On Twitch, the Microsoft Flight Simulator team conducted their first Live Developer Q&A. Jorg Neumann, Sebastian Wloch and Martial Bossard were all on stream to talk about the future of Microsoft Flight Simulator.
To start, Jorg said that flight simulation has never been more popular. He said. “we are breaking records. November and December have seen some of the highest engagement numbers on any flight simulators. January is off to an amazing start. Added hundreds of thousands of new simmers. Twice as many simmers now than we did in the middle of 2021.” That is hugely exciting news for all involved.
Microsoft Flight Simulator 2022 Roadmap
World Update and Local Legends
Jorg kick-started the stream by showing of the vision for the world update releases in 2022. Starting next week with World Update VII (more below), followed by world updates every two months afterwards. This means in March, May, June, August and October we will see new World Updates.
Alongside the world updates, new Local Legend aircraft will also be released. These aircraft will be related to that specific area of the world and will release at the same time as the World Updates.
Sim Updates and Famous Flyers
In addition to the Local Legend aircraft, a series of ‘Famous Flyers’ will be released alongside Sim Updates. Based on the information in the stream, these aircraft will release in February, April, July, September and November of this year.
These ‘Major Releases’ are ways that expand the simulator in a number of ways. In the list shared, a ‘surprise’ is due to release between now and May 2022. After that, we will see the delayed TOP GUN: MAVERICK DLC released (May 2022), followed by another yet-announced major release in June. Then in the Fall we will see the long-awaited release of gliders and helicopters and then a final surprise.
World Update VII – Australia
Coming on January 31st at 1pm PST, World VII will focus on Australia. A short teaser video was shared by the team during the stream. 60 people worked on this update, including Orbx who made all the POIs and airports. Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and more all received the photogrammetry treatment. Perfect Flight also made a bunch of new missions, challenges and discovery flights.
Local Legend II: Fokker F.VII
A team of 16 in-house developers at Orbx worked on developing the next local legend for Microsoft Flight Simulator.
Had some issues with references, but museums helped with providing details to provide images and more. There are 6 variations: Sir Charles Kingsford Smith’s F.VIIb/3m Southern Cross, a variant fitted with modern-day avionics, a ski variant (Josephine Ford), a float variant (Friendship), a single-engine variant and a three-engine variant.
As mentioned, this Local Legend will be coming out the same day as the Australia World Update.
Famous Flyer #1: Beechcraft Model 17 Staggerwing
Due to some licensing issues with Antonov for the release of the Antonov AN-2, the order in which famous flyers were to be released has changed. So alongside Sim Update VIII, the first famous flyer to release will be Beechcraft Model 17 Staggerwing, which is developed by Fernando Herrera at Carenado.
The aircraft was used during wars as an air ambulance. Now it’s serving as a passenger and cargo aircraft. Carenado is aiming to make the plane as realistic as possible. Fernando says that flying it in VR is extremely realistic.
The Beechcraft Model 17 Staggerwing is due to release on March 1st 2022.
World Update VIII: Iberia (Portugal and Spain)
It has been confirmed that World Update VIII will be in Iberia. This means Portugal and Spain will see visual improvements, new airports and more. In total, there are 99 points of interest being worked on, 4 new airports, new missions and of course new photogrammetry cities. Jorg also confirmed that the free World Update will include 2m DEM for all of Spain, which is super high in resolution.
Local Legend III: Plus Ultra
Alongside World Update VIII, a new Local Legend will also be released. The Plus Ultra, a Dornier Do J flying boat, is coming to Microsoft Flight Simulator. This aircraft is historically significant because it was the first transatlantic flight from Spain to South America. It is being developed by Oliver Moser – the same developer behind the Junkers that was released late last year.
Sim Improvements 2022
Seb then opened up about what the future of the simulator looks like for 2022 through the Sim Updates.
Helicopters are a big focus for the team this year. Seb said that they have implemented new propeller effects in the aircraft. This native method includes P-factor, torque and more that is actually simulated. Feathering is now fully implemented with the propellers. Three aircraft will get these improvements, including the King Air. The stream itself has a great explanation of how this all works, including the new CDF airflow, so check that out.
Finally, the visualiser that we see in the screenshots will be made available to everyone so you can see exactly what’s going on.
Implement Weather and Terrain APIs
This is still under investigation in order to expose the API for developers.
Questions from the Community
Working with Third-Party Developers
A member of the community asked how Asobo and Microsoft work with third-party developers and the sim status for complex airliners.
Jorg said, “Quite a few companies are working on complex planes such as Aerosoft, DC Designs, Fenix Sim, iniBuilds, PMDG with their Boeing lines – quite a few in development. We’re in contact with almost all of them and speak to them to varying degrees. Some very tight.
We’ve been in direct communication with PMDG since April 2020. That means 8 developers from PMDG, 20 from Asobo, and me, all sitting in a Discord chatting every day. I know Robert wears his heart on a platter; when he said no one is listening to me, I’m like “really we just talked to you just today”. Just know we are paying a lot of attention and respond immediately. The one Robert was referencing was quite simple.”
Seb said, “It was surprisingly simple. There were a few communication issues on our side as we’re in contact with so many plane makers and we didn’t understand the question originally as it seemed so simple. Other plane makers had resolved it. The issue was basically how to know when the sim loading is over, but the sim is always loading since it’s streaming in something. In the SDK for a year or so there is a camera status to let developers know if the sim is interactive. There’s also a sim variable if you have input or ran by AI. Nothing really to do with complex aerodynamics and more to do with loading. It took us time to understand the question since it seemed simple. The answer was in the documentation, but once it clicked, it was immediately resolved.”
Jorg added that often they invite aircraft developers to the SDK meetings to provide feedback, which included PMDG at one time. He then said that the SDK team is really customer-friendly and often drop everything they’re doing to help someone out.
What’s the future of live weather?
“There’s plenty of future for live weather as there’s plenty to be done.”
Fog is being worked on quite a lot too. Another improvement is the rendering system for the clouds themselves.
The PMDG DC-6 on Xbox
A member of the community asked about how the team is handling the PMDG DC-6 on Xbox. Specifically, the team said that they were looking to bring the plane back, but ran into issues after the launch. This was due to the team using ‘Dev Kits’ for Xbox which had certain security settings different to retail units. This meant during the testing, the plane was running fine. However, on consumer units, the plane was unable to work due to some restrictions. That said, they are working with the Xbox platform team to make the possibility real and also keep the console safe. The bad news is that this may take ‘months’ to fix. Asobo and Microsoft however may have a shorter-term solution in mind.
Jorg said, “we are working with the platform team to make it real and keep the console safe. They’re committed and it will take a few months. This is the reality and we’ve done what we can right now. We’re highly motivated and the platform [team] is doing it. And we might be doing something shorter-term”
- There will be a beta version of Sim Update 8 available to test.
- Sim Update 9 will focus on stablity.
- DX12 optimsations have been happening and DLSS has been protyped in the simulator. It works much better than the team hoped.
- Another developer live Q&A will happen before Sim Update 8.
- PDF manuals for aircraft are coming.
You can watch the full 1 hour 30-minute stream right now over on Twitch. You’ll get to see some of the teaser trailers, screenshots and learn more from the community Q&A.