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.
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.