Flight Simulation - the future

  • Firstly I'm new to the board, a ex-pat Brit, now retired living in Medellin Colombia. In the past I was an avid FSX user, stopped and now considering returning to flight simulation. I've been looking at options, whether to go back to FSX (I still have access to all my many,many add-ons) or trying one of the newer packages like Aerofly or FSW. I've decided to go with Aerofly so my posting here isn't about the wisdom of that, but rather to share my thoughts and questions on the state of the flight simulation market.


    One, I'm not going back to FSX although that would in many ways be the cheapest and most complete route. I've discounted that as it seems a retrograde step. I've too many memories of hours of tweaking and OOMs to want to go down that path, plus at some point FSX isn't going to be able to continue to develop. It's a dead end.


    Presumably when FSX was developed Microsoft could put development money and resources without having too much concern about the return. It was a good shop window for the potential use of PCs and gaming in general. However that isn't true of the newer packages. Presumably for the smaller companies involved in building the new packages they have to be concerned about a commercial return and also juggle the difficult path of selling what are 'incomplete' systems to fund further development. So the question for anyone moving to the new packages is what is the likelihood that those packages will survive and prosper? For example in looking at FSW they seem to have less third party involvement (or at least less planned third party involvement) which I believe is fundamental to success in particular as the core development teams are not that big. One of the key reasons for my deciding to go with Aerofly is Orbx.


    Noticeably none of the packages comes with a real 'mission statement'. Is the intent to become a FSX replacement - and by that I mean flight simulation as older users would understand. Looking at Aerofly there seems to be a significant emphasis on VR. To me (and that's probably showing my age) that emphasis seems unusual for a package in which at this point you fly the skies alone and there's no ATC or - and perhaps most importantly - what Flight Simmers would see as complex aircraft and weather packages . So, here the question is VR now crucial to the long term future of simulation packages? Crucial to the point of overriding - or at least delaying - features that were common in the older packages ten or more years ago?


    Like I guess just about everyone else I've been impressed by those ORBX sceneries and then I've read the threads about the size of those packages. 80gb or more for the scenery for England? Again that takes us a long way from the FSX world of 'fly anywhere, anytime'. Now, I understand it's a different sort of experience, but what are going to be the hardware and download needs? Hardware is obviously improving all of the time but is flight simulation moving to a terabyte world? Where will the balance be between VFR and IFR usage? Is the eventual plan, with improved internet speeds that each user won't need to retain all of the data and instead we will be linked to a server that contains the finest data image of the world and we will consume it as we use it (the 'subscription' theory)?


    In many ways the software developers have always had the poor end of the deal in flight simulation. We've all spent thousands (or dollars, pounds or euros) on our hardware trying to obtain the most immersive situation. In the new world of big data packages and VR and other simulating hardware presumably that equation moves in that direction even more significantly. Is fight simulation going to become a significantly more expensive hobby?


    If it does become a more expensive hobby what does that do to the current user population? Will VR attract more new flight simmers (and probably importantly young ones) or will the cost be prohibitive? Is there a big enough market of hardcore flight simmers to keep the related software houses solvent? Will hardcore simmers value VR over complex FMCs?


    So to bring it back to Aerofly from everything I've seen it's a good package with the ability to be great. How do others join the dots between where Aerofly is today and where it's going to be in say three and five years? As I said when I started looking I was trying to find a 'modern' FSX. Is that where Aerofly is going to take us, or is the new world of simming going to be something very different?

  • If you ask us, the developers, we must also ask you: what can you do wrong with Aerofly? Adding all available AddOns, the sum of all your purchases for FSX is still significantly lower everything you can purchase for Aerofly. So why don't you give Aerofly a try and enjoy it for what it already offers? At its current state, we of course do not offer many things other simulators have, but on the other side we also have strengths where we excel existing simulators and its not only VR!


    Also to answer a few of your questions: No, we do not only focus on VR and we personally don't think it takes 80 GB to create a good looking scenery of England!


