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Flightgear new developments

Open Source Flight Simulator FlightGear is continuing to make steady progress, with a number of new features and planned projects being highlighted in their December newsletter.

If you still haven’t tried FlightGear, it costs nothing more than the time and bandwidth required to download and install it, so it’s always worth taking a look at what progress they have made and, if you have development skills, you might even want to lend a hand?

18 comments to Flightgear new developments

  • Paul

    Something like this was needed about 25 years ago, now its so far behind the mainstream its not worth the effort for most users.

    This only users I see enjoying this are users coming from MS FS version 98. If anybody has MS FS2002 or newer they will be quite happy with that over Flightgear in my opinion.

    Not meant to bash, just saying its way to late for this kind of thing in the home flight simulator genre.

  • Have you considered that it’s free, still being developed and that if more people got involved then it might improve faster?

    There’s room and scope for a lot of things in the FS world. Yes, people are still using FS98, CFS1 and Flight Unlimited!

    • Paul

      Please compare it to FSX which is available for close to free anymore. Then after that comparison and having a taste of FSX, most modern day flight simulator users would not go back to flight gear. Getting involved in a project that is too far behind the times when we could be involved in P3D development, makes the choice easy for me – all about realism, not about hating flight gear. You do as you wish, but in taking the time to help develop flight gear you are going to remain in a lesser state of realism than me when it comes to your simulation experience. Free does not mean everything, and most things that start out free these days usually end up costing something and then end up in death. Drugs/booze are a plain example and MS flight for an example in context, but MS Flight is much better than flight gear as far as realism goes yet where is MS Flight now? It ended in death because it was not what we want. I wanted MS Flight to live but I was not going to accept a flight simulator that does not have real weather, ATC, or an auto pilot in aircraft that have them in the real life. Realism is the deciding factor in flight simulation and Flight gear is too far behind the times.

      I tell you truthfully if we were in 1980-1990 then this would have worked, but we have too much experience with flight simulators which are much better. Efforts could be better served aiding Microsoft (ESP)/Lockheed Martin, because they have the code from the foundation of PC Flight Simulation that has stood the test of time.

      If another developer comes out with a whole world model with the appearance in quality of MS Flight, the good features of X Plane like runway/ taxiway contours & lighting, the massive realistic features and extendibility of FSX, and the rendering of P3D v2 (not a comprehensive description but you get the idea), then we expect it to cost about $200.00. It would not be free but it would be something for me to support because it does what we want it to do.

      I do not hate Flight Gear, I just think that if your are going to spend your time doing something for free and there is no plan to charge for it then stop that plan and come help Lockheed Martin for free. Give them the ideas and help them develop P3D. If the flight simulation community is what you work hard for, do it in a more productive and prudent way. If my advice is taken then great, if it is not, then we can know that Flight Gear intends to have a price tag for the whole product or there will be some kind of market developed for add-ons that flight gear users will just have to purchase, but it will remain behind the times.

      Time will tell.

  • brabax

    Have a look at the forums, check the screenshots and developement threads. In fact, some features are top-notch (generating snow in variable ‘thickness’ with shaders etc.) and not even included in other sims.

  • Paul

    I have done all that, I even still have it installed on my 2nd PC. It still lacks much compared to what we have available in P3D v2.

    I will not hate the Flight Gear program I’m just saying its way too late for this and If it is going to remain free, then go tell Lockheed Martin how to make deep snow for free so that the better overall simulator will be even better.

    • Ian P

      With all due respect, Paul, why should they help a very well off international corporation to develop things, if they want to help with a community project instead?

      Prepar3D is not the be-all and end-all of flight simming. Not everyone has a PC that can run P3Dv2, not everyone, contrary to popular belief in some circles, can do so within the licenses for P3D. FSX is NOT free and is actually, for many people, not that easy to get any more.

      For all your comments about not “hating” FG, all you’re doing is pouring scorn onto a community project and trying to push people towards a very expensive and very restrictive (both in hardware and licesing) commercial product.

      People like flying 747s VFR in AeroflyFS on an iPad. It actually looks a lot like the video above, but with a non-functional B747 rather than the Robin… There’s a Robin in AeroflyFS as well, though.

      A lot of people in this hobby fall into the same trap: “It’s not what I want, so it’s not what anyone wants.” Like I said before, it’s a big hobby. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to use it. Maybe you could get some of the L-M contractors and salaried staff from P3D to help improve FG in their spare time, rather than belittling the efforts of those already working on it? ;)

  • Paul

    They should help LM because LM is trying to help us all attain a more realistic simulator and they are many years ahead of Flight Gear with Prepar3D. This is only my opinion based on what I have seen in sims that come and go. Effort wasted on projects like Fly! and even some add-on products that I see as a waste like Black Box who charge people to be on a beta /development team and call it a preview, to me this is hogwash and a waste. The developers from these companies are the like that I have seen come and go because of a sub standard that is allowed and pride and love of money.

