Dovetail Games had a Live stream showcasing their upcoming title Flight Sim World. This was the first Live stream of many as they apparently plan to utilize them to discuss things with the community as they develop FSW. This live stream featured Steve Hood and Cryss Leonhart. The FSW Executive Producer, Flight community Manager for Dovetail games respectively. There were many things talked about including their road map for development of Flight Sim World. They also showcased a new trailer, and some gameplay footage. Release date and price was confirmed, and 5 lucky people got a free copy of FSW. All in all it was a good showing. You can watch an archive of the live stream on Dovetails Twitch channel here. Lets recap what happened in the stream.
After the introduction the first thing shown was a new trailer. The trailer makes a few points I want to focus on. Firstly we get a reason why Dovetail has chosen to go with an Early Access model. They claim its so they can work with the community to build a better Flight Sim. Now I have my concerns with Early Access, hinged mostly on the ratio of good games to crap ones. But there are ways Early Access can be good if its done correctly. As we saw with Kerbal Space Program. The keys to Early Access success are transparency, regular updates, a plan, and good management. Dovetail has demonstrated a few of these, But some remain to be seen. I do detect sincerity in their words. I actually believe they do want to make a better platform.
But now my concerns shift. Because of that regular updates part. Regular updates and adding new content is a big deal for Early Access games. Most Importantly that content has to come for free. In the stream Dovetail Confirmed there will be 7 Aircraft on the initial langue of FSW. That’s far too few and there needs to be more for the real release. I’m worried though that what will happen is there will be more planes added, but all paid DLC. This has been the way of Flight Sims for years. It Wasn’t long ago Ark Survival Evolved kicked up a big stink when it announced paid DLC despite it still being in early access. Given that Paid DLC is SOP for Flight Sims, am I right to be worried about this?
Given that Dovetails goal seems to be to make a Flight Sim that everyone will enjoy, It may be that Early Access is the best way to go. The Flight Sim community has always wanted the Sim developers to work with the them and the addon developers. It appears that may be starting to happen. We do know Carenado, IRIS, ORBX And Turbulant Designs have been credited in the Game credits for Flight Sim World. But I can’t help but be reminded of the old adage “Be careful what you wish for.”
Dovetail did give us a look at their Road-Map for development of FSW. Cold dark starts, Workshop functionality, Updates to the weather engine, and Steam MP functionality. These are the Things Dovetail will focus on initially after the Early Access Release. But they are subject to change depending on feedback they get from the community. I want to point something out, Cold and Dark Starts are already a thing in FSX. All you need to do is setup a default flight with the plane shut down to cold and dark. Then whenever you start a new flight the plane will launch cold and dark. This doesn’t always work with addon planes (Particularly with complex ones with a lot of external scripting). But it does work with most of them.
Workshop functionality is something I personally would love. Especially if its brought to the forefront. There are games out there that make it a major feature. Cities Skylines comes to mind. Weather improvements are definitely needed. A much better weather engine is a feature I crave. I just spent 2 hours testing various payware and freeware weather addons in FSX. They all failed in one way or another. But I’m pretty sure its due to them trying tricks or work around’s to make something that’s not supported by the default weather engine work. At least move away from the dependence on METARS. Go browse aviationweather.gov and you find no shortage of observations and forecast that can be used.
One Nice effect I did notice. Not only are windshield rain drops back, they are actually affected by the movement of the plane. When the Aircraft was stooped on the ground and not moving, Neither where the rain drops. But when the plane was in motion so where the rain drops. This was a nice effect. It was confirmed in the first trailer, but they restated it here. They are using Physics based rendering to bring a massive upgrade to the rendering engine. An upgrade i’m sure will be welcomed by meany.
After a short brake we saw some actual game play footage. They were flying a PA46 Malibu Mirage in Scotland. In addition to the stuff we talked about before we saw other improvements for the first time. Most notably, an improved camera system. It actually looks like some features that are only found in Payware addon’s for FSX, will be Default in FSW. When moving from one viewpoint to another the camera did not instantly jump, it moved smoothly. There also seemed to be some Camera shake in the exterior views.
One thing I was disappointed to see was the PAPI lights still instantly change from one color to the other. They are not suppose to. The light actual should sort of cross fade between one another. There was a freeware Flight sim built in Runreal 4 that did this. Its always a nice effect to see. Looking at the Airport itself, sadly it does not seem like to much has been improved. Whilst the surface textures have been, the building textures look the same as FSX. Not exactly a deal breaker but still disappointing to see.