    Behind the scenes we are working on many other features like new regions, new airplanes ( and helicopters ) and of course new features. Aerofly is an evolving simulator so expect to see many exciting features. We can't promise anything at this point, but we can tell you we are fully dedicated to enhance and improve Aerofly FS.

  • Hi Medellinexpat,


    How would I describe Aerofly FS2 in one word: "BRILLIANT" (considering it is still in its infancy) - you can't go wrong.

    Yes, there is still a way to go with features, but hey, Rome wasn't built in a day either.

    Get on board and enjoy a very smooth ride in FS2 :-)


    Hasta luego amigo.

    Windows 10 64bit | iCore7-7770K| ASUS STRIX Z270E |KHX2400C15D4 - 32GB | Gigabyte Ge-Force GTX 1080Ti| SSD Intel 520 Series | 40" Philips BDM4065UC/75 4K - Oculus Rift

  • Thanks, I actually said that I had made a decision to get Aerofly and my reasons to do so. My only delay in buying is that I wanted a dedicated SSD for the application and Amazon ‘lost’ the first one so I should have the replacement this week. Getting good hardware here is not easy (or cheap) hence having to ship in from the US. You have a customer, and just for reference AF2 is less than $30 here on Steam in Colombia. And I won’t just be buying the base package.


    My query wasn’t whether you are the best of breed now but rather people’s thoughts on where AF2 and Flight Simming in general was going. On one side we have ‘arcade’ and on the other complex renditions of the systems of commercial and military aircraft.


    I understand not making promises, and ‘mission statements’ also have issues. But equally I presume you have some sort of ‘target’ or vision even if it’s who you expect your customers to be (fsx converts, hard core simmers etc.) It isn’t reasonable to expect you to be everything to everybody or for you to have everything at this stage. However I’ve seen reviews of your competition (FSW) and there’s some commentary there about ‘pretty, but not making as much progress as would be expected’. That’s why I liked the Orbx commitment. It adds resources and bandwidth so the core team doesn’t have to cover all of the bases. Obviously getting those commitments isn’t easy as the user base builds from initially low levels hence limiting revenues.


    I have a friend (with a commercial pilots license) and he still runs FS2004. He is thinking about making the switch to Prepar3D. I was suggesting to him to consider AF2 and shared the videos and trailers of the product. He’s interested and perhaps when I’m up and running I may convince him. But in the interim getting people off the FSX/P3 track isn’t easy, but I couldn’t explain to him where on the Arcade - Complexity line you intend to build to.


    None of my comments are intended to be criticisms - in fact the complete reverse. Like other contributors that I’ve read I’d like to do everything I can to help you successfully build the product (and make you some money along the way!)

  • Hi Medellin brit ex-pat:

    On my experience, AFS2 is an excellent choice. I've used FSX for a long time, as part of the evolution from the early days of FS95, FS98, FS2002 and FS2004. On November 2016 I bought P3D for the first time (v2.4) and decided to completely delete FSX from my disks. In my opinion the FSX days are over. The decision now is to be either on the standard simulators like P3D or X-Plane, or on a new platform like Aerofly FS 2 (or both, or the three of them). I'm running AFS2 for one year now and I'm totally satisfied with my decision. Received my VR set two months ago and I'm impressed by its realism and immersion capabilities. And last but not least, AFS2 is very simple to install, update and use, if compared to the typical P3D installation. It's also a lot more stable.
    As everything in life, nothing is perfect, but if AFS2 keeps its development adding new features like ATC, real-weather simulation and study-level aircraft, I'll be more than satisfied and will for sure delete all other simulators from my computers. This is also a message to IPACS.

    Btw, I currently expend more or less 4 months per year in each of three different places, being one of them Caracas-Venezuela, so I'm your close neighbor. The other two places are Miami-USA and Mexico City. Still too much energy even at my age!.

