Are you PREPAR3D for this?

I think it’s fair to say that a large portion of the flight SIM community has been caught off guard by the revelations flowing onto and out of the forums today concerning a “new” flight SIM that has been quietly under development since 2009.

The product? PREPAR3D. Pronounced “prepared”. And the SIM is a total earth environment simulator, down to and including submersible objects. Yes, as in submarines. This is hardly surprising given that the developer is Lockheed Martin, the huge aerospace/defense contractor.

So, what makes PREPAR3D such a big deal?

Well, the core technology is Microsoft’s own ESP technology, developed by the ACES team. This is the team replaced by Microsoft when MsFlight went into development. Remember about a year ago when recruitment ads were spotted looking for MsFS SIM developers? Everyone thought this was proof positive that Aerosoft was in the SIM business. Now, you wanna guess who placed those ads?

So, what does it all mean?

Well, simply put, all of those who’ve invested tons of money on FsX add-ons and who’ve been fretting about: 1) the lack of future development for the core SIM by MicroSoft, and; 2) the continued nagging voice in the back of your head telling you that the flight physics in MsFS’s core is not really the best – now have cause to rejoice. It’s only assumption at this point but fair to assume that if an aerospace contractor is putting together a SIM based on existing FsX tech that item number one is to clean up MsFs’s questionable physics. That this might be accomplished while at the same time utilizing the vast pool of add-ons now available for FsX? Well, your investment just received a massive transfusion of high powered technological life support. There’s simply no other way to look at this right now, and perhaps because – right now – the FsX community is riding on the building crest of a very large wave of emotional energy. A lot of questions appear to have an answer, and the answers floating around look very good indeed.

But the truth of the matter is we simply don’t have answers to all these questions and hypotheticals right now. This is an evolving story!

Yes, but not for everyone. Obviously a great many people are working on this, and images are coming out. There’s no end in sight right now, but given that a picture is worth a thousand words let’s look at nine thousand of ‘em! Nine images taken from within PREPAR3D and up on their site. The first thing you’ll undoubtedly notice is that Orbx and REX are apparently already strategic partners in this venture, and that Lockheed aircraft feature prominently. Take a look at just a few of the images available:

And yes, there are already Lockheed Constellations and Electras available as free downloads.

Once again, this is an evolving story, and we’ll be adding what we can, when we can.

Stay tuned, and thanks for coming along. C & S

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16 responses to “Are you PREPAR3D for this?

  1. Pingback: The News…Heard ‘Round the Ramps…for 20 September 2011 « Xplane10's Blog

    • Perry: Lockheed Martin is NOT going to develop a flight SIM with inferior physics. From what I’ve seen and read so far, it’s being used to train pilots in-house and for other commercial applications. Think of it as FsX add-ons wedded to a physics package being developed by cutting edge aerospace engineers. If this turns out to be the case then the entire flight SIM market just got turned on it’s head, AND that might explain why some significant FsX developers have been reluctant to cross over to XP, as well. Again, if true, this is a major paradigm shift, not a simple product announcement. And again, it’s too early to reach this conclusion. There remain too many unknowns at this point in time, and too many questions not even asked yet.

    • Perry: I’m not so sure about FsX being hurt by this. The product is no longer being actively marketed by MS, and FsX is getting hard to find in many retail locations. Also, this simply makes FsX add-ons that much more valuable, as they might be usable in both platforms, and there’s talk that developers will credit existing users so they don’t have to purchase two copies. It’s hard to see how this hurts FsX users. And it’s equally hard to see how this helps X-Plane. IF, and I repeat IF, the net result of all this is to rework the core physics of FsX, then X-Plane’s one good reason for existing as an alternative to MsFS is simply diminished. XP10 has to, in effect, equal or surpass the best user experience of the best add-ons in FsX to remain competitive. I’m not saying this is impossible…far from it. But the pressure on Laminar just intensified by an “order of magnitude…” The competitive environment just intensified in ways very few imagined possible just a few days ago. Last week we were faced with MsFlight being a possible no show (false rumor) and now P3D appears poised to enter the market too. Now instead of XP having the market to itself there are in effect four major SIM platforms in various stages of gestation/evolution. In other words…information chaos, a weird sort of entropy!

  2. From what I get from their site, the use Microsoft’s ESP tech to create a sim, creating an ultra-realistic environment. But this probably meant to be used for real flight simulator most, no so much for desktop.

    From their store, there are 2 versions: Prepar3d at $499 and Prepar3d for devs at $9.95/month. So the flight sim costs $500 now. I don’t know if it will be a “desktop” version for less, but that’s what the show for now.

    No one of course can say that that isn’t perfect. It’s too perfect. But what machine do you need for that? They recommend (the minimum we all know that’s not going to work…) at least CPU Quad Core 2.0 GHz (Per Core)+, RAM 4GB+, GPU memory 1GB (DDR5 or better!?) and 20GB hard disk space.

    So the base PC it needs is on high site, and does any one knows if that PC will run smooth at detail level like the screenshots? Moreover that you get in that 20GB space is (except the 2GB SDK), 45 high detailed airports and 39 cities. That seems to me that is all about a small portion of the world. Maybe the rest of airports and cities will be no more detailed than the standard FSX.

    My conclusion, at the time is that is not a product in the range of FSX or XP10. So I don’t see it as any kind of “threat” for XP10.

    • @airfighter: from what I’ve read, the 500USD price is for institutions running this as a commercial SIM; the 10 USD per month price is what you’d pay for now, but a new pricing structure is in the works. I think this entire program was originally conceived as a commercially oriented project, and only recently have the implications of using the core ESP program as a new general release SIM been realized. As we’ve said, this is an evolving situation, information is changing daily. I have NOT bought it yet, nor will I, until the situation clarifies. I can’t recommend anyone do otherwise until more facts are known, but I’d say we’ll know a lot more within a month or so. Again, we’ll do our best to keep you informed. C

    • airfighter, I’ve just posted an update. There’s a huge amount of info and traffic over at the Orbx forum, link provided in the new post. Let’s just say next week might be huge – if the new 1.2 update of P3D goes well, and others report performance increases/new features, it might be worth a look. If there’s a ‘ho-hum’ reaction as I’ve already seen with V1.1, I personally wouldn’t bother yet.

      Simon

  3. Good screenshots!

    Well v1.3 is out, but it still looks like we’ll have to wait for v2.0 for the huge jump.

    Like other developers we’ve started work on becoming P3D compatible. It’s nice to have another (future) sim along side XP10.

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