Gamers are fixing Microsoft Flight Simulator with Google Maps

(Image credit: Microsoft)

When Microsoft’s highly-anticipated Flight Simulator 2020 was released earlier this year, the hype for exploring stunning real-world locations had been building for months. 

The game was going to be a showcase for Bing Maps and Azure’s streaming capabilities, and whilst the game enjoyed a hugely successful launch, players are turning to the rival Google Maps service for optimization and fixes.

Microsoft Flight Simulator‘s use of the Bing mapping services data is so impressive that any errors or gaps in the data are impossible to ignore. 

In places, the rendering abilities have fallen somewhat flat, and It’s missing some major monuments where the autogenerated tech has swapped out famous landmarks and buildings with blocky polygons (or on occasion, some monolithic nightmares). 

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Fascinating Flying Fixes

Unfortunately for Microsoft, the gaming community has come up with its own solution: use Google Maps to fill in the gaps. The process is actually pretty complicated, even by normal standards of creating game modifications. You can’t just drag and drop the models, you have to rip and convert them through a number of programs. The process is laborious and far too detailed to recount here, but the FS2020Creation Subreddit has some useful tutorials if you want to attempt it yourself.

Over on the official Flight Simulator forums, the difference in photogrammetry quality (the art of extracting 3D information from photographs) between Bing and Google has been highlighted, and visual comparisons between the two are noticeably apparent. 

Melbourne Cricket Ground Using Google 3D Maps - Colour corrected - (download) - Current vs New from r/MicrosoftFlightSim

One user says: “In regard to photogrammetry, we often talked about number of cities or places that have it on Bing vs. Google. However, when I was examining the same area on both platforms, to my surprise (or not), the quality of photogrammetry on Bing is a lot worse, both in texture quality and polygon counts.”

The base game is, for the most part, groundbreakingly stunning. It can also be stunningly groundbreaking, and despite its faults, Microsoft has produced an enormous feat of gaming engineering. Even if most of us do only use it to fly over our own homes.

Via The Register

Jess Weatherbed

Jess is a former TechRadar Computing writer, where she covered all aspects of Mac and PC hardware, including PC gaming and peripherals. She has been interviewed as an industry expert for the BBC, and while her educational background was in prosthetics and model-making, her true love is in tech and she has built numerous desktop computers over the last 10 years for gaming and content creation. Jess is now a journalist at The Verge.