A Post for AVSIM

Greetings to the AVSIM community, who have come out in force following my review on Microsoft Flight. Perhaps we need to set a few things straight.

Firstly, I’m somewhat astonished at the response. For those of you who don’t know, DisCONNECT is a small, privately operated blog, not a professional review outfit or anything like that. It’s entirely the opinion of one person: me. DisCONNECT usually gets a tiny 20 to 30 hits per day. Previously the most hits in a single day were in the order of about 200 or so, mostly for Evochron Mercenary when it was released on Steam. That pales in comparison to the 1,493 hits I’ve received today alone (and the day isn’t out yet), 1,193 of which are for the MS Flight review. The response is quite frankly scary, especially when DisCONNECT is fairly unimportant and largely invisible on Google.

Of course calling out a community like AVSIM is going to attract backlash, though I didn’t really expect to end up getting my own thread on the forum I referred to. When I woke up this morning I couldn’t believe the response. I still can’t, to be honest. I’m used to being absolutely unknown, and suddenly someone out there knows DisCONNECT exists. And of course with this response comes a sense of obligation to respond to what some of you are saying.

If you were hoping for me to retract my comments or issue an apology, you’re going to be bitterly disappointed. I won’t apologise for calling the community out on their behaviour regarding Microsoft Flight. All you need to look is look at the archive for proof of how the community acted. Those of you who are a part of the community are intent on rationalising your responses (mostly centering around “We’ve been betrayed!”) but it’s worth remembering that I’m an outsider looking in. I’m not part of your elite flight sim community, nor do I really want to be since some of you seem to be exceptionally proud of having a ridiculously high barrier of entry to the point where any sort of compromise is incomprehensible, perhaps even heretical. All I see as an outsider looking at that board (particularly during the beta period) is “I don’t like that this isn’t a hardcore sim so I’m going to rant and rave about it despite never having played it for more than a few minutes”. Now that in itself is pretty poor form (particularly with how staunch the opposition was) but it’s made worse by the attitude that Flight should be condemned and destroyed… an attitude that extended to its users, who I’ve seen described variously as idiots, children, console kiddies, and so on.

Before I go into that in more depth, I think it’s important to clarify that I don’t have anything against people not liking the game. That’s awesome if you don’t like it. It’s also perfectly fine to say that you don’t like it. Reading the comments on the current active AVSIM forum it’s blatantly obvious that many of you don’t care for it. It’s also fair to say that the AVSIM community as a whole is not necessarily a bad community as seen by an outsider… though the negativity definitely ramps up significantly regarding MS Flight.

What I see as the major flaw in the entire thing, and the reason why I define it as childish entitlement, is that some of you deliberately go out of your way to trash the game and anybody who might consider playing it. It’s a ridiculously elitist attitude which does look childish. The fact is Microsoft moved away from the hardcore market. Since it doesn’t cater to what you wanted, some of you have decided to label it as a childish arcade console experience where all you do is collect coins. That alone leads me to believe that the complainers never actually tried it out. The rage against Flight extends to people making comments connecting the interface with the Xbox 360, which I still can’t make sense of, and a general hatred directed at MS and its new target audience because they decided not to cater to the hardcore sim crowd.

You are not the only audience for flight sims. Plenty of other people are interested, but not everyone can be bothered to sit down and learn the procedures and detail that you guys learn. More power to you for doing it, but I don’t have the time nor the inclination to do so. At the same time, a straight arcade experience is not particularly rewarding, which is the gap Flight obviously intends to fill. I really can’t understand why this is such a bad thing, except if you apply the “entitlement” argument of “I’m a hardcore simmer, I bought FSX, therefore you should give me exactly what I demand.” Firstly, Microsoft don’t have to give you anything of the sort. Secondly, it seems some of you forget that FSX itself caters to newer users, offering interactive flight lessons and scripted missions, some of which involved flying through hoops or dropping flower bombs on a target. Do you automatically discount FSX because it includes those elements? No? Then why such a massive focus on that with Flight? I don’t care much for the coin collecting either, so I don’t play those missions. I’ve still got free flight mode to play through.
Secondly, some accused me of being biased, to which I fully say “You’re right, I am biased.” This is a review. It’s not an objective, scientific assessment, because to try to do so when there’s clearly a subjective element to the review process is impossible. I can objectively say that something like a lack of ATC and AI traffic is a serious omission, which I did point out in the review (especially when radios are in and can be tuned, and the frequencies show up in the game itself). But if it’s biased to say “I actually like Flight, though it has work to be done” then every review is biased and we might as well not have reviews. You can’t claim something is biased simply because it doesn’t agree with your view. As for being biased against the AVSIM community: given the behaviour I’ve observed, I stand by my comments there. My article does spit venom in copious amounts but the same can be said of people from AVSIM in regards to Flight. I have an incredibly harsh way of putting it, but it doesn’t change anything that you guys are posting or have posted regarding Flight. I comment on what I see. If you don’t like it, that’s fine. Hell, you’re invited to comment on it if you like. But if my vitriol and apparent bias against the hardcore detractors of Flight bothers you, perhaps you could consider how your own rage looks to an observer outside of your community. The disrespectful outrage directed at the Flight target market started from the hardcore sim crowd. I make absolutely no apologies for firing back at such an elitist and entitled perspective.

