Okay, maybe not crow entirely, maybe something more like pigeon or seagull. This was posted in response to my earlier rant about performance in FSX:
“It’s been said that the performance drop between FSX and FS9 is greater than between any other two versions, and this is absolutely true. Partly due to utterly frame sucking autogen, and partly due to the speedbump in moore’s law that has been imposed by the advent of dual and quad core systems. I know it’s very difficult to program a thread dependent game like a flight sim for these systems, but they ARE the future, and ACES would be wise to revisit this decision soon, and most importantly patch the current version to take advantage of multiple cpus. Want to end the whining? Give people the real possibility of 30 fps, while maintaining visuals at least a small margin above FS9’s. “
For the most part, I agree with the above statement. The performance drop is definitely larger (though I still contend that you can get a superior to FS9 visual quality while getting good performance… more on that later). Part of the issue is the number of new features we packed into this version. We upgraded water, autogen, living world traffic, the entire shader system, the animation system, the sim system, we upgraded the terrain fidelity 16x, we added far superior multiplayer support including a tower controller and shared cockpits, we added an entire mission system with the ability for third parties to create their own missions, we added a method for third parties to access the APIs much more easily, and the list goes on. I would argue that if all you did was setup FSX to have visuals exactly like FS2004, you would still have far more options and new features then you did in FS2004 AND you wouldn’t have the dreaded blurries that was the number one most vocal complaint from folks about FS2004.
What did we update between FS2002 and FS2004? Weather. Between FS2000 and FS2002? Well we mostly fixed all the bugs in FS2000. I’m oversimplifying a bit here, but in my opinion, this is the first *REAL* version update we’ve done since FS2000 and I’ve heard plenty of people in the forums support me on this (it’s probably also why we sold a lot less copies of FS2002 and FS2004 then we did FS2000.) I’m not getting defensive here, because I believe the response above is mostly right. We don’t support multi-core processors very well right now. We also suffered performance for still supporting fixed-function pipeline graphics cards (which, surprisingly enough, is still a huge portion of our market). So maybe I was a little overzealous in defending performance in FSX.
I will say, however, that I believe there is a serious contingent of gamers and simmers alike who buy the hottest machine just so they can buy the most recent games and crank up all the settings purely as a point of pride. Because simulations in general are a much more vast and varied world than a lot of traditional “games” it makes sense to allow the user to pick and choose what they really want to experience. Some of our users spend 90% of their time at 30,000 feet. Autogen doesn’t make much sense to them. Some spend the equivalent time flying down low and slow. Some like flying in weather, some don’t. The list goes on.
I think the real crux of the matter is our messaging. The response above goes on to say:
“In your print advertising, which is geared towards attracting new buyers (the enthusiasts get their info from other channels) MS needs to start being brutally honest about system specs. It’s not enough to say “actual game screenshot”. You need to specify either “actual game screenshot, taken 1 year from today on hardware which does not yet exist” or “at 3fps on current hardware”.”
The screenshots were taken around 15-20fps on a system that exists today (I think it was my machine at work actually), but the point is very well taken. Min system requirements also means Min flight experience. Of course we want to show off everything to make it as cool as it gets, but in doing so, we also set the expectations of *ALL* of our users that their experience will be exactly as it is on the commercials or the back of the box or the released screenshots. It’s a tough call, because you’re never ever going to get marketing to show the user what Flightsim is going to look like on their p3 800Mhz machine with a 32 meg fixed-function graphics card and 128 megs of RAM.
So here’s some cool screenshots from a multiplayer session that was apparently running at 20-30fps consistently. This is definitely far superior to FS9.
Looking back at his comments, I see this again:
“I know it’s very difficult to program a thread dependent game like a flight sim for these systems, but they ARE the future, and ACES would be wise to revisit this decision soon, and most importantly patch the current version to take advantage of multiple cpus. Want to end the whining? Give people the real possibility of 30 fps, while maintaining visuals at least a small margin above FS9’s. “
And I say “Excellent Idea!”