Whilst World Update II: USA was released earlier this week, Microsoft and Asobo Studios are already looking ahead at the future with the next 3-months of development. During their recent Developer Q&A session, Jorg Neumann (Head of Microsoft Flight Sim), Sebastian Wloch (CEO/Co-Founder of Asobo Studio) and Martial Bossard (Executive Producer, Aboso Studio) all chimed in what the next few months holds. This includes exciting plans for VR to be available before Christmas, the next world update and improvements to ATC.
As posted earlier today on the Microsoft Flight Simulator blog, the feedback and wishlist snapshots have been updated to now include rough time frames on when specific requests and fixes will be available in the simulator. As usual, the team continues to listen to the feedback and are investigating many of the issues sent in. During the live session, they did comment on how things have shifted due to feedback so providing yours is always relevant to the team. Expect to see some of the dates become more specific as they progress with development.
Jorg also commented on how the current development cycle will change a little bit moving forward. Since release, the teams have worked to a bi-weekly update schedule, but will now slow this down a little as to ensure that updates are as stable as possible. Going forward, updates to the simulator will be monthly with the cycle including world updates and sim updates every 2-3 months. This cycle will also give third-party developers a chance to test updates beforehand to ensure their products work with any changes made by the simulator. Jorg did tease that in between we will also see “bigger features and nice surprises to come.”
VR By Christmas
Perhaps one of the most requested features by people for the new simulator is the implementation of Virtual Reality. Over the past few weeks the team has been testing in a closed beta environment, but “the feedback has been so good” that the team feel they are now ready to release it for everyone. Coming in Sim Update #2, releasing on December 22nd 2020, Virtual Reality will be added completely free of charge the simulator for all headsets. Whilst it was originally announced to be restricted to only a specific few headsets, it’s now confirmed that all VR headsets will work with the simulator. The VR experience will include the menu system as well to provide the most seamless experience possible.
In addition, Sim Update #2 will also come packed with two new Airbus A320neo tutorials and of course a range of other fixes and changes.
World Update III: United Kingdom
Both Japan and the US saw huge world update improvements and World Update III will focus on the United Kingdom. This was confirmed in the Flight Simulator blog post, but Jorg gave a lot more detail about what to expect from the update when it releases on January 28th 2021. Right now, Jorg confirmed that England, Wales and Scotland will see improvements to the data included which will range from 50cm – 2m in resolution, along with improved aerial imagery from Bing Maps. Work is ongoing to try and get Ireland included in the pack, but that situation remains dynamic.
Further to the overall image quality improvements, it was also confirmed that four brand new hand-crafted airports would also be included. These will be:
- Outer Skerries
- Manchester Barton (EGCB)
- Liverpool Airport (EGGP)
- Land’s End Airport (EGHC)
In addition, between 50 and 60 new points of interest will be included, along with plans to make new procedurally generated churches and cathedrals throughout the UK. There will also be additional landing challenges and tours to take across the UK as part of the new world update pack coming early 2021.
Although less information was shared, Martial began commenting on the future of how ATC will work in the simulator. Sim Update #3 will see improvements to how ATC handles approaches specifically with changes to phraseology and also ATIS information. There is also ongoing work (after Sim Update #3) for phraseology depending on region, along with improved audio quality a long way down the line.
This will most likely be expanded upon in the future when Sim Update #3 is closer to a release.
Alongside the hour-long Q&A session, the development blog highlighted how the SDK has been improved along with additional information on third-party created content is being added to the simulator. Below is the text directly from the update on the website.
- Throughout this week, the DevMode team has been actively focused on the last fixes for Update 7. We hope you will enjoy the results -> check-out the SDK Release Notes!
- On the Scenery Editor, the Heightmap Editor is nearly finished. We are also working on providing an editable hierarchy for object instances, which was one of the top requested features in terms of scenery editing.
- The new Visual Effects are now coming to production, even though we still have work to do on process optimization. We’re also adding new SimVars, which is needed to condition the triggering of effects.
- Besides all this, the whole new asset creation system within the Project Editor remains a work in progress, of course.
- As a background task, the DevMode team is always working on improving the overall stability giving special focus to the Project Editor, the Scenery Editor, and the Aircraft Editor. The community’s feedback continues to be very helpful in identifying & fixing bugs and thus making the tools better.
- We have fixed the functions related to AI objects and AI aircraft.
THIRD PARTY UDPDATE
- The third party creator community is just amazing and we are quite literally overwhelmed by the volume and the quality. Just some numbers:
- 214 have been released on the platform so far (that’s 27 since last week)
- another 48 have been announced and
- an additional 118 are in production by third parties but are not yet announced officially.
- In total 380 airports are either already released or are in active production. Just stunning to see the amount of enthusiasm and productivity.
- 9 aircraft have been released (+2 since last week),
- another 56 are announced, plus
- there are another 20 unannounced.
- So overall, 85 aircraft are either released or are in production.
- Just to mention it, we are super excited to see what Aerosoft, Hans, Stefan and the rest of the team are doing with the CRJ. It’s so rewarding to see a team embrace the SDK and create a complex aircraft with it. It’s just great quality and we are so excited to see this come together!
Finally, a few community screenshots from the latest update.