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About Flight Simulator 2020

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 has been released and I finally found time to give it a spin (for various reasons I did not participate in the beta program). It is an impressive achievement and surely a landmark in the history of flight simulation games – although like its predecessors when they were first launched it needs some pretty heavy hardware to run properly. I am not a gamer, and the computers I use for development work have very modest specs, so I cannot experience MSFS in all its glory. But even at the lowest setting this game is still very enjoyable.

A bigger problem is the requirement of a high-speed internet connection – not only to download the game but to apply the mandatory updates. We have an LTE/4G mobile broadband connection that on a good day can deliver up to 20 Mbps. After struggling for hours with the confusing website to even get the download started, the initial 100 GB installation took me two days – and the following day I had to patch it with another 8 GB before I was allowed to start the game. This is really frustrating and frankly a bit off-putting. I didn’t touch the game for several days because I was so annoyed.

I do understand that this may seem trivial in just a few years when most people will have access to fiber broadband and/or 5G. We actually signed up for a fiber connection 3 years ago, but the contractors that have the concession in our area have been tied up since then with financial problems and with getting the proper permits. Turns out that there is no clause in our contract that specifies exactly when they should connect us. So we are stuck in limbo with 4G until they sort it out.

So will there be a Draken for MSFS 2020 from Bookmark? Probably not. That would require a complete remodeling and retexturing of the aircraft using new tools and procedures. At the moment it is possible to convert FSX/Prepar3D models and make them fly in MSFS, but the old .mdl format is only barely supported at this time and may not load at all in future updates of MSFS.

The FSX and Prepar3D versions of Draken are modeled in Gmax, which of course is not supported in the MSFS SDK. Some additional parts for Prepar3D were modeled in a 3DSMax version that I no longer have access to. To create a commercial quality model for MSFS we would need to start over using 3DSMax 2016 or later, Blender being a possible alternative. But as we no longer have a license for 3DSmax and very little experience of working with Blender, remodeling Draken is not on the map for the foreseeable future.

As the only permanent thing in life is change, I do not rule out completely the possibility of an MSFS version of Draken in 2021. But at the moment it seems unlikely.

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