Parallel 42 has announced and released all-new “Game Modes” for The Skypark. Designed for Microsoft Flight Simulator, the application is designed to give simmers the freedom to explore the world and discover all new places to fly. Using a karma system to help drive the narrative, The Skypark delivers a unique experience to load virtual cargo and transport it anywhere in the world whilst earning a reputation that influences your next adventure.
As the product has been in early access since release, there have been various updates have been added to the product since release. In fact, when we spoke to Edson Soriano, Managing Director of Parallel 42, he said “Supporters of The Skypark in Early Access have enjoyed an incredible number of features being deployed in the 3.5 months since release. A minimum of 1 update/wk to be exact, and an average of 3.” The next major update, which is now available, is the all-new Game Modes. A much-asked question is when can money earned be spent in the virtual world. Edson answered this by saying that first there need to be Game Modes before other aspects can be introduced.
The two new gameplay modes are Discovery Mode and Endeavour Mode. Discovery Mode, as the name suggests, is all about exploring the world and flying your way. All contracts and content is unlocked, but as such, your freedom means you can’t earn XP, Karma or other progression opportunities. On the other hand, those who want to continue earning their wage can do so through Endeavour Mode.
To unlock the new Game Modes, you will need to reach Level 3 within The Skypark. After doing so, you can select either of the two and your progression data will save independently. So if you just want to fly without rules, then you can do so without it impacting your parallel life.
We asked Edson why this is coming to The Skypark now.
“We can’t build a roof on a house with no walls or do electrical without at least studs standing,” Edson said. “Just because you see four walls, a door, and windows from the outside doesn’t mean we are all done inside. For Early Access, we put up a functional and very sexy facade for you all to enjoy while we build at the core. A few critical load-bearing beams are now in place, allowing us to build the roof. The game modes feature is the rooftop.”
Edson continued, “under this rooftop, we can now begin to layout The Skypark’s interior with the concept of parallel universes. Game Modes enable us to please those who want an open and unconfining layout and those who want all the confinement of walls and well-defined rooms.”
This is just the start of some new updates coming to the Skypark. One of the key points we raised in our First Look video was the lack of aircraft management. When we asked, we were told that “Bob the mechanic would be upset if I shared his business model with the world before his contract was signed and live on the platform! I’ll say this, Bobs Aero Service was chosen for their beautiful integration with Stranded Holdings. This allows financial transactions for operational costs to happen without much work from a pilot whose time is better spent racking up miles in the sky.”
Another feature which is currently sorely missing since its initial reveal back at FlightSimExpo 2019 is the photo mode. Also known as Skyblogs, the team said that this feature needs some input from Asobo before P42 can implement this for Microsoft Flight Simulator. But once that is in place, “the team is ready to build.”
The community is another aspect that Edson sees as part of why The Skypark is unique. “The Skypark” the star of the show will always be shared experiences with fellow pilots, dynamic contracts, world discovery, and unique experiences with an optional RolePlay element via Discord. With three virtual agencies to create work for, we have been grinding those out at a very aggressive pace. You’re not using a random flight generator; pilots on The Skypark enjoy hand-crafted experiences. Today tours and single hop flight plans are being SOLD in the Microsoft Marketplace; we’re spitting those out weekly/monthly at no additional cost. Creating those is a full-time job we’re lucky to have!
OK, so what are game modes? Once you reach Level 3, you unlock Game Modes. In the Settings App under Gameplay, you’ll be able to choose from 2 game modes, Discovery & Endeavour. Think of it like parallel lives, (yea, I went there) you can switch between them at any time, and The Skypark will save your progression data independently. Level 3 can be achieved with as little as 3 flights depending on your choice of contracts.
Those who are still waiting on a Prepar3D version may need to wait a little longer. We asked Edson who gave us this detailed answer:
“Experiences bound to exploration and discovery are best enjoyed with as much visual accuracy as possible. For example, in Prepar3D, we had a suggested minimum requirement of needing Orbx FTX Global Base installed, just so that things look even slightly like they would in real life. THAT’S A $75 USD INVESTMENT!!! This requirement is null in MSFS2020.
In our latest tour, the Skypark Travel agency had pilots land on a small patch of grass or sandbank and shut down the aircraft at the base of Ben Nevins mountain in Scotland specifically to enjoy the sights and sounds. It’s an experience that Prepar3D just can’t match out of the box.
But that’s just the visual experience. Fundamentally, The Skypark as it stands today is a ground-up rebuild for Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020; therefore, our approach on the back end is slightly different this time around. Some SDK features we had in Prepar3D don’t currently exist in MSFS2020. When those intersect with what’s available for 2020, we’ll move forward with considering a port over.”
The Skypark continues to be developed by the team. “One of the roadmap items that now moves to the front burner is financials. We now have a space to build features for people that genuinely want to play a game where finances are a part of advancement or part of why they can’t advance! The pace of that development will now increase. “
You can read the full blog post from Edson on their Parallel 42 Medium blog. One thing that did catch our attention was the mysterious shadow for what appears to be a third game mode. We asked, but was told to let you, our readers, have fun speculating in our comment section.