Flight Sim World building upon MS Flight Simulator soon

Train Simulator developers Dovetail Games have announced Flight Sim World [official site], a new fly ’em up built upon the licensed guts of Microsoft Flight Sim. It will let us pilot simulated aeroplanes. Flight Sim World is due to take to the skies of Steam Early Access for a test flight later this month, but for now you can at least watch this collection of moving pictures and sound while waggling your flightstick to pretend you’re in control:

Question: when you were waggling your flightstick, did you pretend you were controlling the talking heads too? Follow-up: which buttons opened their mouths and eyes?

This has been coming for ages. Dovetail announced in 2014 that they’d licensed bits of Microsoft’s planetech to make a new game, and that December they released a new edition of MS Flight Simulator X too. As for how much they’ve reworked and expanded gameguts in Flight Sim World, Dovetail executive producer Stephen Hood says:

“After doing some intensive work on the game engine – such as providing a much-needed 64-bit element – we now have a flight simulation platform which will allow us and our partners to focus on creating new and exciting ways for simmers to benefit from these advances. New features and expansions to Flight Sim World will be rolled out as part of the Early Access program and beyond, reinforcing our absolute commitment to the hobby.”

Flight Sim World will come with several single- and twin-propeller aircraft as well as the whole chuffing world. And yup, absolutely Dovetail plan to have other developers make and sell add-ons for it, new aircraft and scenery and missions and all that. Add-ons are the heartbeat of the simulated flight world, after all.

The game is due to hit Steam Early Access in May, and Dovetail say they’re planning to add new features over the following three or four months. They want to polish and tweak too, mind, so they’re not sure quite when Flight Sim World will properly launch. No word on a price yet either, but Dovetail do say it’ll be cheaper in early access.

I would not be at all surprised if resident simulated man Tim Stone has something better-informed to say about all this in The Flare Path on Friday.

Microsoft’s own last attempt at a plane ’em up, 2012’s friendly and free-to-play Microsoft Flight, did not go too well. Tim Stone thought, with several reservations and objections, that it was a fun foundation as a free game. But Flight’s life was short, as MS stopped development in July 2012 – barely four months after launch.

18 Comments

  1. Troubletcat says:

    It’s kind of absurd that a game that came out in 2006 is still considered the gold standard in the flight sim genre in many ways. X-Plane improve on FSX in most respects but it doesn’t have the same degree of adoption from the community so it always lags behind.

    Compare this to before FSX came out, when there was a new Microsoft Flight Simulator every few years.

    …I guess my point is that, “C’mon guys, really still just trying to breath new life into this decade-old platform?”

    • Zenicetus says:

      The newest X-Plane 11 has started bringing a lot more FSX and P3D pilots over the fence. There is much more activity in the Avsim X-Plane forums now, and most of it is newcomers.

      This new DTG project has a heavy lift ahead of it. It’s using FSX code ported to 64 bits, which sounds good except that’s ALL they did with their Flight School project last summer without improving the scenery graphics (pop-in, etc.). DTG Flight School was so badly panned that they killed it off.

      There is no backwards compatibility with this new one, so they’re asking users to buy all their aircraft and scenery add-ons all over again. If they have to do that, there are other options they can consider now, like X-Plane, Aerofly FS2, and whatever Lockheed-Martin is planning for a 64-bit version of P3D.

      And finally, DTG hasn’t said anything about how they’ll support any free add-ons made by the community, which is essential for keeping any flight sim alive. I think competition is good, so I hope this new FSW thing is successful. But it won’t be easy.

      • LewdPenguin says:

        No backwards compatibility is the biggie in my mind, FSX has been around so long I’m sure many people have huge catalogues of add-ons built up that they’ll be extremely reluctant to turn their backs on for a hashed up version of the same game, as you say if they are willing to ditch that prior investment for a new sim there’s other options than buying FSX version 1.5 again.

        If “several single- and twin-propeller aircraft” does end up being accurate for the release aircraft lineup that’s pretty hilarious too, since FSX already comes with more variety than that out of the box. I get that for many players it’s all about the 3rd party add-ons to get exactly what they want to fly, after all DTG can’t reasonably ship with even wonky models of every aircraft, but if you don’t even get a couple of common jets to play around with they should just give the damn thing away so they can make their cut on flogging aircraft/terrain add-ons, at the moment it sounds like all you’ll be doing is paying for the game engine to provide all your own content in. Certainly would rule out me even considering it as an upgrade to FSX since I fall way too far towards the casual end of the market to want to spend the same again on a game just to have any choice of what to fly after the installation finished. Here’s hoping that quote is either heavily paraphrasing what DTG have said, or that they realise pulling another Train Sim World and shitting out a ‘new’ product with no content is a bad idea.

