On Simulation and Engines

I love technical simulations, such as flight or driving simulators, specifically that ones aiming to simulate real physical entities, in contrast to game software where the focus is entertainment and not realistic behavior. Of course, nowadays you cant draw a clear borderline between gaming and simulation  (for the PC market, not the industrial purpose simulator). Amazing to observe the development and evolution of software and underlying physics and graphics rendering engines over the last 30 years, I still remember getting my hands on Microsoft’s first version of the Flight Simulator from 1982 (its version history ended in 2006 with Flight Simulator X).
Due the hardware limitation of that time (typically 4.77 MHz IBM PC, 64K memory, 360K floppy , no harddisk !) the graphics were rather simple, not to say extremely simple, but still it made us being overly excited to use this simulator in the early 80’s. The software focused from the first version to be accurate on flying physics and navigation.

MS flight Simulator 1.0 Screenshot

30 years later we have such high level of graphical and physical rendering quality, that we almost simulate reality as-is. Hardware build in phones surpasses easily the capabilities of hardware of 80’s, you even get simulation software for tablets today.

The above screenshot is from the website  fshistory.simflight.com (the copyright belongs to them) and I ask you to drop by the website setup by Jos Grupping, unfortunately there are no updates since 2007, as well the Wikipedia entry.

Comparing to visual impact of the version X from 2006.

MS Flight Simulator X

On a side note: Microsoft restarted their effort to build a flight simulator with MS Flight, this time targeting the mass market with a more entertaining version. It is FREE to play, but Microsoft decided again to cease development and scrapped the project in July 2012. Download from here. Wikipedia Info.

In this series I will look further into the simulation software and underlying engines for Windows and Linux.

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