    Prepar3D V2 is the most advanced, realistic, currently supported, developed, and affordable ( for most people who can afford a PC) flight simulator available to us today. Who ever does not have a PC that can run P3D can use Flight Simulator versions 1 thru 5.1 for free or they can buy a copy of FS for Windows 95 thru FS2002 for usually less $10. Or buy a copy of FS 2004 thru FSX for under $20. They can even download Flight Gear or MS Flight, and I think there is a group that is redoing Fly! or something to that effect.

    If one is going to be interested in flight by way of flight simulation but not be interested in realism, then it is not simulation, it is a game. The word simulator is the defining divide. So if a company comes out with a new product they call a simulator then it should first be weighed against what is available then if it competes then it must be weighed against reality. Surly you know that Microsoft got many ideas from real world pilots to make the MSFS series better, correct? Well I know for sure that my own ideas were implemented into the series when I offered them and my ideas came directly from real world experience. Now, say I decided to support Corncob 3D at that time back in the 80-90′s era and everybody else did to, well Corncob 3D would most likely be an FSX today. Why did this not happen? Corncob 3D was simple and free, a small operation without the means or support to be able to carry it through any competition. I distinctly remember hearing great reviews about Corncob 3D, but I knew after trying it, the reviews were hype. MSFS 4.0b blew Corncob 3D out of the water and facts prove themselves.

    Just remember that I do not expect anybody to agree with me in exactly how I think, because how I think is going to be unique. The same is true for all because we are all different. The way I think is more so for the benefit of all consumers of flight simulation products but even more defined as people who care deeply about realism in a flight *simulator*.

    Nobody at LM is belittling Flight Gear, and I do not work for anybody.
    Most of that licensing stuff is because of Microsoft ESP not LM, plus I would rather not have a bunch of call of duty game lovers come over to P3D to fill their lust for blood desires. I want P3D to be a serious training device, because that is what a *simulator* is. If its a game then lets call it that, and I will be gone. P3D has no grip on my heart and mind, flight simulation has my attention but it has no power over me; I can quit anytime if its not going to be a *convincing* simulation/training device.

    I have no intention of pouring scorn by claiming I do not hate Flight Gear, I simply intend to communicate to the moderators of Simflight that I do not have a campaign/agenda against a company or any group of people. My comments are only intended to offer an alternative use of effort or spark an idea/ point of view that maybe someone will at least consider. Hypothetically speaking, just think if the whole world stopped everything and said we are going to feed the hungry, I would bet my life that there would not be a hungry person in the world, not even one. When we put our efforts together towards a common cause that does not involve selfish love of money or selfish pride we can accomplish anything. The problem is that humankind usually bands together for evil more than good, at least until a flood or earthquake happens then all of a sudden we want to cooperate and care. I don’t need an earthquake or flood to get me to care about others. I care about realism in flight simulation and I offer an idea or an alternative in this context based on history in flight simulation.

    I’m trying to get LM to make P3D more realistic, so far my ideas have been welcome and 3 have already been implemented and ready for release. You see, I have good reason to believe that LM cares like I do and they have the technology and will to accomplish our common purpose, realism. I have no reason to believe that FG developers do not care, as a matter of fact I know that they do care, but I know for sure they are way too far behind on technology and support to be able to compete with P3D, hence my initial comments. Competition is not competition if it cannot compete. In my opinion even X plane does not compete with P3D or FSX….my opinion, based on overall realism, realistic/ cutting edge features pertaining to flight simulation, and 3rd party developer support.

    No amount of advertising or cheerleading can truly help Flight Gear, I’m just being realistic based on how it has always been and how it will always be. Remember that LDS said a 757 would be developed for FSX, how many years has it been? Is this called a lie or should we be nice? Well LDS has not made any cancellation announcements, so where is the line between deception or misunderstanding? We consumers must make that determination ourselves. The news posts information that could be lies or deception or it could be the most wonderful truths for us to realize. The people who read the news have to filter out what they know and research what they don’t to make a decision of whether the news is correct or needs to be corrected. Some of it is opinion and there are plenty of opinions, so as it is available to do so, I offer my comments kindly but directly so there is no misunderstanding of my comments.

    Its a joy to converse with you Ian, in other forums I get called bad names and even cursed for expressing an idea, I appreciate your nice treatment of me.

  • Ian P

    The rules I apply – I can’t speak for other editors/moderators – are that provided you tackle the subject/what is said and don’t make personal attacks or post “inappopriate content” (i.e. swear, post unrelated links, etc.) then opinons are more than welcome.

