The Joy of Flight Simulation (Hint it is not chasing FPS)

I see so many posts on these forums and across the internet about the state of the game and people’s level of satisfaction with MSFS2020. It usually starts along the lines of “I can’t get 60+ FPS on Ultra settings, the aircraft are completely unflyable”. Then good people, who have been around for awhile, try to help out by explaining that “the software is a very complex simulation, there are many factors that influence performance, and that no hardware is capable” etc etc etc… We have all read the posts. Ultimately though, I don’t think these posters get their sims “working any better”, and the well meaning people who respond get frustrated that these ‘complainers’ can’t appreciate the software for what it is and the potential of MSFS2020 as a simulation platform.

It is my contention that there is real joy to be gained from a simulation genre game like MSFS2020 that starts before the software is ever started up. To me flight simulation is a hobby and the joy comes from continually learning and trying to simulate/emulate what I have learned, within a simulator platform, and currently MSFS2020 does an amazing job of simulating real world scenery, aircraft and weather conditions in an immersive and performant way - and it is just going to keep getting better as the software and available hardware evolves.

More important than demanding that the “Devs” increase FPS on ultra settings for your particular rig that “runs Call of Duty like a superstar”, is the appreciation that one can (and in my opinion should strive to) spend tens or even hundreds of hours over a lifetime, reviewing and learning about flight planning, weather conditions, navigation, reviewing charts, VFR sectionals, IFR procedures, airport procedures, aircraft handling procedures, checklists, fuel requirements, emergency procedures, air traffic control procedures, radio phraseology to name just a few topics.

There is literally thousands of hours of joy to be had before the actual simulation begins, and the FPS for this is completely irrelevant. What matters is your attitude to learning something new and interesting, having a curious mind and being willing to discover all of the (mostly free) real world resources at your disposal to enhance the realism of your simulation experience.

Now you might say, but that’s too hard core, I payed $100 bucks for the game and all I want to do is load up in a 747 and buzz Central Park at 50 feet, or land on top of the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore with my xbox live buddies doing barrel rolls, and that’s ok, you do you! But, if you take away one piece of advice from this post, please realise that for some, that is just where the flight sim bug bites and there is literally a whole world to explore in and outside of the sim.

Once you have taken the time to tune your setup for smoothness and learned a bit about real world procedures, you will be so immersed in the simulation that you will not care about the frame rate.


Very well said.

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Nicely put, and I think it’s important to distinguish between FPS goals and optimisation. It’s realistic to think that there is still some work that can be done to optimise performance, but to set out to try and ensure that everyone can play the game at 60 FPS on ultra in any location across the world is not.

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This is all well and good but many of the actual simulation aspects you describe are currently incorrect in the simulator.

Which leaves us with an uncomfortable half-game half-simulator, which is poorly optimized.

It’s no fun to spend tons of hours digging into the real world stuff only to find that the Asobo1000 doesn’t function anything like a real Garmin G1000…that aircraft have way slower cruise speeds or less range then the should, invalidating your planning…that the headings on all localizers are locked to the runway headings, invalidating real world IFR chats for many airports with offset localizers…that the live weather still has bugs with altitude above sea level vs altitude above ground level, resulting in incorrect outside temperature and wind conditions wherever the terrain is high…that basic stick and rudder behavior like adverse yaw is totally absent…that your paid $250+ for Honeycomb peripherals which are advertised as “100% compatible” in an official MSFS Partnership video, but actually have issues with the heading, altitude, etc knobs which can only be solved with additional 3rd party software…

With the simulation aspects of this simulator so compromised, what is left is the visuals and flying around in the external view looking at stuff. Which requires a good framerate. And the most recent update trashed the terrain data adding spikes all over the world which compromise even the visuals.


You’re wrong. First, this is a game, not a flight simulator. I only fly GA aircraft and the flight model is wrong, Try slow flight in a Cessna and see how much rudder you need and you will get the idea. Something as basic as a carb heat isn’t modeled. Trimming an AC is an exercise in futility.

Second FPS is not an issue at least to me.


Well, I’m not having any of those problems,

I don’t know what you mean carb heat isn’t modeled, when I do a runup in the C172, I lose about the same RPM as I do in the Warriors I fly. Did you mean mixture? Yeah, that seems to still be messed up a bit. But they are aware of it.

Trimming works just dandy for me since I repurposed the throttle slider on my Logitech Extreme3D Pro as the trim wheel. Yeah, trying to use buttons was a lesson in futility for trim, but, trim works great in the sim if properly set.

Sorry, I don’t normally expect PC flight sim games to model the edges of flight modeling perfectly. That you can almost get there says something for it.

I would say to tell the OP he’s wrong is a bit uncalled for. 1. There are thousands of hours of fun to be had here, 2. His real main point was regarding those people who spend multiple thousands of dollars on a PC, crank every slider to the right, including render scaling for a 4K monitor, and then whine when they can’t get 60+ fps. So to extend it into other subjects, well, I don’t know what that’s about.

