MSFS2020: A Tale of Troubled Waters
by Edson Soriano, Managing Director //42
We finally got those water runways, and not only are they now in the database, but we can also spawn on them to begin flights. Additionally, they’re available for us to index and use for content creation on The Skypark!
But let’s not get toooooo excited; it’s easy to do when something is new and fresh. The introduction of Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 created a new race between developers; think of it as the race to space. With that new race, I’ve also observed that being first to lift off is often perceived as being relevant or innovative. At least that’s the vibe I get from the more “vocal” users in the community.
We think quite the opposite at //42. If we worked in a brick-and-mortar office every day, I’d have the expression “Slow and steady wins the race!” put on the wall somewhere in the developer lounge. It’s exciting to see new things, but we will always question the customer’s experience and place it first. If we can’t deliver a great experience in-sim, reliably, we wait. Notice we don’t have a need to release daily bug fixes? We like it that way, and I bet you do too! So while development on The Skypark may seem “behind” because “others are doing it,” internally, I know we’re on point, on track, and on target.
Let’s return to those water runways again; we eagerly jumped in and started to plan content to take advantage of the new spawn points. Then we got to the research and testing phase; what we found isn’t new, as many of these issues have been present since the days of FSX. Allow me to deliver just a sampling of images that represent a significant number of newly added water strips:
Just imagine a contract on The Skypark taking you to any of the scenarios shown above. The time we spent, the time you spent, all a waste, and the immersion completely broken. Safe to say, we avoided a rollback on this one.
These types of issues aren’t unique to water. Fuel consumption, weight & balance, weather data, etc., all fall into this same bucket, sort of there, sort of working, sort of broken. While the sim is excellent at delivering marketable bullet points, it’s not at a level of QA that gives us confidence releasing features without extensive amounts of testing on our end, which adds time (we don’t get early builds).
So yea, we may not always be first, but I assure you there will be many failed lift-offs in this new race, and we want to avoid that! The few that execute a beautifully calculated launch and landing will be the companies that move our community forward with true innovation. I hope our approach of providing a consistently good experience adds a bit of confidence in our decision to wait on many features that aren’t yet ready for prime time. 😎
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