Posts Tagged ‘X-Plane’

Have You Played… X-Plane?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

I enjoy flight simulators, but I admit I lack the patience for learning the exact purpose of each cockpit switch or the correct terminology for actual air traffic interactions. I’m in it for the sightseeing and the occasional drama, and X-Plane [official site] offers both.

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The Flare Path: AlphaBet Pilot

A is for annus mirabilis

2016, you’ve an awful lot to live up to. I’ve been computer wargaming for over three decades now, and I can’t recall a better year than the one just gone. Vietnam ’65, Rule the Waves, Pike & Shot: Campaigns, Decisive Campaigns: Barbarossa… for any grognard partial to bold designs, unusual settings, and absorbing, plausible action, the temptations were many. Read the rest of this entry »

Virtual Planes, Virtual Airports And Absolutely No Rogering: Inside The Fascinating World Of VATSIM

The last time I tried my hand at flying a plane on my PC was while exploring multiplayer Grand Theft Auto V. I couldn’t master the craft at all and crashed and burned my way through a wind farm as friends expressed horror and mirth. I suspect that my own utter incompetence in the face of flight versus the skill of others is part of what fascinates me about VATSIM.

VATSIM is short for Virtual Air Traffic Simulation Network. It’s a system which populates a flight sim by connecting enthusiasts who each take on piloting or air traffic controller roles. I found out about it through Graham who had spent time on one of the VATSIM forums picking through people’s stories and relaying them to me over Gchat (as in Google Chat – Graham doesn’t have his own chat client yet).

Obviously I was concerned about gaining access myself (the ruined wind farm still loomed large as a relatively recent trauma despite GTA V not being in any way a flight sim). That’s why I got in touch with Justin Friedland. He’s the Vice President of Communications and Marketing at VATSIM and has been flying simulated aircraft since Microsoft Flight Simulator, which was released in 1982.

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The 25 Best Simulation Games Ever Made

Ready to discover once-and-for-all whether X-Plane is better than FSX? Whether Falcon 4.0 is better than Milk Float Simulator 2012? Ready to read the word ‘realism’ 46 times in a single hour, and spit feathers on discovering that the sim that caused got you through your divorce has been cruelly cold-shouldered by an idiot with a bus fetish and a sci-fi blindspot the size of the Crab Nebula? You are? Splendid. You’re in the right place.

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Epic Fail: What Failing In Games Can Teach Us

I spent half my evenings this week advancing through Advanced Warfare. Call of Duty games are uniformly about forward progression, but some of their most memorable moments comes from points of scripted failure: missing your chance to grab a gun as a Russian soldier in the first Call of Duty, or the nuclear blast in Modern Warfare 1. You learn something about the realities of those scenarios in both moments.

Advanced Warfare squanders its one point of necessary failure: the first mission’s unfortunate end incites action from both the player and from Kevin Spacey, but there’s little that’s real about it. You lose an arm, you gain a robot arm. As a player, you learn nothing. Failure in videogames can be so much more, both as a way of generating interesting play experiences and in making less abstract the knowledge we hold about the world around us.

Here are some games that I think do failure better, and what those failures taught me.

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The Flare Path: Is Worn To A Frazzle

…having spent the last seven days touring Scotland in an SA Scamp* on behalf of the ‘Better Together’ campaign. If you live in Dumfries, Stranraer, Ayr, Kilmarnock, Glasgow, Falkirk, Edinburgh, Perth, Dundee, Aberdeen, Inverness, Ullapool, Stornoway, Portree, Fort William or Balamory, you may, at some point during the past week, have seen/heckled/pelted a corduroy-suited Sassenach while he teetered on a soapbox and rambled about the Battle of Waterloo, HMS Hood, Eric ‘Winkle’ Brown, and the Collected Works of D.C. Thomson. That Sassenach was me. Apologies if the following Naval Action, X-Plane, Train Simulator, and Volo Airsport news snippets contain more typos and tripe than usual.

*And a BMW R75 (the Scamp expired on the outskirts of Prestwick) Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: Achtung, Panzer Poachers!

The walls of the FP office are plastered with pictures of iconic war machines. When I yaw left I see the elegant elliptical wings of a Supermarine Spitball, the slab prow of a Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiepin, the yawning bomb-bay of an Avro Lankystreakofpiss. When I yaw right I see swarms of side-slipping Sopwith Camelots, HMS Hoodie steaming at full speed towards the Denholmelliot Strait, a sharkmouthed McDonnell Dougal F-4 Phantompregnancy splashing napalm onto a bunker-riddled Vietnamese hellside. Read the rest of this entry »