Microsoft Flight Simulator Presentation from FlightSimExpo 2023 Transcription


Evan Reiter, co-founder, FlightSimExpo - So, we are – I mean, this room is completely full. There are more people in this room than attended our last show in San Diego. We’re so grateful to have y’all here. But you don’t want to hear from me! Obviously, you want to hear from these gentlemen who are right beside us. For the first time, we are so excited to have the Microsoft Flight Simulator team here, both for this reveal, as well as exhibitors over the next two days. You’ll be able to meet the team, you’ll be able to see an incredible booth in the center of one of our hangars. So I think with that in mind, I think I’m going to hand things over to you. You ready?


Jorg - Alright. How do you say in Texas? “Howdy, y’all?”


Jorg - How’s it going? So, I’m Jorg Neumann, I’m the head of Microsoft Flight Simulator.

Seb - Hello. I’m Sebastian, CEO of Asobo Studio.

Jorg - Yeah, we’re super excited to be here. As Evan and I were talking over the years, we’ve tried to be here before. And when this thing happened, this called pandemic – and thank God it’s over – so super happy to meet you guys and we are planning to come in the years to come. So…

Thank You


Jorg - Okay, so the first thing (multiple computers, this is going to be interesting), I want to say thank you, or we want to say thank you for entrusting us with your hobby. Those who joined our platform, for the content creators that blow us away every single week when you make new addons. There’s like 3000 now, which blew our minds. Really, we were not really prepared for this, as you might have seen in the Marketplace a little bit.

Jorg - Thank you, also, for the people like Nicki [Repenning, CEO, Honeycomb Aeronautical], that make awesome addons and peripherals. Thank you for streamers. Thank you for the people that cover flight simming every single day. I read most of your websites every day and I think it’s inspiring. So, and then, really, thank you to the people that help us with flighting. It’s a big deal for us. We could not get what we’re getting done without you guys. And so, thank you for that. And…

40 Years Young!


Jorg - Just real quick. Microsoft Flight Simulator: Just a perspective. It’s been 40 years. We’ve met 40 million people in doing that. And what’s remarkable about this last 3 or 2½ years is just how much it has accelerated, this flight sim that we launched in 2020. (By the way, I’ll start with this: You guys called it “Flight Sim 2020” all the time. We’ve tried to not say that. But now we’ve adopted it, so from here on in this presentation, I’m going to say, “Flight Sim 2020!”) Okay, so Flight Sim 2020, it has now reached 12 million people.


Jorg - And just to compare, FSX [Flight Simulator X], it took FSX, I think, 16 years to get to 5 million. So it’s an explosion in the flight sim hobby. And obviously, it starts with you. It starts with the core simmers. And again, I want to say thank you to be so tolerant, for all the people that came in. We obviously showed up as an Xbox event. (You know, “What the hell is an Xbox event?”) But it brought people to the hobby. And you guys were open, you invited them in, and many of them stayed, and thank you for that.


Jorg - And then, we said a bunch of things. We said, “We’re going to continue to update.” (That’s one of the topics. We read the forums.) We said, “We’re going to continue to update.” I said ten years. Many reasons why I said ten years. But I just want to go through it. So, we launched in 2020 on PC. Then, we came out on Xbox. Then, we did this Game of the Year thing simply to celebrate. We won a bunch of awards, which is awesome. So we made, I think we gave away five planes or something. And then last year was the 40th anniversary. So we made another edition. And then, also, (different slide deck), we also promised monthly updates. And it’s been 33 months and we’ve done 33 updates! (And I was too lazy, really, to put all the pictures on here because it would have been tiny.) But trust me, it’s been 33. And we are continuing to go do that, in years to come.


MSFS Microsoft Team


Jorg - And, just, because this is the first time we meet. (Hopefully we meet in the next few days in person.) This is the Flight Simulator team at the global preview event. When we gave – the first time we gave a little bit more detail. And I just wanted to show you the humans behind all this. This is us at Oshkosh [EAA AirVenture] having a good time. This is some of us at the – this is the Spruce Goose behind us. This is at the global preview – the 40th anniversary event just in Oregon, just we had the other day.

