Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020: First Impressions

By Shamus Posted Wednesday Aug 19, 2020

Filed under: Column 66 comments

Well, I’ve been waiting for this game since E3 2019. I was hooked on the promise of a new game from AsoboYou might remember them as the team that made FUEL, which I and six other people really liked.. I was even more hooked on the idea of a game that covers the entire planet using satellite data and buildings generated by machine learning. 

The reviews on Steam are a mess. Apparently Steam just downloads an installer, and that installer downloads the game from Microsoft. This means you can’t properly pre-load the game, which means the Microsoft servers will get completely slammed at launch. Going by the reviews, this is exactly what happened.

Shit.

Moreover, this is a huge game. It’s ~127GB! It will probably take you more than two hours to download the dang thing. Since Steam launches the launcher, Steam thinks you’re “playing the game” while this launcher is running. Thus, by the time the game is downloaded you’ll have in excess of two hours of “playtime”. That’s long enough to burn through your allotted playtime, so that Steam won’t allow refunds.

Microsoft is basically doing the Uplay thing where they shove their shitty platform inside of Steam. This means you need to login to Microsoft Xbox for PC Xbox Games on Windows for PC, or whatever the fuck this ridiculous contraption is called. That’s exactly the thing I wanted to avoid by getting it on Steam.

I can’t get around using Microsoft services, so I might as well get it from Microsoft directly

Also, the game is included in the Xbox Gaming Pass on PC for Xbox, which only costs a dollar for the first month, and $5 thereafter. It’s a really good deal. I’m sure this is going to be horrible, but at least it’s not going to cost me money. I’m not worried about the $1 as much as I’m worried about how much of my time this thing is going to waste. This ain’t my first Microsoft rodeo.

The site tried to get me to download the “App”, which is confusing since it sort of sounds like this is a mobile program. Here in PC land, we call our game platforms “launchers”. The confusion doesn’t end there. I download it, and the filename is XboxInstaller.exe??? And then later in the process it talks about downloading “The App” so I can sign in with my “mobile device”. So apparently there are two different programs at work here. One is a Windows program, the other is a mobile app, and the Windows Store talks about them interchangeably by saying “Get the app” without further context.

I downloaded the XboxInstaller.exe, but I didn’t run it. Apparently I can install the game directly from the Microsoft Store page? But then what’s the .exe for? 

Whatever.

I hit install, and it asks where I want to install the game. It gives me two options:

C: (Windows)  My SSD, which I guard jealously. NOTHING goes on the SSD but Serious Programs. MFS2020 would eat half the available space on my SSD. No way.

S: (Storage) My 7TB external bulk storage drive. It’s connected via USB, which sometimes flakes out and disconnects / reconnects quickly for no apparent reason. Obviously that’s not an ideal drive for gaming.

There’s another drive in my machine, called D: (Games), which has plenty of space and is specifically set aside for games. I have no idea why it’s not in the list. Microsoft is willing to list an external drive, but not an internal hard drive?

After some Googling I find out you need to go to System Settings and find the storage option for “Choose where new apps are installed”. 

 

Come on Microsoft, everyone else on the planet allows you to open a little dialog and set both drive and path. No other programs on my system require me to muck around with system settings just to pick an install location. 

Fine. Whatever. New apps will go on D:. Hopefully this doesn’t mean Microsoft will install non-games to that location. I’m trying to keep my system organized here.

Setting up Microsoft Xbox Game Pass for Xbox Games on PC is… surprisingly easy. It’s over in seconds, and Microsoft immediately recognizes that I have the pass. I expected this to be the most painful part of the process, and it’s actually much faster and smoother than buying something on slow-ass Steam. 

Well, that throws a wrench in the narrative I’m trying to build here, but I have to give credit where it’s due. That was really nice.

So the launcher launches. Full screen. It offers some usability settings and then it asks me where I want to install the game?!? 

Ah, that’s better. Narrative restored.

The launcher exits full screen, then goes back to full screen, then goes back to window mode again. Then it begins the long slow download.

Yes, my tab management is atrocious. Having lots of RAM has made me complacent.
Yes, my tab management is atrocious. Having lots of RAM has made me complacent.

Here’s the problem: The installer is playing music. There’s no way to turn it off, and it plays even when the window is in the background. The only thing I can do is pause the download. There are no other controls. This thing is basically the Holly Hop Drive of launchers. I don’t want to listen to this menu music looping for the next two hours. It’s not a long loop, and I’m pretty sure I’d be out of my mind by the 10 minute mark. I have to open the Sound Mixer and turn the program down so I can do other stuff while the download runs in the background.

Note to self: Don’t forget to undo this or two hours from now you’ll be wondering why there’s no sound in the game.

About 90% of the way through the download, I decide to hit the pause button because I’m trying to watch something in another window and I don’t want the video to fight for bandwidth. I come back a minute later and hit the “Resume” button, but it still says “Resume” and doesn’t switch back to “Pause”. I hit it again a few times, but nothing happens. Is the download going again? Am I turning it on and off, or is it locked forever in pause mode?

