Screenshot by MuddledOsprey46
It has been an action-packed week with the team dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s for next Tuesday’s World Update II: United States (Update #7). On top of that, the team is looking forward to diving in and answering your questions in next week’s Developer Q&A on Twitch, so make sure to vote and submit your questions here. We’re looking forward to starting off the holidays right with next week’s update!
PARTNERSHIP SERIES: INTRODUCING EAA
The Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) is based in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and embodies The Spirit of Aviation through the world’s most engaged community of aviation enthusiasts. EAA’s 240,000 members and 900 local chapters enjoy the fun and camaraderie of sharing their passion for flying, building and restoring recreational aircraft. For more information on EAA and its programs, call 800-JOIN-EAA (800-564-6322) or go to www.eaa.org. For continual news updates, connect with www.twitter.com/EAA.
Click here for the web-friendly version.
Sim Updates are core updates that will be coming to Microsoft Flight Simulator. There will be a major Sim Update every two to three months. Stay tuned for next week’s Dev Update for a rough schedule of our future releases now through February. Click here for the web-friendly version.
- The DevMode team has mostly been focusing on the last fixes before the release of the forthcoming update.
- On the Scenery Editor side, the team is implementing the possibility to add a heightmap on a rectangle and to sculpt it. Besides that, fixes and improvements have also been achieved on the object duplication feature.
- As a background task, the DevMode team is always working on improving the overall stability of the DevMode, giving special focus to the Project Editor, the Scenery Editor, and the Aircraft Editor.
- Community feedback continues to be very helpful to identify & fix bugs and therefore making the tools better.
- We fixed the “trigger_key_event” function in the Panels API.
- We implemented JIT compilation of WASM modules for specific use cases (decreases iteration times).
THIRD PARTY UDPDATE
- We have 1,000+ applications to our Marketplace Partner Program and 200+ are known payware companies.
- We have approved 88 payware partners (+18 from last week) already and 65 products (+6 from last week) are live in the in-sim store.
- There are over 150 other products nearing release in the coming weeks and another 250 products from 3rd party developers are in production. In total, almost 400 3rd party products are either released or are in development. Incredible!
- We are also very happy to confirm that Aerosoft continues to make good progress with the CRJ and we are increasingly hopeful that this plane can be released before the holidays.
New products releasing today:
13 NEW PRODUCTS
2 UPDATED PRODUCTS
LAYOVER WITH THE DEVS
Today we will talk with Jorg Neumann, Head of Flight Simulator and someone you may have seen in the Live Dev Q&As!
Tell us about yourself and your role within MSFS.
I am originally from Germany (born in Frankfurt a. M.) and moved to the US in the mid-90s after finishing my college work. I’ve been happily married to a true and awesome Texas woman for over 25 years and am a very proud dad of two beautiful identical twin daughters. I am a huge science fiction fan and have been in love with airplanes and spaceships since I was a little boy. As far as work, I have been working in the game industry since 1994, originally at a company called Origin Systems, in Austin, TX, which was then-famous for games like Wing Commander and Ultima. The team also developed several games with a focus on aircraft (Pacific Strike, Strike Commander, Wings of Glory, and the Longbow series) and was also involved with the Jane’s series from EA (US Navy Fighters, US Marine Fighters, ATF, etc.). So pretty much from day 1, I got to work on flight-related games (and also space games) and I loved it. My first interaction with Microsoft Flight Simulator came around the same time – it was Flight Sim 1995, which was a great title, and it brought my then-awesome Pentium 60 to its knees 😉. After Origin, I joined a start-up with a bunch of friends from Origin called Digital Anvil, where I worked on the space simulator “Freelancer” as the Lead Designer … interestingly, space games have quite a bit in common with flight simulation, but that’s too much to get into here. After that, I moved from Austin to Seattle to join Microsoft Publishing and worked on games like Mass Effect, Alan Wake, several Kinect games (which is when I first met the awesome Asobo team), all of the HoloLens games (many of which I also worked with Asobo on), and then more recently Quantum Break, Zoo Tycoon, ReCore, State of Decay 2, Ori, Age of Empires, Crackdown 3, etc. Obviously, my focus of late has been 100% on Microsoft Flight Simulator.
