Growing Pains


With the official US street date now passed we're seeing more and more people trying to install and run FSX. Naturally the first thing we hear about are the problems. It's natural to want to overreact at first but until we know the full extent of any particular issue we just have to wait see. A good example is the report we got from Europe that suggested a bad batch of disks. It would have been very costly to send replacements, if that was what was needed. However after some investigation the problem turned out to be one of DVD issues I mentioned in another post. Now our support engineers can quickly help users with the problem.

 

We're also tracking install and activation errors and following up with the teams with the knowledge to understand what's happening. It's frustrating, of course, because we want every customer to have a smooth experience but in the PC Games business (with the infinite combination of hardware and software) that's not realistic. Internal testing and beta testing helps uncover some of the issues but even then the sample size is so small that inevitably things slip through the cracks and we need to address them after we ship.

 

So for now we're watching closely and trying to acquire real, objective data on the issues people are having. The primary conduit for this is product support since issues can be categorized and tracked. Browsing on-line sites is somewhat helpful but the posts are one-sided and often don't convey the complete picture. It's much better to have a two-way conversation about exactly what's happening and product support is the only mechanism we have to do that. So, kudos to any of you who have called in to try and solve your problems. I know that's not what you want to do after buying new software--goodness knows we'd rather you didn't have to--but it helps us to help you when we can really talk to you about your problems. Thanks!

 


Comments (23)

  1. David Eckert says:

    I was one who called because I’m not seeing glass or advanced animations. Yes, they are turned on.

    You tech told in India me that my video card "Was not a good one" (even though it has 256MB onboard memory and is fully Direct X compatible, latest drivers, Nvidia geforce FX 5500) and when I asked which one to get he said "No hardware will run the game with all the features." I said "OK, which one to see glass and flexing wings?" He had no comment and blew me off saying he had no solutions for me. This was after being on hold for over an hour.

  2. Garry Trinder says:

    Unfortunately, David, the FX5000 series was not NVidia’s best effort. Wing-flex relies on Shader 2.0 support, which is poor in 5000-series and thus disabled by default. You can try to enable it by editing the DISPLAY.CFG file in the FSX folder. Look for this section:

    ;———————————————————————-

    ; NVIDIA GeForce FX 5500

    ;———————————————————————-

    [000010DE:00000326:nv4_disp.dll]

    Shader20Plus=0

    And change Shader20Plus to 1. I can’t guarantee the results, though. Your best best would be to upgrade at least to the 6000-series, which by now should not be too costly.

  3. Kerry Aldrich says:

    I have just purchased FSX and installed to my notebook. Had to take it off, it just wouldn’t run faster than 1 fps, no matter the settings of the card or the game. Man I was dissapointed, I have waited a long time to upgrade to fsx. FS9 works fine on this machine, in fact I see regular frame rates of 30 to 60. One fps is not going to cut it; 15 is bare minimum.

    I pulled the install of the notebook and put it on the big desktop machine. Guess what, frame rates of 3 to 4. Wow. It’s not much of a graphics card, only a 128mb radeon x300 which may be a part of the problem but again fs9 runs in the 80fps catagory on this desk machine. I can’t even fly this new piece of crap after spending fifty bucks and hours tweaking. Now I’m stuck with software that is esentially useless unless someone figures out what is happening and releases a fix. Thanks guys, nice work.

  4. Scott Smart says:

    I suppose it’s inevitable, but I see many reports of long hold times and poor support from off-shore support centers for install and activation issues.  In particular users are being asked for "product ID" which apparently you can’t get until after you install.  The shrink wrap is still on my copy (I will wait for the bleeding-edge types to take the first arrows) but is there anything in the readme about how much free disk space is required on the boot partition for install (regardless of where the target partition for the install is)?  ISTM that sometimes the MS installer uses a lot of space for unpacking files on the boot partition.  I imagine after a couple of weeks you will be able to define the common failure modes and be able to give support scripts for helping users sort these problems out.  I just hope your developers get access to the actual problem tickets that support is generating, rather than "distilled" data.

    If it isn’t giving away the "family jewels" I would be interested in the relationship between support and development for your shop.

