CES: Prologue

Well, I guess I will pen a few words about the CES keynote experperience. I'll divide it up in installments since I don't have the energy at the moment for a huge masterpiece. It is Sunday, after all; the day of rest.

Planning started back in November after our PR team get wind of the opportunity. Bill was going to talk about Windows Vista and Games for Windows (GfW) is going to be a big part of the of new OS. If you think about it, Microsoft has never really treated Windows like the gaming platform it is in the same way as Xbox. Sure, with DirectX Windows is awesome for games but we've never really created a "total package", including game-specific features, a clean user experience and a set of great titles that ship when the new OS does. Well, we're changing that and FSX would be the first of many new titles we'd announce. After some meetings with the Vista and GfW folks we had a plan: a two-minute demo of FSX for the keynote.

Jason and I then started to scope out the demo. It started with some location scouting. Of course Vegas was an obvious choice but it's currently undergoing "renovations" and Jason didn't want to show something half done. He suggested Africa because it offered a chance to show some unique content people likely hadn't seen before. In the end, though, we chose the north coast of O'ahu (I know Aaron said it was Maui in the keynote but it's O'ahu) because it looked good and would be recognizable to many of the folks in the audience. The next thing to do was to create a set of storyboards that described all the action, content elements and camera angles. Once this was in place I was able to fly the demo to check the timing. Finally the Art and Dev teams got to work delivering content and code fixes to make sure the demo looked great.

In the meantime I worked to acquire the machines we were to use. After several false starts I finally settled on two Dell Precision 380's I got on loan from the Vista demo team. They came with 2GB of RAM and an ATI X850 video card with 512MB of memory. I installed a recent build of Windows Vista and the chosen build of FSX and off we went. Everything had to be finished, tested and buttoned-up by December 19th so the machines could be boxed and shipped to Vegas. As you'll see in the next installment, Flight Sim was just a tiny part of the overall scheme.

Lastly, here are some answers to your questions:

Why the hell was an xbox controller used to demo the product? Because it kicks ass! I've already put my joystick away in the closet. The Xbox controller is awesome with Flight Sim!

With a helicopter? The helo shows off the new shader stuff really well and gave us a chance to fly low and slow.

I´m interested, specially about how Bill Gates sees the FS franchise. He doesn't. He's got way more important stuff to keep an eye on.

Stay tuned...

Comments (16)
  1. marcin says:

    Why the hell was an xbox controller used to demo the product? Because it kicks ass! I’ve already put my joystick away in the closet. The Xbox controller is awesome with Flight Sim!

    you know what…you make a product for ten year`s old or for simmers …it`s going to be arcade game …holy shit!

  2. Janda,

    If your post sounded like what it seems to me, you should know 1 thing:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe the team has said that by them adding features doesn’t mean they’ve taken away anything.

    It’s time for the FS title to be more well rounded, which is the way it seems to be going.

    That means that FS should appeal to a larger audience.

  3. Thanx 😉

    I’m impatient to read the following of the story !

  4. Jorge says:

    Mmm, I guess I should take a look at those controllers!

    Anyway, grat article, enjoy your sunday, It´s 1 a.m. in this part of the world so It´s officially monday, day of work, hehehe.

    Janda, I´m amazed of how you can think that just because he uses an Xbox controller! I know hard core simmers who have been flying several years just with the keyboard.

    Regards and excuse me for my english!

  5. Michael Carr says:

    Thanks Mike, nice read. Nice to know all I need is Vista since my rig is close to the test machine.

    As for the Xbox controller, I have an Xbox and PS2….and they are sitting in the corner collecting dust mainly because I couldn’t deal with the controller, LOL. Because of that experience I never plan to get another console (my loss I know).

  6. Ryan Fork says:

    I don’t believe that FSX is going to be an arcade game, it will be like the same FS we have now, only much, much better! Looking great so far!

    If you don’t mind me asking, what kind of processor was in the Precision 380’s? Do you personally think that a system like this will comfortably run FSX when it’s released (with Windows Vista of course :))

  7. Nick says:


    Loved the CES presentation, as well as all of your participation on the forums lately, Mike.

