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Google PC Games (Games)

Google Earth Flight Simulator 187

Posted by kdawson
from the now-that's-an-easter-egg dept.
insidedesign writes "Blogger Marco has recently discovered that the newest version of Google Earth includes a flight simulator. Though simple in comparison to full-blown simulators, Google Earth's is fun and addictive. To get started, press Ctrl+Alt+A for the initial dialog (on OS X, Command+Option+A). Then choose your plane (F16 or SR22) and initial airport. Joysticks are supported; it has even been reported that force feedback works. The game's controls are sensitive so it takes some getting used to. Here are all the available controls. For a quick overview, check out this YouTube video."
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Google Earth Flight Simulator

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  • by thatskinnyguy (1129515) on Saturday September 01, 2007 @09:54PM (#20437329)
    That is freaking AWESOME!
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by jcr (53032)
      Not yet, it's not. Google Earth has a long way to go to become a good citizen on the Mac.

      -jcr

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bigstrat2003 (1058574)
        That doesn't make it not awesome, just not as awesome as it could be.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by IngramJames (205147)
          I'm reply to THIS parent so that this post floats to the top.

          Call me a karma-whore if you will, but this may save y'all some time.

          The shortcut that worked for ME was CTRL-WINDOWS_BUTTON-A, not ALT.

      • by Bluesman (104513) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @01:23AM (#20438273) Homepage
        It's Google's Earth, so the Mac actually has a long way to go to be a good citizen on it.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by bazorg (911295)
        nah, it's pointless because Mac users are undeserving.

        When Google released Desktop Search for Mac, all I could read on Mac forums was "meh, nothing new compared to Spotlight" "meh, what do we need this for?" "spotlight is prettier", etc.

        The other day, Openoffice.org announced a release candidate native for OS X... all I could read on Mac forums was "this is nice, but it's not really Mac-like", "I'll just save £59 and wait for iWorks 2008", "meh, MS Office is better", etc.

        so, unless Google decides to c

        • Your analysis of Mac cultists (they don't even really deserve the title of "zealot" any more...) is spot-on. However, it's good to remember that not all Mac users are a part of the cult of Jobs, and that the GP may not be one of them. Don't lump them all together, etc.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by jcr (53032)
          When Google released Desktop Search for Mac, all I could read on Mac forums was "meh, nothing new compared to Spotlight"

          That was because it was nothing new compared to Spotlight.

          What's wrong with google earth, besides trying to muddle through with Qt instead of having a native UI, is that it has a nasty habit of buggering window server memory that it shouldn't be touching. It even has a preference for "safe 3d graphics mode", for heaven's sake, and it still manages to scribble all over the backing stores
          • by cortana (588495)

            What's wrong with google earth, besides trying to muddle through with Qt instead of having a native UI, is that it has a nasty habit of buggering window server memory that it shouldn't be touching.
            Isn't it the display server's job to disallow that from happening in the first place?
        • by yabos (719499)
          The reason I didn't like Google Desktop Search was because it ran about 3-4 processes in the background all the time that used quite a bit of RAM. Spotlight's only has mds and mdimport which use about 10% of the RAM that Google's processes used. They were using up to 20MB of physical RAM from what I remember which is unacceptable to have going all the time especially when I'm trying to run large programs such as Motor, Mokey or Shake. I don't want all the pageouts that I already get with Motor let along
        • As a user of all three major OSes, I would argue that it would do Windows and Linux users a lot of good to be a bit more critical. Looking at the apps available, there's a reason Mac apps are generally more polished: Mac users complain about stuff like that and will ignore (and thus eventually kill) crappy apps.

          Please, people, learn something from Mac users. Don't accept crap just because it's free.
  • Terrorism? (Score:5, Funny)

    by German_Dupree (1099089) on Saturday September 01, 2007 @10:06PM (#20437379)
    I can just see the U.S. government attacking Google as a "terrorist training ground".

    Everyone knows that if it teaches you to fly an airplane, it's an Islam extremist hotbed.
  • I'd expect this from Slashdot on April First, or Google even, because so many people would think it is a hoax.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Except that it's not exactly an easter egg. It's under the Tools menu. Verifying that it exists is easy: open up Google Earth, use Help/Check for Updates to make sure you have the latest version, and pull open the Tools menu. There it is.