I leave and come back twenty minutes later to see the download is done. So that problem with the resume button was just a simple interface bug. Having bugs in new software is understandable, but I feel like since THIS IS THE ONLY BUTTON IN THE ENTIRE INTERFACE for extended periods of time, it’s sort of outrageous that this slipped through. Like, any amount of QA testing would have caught this. All a QA tester would need to do is hit the only button on the screen and they’d discover the bug. Does Microsoft just ship things as soon as they get a clean compile?

Like everyone else, the first thing I did was fly over my hometown. Above a few hundred feet, it looks just like the real thing. You need to go down to street level to see the buildings don't really match.
Like everyone else, the first thing I did was fly over my hometown. Above a few hundred feet, it looks just like the real thing. You need to go down to street level to see the buildings don't really match.

Anyway, the install worked and the game launched as expected. After that, it was smooth sailing. My only real gripe now is that the game has a huge startup time. Even on my beefy machine, it takes between 3 and 4 minutes to get from clicking on the icon to actually flying a plane. This includes a head-scratching 20 second interval right at the start where there’s no window, splash screen, or anything else to indicate the program is starting, which makes you wonder if you mis-clicked. Then again, this is a huge and ambitious game and not just another cookie-cutter AAA shooter. Maybe a ~4 minute loading time is reasonable for a simulator that runs on this scale.

(And yes, I remembered to turn the volume back up.)

I began writing this because I expected the endeavor was going to be another nightmare, and it really wasn’t. I’d planned to file this post under rants, but that doesn’t feel right. This was a mild annoyance, not a cascading failure of engineering and design. Sure, this system still needs work. And yes, it once again feels like Microsoft designed a PC Gaming platform without ever looking at competing platforms. But this is light-years ahead of where we were a year ago

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 is pretty impressive. I’m sure I’ll have more posts on it in the future once I’ve seen a bit more of it.

 

Footnotes:

[1] You might remember them as the team that made FUEL, which I and six other people really liked.



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66 thoughts on “Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020: First Impressions

  1. Zanfib says:

    I can’t get around using Microsoft services, so I might as well get it from Microsoft directly.

    *Sound of ominous organ music indicating trouble ahead.*

  2. Yerushalmi says:

    Microsoft has this weird obsession lately where it calls everything an “App”, apparently out of some misunderstanding that that’s just the new word for “program”.

    As for your tabs: I had a coworker who would laugh at you for thinking 19 open tabs is a lot. He would routinely keep hundreds of tabs open at a time, perpetually playing catch-up with everything he wanted to read or watch over the last month. The only reason it didn’t destroy his ability to use the computer is because he’d periodically deliberately crash the browser so that, when it reactivated, all of the non-active tabs would be in that “placeholder” mode where it knows what webpage should be in the tab but doesn’t bother loading it for the first time until you click there.

    1. Sannom says:

      Microsoft has this weird obsession lately where it calls everything an “App”, apparently out of some misunderstanding that that’s just the new word for “program”.

      I don’t think it’s wrong though, given the way the Microsoft Store works. It’s just that you and I and Shamus don’t use it.

      1. eaglewingz says:

        …new word for “program”.

        As a member of the Older Than Shamus™ club I can remember shortening “application” to “app”. And even eye rolling from certain quarters when the most basic thing like a UI with hardly any code started to be referred to as a “program” in general usage.

        “HEY! You Kids! Get off my lawn!”

        1. Doug Sundseth says:

          As another member of the OTSC™, I remember the phrase “desktop application” and can find “desktop app” all over the internet even now.

          What I find more interesting is that (IIRC), the use of “application” for “program” largely came from a desire to find some dang thing or other that we could use these new-fangled “Personal Computers” for other than learning interpreted BASIC. “What the heck is a practical application for this expensive and fragile room heater, anyway?” (The answer, of course, was VisiCalc. 8-) )

          From that came a metaphorical extension of “application” to mean the program that did the useful thing. And through a couple of steps, “application” was shortened to “app” and applied primarily to programs for pocket computers. Which might well have resulted in the “desktop app” mentioned above as a retronym.

          1. John says:

            Yeah, the phrase “killer app” predates smartphones by a good couple of decades at least.

          2. Niriel says:

            The way I understand it, “program” is a general term. All app(lication)s are programs. The boot sector is a program, the BIOS is a program, the operating system is a program, DLLs are programs. Those are however not applications: applications are user-facing “payload” programs that run inside an OS and aren’t just settings/config stuff. That’s how I’ve been using the term.

            With launchers that add a layer between the OS and the payload, and with Web Browsers being almost complete OSs, that’s becoming messy.

    2. Daimbert says:

      Microsoft has this weird obsession lately where it calls everything an “App”, apparently out of some misunderstanding that that’s just the new word for “program”.

      That seems consistent with things industry-wide, though, as it seems that if something COULD run on mobile devices — or even have its UI run on a mobile devices — which currently include laptops, it’s called an “App”. Even the products I’m working on are called “Apps”, as is pretty much everything on my current laptop(s).