Attendee - [unintelligible]

Jorg - What what?

Attendee - Where’s Jayne?

Jorg - “Where’s Jayne?” Uhh, you know, let’s talk about it later. Let’s move on!


Jorg - And, this is a brand-new picture. So, Asobo, Seb’s company, has grown a lot! Like so, when we started, I think there were maybe 100 people on the team or so? Now it’s 175. This is a picture as of yesterday. So you can see, we continue to grow the team because Flight Sim is basically a big hit! So, I think that’s good for all of us.

Partner Teams


Jorg - And then, I wanted to give a call-out for partner teams. I was thinking about [not] showing this slide because there’s more than I’m showing. But these are the people we’ve worked with publicly, and it means a ton to us, because they bring in expertise, passion, knowledge of decades. And some of them make aircraft that are wonderful:

  • Some of them help us, like GAYA and Orbx help us with airports and world updates.
  • Two companies you might not know, Maxar and Vexcel, are actually a big deal. (I’ll talk about this a little bit later.)
  • And then there’s Working Title. I think you all know who they are! Fantastic group of people helping the sim a lot. And also growing a lot.

Jorg - Alright, and then there’s something you probably don’t care about that much, but it’s important to me:

  • So, without Bing Maps, we really wouldn’t have this digital twin that we have.
  • Azure is critical to streaming and to do machine learning.
  • And Cognitive Services is important. It’s gonna gain importance in the next sim. You’ll see.

Flight Simulator 2024


Jorg - And then, obviously, we just announced this! Woohoo!


Jorg - So, we kind of did what we did in 2019. We went to an Xbox event, and I – just to give you perspective, there’s tens of millions, many, many tens of millions of people watching these things. It’s good for our hobby to show up in these places. So that’s why we did that. But what we showed was…would called “paper thin.” Right? It was basically some activities, and some of you correctly asked, “Well, what the heck is this?” “Is this just an acceleration pack or some such thing?” It’s like, “Nope nope nope nope.” This is the biggest undertaking ever in flight simulation. No doubt about it. And we’re going to talk about this now a little bit more.

Focus 1: Aviation Activity System


Jorg - The focus 1 – we had to prioritize – was aviation activities. So what’s interesting – and these are the ones we showed in the trailer, by the way – what’s interesting about the 12 million people is that we think about 3 million are core simmers, 3 million of them are core gamers, and the rest of them are more casual people. And what was fascinating…so we polled a bunch of things and like, “What we thought we could do?” Everybody – the one common thing of all of these people was that people wanted more stuff to do. That is why we said, “Okay. Cool, fair enough. Let’s go make things like that.” But, we are not a game. So we are not making gamey-type missions at all. What we’re doing is accurate aviation activities. We’re working with lots of organizations across the planet that do these things…that do firefighting, that do search and rescue. And this will be what this is. That’s is why we call it “choose your pilot lifestyle.” This is the pilot lifestyle. This is what people really do.

Jorg - And then some people have asked, “Hey, the trailer doesn’t show any airliners.” That is true. (Or well, I mean, I would argue that [the Airbus] Beluga could be. But, you know, whatever.) There are going to be a lot of airliners. Trust me. Not announced yet, but you’re gonna be happily surprised, I think, when we get to the whole plane list.

Jorg - Okay. So we are the design side, I would say. Constantly asking for more and more stuff. You are also asking for more and more things. That puts some pressure on technology, quite frankly. And Seb is here to talk about the tech updates that we’re doing.

Focus 2: Core Sim & Technology


Seb - Hello. So, as Jorg said, 33 updates, more and more stuff are coming into the sim.

