Full Flight Simulators vs Game Simulators


Disclaimer: First of all, sorry for saying that our lovely MSFS ist just an “game”, but I need one term to distinguished MSFS and Full Flight Simulators (FFS). Next, I’m working in the IT Industry, but I’m certainly not a game developer. Next next, I’m mainly focusing on airliners here, and personally I’m mostly flying the A320 FBW.

So, I recently stumbled over @Iceman2152798 posts on den dev portal about flight models, where he mentioned the wording “blade element”. I had no clue what it was, but so far I understood that X-Plane uses blade elements for their flight model, while MSFS does…something not so sophisticated or we actually don’t know?

Nevermind. What puzzles me is that there are real pilots that say X-Plane is realistic, some say MSFS (…of course by using some mods like FBW) is realistic. And then we have Full Flight Simulators, these multi millions worth simulators used by the airlines to train their pilots. That raises some questions in my head, and maybe somebody has an answer to that:

  1. What is the key difference in terms of flight models between FFS and game simulators like MSFS? Just on software level, so except the obvious stuff like the hydraulics and staff. I can imagine that an FFS uses multiple “PC’s” like a real Airplane does, but I’m not sure.
  2. If Airplane Manufactures can create these FFS, what is needed to “just” port that to a game simulator like MSFS? Is it in the end just not possible because of the hardware resources a typical sim gamer might have? Is it about the usual PC software stack (Windows) and it’s supported programming languages? Is the difference between FFS and game simulators just about who is smarter on creating a “mini” flight model, which is to x% as realistic as an FFS?

Thanks in advance!



Oddly, you will find many, many aircrew who say that even a full level D simulator for all its millions of pounds, dollars, etc. handles nothing like the real thing. These things are done by the book to get precise operating points “by the numbers” but lack the feel and character of the genuine article. Nonetheless, I would love one. Have a look at the CKAS motionsim 6 for a slightly more compact version. Alas, I couldn’t fit one of these into my home office either.


So the only way to really simulate flying a plane is finally buying my first pre-owned 737 (but an older generation model, these are cheaper.)

Well let´s wait until the legendary Fenix Airbus is released, these developers have so much attention to detail I am sure this one will truly handle like the real thing - with zero compromises.

And sorry I cannot answer your main question because I have no knowledge how the physics engine is programmed and how it behaves.

This, sadly is a topic that has gotten way too much attention for the wrong reasons. I suggest you look at this thread here: MSFS has the most advanced flight model? - Microsoft Flight Simulator (2020) - The AVSIM Community

It will answer most questions for you in detail. Remember though: No simulator is “realistic” at the end of the day. Sitting in front of a computer, on a chair that doesn’t move, looking at a virtual representation of a cockpit while sipping a coffe and missing gravitational forces acting on your body, is not “flying”, it’s procedure training at the very best. Of course 3rd party aircraft get the “numbers” right a lot more than stock aircraft. Ultimately it depends on who created the add-on you use, and how much detail went into it, together with what YOU feel is most “accurate”. Again though, take this whole “accuracy” thing with a grain of salt…none of the sims is perfect, they’re all approximations at the very best, and armchair pilots that never sat in a real cockpit seem to take this topic way more seriously than actual professionals, that should tell you something :wink: I saw a video a while ago on youtube, where a really experienced simmer tried to fly a GA aircraft after spending thousands of hours in the sim. He wasn’t even close to landing that thing, and he said that real flying and the sim are completely different (oh really?? :sweat_smile:)


For as long as almost every single airline pilot is trained in a full motion simulator I’m convinced that those simulators are precise enough to approach the thrill of real life flights.


Well, at least they simulate motion…

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And yet companies like PMDG are going full in on MSFS. Still not sure why you need to be so verbal over something you are not happy with,and spend your time on this forum, with unfounded statements everywhere.


I also heard one of the real pilots (at least that’s what he told on YT section) saying that MSFS gives him motion sickness because there the cockpit moves left and right, up and down while turning the aircraft unlike the X-Plane and apparently the real life where cockpit stands still and it’s horizont what moves instead. He also belives it is something that is so hardcoded that the MSFS Developers won’t be able to change it anymore.

I am not sure how true it is, but considering the fact that some of the plane crashes were due the pilot disorientation and not even realizing that they are turning and banking I bet this saying about Cockpit vs Horizont turning makes perfect sense.

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Could you add a source? Hearing someone saying is a bit vague.

So it’s a pilot that is a developer at Asobo or how could they make such assumptions?
I’d say Asobo pretty much has control over how much a camera is moving in the cockpit. “Hardcoded” is exactly that - it’s coded and can be changed. Most engines do these things using parameters which can be tweaked instead of “hardcoding” it.

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I could try to dig it up, but it was literally months ago… so I doubt my efforts will be fruitful.

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How can you claim Xplane is that when even GTA has a better implementation of weather? I’ve never flown IRL and in clear skies and suddenly a storm plops out of nowhere. Xplanes thermal model is also extremely simplified.

Both MSFS and Xplane have their strengths and weaknesses in terms of being “realistic sims”,if we have to categorize things.


Flight simulators all work the same way. You describe an aircraft in a file, and the simulator creates a world in which to simulate your aircraft. If you do it correctly, you get a nice illusion of flying. Contrast this to the old Falcon4 game which was not a flight simulator, but an F-16 simulator. If you recall, the community added more aircraft to that game by reskinning the F-16 flight model. In a flight simulator like X-Plane, for example, each aircraft is simulated uniquely based on your description. I hope this helps.

Go to the X-Plane forums and you’ll have people bagging the living daylights out of it for inaccuracies. Go to the DCS forums and you’ll have people bagging the living daylights out of it for its inaccuracies. Go to the IL2 forums and people will be bagging the daylights out of it for its inaccuracies. And here we are on the MSFS forum with people bagging the living daylights out of it for its inaccuracies.

Believe me. I own them all and go to all the forums. If you want to hear how fantastic your sim of choice is… go to some “other” forum to hear all about it. :slight_smile:


It is a solute necessary to have pilots on staff that are First in Command over engineers, developers, etc. I am talking about a military pilot, bush pilot, airline pilot, GA pilots, each to help these people connect with the community pilots and not gamers for the PC version. If u want XBOX version, well just develop for their need separately. Their are shooting themselves in the foot and diservicing both of their bases. It’s obvious the senior management are not in it for us.

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With multi-million dollar simulators, you’re paying for the hardware. For that much, you get 6-dof motion and an enclosed, accurate cockpit of a single aircraft. OTOH, one can purchase a generic flight sim which includes a cockpit with real instruments for less than $100K.

But for $60 and a few gaming peripherals, I wonder what some people are expecting.


$60, I don’t think many people here paid $60. Do keep in mind it’s not just the software. I am at least $2000, not to mention some people maybe taking blood pressure medication which to has a cost, lol.

Trust me, no IT project will get finished if you let people do decisions not knowing anything about project management and software development.
Having a tight integration of experts in the project? Sure, but that is already the case as far as I know.
Having experts managing a multi-million dollar project? You’re well advised not to do that.

Not saying the current project management is working well or anything, but asking for pilots to be first in command should really be something for the real cockpits, not software projects.


Even the President needs an advisor. How can u develop something when u don’t know a darn thing about weather, for example? It’s complex and different phases of flight have to be explained to developers so their technical mind understand.

The base version, which includes the full sim, is $60. You can ‘fly’ it with the keyboard. Peripherals and add-ons are not part of the basic sim, merely enhancements.

Thus, your point, whatever it is, is moot. :wink:

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I challenge u to do a survey on the cost ?