Realism and FSX Acceleration
There seems to be some anxiety among our hard-core users that FSX is again turning into a game with the release of the Acceleration pack instead of building the sim. We saw the same anxiety with FSX because it included missions. Although there are still some holdouts that refuse to fly a mission (or have some and still don't care for them), most users (a vast majority) have greatly enjoyed them and have impoved their skills by flying them.
Now we are introducing more missions in Acceleration, plus including head to head racing and we are getting the same fears about turning FSX into a game. Part of this is because this is the first competitive element ever included in Flight Simulator's long history, and for some reason some users feel that is too game-like.
I will readily admit that racing is very much about gameplay, but not at the sacrifice of realism. The main features that really make it like a game are the on-screen race map, iconic engine gauges, and the race info gauge. These totally look like game UI elements. That said, the map and engine display can be turned off for a realistic experience. The race info gauge can be undocked and moved, or closed, but the information is too valuable to turn off completely all the time.
The actual flying of the race planes is VERY realistic and we have validated this with real race pilots. Nothing has been dumbed down for this expansion pack and in fact we have significantly expanded the capabilities of the simulator with this expansion pack. If you fly with the autopilot most of the time, you probably won't be very successful flying a P-51 Mustang. But if can learn to fly it, you'll be a better pilot in the end.
The simulator can now more realistically simulate helicopters and helicopter operations with many new systems employed. The F-18 is using many new systems that can be applied to any modern military jet. The Mustang is using a new supercharger that wasn't present in FSX. In the area of scenery we have a much more realistic representation of the world at Edwards AFB, Cape Canaveral, the Florida Keys, and all of the racing venues in Acceleration. To say the Acceleration Pack is hurting realism is simply wrong and misinformed.
I understand that the hard-core users want us spending our time enhancing the sim so that airliners and commercial operations are more realistic, but we have a very broad audience which is expanding all the time. It is time to expand the platform with new systems for those users and build the infrastructure for the future. We will continue to improve systems and realism for GA and Commercial operations as we develop the next iteration of FS.