  5. Steve Jones says:

    "So for now we’re watching closely and trying to acquire real, objective data on the issues people are having."

    tdragger-

    OK, how about this for an issue.  What about the thousands of loyal flighsimmers out there who preordered FSX from the flight sim community (many to "support the community", such as AVSIM (who today had to cancel all of their preorders because they couldn’t get their order) or PC Aviator (who have 3800 loyal simmers on hold).  According to the notice on AVSIM, Microsoft hasn’t even sent them the copies to be given out from the AVSIM Conference last month.  And all this while the big boxes have had it on the street for three weeks.  If you really care about the serious flight sim community, and getting "data" from them, you might recommend to those on your team responsible for shipping FSX to consider not putting their serious flight simmers at the back of the line.  If I ever do receive my FSX preorder, then I hope I will be able to load it and give you some "real, objective data" for your analysis.

    Steve J.

    Manassas, VA

  6. Eric says:

    Hello,

    I know this really isn’t relevant, but…

    Are there any plans to release standalone FSX Multiplayer Server Software?

    And (you’re going to think i’m crazy) if so, would there possibly be any plans to relase a Linux Version?

    I think it’d have great success, because with all of the new Online features like ATC, A LOT of people will be playing it online, and there are still a vast majority of Linux servers out there.

    Thanks!

  7. sbamooney says:

    I too am very unhappy with the new FSX and their support sucks!!  I can get it to run 5fps by turning everything off but the textures suck and FSx constantly crashes to desktop.  FSx has forced me over the edge and I am going to Apple and using FlightGear, at least if that sucks I am not out $75 for worthless software. Clearly Microsoft has lost touch with reality.  I want my money back!!!  

  8. Kerry Aldrich says:

    I want to thank you for this site, it has been of value to me and I appreciate you taking the time for the benefit of those of us who happen along. Guess the joke is on me from the above posting. By uninstalling FSX from my laptop and installing  to my desktop I have learned the awful lessons of the "activation" scheme. Somehow it seems that I paid fifty bucks for a program that I havent even used yet but that seems to be run of the mill for today. It’s not the money, I piss that much each weekend. It’s the fact that no one explaines this activation till it’s to late. It never occured to me that by putting it on one machine and then moving it to another I was comitting some evil. Now I have a useless set of dvd’s. Man, the start of using this FSX is costly and frustrating. However I am tenacious and I want this program, so I will  trudge down to the store and buy another goddamned copy. I mean what choice to I have? I tried using the support site that ms provides but I cant start the program to find the PID because it wont load any longer. No PID, no support. I suppose the lack of loading is some game microsoft is playing over the internet that crashes the installer at the very end of the install if it’s been tried too many times, it’s happened twice now  that way for me.

    Well, sorry for venting my spleen over this but thought someone who may have a say somewhere might like to know the frustrations of an average guy trying to just fly the best damned flight sim around. What a pain in the ass. PID’s that can’t be found, activation that disallows moving the game from one machine to another, sure is good that I’m comitted to this game. All this frustration seems to at least lead to selling more copies of the game, I haven’t even played it yet and I’m up to purchase number two.

    My email is emald@mtaonline.net. I’m begining to think the release of this is going to be a disaster for you guys. Either that or I’m much less computer able than I am currently believing. I don’t hold out any hope of hearing from anybody on this, but since I can’t get ahold of ms support maybe someone here can relay these frustrations for me. I’m not angry, just dissapointed, I really, really want to fly this thing.

  9. Aaron Hughes says:

    I really appreciate the involvement of the FS development team this time around. Though I’ve been a loyal simmer since the days of FS4.1 and always rushed out to purchase a new version the day it came out, I don’t know when or if I’ll make the jump to FSX given it’s current condition. The focus seems to have strayed too far from the "core" market and this has me a little worried about the future of FS. Please keep up the hard work and make FSX look/perform better on mid to high-end hardware as a flight simulator should do and I’ll be more than ready to jump in. But until then I see no incentive to upgrade, and this could well be reflected in FSX’s sales figures as I know I’m not alone. When your core market reacts this way, there’s definitely a problem that needs to be fixed!

