MSFS installers insights.

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MSFS installers insights.

Post by Firebird »

For reasons that I won't go deeply into, I purchased MSFS - far ahead of the time I was going to.
These are some things that I found out that I think people maybe be interested in. This is not going to be a critique of the game as I have said before everything indicates that this will not be superceded every two years this will be an ongoing project.

Firstly, a friend of mine found a site, based in the US, that was selling the game far cheaper than the quoted prices. To give you an idea I was able to get the Premium Deluxe version for £79. That is the same price as the Deluxe version advertised price.

You have a choice of MS Store or Steam version.

What you get for your money is a key which you then use in the Microsoft Store on your PC. You find the correct version and then put in the key. It then asks you where you want the initial download to go to. It then downloads about 1.5GB and then starts the install.

Now this is the first useful tip here. Unlike other sims you do not get a choice of where it is going, it is going to be installed in C:\Users\xxx\AppData\Local\Packages\Microsoft.FlightSimulator_8wekyb3d8bbwe.
Now taking into account that the Premium Deluxe version currently stands at around 140+ GB a lot of people are going to struggle to fit the game on their boot disk, but you can get around this. more in a minute.

What I found after the install is that I got a nice full screen animation and a message on it to press any key to continue. So I did. The animation repeated itself and repeated itself, you get the picture.
So I started looking for the cause. It took me some time but I eventually found buried in the requirements field on MS Store that the minimum graphics card is an Nvidia GTX770. I had a GTX750 TI, very annoying and frustrating. It doesn't tell you on initial install, either you know or you don't.

So due to the chip shortage at the moment and all the muppets grabbing cards for bitcoin mining you have to be lucky to find a second hand card at a reasonable price. My friend eventually found a GTX970 that somebody was selling that cost me £120. Believe it or not that is a good price at the moment, and that is a rip off.

So the first tip is make sure that you find the specs before you start as it will not tell you that you don't meet them.

So armed with the new card, I uninstalled MSFS and reinstalled. Got to the animated screen again and hit a key on my keyboard. The anim restarted again. No key worked whatsoever! I was dumbstruck.

I searched the requirements again, triple checked that my card that I bought was a GTX970, and then began a laborious search of the internet.
After a day I eventually found something. A post about MSFS not loading mentioned about uninstalling and reinstalling the xbox app. This was weird as the xbox version is not out and I do not have an xbox. I did a search on MS Store and sure enough there is an xbox app. It is free so I downloaded and installed it. When I ran it it gave me a random stupid sounding xbox name. More on that later.

So again I uninstalled and reinstalled MSFS and this time I did not get the animation, I got an installation setup panel and one option is to set where you want the game to be installed. It defaults to the C: drive location mentioned earlier so you have to alter this or your C: drive will get a nasty chunk taken out of it.
So it seems that my problem was related to NOT having a freeware MS App installed not that it mentioned anywhere that I could find that you needed to do this.

It then looks for updates and downloads and installs the game.
Now two things here. Firstly my internet speed is around 76M per second. The game took between 10-12 hours to download and install. So kick it off last thing at night and go to bed.
Secondly when it starts the install it has this annoying game music that it plays constantly so make sure you switch your speakers off whilst installing. The option to switch the music off is only available after the game is installed!

One last tip is that to get an icon to click on to start is a pain. You have to add it via the Flight Simulator page in MS Store.
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Re: MSFS installers insights.

Post by Firebird »

OK so we are all up to date and ready to go. No.
???
In essence there are two types of updates. Sim Updates (SU) and World Updates (WU). The SU updates are the mechanics of the sim and the WU updates are the global scenery updates made available by MS.
The updates that it checks for on install are only the SU updates. the WU updates you have to do manually. Now one good feature here is that all SU and fixes are announced and made available through the MS Store so you won't miss them. When you download them they are not as installed as such. You are asked if you want it/them installed next time you start the game.

The WU updates are available in the Market Place, in game, this is a place you you can purchase stuff for the game. The annoying thing is that the free updates are not made obvious. By default it only shows you payware. You have to select Freeware to on in the menu on the left hand side once in the full catalog. Then it switches the payware off.

One other annoying thing is that there is a freeware airport addon available there. Paderborn. Right down the bottom of the page when you select it it says that minimum graphics card is the GTX970! So beware when you get scenery addons make sure you read thoroughly.

