The MSFS update process - the digital equivalent of a Rube Goldberg Machine?

So, this is the update process any time an update is released:

  1. Community Mod Removal - This is good practice and should be done before any update to the core sim, as new mods and add-ons may not be compatible with the new version of the sim. Not particularly difficult by any means.

  2. Store update (MS Store / Steam) - This updates the executables and primary support libraries for the sim. This one is typically quick, painless for most users, and in some cases, utterly transparent. Although it seems that due to the Xbox / MS Store ecosystem built around multiple loosely connected applications and services, this has been a problematic thing for some. There are users out there that still haven’t been able to update to SU5 because their MS Store isn’t seeing the update.

  3. Main in-sim updater - When an udpate is pushed, this is the second updater we encounter, and the most problematic, frustraing one that seems to cause the most grief. Won’t go into details, as there are already myriad threads about these issues from slow downloads, freezes, download loops, decompression loops, etc. This is not good work.

  4. Marketplace - When a World Update is released, a user still doesn’t have the World Update after going through steps 1 -3. The user must then manually go into the marketplace, filter by free updates, located the new World Update, and download install it. The volume of “I don’t see any difference in Region X after the update” threads after every World Update should really illustrate how poorly conceived this is.

  5. Content Manager - Once all of the above are done, a user then needs to manually hop over to the Content Manager and download potentially another metric crapton of updates for any marketplace addons, sim assets, DLCs, etc. This can be a rather crucial step to ensure that particularly DLC content from Microsobo (Premium, Deluxe, and liveries) are updated. This one was particularly problematic with SU5, as it’s kind of buried away, the notification of udpates required rarely fires, and it’s been the cause of many issues for many people, particularly with the Premium and Deluxe planes with SU5.

  6. Manual update of community mods - Not necessarily a fault of the sim itself here. Of course, 3rd party add-ons not from the store need to be manually updated from their respective sources. An annoyance for sure, but this is pretty standard for mods to any title.

To me, this just seems to be an over-complicated multi-step process for the singular purpose of updating the sim to the latest version so one can play. Miss any of these steps and you can find yourself with anything from minor issues to game-breaking crashes.

When I look at this, to me 2, 3 and 5 should all be incorporated into 1 step - a singular installer from the MS Store or Steam. This would likely solve the vast majority of issues that we see after every update cycle.

It’s 2021. We live in a world of automation and AI. In the gaming world, we haven’t had to go through steps like this to update games since Steam came out nearly 20 years ago. Updates, no matter how major, are a 1 click thing, and often even transparent to the end user as the stores will download and install udpates in the background when the user isn’t at their computer.

I’m interested in hearing what your thoughts are on this. Am I asking for too much by thinking this process could be simplified and streamlined?

EDIT: For those for whom English may not be their first language or never heard of it, this is the definition of a Rube Goldberg machine. We all know what they are and have seen them…

"A Rube Goldberg machine is a contraption whose ultimate goal is to perform a very simple task in an indirect and overly complicated way. This is done via a series of simple, unrelated, but interconnected devices where the action of each triggers the initiation of the next, eventually resulting in achieving a stated goal. The ridiculousness of it is that should any one of the intermediary steps fail, the whole process fails and is pointless. "

77 Likes

It does seem somewhat convoluted.

3 Likes

I absolutely agree with all of this. The update process is way too convoluted and I was in the same boat back during the first two world updates not realizing I had to go into the Marketplace and Content Manager as well.

6 Likes

Can you please discuss this with the users who want only a bare system when updating/installing and install everything manually afterwards?

When you guys decide on what actually is wanted, we can make a wishlist item.

3 Likes

I also criticized the updating process, I’m in agreement with you. Ofc I have no idea about technical details, but the fact alone that so many people have problems, speaks a clear language; It needs to be improved and simplified. Example: why the need for a 300mb update in the microsoft store and then 500kb in sim, for example? I just dont see the why… Or why have 100megabyte in the store and then 24gb in sim etc…to me that just wastes precious time, and that’s before all the issues people experience. It’s just a big nono that after a year some people completely fail to start the sim because of updating issues, and apparently this still happens…So yeah, thumbs up for this one, and yeah, things need to improve.

