• Installing Add-Ons Into FSX: Steam Edition

    Installing Add-Ons Into FSX: Steam Edition

    By Tristan Ayton

    FSX: Steam Edition Install Guide

    For almost a decade Microsoft's Flight Simulator X has remained the go to software for us to get our flight simulation fix. Whilst other titles have come and gone, or carved their small niche in our virtual skies, FSX has remained that which we benchmark from. Yet the world around FSX did not stand still whilst FSX remained as it was when Microsoft wound up development for it in 2007. Operating systems and the architecture of the home PC evolved in leaps and bounds but FSX maintained just as it was. The end of 2014 saw the release of the first updates to FSX in 7 years with the release of FSX: Steam Edition, and with it a swathe of new pilots in our community. An exciting time no doubt, yet it also poses challenges that the community has not had to face for many years. Today I will be going through some of the differences between installing add-ons for your FSX:SE from the old FSX.

    Before I do this however, it is important to make a distinction between two types of set ups: the single install and the coexistence install. The differences, whilst slight, will have a profound impact on the way you install your extra aircraft and scenery.

    The Coexistence Install

    If you are still holding on to your old Classic (boxed) install of FSX, and for whatever reason want to run both it and Steam Edition on the one PC, you can install FSX:SE alongside Classic and they will work together. New folders will be created alongside your original FSX ones in your ProgramData and AppData locations (in the format of FSX-SE). Your original data and settings remain unaffected, but will also not be copied across. A separate registry entry will be created specifying FSX:SE and the fact that you want coexistence (this is an important point if you do ever take the plunge and move forward with an FSX:SE install only). Firing up FSX:SE in this scenario for the first time will be just like when you installed Classic for the first time.

    The Single Install

    If you are new to the world of FSX, then this is most likely the scenario for you. For veterans of FSX you may have, like me, seen the benefits of all the under the hood tweaking that Dovetail Games has done to improve the stability of FSX:SE over the original then you have or are about to make the jump to only having this ultimate version of FSX installed on your system (If you haven't yet but are preparing to make the switch I highly recommend reading through a two-part guide I published at FSX Insider to help in the transition). This will actually make your installing of add-ons MUCH simpler.

    So with these scenarios in mind, let us proceed. There is one last little piece of ground work I want to cover before we proceed, Where is my FSX:SE installed? This is possibly the most common question I get and I want to show a reliable way of finding it. With FSX:SE installed, open up Steam and navigate to your Games Library.

    FSX: Steam Edition Install Guide

    On your FSX:SE line, right click and select Properties. Then select the Local Files tab and click Browse Local Files...

    FSX: Steam Edition Install Guide     FSX: Steam Edition Install Guide

    FSX: Steam Edition Install Guide

    Hey presto! There is your FSX directory with the familiar file structure that we have come to know and love for the last decade. Take note of the file path as you will need this down the track.

    With this ground work complete, let us look at getting to the fun stuff, installing our add-ons. The installation process for add-ons can be broken down into the following categories: Manual, Smart Installer, Dumb Installer and Optimized Installer.

    Optimized Installer

    The Optimized installer is mainly the realm of payware content. The developers have released their installer being fully aware of the fact that FSX:SE exists and want to make our lives a little easier by allowing us to select which platform to install into. Often these products will also include the ability to install into one of the myriad of Lockheed-Martin's Prepar3D versions as well. This takes the guess work out of installing and is perfect for those who run single or coexistence installs. It scans your registry file and finds the necessary information for where your sim(s) is (are) and gets itself ready. Developers that have done this include SIM720, MilViz and Orbx. Really, this is just select the radio button and click install, nothing further required!

    Dumb Installer

    The Dumb installer is one that assumes you have installed Classic FSX into its default installation path (C:\Program Files\Microsoft Games\Flight Simulator X) and does not in any way interact with your registry file. This may seem bad, but ironically in our situation its great! Simply grab the directory path that you noted earlier and place that in the destination install folder. This is really useful for coexistence installs as you can specify which version of FSX you want it installed into. As the directory structure of FSX:SE is identical to Classic, all it needs is the path and the installer will handle the rest.