That’s my biggest issue with the AVSIM’s community (or at least those in it who do this) response to Flight – the way they treat the “casual” simmers, where “casual” can be taken to mean “not hardcore”. I really can’t see the harm in extending the genre to make it more accessible to new people potentially interested in the game. My old man for example is very interested in flight sims but not so much as to take what amounts to flight lessons (by comparison to Flight’s approach). But that doesn’t suddenly mean that he’s a 9 year old xbox 360 kid who wants to collect sparkling coins and is too stupid to operate a Saitek x52. That’s the kind of attitude, which AVSIM members have expressed, which has resulted in my hatefilled review, which is part review of Flight, and part criticism of the response. I know some of you don’t like some of the wording in the review (such as [not] having big iron and VATSIM coming out of its arse) but quite frankly given how some of you have reacted to those who might play Flight, you seriously deserve it. I’m unapologetically pleased I’ve struck a nerve there. Maybe now you’ll take the time for self-reflection and apply it to your own statements.
Interestingly, some of the people in the linked thread clearly do understand my position on the AVSIM community, whether they agree with my presentation or not. I don’t need to do anything except point at the Archive to show where the community has come from (the AVSIM moderators seem to be a lot more intent on cracking down on pointless negativity devoid of constructive criticism, which I’m not 100% convinced is the right thing to do but it’s their jurisdiction). The same attitudes clearly persist. I also know that not everyone on AVSIM is spouting irrational nonsense, but it seems to me that at least until the crackdown positive or neutral views were in the minority, and where constantly attacked by people undertaking pointless speculation, going on about what MS “owed” them, or deliberately spreading incorrect information or misquoting statements. To those who are being rational, outsiders do take notice. The AVSIM forum shows up on page 1 of the Google results for “Microsoft Flight”, so you’re hardly an invisible community. Outsiders DO read your words.

Of course I’m not intending to change people’s perspectives or advocating some sort of witch hunt, because I’m not part of your community (and like I said, I don’t want to be after what I’ve read) and how your community runs is up to the users and the moderators/administrators, just as what happens here on DisCONNECT is my problem. But I think it was high time an outsider pointed out exactly how the community comes across, particularly to people who are interested in flight sims but are not of the hardcore inclination. The attitudes we are met with is that there should be no middle ground, no compromise, and if you’re not hardcore, you’re clearly a degenerate idiot who should trade in your KB+Mouse for an Xbox 360 and never think of flight again. Forget the possibility of a gateway game into your hobby that you love, forget about the potential expansion of the flight sim genre, forget about the potential for future support. Just keep on building that wall with the guns aimed outwards. You’ll keep getting your hardcore sims (X-Plane 10 looks somewhat promising, provided development is kept up over its presumably long lifespan) so I have no fear that you’ll be well looked after. But the weird hatred and hostility for everybody else is childish and largely unwarranted. You may have valid reasons (and some of you do), but they’re lost for the most part in the incredible outrage.
Comments are enabled, and if you really wish to respond, feel free so long as it’s kept relatively civil (or at least rational). Again I’m somewhat stunned at the reception this article has received, so I’d be interested to hear any other perspectives.


EDIT: Rest assured that I do read your comments and generally respond to them if I feel they have some substance. I don’t delete comments at random or because I don’t like what they say. If you comment doesn’t appear, it was most probably placed in the spam queue for some reason, and if it’s a valid comment (i.e. not advertising) I’ll ensure it’s posted. If I personally delete your comment it’s probably because you posted something illegal or ridiculously inflammatory. Unlike some people I don’t mind getting comments calling me an irrational dickhead with zero credibility or similar posts, so long as you’re happy to earn a response in return!


17 thoughts on “A Post for AVSIM

  1. A very interesting read. Your opinion matches many, I can assure you of that.

    Excuse the blatant plug, but if you want a friendly flight sim site, come visit us 🙂 We cater for all flight simmers, whatever your level. Everyone’s entitled to their opinion, so long as it’s reasonably put. Any breach of our “friendly” rules and you’re out, so it never gets out of hand.