    Cheers, Ed






    Windows 7 Ultimate x64 | i7-5820k | 32GB RAM | 3xSSD Samsung 1TB | MSI GTX 1080Ti Gaming X 11GB | LG 29UC97C UW Curved | Oculus Rift VR | TM FCS HOTAS // Gaming Laptop ASUS ROG Strix Scar II GL704GW | Windows 10 Home | i7-8750H | 32GB RAM | 2TB SSD + 2TB HDD | Nvidia RTX 2070 | TM FCS HOTAS

  • Hi Ed

    I used to live in Colombia, Bogota..

    South America is beautiful.

    Windows 10 64bit | iCore7-7770K| ASUS STRIX Z270E |KHX2400C15D4 - 32GB | Gigabyte Ge-Force GTX 1080Ti| SSD Intel 520 Series | 40" Philips BDM4065UC/75 4K - Oculus Rift

  • Hi Ed

    I used to live in Colombia, Bogota..

    South America is beautiful.

    I know Bogota, and heard that Medellin is quite nice too. I don't know Medellin (yet).

    If you go to FSCloudPort you'll see almost 20 venezuelan airports. Guess who is the author?.

    Cheers, Ed

    Windows 7 Ultimate x64 | i7-5820k | 32GB RAM | 3xSSD Samsung 1TB | MSI GTX 1080Ti Gaming X 11GB | LG 29UC97C UW Curved | Oculus Rift VR | TM FCS HOTAS // Gaming Laptop ASUS ROG Strix Scar II GL704GW | Windows 10 Home | i7-8750H | 32GB RAM | 2TB SSD + 2TB HDD | Nvidia RTX 2070 | TM FCS HOTAS

  • Just my $0.02 on some points... As VR headsets and computing hardware improves, and techniques such as light fields gain traction, VR is allowing the most immersive experiences in flight simulation than ever before. I’ve "flown" stationary military F-16 sims with a hemispherical projection display and VR beats it.


    One guy I fly multiplayer with in a different sim is developing VR training for the Air Force to help get students up to speed faster and at lower cost. Over on the FlyInside boards there have been real pilots (transport/private) who get very expressive about how VR puts them back in the cockpit after retirement or lost medicals. At least one CFI said it makes a huge difference for his students and especially those who have difficulty turning the 2D projections of monitor flight simulation into a 3D mental image for practicing flying patterns and approaches. He said it was like night and day. The students would get frustrated trying to fly a monito but would just "get it" in VR and be completely able to know their position in space intuitively just as if they were in a real airplane.


    I freely admit to being a VR evangelical for flight simulation. Everything is full-size, full and natural 3D, and looks like a very close approximation, with a few warts, of real life. Flying formation on a monitor looks cool, but only goes so far. Doing it in VR gets scary the closer you get and any movements that close the gap unexpectedly trigger very real world reactions. So upshot is VR is in my opinion most definitely the future of flight simulation. The only questions for me are how simulator cockpits will be integrated. The Vive Pro has stereo cameras that we're hoping will allow green screening / chroma keying so you can have the VR view out the windows and real world views in the cockpit. That would allow the ultimate in flight simulation in training environments. I’m only aware of one simulator company that still hasn’t committed to supporting VR and I’d bet it is cutting into their sales. I know I won’t even consider it until it does VR. I really think VR is the future of flight simulation. Visuals are just too integral to the experience of flight for it to not be.


    About Aerofly FS2, it’s simply the best looking sim in VR that I’ve found so far. It’s missing multiplayer, weather, and some other features that more mature sims have, but for the visceral feeling of flight and the best visual cues in VR, it is far and away the leader. I think it’s the graphics engine they use. It has a slightly different look from the other main sims and is able to do a better job rendering. I’m sure there are trade offs, but Aerofly just looks good. In the Pro I can read the little millibar wheels in the altimeters right from the dial. I can read the placards and labels. It all adds to the experience over just seeing blurs. Looking down at an airport from above triggers the same sensations I get in a real airplane.