      As for your tabs: I had a coworker who would laugh at you for thinking 19 open tabs is a lot. He would routinely keep hundreds of tabs open at a time …

      I had the same experience. I tend to keep a number of tabs open to the things that I check frequently or don’t want to lose, but I close some tabs when it gets to the point that I can’t tell what they are by looking at the bar. I thought I was bad for keeping tabs open, but then found out that a co-worker kept hundreds open and had to install workarounds and other things just to keep that many tabs open. I didn’t feel so bad after that [grin].

      1. ccesarano says:

        I was going to mention something along these lines. To an extent it makes sense insofar as App is short for “Application”, which is what a lot of these programs are referred to. However, it feels weird for them to be called Apps on desktop/laptop since App became nomenclature for mobile devices.

        But with Microsoft trying to chase the mobile/tablet crowd since Windows 8 onward, they decided everything on every device is now an “App”. So Photoshop is an App now, even if, for us longtime desktop/laptop users, “App” sounds like some tiny mobile-oriented single-task application with no purpose on a beefy machine.

        That’s my assumption, at least, and one I’m just adjusting to. Chances are the installer Shamus grabbed was the correct file for installing. What I find odd is he seems to find an Installer unusual. I feel like 90% of the programs I download these days give you an executable that doesn’t actually contain the program you’re installing. It contains an itty-bitty program that then takes care of downloading, unpackaging, and installing everything. A weird middle-man that I’m assuming is better for bigger programs since it minimizes initial download time and makes big gigabyte downloads part of the installation process. I dunno how, maybe it’s a user psychology thing, but it seems to be turning into a norm.

        1. methermeneus says:

          What I find odd is he seems to find an Installer unusual. I feel like 90% of the programs I download these days give you an executable that doesn’t actually contain the program you’re installing.

          That may be true for most programs, but it’s a little unusual in the world of games, where you’re very often either downloading/installing from a generic launcher like Steam or downloading and installing a small thing made by one guy on weekends (or both). I think having Steam download a downloader for a launcher for a downloader for a game is the weird thing.

    3. Olivier FAURE says:

      I think “app” has a slightly different connotation than “program”: it suggests a kind of executable that’s sandboxed (no arbitrary filesystem access), has at most one instance running on your computer, and is installed, updated and remove by the system’s package manager.

      1. methermeneus says:

        Yeah, I’ve run into the difference between programs and apps on my computer. I use NVim as a text editor, and I installed it by… Extracting the Winx86_64 executable and supporting files to a directory on my hard drive. Which is all I expect an installer to do, really, but Windows expects PE files downloaded through the Windows Store for an app. The end result is, I can make any program the default way to open certain files so I could go through the list of hundreds of files and assign them to NVim then open them by double-click, but I can only assign an app as the default editor, which means I’ll never be able to right-click-edit a new file type and have it open in NVim.

  3. Liam says:

    I’ll give you an MS rant, although it’s probably more to do with some misconfiguration at work.

    I was tasked with creating a feedback form for my department at work. One of the questions necessitated a file to be uploaded. I have the option of Teams, Yammer or Microsoft Forms.

    Teams has options of external plugins that allow Q&A style questions to be hosted and responses collected, but they all use their own logins etc, so that’s not sustainable.

    Yammer let’s you ask questions and upload photos as responses, but it’s structured like Facebook and you can’t organise everything nicely, everyone’s responses would be intermingled with the questions and there’s no anonymity to it

    So I went for MS Forms, which lets me structure the page how I want, collects responses nicely and uses the single sign on system (which needs a sign on to Microsoft, then a sign in to our corporate page, then a 2 factor authentication check using your mobile phone, but it’s single sign on) so nobody has to create accounts or any shenanigans like that. There’s even an option of having a file upload type question!

    So I create said file upload type question, and it throws an error that a folder couldn’t be created in one drive. So I check one drive (more single sign on absurdity) and the folder has been created successfully, but Forms refuses to allow me to create the question. Cue hours of frustration and googling (there’s 1 single example of someone experiencing the same problem, and the official MS response is make sure you can upload stuff to one drive)

    So I raise a ticket with our IT department. They remotely log in and install a one drive desktop client, which is locked down and forcibly backs up desktop, my documents and pictures to one drive with no way of disabling it.

    I have 53GB of stuff on my desktop, I’m working from home at the moment and the upload speed is locked at 125KBps.

    1. Liam says:

      Continuing on from above:

      I finally modify the registry entry to up the speed to a more reasonable 2MBps and after an age it competes syncing.

      Then I discover the default setting is to store stuff on the cloud, and download it to my PC on demand, even my application shortcuts, so every action is: attempt to launch, wait 5 to 10 seconds to download the icon, then the program launches.

      I found the setting to turn that off, and it proceeds to download the entire 53 GB of stuff back to my PC.

      Oh, and the Forms file upload type question still gives the same error.

