Train Sim Devs Getting Into Planes With Microsoft Tech

By Alice O'Connor on July 10th, 2014 at 1:00 pm.

Trains, Planes & Publishing Deals

Microsoft are shutting down Microsoft Flight in October, they announced only last week It’s a sad, small death for what was once of The Big Names in PC gaming. Well, sort of. This week brings news that as Microsoft Flight prepares to fly off into the sunset, Microsoft’s fly ‘em ups will live on in an unexpected way. Train Simulator creators Dovetail Games have licensed the rights to Microsoft’s tech, planning to start making their own flying machines. They’re also re-releasing ye olde Microsoft Flight Sim X on Steam later this year.

The deal gives Dovetail the rights to “develop and publish all-new flight products based on Microsoft’s genre-defining flight technology,” the announcement says. Supposedly they’re “currently investigating new concepts in this area,” planning to release something next year.

To tide people over, they’ll release Flight Sim X on Steam, bundling the Deluxe Edition up with its Acceleration expansion as Microsoft Flight Simulator X: Steam Edition. Or, you know, the Gold Edition, as it used to be called.

Beyond that, what they’re up to is anyone’s guess. Presumably they’re using Flight’s basic code, then plotting their own flight plan. Our Tim Stone quite enjoyed the free-to-play core of Flight, though many grumbled that it wasn’t sim-y enough, and too much was DLC. The recent sim boom shows there’s certainly a market for serious simulators (and sure, gag ones too), so perhaps Dovetail will head in that direction. As for DLC, well, Dovetail do like their DLC. Train Simulator 2013 has a whopping 176 DLC packs, with a combined ticket price of £2,404.24. Part of Flight’s DLC problem was people’s expectations, though.

Dovetail are branching out a fair bit lately, also getting into fishing simulators.

Microsoft recently swore blind for the umpteenth time that they’re starting to look more seriously at PC games again. I wonder if this is part of that plan, or acceptance that they won’t be making flight sims again so they may as well get something for code they just had lying around.

Nyoooooom!

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28 Comments »

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  1. Jason Moyer says:

    Looking forward to purchasing $4000 of DLC for this.

    • CookPassBabtridge says:

      Was that 2 grand price in the article a joke, or is that really the combined cost? Because my interest just went from HMM I MAY WISH TO PERUSE THE CONTENTS OF YOUR SIMULATOR SHOPPE to FARQUE ORPH YOU ARE HAVING A LARF

      • P.Funk says:

        You can see it on steam. The total price of every available DLC for Train Simulator. Its… astounding. Whats more theres a lot of DLC not on Steam.

  2. gbrading says:

    Hey, you want an Airbus A380 with three skins? That’ll be £19.99 please.

    Re-releasing FSX will be good though, especially if multiplayer uses Steam servers. That way people can play as Air-Traffic Control again.

    • Janichsan says:

      “Hey, you want an Airbus A380 with three skins? That’ll be £19.99 please.”

      And in how far would that be different from the situation *before* the acquisition?

      • soldant says:

        It was all third party content with Microsoft seeing nothing out of it – the only benefit was in people buying Flight Sim X but that’s a dead end once everybody who wants it already has the game.

        This time we’ll probably find any 3rd party content will either have to be free or start paying royalties. And it’ll cost even more, as if the high-end FSX addons aren’t already expensive enough.

        • Bureaucromancer says:

          I really doubt it. Especially with Steam integration Dovetail has made moves to make first party stuff significantly easier to use than anything else, but they have yet to make ANY move to prohibit third party payware. There’s actually some really good stuff out there, though for a bunch of reasons centering on simulation fidelity a lot of payware is still actually for Microsoft Train Simulator.

    • Professor Paul1290 says:

      There are more than enough of things to hate Dovetail for, but personally I don’t consider their DLC model one of them.

      With sufficiently popular vehicle sims that covers a wide enough category of vehicles there’s often the problem of most users only using specific portions of the content, and other users desiring very specific new content that most others don’t give a damn about.

      You end up either having to ignore a large portion of your audience, separate out portions of the content and charge for it individually, or charge everyone and absurd price for 90% of the game they’ll probably never use. Which is the lesser evil there is really up to you.

      There can be a case of Dovetail charging too much for specific portions of content, but that should be more about Dovetail specifically and not the genre’s DLC practices in general.

