This is topic Question about flight games and customizablity in forum Books, Films, Food and Culture at Hatrack River Forum.

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Posted by 777 (Member # 9506) on :
Why does it seem that most flight games are built primarily to replicate the interior of the cockpit of a plane, rather than focus on the actual flying experience itself?

I'm looking for a game (it doesn't have to be real) that has these particular qualities:

1. Lets you fly without having to read a 400 page manual.

2. Lets you fly how you want to, not how the programmers want you to. Who cares about physics, and "realistic combat"? Apparently some people do, but if I wanted realistic combat, I'd join the Air Force. I'm looking for a flight GAME, not a flight "experience".

3. Doesn't necessarily involve realistic factors such as the above-stated physics and other things, such as fuel and ammunition. If I want to break the sound barrier in a plane the size of my car, then let me! Full customization is a must.

Essentially, I'm looking for the casual gamer's holy grail of a flight game--a game that lets me fly how I want, as fast as I want, as insanely as I want to. None of this "simulation" stuff; I want to be able to fly without restricting myself to reality. Escapism is what games are for, anyway, and I don't want to be plagued with reality when it comes to something so potentially unrealistic as flight.

Are there any games out there that allow the users this kind of freedom? Or are they all just replicas of Microsoft Flight Simulator?

[ November 25, 2007, 12:26 AM: Message edited by: 777 ]
Posted by Shawshank (Member # 8453) on :
If you can customize it as fully as you want- that would no longer be a game really. Where would the challenge be?
Posted by Starsnuffer (Member # 8116) on :
I agree with 777, my (limited) experience with flight simulator games (not so much war games, those are generally forgiving and fun) involves frustration and confusion with why you're expected to control your plane by like wiggling your flaps and things, rather than holistically using a joystick or something to do so. My two cents.
Posted by Shawshank (Member # 8453) on :
Well what you're looking for then is not a Flight Simulation game- because the whole purpose of a simulation is to well... simulate. But I would say that a simulation doesn't really mean game to me.

The only other kind of a game I've played like that are aerial combat games which are easy enough.
Posted by 777 (Member # 9506) on :
I see your point, Shawshank. Games require some sense of challenge in order to be appreciated, rather than simply played. After all, you can't feel accomplished by playing a game unless there was something to be accomplished in the first place.

But if you look at the majority of open-ended games, you'll notice that they allow for at least some customization--Will Wright's games are a good example of this. And various gaming mods for non-open games make it feel like more than it really is.

I can appreciate the amount of effort that is put into a game in order to make it perform as you want it to--and in many cases, that performance is meant to be as realistic as possible. However, I think there's reason to believe that a recent trend is developing wherein games are becoming more customizable than ever before. It gives gamers some sense of authority over their games, an idea of possession that would other wise not exist.

So when you fire up your game, and head to the Options menu, every step away from the default configuration is your deviation, your way of showing that this game isn't just like any other copy, but rather plays to your own specifications. This is why I love Blizzard's RTSs--they all come with full editors that allow you to screw with the system as you please. Morrowind even more so: the TES Construction Kit is quite possibly the most extensive editor I've ever seen.

I don't think that it's too much to ask for gamers to be allowed to mess with preset configurations and create their own settings, their own games within the games they own. I hope that one day, a majority of games are shipped this way--a 1. basic model, the standard shipping model as default, and a 2. way to create your own models by example. Full customization allows you to own your game in a way that boggles the mind. It lets you boot up your game, start playing, and say, "Hey! I did this!" rather than saying simply "Wow! They did a good job on this!"

Thus, if I see a game on the store shelves that boasts an editor, I'll always hold that game in higher regard than one that ships without.

Posted by 777 (Member # 9506) on :
Oh, and I never intended to limit my question to "simulation" games. I was just asking about flight games in general. I hope that the two aren't synonomous--that would be really depressing.
Posted by Shawshank (Member # 8453) on :
I just don't know of any flight games that aren't flight combat or flight simulation.

Okay- now I pretty much agree with you.

I would say that trend is becoming ever more apparent- towards either fully user content (see The Sims) or completely open ended (see The Sims or a lot of MMORPG's) In fact if you haven't heard of Spore (by Will Wright) then I'd suggest you'd look it up and join the bandwagon.

You know what would be fun- a flight combat online game. Played on smallish servers a la COD, BF2; or massive servers like WoW (that'd give a whole meaning to guild tryouts) I could see customizability as being integral to moderately good playing.
Posted by 777 (Member # 9506) on :
You nailed it, Shawshank. That's the kind of game that I've been wanting for a while, but it seems that whereas the trend is extending throughout most other genres (it just took Halo 3 by storm, for crying out loud!), it doesn't seem to transfer well to the flight genre.

Or, at least, no one has tried as of yet.

Oh, and yes. Spore has been on my list of most-anticipated games for about two years now.
Posted by Shawshank (Member # 8453) on :
(On a side note look at this! Two people who started off disagreeing slightly ended up giving way until they both agreed. Ah the power of the discourse!)

I think you can look forward to it in the future, at least I would assume. Once Spore comes out and (hopefully) procedural generation becomes a big hit the developers I think we'll start looking at systems of ways of getting things done. That and it's just now that the processing power of desktops and consoles are starting to be able to handle those higher end physics engine that are adaptable to user-created content.
Posted by Mucus (Member # 9735) on :
If you want something that is fun to fly, yet does not involve combat or is realistic, than that is a tough one.

If it is any consolation, the sims out there today are not that realistic. In my day, Falcon 3.0 came with a manual that was the size of some of my university textbooks. I also recall seeing a review of a SU-27 (Flanker?) sim where you can to do stuff like adjust the angle of the plane's transmitting antenna or something [Wink]

The only nonrealistic non-combat experience I can think of in recent years (in my gaming) were the airplanes and helicopters of GTA:San Andreas. Flying those through the virtual sandbox world, dodging through skyscrapers, and seeing everything that one would normally walk or drive through was quite fun. Of course, not the focus of the title, but still very fun.