      Also, here are the keyboard controls off Google's website [google.com].

      Saying that it was "discovered" makes it sound like it was hidden. It wasn't.
      • by Goaway (82658) on Saturday September 01, 2007 @10:50PM (#20437625) Homepage
        Quoting the very page you linked to:

        Once you have entered flight simulator mode for the first time, you can re-enter the mode by choosing Tools > Enter Flight Simulator.

        So no, it's not in the Tools menu by default, and yes, it's an easter egg.
        • Basic flight controls have been in the Google Earth options since the beginning. Under Navigation, right there in plane sight. Groan, but true.
          • Did you ever try using that mode?
            It sucked and didn't give you all the degrees of freedom in a fluid way.
            You couldn't even point in an upward angle.
            • Yeah, it wasn't a full blown flight sim or anything, and it had pretty rotten controls, but it still provided me with a lot of harrowing entertainment. And it has the advantage of working at any flight speed and never stalling. The new flight sim is obviously a lot better in every other way and having joystick support is fantastic (if twitchy) as is being able to look around. They just need to make it configurable and add a helicopter mode and I'd be in heaven (or a smoking crater if you don't believe in th
              • by fbjon (692006)
                Speaking of configurable, does anyone have any idea how to change the default axis assignments in GEarth? It consistently assigns the joystick rudder control to thrust and vice versa for me, which turns flying into quite a circus. The same problem occurs when navigating with joystick in normal view, which is still pretty cool though.
                • by Purity Of Essence (1007601) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @11:35AM (#20441789)
                  You might try tinkering with one of these files, I'd start with this first:

                  %PROGRAMFILES%\Google\Google Earth\res\flightsim\controller\generic.ini

                  These others in the same directory seem to be for specific brands of controller:

                  genius_maxfighter_f16u.ini
                  speed_link_black_hawk.ini
                  speed_link_cougar_flightstick.ini

                  From generic.ini

                  axes = [
                      A1 set(DE, 1.0, 0.0)
                      A0 set(DA, 1.0, 0.0)
                      A3 set(DP_0, -0.5, 0.5)
                      A2 set(DR, 1.0, 0.0)
                  ]

                  povs = [
                      P0 set(HAngle, 1.0, 0.0)
                  ]


                  It looks like:
                  A0..3 = the four axes
                  P0 = hat switch
                  DE = elevators
                  DA = ailerons
                  DP_0 = power
                  DR = rudder
                  HAngle = head angle

                  I swapped A2 and A3 and everything was hunky-dory!

                  Check out the other *.ini files and see the there are also button press and release events that can be programmed:
                  B0..n = buttons

                  Proceed at your own peril. And don't be a dummy like me, backup your files first!

                  If you want to get really adventurous here are the flight characteristics of the available aircraft (these are also plain text files):
                  %PROGRAMFILES%\Google\Google Earth\res\flightsim\aircraft\*.acf

                  It's like Christmas!
                  • by Purity Of Essence (1007601) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @11:45AM (#20441907)
                    I guess I was a little too excited and posted before checking everything out. There are more files in the controller director for various sticks. And the files are pretty well documented. You can also create a custom HUD and keyboard setups. Damn! You can even change the gravity and atmosphere. And apparently you don't have to modify existing configs, you can add new ones and reference them in the flightsim.ini file (where you can also setup addition airports). Haven't tested that part yet. Fun-fun-fun!
                    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                      Bah! You can't add new planes without rebuilding the dialog box resource and compiling it into flightsim.dll. Weak, Google. But thanks for making everything else so easy to monkey with.
        • by Fweeky (41046)
          Funny, it was there from the moment I installed the latest beta here.
  • This is kind of like the Doom "game" hidden in one of the old Microsoft office programs. If I remember right, one version of Excel also had a flight simulator.