    Lockheed Martin are developing – intentionally – for very specific markets that, for some reason, they are not making blatantly obvious to the public. They’re unofficially telling developers, publishers and people with contacts in the team, but they’re only really interested in improvements and functions that work towards those markets. The consumer entertainment market is actually very expensive and difficult to work in for little to no return, which is why they are not interested in, rather than restricted from, getting into it. There is some truth in the restrictions placed on the sale of the ESP source code but, critically, that is not the primary limiting factor on P3D. The only limiting factor that matters is that L-M management only want a professional, technical, market and not Joe Public.

    People belittled Flight as being a “game”, while FSX is a “sim”, but actually, Flight modelled aerodynamics, external influences (e.g. weather, water) and a number of other things consistently and significantly better than FSX does. Contrary to popular belief, IFR was included in the original release. People chose not to see those features, the same as people only choose to see the negatives, not the positives, of other sims such as Flight Gear, AeroflyFS and, to a large extent, X-Plane. My biggest personal problem with X-Plane is the arrogance of the developers and fanatical supporters, which mean that functionality essential to me – and apparently many other people – is missing from it, while “cool stuff” that is utterly impractical for almost all users is added with every release. X-Plane is still, however, both a commercial and entertainment sim which is still in very active development. Indeed the only developer to have left the market entirely, in recent years, is Microsoft.

    The nice thing about FlightGear is that it costs you absolutely nothing to download it and make your own judgement on its value. That’s all I want people to do.

    • Paul

      I apply the same kind of rules myself, in whether I continue a conversation. My main rule is: talk on the internet to people exactly how you would face to face, one never knows if that person will find you and show up at the door.

      Lockheed Martin has a business strategy, no doubt. We have to remember some basic facts about the reality of the ACES team and how Microsoft was the leader in this field. LM as a company, must surly realize the huge opportunity for filling the grand canyon that FS11 “would have” filled. LM is approaching these facts and filling that market well. All the legal stuff that many seem to worry about so much, they forget that even installing an ABC teaching program for a child is going to have an EULA and we buzz right through them without concern. I don’t think LM is after end users in the sense of creating an EULA that is designed to give them a reason to start legal actions against a multitude of people. Yes, LM is a very large company that designs and builds military planes for governments, but that does not mean that they will sue end users of P3D left and right because they purchased and used their products. The academic license would not need to exist if the MS ACES team were still alive and developing FS14 and P3D would market to military alone. How do we know this? Simple, MS would always be way ahead of LM and most businesses/pilot schools, 3rd party developers, and end users will go with the “less than a hundred dollar” simulator that was much better. Wes Bard from LM has made it very clear that LM welcomes us all. Carenado does not develop for any military nor are their products suitable for real world training, yet they have a distinct section on LM’s support forum. The Carenado A36 is a default plane in P3D V2!!! This must give a clue as to how welcome “simmers” are and I don’t think that was done by accident, there is a strategy. I believe without “simmers”, P3D will not survive; this is my opinion.

      The aspects of MS Flight that are in the program, I very much enjoy them. I still fly that Icon often to enjoy the marvelous work that MS did in MS Flight. But looking at the intro flight swerving among hot air balloons…..come now, a game is a game and encouraging young players that this is what aviation is introduced as was a terrible mistake. If the program was not free, maybe I could let this go, but anybody can download and see this introduction and young minds that have already been playing the war blood & guts games just transfer that foolishness into aviation. I was on the beta team and I distinctly brought up this point and I was laughed at and mocked, then a few days later news report of young kids were going to do a crime spree then intend on steeling an aircraft, and they never flew before. This made all the mockery of me come to a halt and nobody wanted to discuss any topic with me anymore. They did not even want to fly multi player with me anymore.

      I agree with you concerning your points about X plane, the fan base, and the way they speak so unkindly to others with a different opinion on flight models.

      My vision for us simmers is that we work together. Compete for the best ideas but focus the ideas into one product. The reasons I think like this is, take the Hi-Fi & REX “feud”; Hi-Fi has been around a very long time providing products and doing this part of the market very well. REX comes in with marketing technique and essentially grabs half or more of that portion of the market. Now to most people, competition is a good thing, but in all competition there should be an ultimate winner. In the case of ” consumer” markets the consumer is ending up the loser. We spend more money (I myself don’t care about $ – I say this because everybody else does) on 7 different weather programs and then can’t afford to get that aircraft we want. If only there was a deciding factor as to which *ideas* not *whole products* from each developer we integrated into the simulation program, then we could move “fast forward” instead of the unhealthy (to the consumer) competition we have now. Each idea implemented would result in profit for a developer. In this world, all you have to do is make a nice webpage, post a few nice screenshots, and put a bunch of “nice talk” (even lies) features about a program. Since no refund is available (another foolish rule) on download products, a developer made the money. Now most companies don’t allow people to see their forums until they are a customer. This makes no sense, but its is a direct result of unhealthy competition that is 98% beneficial to developers as opposed to consumers. If honesty and care of others prevailed then the current system could work, but anybody can say anything good or bad about a product on any review or forum. I know that my vision is like a dream world but if we all started to think like this and care about each other instead of money, a most marvelous result would be realized.