      1. MelTorefas says:

        Thank you for this. I felt… incomplete, after reading the article and having it not be a rant about MS software. You saved the day.

        Also, I really hope you/IT figures out some solution to that mess you are dealing with.

        1. Liam says:

          I found a workaround!

          If you create a form from within the Forms plugin in Teams, attached to a channel (not as a bot and not on a chat, only on a channel) then the file upload question works!

          But then OneDrive can go die in a fire.
          I thought ‘If it’s being forced on me, I might as well use it to send myself stuff from home’
          So I go though the hassle of setting up one drive on my phone, sign in, which sends me to our corporate sign in page, sign in again do the 2FA push, then it tells me I need this microsoft InTune app, so I get that, sign in, which sends me to our corporate sign in page, sign in again do the 2FA push, and then I can finally see the onedrive. Confirm it’s the same one (has the same folder structure and contents), upload a photo, it says uploaded.

          So I go to one drive on my laptop and there’s nothing there.
          I try again, it says uploaded, and again there’s nothing on my PC side.
          I create a new folder, it’s successfully created on the one drive visible from my phone.
          I try to add the photo from within onedrive, the progress bar completes and then it gives this useful error message:

          Sorry, there was a problem.

          So now it appears it’s not uploaded when I look at one drive on my phone, it’s not there when I look at one drive on my PC, but if I go to one drive on the web, it’s visible!
          3 locations, all out of sync. Dropbox was a lot easier than this!

          So I exit onedrive on my PC, it warns me that if I exit, it won’t sync files, and I think ‘well you’re not syncing them anyway so fuck off’

          Restart one drive, and after a lot of humming and whirring it finally syncs the 79Kb file. I could have almost written out the bytes and posted them in the time it took!

  4. Daimbert says:

    Hopefully this doesn’t mean Microsoft will install non-games to that location.

    Oh, you just KNOW that that is PRECISELY what Microsoft will do. Your only hope is that it’s a case where Microsoft says that things will work a certain way and rather counter-intuitively will have them work a completely different way. And since them actually doing what they say they’ll do is the thing that will most annoy you, this is the time you should expect them to be honest and clear about their intentions.

  5. Will says:

    any amount of QA testing would have caught this. All a QA tester would need to do is hit the only button on the screen and they’d discover the bug.

    This is very possibly not true, actually. I’d guess that the “Resume” button synchronously does a bunch of work, including network requests, before it turns back into a “Pause” button. When QA tested the button, they were on the same fast local network as the update server, which was a dev server with literally no traffic. Whatever network activity that happened before the “Resume” button turned back into a “Pause” button took eighty milliseconds, everything looked good, boxes checked, ship it. Nobody ever tried the button on a slow, highly asymmetric residential ISP connection against a massively overloaded update server, and so they never realized that either (a) the resumption just took a long time, or (b) the resumption taking a long time triggered another bug causing the button to never switch back.

    I write server software for a living, and let me tell you: nobody tests on bad or unreliable connections. Heck, I don’t, and I’m here ranting about it on the Internet as a problem! (I do at least try to think about what effect a bad connection will have.) It’s the same reason websites pull in multiple megabytes of Javascript and peg the CPU for seconds at a time on devices that a few years ago would have been high-end gaming machines: the devs are using the latest and fastest, and they never think to try anything else.

    1. Stu Friedberg says:

      > I write server software for a living, and let me tell you: nobody tests on bad or unreliable connections
      May I serve as a counter example?

      I spent the first 15 years of my career doing NFS implementations, maintaining a Unix TCP/IP stack, and similar OS internals. Sequent Computer Systems, my first industrial employer, had the admirable policy of doing “hostility testing”, deliberately introducing sporadic failure returns into healthy systems to ensure all the error handling got exercised and behaved properly. This included stuff as fundamental as in-kernel memory allocation.

      I built a network drop/delay module to discard and/or reshuffle incoming packets, with a side order of configurable long-latency, specifically so we could test our networking stacks on the equivalent of abysmally bad networks. Years later, after Linux had superceded proprietary Unixes, we used the tc module for similar purposes.

  6. mdqp says:

    Did you notice the huge GPU/CPU spike if you minimize the launcher during installation? That’s really odd to me, but at least it doesn’t do that if I have a window open over the launcher, only minimizing it makes things go crazy.

  7. Gargamel Le Noir says:

    The XPass is fantastic and I love it, but their launcher itself has more than enough bullshit left in it to feed your narrative. Recently for example it got confused on whether or not I was logged on the XBox launcher or on the windows store (I was logged on both) so it decided I was logged on neither and I lost complete access to my Outer World cloud saves. Fortunately I found on the internet how to switch the local copies with where local saves are supposed to go, so I continued the game like that without lost progress.
    Another time I tried to download Halo (pretty bad game by the way), and the launcher would just try to start, fail for a few minutes, and display an error with a code leading nowhere. After a long search it turned out that I had non critical and unrelated windows update pending, which offended the launcher, but not to the point of actually telling me what was wrong.