    I love easter eggs.
  • Wise Guys! (Score:5, Funny)

    by stox (131684) on Saturday September 01, 2007 @10:21PM (#20437455) Homepage
    The only airport they list for Chicago is Meigs. The only airport that no longer exists in Chicago.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Yes and it SUCKS it no longer exists. I used to be able to fly into Chicago for lunch, get out of the plane and WALK to several decent resturants. But no, they decided it was much more important to have it available for Rich assholes to live on waterfront $1,000,000 condos are far more important.

      Destruction of Meigs Airport is solid proof that nobody cares about general aviation anymore.
      • Re:Wise Guys! (Score:4, Informative)

        by hottoh (540941) on Saturday September 01, 2007 @11:16PM (#20437715)
        We can all thank Mayor Daily for the airport distruction (I think I spelled the Mayor's name wrong, but correcting it is not worth the effort).

        Paraphrasing the reason for the destruction, "the people of Chicago live in fear of terrorist attacks, and I need to do what I can to keep Chicago safe."

        Secretly planning to destroy the airport in the early morning hours acheives that end?
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Nimey (114278)
          Chicago's dead people seem to think so; they re-elected him a few months ago.
        • by stox (131684) on Saturday September 01, 2007 @11:23PM (#20437749) Homepage
          Yes, you did spell the mayor's name wrong, the correct spelling is "Emperor Daley." Mein Führer and All Hail the King would also be acceptable.
        • by Triv (181010)

          We can all thank Mayor Daily for the airport distruction (I think I spelled the Mayor's name wrong, but correcting it is not worth the effort).


          I can't help but laugh when people justify not making a five second google search by typing out five seconds worth of text.

          (It's spelled Daley [wikipedia.org] .)


          Triv

          • by jsight (8987)

            I can't help but laugh when people justify not making a five second google search by typing out five seconds worth of text.

            (It's spelled Daley .)


            You don't understand. This isn't about the 5 seconds, this is about the fact that Emperor Daley is a slimeball, and spelling his name right isn't worth .1 milliseconds.
    • by Tribbin (565963)
      Google took the airport for the game so it's no longer there.
    • Re:Wise Guys! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Purity Of Essence (1007601) on Saturday September 01, 2007 @11:50PM (#20437899)
      Maybe that's a nod to subLOGIC's FS2, the first home flight sim to feature real locations and airports. Chicago's Meigs Field was the player's default starting point.
  • by dbolger (161340) on Saturday September 01, 2007 @10:25PM (#20437479) Homepage
    ...with Google Sky?

    Start thrusters, take off, aim nose towards Andromeda, sit back and wait for two million years, find an airport, land.

    Sweet! :D
    • by Tribbin (565963)
      I'm quite sure google wrote bots to explore the universe.
    • by aldheorte (162967)
      You can do this in EVE, at least within a solar system. In regular space, ships travel at, say, 1000M/s on average. You can travel anywhere in a solar system entirely on regular speed or go to a 'hyperspace warp' that peaks your speed at about 3000c (6AU/s). Assuming you started at a planet the same distance from its sun as the Earth, it would take about 4.75 years of continuous flying without going to warp before you plunged into the sun (not that you can actually plunge into the sun - they are just empty
    • You wouldn't believe how hard it is to escape earth's gravity... You can try it with X-Plane, http://www.x-plane.com/ [x-plane.com]

      --
      The fact that there's no air in space might be a problem too.
  • Sweet (Score:5, Informative)

    by John Frink (919768) on Saturday September 01, 2007 @10:25PM (#20437481)
    Just tried a flight, shows hills and everything. Way more than I expected from an easter egg. Kudos to the guy who dreamed this up.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by cathector (972646)
      of course it shows hills and everything. have you used google earth ?
      imnsfho (keepin it retro) GE is one of the most significant application of computers since internet searching,
      and layering a flight-simulator on top of it is [just] a great extension of an awesome core technology.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by shird (566377)
      Its nice and all.. but I don't think it would have been terribly hard to implement. You can already pan the view around in the same manner.. it would have been just a matter of adding some controls and basic physics to pan the view around. The 'hills and everything' are already part of Google earth. It shows the 3D buildings too in some places.
    • by mcrbids (148650) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @02:14AM (#20438429) Journal
      I'm a private pilot, and the other simulators disappoint. They are good for practicing Instrument procedure, and to a certain extent, airplane maneuvers, but for just plane fun (pun intended) they are weak.