Anyway there are currently 4x WU updates available (Japan, USA, UK, Benelux+France) and in two days time the 5th is available (Scandinavia+Iceland).

Once you have downloaded all the updates and restarted you are now in a place to start.
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Re: MSFS installers insights.

Post by Firebird »

Now there are two real big things you have to set up now. Your graphics options and your control devices.

The graphics options are numerous. What is good is that you have defaults set up to choose from - Low, Medium, High and Ultra. Do not, and I can't express this enough try to set everything to ultra unless you have have one of the new Nvidia RTX cards. You will be sadly disappointed. What I found was that if I basically set it to Medium (GTX970) then I could get 20fps in game. This would come down at times as low as 6 fps. However, much like when P3D came out people moaned about the fps being lower than FSX, which it was but P3D was smoother with lower fps. This is the same. I do get stutters occasionally but nothing that I can really complain about - other than when the MS To Do util refreshed in the background.
My friend has a GTX1080 TI and gets an average of 40 fps in high setting but again it can go to low teens in places.

There is one potentially very useful function for control devices. This is the fact that MS have made it recognise quite a few devices and sets them up with default functions. If they are plugged in it automatically sets them. Of course if you don't like the default options you can alter them.
For people still on FS9 the one good thing is that each control unit is recognised independently so now more having to aggregate them to be fully useful in game. The one glaring thing here I found is that none of the popular CH products were defined. This was a pain having to set everything up manually. It took me a day to be happy as it takes some time to find out the terms used by MSFS.

Even more annoying was that I installed the game when SU3 was out. With SU4 all the CH products are now recognised and populated.

There is one other thing that is very useful and built-in here and that is you can define several configs for each device so you can set them up differently according to the aircraft you are going to fly.
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Re: MSFS installers insights.

Post by TimC340 »

Sounds like the system you've used to purchase the sim has slightly bypassed the normal process, which would have prompted you to get an XBox gaming account either prior to ordering (via the MS Store) or in the installation process if using Steam. I don't think the spec of the GPU will interrupt the install; like most games, it simply will refuse to run at any usable speed. I've noticed that MSFS has become a good deal more demanding since release, and I would have thought that even the 970 might struggle so I'll be interested to see how yours gets on. I'm looking to upgrade my gaming computer's 5700XT (roughly equivalent to the GTX2070) as and when prices return to sanity, as both MSFS and P3Dv5.2 (and iRacing) push it pretty hard! I do have a GTX1080 on my office computer, so if I get a day of boredom (rare just now) may install MSFS on that and see how it runs.
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Re: MSFS installers insights.

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Now flying. When you go to the world map you get the option to set the weather and your flight up and your online presence. Now this is when I found out why you need the xbox app. All your online flying is done using the xbox network. This obviously designed for when it is available for xbox.
So remember when you got allocated that stupid annoying xbox name before, that is what you will be seen as online. So I recommend that you go and alter your xbox name to something you like. You get to alter it once free, each time after that you have to pay $10 so think carefully about it. Also remember that there are the odd one or two people that are known to that network so the chances are that you won't get want you will want as first choice.

There is another tip here as well. Some part of your Windows 10 settings I have never bothered with before - the gaming section.
In there there is a Xbox Networking page. When you click on this it will check the network for you. One thing that inevitably comes back is that the NAT type returns 'Teredo is unable to qualify' and Server Connectivity is 'Blocked'.
There is a button underneath that says 'Fix It' press that and retry and you will then be open. Annoyingly you have to do this every time you check it. So I have a shortcut to that page on my desktop to save me time.
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Re: MSFS installers insights.

Post by Firebird »

TimC340 wrote: 14 Jun 2021, 09:55 Sounds like the system you've used to purchase the sim has slightly bypassed the normal process, which would have prompted you to get an XBox gaming account either prior to ordering (via the MS Store) or in the installation process if using Steam. I don't think the spec of the GPU will interrupt the install; like most games, it simply will refuse to run at any usable speed. I've noticed that MSFS has become a good deal more demanding since release, and I would have thought that even the 970 might struggle so I'll be interested to see how yours gets on. I'm looking to upgrade my gaming computer's 5700XT (roughly equivalent to the GTX2070) as and when prices return to sanity, as both MSFS and P3Dv5.2 (and iRacing) push it pretty hard! I do have a GTX1080 on my office computer, so if I get a day of boredom (rare just now) may install MSFS on that and see how it runs.

