ron Machado. To cater to a younger audience, new missions complete with awards (in the form of virtual medals) were included, adding a new element to the simulator.

    Two versions of FSX were released to the public. Alongside the Standard version there was the Deluxe edition which included the Grumman G-21A Goose, Maule Orion M-7-260-C Super Rocket as well as furnished polished versions of the Beechcraft Baron 58, Cessna 172S Skyhawk, and the Mooney M-20-M Bravo.

    The Deluxe Edition also included an on-disk Software Development Kit (SDK) including Kiosk Mode (allowing the user to replay a mission repeatedly, and initially intended for museums and displays purposes), and improvements to graphical features such as light bloom.

    An additional add-on, which added even more features, was the Acceleration pack. This included the Augusta Westland, Boeing F-18 and P-51D Mustang. It also included new scenery enhancements such as Berlin, Istanbul, Cape Canaveral and Edwards Air Force Base (adding 60 cm/pixel textures and new 3D buildings).

    After its initial launch two service packs were released. Service Pack 1 improved the game's stability and performance whilst Service Pack 2 allowed multiplayer compatibility with FSX: Acceleration and the option to use DirectX 10 in 'Preview Mode'. The Gold Edition (released later) combined both editions of the game into one. It also included all previous service packs pre-installed.

    Note: At the time, visiting the Microsoft Flight Simulator X web site enabled you to download an additional bonus mission if you had purchased the Acceleration Pack.

    After releasing the Gold Edition, the ACES team started to cut back on FSX development and began working on a different project: Microsoft Train Simulator 2. This, however, never the saw the light of day as the ACES team were disbanded soon after making the Train Simulator 2 announcement.

    Tags: fsx

    23 Comments
    1. ronmays's Avatar
      ronmays -
      Good article. Enjoyed it
    1. Barkingside's Avatar
      Barkingside -
      Excellent article. I cannot help but think that between Fs9 and FSX this was the golden age of simming when 3rd party freeware built the hobby and a transition toward commercial developers took hold. Future sims will no doubt be beyond the resources and individual talents of the lone designer.
    1. DominicS's Avatar
      DominicS -
      Fantastic article Michael, thank you!

      With help from the flight simming community, another tens years is entirely possible!
    1. DrawyahGames's Avatar
      DrawyahGames -
      Quote Originally Posted by ronmays View Post
      Good article. Enjoyed it
      Glad you enjoyed it dude, I had fun making it. 😊

      Quote Originally Posted by Barkingside View Post
      Excellent article. I cannot help but think that between Fs9 and FSX this was the golden age of simming when 3rd party freeware built the hobby and a transition toward commercial developers took hold. Future sims will no doubt be beyond the resources and individual talents of the lone designer.
      Yeah, I definitely agree with you - I personally like to also look back at old freeware aircraft I used years ago! 😄

      Quote Originally Posted by DominicS View Post
      Fantastic article Michael, thank you!

      With help from the flight simming community, another tens years is entirely possible!
      And if we do reach 20 years, I'll be more than happy to update this one! 😂


      Thank you all for all the support!

      ----------------------------------------------------------
      Check out my YouTube Channel for more Simulator and Gaming content!

      https://www.youtube.com/c/drawyahgam...confirmation=1
    1. Roger Wensley's Avatar
      Roger Wensley -
      The one disappointment with FSX was that it still did not include real-world scenery. Rivers just stopped 40 miles from the sea, lakes were the wrong shape, or non-existant. Without Ultimate Terrain it was still just a game, not a flight simulator.
    1. DrawyahGames's Avatar
      DrawyahGames -
      Quote Originally Posted by Roger Wensley View Post
      The one disappointment with FSX was that it still did not include real-world scenery. Rivers just stopped 40 miles from the sea, lakes were the wrong shape, or non-existant. Without Ultimate Terrain it was still just a game, not a flight simulator.
      It would be IMPOSSIBLE for FSX (or any flight simulator for that matter) to use real-world scenery, at least 10 years ago. It's not exactly a small filesize to create this. They couldn't use Google Earth-style mapping as copyright protects this and Bing Maps by Microsoft did not exist at the time.