      How this relates to Flight Gear is totally dependent on the future intentions. Unless they absolutely hate money, and have a vision that includes a very different, strategic kind of thinking, that everybody else begins to conform to, it is way too late for this kind of plan. FG competes is a very uncaring and nasty market. This is not how I wish it to be, I just know the reality of this. I want them to succeed, I sincerely do, but with the current status quo it simply will not work.

      There is always hope for good change, but it is not likely.

  • Joop

    Not sure if you read up on FlightGear, but it’s been.around (for free) since 1996. And unlike those other simulators, source code for the entire poject is public under an open license. Even if some of the main developers would start asking money, the source would still be available for anyone, to continue the free way. What a difference with MSFS (or any other commercial sim); if they pull the plug, your stuck.

    • Paul

      Thank you for the facts Joop, they further prove my point in that its taken since 1996 to get FG where it is now and it will need at least another 18 years to compete with FS2002, let alone catching up with P3D.

      It is not that I don’t want FG to be better than P3D, I’m just saying that its hopeless as long as things continue as they have since 1980.

      I know all about the open source (free) facts, my point is not that its free, my point is that its a waste of development effort; all alone in a desert wasteland frozen in time. Its too little too late because of what we have had available to us for many years.

      FS98 is practically free ($1-2 in a bargain bin) and it competes with FG pretty well. But FS 2002 is also very cheap it is better than FG in my opinion. You can get FSX for about $20 today and it blows FG out of the water in my opinion. But this opinion of mine is practically fact given the facts of where FSX/P3D is and where FG is.

      Think of it this way would you rather have clean water that costs money or would you rather drink the free water that is not so clean or at best your not sure whether is clean. Parents would pay because they care about their children, correct? Well simmers have proven that they prefer to pay because of they care about realism; this is why FG remains behind the times.

  • In my opinion, FS98 does not compete with FG at all, 3D elevation was sketchy at best, if I remember correctly, with mostly crude 3D mountains on addon sceneries. FG includes great virtual cockpits, something only FS2004 gave us reasonably. So FS2002 cannot compete if you don’t like 2D panels. Finaly: “whole earth photoscenery streaming”? I don’t say I like it (I want to still be able to fly the sim even when internet is offline!) but it sure is an inovation. FSX, P3D, X-plane cannot compete with that.

    • Paul

      Alex, most (not all) of the points in favor of FG have been about price, and for the price FS98 includes the whole world and a vast amount of free 3rd party additions to make FS98 exceed FG. Comparing the FS98 default Cessna 182 and the current FG default 172 cockpits is comparable, but my main point is FG is *current*. FS98 is extremely old pay ware. Look how many versions (and patches) have been released in MSFS history. So lets go apples to apples and take FG back in 1997 to be fair and compare it to FS98 back then. Well you would not want to do that now would you? Of course not because there is no comparison. The same is true today; take FG current version and FSX, there is no comparison, FSX blows FG out of the water pound for pound. Yes FSX costs some money but its worth it, just like clean water is better than the dirty river.

      The latest version of FG will always be too far behind the latest P3D as long as both exist and all things remain as they always have. Unless there is good fundamental change in the way things are done FG will be a waste of effort. I would agree that if P3D or XP were no longer being developed then FG or would suddenly be a good cause. However, I believe that there will always be a company filling the pay ware ($50-$100) simulator market, which will always be ahead of any open source option.

  • I have to disagree with FG being a waste of effort. Payware addons were born of the best freeware developers. Freeware made the FS world go round. They pushed the FS boundaries from it’s very begginings. And they can always keep doing that. With no mainstream flight simulator being developed (MS out of the game with FSX slowly dying (but i hope not in a long time yet), LM “agreeing to let us play with P3D although we are not their target market) and X-Plane still not being able to convince everyone…. There’s a door open for FG.

    • Paul

      I guess we will have to see how that door swings. Remember this, freeware add-ons are nothing without the pay ware (since FS1) simulator itself.

  • Ian P

    Sorry I haven’t replied to this thread for a couple of days – I’ve had other (rather more critical!) things on my plate to deal with.

    I will challenge you on one thing, though, Paul. Freeware add-ons for a freeware sim, especially if they’re developed using freeware tools, have no requirement or link at all to payware.

    I don’t know offhand whether FlightGear works on Linux (with or without an emulator), but if you could do Linux, Flightgear, Blender, GIMP, documentation all in Open Document format… What’s the downside?

  • Joop

    @Ian, FlightGear runs on Linux, Windows, Mac OS X as well as some more exotic OS.