MSFS Is A Visual Marvel With A Not So Marvellous File System

September 24, 2021

MSFS delivers what is, to me, the best general aviation experience of all the simulators I have tested and for that type of flying, it has taken over. My “other sim” which used to be my complete go-to sim for everything, X-Plane, still provides me with everything else where MSFS falls short. But this is not an introduction to a “sim war” and a tiering “haters” VS “fanboys” opinion, that is its own rant entirely. This is about MSFS and a couple of things that I fail to understand completely when I imagine their meetings and they went: “Yes, that’s how we should proceed with this development.”  Some of the choices made to the experience I found frustrating about MSFS. I want to make it very clear that I do appreciate Microsoft Flight Simulator for what it does well.

There is so much to love. I just wish there wasn’t so much to hate.

Sometimes I feel like Asobo was rushed so badly by the Microsoft overlord machinery that they are unable to get a good enough foothold to mend basic flaws. Or maybe it is the Xbox version that limits their abilities to fix basic issues or to structure their program in a way that makes no sense at all. Among the annoyances, apart from the numerous bugs that seem to plague every release, are:

  • The music plays a short snippet on start-up even when you have turned the menu music off. 
  • Why do we have to “purchase” free World updates and then go to the content manager to download them?
  • The community manager and the store are seriously badly constructed and a pain to navigate.
  • The store sells items that clearly have no quality control (This warrants a rant of its own)
  • Why is there a giant white box on the map that covers a large area of the map and makes it so cumbersome to choose a departure parking spot? Even starting a flight is often a chore.
  • Chronic stuttering.
  • Live weather is always off despite the fact that I ALWAYS use live weather. 
  • Whenever I start the sim and haven’t started my Xbox Elite controller before MSFS my mapping of it is just gone. And more often than not the key mapping of that controller has to be redone. 
  • After an update, some settings get reset or new settings like labelling of the control surfaces for Xbox users are turned on by default. 
  • Microsoft also seems to have given itself exclusive rights to make the sounds of MSFS louder if you turn it down in the windows volume mixer. Ending up with 100% sound at a 30% sound setting.
  • Why can’t I steer the aircraft in drone mode?

I could go on for some time here. Many of these are minor and maybe some are my own fault. But it’s the sum of them that makes the experience so frustrating. And some of the faults or design choices are just so unbelievable, it hurts to think how anyone can have accepted them. Let alone create them in the first place. 

Livery making is a science you need to study before you even think of diving in. And this is in part a culprit of my main gripe with the whole sim. It is the primary cause of my hair loss and creates rashes on my skin that leave me looking like a figure taken out of the most ridiculous splatter movie from the ’80s. All of which is the Jenga tower it was all built on.

The MSFS folder structure is insanely idiotic. Oh, you want a tidy folder? You want control of your file structure? MSFS: “Hold my beer and let me kill a part of what you conceive as hope for humanity”. The folders are hidden so far in users/AppData that you could knit a collection of sweaters out of the folder address. When you want to install the sim on another drive, there are still parts located on the C drive! You might not have room for a giant simulator on your C drive, or if you want all your folders to be neat and tidy on the fastest drive you have bought specifically to load the sim faster. The folder on the C drive is not massive, but you are now stuck with six different folders. Ever heard of a “root folder”? Take your pick.

You get no less than three folders on the specified drive during installation. This is in addition to the custom folder you create to harbour your community files and folders. Two of the folders that I can't even remove when I uninstall the sim without changing folder ownership! And one of them you can't even access. I don't care if this is a "security measure". I own my computer and I own all sectors of my drives. I don't own the content and am not to fiddle with software that denies me that, but I sure as hell should be able to access folders and be able to delete what is on my drive! 

Save this folder as a shortcut if you ever want to do any customisation of your sim: C:\Users\[YOUR_USER]\AppData\Local\Packages\Microsoft.FlightSimulator_8wekyb3d8bbwe\LocalCache\Packages

These folders are on my D: drive after the installation of Microsoft. 

DCS has two folders, which is one too many. But since I don’t use DCS that much, that might be my own fault and I may have done a bubu. But look at X-Plane’s one folder. One folder you can copy as many times as you want and you’ll have as many working copies of X-Plane that you can muster. And every copy can have its own set of addons within them. And it just works.

I appreciate a lot about MSFS but there are some things to deal with that make me physically ill; and the worst of them all is folder structures. Denying access to the folders, on top of littering the file system with folders, is the most intrusive move I have ever seen an application do that’s not labelled as a virus. It is beyond me how this has ever been accepted by Asobo. It’s no wonder that the sim has bugs to hell and back when your folder structures are this schizophrenic.

I’m sorry for the rant but.. I am reinstalling the sim for the eighth time this summer and I am so fed up with it all. The sim is so good when it works and it is the reason why I constantly return. (But also, the fact that I made this part into a profession, so I’m stuck... Life decisions and regrets lol)

Of course, I know this isn’t something that is going to be fixed. But holy hell it is something that deserves a good old-fashioned spanking. Are you reading this, Jorg? You will get this rant when I buy you a beer the next time we talk. What your team has created is so awesome and it has set new standards. Just stop setting standards on the opposite end as well… Ah, it's finally installed. After it had downloaded every single file separately, packed them out and installed them one by one and thus used about four hours longer than any other game of the same size. Sigh...

/rant over

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