      • Bureaucromancer says:

        I really never will understand the antipathy a lot of people seem to have for Dovetail. Frankly the core Train Sim product is damn near free between the free annual updates and pretty regular extreme sale prices. The thing that makes or breaks a sim is long term support, and they’ve got a model that supports that, without regularly having to trash their back catalog for new tech or forcing upgrades. It’s a lot more than anyone else has ever managed.

        Yes, the complete collection of stuff would be something like $4000 but who intends to buy that? It’s not like this is a conventional game with the “less than complete experience” argument… Frankly I’d point out that the other seemingly viable rail simulator model is to make each route an entirely independent product.

        • P.Funk says:

          The problem is that what you get for a fraction of that $4000 can be bafflingly poor in value. $20-40 for a single locomotive and maybe it doesn’t have more than a few missions in it that’ll distract you for a couple hours. Trains aren’t like airplanes, you need a dynamic world or else the thing is boring as sin. You need A to B objectives in mission form with other trains scheduled to make the world flow. Many products have bare basic inclusion of such missions and the missions editor is worse than DCS’.

          Some of the DLC packs are great some feel like rip offs and there’s no way to figure it out half the time.

          • Bureaucromancer says:

            I would agree that train require quite a bit more supporting material than aircraft, and its been short on the ground in Train Sim, but the problem imo though is that trains just aren’t as good value for anyone involved as an aircraft. It’s just not significantly cheaper to develop that locomotive than it is an aircraft, and if anything any given piece of equipment is even more niche than the sort of aircraft we typically see developed.

            I’d love to see lower prices sure, but frankly what Dovetail is doing is a lot better than what was available before, with much less content released less frequently for older and buggier simulators. For heavens sake, Microsoft Train Simulator didn’t come out until 2001; how much longer did it take to bring any credible train sim to market than it did for aircraft?

            tl;dr niche content is niche, and that doesn’t make it cheaper to develop. Sometimes its not great value, but I’ll take poor value over niche stuff not being available at all.

        • Kittim says:

          I got TS way back when it was called Rail Simulator. I brought into the bullshit, with next to nothing working on release and so many lies about what it would do. I gave up on it just before TS2014 and there was still stuff it can’t do that MS Train Sim could.
          That, and the disgusting treatment of their customers, wiping the Steam TS forum because of all the complaints, flagging negative reviews as “Off Topic”.

          Good luck getting any support for your flight sim from that bunch.

          If you want a properly supported product, go with Prepar3d, X-Plane or DCS World.

          • Premium User Badge

            Harlander says:

            For some reason, the idea of LM releasing a flight simulator in such a public way surprised me quite a lot.

            Its weird, restrictive and above all expensive licenses didn’t surprise me at all, though.

  3. SuicideKing says:

    Also listed on SteamDB are the first three Halo games (yes, Halo 3 as well):

    http://steamdb.info/search/?a=app&q=Halo

    (check out the last three listed applications, APPID: 216760, 216780, 216800).

  4. stavka says:

    Civil flight simulators world and community is another world. Dovetail have a band of haters because their dlcs only because it is in the mainstream of steam and becames a easy target for dlc haters. It does nothing more or less what already exist in the simulators comunities.

    Go to Rise of Flight, DCS World, etc, you pay for more aircraft. About FSX, you talk about many dlcs costing +/- 20 USD/€ ??? and as if the Dovetail are the evil?

    Before Dovetail exist already exist 1000s of payware for fsx and x-plane and fs2004,….

    Check for example the http://secure.simmarket.com/flight-simulation-page-1.chtml and you will see. If you sum all paywares for FSX from many companies you will get 10.000s of Euros. Some add-ons can even cost +70 USD like some from PMDG and Orbx. So, Dovetail do nothing more or less what already existed in many other companies of addons for flight simulators and train simulators. And even more, if you see in deep in fsx community you will see that the huge success of that community and simulator is exactly their DLC world with 1000s of products.

    So, before going like a troll or a sheep thinking that is cool to joke or troll against Dovetail because their DLC saga, search before the communities and the gamming world is not only Halo, CoD, BF, CS or sport games. If not like DLCs, don’t buy them, as simple as that.

  5. Zenicetus says:

    Okay, so it looks like Dovetail is attempting to do what Microsoft never could manage, which is to capture and monetize the add-on market for a flight sim. I don’t think this will work, for several reasons:

    1) They’re licensing what is fast becoming an antique code base. IIRC, it’s 32-bit code, and X-Plane has already moved to a 64-bit engine. That was a major effort, and I doubt Dovetail has the ability to follow. They wouldn’t be licensing this rusty flight engine, if they could do it on their own.