Dovetail then gave us a preview of a mission that will be included in Flight Sim World. The mission is called the impossible turn. In this mission it seems your goal is to successfully land the plane after an engine failure on takeoff, by turning it around. This is not something you should ever try in real life! Always always always land straight ahead if the engine fails on Takeoff. Or at least minimize the amount of turn you have to make. Though this is a game so i’m not going to run them against the cheese grater for it. It seems to be a mission included for challenge, so ill accept it.
I am happy to see missions return in FSW. They were one of my favorite features in FSX. And a feature that I feel were under utilized. They could have been great tools for addon devs both freeware and payware. Could you imagine your favorite addon planes shipping with a few tutorial flights. I think the reason that never happened was the object placement tool used to create missions in FSX was difficult to install and work with. Though it seems Dovetail has acknowledged this and are making an easier to work with variant called the Prop Mission Tool. Easy is a relative term. We will see how it is on launch day. But its a welcomed addition none the less. And if combined with something like the Steam workshop it can really be something.
A brief Q&A
They ended the live stream with a brief question and answer session. Now something I want to point out. Going back to that transparency thing mention before. One of the things needed for an Early Access game to do well is the developers need to be open and honest with the community during the development process. It seems Dovetail knows this and are planning to have regular live streams to update everyone on their plans. The next Live stream is scheduled for a week after the release of Flight Sim World on May 18th. Again I think Dovetail is sincere about their desire to make a good sim. Not just another DLC farm.
The questions asked in the Q&A were the standard ones that have been floating around the community since the trailer came out. VR, ATC, Airliners, Career mode, and FSUIPC. Now VR mode Dovetail admitted will not be in Flight Sim World on launch day. The reasons they give for this is because they want to take the time to do it right. And they should. VR is not just some switch you can turn off and on. The best VR games are actually the ones designed around VR. You cant just take any First Person game and expect it to work well. And when you throw in the fact VR is so prohibitively expensive, and such a “Your mileage may vary” thing. Id much rather them take the time to do it right. Not throw it in haphazardly.
Now for Airliners. They wont be there on launch day. But they will be coming. They better not be Paid DLC either dovetail! You need to have some Airliners default by the time this thing is ready to leave Early Access. They are discussing how to do this to. One point they made was that they did not want to completely overhaul everything. That would make it to difficult for the 3ed part devs to adapt to the new game. But the way FSX’s default airliners were are absolutely unacceptable as default today. So maybe Dovetail is right to wait and have Airliners later. But as I Said, Not everything can be Paid DLC.
Careers and FSUIPC
Now onto the last two things, Career mode and FSUIPC. Steve Hood made a point that I whole hardly agree with. Career mode is something that should be looked at when the game is closer to a finished state. They also need to consider what exactly should be in a Career mode. You cant just chuck in FS-Economy and call it a day (Sorry Twitch chat). Now I have concerns with a career mode. I actually prefer being able to just pick a plane and fly where ever I want, when ever I want. But I also do see the entertainment value a Career mode can bring. But it can also be a chore to work with. I’ll give you a hint though Dovetail. American Truck Simulator. That’s all your getting from me, if you want the game development equivalent of a screenplay; Then call me and we’ll talk turkey.
I keep seeing people bring up FSUIPC. Dovetail confirmed that FSUIPC will not be supported. But you know what else did not support FSUIPC on launch day? FSX! FSUIPC is not some miracle software. Its largely a bridge that allows external software to communicate with the Simulator. It did have some extra features. But they were all features that I frankly would expect to be in Flight Sim World anyway. Time has Marched on and I don’t think we really need FSUIPC anymore. Dovetails goal seems to be improving the Simconnect API. Simconnects already basically replaced FSUIPC. I personally only have 1 addon that even uses FSUIPC. All others use Simconnect or hook into the exe on launch. Even if all this were not true. FSUIPC is Peat Dawson’s thing. If he wants to update it to support FSW, That’s up to him.
This has actually renewed some excitement for Flight Sim World in me. At first I was immediately suspicious of the decision to go with an Early Access model. But Dovetail is demonstrating some traits that make me give it a second thought. Now only Time will tell if this ends up working out or blowing up. Ether way its seems Flight Sim World is going to shake up the Status Quo the hobby has had for 10 years. Which is a good thing despite the words of some addon developers. It could bring some much needed new blood into the hobby. And more competition among the sims is a good thing.
We wont Have to Wait long see it either. Flight Sim World is due to release on Early Access May 18th! For a really good price to. Only $24.99! Some people will be able to get it at no charge. Anyone who bought Flight School will be given a copy of Flight Sim World for free, And Dovetail even gave out 5 copies for free on the Live stream. Its sold on Steam as well, Which guarantees a money back policy. That and Career modes are something we should probably talk about in their own article. If Flight Sim World fails, then nothing will change really. So it seems we have some stuff to gain, but nothing to lose. Hopefully Flight Sim World will do well.