What is FlyInside FSX?
FlyInside FSX takes Microsoft Flight Simulator X off of your monitor and into virtual reality! It’s a plugin for FSX which adds Oculus Rift DK2 support.
What is FlyInside P3D?
FlyInside P3D brings the FlyInside experience to Lockheed Martin's Prepar3D flight simulator! It will support the same features and user interface, but for Prepar3D rather than FSX.
Stretch Goal #1: Leap Motion - $20,000 - Stretch Goal Met!
FlyInside FSX is 100% funded, but that doesn't mean that the Kickstarter is over or that future features are set in stone! Now announcing stretch goal #1: If FlyInside FSX reaches $20,000 I will add Leap Motion support!
You'll be able to press buttons inside the cockpit with your fingers. You'll be able to activate pass-through and view your hands when you need to grab something on your physical desk. It'll even support interacting with the virtual windows inside the cockpit. This won't be a gimmick either. I'll be taking the time to make the implementation user-friendly, configurable, intuitive, and above all as useful as possible!
Stretch Goal #2: Prepar3D - $30,000
The good news: FlyInside is getting Prepar3D support, no matter what!
The bad news: My development time is limited, and I need to prioritize the FlyInside FSX backer reward dates that so many backers have already backed.
Right now, the FlyInside P3D reward tiers are staggered behind the FlyInside FSX rewards tiers, so that I have adequate time to focus on FlyInside FSX. If FlyInside FSX reaches $30,000 in total funding I will be able to allocate more development time to the project, and develop both in parallel!
Should this stretch goal be met, the $45 tier will move to November, while the $75 tier will move to August, just like the FSX equivalents.
FlyInside P3D is not yet as far along as FlyInside FSX, but I'm working hard to bring you an Alpha Preview download before the Kickstarter ends. Stay tuned!
Stretch Goal #3: Flexible Viewpoints - $35,000
Stretch Goal #3 will be the Flexible Viewpoint System. For every aircraft, you’ll be able to configure as many viewpoints as you’d like. You’ll be able to bind buttons or keys to these views, and quickly swap between them. This means that you can bind a pilot’s seat view, a co-pilot view, a convenient radio-stack view, and then switch to each at the press of a button.
You’ll also have the option of specifying a per-aircraft “head boundary”. If you feel uncomfortable accidentally clipping your head through a windscreen, this is the feature for you! You’ll be able to place and size a virtual cube around your head, and as you move too close to the edges, your view will smoothly fade to black. All of these settings will be remembered per-aircraft. No more fiddling with views every time you restart the simulator or change airplanes.
Stretch Goal #4: FSX DirectX 10 Mode - $40,000
If FlyInside FSX manages to raise a total of $40,000 I will implement FSX DirectX 10 support! Many of you have observed better performance or lower memory usage with DirectX 10 mode and requested support for it. It will require a large development effort, but will make the FlyInside experience even better than it already is!
Humans are adventurers. We’ve made daring, crazy, and sometimes hilarious attempts at flight for centuries. Over the past hundred years we’ve mastered aerodynamics and we’ve gone from flimsy propeller planes to fast and safe airliners which carry travelers across the world routinely.
Flying is a beautiful experience with varied landscapes far below and a clear sky above. Smooth landings take skill, accurate navigation requires practice, and nothing compares to the satisfaction of a well planned and executed flight. It’s no surprise that an entire industry has sprung up around flight simulation, trying to capture the experience of one of our greatest achievements. Yet flight simulation doesn’t capture the full experience, especially not when it’s viewed on a window on a monitor.
Flight is best experienced by sitting in a cockpit, not by staring at a 2d window! It’s the perfect fit for virtual reality. Soon after receiving my Oculus Rift DK2, I started hacking at the Prepar3D flight simulator, adding support via the DCOC plugin. After a couple of days of hacking away at Prepar3D, I had my first virtual reality flight experience. The resolution was too low, if I tilted my head wrong the image went bad, and it was kind of stutter to top things off. Despite this, I was hooked!
At a glance, virtual reality flight is amazing! The cockpit of a complex airplane is something to behold in 1st person, with switches and gauges in every direction. The sky looks real and captivating. The terrain below feels large and expansive. Then, once you’ve gotten over the awe of the initial experience, you realize you aren’t just in a short virtual reality demo, you’re in a full flight simulator! You can learn what every dial in the gigantic 747 does. You can practice perfect approaches in a regional jet, or learn to fly a helicopter. In virtual reality, flight simulations provide the perfect combination of awe-inspiring views, unending challenge, and silly acrobatic fun.
That’s why, ever since I received my DK2, I’ve been working on the perfect flight simulation experience. FlyInside brings of the fun of flight to the virtual reality enthusiast, while making virtual reality practical to even the most demanding pilot-in-training.
