Flight Sim World releases an update that includes dynamic weather

by: Dave -
More On: Flight Sim World

Dovetail didn't take long to start making good on the promises the made when they outlined their Phase 2 development plans for Flight Sim World, one of the more important of which was the addition of dynamic weather. 

Why is this important? Allow me to explain.

I flew my little two-seat airplane from Ohio to Florida last year. Even with over 900 fight hours in my logbook, it was by far still the longest trip I had ever made. Naturally I was a little nervous about it; I tried lying to myself - after all, it was really just three 2-hour flights strung to together and I have many, many flights like that under my belt.

But, as I said, this was a lie. Why? It's because there can be a whole lot of weather change on a 200 mile flight, and there can be even more than that on a 600 mile trip. That is obviously because weather changes - it is one of the most dynamic factors to consider before launching off into the sky with an airplane that is so light as to be subject to every whim of capacious weather.

I mention this only because you may not fully realize what it means for Dovetail to move away from "canned" weather, wherein the weather at your destination is exactly the same as it was for your departure. While that would be a wonderful thing in real life, it simply isn't the case. You aren't really simulating flight if you aren't simulating the stress involved in dealing with real live weather.

While it's not quite as stressful as seeing an inert propeller blade as seen in the picture I grabbed from Dovetail, it is far more common. Deaths and injuries caused by pilots flying into weather beyond their or their airplane's capabilities are orders of magnitude more common that crashes caused by loss of power, if you exclude fuel exhaustion as the cause of the engine stoppage. Unlike weather, though, fuel exhaustion is nearly always down to pilot error. Not so with weather; forecasts are guesses, not air tight contracts.

In any event, as of the Feb. 1 update, you have the option to test yourself with the real thing. 

Dovetail provided more details:

Here at DTG towers, we are getting pretty excited about Dynamic Weather v1 coming to Flight Sim World tomorrow.

As it is now, you have a choice of static weather themes, and your flights are conducted in that theme for the entirety of your session - the wind, cloud type, cloud heights, visibility remains constant.

With dynamic weather, this is not the case. Once you enable DW, the engine reads from thousands of weather stations dotted around the world map and determines the conditions from METAR strings that we have created.

In order to ensure the conditions are not always the same, we have created multiple environments - through the inclusion of seasonal strings. Over time we will expand this data set to provide an incredibly rich and varied flight environment. It wouldn't make sense for the South East of the UK to continually shower the player with rain - there is a week of moderately warm weather to break it up. (For avoidance of doubt, this is a joke - there are actually two weeks of moderately warm weather in the UK – each year!)

With Dynamic Weather enabled, your flight from departure to destination will 'read in' the weather strings from nearby weather stations and determine the conditions. So if you were to travel, for example, from Coventry airport to Heathrow, you could take off in overcast conditions with light rain and arrive at Heathrow in sunny conditions with very few clouds.

En route, the engine will pickup other nearby weather stations and will, after a period of time, try to transition to the visible weather to those settings it has been fed. There is a cycle which waits before reading new conditions (so as not to be constantly transitioning as you fly within reach of lots of stations) and a transition time whenever a change is initiated. The conditions slowly unfold and do not 'jump' from one to another.

As this is version 1.0 of dynamic weather, the conditions develop around you and do not become visible off in the distance. You can see the weather developing, but it will be the same in every direction you look - essentially there are no weather fronts. This step is has been about preparing the FSW engine, and in particular our Advanced Weather engine powered by trueSKY, for Live Weather.

The aim is to eventually be able to visualize multiple weather types in the same session so we can have foreboding weather fronts for you to try and avoid! This, in what is arguably the most advanced visualization of weather in a flight simulation, is where we’re heading.