• Flight Sim World - One Year Later

    Clouds And The World Environment

    By adding Simul trueSKY clouds to Flight Sim World, many saw this as the peak of their development by really bringing the sky environment to life. trueSKY added realistic shader-rendered clouds to the simulator with a soft approach to clipping, meaning you could fly through these without them disappearing in front of you. Previous simulations had used billboarding to make clouds; a group of 2D textures wrapped around one another with a single central anchor point.

    Where a lot of simulators lacked good weather and cloud simulation, Flight Sim World excelled at this. Weather particle effects on the aircraft windshield that moved dynamically to your movement, clouds that wouldn't go amiss in the real world and sky colors that (albeit a little exaggerated) filled the world with color and life. They never got a chance to implement real-world weather, but on their final update did add dynamic weather that would change naturally over time. This added an extra level of depth to the sky simulation and for many, this was a step in the right direction.

    Flight Sim World     Flight Sim World

    PBR or Physically Based Rendering was also added to FSW, meaning you could also get a lot more detail out of the aircraft model and world environment based on what material they were made of. PBR managed the reflection and up close detail depending on how light hit objects. Bump mapping on aircraft also excelled when it came to the level of detail you could see when looking up close at surfaces.

    Orbx provided their FTX Global add-on to be packaged with the simulator by default. This gave the world scenery a lot more variety when compared to FSX and P3D, with higher quality textures and more variety of landclass tiles to choose from. Different continents also had their own sub-textures, meaning whenever you flew trans-continentally (admittedly not very often, you're in a small prop plane!), your departure and arrival landscape always looked different. With area-specific add-ons like the freeware Kahului Air Mission Pack, it also upgraded the scenery in and around the Hawaiian islands and airports, giving the simulator some focus areas that look even better than the rest!

    ESP may not be the prettiest SDK to use, but Dovetail definitely managed to do a lot with it. I stand by the fact that to me, this was possibly the nicest looking flight simulator ever.

    Flight Sim World     Flight Sim World

    The User Interface

    This was something Dovetail Games had free realm on, and they did a fantastic job! Created in Autodesk Scaleform, they really modernised the look and feel of the old clunky FSX menu and brought it into the 21st century. Each menu was clean and easy to follow, navigation was simple and everything was exactly where you expected it to be.

    The front screen of Flight Sim World was also clean, spacious and simple to follow. The only hiccup that many saw was the fact that a lot of the space was taken up by adverts, with only a few in-game screen shots thrown in.

    As with Flight School, I thoroughly enjoyed the Pilot Profile/Logbook page which broke everything down from your latest flights, completed mission achievements, and converted your virtual flight hours to an equivalent real-world license. Setting up and creating flight plans was also as simple as can be.

    Flight Sim World     Flight Sim World

    In the Flight Planner, you also had the option to type in VOR locations to create your own routes following real-world airways, or free-hand click on the map to add your own custom waypoints and follow your own lines. This was both intuitive as it meant both beginner and experienced simmers could just click and fly!

    Above all, the theme song wasn't half bad either!

    The Future Of Dovetail Games And Flight Simulation

    As it stands, it doesn't look like Dovetail Games will be releasing a brand new flight simulator for a little while, if ever. The disaster that was Flight Sim World in terms of PR and their view in the public eye led to a rather mundane period which saw both the company and the majority of flight simmers at an all-time low. The one silver lining however is that FSX: Steam Edition (brought over to the digital platform by DTG) is still going strong and sees an average of 3,500 users on it daily looking at the stats on SteamDB. In fact, despite there being no Flight Sim team in concrete, it still gets a few small updates and tweaks as well as bug fixes on a fairly regular basis!

    Flight Sim World     Flight Sim World

    Checking these same stats on Flight Sim World on SteamDB also shows surprisingly that despite a year of inactivity, the simulator still attracts a good 25-30 users DAILY with very few moments of downtime with 0 in-game users! There is certainly an appeal that Flight Sim World had, albeit small, that still manages to attract a handful of users as their main simulator setup.

    You can also look to the other two main projects Dovetail Games run to see that it has managed to shake past this episode and move on with their development, putting a lot more focus into Train Sim World which has slowly increased in users and popularity as of recent times, and the new namesake of FSW, Fishing Sim World.

    Flight Sim World     Flight Sim World

    Other simulators have also been able to push into the gap that was left by the fall of Flight Sim World, with X-Plane 11 filling the entertainment spot that was open and Prepar3D v4 giving us the 64-bit ESP platform we were hoping for.

