• The Corner #53 - When Fun Is(n't) Enough

    When Fun Is(n't) Just Enough

    By Chip Barber (10 October 2010)

    I completed a flight the other night in dear old FS9 (FS Niner to you who are tres' FSCool). In so doing, I used a number of add-ons that I found greatly enhanced my enjoyment, even if they did not add to my perception of truly "being there" (that perception is generally heralded by at least 40mg of Oxy, but that is something entirely different). These included a nice little freeware Cessna 404, FSCaptain, the GoFlight MCP and GF-46/RP48 (somehow, they don't seem so extravagant when listed by their nifty model numbers) panels, FS2Crew voice command software, my FSControls throttle quad and Saitek's sweet little Switch Panel. It is not too often that I am able to manage to get all of my dearest add-on toys to play nicely together, but on the odd occasion that I do, and the stars align and the lion sleeps with instead of devouring the lamb (with mint jelly, naturally), it is quite fun.

    Sure, I hear you rolling your eyes saying "Yeah, well it would be a whole lot more fun in a complete flight deck simulation", to which I say "Yeah, you're damn right it would". But being one who barely has the resources to permit me to enhance my digital experience to the extent that it is, and certainly one who does not have either the resources/room/Boss (not necessarily in that order) that would permit such Earthly delights, well let us just say that it is up to us to make the very best of the hand we've been dealt and buy as much crap as is possible and enjoy the hell out of our hobby without being forced to eat franks and beans as a staple.

    I know, I know. We've been here before. Been over it a hundred times. But when the shoe fits... or when the Foo sh... oops (sorry Nels). You know what I mean.

    But something odd is happening. I'm finding that, in between bites of my hotdog and legumes, my inclination to take to the digital sky is somehow diminished. Shocking, I know. Ever felt that way? I swear, I'm trying. I paint some of my birds with colors and logos I like (ugly as sin, but I'm no painter and all my taste resides in my mouth). I put The Beatles logo on some aircraft, which makes it tres' cool to fly from Liverpool to Hamburg or Heathrow or Orly. I even fire up Radar Contact 4 and FS2Crew (depending on the bird - I've tried using FS2Crew with add-ons that don't support it, and it just doesn't work. Go figure.). Things that used to thrill me terribly. And ... well, let's just say I'm lucky to get to the Top of Climb before my attention wanders and I'm looking to see if there is something other than Franks 'n Beans in the kitchen. Which of course explains why I no longer fit into the default 152.

    You know, we just dropped my son off at college. Maybe that has something to do with my FSDoldrums. Or maybe some deep and dark place within my twisted little psyche has finally realized that we're just sitting and manipulating pixels rather than tooling along at FL350. I know this has been an issue before, but man, this one is baaaaaad.

    So, here's what I'm doing. I've deleted FSX entirely, as it was getting really wonky on me. I've removed a bunch of software from FS2004, and have been really really circumspect about what it is I've put back. I've rearranged my desktop, and switched out the yoke for a joystick. I've even added the TripleHead2Go thingy that was lovingly donated to me from my brother on the occasion of my birthday. That, my friends, is something really cool and it actually took me a little while to get accustomed to it - it truly does change things and gives you a truer to life feel what with the expanded field of view and all.

    Then I go and play the guitar.

    Whisky Tango Foxtrot!?

    One thing is for sure. I ain't giving up on digital flight. By most definitions, I've got a nice kit going here. I've a lovely variety of add-on aircraft with which I may traverse some really breathtaking scenery, to and from airports that are done in loving detail down to icky stains on the tarmac (remember Lefty?).

    Then I go and fire up Railworks.


    Maybe it's just me, but have you noticed of late a distinct lack of 'Holy Crap!' add-ons being released? It almost feels as though my trek of the FSPerimeter is becoming almost frantic as I search for that certain something that will reignite my desire to take to the digi-skies. Perhaps a decade or two ago, had you asked I believe I would have rather undergone root canal than use make-believe flight software, or even worse, train software. Of course, in those days, we're talking green screen and geometric shapes purportedly representing trees, rocks and such. But technology brought us 'there', and as you well know, for the longest time I spent untold time and treasure on my beloved flight simulation. Saturation, perhaps? Maybe I've reached a point where it will take the next technological step in order to bring me back to the flight deck. Intra-cranial implants, maybe?

    Whatever. I can tell you I am impressed with the latest railroad simulator, Railworks. But c'mon, at the end of the day, we're still driving a big honking engine riding on rails going from point A to point B, trying to not break any laws of the rails and of physics. Beautiful to see? Initially, yes indeed. I think I've said this before: maybe we've gotten too close to reality. Finding oneself strapping into the flight deck, or accelerating a steam loco from station to station in the UK is getting so close to reality that it gets to feel like a job. Then it's like "Hey, this used to be fun. What the heck happened?"

    I suspect it will take something truly ground-breaking, novel, new and unusual that will shake up our FSWorld and bring us (OK, me) back to the Captain's seat. I know PMDG is working on their FSX version of the 737NG series, but somehow I'm not convinced that will do it. I mean, it could. They've certainly done before, eh? But as above, it will be even closer to reality than ever. And before you know it, it feels like a Monday morning at the old salt mine getting ready to start yet another week transporting a cabin full of whining adults and vomiting children who will more than likely sue due to my lousy flying skills.

    You know what? I think I need a bigger bang for my buck. Something needs to grab me by the you know what and spin me around, throw me hither and yon, and when it's done, make me really wanna do it all again. Preferably something not of a chemical nature, but at this point ... All I know is I'm having some difficulty finding the excitement, the desire to buckle up and fly the digital skies. FSComplacency, perhaps? To be sure, there is lots that is happening in the fuzzy little world of yours truly, and the fact that I'm not particularly motivated to do much of anything on the old 'puter, and not just Flight Simming, is of some solace. I'm certainly not throwing in the digital towel and going back to playing Spades in some damn chat room in which one is supposed to be playing a card game, but more often than not is replete with sexual innuendo (that's Italian for 'suppository', did you know that?) and desperate "real person" wannabe's who are trying to get some purported female (which is always open to question, btw) to type something dirty for their own twisted gratification. Yuck!

    You know, my intent was to close with something witty involving the use of "Fly-Agra", but considering the above, I think I'll leave it out of the article.

    Three Green!

    Chip Barber
    [email protected]

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