    Smart Installer

    I really want to call this the "un-smart" installer but hey. OK so here is where we hit our first hiccup. Smart installers scan your registry file looking for FSX and use that to determine the installation location. Sounds good right? Only problem is that in a coexistence install the Classic installation will ALWAYS be the one it finds. Depending on the developer one of two things happens next, one type will offer you the chance to change the path and the other will not. Fortunately, there are not too many installers out there anymore that do not allow you to change the path, but they are out there (Iris Simulations PC-21 for example). For the ones that allow you to change the path, use the same technique as for Dumb installers and paste in the path to your FSX:SE. For the ones that don't let you change, it's a manual grab of the necessary files from Classic and manually copying them to Steam Edition.

    I'm going to insert a small disclaimer here for a second. One of the things about installers is that they usually register themselves in your PC's registry file. This can cause a problem for coexistence installations as they will only allow you to install once on your PC (like Captain Sim C-130 and most Virtavia products). This means you have to manually copy from one installation into the other of all the required files. This generally means the aircraft folder in your SimObjects\Airplanes folder BUT will probably require some effect and gauge files as well. For that you will need to do some poking around inside the aircraft.cfg file and the panel.cfg file to see which (if any) files it is calling and go hunting for them in their respective folders. If you are worried about breaking something by doing this, there is a bulk option: Copy the complete Gauges and Effects folders from FSX Classic and paste them into FSX:SE. However, DO NOT let it overwrite anything, when you are asked about copy/replace/skip choose skip.


    7 Comments
    1. PhantomTweak's Avatar
      PhantomTweak -
      Great Article!!
      I am certain this will be of great help to many people!
      Pat☺
    1. beana5's Avatar
      beana5 -
      For me FSXSE on my LOCAL DISK C...and my FSX ,along with FS9 on MAIN DISK E..Separate but Equal...For me no Problems
    1. goofyguns's Avatar
      goofyguns -
      Some of my repaints don't show up in FSX-Steam. Specifically repaints for the default F-18, and Dino Cattaneo's F35. I installed the repaints properly, put the texture folder in the aircraft folder, added it to the .cfg file and replaced X with the next number in sequence, made sure the texture name matched the one in the .cfg file and the sim and uivariation lines were unique. In the box version, they show up fine.
    1. pauldpearl's Avatar
      pauldpearl -
      I lost the "voice" and "Interface" sounds on my classic version and am considering switching to or adding a coexisting FSX:SE (As I already have steam too).

      Is it worth getting - if all you ever use is classic (acceleration) missions or add-on missions?
    1. PhantomTweak's Avatar
      PhantomTweak -
      Is it worth getting - if all you ever use is classic (acceleration) missions or add-on missions?
      In my opinion, for what that's worth, the answer is a resounding YES. I have SE and it works fine for me. I haven't gotten a single Out Of Memory fault, and a total of 1 whole BSOD. None since I put in Kosta's Tweaks, a thread stickied at the top of the FSX forum. It works great for me now, and the scenery is quite good, especially any I have added.

      Some of my repaints don't show up in FSX-Steam.
      I've never had a problem. When you add them, do you double check that 1) they are for that exact aircraft, and 2) When you add the section to the aircraft.cfg do you verify that the sim=XXXXXXXX line matches all the others? That can cause a plane to not appear. Also, do you have the Show All Variations radio button at the very bottom of the Select Aircraft screen clicked? That can cause ad-ons to not show up.
      Just trying to think of things it could be..
      Pat 1
    1. jp22's Avatar
      jp22 -
      Did I I miss something? I have both FSX and FSX SE on my machine. I would like the better effects of SE. How do I remove FSX to have just SE on my machine? Is FSX running in the background slowing things down? Will my STeam add ons be lost?
    1. PhantomTweak's Avatar
      PhantomTweak -
      Is FSX running in the background slowing things down?
      No. FSX and FSX:SE are two entirely separate pieces of software. Unless you start them both, only the one you start is running.
      How do I remove FSX to have just SE on my machine?
      There are a number of "instruction manuals" on how to uninstall FSX. I have found THIS ONE to work quite nicely.
      BUT: Once again, having both on your machine is no detriment to either one. The only problem is disk space. Just fire up FSX:SE instead of FSX and away you go.
      Will my STeam add ons be lost?
      No. You can delete FSX from your HD without affecting Steam at all. Any add-ons for FSX will be lost, but not FSX:SE. In fact, should you desire, most freeware add-ons you've put into FSX can be transferred over to SE. Just cut-n-paste them from FSX to SE. Just make sure you use the same folders you do in FSX for the SE version. ...\FSX\Simobjects\Airplanes for example.
      Just do it before you uninstall FSX, of course.

      Does this answer your questions?
      Pat☺
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