        • DetCord says:

          As a third-party developer for FSX/P3D and one that’s released a ton of free content to the community, I say good luck. Their EULA states that any freeware (mods) may be developed and published by the community, but DTG owns the rights to it. Fuck that nonsense.

  2. CartonofMilk says:

    that looks pretty good. Can’t wait to try it. Just recently started playing X-Plane 11 after skipping 10 so i’m in the mood for flight simming.

  3. stairmand says:

    Shame there is no VR support.

    • Uberwolfe says:

      This is a Dovetail product. I would avoid this it all costs.

      You’re much better off simply getting P3D. VR support – albeit a bit rudimentary – out of the box, and is actively developed.

      • Chaz says:

        Or Aerofly FS2 which has pretty decent VR support out the box. Although the caveats are that’s it’s still an in development early access title. So all the bells and whistles you’d normally expect for a flight sim, such as air and ground traffic etc, are not in yet.

        But it looks amazing and the performance is exceptional. Also Orbx are soon going to release their Innsbruck addon for it. link to orbxsystems.com

  4. Littlepip02 says:

    It’s a Dovetail game, so I can only assume it’ll cost $40 and come with two planes and about 20 square miles of flight space. Extra planes will be $20 each and more flight zones will be another $40.

    • daver4470 says:

      It’s funny because it’s true!

      But seriously, I don’t think you can get away with that with a flight sim the way they could with a rail sim. They’ll find a new way to goug.. er, I mean, to provide add-on opportunities to customers….

    • Zenicetus says:

      It does include the whole world like FSX/P3D and X-Plane, although individual airports may be rudimentary (that’s where you’ll spend money). Plane models will probably be the big DLC revenue.

      They’ll have to rely on 3rd party developers for the more complex models like airliners, and there will be a disincentive they’ll have to overcome. DTG has said developers can sell add-ons through their own retail channels, but *only* if they’re also available through DTG channels like Steam. On Steam, add-on developers will have more exposure, but they will also lose whatever income is skimmed off by the combination of DTG and Steam handling the sale.

      It will be interesting to see how that works out, compared to X-Plane and FSX/P3D, where 3rd party developers retain full profits from retail sales.

  5. daver4470 says:

    Wishful thinking: that some developer (or a group of developers) would create a persistent online entire-world space that could be used as the backbone for multiple sims at the same time. There’s no real technical reason why that couldn’t be done — in the end, it should not really be all that different from how an MMO is structured, or something like Elite: Dangerous. It would be cool to be able to fly over folks running simulated railways, who are delivering goods to simulated boats, and so on and so forth…. A giant mishmash of X-Plane, Euro Truck Sim, whatever boat/ship sim you want to create, maybe Kerbal Space Program….

    • LewdPenguin says:

      If you’re including a KSP element your servers are going to be terribly laggy thanks to handling the constant barrage of flaming debris raining down on the world at all times.

    • Unclepauly says:

      Not to be gross or anything but the thought of that raised my tent-pole so to speak. Add in some light NPC interaction and you’ve got the GAME OF ALL GAMES (slight echo). I’m sure it wouldn’t be a hard thing to pull off at all. Yeah, hmmph, I’m sure of it.

    • Zenicetus says:

      It’s a nice dream, and I’d love to see it, but it would have to be an open-source project. The “real technical reason why that couldn’t be done” is that all these sims use proprietary code. DTG is licensing the FSX code from Microsoft for this new Flight Sim World product, and the flight model is based on a lookup table. X-Plane uses realtime math (blade element theory) to run its flight engine. DTG’s new train sim is licensing Unreal Engine 4. They’re all massively different under the hood, whatever they look like on the surface.

      Maybe it could be done as an open-source “sim world,” but it wouldn’t attract many users if the realism and eye candy wasn’t competitive with the individual, dedicated simulations. We can still hope it happens some day. I’d buy it!

      • daver4470 says:

        Oh, no doubt you couldn’t shoehorn existing sims into a commonly-shared world. I’m thinking more along the lines of developing the world first, and fine-tuning it to get it where you want to be, then creating some sort of an open API for independently-developed sims to communicate and interact with that world. Open source would be great, but someone’s going to have to pay for the fairly large and capable server you’d need to host the world….

        A guy can dream.

  6. Sihmm says:

    So this is based on Flight Simulator X? Whatever happened to Microsoft Flight, the short-lived free-to-play thing that had lots of good ideas and a few bad ones before being abandoned?