    The consensus on our site regarding Flight is that, yeah, it’s a game and not a sim, but so what? We’ve plenty of other real sims out there to enjoy. And you’re certainly not going to get trashed if you try Flight and you enjoy it 🙂

  2. Lol, I got news for you: You showed up 3rd on yahoo search when I typed in “MS Flight Review” this morning. Right after Gamespot, and Gamespy. Hope you’re sitting on a flak jacket. I think it’s only going to get more active as the day goes on…..

    1. It seems I’ve come up in the world.

      Wouldn’t I need to wear a flak jacket for it to be of any use? But in all seriousness, I don’t mind the ranting comments. I’ve worked in emergency departments and as a medic, I highly doubt anybody can post anything to even remotely upset me.

      1. Hehe, it was a reference that is probably over the heads of most people people under the age of 40 , i’ll grant you, but at the time of writting, I had in mind a habit that many Nam era Huey pilots had of sitting on flak jakets due to ground fire. Apparently it didn’t occur to the army that a slow, low flying aircraft, one that announces it’s arrival a day in advance, through a constant low drum beat, might draw a bit of fire, and therefore some armor under the seats might be nice….;)
        Yeah, I’m “old”.

  3. Your review of Flight was enjoyable reading. I agree with your comments regarding the immature behaviour in the Flight AVSIM forum.

  4. Look, I know you probably got some pretty crummy treatment for your review and I wish that it had never happened, but there is something to consider here.

    Microsoft released some of the best civilian flight simulations that have ever graced the market and the fact that folks still play FSX and FS2004 is a testament to the power of that legacy, that is a important word here, Microsoft created a legacy and with that, they created expectation and high standards.

    I know that we are entering a new era in gaming where everything must be marketed to as many folks as possible and I understand that it will result in lower difficulty settings but Microsoft Flight just feels like a hollow product and it had many opportunities to do things right.

    1.) keep the lower difficulty but make it a option, it was always like that before and that is a feature that was never broken so it did not need fixing, the kids should have fun with it and those “who can’t be bothered” (more on that later) can also enjoy it, but the flight sim crowd that will pounce on it first will probably walk away bored and bitter. It needs to cover the whole range of difficulty, and not for a extra 1500 MS points.

    2.) Offer us a game, not a part of one for free, we will gladly pay you $60 for a complete product with multiple airframes and more locations, hell, we are more than willing to shell out much more than that, but you have to meet us half way and offer a product feels like it is worth our time, indie devs like 777 studio’s (rise of flight) give you what you pay for and I have invested more than $100 into that sim alone, it is worth every penny because I am getting value and care for my money.

    3.) Today’s casual market is tomorrow’s hardcore, they have forgotten that and it will hurt them when they notice that many folks are downloading the demo and uninstalling it after they get bored, more content and a better difficulty and realism scale gives legs to Flight sims, this has neither.

    Now finally, your comment on “those who can’t be bothered”, I know you did not mean it in a negative way but it does highlight why it is important for franchises like Flight Simulator to exist with a full realism scale, you see, we love the hobby and when outsiders tell us that “they can’t be bothered” it just makes them look like they expect everything to be easy for them, no need to learn the sim when it is easier to have a quarter of the experience.

    Part of the love of the simulation genre is the fact that it allows you to connect real life with a game, it allows you to do things that are pretty amazing without risking millions in military or civil aviation hardware and when you take away the realism then you are taking away the illusion and the magic, don’t assume that just because “you can’t be bothered” that nobody else is willing to put in the time and mental capacity to do it without you.

    Sorry, that comment used in any context makes me think of a angry soccer mom who thinks she should not have to read the “hot” on a coffee cup and sues because it burned.

    1. I’m not surprised at the backlash, because I made some extremely harsh comments. If I poke a wasp’s nest and get stung it’s by my own hand. The more surprising thing is that people went out of their way to vindicate my comments by deliberately attacking the “gamer” sector and pretending that the sim sector is full of high-intelligence prodigies outside of which there is a world devoid of human intelligence.

      As I’ve said numerous times I totally get that the hardcore sector were disappointed with the release of Flight. That’s fine. I was disappointed when DarkStar One was hyped up as a true successor to Freelancer and it turned out to be nothing of the sort. As I’ve also said several times, criticism of Flight is fine. I’ve criticised it myself, because it’s missing features which apparently are supposed to be there (like ATC… it’s baffling that the radios can be tuned and the frequencies are listed, yet there’s nothing going on). And you’re entirely correct that Flight could have gone a lot further to cater for the hardcore (maybe transitional?) market, and that the price of DLC is probably too high for the casual crowd anyway. Flight has problems, I never said it was a flawless product that should be hailed as the new messiah. People seem to be entirely incapable of separating my criticisms of Flight from the criticisms of the community; apparently if I criticise the community for their statements I’m praising Flight and elevating it as the next step in sim evolution or something.

