Peculiarly Vehicular

Microsoft’s ACES Studio are lovely people, but they’ve yet to see the wisdom in my regular ‘You know what would be great? An integrated MS Transport Simulator combining Flight Simulator, Train Simulator and Midtown Madness!’ interview interjections. They just don’t seem to realise how spiffing it would be to fly a Spitfire, drive a Spitfire, sail a Spitfire and fire a Spitfire all within the same seamless virtual World.

Ilan Papini, however, is a man that understands. He’s been talking about crafting a combo sim for years, and this summer finally got around to constructing the chassis. At present Vehicle Simulator feels a bit like Micro Flight (his ultralight-focused plane sim) gaffer-taped to Virtual Sailor (his saltier-than-narwhal-tears nautical sim). Even so, in the maddeningly brief 5 minute sessions permitted by the beta, the potential is visible. Don’t expect the realism or polish of an MSFS or X-Plane. Do expect intuitive mouse steering, luscious sunsets, and lots of opportunities for acting the giddy goat.

After the jump, some pics of me acting the giddy goat.

VS might not have the high-fidelity avionics, superlative weapon realism, or awesome dynamic campaigns of Falcon 4.0, but in far more important areas like sunlight modelling and poplar and swaying grass simulation, it’s leagues ahead.

The vehicle file format is close to the one used in Virtual Sailor so the lone Ranger should soon be joined by the flotilla of user-created tubs moored here.

Sophisticated swell simulation + a fairly accurate flight model + an improbable hook key assignment = messy carrier landings.

What Ilan’s sims lack in rigour they make up for in mood. Throw away your aromatherapy oils and your Little Book Of Calm and try ‘Hang gliding with a friend’ or ‘Sightseeing in Monterey’.

Oh, and here’s some useful keys:

F1 – cockpit view

F2 – external view

z – zoom in

x – zoom out


e – engine start/stop

5 – throttle down

6 – throttle up

c – hook toggle

g – launch hang glider

Page Up – add altitude

Tab – switch vehicle

k – full key list


  1. Down Rodeo says:

    That’s quite cool actually, having everything combined like that. From your screens it looks rather nice too!

    “Can you land a plane? Can you land a plane on a ship? Can you land a plane on a ship in a storm? Can you land a plane on a ship in a storm in a flight simulator?”

    Personally I have always found them to be very tough… One particular incident involving a stalling 747 full of innocent holidaymakers when I was a lot younger put me off Microsoft FS for a while.

    I see on the website that he has released a bit of the source so you can add your own functions via DLLs! There’s few developers that would do that…

  2. Jonas says:

    Tim Stone, you do not post here enough. I am really not into sims, but whenever I read one of your ultra-geeky, super-enthusiastic posts about one, I feel like giving it a go anyway.

  3. Pags says:

    Props on actually managing to land on the carrier at all, I completely missed the deck altogether.

  4. marxeil says:

    These kind of articles are why I love RPS so much. Its like the side roads guide to PC gaming.

  5. phuzz says:

    Hang gliding is relaxing? I found it terrifying! Well, up until I noticed the PgUp to gain altitude bit…
    Also, how are you supposed to control SpaceShipOne?

  6. fulis says:

    oh how I wish I had time for flight sims

  7. Tim Stone says:

    Thanks Jonas. I aim to be posting a bit more in the run up to Christmas.

    The trick to landing on the carrier is plenty of flaps (from the external view you can drag them down with the mouse pointer) and killing the engine (e) just as you cross the deck threshold. Well, that’s the way I do it anyway.

  8. Ben Abraham says:

    “Add a drop of lavender to your milk, and leave town with an orange.”

    Ah the little book of calm, I’ll never forsake thee!

  9. fulis says:

    Free Falcon 5 is just around the door so =) make sure you post about that when it comes out!

  10. Laco says:

    Turning up the wave height and standing on the deck of the ship during a thunderstorm just gave me the most real feeling of vertigo I’ve ever had from a game. Maybe not quite vertigo, but whatever you call that top-of-a-rollercoaster feeling.

    Makes me wonder why I haven’t played more ship simulators before (or any, really). It’s possibly that most of them are combat sims, while I much prefer just mucking about exploring the world in these types of games.

    Brilliant fun, anyway!

  11. TheLordHimself says:

    Check out the hydro foils on that Cat! I bet that thing is fun.