  8. raifield says:

    I’m jealous that your copy of MSFS 2020 even runs. I got up at 3AM specifically to download this, no issues there other than the annoying music, but now the game crashes to desktop any time I try to start a flight.

    Apparently this is a common problem, but I’ve not seen a solution for it yet. Another botched game launch.

    1. raifield says:

      Found my solution: Setting the Windows pagefile management from my custom static size of 5GB to ‘Let Windows manage it for all drives’ solved all my crashes, somehow. Also happened to reduce my page file from 5GB to 2.5GB.

      Not sure how that was causing issues, but I’m glad things are working now.

  9. MetalDooley says:

    Moreover, this is a huge game. It’s ~127GB! It will probably take you more than two hours to download the dang thing

    Lol I can only dream about downloading a game that size in around 2 hours. On my shitty broadband 127GB is at least a 2 day download

    1. Syal says:

      “Downloaded: 477.6 MB / 5.3GB. Time Remaining: 22 Hours 26 minutes”

      127 GB could be the entire month.

      1. Karma The Alligator says:

        For me and my limit of 80GB per month, it would be 2 months, and one of those without any other internet use.

  10. Leviathan902 says:

    I’ve been championing Xbox Game Pass for about a year now. I signed up for it over a year ago to get some Microsoft Game Studios game for free (I don’t remember which one). I have 9 games installed on my machine just right now and have played dozens I probably wouldn’t have otherwise bothered with, all for the subscription price. It’s so good. I’ve had very few problems with the app personally, just the occasional need to re-login for some reason.

  11. RaglanvonDobeln says:

    Shamus vs windows might just be my favourite part of the site.

    Especially since i still cant play pc games thanks to a windows update that destroyed my windows install, and all windows tech support were able to do was install 3 other windows installs that completely failed to work. Ive been a console gamer ever since

  12. Ninety-Three says:

    Yes, my tab management is atrocious. Having lots of RAM has made me complacent.

    Amateur. You’re not getting serious until you reach the point where a one-dimensional array becomes unwieldy and you have to open five separate browser windows each with a bunch of tabs to keep everything “organized”.

    1. Daimbert says:

      Yeah, that is what my co-worker went with. I’m not even close to that yet.

    2. eldomtom2 says:

      If we’re judging dick sizes by tab/window amount, at the moment I have four Firefox windows with a total of 143 tabs between them.

    3. Olivier FAURE says:

      That’s my default behavior, but I get annoyed when I have more than ~10 tabs per window.

      Also, you’re still an amateur. Power users use a tab tree extension.

    4. Philadelphus says:

      Yeah, it’s not a lot of tabs until you can’t see anything other than the favicon on the tab. I currently have 70 tabs open in Chrome (and 48 in Chromium) as I’m writing this, and that’s actually lower than average as I just discovered the Session Buddy extension which allows you to save groups of tabs to open later.

  13. Higher_Peanut says:

    I have the same style of tab management as you, except sometimes it travels across two windows because i wanted to keep one tab open while searching for something else on the other screen.

    I’d hate to deal with looping hold please music while waiting for a download. Even installers from “totally legitimate sources” have a pause button in the installer and they’re not even downloading anything.

    Fuel was a weird game to me. It was more of an open world exploration game that you just happened to have races in than a good racing game. When I played it I remember wishing for some sort of rag-doll physics for the driver so that I could enjoy the inevitable failure driving dangerously like a maniac through a forest or finding jumps.

    1. zackoid says:

      Fuel was an amazing tech demo with a teensy bit of game smeared on top.

      I only played a couple hours before I got bored, but I had a friend who put thousands on just putting on music, grabbing a few beers and then roaming the huge world on motorcycles.

  14. John says:

    The last flight simulator I played was Chuck Yeager’s Advanced Flight Trainer. The terrain was flat as a pancake. Instead of, say, hills or mountains there were occasional cubes or pyramids. The world looked disturbingly like the old EA logo (though this was back in the days before we had all learned to reflexively fear and hate EA). The only man-made structures in the world were hangars, which consisted of three whole non-shaded and non-textured rectangles. There was very little to do except to practice your take-offs, your landings, and your acrobatics. The most fun I personally ever had was trying to set altitude records in an SR-71 and then trying to recover from the inevitable stall when I flew too high. Whenever you crashed, a portrait of Chuck Yeager would appear and describe your grisly fate in pithy but colorful test-pilot slang.

    In retrospect, it sort of stunk.

    But, hey, at least I didn’t spend hours or even days downloading that 5.25 inch floppy disk!

    1. Shamus says:

      Ah the memories.

      “You really bought the farm on that one.”

      “You’re no friend of mine.”

      I know he’s a hero of early avionics, but man Ol’ Chuck was certainly flippant about my inability to keep the plane above the ground.

      EDIT: Oh wow, the dude is still alive! I remember him looking super-old when I played the game back in the late 80s, and he’s still going? Not bad for a guy who nearly died a bunch of times in experimental aircraft back in the 40s.

