The development team at Microsoft Flight Simulator took to Twitch last week for their developer stream and discussed MSFS2024 (Microsoft Flight Simulator 2024), new ground handling updates, and issues with the A320Neo V2. The latest dev stream was their first in almost two months with the last one being held in September.
Table of Contents
A320 Stability on Xbox
The first major topic the team discussed was the removal of the new A320Neo V2 version from the latest Sim Update 14 beta. During testing, they encountered an application crash rate on consoles (82% as opposed to the 95%+ they aim for) that was too high to be certified. The iniBuilds team will be going back a couple of ways to fix this but there is confidence to get to the finish line, although it might take a couple more months.
The A320 is a massive effort and contains lots of memory-intensive elements. The team states that there seems to be an issue with some third-party add-ons using huge textures for liveries, which causes problems on memory-constrained platforms like Xbox. As a result, the A320Neo V2 in collaboration with iniBuilds will not be available upon release of SU14.
Further Updates for the ATR-72
Another question the dev team addressed was whether the ATR-72 would be updated any further. If the ATR manufacturing company in the real world makes any adjustments or additions to the real aircraft, the ATR being an expert series aircraft, it will most likely be updated. If what the questioner meant by their question is if the team would continue fixing bugs, then the short answer is yes. Hans Hartmann goes through the forums, reproduces reported issues, and aims to fix everything along with his team. The team also hinted that forthcoming Expert Series aircraft might be released in the future.
Shifting Marketplace Testing Responsibility
A while back, a crucial change in the Marketplace update/release testing was shifted onto the third-party developers that created those add-ons instead of the in-house Marketplace testing team. This has yielded very good results in terms of backlog and has unblocked the team. A drop in quality hasn’t been observed in doing so and any further feedback on that aspect would be looked at by the team.
A small snippet of the atmospheric changes in SU14
The MSFS team has completely overhauled the atmospheric simulation in MSFS2024 and among the improvements was fixing the horizon line which has already been included in SU13. The community, a while back, also found that the ozone values were not perfectly matched and the team implemented the changes made in MSFS2024 into MSFS2020. In the reworked atmospheric scattering there is now a new sun color which is more accurate and along with the new ozone simulation, sunsets, and overall lighting is much more accurate.
Ground Handling in Sim Update 15
Many of the core components in MSFS2024’s physics engine have been rewritten and the team figured out a way to bring back some of those effects into MSFS2020 namely ground handling. The reason the ground handling is so iffy and has plenty of issues is that the effects are still very close to what it was in FSX.
They explained that you have a suspension system that allows every wheel to go up and down and the thing that was changed in MSFS2020 was the addition of slopes that allowed aircraft to slide down a hill and to stop that from happening you need to apply brakes.
So essentially with the new changes coming in SU15, the team has only made the suspension component in the ground handling a lot more detailed. It can now have a lot more parameters than were possible before. The simulator simulates engine torque which makes the plane shake, and the CFD simulates bumps in the air but when on the ground, the ground has bumps which was very much dampened away due to the previous suspension simulation.
In a short video showcased during the stream, the changes were present front and center and the wing shakes almost 10 times more with exactly the same suspension settings. There is better flexibility of the airframe and better control upon landing. A lot of bounciness can be seen when you bounce; it’s now a lot more lively because the whole airframe will basically store and send back energy.
Content Manager Download Speeds
Content Manager often fluctuates between 1 to 150 Mbps and this cycle is repeated over and over which leads to frustratingly huge installation times. This issue is being looked into by the team but is complicated to solve as it doesn’t consistently surface in the same geographical area. The team has made several enhancements to the installation process.
They have implemented a process with eight different loads and completions simultaneously, optimizing the load by a factor of five. This unfortunately could not be applied directly to the Content Manager due to its existing architecture. But the good news is that this limited architecture has been completely rewritten in MSFS2024 and aims to significantly reduce waiting times.
Turbulence and Cloud Density
Another issue as of now is that cloud turbulence and cloud density are not properly simulated in the simulator. The team quoted “The clouds in real weather don’t go in terms of density as far as what you can get in the presets, where you can really push it to extremely dense”, and this is something the team is actively looking into implementing in the simulator by essentially getting more metadata from live-weather providers to better simulate cloud density.
In terms of turbulence, the turbulence engine doesn’t make any discriminations with whether it’s live weather or a preset. To get turbulence the right conditions need to materialize, like the time of day (preferably afternoons) and the current season (better to go in the summer); you need to have a hot ground, you need lots of updrafts, or at least a lot of wind.
World Hub Update
The team says that the World Hub functionality for the simulator is very close to release. They are about to get started with a closed-off Alpha testing phase and they aim to go over many of the very minute details. There is a chance it could be released in December 2023 (this month) itself or worst-case scenario in January 2024.
Closing notes and MSFS2024
For 2024 the team plans on releasing four more World Updates, four Sim Updates, a whole bunch of local legends, and a few famous flyers too. The team in their roadmap for 2024 did not reveal the launch date for MSFS2024 but did mention it’s sometime next year (obviously :D). They were generous enough to show us a lovely screenshot of the next-gen simulator though.
A very lovely dev stream from over at the folks at MSFS and lots of new changes coming in SU15 which aims to elevate the ground experience and SU14 which aims to fix a lot of lighting issues and atmospheric simulation. It is unfortunate to see the A320Neo V2 delayed but we hope to see it released very soon along with the innovative World Hub Update that aims to improve default MSFS scenery.