As far as my role on the new sim, I had the initial idea for the reboot back in 2016, which was to use satellite / aerial data from Bing Maps, utilizing our top-notch infrastructure on Azure to stream that massive amount of data, and to use new machine learning methods to augment the world, etc.). As I was already working with Asobo on other game titles, I called Seb sometime in late 2016 and we discussed the idea which led to a small prototype that was so convincing that I approached Shannon Loftis (GM of Publishing at the time) and later Phil Spencer for full funding. The rest is history. We spent the last 4+ years refining the world representation (we added more expertise at Blackshark to help us with some of the procedural world issues), modernizing things like the weather systems (for which we brought on Meteoblue), we spent time with many (if not all) of the airplane manufacturers, etc. and kept adding expertise to the team. My day-to-day job varies greatly … often it’s directional (what features we will take on next, what new areas to develop – very much in concert with Seb, David and Martial at Asobo), but I also dive deeper in areas like world data (I’m currently working with Gaya quite a bit), feature design work (which unfortunately I can’t talk about yet), seeking out new partners (hope to share some excellent news soon), interaction with the 3rd parties, new opportunities for future planes, etc. … and also a fair bit of video work with David and the video team (you’re in for a treat soon). So, it’s quite diverse, but super interesting. The awesome thing about the flight sim space is that so many of the people I get to meet are super passionate … and also super knowledgeable. It’s an amazing experience and a great honor to lead this development in concert with the development teams and the community. It’s incredibly exciting to think about where we can go next … the opportunities for improvement and expansion are nearly endless!
What impact does community feedback have on the development team?
We pay a ton of attention to community feedback – and we have been for years. Before we even started, I jumped on the forums to understand what the community loved in the existing sims, what they were missing, and what they were hoping for in the future. It was actually after reading the forums that I was convinced that the time was right for the next Microsoft Flight Simulator. Many in the community wanted a modern engine architecture, graphics on par with the best games, better aerodynamics, a fully integrated weather system with real-time data. In many ways, the feature list for our new sim is a result of what we found on the forums. Throughout development, the team kept up with the forum conversations, and after we were finally able to publicly talk about the new sim in June 2019, we eagerly read just about everything we could find online. It was awesome to see the positive reaction to the announcement of the next Microsoft Flight Simulator and we got even more deeply engaged with the community as time went on. In the Fall of 2019, we kicked off a more formal engagement with what we called our “Global Preview Event” where we met members of the community for the first time and our interaction has been really positive and collaborative ever since.
Much of the team reads the forums every day, we take the community feedback snapshot very seriously and we often discuss our development roadmap with that context in mind. It’s great to see the enthusiasm so many members of the community bring to the table. It truly helps us steer the ship with clear priorities.
Maybe not quite as obvious, but the developer community is also super important. We get feedback on the SDK (which is a critical piece for innovation) and we have quite a bit of interaction with external development teams to ensure they can do their best work. Aerosoft, for example, has been awesome on the plane development side – also Carenado and others – and companies like ORBX, Gaya and others have been super helpful with feedback on airport developments tool, etc. It’s all very collaborative and open-minded and it’s by far the most fun I have ever had in software development. Hearing directly from the users is the best way to develop software and having so many knowledgeable and passionate people contribute to make the sim better is awesome. In the last few weeks, we had our first contacts with freeware groups, and I have to say that has also been just great. There is so much energy and willingness to do the right thing. It is because of the community that we will be able to make an amazing platform in the years to come!
Could you give a specific example of how the MSFS community changed the future direction of features, say, autopilot?
Well, community massively impacts our development. Right at E3 2019, we heard loud and clear – we need VR! Unfortunately, we had deprioritized VR back in 2017 or 2018 as we thought focusing on the core sim features was more important. But the call for VR from the community was so strong, that we quite literally jump-started a dedicated team a few weeks later. The results are pretty great and the feedback so far from the Closed Beta has been very positive … which is very encouraging and makes us really happy. There are numerous other examples, but as you asked about the autopilot … Seb and other team members at Asobo have been solely focused on improving the autopilot in recent weeks and it’s improved a lot based on community feedback. I am not super knowledgeable in this specific area, but maybe Seb can talk about it in our stream in a few days on November 25. But just to make the overall point – we do have a development roadmap with features, new planes and all kinds of new and cool additions, but if the community gives us feedback or is clearly sending a signal that something needs to improve, we will change our priorities and make sure that we are addressing that feedback. It’s not instantaneous, of course, but we take this very seriously and our goal is to make this sim for the community … and with the community. So please, keep the feedback coming!
We have a great schedule coming up next week on Twitch! Be sure to join us for:
- U.S. Community Celebration [Tuesday, 2000Z] – Come join the CM and seven other community members as we explore what the new U.S. World Update has to offer!
- Live Dev Q&A [Wednesday, 1830Z0] – Our monthly Developer Q&A where we answer your questions live!
MORE AMAZING SCREENSHOTS FROM THE COMMUNITY
Screenshot by Theduck38
Screenshot by WhiskeyTango208
Screenshot by WatchfulLand959
Screenshot by GothicHeart77
Screenshot by c0mmanderkiller
Screenshot by DonHugo7267
Screenshot by Ionfreefly
Screenshot by Superfrog500870
Screenshot by DalWhat
Screenshot by BicoloredToe049
NEXT DEVELOPMENT UPDATE BLOG – 11.25
Microsoft Flight Simulator Team