After almost three months without flightsimming I returned to my virtual apron to find wreckage and debris lying all around - what had happened? Aces Studios, the development team of our recent versions of Microsoft Flight Simulator had been put on permanent leave, and it honestly wasn't to my surprise at all. By releasing an unfinished product (FSX) the way it was back then and the way it still is in many ways, the idea of flooding the market with an unseen offensive marketing strategy full of blink-blink, bells and whistles made a harsh belly landing. I literally laughed when I fired up the FSX Demo once it had been released. This Demo was a slap in the face of every long-time simmer, and the ongoing chaos with DX10, Vista, Non-Vista, Vista64, Vista32, FSXSP1, FSXSP2 and so on were a kick in the butt of countless scenery and aircraft designers who for months simply had no clue what was going on. The result was that countless fellow flightsimmers turned away from what had been advertized as the new milestone in flight simulation, and a herd of new users showed up that had totally different expectations from what we, the old-time-nerds, had when looking at what ws supposed to be the sequel of Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004.
Seeing that there will be no FS11 - at least not one that would provide *any* kind of downward compatibility - I am delighted. The self-destructing rush for the newer, the better and the more demanding (concerning hardware requirements) has finally come to an end. And now that the dust has settled and the wounds have stopped bleeding, two shining scenarios rise from the ashes that perfectly mold into one.
First, Flight Simulator 2004 will remain the number one sim for at least another year if not two. We did see in the past that due to the lack of acceptance of FSX among the user community, projects that had been advertized as "FSX only" also were offered for FS9. Many publishers already learned that adding a free FS9 version would help sell FSX products, despite their unisono marketing slogan that "FSX marks the future of flight simulation." Well, not exactly - it marked the end, at least for now and for obvious reasons. The tag "FSX only" once may have been a positive feature. Now it's rather a limitation. Despite what some publishers preach day after day: FSX products sell way below the worst expectations.
Secondly, and a little controversary to the above, FSX will see the light of day once a new hardware generation has found its way into the majority of households that will be capeable of offering the phenomenal performance FS2004 currently has on a current system. Flying with 50+ fps into major add on scenery hubs using the latest and most complex aircraft and scenery enhancements along with 100% of AI traffic is an experience, and it took my four years to achive it. Why should I trade that in for the very few "improvements" FSX offers and revert to 10-15fps stutter-orgies in high density areas? Once we don't need to worry about performance, FSX will shine through clearly and look and feel better than anything before. And thanks to the fact that developers no longer have to fear that Aces might change over development standards with FS11, they seem a lot more encouraged to work on FSX as it is definitely the last Flight Simulator version of this kind. And whatever may come in the future will have a very hard time to beat FSX in terms of add on software and acceptance throughout the community.
Change has come!