Thin client


Seb - So, one of the biggest priorities for us was to make the client thinner. When I read about people using the sim, the first thing they say: “Okay, it took a day to download. And there are so many updates to do, and it’s filling all my hard drive.” When we started with 2020, we thought, “Okay, the world is mainly in the cloud. There’s 2 petabytes or more of data in there. It’s cool: The client is going to stay thin.” And then we added planes and world updates, and stuff is coming in. And it’s getting bigger and bigger. And so, we had to do something to basically allow the sim to continue to grow and make it fit on the computer for people. So we’re completely changing the architecture of the sim to make it so the client is going to come thinner and thinner. That more and more stuff is going to go up to the cloud just like, currently we have the terrain data and all that stuff in the cloud. So what is gonna happen is that, people who will launch the sim are only gonna download what they need. They are not gonna download all sorts of textures that are never gonna be displayed. They’re all – for example, for world updates, most of the stuff you download, you will never, ever see. Here, the sim is gonna look at what you really need and only download that. We even changed the texture system so that only the mipmap levels that are needed are downloaded and not like full 8K textures, if it’s 8K textures.

Seb - So this is gonna reduce the footprint on the hard drive. This is gonna significantly reduce the Internet download use. Maybe not while you play. But during the installation and all the updates, it’s gonna be much, much lower. It’s gonna reduce installation time, update time, loading time, everything is – I mean, Marketplace download time. Everything is gonna be faster. Also, it’s gonna help us with the min spec. As we move forward, we wanna make sure the min spec stays low, it stays the same, and that everybody can launch the sim. And this is gonna help keep the people with the low hard drive being able to launch the sim and have all the – enjoy all the world updates, everything that’s in there.

Seb - And we’re doing all this while staying backwards compatible. We’re keeping the same old Community folder. Everything’s still going to work. Addons are still gonna work. It’s just that we’re moving more of our stuff up in the cloud.

New physics & aerodynamics engine


Seb - And we also have had a lot of requests on the physics simulation, on the aerodynamics simulation. All the new activities and all the new aircraft coming in need a lot of improvements on the simulation. And basically, when we look at where FSX was, it was just a single point in the center of the aircraft with a bunch of tables. With MSFS 2020, we changed that to have a lot of surfaces that cover the aircraft. But we exposed very little control: Aircraft makers could just tune a little bit of the size of the aircraft, wingspan, a few parameters. But they couldn’t really control where the surfaces were. We did that once for standard aircraft, with a single wing, single fuselage, and that was it.

Seb - So now, what we’re doing is we’re giving all the control to the aircraft makers. They can really control exactly where they want to put surfaces. They can do all that by themselves, if they want. Also, we’re creating templates, which makes it easier to make aircraft. So that basically, you can reuse a fuselage that exists. There are different types of fuselages. You can put 1, 2, 3, 4, 10 wings, any kind. Or you can make your own stuff, completely. The engine has been rewritten for massive performance improvements, so it’s gonna be multi-threaded on a different core. It’s going to go away from the main frame in terms of all the physics and aerodynamics. So massive performance improvements. It’s gonna handle rigid soft bodies, tissues, rope, and so for example, for the – you’ve seen there’s going to be balloon activities. Also, for when the helicopter has the rope with pulling the cargo, this is all done with the sim, and it’s something you can author and use with the simulator now.

Seb - And everything is easy, so it’s backwards-compatible. Aircraft still work. And it’s also easy to upgrade. If you just want to pick one little improvement, you don’t have to redo your whole – there’s not like something like a version 1, or version 2, and then you have to redo everything. It does exactly the same thing, but you can pick and add new things, and then slowly can take out old things, or you could redo it entirely, if you want.

Seb - And so, I have a little example video here. This is the Cessna [172] in 2020. And this is the Cessna, which is gonna come in the new sim. Here is the body of the [Guimbal] Cabri. Basically, I just quickly used the new system to make the fuselage more accurate. Right? That’s just using the system and I did this in five minutes, really. Just putting surfaces where I wanted. A lot of control and very easy to do.