      But at the same time, Flight could go off in a direction that caters to some of the complaints. I doubt that it’ll ever suit the hardcore market but things like ATC and AI aircraft could very well make an appearance. Of course we don’t know what the cost will be, but given that many things in FSX were fairly rudimentary, maybe the cost is worth it if they do a particularly good job. I mean if FSX was a perfect base package, why are there so many addons? Also, is flying a 7 hour marathon across mostly empty terrain or ocean really more exciting than short VFR hops around a large island? Maybe for the procedural simmers, but probably less so for others. Clearly Flight is looking more towards this last group.

      Your concerns and comments are valid, and most importantly they’re phrased in an exceptionally well done way. This is what the bad sector of AVSIM would like to think they’re doing, when they’re doing the exact opposite. Posts like yours are ultimately what can make a product better, which is in significant contrast to the “criticisms” from much of AVSIM (and my criticisms written in kind, since I was deliberately aiming to reflect how they were carrying on). Thanks for your contribution.

      1. Yeah, we are a bit crazy sometimes, I imagine that it can be attributed to the fact that we have so many real pilots in the community and made even worse by the fact that we know that fairly accurate flight and system models can be made.

        I would love to see Microsoft just release a few patches that add some more hardcore features (that can be turned on and off) and perhaps even look at the DLC pricing model, it would be a shame if they manage to exclude the entire casual audience because that audience does not understand the work that goes into making one aircraft.

        Opening the game up to 3rd party companies like A2A will go a long way for Flight, but I think that is the very reason why Flight does not have 3rd party support, I imagine they noticed that folks were spending far more on modifications and addons for FSX then they were for the actual product and Microsoft probably wants to claim that market for themselves.

        I won’t hate on Flight until it has been given time, I only hope that Microsoft makes some smart choices very soon.

  5. I’ve tried MS Flight, and I have mixed feelings. You can see the thread I’ve started at http://forums.jetphotos.net/showthread.php?t=53736
    I don’t consider myself a “hardcore” simmer in the term you seem to do. I am a pilot and a 25+ years fan of Flight Simulator, since the subLOGIC Flight Simulator II for the Commodore 64. I use realistic flight models and instrument behaviours more than perfectly realistic graphics, which doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy graphics very much, I do.

    And of course, I agree that Microsoft is not a public service and they are entitled to create whatever software they want as they see it fit better for their business, be it an arcade “collect the coins” game or a professional DC-8 simulator where you would not be able to start one engine whothout reading a phone-book sized operations manual first. And I think, from my first attempts, that FLIGHT is neither one nor the other.

    That said, I think that there are a couple of things that were completely unnecessary, things that look like intentionally make the loyal flight simmers get mad.

    Was it really necessary to replace the “Fly!” button for a “Play” one? More incredibly, what was the point of requiring a “Reverse joystick Y axis” option to be active for the nose to go up when you pull and down when you push? This is almost an insult. Reverse from what? From the Mario Bros games?

    I didn’t find the flight models to be particularly bad, meaning that the two planes that I’ve tried (the free ones) behaves more or less like a plane. But I can’t really tell because these two planes are one that still doesn’t exist (and whose prototype went through nothing less than a whole wing change since the FLIGHT version) and the other one, the Stearman, I never flew even in simulators.

    Finally, I really hope that FLIGHT will eventually become third-party friendly, since it was always three parties those who pushed the envelope of the Flight Simulator to the limits. The reason is easy: Microsoft will never invest the time necessary to make a super-realistic MD-80 experience, or if they do then they won’t do the 737-800 one. An so on. With many dozens (hundreds?) of independent developers around the world, each of them can focus in the particular thing they want most. And the role of Microsoft is to make the engine. The trick is that everyone who buys a third-party add-on (or downloads it for free) MUST have bought the Microsoft Flight, and the simple existence of this add-ons make the base software itself much more apetecible for many of us. And don’t think that we, Flight Simulator fans, are few. Not for nothing the series has more than 30 years now. It wouldn’t have been like that if it wasn’t a solid business case. And it wouldn’t be a solid business case if the software hadn’t sold in very big numbers release after release.

    I, for the moment, will stick to what’s available for free and wait. I don’t loose the hopes that Microsoft FLIGHT will, with the help of Microsoft and third parties, become a “game” (?) that is friendly for beginners or casual fliers and for old-time simmers and real-life pilots too.

