As I do on many free Saturday mornings, I’ve just been enjoying the WAN show vod with a cup of coffee. I’m not often one to comment, but so many of Linus’ remarks about Microsoft’s new Flight Simulator resonated with me so deeply I felt I had to (over)-share!
The reason I started watching LTT (well, NCIX tech tips #19) about 11 years ago was because even 3 years after release, Flight Simulator X was itself a complete performance hog. Then 13-year-old me wanted to learn how to overclock as I’d heard this would help quite a bit and crucially didn’t cost anything.
The part of the WAN show discussion which specifically made me want to write this, was about the educational value of flight simulators and how they might facilitate entry into a career in aviation. When I first flew on an aeroplane aged 5, I immediately decided I wanted to be a pilot, but I’m pretty sure it was my dad’s decision to buy me a copy of Flight Simulator 98 (old, even at the time) when we got home which cemented my obsession with flying.
Growing up, flight sims were all I wanted to do with my free time. I found the rabbit hole of things to learn to be almost bottomless, from fundamentals like principles of flight, all the way to hunting for questionable English translations of operating procedures for the airliners of the Soviet Union.
Once I got to be a teenager though, the reality of the expense of getting a pilot’s licence started to seem very daunting. I was able to do a fair bit of flying and gliding for free with the Air Cadets, but even a Private Pilot Licence seemed a long way away. Amazingly flight sim ended up being of great help with this too, as after appearing as a guest on the then popular FSBreak podcast, I netted a job offer from a co-host. I should explain here that for flight simulators, third party content plays a far more prominent role than it does for just about any other game. It’s extremely common for users to spend hundreds of pounds on additional aircraft, scenery and utilities modifying everything down to how the game keeps time.
In my case, I was writing scripts for a company called Angle of Attack, who provided video training for some of the more complex aircraft DLCs of the day. This had me poring through real world 737 documentation to turn it into something watchable and hopefully enjoyable for the average user. Crucially for me, it earned me enough money to start taking flying lessons.
Since money was the limiting factor on how much I could fly, I was usually pretty determined to find ways of making more, and having learned to build PCs from watching LTT proved to be a way. I’d met many people through the flight sim community who wanted something optimised for the game, and it was easy to considerably undercut established builders who made PCs marketed to simmers and still turn a profit. I thought it might tickle anyone from LMG reading this to know, you essentially paid for one of my most memorable training flights – my first solo cross-country flight from Blackbushe, Surrey to Goodwood, West Sussex back in 2014.
After working on my private licence at the local flying club, I was accepted onto an airline’s cadet programme to earn my commercial licence. I’ve been flying the Airbus A320 family since late 2017 and earned my Airline Transport Pilot’s Licence at the beginning of this year (for North Americans reading this, you can fly performance class A (equivalent to part 121) aircraft in Europe on a CPL).
The short version of this then, and what I’m really trying to say is that whilst flight simulators can simply be fun in the same way as any other PC game, they can also be a fair bit more than that. As is so often the case, I think you absolutely nailed it with your hot-take on the WAN show.
As a closing note, I’d just like to say thank you. I remember in your vlog on your thoughts about retiring, you mentioned that you sometimes question how meaningful your work is. For what it’s worth, in my case I think it was instrumental in getting to where I’ve always wanted to be in life.
I don't dislike consoles. I dislike the disguising of PCs as consoles when in a perfect wold we could just have every game for every platform.
I dislike the locked-down nature of a console compared to a PC. What if I don't WANT to use a PS4 controller? What if I want to spend more and get better graphical fidelity? I'd much rather have a Nintendo Switch++ and run BotW at 60FPS... but I can't because console.
So yeah, there are things I dislike about them but I also see the purpose of different products in the marketplace and I'm not blinded by my hatred or them or anything.
I bought a switch not long ago and I and my kids do more console gaming together than PC gaming at the moment.