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How FIFA unexpectedly influenced the developers of Microsoft Flight Simulator

The hugely popular football video game has influenced Microsoft’s most realistic flight simulator yet, and here’s how.

At first glance, it’s hard to see much in common between Microsoft Flight Simulator and FIFA. The former strives for an incredible level of detail and realism to the extent you could almost believe you actually were flying an aircraft, while the latter gives Arsenal a 4.5-star team rating.

However, according to an exclusive interview with Trusted Reviews, it’s been revealed that FIFA inspired elements of the gameplay in the flight sim, specifically with regard to tutorials.

Jörg Neumann, the head of Microsoft Flight Simulator, explained: 

“We looked at our tutorialisation... But when you ask, ‘So what did you learn?’, they kept saying they would forget… so we actually said we need to be better at learning specifically [as] more newcomers come in. We looked at a bunch of other games. The one we all play is FIFA, so we looked at FIFA quite a bit… FIFA is great at tutorials, but they have really itty-bitty tutorials, you know, we learned the bicycle kick, and you get really good at it and you get scored on how well you do. So we took that sentiment, we made our tutorials shorter, added more of them and we gave a lot of emphasis on performance evaluation. So after you’re done with the tutorial, it tells you explicitly how you could do this better and you actually learn.”

Jörg can speak  for himself regarding the easiness of performing a bicycle kick in the game, but it’s interesting to learn that the real source of the granular, assessment-based approach to learning to fly on the simulator comes from the devs kicking back and playing a quick match of Macclesfield Town vs Acrington Stanley during their downtime. 

Further in the interview, Neumann cites landing as a “real trepidation” of most newbies of the flight sim, and hence why anti-stall and auto-recovery options were implemented, along with the ability to land on water or in fields. But it can’t help bringing to mind that famous airman’s aphorism: ‘It’s not the fall that kills you, it’s the landing.’



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