  10. Jeroen Wenting says:

    Aaron, despite what many people at places like Avsim and fs.com seem to think they are NOT the core market.

    They are in fact a rather small fringe group, only a few percent at most of total sales.

    And as to your statement that most of these people are unhappy, that’s incorrect.

    It’s (as always) a small but extremely vocal majority that’s complaining extremely loudly.

    I’m myself running FSX now on a midrange machine with quite decent performance on median settings.

    It looks pretty much like FS2004 with a load of addons and performs similarly too, while giving superior flight dynamics and overall feel.

    Is it a perfect product? Certainly not, but a perfect product is both impossible to define and impossible to produce (even if you could define it).

    It would run on any hardware, with any OS, give everyone the exact experience they desire at any point in time and space, yet cost nothing.

    Do I see some things I think should have been caught in testing?

    Yes, I do. But those things are certainly not showstoppers so maybe they were caught but deemed too minor to resolve given the effort required to resolve them (at least at that point in time).

    They’re certainly not serious enough for me to rant about them on some forum or newsgroup and start calling people at Microsoft or ACES names (or worse).

    The only reason in fact I think they should have been caught is because they’re blatantly obvious to even the casual observer (and thus the fact that noone else has ranted about them tells me people either don’t observe even casually, are only looking for reasons to complain about performance, or think that these things are indeed not important).

    Overall I’m quite happy with FSX, it was well worth the wait (which also gave me the time to save up for the new machine I assembled in anticipation a few months ago) and will be something I enjoy spending my time with instead of buying other games (sorry, MS Games Studio 🙂 ) for the next few years.

  11. MIchael Kipp says:

    I have anticipated this release for some time now. Just prior to the release I purchased and built a new PC. You can imagine my disappointment when I fired up FSX, and found with any of the eye candy enabled, even to the lowest setting my machine came screeching to a halt. I can’t image what hardware could possibly run this game any faster.

    I love the game, and I will continue to play it because I see it’s potential. However, I am still feeling disappointed that my new rig which I spent upwards of $3000 building just isn’t up to running FSX. What hardware did ACES have in mind when they released the game? Can I expect to see a big improvement with Vista and DX10?

    Intel Core Duo E660

    2Gb DDR2 800 PC6800 Paired Memory

    ASUS P5N32 SLI MB with a 1GHZ FSB

    2 300GB Drives in a Raid Array

    My Video Card is what really kills me. I thought this card would just have FSX screaming

    Nvidia 7950GX2 with 1GB of Memory.

    I’ve tried the various tweaks etc, but have not been able to find a happy medium between eye candy and performance.

  12. Bob Bernstein says:

    Michael, there is something amiss here.  I have the same processor less video card than you and I get wonderful performance.

    That doesn’t make sense.  

    Admittedly in the cities I’m down to 10-12 fps but its smooth and stutter free.  I choose to have fps that low, cuz it pegs at 20 with my sliders way to the right unless I’m down town Seattle.

    I have all sliders right, no bloom, traffic of all kinds at 50% and autogen two clicks left of full right.

    Love it.

    Best,

    Bob

  13. Ken McKenzie says:

    The updated for FSX Nvidia 91.47 drivers got me 5 FPS more. Strange they didn’t change the driver number.

    Ken

  14. SilentGlider says:

    I can understand the desire to channel information regarding product problems to your technical support personnel but unfortunately, Microsoft’s current support structure makes this very difficult.  After calling the telephone support number and being transferred at least two times and on hold for 30 minutes, I was told that due to high call volume, someone would call back in 72 hours.  Since I’m not able to sit at the phone and wait for their call, the probability that I’ll actually be there if and when they call back is pretty low.  I’d actually prefer to submit a support request via email but that’s not an option since I can’t reinstall the program (I get an error 1722 at the end of the installation process) and therefore I don’t have the product ID number required to submit the request.

    I’m guessing that the development team is doing their best to investigate and fix the current issues but I think Microsoft in general could do a much better job with providing support and communicating with the customers who are having problems.  

  15. Rob Matson says:

    I like it. I’ve had no problems that I didn’t expect, and I’m looking forward to seeing what it’ll do as the hardware catches up with it.

