MICROSOFT FLIGHT DEMO FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Well, I’ve downloaded the Microsoft FLIGHT demo and given it a go – like most of you I guess. I’m not sure I will take the time to write a full review, but while I’m on the fence you can catch up on what others are writing:

http://asn.aerosoft.com/?page_id=3781

http://arealityofmyown.wordpress.com/2012/03/02/microsoft-flight-the-coconut-bra-says-it-all/

http://www.simhq.com/_air14/air_525a.html

http://flyawaysimulation.com/news/4376/microsoft-flight-review/

http://asn.aerosoft.com/?page_id=3585

http://www.avsim.com/pages/0212/Microsoft/Flight.html

http://airdailyx.blogspot.com/2012/03/and-now-my-own-first-impression-of.html

http://xplane10.wordpress.com/2012/03/01/xp10reviewsalmost-24hrs-of-ms-flight/

http://www.redmondpie.com/microsoft-flight-for-windows-now-available-for-download-and-is-absolutely-free/

http://pc.gamespy.com/pc/microsoft-flight/1219653p1.html

http://soldant.wordpress.com/2012/02/29/microsoft-flight-review/

http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2012/02/29/cloud-gaming-microsoft-flight-is-out-today-free/

http://www.flyingmag.com/flying-games/simulation-review-microsoft%E2%80%99s-flight-disappointment

And a Joshua Howard interview to finnish things off:

http://www.mcvuk.com/news/read/interview-joshua-howard-microsoft-flight/091961

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FSX IN LATEST ISSUE OF PC GAMER

I used to be a gamer back in the day so I always find “The Best 100 PC Games Ever” lists irresistible. So while killing time at the airport I picked up the latest issue of PC Gamer. Flight Simulator X was awarded 52nd place on the list. Not bad for a niche game. PC Gamer continues: “FSX is a place that you can wander around for a lifetime and never see everything. Around every corner there’s a new masterfully modeled ride or region waiting to be explored”. I couldn’t have said it better myself…

There are several other niche games on the list, and it just goes to show that dumbing down a game to make it commercial isn’t always a recipe for success. In fact, niche games are the core of PC Gaming and most of the best selling and most popular games of all time are surprisingly nerdy. Just think about it. Civilization, Sim City, Railroad Tycoon, Minecraft, UFO: Enemy Unknown. Not exactly arcade, but sophisticated timeless games that have sold millions and become legends.

As for the latest PC Gamer they had lots of surprising articles. I mean, isn’t the world of PC gaming dominated by fantasy role playing games, first person shooters and football managers? Well, think again! In their best 100 games ever list I found titles like Red Baron, OMSI, Silent Hunter III and IL-2 Sturmovik. Previews of Faster Than Light, X-Plane 10, Total War: Shogun 2 and a special report on driving sims had me entertained. Too bad I barely have time to get airborne in FSX a few hours each week…

Tim Edwards, the editor of PC Gamer, said in his editorial that he felt the more detailed you focused the game, the more passionate and occasionally wide your audience gets (insert sound of hammer hitting nail on the head here). When those who create a product are passionate and knowledagble about what they’re doing it often shows in the product and customers act accordingly. The Flight Simulator franchise and all the third party addon developers are proof of exactly that. Dedication, passion and focus on details have made FSX into a collective work of art.

It’s hard not to think of Microsoft FLIGHT after reading PC Gamer. It is a product so deprived of passion and respect for what makes PC gaming great that it stands naked in front of everybody like a beggar on a beach of gold. It’s single reason for existing is to make money. And before you ask, I’m not against making money, in fact I applaud anyone who can, but money should never be the goal. Money should be a reward for those who risk it all in pursuit of perfection in whatever field they have talent and are infinitely passionate about.

DLC OR HOW TO TRANSFORM GAMERS INTO ADDICTS

icrosoft Flight is just one of many games these days that are offered through a downloadable content (DLC) model. With DLC one usually refers to additional content offered as an expansion to a game. Subject to many critical articles in the press the DLC model is controversial. Just like gambling, acquiring DLC content can become an addiction, especially for young gamers.

DLC is nothing new. It has been there since the 1990s when Internet use took off like a rocket. In the early days DLC was mostly about free bonus content offered to buyers of games, magazines, movies and CDs. In the gaming industry it was Sega with their Dreamcast that paved the way for connecting consoles to the Internet in the late 1990s. Today most consol makers have followed suit, but Microsoft was the first company to charge for DLC with their Xbox game Mech Assault in 2002. Apple on the other hand refined the DLC model for smartphones and tablets with their App Store. Now DLC is an important revenue stream for all the major consol makers, and the model is winning increasing support on the PC platform as well. So what’s the controversy?