      1. John says:

        The one I remember most vividly is “You augured in”.

        I had no idea Yeager was still alive. In his autobiography, which I have around here somewhere, he mentions near the end that his eyesight is going and that he can no longer qualify for a regular pilot’s license. (Which has got to be rough for a man like Yeager.) His response was to take up flying ultra-light aircraft, which, for those who are unfamiliar with them, are something like the unholy union of a hang glider, a tricycle, and a lawnmower. They can’t go very high, they can’t go very fast, and they probably wouldn’t impress any aircraft designer more contemporary the Wright brothers, but they’ll get you in the air. I wonder if he’s still doing that. It seems unlikely, but I’d like to believe it’s true.

        1. Mr. Wolf says:

          Jaeger’s alive?! I’m glad I’m not the only one surprised by that. I always thought he was a purely historical figure, dead before I was even born. Kind of strange, but I guess he didn’t really do that much from the 90’s onwards (and I bet those fancy-pants astronauts were hogging all the glory).

          1. John says:

            Yeager retired from the Air Force the year before I was born. I am now 43. He may be immortal.

    2. raifield says:

      Aces Over Europe was my first simulator. I distinctly remember pulling a muscle in my shoulder at the age of 11 trying to pull a P-38 Lightning out of a dive. Couldn’t play the game for a week while I healed. Good times.

  15. eaglewingz says:

    You need to go down to street level to see the buildings don’t really match.

    *puts aircraft into dive*
    “Nope, not enough detail”
    “Still not clear”
    “Oh yeah, the buildings don’t match!”

    “Oh, shi….

    1. Shamus says:

      This is 100% my experience with the game before I found the drone camera option.

      I crashed into my own house once.

  16. Fishnut says:

    Utterly loving Flight Sim 2020 so far! Found both my house, and the gatehouse I sit in at work on a single flyby, then tried flying over my home town – both small sub 50k population cities in New Zealand – and could not only locate the house I grew up in, but could navigate by the street layout. Flight Simulator X, even with some expensive extra third party scenery packs, couldn’t offer anything even close to that!

    So, after circling my hometown a few times, I decided to fly over to Milford Sound and do a landing there. Navigating by landmarks perfectly fine, I spent most of the hour or so flight enjoying the views. Live weather meant the rain over Milford was a bit of an issue, at which point I got to enjoy the sound of rain on the canopy – realistic enough I thought it was raining on the tin roof over my head at first – and not quite enjoy the rapidly reducing visibility as I climbed to make it over the Southern Alps. Instrument only flight over a mountain range where you don’t know how high the peaks get is always… exciting. Managed to find the fjord and get below the cloudbase, just in time to lose the last of the evening light, lose sight of the runway lights, and smack into the side of the fjord.

    It looks beautiful, it sounds beautiful, and is just an utter joy to fly in. :D

    If you need something to get fired up over, be sure to take a peek into the Marketplace tab in the main menu. ;)

    1. Sven says:

      If you need something to get fired up over, be sure to take a peek into the Marketplace tab in the main menu. ;)

      Are you talking about how expensive some of the options are? That’s just par for the course when it comes to flight simulators, unfortunately. Just wait until the real “big” names in add-ons start making stuff for FS2020, like PMDG. The PMDG 747-400 for FSX costs $99.99, with an optional $49.99 expansion that adds the 747-8.

      I’m honestly very excited about this “marketplace” menu. I haven’t tried it yet, but it can’t possibly be worse than the experience of installing add-ons for FSX. Almost all the add-ons I have have terrible installers, with online DRM checks, that install into their own folders in addition to modifying FSX core files (hopefully these add-ons are compatible with each other!) and often need you to pick which version of FSX you have (do you have the Service Pack installed? Steam Edition? Prepar3d (technically a variant of FSX)?

      If the “marketplace” in FS2020 smoothes over any of that, I’ll be happy.

  17. Geebs says:

    I’m intrigued by MSFS, but I really don’t have time to play sims any more. Partly because I have to spend much more time on planes. During which I play stuff on my Switch. Maybe they should close the loop and put a Switch in MSFS?

    OK, serious point; if I remember correctly, MSFS is doing real-time weather based on actual weather reports. I wonder how they handle this together with fast travel? Do they work on forecasts? If so, does the weather rubber-band to some other state while the real world catches up?

  18. Gndwyn says:

    Curious whether the startup time would be significantly reduced if you put it on your SSD. I usually can’t stand playing anything but small, low-tech games from a regular hard drive anymore. I remember taking the time to re-download Subnautica and Obduction to move them to SSD and thinking I definitely got that time back in decreased loading times.

  19. Rob says:

    C: (Windows) My SSD, which I guard jealously. NOTHING goes on the SSD but Serious Programs. MFS2020 would eat half the available space on my SSD. No way.

    I hate when programs don’t let you select which drive to install to, or store data on your system drive without asking even when they were installed elsewhere. I have a tiny 126 GB SSD for Windows only, a 512 GB SSD for projects and games I’m actively playing, and a 5 TB external hard drive for everything else. Or at least that was the plan, but tons of things ended up on the system drive anyway.

