A whole bunch of fresh info on Microsoft Flight Simulator has come up thanks to a recent preview event, and that includes some notable detail on how the game’s cloud tech actually shapes the world you’re flying around. In short, the answer to the obvious question is yes: you can totally seek out and fly by your house in-game.
That’s a pretty simple idea in concept, but making it happen requires a combination of satellite imagery – pulled from Microsoft’s own Bing maps – and cloud processing – similarly built from Microsoft’s Azure tech. It all works together through the process of photogrammetry, which interprets two-dimensional imagery into three-dimensional game objects.
So as long as you’re connected to Microsoft servers, you will find the entirety of the real world recreated in the simulator, down to the last detail. YouTuber FrooglePete describes (at 18:55 in the video below) taking off from a local airport and flying by a restaurant he’d visited the night before – all of which appeared in-game in convincing detail, fully modeled in 3D without any custom assets.
The catch is that you’re only going to see that impressive detail if you’re online on a solid, stable connection. The data is impossibly large – too big to store locally – so it has to stream in, or else you’ll get a much less detailed version of the world. (There are also caching options to let you pre-load advanced data for offline play.)
It’s not all perfect – Polygon notes that a trip to Egypt resulted in both impeccably rendered pyramids and a stretch of desert that the engine didn’t know what to do with – which resulted in a forest of sand-coloured trees stretching into the distance.
The devs are still tweaking their tools, and ideally these sorts of issues will be worked out by the game’s final release – after all, the Microsoft Flight Simulator alpha hasn’t even begun yet. You can follow that link for details on how to sign-up, and playable tests are set to begin very soon.