While you’re right, the sim isn’t a perfectly designed multi-million dollar flight simulator, I’m pretty sure that’s to be expected and it can be fun if you try to have fun.


I have yet to find a single logo, splash screen, or marketing piece that says, “Microsoft Flight Game, 2020.”


[Edit: I did not intend to derail the OP’s thread, as he has some excellent perspective on things, and I believe I was one of the first to read/like the post. But this “Game vs. Simulator” argument just gets to me… that’s all. Sorry @YouGoSon. ]


Right, The word says it all, a simulation tries to recreate reality within the boundaries of the current technology. With this title we have have come far in the few decades the genre excist. Still not perfect, will never be…


I think fit for purpose is how I would describe the current state of the ‘game’ as @RCAFVET reminded me of above . Room for improvement? Absolutely. Will it get better? I really hope so.
I guess the question is what your intended purpose is. If you are looking for an IRL experience go charter a plane, but the next best thing is just a mouse click away.

I love the positive vibe of your post and I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment.

There are definitely some pragmatic issues for me though. For example, I’m not a real pilot and when I learn ‘stuff’ about flying, it’s through MSFS or through a 3rd party app manual, etc. because that’s the practical application of what I’m using. i.e. Reading a 200 page handbook for a Garmin product is pointless if the majority of that info is not anywhere in the sim - unless I’m feeling fanatical about a specific thing… which doesn’t often happen for me - I don’t have the time - I want to fly.

So, to think of a situation, when I learn about landing… ILS runway frequencies, contacting tower, tuning into ATIS, etc and then I pay for and load Navigraph data, I find issues with not being able to tune into something because frequencies in the sim don’t match for some reason, Navigraph app gives me 15 frequencies for tower and none of them work and I overshoot because I’m looking at data instead of flying, or ATIS doesn’t seem to match the weather I see outside the windshield, or I’m directed to land at a runway with a tailwind, or I can’t tune directly into the tower without needing to scroll through a list of 30 ‘nearest airports’ to speak with the tower… you know… a bunch of stuff that doesn’t quite match what I’m learning, and what I’d expect. At that point I’m struggling… finding workarounds… trying to figure out if I’m doing something wrong, or whether there’s something not behaving correctly in the sim; question marks! And so at that point I find the ‘knowledge adventure’ of it all doesn’t quite hit the spot. So I just shrug and go back to flying my next ‘Round the World’ route with the basic knowledge I have… that’s where the fun is for me, and if I pick up a new snippet of info/knowledge along the way, then that’s cool.

But like I said… in my opinion, your sentiment is right on the money in terms of chasing the ‘right’ things and not obsessing over getting the last 5 fps out of the sim. And I think I’m right in thinking that within your sentiment is also the idea that everyone here gets something different out of using MSFS. And that’s one of the beauties of it. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that there’s no doubt a bunch of folks who find the tweaking and performance aspect of the the sim a really enjoyable and intrinsic part of the experience too… maybe even more so than flying and learning about aviation. Perhaps.

Thanks for a really super-interesting and positive post. Cheers.

Absolutely agree with you! In fact I was planning on writing a similar post (though i have written snippets similar with views similar to yours on replies before).

I dont keep an FPS monitor at all. I just choose what settings are comfortable. I dont even have a powerful rig, just a Ryzen 1800x with an nvidia GTX 1080i. I play at 4k.

I have flown real planes a long time ago, and i have flown flight simulators since i was a child.

And as you said, FPS is really not an issue for me either. The game is perfectly playable and controllable even as low as 10 fps, maybe even lower, though i do get more than 10fps, I am sure! But as i said i dont let it worry me, as long as i can control the plane. IF i haev any struggles at 4k (very rare) i switch down to eiotehr 1080p or 1440p.

But thanks for you email, its great, and probablyt he view of the vast majority.

EDIT: I also wanted to add. Whilst bugs and perfromance are indeed important, if you are alwaus obsessing on that you fail tro enjoye the rest of the game. I get really annoyed when one particular item on one particular plane/place/airport is buggy… and immediately there is a chorus of “the game is broken, and unplayable”. Yes it may be broken for that particular item, but its far from unplayable.

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I turned off the FPS counter, don’t matter. I learned the MCDU so I can put in the missing ILS for one particular airport. I have been just FLYING for the past few weeks, paying zero attention to what don’t work. They will fix it later, use it for what it is at this time. And I will say, it is AMAZING.

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We have, long ago, established that default aircraft, in ANY sim, obsolete or current, have NEVER met the expectations of the community and likely never will. The market is supported by, and grows through, the 3rd party developers. Without them, none of the flight simulators would have lasted for more than a couple of years and the whole genre would have become a tiny niche. It is the thousands of available aircraft, that have been modelled over the years, that keeps people coming back. If there was no profit in producing the add-on products, they would not be produced and the whole hobby would suffer. Marsman, revisit your post in a couple years and ask yourself, when was the last time you actually flew a default aircraft.

Oh but it will exist in the planes currently holding overhead, waiting to park in your hanger while you learn how to manage the systems. The knowledge required to fly some of those without continuous engine fires will surprise you.

