The Flight Sim Software Scene in 2014

Hi folks,

Here are some links to different flight simulators, plus some info. Personally, if I hadn’t already purchased FSX, I’d probably go with X-Plane 10 or Prepar3D. FSX is no longer developed by Microsoft, and major third-party developers are expanding their add-on packages (planes, scenery, and weather packages) to work with X-Plane 10 and Prepar3D flight simulators. Something else to consider is that although FSX is no longer being developed, the Windows operating system is still changing, and overtime, it may become more challenging, if not impossible to get FSX running on newer, upgraded versions of Microsoft Windows.  Currently, FSX has the widest selection of third-party add-ons available, by far, simply due to how long the franchise has been in existence. Choosing which one to invest time and perhaps money in, isn’t straight forward for everyone, but perhaps this will help.

A brief overview of some of today’s flight sim choices:

In 2014, there are 3 main commercial flight simulators to choose from when getting into the flying sim hobby, 2 of which are still being actively supported and developed. There are also 2 free flight simulators, with one of them being more like an arcade game, and the other, being a serious attempt at a viable and true simulation contender.

They are: Microsoft FSX, X-Plane-10, Prepar3D, Microsoft Flight, and FlightGear Fight Simulator.

A few years ago, Microsoft had stopped development of the world’s most famous flight simulator franchise, known as Microsoft Flight Simulator, (last release was FSX Flight Simulator), and got rid of their developers and that department altogether. They sold their FSX sim to Lockheed Martin, who in turn, is now offering a modified, revamped version of it called, “Prepar3D”.  Prepar3D looks great and is gaining traction with third-party developers, and it is actively supported and developed for by Lockheed Martin.  As for backwards compatibility with the tons of available FSX add-ons, they are compatible with Prepar3D, using a special migrating application.

After getting rid of FSX, Microsoft, has since, released a free flight simulator called, “Microsoft Flight”, but they’ve also stopped development on that title, too. You can still download it from Microsoft, today. MS Flight, the free sim, comes with only 2 planes, with the option to buy more as downloadable content. I think most sim pilots don’t really consider it as a serious sim because they’ve added an arcade-style game element to it, (which some find fun), and plus, it doesn’t integrate with VATSIM (virtual air traffic simulator) – the ultimate sim experience, among many other reasons. On the other hand, the graphics are okay and you can learn to fly a licensed replica of the awesome, yet simple, ICON A5, (the cockpit looks more like a car dashboard). There is a virtual instructor that will talk you through how to fly, using the instruments and throttle management, and for that, I think it is well done, for an arcade-ish kind of sim.

The more serious flight sim enthusiast is using a more realistic sim (than MS Flight), which would include one of these; the old (but very good) Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004 (also known as FS9), Microsoft Flight Simulator FSX, X-Plane 10, Prepar3D, or even the free, open source sim called, FlightGear Flight Simulator. Third-party developers are still releasing add-ons (planes, scenery and weather packs) for the older sims, and as well, for the newer commercial titles. The older titles still remain very popular and are very good as flight simulators go. The MS Flight Simulator titles have built-in instructor-led flying lessons. I don’t know if the others do or not, but there are third-party add-ons available for the commercial sims, that can add this feature. A top choice for many is X-Plane 10, which is a current title in the X-Plane franchise, with a team still producing, supporting and working on more developments for it. Over time, it will likely catch up to MS FSX in regards to available add-ons. I’ve heard flight sim pilots say that X-Plane 10 is a more a realistic flight sim than FSX. (Ie. more realistic flight physics, moving ground traffic on miscellaneous streets, etc.)

Another interesting flight sim is the open source (free) sim called, FlightGear Flight Simulator. It can run on Windows, Mac, and Linux. The installation process for this sim is quite complicated when compared to the commercial sims. Reading through the manual is a must, and even then, it will be a convoluted process to get it working on your PC. Some sim pilots consider it more realistic than FSX, and plus, some folks have been able to get it to work with VATSIM. I suspect that the downside of this title is that there won’t be any commercial-grade third-party add-ons developed for it, but it does look great and has a lot going for it. The fact that it is open source, gives it a great potential for longevity. Be sure to check out the list of features on the FlightGear website. On the plus side, it can run well on systems with lower-end specifications. (Note: Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004 is also a good choice for systems with lower-end specs. It’s designed to run on Windows 98, up to windows Vista. People have reported that it works on Windows 7 and 8, but it could be a bit buggy. A search on the Internet reveals that some folks were able to work out the kinks.)

Links:

Microsoft Flight (free – works on Windows)
https://microsoftflight.com/en-us/home

Microsoft Simulator FSX (I’m not sure how easy or well it works with Windows 8.x Strictly runs on Windows)
http://www.microsoft.com/Products/Games … fault.aspx (still a very good site)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_Flight_Simulator
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_Flight_Simulator_X
http://www.amazon.ca/Microsoft-Flight-Simulator-X-Gold/dp/B001DPZE84/ref=dp_ob_title_vg

X-Plane 10 (works on Windows, Mac, Linux)
http://www.x-plane.com/desktop/home
http://www.amazon.ca/X-Plane-10-Regional-North-America/dp/B007TMFD7M/ref=sr_1_1?s=videogames&ie=UTF8&qid=1399523309&sr=1-1&keywords=xplane+10

Prepar3D (works on Windows)
http://www.prepar3d.com
http://www.prepar3d.com/product-overview/prepar3d-license-comparison

FlightGear Flight Simulator (free – open source – works on Windows, Mac, Linux)
http://www.flightgear.org

VATSIM (Virtual Air Traffic Simulator)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_Air_Traffic_Simulation_Network
http://www.vatsim.net


Collection of interesting links:

Interesting blog article on what happened to Microsoft Flight Simulator:
http://www.gamingbus.com/2012/01/31/blo … simulators

New to X-Plane?

http://xsimreviews.com/2010/12/28/what-now-new-to-x-plane-new-to-flying-start-here

New to MS Flight Simulator?
http://www.microsoft.com/Products/Games/FSInsider/product/learning/Pages/default.aspx

Prepar3D V2 review.
http://xsimreviews.com/2013/12/03/almost-2-weeks-of-prepar3d-v2-verdict

If I’ve made an error, if you have an alternate view on something – (everyone has their own), or would like to comment, please post a response on our FSNS Forums, here.

Cheers,
Andrew

Flight Sim Nova Scotia meets every 4 weeks, on Thursday evenings, at the Shearwater Aviation Museum from 7:30-9:30 PM.  Check our FSNS Forums for scheduled dates and more information, or contact us at flightsimns, over at gmail.com .

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3 Responses to The Flight Sim Software Scene in 2014

  1. Re Flightsim Software Scene 2014 posted May 18 2014
    There was a statement made in the post concerning the ability of FSX to operate in the Windows 8.x environment. Inwould like to state that FSX runs very well in Windows 8 – we have two pilots here at FSNB with that OS and their FSX runs very well.
    H Crowell
    Chief Pilot (CYSJ) for FSNB

  2. Re Flightsim Software Scene 2014 posted May 18 2014
    There was a statement made in the post concerning the ability of FSX to operate in the Windows 8.x environment. I would like to state that FSX runs very well in Windows 8 – we have two pilots here at FSNB with that OS and their FSX runs very well.
    H Crowell
    Chief Pilot (CYSJ) for FSNB

  3. Adam says:

    I’m not sure why you say FlightGear is complicated to get running. I installed it and ran it just like any other program. It is complicated to get a plane flying, but that is because it’s realistic. Not all options are explained well, either. But installation takes a couple minutes.

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