      Landclass was as close as they could get without making a simulator over 200gb (the average hard drive size back when it released) and avoiding copyright issues.

      Plus the game focuses on the Aircraft and the Airports as opposed to the world. Computational Skill Decomposition, you only focus on what you require as oppsed to anything else. A FLIGHT simulator will focus on the FLIGHT aspect of the simulation, not giving the user a Google Earth-style world.
    1. degeus's Avatar
      degeus -
      Good to read the history , the success and the downfall. On the other hand I do miss additional comments on Prepar3D, how it developed further, now beeing in Version 3.4 and showing tremendous improvents compared with FSX, not only in imagequality but also on functionality and stability.
      Piet de Geus,
      Netherlands
    1. karlhajek's Avatar
      karlhajek -
      Beg to differ:

      The "fun" with FSX (non-Steam version) ends abruptly when the registration process (FSX under Win XP, FSX under Win7) fails abruptly - for a number of reasons - and refuses to resume.

      Eventually M$ provided a so-so "tool" for it (not easy to locate) which did - or most known cases - did NOT rectify the bug.

      Where FS2004 never gave such (or other) troubles.
    1. widgy's Avatar
      widgy -
      Congratulations as well to Nels for keeping Flightsim.com going all these years.
      It may a moot point but I bought my FSX here in Victoria BC, October 6, 2006 and have a POS receipt to prove it.
      I've been flying with Steam-FSX-SE for a couple of years now (mooneys21) so the beat goes on.
    1. dbauder's Avatar
      dbauder -
      Congrats on the 10th anniversary of FSX. I remember going to the 'big box' store to buy it on the very first day. The Cashier remarked "Gee, a lot of people have been buying this today". I installed it on my 2006 machine and it ran like a slide show. Put it aside, went back to FS2002. Then came the first patch (I think developers hate that term, that's why I used it!) and things were MUCH better, and later, Acceleration..

      FSX is now on my 2012 machine and for the first time since 1991 and FS4, I'm reasonably happy with the frame rate. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. The 'sliders' aren't all the way to the right and never will be. Yet, I can fly the PMDG 744 into SFO with the frame rate locked at 30 fps, fine for me. I thank the developers for continuing to come out with new stuff for FSX.
    1. DrawyahGames's Avatar
      DrawyahGames -
      Quote Originally Posted by widgy View Post
      Congratulations as well to Nels for keeping Flightsim.com going all these years.
      It may a moot point but I bought my FSX here in Victoria BC, October 6, 2006 and have a POS receipt to prove it.
      I've been flying with Steam-FSX-SE for a couple of years now (mooneys21) so the beat goes on.
      October 6th eh? Simulator released on the 10th, but I remember in a Podcast, it mentioned that there was an issue with stores getting it and stocking the game early! 😂
    1. azzaro's Avatar
      azzaro -
      Let's see, 10 years... 3 new computers, 3 new operating systems, multiple hardware upgrades, 2 rudder pedals, 2 joysticks. One copy of FSX and many, many great payware and freeware addons. It's been quite the adventure.
      The only game franchise that has even come close to that kind of enduring interest for me is Civilization! Version VI launches in 2 days, BTW.
      Congratulations to the thousands of people, both professionals and fans, that have made this such a captivating and educational endeavour for us all. I suspect FSX will be a dominant force in flight simming for many years yet.

      — Bob Azzaro
    1. aarmin's Avatar
      aarmin -
      Nice summing-up of FSX history. Thanks.

      Since its release I ran it on a different partition from FS9 on a WinXP SP3 OS but the latter continued to be the Sim of my choice, because of the dismal fps I got in FSX. Guess my hardware fell short somewhere.