All to often, it is the pursuit of “just one fps faster” that causes many of the failures we read about.

The OP raised a very valid observation. Dial your system back to allow for the most stable experience possible. Then just go fly…

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The name Flight Simulator is a misnomer.

From a simulation point of view what you see outside the cockpit is largely irrelevent.

A Simulation is more to do with the dynamics of equipment.

Getting the instruments working correctly, having in this case the flying characteristics of the aircraft as close to the real thing as possible.

I have Piloted a light aircraft and experienced turbulence so bad I could not read the instruments, there is no way MSFS can replicate that.

Do real Flight Simulators like airline pilots use for training or aircraft manufacturers use for product development have state of the art scenery, I think you will find that is a No.

IMSFS 2020 a game, its good but it is a very poor substitution to being airborne with yourself as PiC.

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People, please. The OP makes a point that we need to find our own way to enjoy the program we have in whatever manner suits us. “You Do You”, they say. Let us NOT turn this into another game vs sim thread. That is NOT the focus of this thread.

PS: It is not appropriate in ANY discussion to tell someone they “are wrong”. If you disagree with a post then please, start out with, “I disagree”. That is about as blunt as is acceptable, in a DISCUSSION.


I agree with your FPS statement, but I will disagree with your “game” statement.
It is an inexpensive flight simulator, and pretty awesome at that , compared to all the others I’ve owned since 1989. (I’ve had almost all of them)

It is also still too early in its development for things to be all fixed, but in all fairness, a case could certainly be made that this sim was released way too early to unsuspecting users, with an inordinate amount of issues.

This sim can certainly be used as a game, but so could all the others.
Tell me, what other sim ever had default planes that worked like a study model?

Wait for A2A to release a 172 for this.
You want exact, that will probably be it.

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Sorry to intrude, but i woudl say its both. ITs enough of a game to be a game, and enough of a simulator to be a simulator (it does a reasonable attempt to model the world, and planes and has enough of an SDK to allow further tweaks etc). Of course its not the same as some simulators used by Boeing/AirBus/military. but what do you expect for the price. but as a game / inexpensive simulator. It is built to introduce you to to flight… Entertain you with a reasonablly true to life simulation (for its price point), and a great visual experience that is actually unprecedented.

And I love it.

That, is the best advice I can give too! Especially the Just go fly, that is the point of MSFS. Not to make sure every cloud is perfect, that every road has the correct shape, etc. Just fly, and enjoy.


With respect but do you have sufficient experience in a real one?
Tried to recover from a stall in a 172? Finding the carb heat knob?
It’s all modelled pretty well.


Having been a user of MS Flight Simulators from the very beginning, I can safely tell you that this simulator (magnificent as it truly is) was not “released way too early to unsuspecting users” as you seem to feel. There is an enormous following of flight simulators, and especially the Microsoft Flight Simulator genre who have been almost begging for something new - in just about any condition - that includes some of the modern technology in its development. Being able to “fly” with this simulator is the most incredible thing to happen in a couple of decades (and, yes, I am a certified pilot as well). The state of MSFS 2020, right now, is such that it truly satisfies the deep longing of almost every seasoned veteran of flight simulation, and to think that it is going to get BETTER is just so tantalizing a prospect that it fills my dreams for this genre. Those “unsuspecting users” seem to chose to “rate” this simulator with the quick and dirty, knee jerk response of the “game” using group of users. So be it, but you may well benefit from spending a couple of years using some of the very early flight simulators, to really feel the joy experienced by us veterans in the flight simulator world. The wonderful designers and engineers who have developed, and are continuing to develop MSFS 2020 have my absolute, ultimate respect for the enormous job they are doing. There has NEVER been, at any time in the past, that I could choose to fly to, and/or from any place, airport, hill top, lake, road, open field or even parking lot, ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD, at my whim and feel the experience of flight simulation as the best that it has ever been, in my 35+ years of flight simulation, as right now - and still knowing that it is going to get better and better - in a hurry! Well, that is just my humble opinion, for all that it is worth.



I don’t understand why people get all bent out of shape over the differentiation between it being a game or a simulator. Personally, I look at (most of) us as grown adults playing pretend pilot (including those amongst us who are actual pilots). I consider it a game that happens to be a simulation of flight. The issue is that it’s currently lacking a lot of features that make it more useful for simulating flight for the purpose of actual procedural training. I also know it will get there, but it’s going to take a long time.

But on topic - I enjoy many things about MSFS, and I don’t let fps get in my way of enjoying it. I’ve tweaked my graphics to get an acceptable experience, and I don’t pay much attention to that tiny Steam fps counter in the top corner of my screen except when I see a performance problem.

I love visiting parts of the world that I’ll likely never get to see in person and getting a fairly good representation of what that place looks like in real life. And I love learning how to navigate. I’ve been playing (yes, PLAYING) MSFS and pretty much nothing else since August, and likely will continue in the forseeable future. Despite its issues and glaring flaws, it’s still an amazing experience.