To start things off, lets first take a look at some of the positive aspects of the DLC model. Without a doubt it makes distribution a lot easier for both user and creator. Usually one buys the base package retail, then use a DLC store to acquire additional content and updates of sorts. Interestingly that is the only positive aspect, from a consumer standpoint, of DLC I could find while doing research for this article. Logic dictates that easier distribution should make DLC cheap, but that is rarely the case. The trend is that games are being watered down in terms of content while DLC is becoming increasingly expensive and necessary to have if you want to play the game to its full potential. In reality most DLC games are costlier than the traditional retail games, often missing the box/cover and manuals featured in games of the past.

The big controversy is how DLC makes kids addicted to buying new content. Games are competitive in nature and in most cases buying DLC is the only way to win or increase ones status in the games. For instance the retail version of a racing game comes with only a few slow cars. To have any chance of winning you’ll have to get new cars. Among friends – offline or online – competition can become fierce and fuel unhealthy addictive behavior. Microsoft’s Rock band takes the cake. If you were to get all the DLC it would cost you more than $2000! Most modern DLC games also seem to lock out freeware third party developers.

To make things even fuzzier some providers don’t charge for DLC in real currency but has invented a point system to confuse buyers as to what things really cost. In addition some sell these points in bulk, meaning that if you want to buy a 1000 point addon, you’ll have to buy a minimum of 2000 points, hence wasting 1000 points that you either can’t use at all, or spend it on content that you really didn’t want in the first place.

A final open question is what happens to DLC as time goes by? I still play games from the 1980s on my PC. With never games consisting of fragmented parts locked to certain devices and online portals the game might end up completely obsolete in a few years. That is yet another reason why DLC should be a lot cheaper than traditional games and expansion packs.

Based on my research I’ve taken a stand on this. I will never buy into a DLC game constructed like a pyramid scheme. DLC should be reserved for bonus content and real expansion packs at a fair price reflecting its real value. As of today DLC is becoming increasingly unethical targeting young kids and naive parents.

Microsoft Flight seems to be one of the worst games in terms of value. They say it is free, but in reality you only get a demo – don’t be fooled. You can still get FSX for free. It’s a called the St. Marteen demo, so it’s nothing new. Additional content for Flight is expensive and of course necessary to elevate your pilot’s status. If you’re the competitive kind you can easily waste a lot of money for something that should have been included in a fairly priced base package instead.

FRANCOIS DUMAS SPEAKS OUT!

I strongly recommend that you read Francois Dumas heartfelt comment on Microsoft and FLIGHT here:

 http://flightsimplaza.com/fsblog/?p=1480

 All I can say is that I agree with much of what he’s saying. I’ve been a Microsoft user since scrapping my Amiga 500 in 1991 and with a few exceptions I’ve been very happy with their products – and I’ve got a huge collection of them. Windows, Office, Flight Simulator, mice, keyboards and joysticks.

 While I still try to keep a small flame of optimism burning, I’m preparing for the worst. FLIGHT does look like a disaster. Microsoft can manage well without loyal customers like me, but I have to do the right thing to get piece of mind. They’ve stopped developing my favorite software of all time so why would I spend any more money with them. It is a decision that affects me as a corporate business man and the go-to guy when it comes to computers for my friends and family, and their friends. I never thought I’d say this, but I’m heading over to the Apple Store…

FLIGHT TO BE RELEASED FEBRUARY 29TH

It’s official. FLIGHT will be released February 29th. The latest webisode is a bit of fresh air from Microsoft. With all the negativity that has surrounded community websites and the official Facebook and Youtube pages it is a bold move to show the faces behind the software. In my opinion this kind of video should have been released a long time ago to show that some kind of humanity exists over at Microsoft.

If they manage to make exiting missions this might be a fun game for the kids. However I know few kids that get exited about Kaydets and Mustangs. When I was a kid it was the roar of an F-16 flying overhead that got my blood boiling, not a piston powered aircraft barely moving across the sky.

There are some hints in the video of IFR flying capabilities, so it is definitely more than just an arcade game. How many simulation elements they have brought over from FSX still remains to be seen. The bad news is the pricing. Adding missions, scenery and aircraft looks very expensive.

PS! Seem like Microsoft is tired of the abuse from angered fans and have started moderating comments on their YouTube-page. Cowardly, but probably a smart move.

MICROSOFT FLIGHT HANDS-ON REPORTS

The first public showcase of FLIGHT is at 2012 International CES in Las Vegas. Here are links to the first hands-on reports:

http://www.digitaltrends.com/gaming/hands-on-at-ces-with-microsofts-flight-simulator-successor-flight/#

http://www.theverge.com/2012/1/10/2697548/microsoft-flight-hands-on-video-ces-2012

http://www.geekwire.com/2012/hands-microsoft-flight-blast-mere-game

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtdPROvUjLc (NEW January 18th!)