On a related note, man I miss the X-Wing, Tie Fighter, and X-Wing:Alliance games. Oh Lucasarts, how thou has fallen.
Posted by 777 (Member # 9506) on :
Oh, I know all about the manual lengths. My dad bought Falcon 4.0 when it first came out, and that manual seriously disturbed me. I wanted to play the game, not study it!

Of course, the manual for the Hellcats game for our Apple Macintosh was even worse--at least 500 pages.

I never managed to play the Lucasarts flight games, though I've heard of them. Were they good in their time?
Posted by Mr.Funny (Member # 4467) on :
Yeah, I've heard some reviews of Falcon 4.0 that said that you could actually learn to fly a real F-16 on it. Which is somewhat disturbing.
Posted by TomDavidson (Member # 124) on :
I think what you really want is a space combat game. Lots of those exist, although the genre really peaked with FreeSpace 2.
Posted by Threads (Member # 10863) on :
I get the impression that you've already tried it, but I find flying in MS Flight Simulator 2004 fun and I've never had to read a 400 page manual. I certainly don't follow all the rules and regulations that apply to real commercial jet pilots, but I can still fly all the jets in the game and successfully land them using instrument approaches.

However, it's definitely not the ultimate in customizability.
Posted by James Tiberius Kirk (Member # 2832) on :
Essentially, I'm looking for the casual gamer's holy grail of a flight game--a game that lets me fly how I want, as fast as I want, as insanely as I want to. None of this "simulation" stuff; I want to be able to fly without restricting myself to reality. Escapism is what games are for, anyway, and I don't want to be plagued with reality when it comes to something so potentially unrealistic as flight.
Check out Ace Combat 4, 5, or Zero for the PS2. All are great arcade flight games. Their trailers are up on YouTube. Though their stories can get a little cheesy at times, they're fairly engrossing.

They're pretty old - definately bargain-bin games by now.

--j_k, who doesn't acknowledge the existence of AC6 ... yet
Posted by Mucus (Member # 9735) on :
Well, X-Wing, Tie Fighter, etc. are not quite flight games, they are as TomD implied, space combat games. That said, they were incredible for the time (at least for me). A nice story, challenging missions, decent graphics, fun features, all wrapped up and polished as was the norm for Lucasarts in the day.

There were some Lucasarts flight games, I recall playing Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe which was pretty fun ... but probably less what you're going for.
Posted by MattP (Member # 10495) on :
Second Life [Wink]
Posted by 777 (Member # 9506) on :
Sorry, I need to clarify: I've never played MS Flight Simulator. I have, however, seen videos--and most involve people taking off and landing at airports. While flying in mostly straight lines in between, enjoying the scenery as they go.

Hey, I have no problem with enjoying the landscape of the world from your desktop. I mean, that's what Google Earth is all about, right?

But when I want to fly, I mean fly, I don't want regulations being imposed on me. Oh, and I have played space combat games--one of the first games I've ever played on PC was Descent: Freespace, which was quite thrilling. However, it naturally lacked one thing that makes flight so awesome: the ground. I'd love a space combat game, so long as there would be a fully-modeled planet for me to drop into the atmosphere and really tear up the skies. Sharp drops and dangerous maneuvering really lose their impact when there's no real danger of crashing.

I'd love a game where I'm not just soaring over canyons and ravines, past forests and mountainous landscapes, but actually flying through them. Where I'm not just observing the landscape, but actually being a part of it. I'd love to swing through the arches at Arches National Park. I can imagine taking a rapid ascent past the face of Halfdome, then plummeting 40000 feet through the atmosphere only to pull up at the last moment.

But all I see in flight simulators at the moment are airports and bland, distant landscapes. Maybe in the future, I'll be able to fly as freely as I please--but from what I can tell, it's going to be a while.
Posted by TomDavidson (Member # 124) on :
Sharp drops and dangerous maneuvering really lose their impact when there's no real danger of crashing.
Um....Weren't you just asking for a game that let you fly without having to worry about realistic physics and the danger of crashing?

That said, I think you should check out the original Xbox's version of Crimson Skies.
Posted by 777 (Member # 9506) on : I was asking for a game in which crashing is possible, but there could be much more involved in flight than staying at a constant altitude. In any flight game, there should always be the possibility of being stopped by something fairly immovable, such as the ground. Not only does it serve as something to avoid, but it serves as a way to keep yourself in check with your surroundings, and as such give yourself an idea as to how dangerous a particular pathway is.

Look at roller coasters, for instance. Which is more thrilling--taking a sharp turn to avoid open air, or taking a sharp turn to avoid a massive wall at the last second? I think that the perfect flight game will allow users to not only fly straight and true, as do simulators, but will also allow you to fly as convolutedly as a roller coaster in midair, whether or not there are any obstacles present.

I looked up Crimson Skies--it looks pretty interesting. If I had an XBox, I'd definitely rent it, at least.
Posted by TomDavidson (Member # 124) on :
You might also consider the StarFox games on the GameCube, which inexplicably include many planetside sequences in addition to the space battles.
Posted by 777 (Member # 9506) on :
Yes! StarFox 64's land battles were one of my favorite parts of the game--I can only assume that they improve on the GameCube.
Posted by Earendil18 (Member # 3180) on :
Descent:Freespace is a sci-fi flying game (in space, but it's still flying [Big Grin] ) that had a good story, good graphics, and fun dogfights...but maybe my memory is just playing tricks. It's kinda old now...but it's sequel Freespace 2 I believe is on every best 50 games of all time list out there.

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