    But remember that Dovetail Games are by no means a small company. They may not be your favorite, and some feel they are trying to monopolise the simulator market, but when you look at the last ten years and the amount of content they have brought into simulation as a whole, they might very well have saved the genre (especially when you consider the dwindling numbers of the late 2000s).

    By keeping the Flight Simulator series alive, Dovetail Games have at least managed to keep the hobby going for a large part of the community.

    Flight Sim World     Flight Sim World

    Video

    Michael Hayward


    7 Comments
    1. b52bob's Avatar
      b52bob -
      This was a great sim with great potential. It was killed in all directions - Steam’s rumored control of third party add ons, backlash from developers, criticism from the community and the impression that Steam was just money grabbing. I liked it, supported it, and still have it on my system. It was a mess brought about by all sides. Have gone to XP-11, deleted FSX, and use P3D rarely only for those aircraft not in XP.
    1. rooitou's Avatar
      rooitou -
      I agree with review. It wasn't a bad sim, but wasn't compelling enough to have in addition to FSX, P3D or X-Plane11. The market simply was saturated and FSW didn't offer anything which stood out to make it a "must-have". Personally I didn't like the scenery that much as the trees didn't blend well and stood out too prominently. I also found their new cloud technology a bit strange as it created a FLIR-like image when inside them and looked like cellophane plastic from the outside.
    1. eric5150's Avatar
      eric5150 -
      The best thing I thought Flight Sim World provided was better flight dynamics. I am soon to be a private pilot and when trying to practice spins and even stalls to a certain extent in both P3D and FSX, it is not realistic. In Flight Sim World, it was a lot more realistic with the way you would enter a spin/stall and the recovery. I still to this day cannot do a realistic spin in P3D or FSX. I obviously can get the plane to stall in both P3D and FSX but it does not mimic the real-world "feel" of stalls that well. (I also wish that FSW came with a Cessna like I fly in the real-world)

      The thing that killed FSW is the monetary structure of addons and not trusting creators outside of FSW. You need to give free reign to other creators as that is what has made FSX and P3D an excellent sim in terms of scenery, addons, aircraft. I tried X-Plane 11 but it is too foreign for me and even though it has made leaps and bounds in scenery creation, it still is not enough for me.

      I'm now, after reading this article, reinstalling FSW to relive it with my new computer (Core [email protected] GeForce 2080 RTX OC). We'll see how much better it is now.
    1. vegad's Avatar
      vegad -
      Good article. Thank you. FSW was/is a very good sim killed by greed. DTG reps did initially say devs would have to sell via Steam but revised their statement saying they didn't want to alter the existing ecosystem. Major P3D/FSX devs were sore they didn't get Microsoft to allow their consortium to build on ESP but went solely with DTW. They started a negative campaign driven by mob mentality that quickly scared folks from investing on FSW. Similar statements have already been released from some of the same developers/influencers about MS FS 2020 as a form of warning to Microsoft. Notice how quickly Microsoft clarified their position towards developers. All we have is hope that Microsoft doesn't turn greedy asking for a cut of each dev sales. If things turn out as the influential devs want it, I'm sure will still have to pay full price for the same airplanes in MS FS 2020 for one of the devs.
    1. zswobbie1's Avatar
      zswobbie1 -
      vegad, the new simulation from Microsoft is called Microsoft Flight Simulator, & NOT MS FS 2020.

      Us simmers should stick to the actual name of the forthcoming simulator, as stated by Microsoft themselves, & not made up names such as FS2019, FS2020 & the name now used by yourself.
    1. K0TNT's Avatar
      K0TNT -
      After seeing the early videos for FSW and the declaration that a six core was the minimum hardware needed, I managed to move to an 8 core computer that really runs rings around my old dual core that couldn't even load XP1)! Literally the week I bought the new computer came the news of FSW's demise. Fortunately I was able to get one of the last copies and it is really stunning. I run it from time to time ahead of FSX Steam and XP11. Altho XP11 has come a long way with addon aircraft, none approach the visual experience in FSW. Still my favorite despite some of the minor bugs and glitches. Former Link C-11 Instrument Trainer instructor, USAF.
    1. neilfb's Avatar
      neilfb -
      If Dovetail Games had one as I suggested and make a 64bit FSX then everything would have worked! Okay they wouldn't have made as much money but many people would have moved from FSX because of OOM's alone. It's a shame really I got the impression FSW was made by computer guys and not flightsim enthusiasts.
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