All I did was purchase the key and enter it into the game panel in MS Store as instructed. No other instructions or warnings, hence why I detailed it here.
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Re: MSFS installers insights.

Post by Firebird »

Now some performance info here, and please remember that I still haven't got to fly yet.

The game even when starting absolutely hammers the GPU and you will see the temperature rise dramatically. Through MSI Afterburner I alter the fan usage (because Nvidia thoughtfully remove the option to do it through their interface some time ago).

My GPU temp hovers around 44 degs before I altered it and now it hovers around 33 degs (both Centigrade). On startup the temp goes up to 50 degs and in game goes to 79 degs. If you do not have sufficient cooling for your system I can guarantee that you will get temp induced PC shutdowns. I was getting system overheat warnings at 45 deg until I turned the system fan up to max, which was only 1100 rpm from 1000rpm.
Looking at the system whilst it is running the GPU gets hammered. Worse time is actually in the menus as it stays at 100% even on the GTX1080 TI. It seems that the culprit might be the raytraced anim background. Bloomin' stupid if it is.

Now my friends PC has an I5-4400K processor whereas mine is an I5-6600K, his game loads noticeably quicker to the menu and noticeably quicker from the map into the game. This definitely proves that it is the GPU that is the most critical in game. We both have the game installed on SSDs. His GPU is much faster but his CPU is slower.

It takes up to 30 secs for the game to exit after you click shutdown and confirm.
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Re: MSFS installers insights.

Post by Firebird »

Useful safety tip.
If you plug in a peripheral after you have started the game it will CTD. My friend did that once and that is what happened and there are plenty of anecdotes to confirm this 'feature'.
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Re: MSFS installers insights.

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One slight frustrating thing on the world map is that when you chose an airport and look at the details It doesn't give you any navaid info, so no ILS freqs.
You can see them but they are hidden. You have to hit the Open Filters option at the bottom of the screen scroll down to Navaids and select them on. Now the navaids appear in game for you to be able to select an ILS etc.
The really stupid thing is that it does not save this setting (yet). So either you have to turn it back on every time you load the map or manually alter a parm that is in a hidden cfg file.
Really!

Once your flight is loaded you still are not actually in game you have to click the ready to fly button to be truly in game. Why they do this I have no idea. I can't see the sense of it.

Now once in game when you see AI traffic or other players you will see a big data block above the aircraft. It will tell you the xbox user name or if it is AI it will be a generic type name. Nothing else unless you are quite close and then you will see the height. Nothing else. I found a config file that seems to allow all of the options that other sims have but it appears that they have not activated that yet.
The data block is really quite big and I would recommend that you get a third party addon that reduces the size of it. It may not seem like a big thing at the moment but once you get online at a busy place or finally be able to get a good approximation of AI traffic it will bug the crap out of you.
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Re: MSFS installers insights.

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On third party addons it is a different system entirely to previous MS sims.
Wherever you installed your game there will be a 'Community' folder. This is where all addons go. There is no scenery.cfg to amend, no ordering just slap the addon folder in there and it will load it.
My first mod was one to amend the name plates then the next ones were the 3 sceneries that Rocket has released. (Quick plug there).

It doesn't matter whether it is scenery, mods, aircraft or traffic plans all the folders go in that location.

Now I think I shall end the notes, currently, with about the aircraft. You know by now that there are no helos. Some might mention that there is a freeware H135 and quite a few schemes available for it. Yes there is, however it is not use a helo flight engine as the helo flight engine has not been released yet. From what i understand it is similar to AI Helos in FS9/FSX. They use the flight model of a plane with a very short take and land.
Obviously, if you want to play with that feel free, but it will not be the same.

Now in the Market Place there are a growing number of planes and sceneries. In my opinion they are over priced. There is a highly touted CJ4 Citation that goes for £50! Who wants to fly that badly enough to pay that. To be fair most are cheaper than that but most are around the £20 mark. I am going to wait for the info to be made available and freeware addons start becoming prevalent.