The Alpha Preview
FlyInside FSX isn’t vaporware or some pipe dream of mine. I’ve been working on it for months, not even counting my past experience working on other related projects. I have a lot of work left on it, but I already have the best flight simulation experience for the Rift in existence. I’ve taken what I’ve created so far, and solidified it into the Alpha Preview. It’s a free preview of FlyInside, which you can download here: http://alpha.flyinside-fsx.com/
The Alpha Preview is only a small part of FlyInside FSX, I have many features still under development. I’ve released this because I think that once you try FlyInside FSX, you’ll be hooked, you’ll understand my vision, and you’ll want to back my Kickstarter!
Virtual reality tricks your brain, it makes you think that you’re somewhere that you aren’t. It shows you fresh images as you move your head around, changing them so quickly that your brain just sees a world around you. This all falls apart if the software reacts too slowly. When you look to the left, the Rift needs to show you the image to the left of you, almost instantly. If it’s even a few milliseconds slow, the illusion is broken.
Oculus invented technology called Timewarp. If you look to the left, but the last picture the Rift has is not quite in the right place, it will stretch and move the image to match. Even if the software falls behind, the illusion is maintained and the virtual world feels real!
I understand how critical all of this is as a virtual reality enthusiast. I am constantly focused on performance, making sure that FlyInside doesn’t slow FSX down any more than absolutely necessary. I’ve also implemented asynchronous timewarp as a core feature of FlyInside. If FSX stutters a little bit, or it misses a frame, FlyInside picks up the slack. It uses timewarp in a parallel manner, sometimes multiple times in a row, to fill in the gaps while FSX is busy. You can turn up your graphical settings, and even while FSX is stuck loading a new chunk of landscape or buildings, FlyInside will keep your view smooth and immersive.
I’ll use your funding to continue improving FlyInside performance and refining FlyInside’s asynchronous timewarp. My number one priority is making sure that FlyInside feels fluid and real.
Your Virtual Cockpit
Real life pilots don’t have an empty cockpit. They have navigational charts, checklists, clipboards, and even iPads placed around them. With FlyInside, I want you to have your own cockpit. You’ll be able to place sectionals, checklists, and more around you in three-dimensional space. You won’t need to take your Rift off to watch a tutorial, instead you can keep your YouTube video in the cockpit while you follow along. You’ll be able to take any window off of your desktop and keep it in the cockpit with you, whether it’s a chart of the airport you’re flying to, or your favorite NetFlix show to entertain you for a long-haul flight.
I’ve already developed and tested various components of my virtual desktop system, to prove that it is both possible and practical. I need your help to complete the functionality and integrate it into FlyInside.
Reading Small Gauges
The Oculus Rift DK2 has limited resolution, which can be troublesome when you need to read small gauges or manipulate little knobs. The Alpha Preview allows you to set FlyInside to 4k resolution, which greatly improves clarity, while still maintain acceptable performance on many computers.
Using your Kickstarter contributions, I’m going to develop further functionality so that you can painlessly read the tiniest of gauges and manipulate the smallest of buttons. In addition to zoom functionality (as seen in DCOC), I’m also developing a magnifying glass so that you seamlessly look over various parts of the cockpit. I’m also going to enable FSX sub-windows within the virtual desktop so that you can place control groups at conveniently viewable angles.
3rd Party Software and Hardware
Flight Simulator X is endlessly customizable. There are hundreds of 3rd party aircraft, landscapes, and add-ons. Using your funding I’m going to add support for as many aircraft and enhancements as possible. I’m also going to utilize your pledges to purchase and support popular controllers, GPU setups, and software combinations.
How did you get involved?
I've looked up to my grandfather ever since I was a child. He'd been a pilot in World War II, a civilian pilot after returning home, and even got his motorcycle license in his 70s. His love of flying inspired and intrigued me.
At the same time, my father was a software engineer. He was always excited to teach me about computers, and began teaching me QBasic from a young age. Before I had turned 10, I already knew that I wanted to be a software developer.
In those days, Moore's law was still in full effect. CPUs were doubling in speed, GPUs were starting to exist, and my friend lent me a copy of Microsoft Flight Simulator, now supporting textures, lighting, and polygons! As with programming, I was hooked! From that point onward, I spent many a late night either creating new software or flying virtual airplanes around virtual skies.
Almost fifteen years later, the Oculus Rift Development Kit 2 was announced. I knew for a fact that it could be amazing. Rather than viewing them on a screen, I could actually put myself inside virtual environments! I received my DK2, and with dreams of piloting an aircraft still bouncing around inside my head, I immediately started hacking away at virtual reality flight simulation.
If you're a flight simulator enthusiast, you've probably seen DCOC.
Enabling the use of the Prepar3D flight simulator within the DK2, I had the initial version up-and-running within 48 hours of downloading Prepar3D. I used it as a testing ground to learn what works well in VR, what doesn't, what features flight simmers will need for a variety of use-cases, and what performance opportunities and pitfalls exist. DCOC shows the potential of what VR flight simulation can be.
Where DCOC was a test-bed for Oculus integration and a learning experience, FlyInside FSX is a high quality product designed from the ground up to be stable, extensible, featureful, and fast. An all new graphics architecture yields a fluid low-persistence experience, even with graphics at max. A completely redesigned input architecture gives you, the pilot, freedom to setup your cockpit with the tools you need, and ensures compatibility with many 3rd party plugins and aircraft.
