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.


Exiting times

We live in interesting times, so be aware (Remember the Chineese curse: May you live in interesting times?). The economy of the entire Western World is about to go astray, but the virtual world of flight simming is flooded with great news.

First of all, Microsoft Flight is looking greater and greater with each new set of Hawaiian screenshots. Hopefully we’ll get a demo soon, like the FSX Sint Marteen demo. A bunch of Norwegian web shops anticipate a February 2012 release. I’ve ordered it, so it will be interesting to see when it will finally arrive.

Lockheed Martin’s Prepar3D is slowly gaining a larger following, and if Flight fails, Prepar3D is most likely the civilian flight sim platform of the future. I’ve gotten great reports from some highly credible sources about the improved performance and stability Prepar3D has over FSX. In addition the Prepar3D team seems like a very nice bunch answering all our questions and taking notes of our wishes for future upgrades. Big names in the addon industry like Aerosoft, ORBX and REX are getting onboard with Lockheed Martin releasing dedicated addons.

X-Plane 10 is being released before Christmas and it sure looks like a great improvement over X-Plane 9. I’ve never been a keen X-Plane user, mainly because of the dull scenery, but I will give version 10 a try. Constant improvement and updates of their product has won my heart. I also like the openness and clear speech of the developers. Check out their blog here: http://www.x-plane.com/blog/. Some big names in the addon industry are embracing X-Plane as well, Aerosoft being the most recent developer joining the chorus.

Another very interesting title is Take On Helicopters. A beta is released for all to use. That is what I call excellent marketing and customer treatment! I’m no rotorhead, mainly because the choppers in FSX are crap, but this sim looks great. Reports of very realistic handling is certainly a bonus.

Now, don’t get me started on military flight sims. All I wish to say is that the selection of quality titles has never been better: Battle of Britain, Rise of Flight, Falcon 4.32, A-10C Warthog and Black Shark. If you’re interested check out the great reviews and articles on these sims over at SimHQ.

It’s all about the Scenery!

A great many flight simulator users are as interested in geography as they are in flying. The joke about not being content with any scenery until their own house is included has been done to death. Joking aside, realistic scenery is one of the most desired improvements in each new version of flight simulator.

One of the major improvements over FSX in the upcoming Flight seems to be more accurate and realistic scenery, at least in Hawaii, which is the only area included in the videos and screenshots released by Microsoft.  The latest screenshots from X-Plane 10 also looks very promising. But as much as I’d like flight simulator scenery to be as accurate and realistic as Google Earth Street View, most of the virtual world will for economic and practical reasons still remain generic and dull. Continue reading