There are no complete freeware military aircraft as of now. There are several works in progress with bits missing but I shall wait for those to be to a good level. There is a promising Alpha Jet but it accelerates like an F-16 in burner and unless you have throttles fully back and speed brakes open you have no chance to land it. Work is definitely need on the fde there, even though the weight and thrust seems to be correct. the drag model needs some work.
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Re: MSFS installers insights.

Post by Firebird »

OK that is it for now. Comments on the graphics and the aircraft included or not included have been covered before so I deliberately skirted around those things. These notes are purely for people thinking about getting it. Things to note and be aware of.

I will add stuff if I remember anything or come across anything. If anybody else has tips or questions feel free to add to the thread.
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Re: MSFS installers insights.

Post by Firebird »

Having said that I remembered something, triggered by Tim's comment.

MS Store or Steam. There are a couple of differences namely with the MS Store version you will be using the xbox network, but with the Steam version uses the Steam network, I believe, and presumably the SU updates and fixes will come through Steam.

Operationally, I have found two other differences. Firstly, you are forced to have a log book whether you want one or not and ALL your flights are stored in it, the exception apparently being if you are in dev mode which does not store flight data in the log book.
With the MS Store version it stores your flight book online and you can't edit it or delete it or reset it. Bloomin' xbox functionality again. So all your test flights or getting to know the aircraft flights will record all your incomplete flights/crashes.
If you are somebody that cares about their logbook and looks at it then it will bug you. Me never looked at it, never will.
The steam version stores it on your PC albeit it not exactly in a conspicuous place. But you can therefore delete as xbox 'rewards' are not available to you.
The other thing that seems to be stored online is your device configs. This is useful if you uninstall/reinstall then they get restored. I assume this works for steam as well but I am not sure a steam user will need to say.
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Re: MSFS installers insights.

Post by Firebird »

Settings are a more spread out thing with MSFS. I am not talking about the replacement files for the old aircraft.cfg files but sim files themselves.
The main cfg file is called FlightSimulator.cfg and contains much of what you would expect to find in fs9.cfg or fsx.cfg. However as alluded before there is definitely stuff in there that is not used yet.
Another important one is UserCfg.opt this is where the graphics settings you set are stored.

Both files can be found in you installation \LocalCache folder.
One thing that is new is that these files are encrypted. They can be opened by text editors but the key thing is that they can't be copied. So if you want to keep a copy you either have to use some backup software to restore them or you have to open them in an editor and save them somewhere else as a txt file.
As a side note all flight plans are saved this way as well. No, I am not really sure why they went down this road either.
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Re: MSFS installers insights.

Post by Greg »

I think it is important to understand that Xbox has become much more than consoles. Microsoft recently integrated the PC gaming ecosystem into the Xbox brand, which is why you're also getting a lot of Xbox apps and features integrated into Windows 10. It's no different than other social gaming networks like Steam, Origin and GOG that have nothing to do with consoles.

Long gone are the days that you simply inserted your gaming disc and could play. All games are now using some sort of social gaming network that keeps track of your friends, achievements, saves etc. It's interesting to see how old-school simmers are struggling with something that PC gamers don't even think about any more.

It's probably something Microsoft and Asobo didn't really factor in for MSFS. A lot of Windows 10 users delete every Xbox app they can find because they don't "have an Xbox". Asobo should have made the installation process more robust for non-PC gamers.
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Re: MSFS installers insights.

Post by Firebird »

I would agree with you, Greg.
I do remember removing some xbox stuff some time ago because, as you said, I do not have an xbox. Whether the xbox app was one of those I couldn't say.
I also agree that it should be made more obvious that you need the xbox app and have an xbox login to play the game EVEN if you only ever play offline. It would have saved me some time in working out why the thing wouldn't load. Hence why I started this thread.

Ironically, of course, if I had known about it. I probably would have just went with the GTX750 TI rather than upgrade and the the chances are that it would have been enough to play but it would not have produced the level that I have currently in the game.

On the GPU rampage that goes on, I may have some useful info to help here but I need to check it out fully before I post anything.
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Re: MSFS installers insights.