      Some months ago, upgraded my hardware to an i7 6700K with 16GB DDR4 RAM, a nVidia 980 GPU and SSD on a Win10 OS. Installing FSX-Steam, was amazed at getting over 150 fps on an average. However, could not get FSUIPC to install as it just could not locate the SimConnect file within.
      On installing the boxed version of FSX Deluxe with Acceleration, FSUIPC installed in a breeze but the fps became a staid 30.

      While commenting on the future of flight simming, a line or two on the new kid-on-the-block, 'Flight Gear' would have rounded things up better?

      Thanks again.

      Aarmin
    1. DrawyahGames's Avatar
      DrawyahGames -
      Quote Originally Posted by aarmin View Post
      While commenting on the future of flight simming, a line or two on the new kid-on-the-block, 'Flight Gear' would have rounded things up better?
      I was not allowed to - I was lucky to even mention X-Plane! 😂

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      Check out my YouTube Channel for more Simulator and Gaming content!

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    1. glenold's Avatar
      glenold -
      FSX was the pinnacle of flight simming for me, with one fly in the otherwise perfect ointment - the darned 'Out Of Memory' problem!
    1. aarmin's Avatar
      aarmin -
      Quote Originally Posted by DrawyahGames View Post
      I was not allowed to - I was lucky to even mention X-Plane in it! 😂

      ----------------------------------------------------------
      Check out my YouTube Channel for more Simulator and Gaming content!

      https://www.youtube.com/c/drawyahgam...confirmation=1
      Most surprising and fail to understand why.
      If you do have an opinion on FG, maybe you could share with me individually?
      Thanks.
    1. DrawyahGames's Avatar
      DrawyahGames -
      Quote Originally Posted by aarmin View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by Drawyah Games View Post
      I was not allowed to - I was lucky to even mention X-Plane! 😂

      ----------------------------------------------------------
      Check out my YouTube Channel for more Simulator and Gaming content!

      https://www.youtube.com/c/drawyahgam...confirmation=1
      Most surprising and fail to understand why.
      If you do have an opinion on FG, maybe you could share with me individually?
      Thanks.
      'Not allowed to' was probably the wrong way of putting it. What I probably shave said was that the article was focusing on FSX, the P3D and Dovetail Split and it's 10 year anniversary. I personally have not played FlightGear, but I have watched it's progress and development as a free, open source software, it really has matured considerably! The same can be said with X-Plane (especially with 11 on the horizon), it just shows that along with FSX, flight simulation is still going strong!

      Blame my choice of wording for the initial post! I had just woken up when I made it.

      ----------------------------------------------------------
      Check out my YouTube Channel for more Simulator and Gaming content!

      https://www.youtube.com/c/drawyahgam...confirmation=1
    1. Roger Wensley's Avatar
      Roger Wensley -
      Quote Originally Posted by DrawyahGames View Post
      It would be IMPOSSIBLE for FSX (or any flight simulator for that matter) to use real-world scenery, at least 10 years ago. It's not exactly a small filesize to create this. They couldn't use Google Earth-style mapping as copyright protects this and Bing Maps by Microsoft did not exist at the time.

      Landclass was as close as they could get without making a simulator over 200gb (the average hard drive size back when it released) and avoiding copyright issues.

      Plus the game focuses on the Aircraft and the Airports as opposed to the world. Computational Skill Decomposition, you only focus on what you require as oppsed to anything else. A FLIGHT simulator will focus on the FLIGHT aspect of the simulation, not giving the user a Google Earth-style world.
      I agree with your comments about the priorities of the development of FSX, but given that Ultimate Terrain first came out way before FSX (2005, I think? or maybe 2006) I expected FSX to have made some attempts to catch up with what had been demonstrated as possible by UT.
    1. aarmin's Avatar
      aarmin -
      Appreciate your taking the time to clarify.
      Thank you.

      Aarmin
    1. AdamSzofran's Avatar
      AdamSzofran -
      Hi Michael,

      Thanks for the article. Brings back a lot of memories.

      I'd like to offer one small correction: The person in the photo on page 1 is actually Hal Bryan, not Paul Lange. Hal is now a senior editor at the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

      Cheers,
      Adam
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