For as long as I’ve been a developer for the Microsoft Flight Simulator franchise, I’ve often had a hard time getting people within the aviation community to take me seriously as someone who does what I do. The mere fact that the program installs on one’s HDD in the Microsoft Games folder puts a strike against the notion of anyone really taking MS FS as a serious platform for simulating flight. Luckily, there are many people who have overlooked that and have utilized the FS platform as a sound tool to advance one’s aviation proficiency. Bruce Williams has written a very successful book covering just that – Microsoft Flight Simulator as a Training Aid: A Guide for Pilots, Instructors, and Virtual Aviators.
Recently, there has been a whole new arena of games to emerge onto the market – Serious games. The most notable in my mind would be the very popular Nintendo DS game Brain Age. It has some entertainment value, yet has a benefit of exercising one’s mind. There are now sites designed specifically around serious games like Serious Games Source and Seriousgames.org. Just recently was held the 2nd annual Serious Games Summit as a part of GDC in San Francisco. At that summit, Shawn Firminger, ACES studio manager, gave a presentation on Microsoft’s new venture into serious games with ESP. He even boldly stated that the MS FS franchise has been a 25-year beta test for ESP. Pretty strong words!
I’ve considered the MS FS platform a serious game for many years. It’s about time that Microsoft finally agreed with me and rebranded the package in this way. It only makes sense to try and attract organizations that want an effective aviation simulation-based technology using the core MS FS engine as the backbone. I mean … 24,000+ airports, the entire world modeled, etc. It makes complete sense.
Interested in developing solutions for ESP? The core program and SDK are included in all MSDN subscriptions. There are some great resources available on the ESP website, including a great white paper on the ESP SDK. With Train Sim 2 on the horizon, I would expect that ESP would branch off into that direction well into the future. The skies (and tracks) are the limit!