Balloon physics


Seb - So, using the new surfaces, you can do balloon physics. You can – I mean, I’m not gonna show this, but you can do parachutes, you can do banners, you can do something like the yaw string (little string on the helicopter). You can just add a string and it’s going to be physically simulated and accurate. Using the CFD [computational fluid dynamics] and all the airwash is going to be exactly simulated.

Seb - Here’s a little demo of a prototype of the balloon. So the balloon is not shown as going to be a mesh. It’s gonna inflate, deflate, having all the realistic – like when you turn on the heater. And so, all that is gonna be simulated, if users want to do that part. Though, the pressure is simulated, density. It really inflates the balloon. Depending on how it’s stitched together, here, it just – show you what happens if you – like, let’s say you let the heat go, and how it falls. So the aerodynamic simulation of these surfaces is the same as on the aircraft, really. And so, we have this really, very realistic airflow. And also, you can see there are self collisions: All the surfaces touch. I mean, they don’t just go collide – they don’t go through each other. They just collide, as they should. And voilà.

New & improved systems


Seb - And so –


Seb - And so, we also have a lot of – we have a lot of requests on all the other systems. So I’m not gonna go into deep detail right now on all this, but we have the teams working on pretty much every system to make them better. And so, yeah. Quickly gonna [go] through them, but:

  • Electric, pneumatic, fuel, hydraulics.
  • Important we have a failure and wear and tear system. So planes get dirty and all that stuff.
  • Payload, passenger.
  • A lot of deeper and wider avionics packages.
  • Important, at the last, EFB: Cockpit tablet by default on all aircraft. That’s really cool.

Seb - And yeah, so in order to do all that, Jorg showed a team photo. Our team grew really big. We had a lot of specialists, pilots, and even an excellent aerodynamics engineer who worked on one of the best simulators there is out there. Andrey [Solomykin], who is going to help me more and more on all these systems. And so, yeah, we’re doing a lot of stuff and a lot of improvements in this new sim.


Focus 3: Digital Twin


Jorg - Alright! And, the third focus area is the digital twin, for a variety of reasons: We can now land everywhere. And people actually want to see nice ground terrain. So there are a couple of things in the trailer that I want to explain. So this is the Grand Canyon, obviously. And, it’s actually something that’s like, kind of an invention. Like this, nobody’s done that before. Like, we’ve – you know, we have these TIN [triangular irregular network] cities. (I don’t know how much you follow our stuff.) But anyways, photogrammetry, so we figured out a way how to get photogrammetry for [the] countryside. This is 15 cm. Looks great from here, I think. But I wanted to show you what Asobo’s gonna be doing on top of that.

Jorg - So this is also just random TIN somewhere in southern France. We do machine learning in Azure. We’re detecting all kinds of surfaces. In this case, bushes and trees. Once we know that, we flatten those and bushes and trees 'cause they’re ugly. And we replace them with our own. So then, you have 3D. Then, we add rocks. I don’t know if you saw that, but they’re obviously too dark, so we’re looking at the color of the underground and adjust them. And then, we add surface material detail maps, and then later we’re going to add tessellation. And with that, we think we’ll have a world that looks pretty ■■■■ good.


Jorg - And this thing is another – heh, so I saw the trailer breakdowns. (Very impressive! Lots of attention was given.) So, you saw Kilimanjaro is different. And one of the issues with photogrammetry is, you have to basically get airplanes over terrain and that means you have to go talk to governments and stuff for approval. And you can’t get that worldwide. It’s impossible. So, we invented something new. And we call that 3D out of 2D. So this Mt. Kilimanjaro comes out of satellite imagery, which means we can go anywhere. And we can go 50 cm. Not quite as good, just because of optics. But it’s still really impressive. So our advancement in areas that we couldn’t get to before is going to be significant, coming up.