Any donation, no matter how small, will earn you a place on our "Thank You" page.
For $20, you'll receive a FlyInside t-shirt!
For $35, you'll receive a digital copy of FlyInside once we exit our beta phase. In the mean-time, you are of course welcome to continue enjoying the free Alpha Preview.
For $65, you'll become a FlyInside Beta Tester. You'll have access to the software as I develop it. As soon as I have the magnifying glass working, you'll be able to use it. The day virtual desktop is fully integrated into the software, you'll be able to start testing it. You'll also have access to the private Beta Tester's message board, where you can guide software development. You'll be able to suggest features, help prioritize bugs, and discuss the project with other beta testers.
The $200 tier is for those of you who want something physical to remember the project by. You'll have beta tester access, but you'll also receive a t-shirt, a physical FlyInside CD-Rom, and a poster of VR sight-seeing flight-plans. Includes both FlyInside FSX and FlyInside P3D!
Are you a an airliner pilot who likes to practice at home? Do you have a helicopter you're obsessed with? Using Kickstarter contributions I'll be adding support for as many 3rd party aircraft as possible, but if you have one aircraft that absolutely needs to make the cut, this is your tier. For $750 I'll personally test and develop against the aircraft of your choice, adding FlyInside support.
Do you have a crazy idea for an Easter egg? Maybe you want a game of asteroids to break out when you press the right combination of joystick buttons. Maybe you want a weird alien spaceship to fly overhead if you're flying at midnight on October 31st. For $1,500, you choose the Easter egg, I'll add it to the game! I won't tell anyone, it's up to you who will discover it.
Maybe you're obsessed with VR and want to be remembered as a part of the current VR revolution. Maybe you run a company which makes flight simulator add-ons. Either way, for $2,500, you'll be a named sponsor of FlyInside. Every copy of FlyInside shipped will feature your name, business name, or logo, prominently under the "Presented By" section of the software.
Who is Dan Church?
You may be wondering "Who are you, and why should I trust you to attempt a project like this?" I don't blame you. Kickstarters are numerous, software is complex, and failed projects are common. Backing a project only to see an unsatisfactory result is always a bad feeling.
To start, I've been writing software since I was in second grade. My father was a software engineer, and started teaching me about as soon as possible. Of course, the software I wrote was terrible, but the early start gave me some time to improve.
I write software professionally, mainly business, web, and mobile applications. Game development has always been a hobby of mine, as has reverse engineering. These two hobbies combine to allow me to attempt unique projects.
In 2013, I reverse engineered Microsoft Hover. With a series of screenshots, tech-demos, and e-mails, I convinced Microsoft to work with me, to recreate the nearly 20 year-old game. I was working on an HTML5 port, and given that Internet Explorer 11 was about to launch with WebGL, it made for a great tech demo.
In 2014, I reverse engineered SkyRoads. First, I recreated SkyRoads for HTML5, now something of a past-time for me. This also became my first virtual reality project, as I added Oculus Rift support. After working with the 0.4 Oculus SDK, using (poorly supported at the time) OpenGL, days after receiving one of the first batch DK2 units, I'm well-prepared for any future SDK updates. You can try this project online, or even view the source code.
After finishing OpenRoads, I started experimenting with the Oculus Rift DK2 and the Prepar3D flight simulator. The result, DCOC, was where I first experimented with various virtual reality concepts including binocular zoom and asynchronous timewarp.
The years I've spent experimenting with game development have laid the foundation I need to create FlyInside. My experience with reverse engineering grants the flexibility I need to hook into Flight Simulator X, debug problems, modify the rendering pipeline, and more. The time I've spent working on DCOC has given me the vision for how virtual reality flight simulation should look, and has inspired the more ambitious features mentioned above.
It is my dream to realize the full potential of flight simulation in virtual reality. With your support, I can bring that dream to realization: a truly fun and incredible experience. Thank for reading, and thank you for backing!
Risks and challenges
FlyInside FSX is not a safe or straight-forward project. It takes a game notorious for its low frame-rates, and teleports it to the performance sensitive VR arena. It needs to enable users to read tiny gauges and manipulate complex controls despite the DK2s limited resolution. FlyInside doesn't stop at placing you inside the virtual cockpit, it makes the virtual cockpit your virtual cockpit with cutting edge virtual desktop technology. FlyInside is a program which pushes technological boundaries, and will push many more as I implement my full vision.
The solution? I've spent months experimenting with all of the riskiest unknowns. I've investigated performance, I've implemented asynchronous timewarp, and I've confirmed that FSX can be a comfortable and fun VR experience! I've tested high resolution rendering, magnifying glasses, zoom, and more. I've flown airplanes with detailed cockpits to see how comfortable the various possible approaches are. I've created a rough virtual desktop environment inside FlyInside, and used it to browse the internet from inside a Bell 206.
I have a lot of work left to do, I need to polish and complete features and make them work nicely together. Yet I've tested every component and technology that I'll need, and ensured that they can work. As new challenges arise in the future, I'll attack them with the same relentlessness I've used all along.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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