    See ya, Rob

  16. Felicity Shagwell says:

    I’ve been an avid flight simmer since the days of the Apple II and monochrome screens.  This latest release has to be, for me, the most disappointing.  Aside from the extreme frustration of being unable to activate this $90 CDN piece of software, the short period I am allowed to fly it without activation has shown it’s performance on my 3 MHz, 1 GB RAM, 300 GB HD PC to be less than lacklustre.  My computer is only one year old and the frame rates from FSX are far far below those obtained from FS9.  I’m not a happy camper.

  17. Lee Spayd says:

    All is well, love the effects and flight characteristics. Have one problem thus far — After making a flight video, the playback does not illustrate the gear or flaps movement. Gear stays in extend and flaps stay retracted even though they did react in the actual free flight mode. Previous versions of Flight Simulator did show gear and flaps response in the review flight mode.

    Has that important aspect of viewing the flight been ommited from this latest issue???

  18. Micro (takes every shortcut possible) soft says:

    And here we go again. I say this to all my fellow flight simmers. Microsoft, and the team who worked on this new FSX versions, had no concern for the voice of customer. I think we got a total of 2 things in FSX. Better looking water, and reflections.

    Here’s a quick list of what they missed.

    1. Ground effects. Are you telling me that when I come down in a 747 at 100 ft nothing happens?

    2. lights on airport traffic.

    3. Landing possible on all sea vessels

    4. Something actually happening when you taxi to the  

      gates.

    5. A co-pilot sitting next to you in missions

    6. Frozen lakes

    7. Mayday, or emergency landings (ATC responds  

      accordingly)

    8. Missing highways all over the place. Good luck VFR

      flyers.

    9. When the aircraft crashes…it just stops.

    I don’t want to seem too negative, but it’s important to realise this is FSX.. if you can’t work out all the bugs, then a new project team needs to step in. (check out the current one on fsxinsider.com. They all look like they can barley handle incorporating satellite textures.

  19. Tim says:

    Jeroen Wenting, do you work for MS?  This program sucks and I have reverted back to 2004.  MS really needs to wake up and smell the bugs.  When I fly in real life, the control wheel does not move up and down when pulling a +G and the slide show during landings are a drag! Oh yea, and I have the Top of the line "Game er" from the D company

  20. Mike from St. Louis says:

    Thank goodness for fs9! I really think that the sales box posted system requirements ought to be for a system that will make it operate at an acceptable level. All that happens now is that many of your loyal customers will get wary of your future products.

    My machine was only a few months old, far exceeded the system requirements, but would not operate even the demo flights without stopping (I was also unable to activate the sim, but really do not care now).

    My $62.12 Deluxe Edition sits unused gathering dust in the copier paper bin of my desk. I’ll be very wary to purchase if and when another MSFS is offered. I love my fs9.

  21. Gerald says:

    Downloaded some default repaints, but when I try to save the cfg files, it tells me it can’t create the file. Can anyone help me?

    Thanks

    Gerald

  22. Gerald says:

    Downloaded some default repaints, but when I try to save the cfg files, it tells me it can’t create the save file. Can anyone help me?

    Thanks

    Gerald

  23. Dave K says:

    I have used this software since I was a young kid. FSX is a major dissappointment. I built a computer that should handle just about anything.

    Asus A8n-SLI Deluxe MB

    2GB Corsair XMS pc3200 Ram

    250GB WD hard drive

    Soundblaster XMS Fatality Sound

    EVGA 8800GTX video card

    The game played ok for a week with rather slow performance. I then downloaded the patch. Now it crashes all the time, sometimes it locks up when loading. Is there a way to get refunds on this software until Microsoft gets their act together? For all of the problems that are being posted, I have not seen any updates from Microsoft to at least show that they are working on this. PLEASE DO SOMETHING. I did not spend all of my money to upgrade my computer to be stuck flying an old version. I keep hearing people complain to me from Microsoft that I do not know how hard it is to write the codes for this which seems to be their fall back position in the flight sim forums I enter into. My reply is that they don’t know either as they have released a product that shows as such.

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