1 Like

Because there’s a core component and a repository component.

3 Likes

Fair enough, if it’s a necessity, so be it, but the other issues still remain unsolved, and I fear people will just get more and more upset if those persist in the future.

This is actually sort of what I had in mind creating this thread. Get a good amount of feedback from folks about the update process before we can consolidate it into a proper wishlist item.

4 Likes

If I am correct 4 and 5 are one step. Doesn’t a Market Place item become a Content Manager item once it’s added? So when updating step 4 is obsolete. I might be mistaken though.

1 Like

What would be great is a separate launcher, that lets you choose…Like when you install Visual Studio/SQL Server. Not having 15 years of downloads, then a further 25 to life in the content manager all while the sim is running taking up your PC resources, and just burning through power and murdering your GPU / CPU at the same time. Never have I seen so much needed for so little.

It is not a stretch for the separate loader/installer to know about your Market place purchases and things like that. The current way is absolutely awful.

Emptying the community folder is garbage, I never do it… It does nothing but delay any conflicts, it does not affect the updates.

4 Likes

They’ve segmented updates in different containers - core assets (Step 2), main sim content (Step 3), and DLC (Step 4).

While I can understand from their end why they did this, it over-complicated the process overall for the end users.

3 Likes

I wouldn’t even care about the power used while in the menu, if the whole UI wasn’t so laggy and clunky…I really wish they could make a smooth UI, it always lags and feels like switching between apps on a budget android phone. Just weird that this never was looked at. Or maybe it was, but we clearly aren’t there yet.

2 Likes

It has been included to prevent CTDs and frustration. Also, when using a mod manager (which is good practice anyway) it’s a non-issue.

Yes, I think that would be by far the best solution. Also because we then don’t have a full screen application eating 100% GPU

6 Likes

The whole UI / UX in MSFS is very awkward IMHO. It’s like the designers made it for console, the programmers made it work for mouse and keyboard, and the technical folks ensuring optimization, efficiency and performance were asleep at the keyboard.

But that’s a different topic altogether…

8 Likes

I agree, but one topic that needs to be discussed as well, imo at least, not sure what other people think of that.

Once it’s added, yes. That’s why I intentially used World Update as an example. That won’t be in the content manager until someone seeks it out and installs it first.

That’s the reason why at every world update, we see a flood of threads from confused people not understanding why they’re not seeing the world updates. They simply don’t realize that they’re a mere 10 more clicks and 45 mins of download away from actually installing the world update they thought was included in the 90GB, 4 hour download they just had because the installer screens showed them all this wonderful world update scenery, but didn’t tell them the installer wasn’t actually installing that content.

4 Likes

I’d tend to think if this is such good practice to using a “mod manager”, why isn’t this feature core in the game from the get go?

6 Likes

Could items in the marketplace be tagged with compatible sim versions?

One thing that has been happening is that updates to the sim are causing 3rd party content to break including those in the marketplace. I think having marketplace content unavailable for sale and disabling automatically until it’s certified by the mod author as compatible with the version the user is running should happen ASAP.

MS has introduced an integrated marketplace that at any time a user could make a purchase of an incompatible product that either doesn’t work or crashes their sim. This will become a bigger issue as more and more content is added and abandoned by the authors.

I agree, but until it’s in the game, it’s a good practice to use one :slight_smile:

Especially since sub-folders are not supported yet

1 Like

Bingo. That’s exactly what I was insinuating with my post. 3rd party mods show up in the content manager. They just can’t be intereacted with from there. It would be nice if they could be installed from the content manager directly. It could also activiate the mod instantly without having to reboot, just like using the Marketplace.

2 Likes