    The User folders are the worst culprit. You can move a few library folders like Music and Documents to another drive, but AppData (which is happily taking up 25% of my system drive by itself) and any random folders that programs stick in your root user directory? Yeah, those are stuck there taking up precious space forever, short of abusing symlinks.

    Packages from the Microsoft Store are taking up more than a tenth of my C: drive, despite having selected the option to install apps on my 5 TB drive. Windows Search has created an 8 gigabyte index file deep in ProgramData, another unmovable system folder. Windows also keeps moving the pagefile back to C:, despite repeatedly setting it to go on the HDD. My user folder is littered with cache and config folders from my various build systems and IDEs, each taking up several hundred megabytes until I get around to cleaning them up. But the one that really annoys me is WSL, which is otherwise the single greatest thing Microsoft has added in Windows 10. Each WSL distribution is a full Linux install that adds several gigabytes to your AppData folder, and there appears to be no way to move them. And to make matters worse, WSL is the only program I’ve ever encountered that won’t work if NTFS folder compression is enabled.

    I feel like the only Microsoft program that’s properly respected my wishes is File History, which is good since that’s taking up a whopping 400 GB of my external drive all on its own.

    1. Jabrwock says:

      I love that I can select another drive for my Steam library… but I guess MSFS doesn’t respect that since it just downloads an installer.

  20. Steve C says:

    It will probably take you more than two hours to download the dang thing.

    Or two months in my case. I have a cap of 100G per month. Which makes me thankful I have no desire to play AAA games.

    1. Liam says:

      Ewww at capped internet!

      I recently setup a backup mechanism with my mother 2000km away. We’re mutually hosting a backup of each other’s important stuff.

      To seed it initially I setup an FTP server on my PC and she started copying everything. Unfortunately I forgot she’s on a capped plan and her ISP counts uploads and downloads towards her quota. She burned through that quota (100GB) in one evening, so she paid her ISP $30 for another 50GB (Highway robbery at its finest) and I moved all the stuff she had already copied to a subfolder called ‘Done’. We only had about 25gb left to transfer so we started it up again that night.

      The next morning, she had burned through her quota again, and paid another $30 to get her internet back up and running. That’s when I noticed a folder called ‘Done’ on her computer; she’d needlessly copied that as well, effectively wasting the $30 extra quota she’d paid for.

      Meanwhile I’m sitting here with 7TB usage on my unmetered plan…

  21. AncientSpark says:

    Man, this reminds me of the Phantasy Star Online 2 debacle a few months ago. The NA version of PSO2 wasn’t initially launched on Steam, so you had to download it directly from the Microsoft Store (as Microsoft was a big player in getting PSO2 localized). The installation was so goddamn buggy that the game would randomly uninstall itself on computer restart.

    But wait, it gets worse! When the game uninstalled (whether intentional uninstall or through the bug), it wouldn’t uninstall it for real; it would stick it in an invisible admin-level folder called MutableBackups where you couldn’t get rid of it without powershell. So it would literally stick you with a 60 GB folder that you couldn’t get rid of.

    Even more comical? The team that ran the unofficial translation for the Japanese version of PSO2 has an unofficial launcher to run PSO2 inherently as part of their translations. They ported their launcher to the NA version, and then fixed all these issues by literally disconnecting the game from the MS Store entirely except to retrieve the initial files. So an unofficial group fixed these issues, all while Microsoft refused to touch it (and Sega, the original developers, couldn’t do anything cause it’s all on MS side).

    Thankfully, these issues are all solved now that PSO2 got launched on Steam (without MS Store connection no less!) but holy crap, Microsoft, what are you doing?

  22. Agammamon says:

    It will probably take you more than two hours to download the dang thing.

    Its taken me 13 hours to download a 20GB update.

    *cries in crappy rural internet*

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      Take heart my brother, and raise ye your eyes to the Starlink, from whence help comes.

  23. Sven says:

    Even on my beefy machine, it takes between 3 and 4 minutes to get from clicking on the icon to actually flying a plane.

    Long load times in big simulators are normal, unfortunately. I added another SSD to my machine just for FS2020 (okay, I actually wanted to get one to put games on anyway, this was just a good excuse) and it improves the load times a lot. It takes maybe 30 seconds, 60 at the very most, to load into a big city on my machine.

    I’m honestly extremely impressed with how well FS2020 runs. I’ve played FSX a lot (I used to be an avid VATSIMmer about a decade ago, before I got my actual pilot’s license), and am used to how that takes ages to load, barely runs at 30fps even on modern machines (less when complex add-ons come into play), and doesn’t look particularly good. This game looks amazing, and runs buttery smooth on ultra on my (admittedly beefy) machine. It actually runs better than FSX does on this same PC! That’s quite an achievement.