    Definitely agree that people pinch pennies when buying a sim and then go spend hundreds to thousands on scenery and aircraft. The market itself has shaped a lot of that and some janky sims at the low end pull customers and interest from the higher end. Don’t know the answer as it’s just a market, but like anything like this, if we don’t support a sim or market, it can easily be lost.


    Said a lot without saying much but hope that helps in some way.

    Thrustmaster HOTAS Warthog, MFG Crosswind pedals, 2 dof Motion, HTC Vive Pro

  • Hardware is obviously improving all of the time but is flight simulation moving to a terabyte world?

    Yes. And it doesn't matter if you use Aerofly FS 2, P3D or XP. The days of landclass scenery are coming to a close with Orbx upcoming TrueEarth. One of the reasons AFS2 is popular is its photoreal scenery and I do think that XP wouldn't have been as popular as it is now without Ortho4XP. People want more and more realism and photoreal (more or less) brings it, specially now Orbx is coming onboard with very detailed scenery. The only problem is... the amount of disk space photoreal needs. But I don't think people want to go back to landclass scenery when TrueEarth (or similar products) are on the market. So yes, the future of flightsimming simply requires a LOT of disk space and terrabytes! (Don't forget this is only the start of it all...!)


    Is fight simulation going to become a significantly more expensive hobby?

    It's been like that for years and years already so nothing new here... Just look at the prices of (some) addons. My first addons costed a few bucks but if you want some real 'study level' airplane right now you will have to fork out >170 dollars... Okay, this is mainly the case for FSX/P3D but I am sure XP is following (just look at the price of X-Enviro...!). It has to be seen how high prices for AFS2 addons (DLC) will become but the last year prices have been going up by 50% and Orbx is asking P3D prices for their AFS2 addons, so yes, this hobby won't become cheaper. (Specially not if you want to go the VR way!)


    Will VR attract more new flight simmers (and probably importantly young ones) or will the cost be prohibitive?

    Well, for starters... VR itself is already very costly so if money is a problem VR won't help AFS2. But as soon as someone does have VR buying AFS2 shouldn't be a too big problem.

    if it’s who you expect your customers to be (fsx converts, hard core simmers etc.)

    For now it will mainly be people who like to fly and not hard core simmers that for instance like study level planes. AFS2 is lacking way too much things in order to be a valid replacement for P3D (or XP). No way I am deleting P3D anytime soon to switch to AFS2 completely. I like my Majestic Q400, Active Sky, ProATC, SkyForce, etc. too much for that. (Or better said: I like what those addons give to me.) As it is now I mainly use AFS2 for a quick flight if I hardly have time and when I am in need of some smooth performance. ;)


    As it is now (imho) AFS2 is great for people who are new to flightsimming or who simply like to fly. The sensation of flying is great, specially if you like VR, performance is the best and things look great too (when it comes to lighting and graphics: the scenery often is too empty and flat). Planes are rather basic (though often better than P3D default planes!) but good enough for beginners. The trick for IPACS will be to 1. keep the sim accessible for beginners but also 2. to make it more interesting for hardcore simmers. Any hardcore simmer that has switched to AFS2 completely right now must be in it for the experience of flying, not for deep systems and simulation of various other aspects of flying. Which brings me to...


    I have a friend (with a commercial pilots license) and he still runs FS2004. He is thinking about making the switch to Prepar3D. I was suggesting to him to consider AF2 and shared the videos and trailers of the product. He’s interested and perhaps when I’m up and running I may convince him. But in the interim getting people off the FSX/P3 track isn’t easy, but I couldn’t explain to him where on the Arcade - Complexity line you intend to build to.

    ...this: if your friend simply wants to fly, AFS2 may be of interest. If he somehow wants to experience in a sim what he experiences when flying in real life as a commercial pilot, he should go for P3D. The problem is....


    if AFS2 keeps its development adding new features like ATC, real-weather simulation and study-level aircraft, I'll be more than satisfied and will for sure delete all other simulators from my computers. This is also a message to IPACS.