Our world is your playground

Static world


Jorg - And then, just a couple of other things: What are we doing with the – we divide the world into three areas: Static, dynamic, and living. So, static world improved ground details we just talked about. Tessellation of ground materials will be great. Enhanced tree diversity: You’ve seen it in the trailer if you paid a little bit of attention: There’s 3D trees. There’s gonna be lots and lots of different 3D trees. Gone are the days where our trees are too tall, or they’re all the wrong trees, like some pine trees somewhere on some island in the Pacific, doesn’t quite work. So that’s all gonna be better. And then, also, improved cliffs: That comes from resolution.

Dynamic world


Jorg - Then the dynamic world, you saw four seasons. We actually – because I saw some comments about seasons that we promised in Flight Sim 2020 (See? There, I said it: “2020”!) we’re actually talking about maybe doing this. Because with 2D trees that we have, it’s not that cool, honestly, because there’s only that much you can do. With 3D trees, you can do a lot more. 3D trees can shed their leaves, yada yada yada yada. Anyways, so we’re going to bring four seasons definitely to 2024, and looking into can we somehow do a back-port or something into 2020? And then big things like aurora borealis (also for the southern one), tornadoes, supercells, storms will be improved. So, tons of stuff in the dynamic world.

Living world


Jorg - And then in the living world, we’re making big investments to make it really truly – we tried in 2020, but it’s…you know, if you played it, there were like little elephants over here and stuff like that. Wasn’t exactly awesome. So, we are bringing tons, now, to this new sim. We’re also going to have worldwide ship traffic. That’s a new system. Obviously, we can land on some ships, so that’s gonna be kind of cool. On the accuracy of the live air traffic, we are modeling like crazy. The passive – what we call “passive planes”, basically air traffic. And we’re also trying to get as many liveries as we can. We’re making progress. So you will see a much more realistic air traffic than what we have right now. And then, there are also improvements being made to the vehicle traffic.



Jorg - Alright! So that was all we wanted to say today about Flight Sim 2024. So maybe to summarize, this is the biggest sim ever made. It has over 500 people on it. We’re gonna look at every single system and it’s nothing like a mission disc from, you know, acceleration days. So, just be aware and you heard from Seb why we’re doing it: We are butting up to what we can technically do with the sim that we have. That’s why it’s there. Okay? Alright!

Famous Flyer 06: Ford 4-AT Trimotor


Jorg - So then, when I talked to Evan about coming to Houston, he said, “Hey, can you announce something?” And I said, “Well…” I didn’t tell him, but I knew that we would announce [Flight Simulator 2024] at the E3 – the Xbox Showcase thingie, so I came up with some other stuff. So, today, as a matter of fact, right at this moment, we’re launching the Ford Trimotor. [applause] I have a little trailer. Whee! (I think I have a trailer! There we go. There might be audio.)

Note: The team experienced technical difficulties at this point. View the full trailer here:

Skipping ahead beyond the technical difficulties (24:36):

Jorg - How about this? We’ll move on! Anyways, the number one thing to say is (am I still on?), the number one thing to say is, the Trimotor is available right now. And because we’re here, for the first week, it’ll be free.


Jorg - Look at the beautiful trailer. Oh well, whatever. Okay!

City Update 03: Texas


Jorg - So, then, the other thing was, so I was sitting there. Evan wants me to announce something. So I cooked up City Update: Texas. [applause] Why not? And here’s some of the cities: I know everybody heard about Abilene! Abilene, Austin, Cedar Park (riveting – Dustin was…lived there), San Antonio, Schertz, Temple, and Waco! Woohoo!

Jorg - Anyways, so, this is – by the way, I lived in Texas for 13 years. Did I tell you this? So, this is coming out next Friday, on the 29th. But, it’s playable on the show floor here. So if you want to check out Texas, do it!


Local Legend 10: Boeing 307 Stratoliner


Jorg - And then, one last thing: World updates and city updates come with local legends. There’s a new local legend. We’re announcing the 307 Stratoliner from Aeroplane Heaven.

Closing Remarks


Jorg - Alright! And that’s all we had. Thank you for listening to all this. We’re looking forward to meeting at least some of you, maybe all of you (don’t know), in the next few days. And, thanks so much!