    I do have some small gripes about the game:
    1. Controls seem very touchy on my yoke. Pitch especially. I haven’t found any place to configure sensitivity or dead zones.
    2. If you detach certain things into their own window (checklists, ATC, nav log, etc.), the game stops accepting controller input while the mouse is not inside the main window. That’s honestly extremely annoying. This is also an issue if I want to keep e.g. http://www.skyvector.com open on my second screen; anytime I move my mouse there, I can’t fly my plane!
    3. Landing challenges feel unfinished. Why can’t I see my own previous score? Why does a new attempt with a lower score still put me on the leaderboard with that score? Did it replace the older, better score? Or can I be in the leaderboard more than once?
    4. There doesn’t seem to be any way to time skip or fast forward. It makes sense when you’re using live weather or have any of the multiplayer options enabled, but when I’m playing by myself it’d be really nice to have.
    5. Systems simulation is limited in the built-in planes, but that’s expected. Certainly the G1000 is miles better than what FSX had. What’s weird is that the G1000 seems to have instrument approaches available, but there’s no indication what AIRAC cycle they are, or if they can be updated (e.g. using something like Navigraph). The G1000 doesn’t show its real life splash screen with database update dates.
    6. There are a bunch of glitches that will hopefully get fixed.

  24. Jabrwock says:

    I HATE their xbox companion app, or app, or beta console, or whatever it is. There’s 2 of them living on my PC, neither one seems to be “working”. I can’t even tell from the app store which one I’m supposed to be using. The Microsoft store downloads one, but Windows Game Bar insists on using the other. My son tries to use it to do voice chat with his friend who’s on XBox, and it’s an exercise in frustration EVERY time they try to meet up.

  25. Paul Spooner says:

    So MFS’20 is just downloaders all the way?

    1. Agammamon says:

      Always has been.

      *blam!*

  26. jurgenaut says:

    I bought MSFS only to support grand ideas actually getting through the development process to an actual product. That someone had the audacity to say “Let’s simulate the entire world” and actually make good on it. I have huge amounts of respect for that.

    That said – I’m not a FS kind of guy. I want things to happen. I want progress, earning stuff. I play Elite Dangerous now and then, I have a hotas setup. There I can go earn things. Make money, buy new ships, pimp those ships out. You know, it’s a game. Flight simulator 2020 is not a game, it’s a simulator. Multiplayer feels, I don’t know, tacked on.

    I basically just pick something I want to see, like Christo redemptor, pick the closest airport, fly there and watch the view. Then escape to main menu. Kind of like google earth but with longer load times.

    I watched my house, my office and a picking of the modern wonders of the world. I have plans to take the amphibian plane and follow the amazon and the nile. But after that I don’t know whether “the view” is a compelling enough reason to keep playing.

    1. Sebastian says:

      I’m not a fly sim fan myself, but I’m super happy this game is talk of the day (at least it dominates my game twitter), which is cool for a game that is after all a niche.

  27. RandomInternetGuy says:

    You need to get an NVMe SSD to speed up the launch times of those beefy big games.
    I have a fairly old PC without NVMe drives, but with an NVMe adapter on one of my PCIx4 slots, works like a charm.

    Especially important for VR. You don’t want to wait 5 minutes with your headset on while HF: Alyx loads the next level.

  28. Philadelphus says:

    Wow. This is really putting into perspective the occasional startup command or manual tweak I need to make to get something running on Proton. Count your blessings, indeed.

  29. Utzel says:

    I think the devs took one look at the MS store and decided “we are just making a launcher and going to do our own installer” :D

    I read today that Steam has promised to do refunds after 2h, because of the download times

    Haven’t bought it yet, because my throttle is broken, but already played in the alpha. My hometown is high res, it’s incredible.
    And worldwide sat textures are finally here for everyone, and hassle free. I still remember buying an extra fast hdd just for FSX and tileproxy

    1. Utzel says:

      Found an english news about the refund: https://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2020/08/20/microsoft-flight-simulators-long-installation-wont-block-steam-refunds-valve-say/

      Also, this plane building is great :D
      https://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2020/08/19/microsoft-flight-simulators-terrain-glitches-are-excellent-places-to-visit/

      I had a big ship in a canal in my town that was interpreted as a house in alpha, was later removed. Also spotted one in SF Bay. So I guess the AI will only get better. I wonder how many manual fixes are done.

  30. Rosseloh says:

    As a realism-focused simmer: nope, not for me. I’m glad I didn’t spend my money.

    I’m actually super conflicted here because I don’t want to give anyone crap for having fun (hey, if you enjoy it, you enjoy it). But at the same time, I know you’re detail-oriented and if you knew just what sorts of things we’ve found wrong so far (and how many of these things were an issue 10 months ago in the alpha but never got fixed)….hoo boy.

  31. Pink says:

    I have literally five times as many tabs open on this phone right now, to say nothing of the 300 or so open on my desktop(split between four Waterfox and nine Chrome windows) right now.

    I really hate ‘modern’ tab management unfriendly UI.

    Those AI detailed landscapes sure are pretty, if not slightly terrifying.

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