      Most of the joy of flying General Aviation (small) planes is the view - nothing like it anywhere else, including that commercial jet. (which rockets up to 45,000 feet in 10 minutes where you can't see jack) Flight simulators have typically given depictions of the landscape - patterns that are rough analogies of what you'd actually find out the window.

      But this is the real McCoy! Resolution is still weak, and the plane handling characteristics are lousy, but when I'm flying 5,500 VFR over the East Bay, it actually IS the East Bay. I noticed that once you've started the Easter Egg, you can re-launch from any view, which let me spin a few circles above local Oroville, CA.

      I recognized everything and had no trouble finding the local airport, and successfully landed the very first try in the SR-22. Since I've never flown an SR22, I had to stall it first in the air to figure out what my approach speed should be - about 70 knots seemed about right.

      Really, if they put some spit and polish on this, it could give FS X a real run for its money - for just plane fun, it already rivals FS X!
      • by trawg (308495)
        Yep - I wonder why MS didn't think of this with FSX. They already have the imagery available on their Google Maps equivalent site. Streaming them in real-time seems like a decent next step (though I'd want to be able to cache them and set the cache size).
      • I used to contract for Jeppesen. They are in increasing danger of losing their monopoly from a number of other companies and are aware of it. At this point, if Google wanted, they could improve the sim and the map interface and develop the software to load on laptops and ultimately to on-board equipment (though expensive to get the FAA certs for it). The important thing is to win over the pilots, and get them to LOVE the interface. Jepp Maps RULED the world for decades. But the reason is that pilots were t
      • The day I got FSX I marvelled at the gorgeous aircraft modelling and amazing 3D cockpit, but immediately searched the web for some kind of a Google Earth graphics modification. Everything just looked so brown (at about 3/4 detail). As you say, with a relatively small bit of work to add things like, say text-based ATC, maybe some FSX-style missions, and external aircraft control, I could see myself spending a lot of time futzing around with this little toy.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by scaryjohn (120394)

        Most of the joy of flying General Aviation (small) planes is the view - nothing like it anywhere else, including that commercial jet. (which rockets up to 45,000 feet in 10 minutes where you can't see jack) Flight simulators have typically given depictions of the landscape - patterns that are rough analogies of what you'd actually find out the window.

        But this is the real McCoy! Resolution is still weak, and the plane handling characteristics are lousy, but when I'm flying 5,500 VFR over the East Bay, it ac

      • by 4D6963 (933028) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @11:56AM (#20442043)

        I'm a private pilot, and the other simulators disappoint.

        Even X-Plane [x-plane.com]?

  • It would be nice if we could get out of the airplane and visit people's virtual homes. I got tons of cool stuff to show my virtual guests, I don't know about you guys. Another interesting way to meet people and establish relationships, what can I say?
  • Meigs the long time default airport in M$ flight sim is in hear.
  • by Ant P. (974313) on Saturday September 01, 2007 @11:32PM (#20437791) Homepage
    All programs expand indefinitely until they include a flight simulator. And email.
  • Hymm, I just installed the new version on my mac, did the Command+option+A, and its not working!
  • by jollyreaper (513215) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @12:01AM (#20437951)
    But I for one am going to be shitting my pants when they update the ground textures to account for the bombing missions I flew in the flight simulator. I will be shitting my pants once again when I leave my house and notice the houses I targeted in my neighborhood are no longer there.
  • by cashman73 (855518) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @12:11AM (#20437991) Journal
    I wonder if this is one of those projects that came out of Google's "20% time" policy, where engineers are given 20% of their time (one day per week) to work on a project of "personal interest"? It's plausible, since this isn't exactly a main feature of google earth. Then again, Google Sky might have been a 20% time project, too?

    Bill Gates is probably going to be real pissed if this starts eating into his M$ Flight Sim profits, especially if (a) this remains free and (b) Google expands it to include more aircraft and options.

    On another note, I wonder if they could make this a network thing, so perhaps we could have dog fights with other users in the air? But the feds would probably put a stop to that, since that would also require Google to install live missiles and bombs in the simulator, allowing people to start bombing various structures in google earth,...

