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.