    1. Fly vs Play – I understand that’s part of the “sim vs game” argument so I’d put that down as personal preference, I mean it doesn’t change the functionality of the program.

      The Y axis reversal – I’ve seen people say this is a Games for Windows Live issue, but I don’t know if that’s true or not. It worked fine out of the box for me with the Y axis acting as expected.

      As for 3PD – I really don’t think that’s going to be the case unless the 3PDs are happy to pay Microsoft for them to develop for the program, which is how it works for pretty much every other commercial modification of a “game”. And yes, I know people don’t like referring to FSX as a game, but for the purposes of describing commercial modding the term applies.

      The thing is although good addon content promotes interest in the game, from Microsoft’s perspective it doesn’t really add up; people buy the product (if they buy it later in the product’s life cycle, it’s at a heavily discounted price) which is fine, but they’d spend much, much more in addons… and Microsoft sees none of that, just your initial purchase of their product. From Microsoft’s perspective the 3PDs are getting a free ride building off their product.

      Again, pretty much nobody else runs things this way; if you make a mod for any other game the licence agreement of using the modding tools generally states it can’t be for commercial purposes, and anything that does end up commercial pays royalties or a one-off fee for the right to sell the modification. As I understand it several of the 3PDs weren’t thrilled with such a direction given the previous case with FSX. There has to be some sort of cooperation here.

      As for the “business case” – Microsoft can afford to cater to smaller markets more than other businesses, since if Flight fails the loss is small compared to, say, Windows 8 being a colossal failure. There’s no doubt a case for making a flight simulator (it’s been one of the cornerstones of “PC gaming” for want of a better term since forever) but don’t think that means the sim sector is large compared to the “gaming” sector.

      1. Re: the Y axis: It worked fine out of the box for me too. But if you go to the controls settings you’ll see the “reverse Y axis” option checked by default.
        I don’t care really, but I can see someone feeling “offended” for Microsoft saying that “pull up / push down” is something working in “reverse”. I was just wondering was it necessary? It’s as if it had been done “on purpose” to upset purist simmers. Would you put a “reverse trigger” option that must be active if you want the trigger behaviour to be “press to fire” in a “shoot’em-all” game?

  6. Firstly, I am not a member of avsim. I am, however, a long time flight sim flyer, since the commodore 64 version, as well as real life blackhawk helicopter mechanic/crew chief/technical inspector. I also have a few hours in a Cessna.

    I find your attack on the members of that web site not only wrong, but quite frankly feel it does nothing mroe than make you look no better than those you call “childish”.

    What happenned when Coke changed it’s recipe? Did people tell the millions of other people who hated it and stopepd buying it that they were being childish? (oh yeah and Coke changed it back….)

    What happened when people complained about putting the charger name on an ugly family sedan, oh that’s right, some people called them “stuck in the ’60s” or or names I won’t repeat, but guess what Dodge did….they not only came out with the challenger, but they also made the family sedan look more like a charger (though still ugly…)

    You may not like the reaction to “flight” by the majority of the population, that’s your right , but it’s noone’s problem but you own. You and the flight facebook moderator share the idea that if we erase any form of negative reaction, somehow the game will benefit. In reallity, the game will fail, even more so now, because of the way negative comments have been handled.

    My first impression is that you were one of the people who got slammed over there at avsim, and you got your feelers hurt. (kinda like how the people who complain about red-light cameras are the one’s running red lights….)

    Sucks to be you. But at least your getting htis on your web site…….things that make you go hmmmmmmmmmm.

    Oh, and “flight” sucks.

    1. Few things:

      1) Criticism is fine. New Coke was criticised because it didn’t taste good. The criticism of Flight centres around “This wasn’t what I wanted!” and ignores any merits the software has on its own. I might as well criticise Pepsi for not being Coke. Complaining that Pepsi is not Coke is not a valid criticism. And then they went on to demonise the casual or gaming community, because they’re oh so more intelligent and how dare the filthy peasants aspire to enjoy flight sims. Reality check please, and find some new comparisons.

      2) I never posted on AVSIM. I never will either. I’m just commenting on the community as I see it. I find it incredibly ironic that you claim that my “feelers got hurt” yet turned up here to launch an attack of your own in defense of piss-poor community behaviour. Perchance did I hurt your feelings?

      3) Please look up the difference between “your” and “you’re”.

      4) It doesn’t suck to be me. I’m happy with the product. I’m not part of the writhing hardcore entitlement section of the community livid with rage that I didn’t get what I wanted.

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