Post by TimC340 »

I think it's important to remember that MSFS, more than FSX and obviously more than P3D, is a game first and foremost. A spectacularly good-looking game, but a game nonetheless. Like some of the features of FS2004 - CoF, MSFS is intended to appeal to people who have experienced games like Grand Theft Auto or Skyrim, and seduce them into flight simming by presenting a similar and familiar user experience. They knew they'd get the hardcore simmers anyway if the flying experience was good enough, but they needed their market to be much bigger than that. To a very large extent, they've succeeded. The changes have discomfited some simmers, but the extent to which FSDeveloper is now dominated by MSFS shows just how well it's been received by the vast majority. MAIW is an outlier in this context, but hopefully our needs will be catered for in time. The demand for realistic civilian AI will hopefully bring about the changes needed for MAIW to move in!
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Re: MSFS installers insights.

Post by Firebird »

I would tend to agree with you, Tim.

As a very unscientific example but my friend was talking about the graphics on FS constantly. He was so impressed with them. He has never been into flight sims but when I told him that I had a plan to fly around the world once I eventually bought it the bug bit him and he pushed for both us to purchase it as he wanted to join me.
The TBM 930 is OK but I really would prefer something more in my interest range.

Still we decided to go the wrong way around and we are currently in Nebraska and off to see Mount Rushmore next. He is enjoying it.
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Re: MSFS installers insights.

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OK I have two tips.
The first is a really simple one. It is been described as a massive frame rate hit. Any cockpit that an electronic display in it hits the fps quite hard. This can be felt worse by people that have the low end cards like my GTX970.
What you can do to increase your fps by between 1-3 is decrease the graphic setting Glass Cockpit Refresh Rate down to LOW.

The increase in fps doesn't sound much but taking into account that with the change I still only get 16 fps on the runway at Northolt you can see that it is a valuable thing to do. Asobo are very aware of the 'feature' and seemingly a fix will be rolled out in SU5, where the data processing will be split off into a separate thread from the screen updates.

Secondly, I finally found something that reduces the GPU load.
Everybody, but everybody, says to switch off V-Sync in game and just use G-sync if you can. However, this was what was causing the issue.
G-Sync is a feature that only appears in Nvidia cards fron the GTX10xx onwards. For it to be used you also need a monitor that is G-Sync capable. Basically if you do not have any G-Sync option in your Nvidia settings you can't use it. It also appears that the option does not work on some capable monitors with MSFS.

Anyway neither my monitors nor my card are capable so it takes that out of the equation. What I noticed was that when I was in the menu, and I accidentally had an fps monitor active, was that my fps was 154 and the GPU was at 100%. The temp was up at 79 degs whereas it was up to 69 whilst flying.
You do not need a menu page at 154 fps. So I switched on V-Sync from the settings page and set it to 20 fps. This choice I made because the max fps I had achieved in game was 24-25 so decided to set it to 20 and smooth the game out and save on GPU cycles.
In game again at Northolt I got between 16-19 at Northolt, so I wasn't limiting it any but the GPU temp only went as high as 59 degs as opposed to 69 degs. Result.

I exited the game and went back to the menu. 20 fps only and the GPU was only at 33% and run at 51 degs! Setting the V-Sync to 30 fps increased the temp in the menu and in game for absolutely no benefit on my system.

As I have yet to hear anybody say that they can get 60 fps for MSFS. I would say that maybe it is worth switching V-Sync on and setting it to either 20 or 30 according to your system to save wear and tear. Yes, even if it means switching off the beloved G-Sync for MSFS.
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Re: MSFS installers insights.

Post by Firebird »

Useful info for those who are considering getting MSFS.

On July 27, SU5 is being released along with the game on Xbox.

One of the significant changes for this update is that the game will for the first time use Directx12, which is default in Windows 10.
DirectX 12 brings a significantly reduced CPU overhead, a Significantly reduced power consumption and up to 20% improvement in GPU efficiency.

It would seem that the delay in the Xbox version was to ensure that it could deliver a smooth and playable experience. The preview I have seen guarantees 30 fps.
This is better I get at the moment, so I hopeful that I will be able to achieve at least similar results and can up my frame limit from 20 to 30.
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Re: MSFS installers insights.

Post by rocket_26_ »

Need a 10X series card really in my opinion for good performance.

I run a 1080 TI with stock clock.
At Lakenheath on the runway in a pay ware Goshawk I get 40-45 FPS and then when in the air between 40-50 FPS. Thats with a mixture of ultra and high settings and the odd settings lower which give minimal visual effect. I can also run in VR smoothly which I cant in P3D. Perhaps its more optimised for VR than P3D.
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