    The demo looked great, and its no wonder why given the system specs of the box you used!

    Last thing, it seems that the whole "cloud shadows" thing has gotten out of hand on the forums and some site’s news headlines. Regardless of the feature in question, I hope that the rampant speculation going on within the community doesn’t dampen your spirit, or otherwise preclude the FS team’s quest to interact with the community.

    You can’t please everybody all the time, and I know that you already knew that. Just keep doing what you’re doing, and the level-headed ones among us will be most appreciative.

    Here’s looking forward to a successful release of the next FS…cheers!

    Take care,


  8. J.C. Howell says:

    Thank you, Janda, for giving the Devs a reason to not blog anymore.

    Keep up the good work and blog, Mike. Don’t let the boneheads like this guy get you down. There’s a silent majority that enjoys and appreciates the work you guys are doing.

  9. Fabio says:

    Thanks Mike…. great post.. i ll be waiting more part of this….

    Thanks Fabio

  10. Fabio says:

    Hi Mike,

    i have one question if now or in future you can answer… you use windows xp and visual studio 2005 for your work or windows vista internal build?!? Develop question….. 🙂



  11. deltanovember says:


    Thanks for the insight and by all means…

    keep it coming!

    Heck! I’d even pay you cash money for it…

    errrmmm….that is if it dosen’t cost over $60,

    will run on my current machine, and accepts addon products. LOL

    Thanks to You, Steve, Jason, and the rest of

    the crew for your time and input as it REALLY

    helps put the MSFS "Community" a cut above

    whatever is in second place.

    Oh! One more thing. What were you guys up to

    in Vegas to prompt the following headline on


    "Sin City overrun by tech geeks"

    Denny (deltanovember)

  12. marcin says:

    OK , guys sorry for my last comment , my intension wasn`t as you looking into…I `m "really old simmer ..since fs2.0 on C-64.." and I represent group of us who never would say a game, about ours loved fs series..So please apologize my nervous post but it get me crazy when I see console controler in action on software like this.that`s it .I `m looking forward for exelent new version and …uhhh why November isn`t earlier…


  13. jeff says:

    Actually, we should fear not the X-box controller. It was clear to me with the Vista roll-out that they intend to SUPPORT PC-Gaming to the fullest. Regardless of tail dragger saying that Bill Gates pays no mind to MSFS – the truth is that this product is a badge of honor for Microsoft and one of their longest running entertainment products.

    MSFS has a mindshare significant enough and a tertiary market of sufficient varity and vigor such that we’ve clearly recieved an endorsement of the product from Microsoft. They’re proud of Vista and proud to parade MSFS (ver 10) as a herald of Vista’s state-of-the-art. So, our fears that MSFS X would be dumbed-down and moved to Xbox seem to be (at least for this version), unfounded. Now whether a surprise XBox version is co-released remains to be seen. My prediction: an Xbox version would flop – not enough action.

    Lastly, the contoller lacks enough options to make use of the 100s of keys available (and put to regular use) in flight sim. The Xbox 360 controller has 3 4-way axes (more than a joystick I’ll admit) and 6 buttons. Furthermore, XBox titles lack menus ala the Windows OS GUI. MSFS would be destroyed in terms of functionality if this system were abandoned. I think its a matter of the controller being USB-based that makes its use easy. Now, in terms of the pathetic arm-throw of the little "nubs" on an Xbox controller, I don’t think most folks are going to rush to replace their joysticks/yokes with the Xbox 360 controller. In fact, I REALLY wish the Sidewinder line didn’t get trashed in favor of XBox 4 years ago – I still use my trust FFB Sidewinder 2 Pro and dread the day it goes belly up.

    Frankly, I am surprised to hear that tdragger prefers the 360 controller as he is a pilot himself, surely the arm-throw of a yoke/joystick is far closer to "as real as it gets?"

  14. Jeff,

    That’s funny, because I’m a real world PPL also, and those XBox controllers have way to many buttons for me…lol. I could never use one for the sim either even though we would fully support it for those that would.

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