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Sunday October 05, 2014 12:08











Flight Simulation


HISTORY: Prior to the rise of video games, Sega produced arcade games that resemble video games, but were in fact electro-mechanical games that used rear image projection in a manner similar to the ancient zoetrope to produce moving animations on a screen. One such electro-mechanical game by Sega was Jet Rocket, a crude flight simulator featuring cockpit controls that could move the player aircraft around a landscape displayed on a screen and shoot missiles onto targets that explode when hit. In 1975, Taito released a simulator video game, Interceptor, which was a crude arcade first-person combat flight simulator that involved using an eight-way joystick to aim with a crosshair and shoot at enemy aircraft that move in formations of two and scale in size depending on their distance to the player.

Crude flight simulators were among the first types of programs to be developed for early personal computers. Bruce Artwick's subLOGIC simulators were well-known for the functionality they managed to get onto 8-bit machines. Key computer game technologies such as 3D graphics, online play, and modding were first showcased in combat flight simulators such as Red Baron II and European Air War. The game world in flight simulators is often based on the real world. However, they are often confined to one part of the game world by invisible boundaries. In some games, the aircraft simply halts in midair, while other games force the player to turn around. However, many games solve this boundary problem by wrapping the game world as a sphere.

Although these games strive for a great deal of realism, they often simplify or abstract certain elements to reach a wider audience. Many modern fighter aircraft have hundreds of controls, and flight simulator games usually simplify these controls drastically. Further, certain maneuvers can knock a pilot unconscious or rip their aircraft apart, but games do not always implement these concerns.

A popular type of flight simulator are combat flight simulators, which simulate combat air operations from the pilot and crew's point of view. Combat flight simulation titles are more numerous than civilian flight simulators due to variety of subject matter available and market demand.

In the early 2000s, even home entertainment flight simulators had become so realistic that after the events of September 11, 2001, some journalists and experts speculated that the hijackers might have gained enough knowledge to steer a passenger airliner from packages such as Microsoft Flight Simulator. Microsoft, while rebutting such criticisms, delayed the release of the 2002 version of its hallmark simulator to delete the World Trade Center from its New York scenery and even supplied a patch to delete the towers retroactively from earlier versions of the sim.

The advent of flight simulators as home video game entertainment has prompted many users to become "airplane designers" for these systems. As such, they may create both military or commercial airline airplanes, and they may even use names of real life airlines, as long as they don't make profits out of their designs. Many other home flight simulator users create fictional airlines, or virtual versions of real-world airlines, so called virtual airlines. These modifications to a simulation generally add to the simulation's realism and often grant a significantly expanded playing experience, with new situations and content. In some cases, a simulation is taken much further in regards to its features than was envisioned or intended by its original developers. Falcon 4.0 is an example of such modification; "modders" have created whole new warzones, along with the ability to fly hundreds of different aircraft, as opposed to the single original flyable airframe.

One way that users of flight simulation software engage is through the internet. Virtual pilots and virtual air traffic controllers take part in an online flying experience which attempts to simulate real-world aviation to a high degree. There are several networks where this sort of play is possible, the most popular ones being VATSIM and IVAO. Virtual Skies provides a low barrier of entry allowing any level member to fly or control without worrying if something goes wrong. Virtual Skies covers mainly UK & USA VATSIM and is generally regarded to have better coverage of the virtual North America and Great Britain, while IVAO's pilots and controllers generally fly and control the virtual Europe, Africa and South America. IVAO's ATC certification process is not as strict as VATSIM's, which allows for a greater number of controllers to be available, but guarantees their proficiency to a lesser degree than VATSIM. Both networks receive anywhere from 300 to 900 ATC and pilot connections, depending on the time of day.

Much rarer but still notable are flight simulators available for various game consoles. One of the most notable of these were Pilotwings, made available for the Super Nintendo, the sequel Pilotwings 64 for the Nintendo 64 and the Ace Combat series on PlayStation 1&2. The very rare Sky Odyssey is yet another example of console flight simulators. Due to the restrictive nature of a game console's ability to simulate environments properly in general and the processing limitations of these systems in particular, game console-based flight simulators tend to be simplistic and have a more arcade-like feel to them. While generally not as complex as PC based simulators, console flight simulators can still be enjoyable to play, though their 'simulation' status is disputed by many in the flight simulation community. *


* Source: Wikipedia







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