    ...this: development of AFS2 is going way too slow. This has been talked about enough in other topics but still. At the speeds development is going right now edpatino won't be satisfied with AFS2 before, let's say, 2022. At least. Seriously. Imho this is the greatest danger for AFS2. It's a very good thing Orbx has come on board but AFS2 also needs other developers for planes and weatherand so on. Weather simulation hasn't even been confirmed yet! I would be very, very surprised if we get to see ATC this year. And since IPACS seems to go for perfection all the time (which seems to be and hopefully is the case with ATC) I expect them to work on a weather engine alone for a few years already. If AFS2 stays a 'beginners sim' for too long it may be forgotten about in a year or two. XP is moving on and even P3D is making progress. Now AFS2 is far superior in a few regards (mainly performance and lighting) but that's not enough to become the sim of the future.


    I am very curious to hear what your friend thinks of AFS2. And I am also very curious to hear how you like AFS2 after using it for a while.


    Let me finish the way I often finish my posts: I love AFS2 and I want it to become THE flightsim of all flightsims. Just as edpatino said: give me ATC, weather and study level planes and P3D will be gone. But until then I will keep P3D installed. I do hope IPACS will succeed with AFS2 but I am having a hard time (more and more) to keep on believing it will really happen. I hope to be proven wrong. (If possible soon. ;) )

  • I have spent 1000'''''' $ on ORBX, Aerosoft, Flytampa and a few others. Just to name the scenery maker, not counting how many planes I bought.


    AF2 (full) with the 4 ORBX available scenery is what? Not even 250$ for me. So for a newby it may sound expensive but for the other crazy simmer it's nothing.


    So yes with P3D V4 I was able to re-instal most of my paid/addon stuff.... but I hate it!!!! No I won't buy a 800$ 1080 TI, no I won't change my 2600K CPU OC @ 4.4 to gain what, 5 FPS? V4 is hard on everything for me... And NO I'm not what you would call a study type simmer.. that I do in real life.


    I still fly a 172 once a month to keep my licence up to date for renting plane and trust me I choose the best possible day for a nice VFR experience.

    Flying blind (IFR) is boring for me... ATC, I hate to deal with them :D


    The only thing that fascinate me and the only thing I need is some very nice scenery with simming.


    So I'm happy with what I have now from AF2... well mayby a helicopter :S


    Ben


    [Blocked Image: https://i.imgur.com/jycSU4j.jpg]

    BennyBoy. I5 8600K @ 4,3ghz, 16 ram, GTX 1060 6G @ UW @2560 X 1080. Sim: AF2 & P3D V4

  • For me it is just simple as it can be: AFS2 is simply the best simulator for aerobatics you can get today. :S

    Wish for Aerofly FS 2:

    - Flightpath recording on hard drive and replay in sim from different view points (recording under VR, replay on screen)

    - Smoke for aerobatic planes

    - Multiplayer or at least watching other people flying sitting on ground or inside tower

  • The only thing that fascinate me and the only thing I need is some very nice scenery with simming.


    So I'm happy with what I have now from AF2...

    For me it is just simple as it can be: AFS2 is simply the best simulator for aerobatics you can get today.

    Well, those are very valid reasons to call Aerofly FS 2 the best flight sim ever indeed! ;) I guess we can say that no currently available sim offers everything any simmer may want so it's good to have options. But I think that we can also say that if there is one sim that has the potential to offer everything any simmer wants, it is Aerofly FS. Specially because it performs so well and looks so good (with the proper scenery). P3D is totally awesome for (a lot of) specific uses but it's using a very old and outdated system (no matter how much LM has changed in it) and I doubt it will ever come close to AFS2's performance. XP may become a contender in that regard when it has changed to Vulkan but well... XP is missing a lot of features too!


    I do have my hopes set on AFS2 and I hope they will deliver! But until then I will keep my other sims close. (Which btw is perfectly fine: no one is forcing anyone to only use one sim! ;) )


    Nice setup btw Ben...!