with Bruce Williams, Product
Planner: Microsoft Flight Simulator 2002
How long has Microsoft Flight Simulator 2002 been in development?
We're always working on the next version of
Flight Simulator. We've been working on it since we released
Simulator 2000. But it's hard to say when a new
project really starts.
Some members of the team start
working on the next version before the current version is
finished. Other members
come on board after development
Will there be two different versions of Microsoft Flight
Simulator 2002 as there was with the last release?
Yes. Flight Simulator
2002 and Flight Simulator 2002 Professional Edition will both be
available in stores simultaneously this fall. We'll announce specific
on-shelf dates later. The standard version is designed primarily for
casual users who enjoy learning the basics of flying and exploring a
realistic world from the cockpit of an airplane. Flight Simulator 2002
Professional Edition includes extra features and additional aircraft
that appeal to enthusiasts who want to fly a wider variety of aircraft
and to customize and expand Flight Simulator. Professional Edition is
also aimed at pilots who want to use Flight Simulator as a training aid
and proficiency tool.
additional features will they differ?
The Professional Edition includes all the
features in Flight Simulator 2002, plus:
Two additional aircraft, the Raytheon
(Beech) Baron 58 piston twin and the Cessna Grand Caravan on wheels IFR
training panels for the C172S, C182S, Mooney Bravo, and Baron 58. gMax,
a tool for creating 3D objects. It's based on 3D Studio Max from
An instructor's station. It's a special
screen that allows one "instructor" to monitor another Flight
Simulator pilot over a LAN or the Internet. The instructor can change
the weather, fail the engine and other systems, and, by watching the
position of the other aircraft on a moving map, even issue vectors like
an air traffic controller. An updated Flight Dynamics Editor, a
tool for modifying the flight characteristics of aircraft.
How many new aircraft will be
included in this release?
Flight Simulator 2002
includes three new airplanes:
* Cessna 208 Caravan on Amphibious Floats
* Boeing 747-400
* Cessna 172S Skyhawk SP
Of the new ones, which is your favorite thus far?
The Caravan on floats is a lot of fun because
it brings the world of float plane flying to Flight Simulator for the
first time. The 747 is probably the most-requested airplane in the
history of Flight Simulator, so I think a lot of people will enjoy
flying that jumbo.
Will all the past planes be included in this
of the existing aircraft except Concorde will be included in Flight
Is the default airport (even though it can be changed), Meigs in Chicago
Bruce Williams: We
haven't decided what the default airport will be.
What will Microsoft Flight Simulator 2002
have over the previous version?
The main new features are interactive air
traffic control, air traffic in the skies, auto-gen scenery, new virtual
cockpits with working instruments, flight analysis, a variety of special
effects (contrails, smoke from the tires on touchdown, water splashes on
the floatplane, cool lighting effects,
etc.), and a bunch of new lessons and flights. We've really tried to
make this new version come alive for Flight Simulator pilots. You'll see
and hear other airplanes in the sky, and the added detail from auto-gen
scenery really makes the world seem interactive and busy.
have the graphics been improved? Has Microsoft zeroed in on certain areas?
We've dramatically improved the visual appearance of the scenery. As
mentioned above, auto-gen is the most dramatic development. As you
fly above cities, towns, farmland, and dramatic landscapes, Flight
Simulator adds buildings and vegetation appropriate to the terrain and
geographic region around you. Office buildings, factories, homes,
farmhouses, and trees smoothly blend in at the horizon and fill the
entire area with detail that adds unprecedented depth and reality to
Flight Simulator no matter where you fly.
So even when you're outside the
detailed scenery areas where we've manually placed custom objects, you
see buildings, trees, etc. that add depth, a sense of speed, and
heightened realism. A 3D graphics card is required for this feature, and
you can adjust the density of the auto-gen scenery to best suit your
system. But we've also overhauled the ground textures for all the
scenery, added stunning new lighting effects, improved coastlines and
of the new features recently announced is an interactive Air Traffic
Control? How will this add in the user's realistic experience?
ATC adds a level of realism-you can ask for and receive clearances to
taxi, takeoff, land, etc. It also adds to the ambiance-you hear other
pilots in the sky. That's a dimension that's been missing in previous
far do you think Microsoft Flight Simulator has been improved since
earlier versions, ie FS 4.0?
The world has changed a lot since Flight Simulator 4.0 was released in
the last century. Flight Simulator 2002 reflects developments that have
taken place since then. It retains the core values that have always made
Flight Simulator the leader-realism, depth, breadth-but it brings
unprecedented details to the product. It makes the world come alive.
Flight Simulator is one of the (if not the most) popular games Microsoft
releases. How do you expect this version will be accepted by the gaming
The reaction so far indicates it's the most eagerly anticipated release
in the history of the product.
a long time Flight Simulator fan, I have many favorite aspects of this
product. What is your favorite part of this great game?
It's hard to pick one feature or part of the product. I've been a pilot
for more than 25 years, and I like flying all types of airplanes, doing
aerobatics, flying IFR, making short Saturday afternoon flights and long
cross-country trips. I enjoy doing the same things in Flight
Some days I feel like flying an
airliner. Other times, I want zoom around in the Extra or practice
instrument flying in the Mooney. And sometimes, I just like to enjoy the
view on a sightseeing flight. Flight Simulator 2002 just gives me more
choices-like floatplane flying-to enjoy.
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