    • I would guess that this was a 20% time project. I's such an obvious feature to add when you're getting bored with the regular stuff. It is also a very rough alpha-quality feature. For example, it seems quite laggy - probably single threaded. The gauges also can't handle wide screens well - the compass and the tops of the altitude and airspeed indicators will move off the top of the screen. The controls are also pretty rough.

      Given that, I still think they've killed quite a few MS Flight Simulator sales. Goog
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by fm6 (162816)
      It pretty much has to be. I can't picture anybody getting an Easter egg like this as an assignment.

      I used to be blown away by the way impressive new features appear in Google products with little or no fanfare. Contrast this with the way most companies treat every little achievement as if it were the Second Coming. But now it seems obvious that these things are released so quietly because nobody knows about them, except the people working on them. And that much uncoordinated work in not a good
  • Thank you Google (Score:4, Insightful)

    by halo8 (445515) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @01:03AM (#20438191)
    Thanks to everyone at google, this is so amazing.

    THIS
    THIS is the flight sim i have wanted to fly all my life!
  • by Raven737 (1084619)
    I just wish there was a way i could pre-cache a certain area at the highest detail level.
    As it is now, it only starts to download when you are already in an area which means
    that you are always seeing sub optimal detail levels when you fly into new areas.

    For Google it should be easy to make a simple position prediction algorithem (including z) to prioritize
    map content area and detail level download. Especially in a flight sim it should be fairly easy to predict
    near future positions with a relative high
  • Where the earth is really bumpy, i.e., mountain ranges it looks great. So when you take of from Kathmandu (the default), you can head for the big Himalayas and the definition is excellent. The problem is that the 3D buildings aren't rendered in flight sim mode, as far as I can see.
    • by init100 (915886)

      The problem is that the 3D buildings aren't rendered in flight sim mode, as far as I can see.

      No? They are for me.

  • I've been playing Google earth with a space mouse for ages.

    It's 10000% more fun than the normal mouse controls.

  • Crash (Score:5, Funny)

    by plams (744927) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @07:00AM (#20439539) Homepage
    Shit. I just accidently crashed my SR22 into the Google Campus. I hope they don't log these kind of things..
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by F4_W_weasel (989270)
      No sir we don't, but accidentally, we crashed into you gmail account, and accidentally we forwarded all the porn e-mail to your mom, your perv...
      Thanks for enjoying our flightsim.

      PS: the NSA looooved some of your e-mails.

      Hugs
  • by bazorg (911295)
    I don't know if it's hard to control this simulator or if it's realistic, but I wish it was more like LHX [wikipedia.org]. in fact, a hybrid of LHX Attack Chopper with Google Maps would kick ass.
  • Just downloaded it to try it out and nothing happens when I press the keys.

    I got version "4.2.0181.2634 (beta)"

    What's up?
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by newr00tic (471568)

      Just downloaded it to try it out and nothing happens when I press the keys.

      You must be using Linux, wherein nothing is supposed to work.

      -That's what 'free' implies.
  • by tyrant (36775) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @08:55AM (#20440237)
    I've never wanted to die so much after listening to the narrative. Talk about taking a long time to explain nothing.
    "Us computer people" and did you really need to read out the URLs?
  • Web Version (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby (173196)
    When Google's map webpages [google.com] are speedy and interactive enough to offer a flight simulator, with even the most rudimentary features, Google will finally have arrived at a "Web platform" that competes with desktop platforms. And when all its functions are available as an API (including downloadable scripts and objects) for anyone to bundle, they'll actually have the beginnings of a "Web OS".

    Of course the test is whether it can run games like a flight sim. But as a truly native network platform, the games shoul
  • Very nice, but their flight sim is very basic, I think they should deal with someone who's done good in the flight sim business. My first thought is that guy who made X-Plane [x-plane.com], I think they should hire some of his services to make Google Earth Flightsim a fully fledged flightsim that would compete with MS's flightsims

  • For some time now I had been hoping the Flightgear community would plug into something like Google Earth. Now it seems the opposite has taken place but I wonder how their flight models compare?

  • this has been into GoogleEarth since day 1. and yes flying the Grand Canyon is fucking amazing...

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