    2) The popularity of MS-FS has, for many years now. been propped up by add-on developers who know how to tweak the lookup-table flight model so planes fly realistically, and they also have the patience to model deep systems in modern transport aircraft. And then there are the scenery designers like Orbx. If Dovetail is planning on doing what MS tried to do with Flight for a full capture of add-ons, they’re going to have to match that capability for the “serious” sim market, and I don’t think they’re up to it.

    3) Prepar3d is still out there, with essentially the same FS codebase licensed to Lockheed for “non entertainment” purposes, and being used (wink wink) by many as an engine to run all those current add-ons for FS.

    So what does that leave? All I can imagine is that Dovetail is looking to release something similar to Flight, as a “lightweight” and more gamey version of FS, because neither X-Plane nor Prepar3D are going away anytime soon for the hardcore end of the market. They must think their leet marketing skillz are better than Microsoft’s, because Microsoft’s attempt to sell the lightweight Flight already tanked, hard.

  6. Stuart Walton says:

    Nice Beaver.

    The main problem I have with Train Sim’s DLC pricing is that I don’t feel that you are getting content of a complexity or quality that reflects the price. Flight Sim add-ons do cost more, but it feels to me that there is a lot more depth to them.

    Dovetail weren’t my favourite choice, but it’s a million times better than nobody developing the technology. All those FSX and FS9 addon developers who weren’t considered when MS Flight came around will happily make aircraft for Dovetail, who are advertising the position of ‘Head of 3rd party content’ on their site.

    • Zenicetus says:

      But are they actually “developing the technology”, i.e. moving it forward? Or are they just licensing a basic engine to sell some DLC with no further development?

      Right now, X-Plane seems to be the only company actually moving its sim engine forward, with the 64-bit version and continuing development of weather systems, etc. Still a long way to go… the ATC sucks, etc. But at least it’s in a continual state of development and updates for the core engine.

      That’s what the traditional FS community needs — a way to move the flight engine forward, while maintaining as much compatibility as possible with their investment in aircraft, scenery, and other add-ons. As far as I can tell, not even Lockheed is doing much in that area, just making relatively small tweaks to the code they licensed.

    • P.Funk says:

      Agree totally with you on the DLC value versus price. Some feel worth it but others don’t and at the end of the day I never feel like I’m getting as many hours of unique gameplay out of a given product versus what I could buy with that money elsewhere.

  7. DetCord says:

    They’re just going to take Flight (which was shit), re-brand it and distro it via Steam. My hopes for a new generation of flight sims is still in the crapper.

  8. Wyrm says:

    Gief oculus

  9. Premium User Badge

    Chaz says:

    You don’t have to though. I have a £40 Hotas stick (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Thrustmaster-T-Flight-Hotas-Joystick-PS3/dp/B001CXYMFS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1405008330&sr=8-1&keywords=thrustmaster+hotas) and it does me fine for the casual simming I do. If later on you really get into it, then the cost of upgrading your kit will probably be worth it to you. But to start off you really don’t need lots of expensive kit, just a decent basic stick will do you.

  10. stavka says:

    Exactly as Chaz told, for starting, a £40 hotas is more than enough and for a civil flight sim, or a ww1 or ww2 flight sim you not need more for some years. Only after some experience and some money in your pocket you realy need to go for a X52 or a hotas warthog.

  11. stavka says:

    and to start there is a list of nice flight simulators:
    -WW1:
    Wings Over Flanders Fields (requires the CFS3)
    Rise of Flight

    -WW2:
    Il-2 Sturmovik Battle of Stalingrad
    Il-2 Sturmovik 1946
    Il-2 Sturmovik Cliffs of Dover (modded)
    CFS 3
    B-17 Flying Fortress The Mighty Eighth

    -Cold War:
    Strike Fighters 2 – Europe
    Strike Fighters 2 – Israel
    Strike Fighters 2 – North Atlantic
    Strike Fighters 2 – Vietnam
    Hind

    -Modern:
    FA-18E Super Hornet
    DCS World (+ DLCs)
    Enemy Engaged (Apache-Havoc + Comanche-Hokum)
    Falcon 4 + BMS Mod

    -Civil:
    FSX/Prepar3D
    X-Plane 10
    Aerofly FS
    Elite FS
    Precision Simulator X
    Condor
    Silent Wings

    R/C:
    RealFlight 7
    Aerofly RC 7

    -Space
    Space Shuttle Mission

    It’s not a full list, only few examples… :)