One of the most surprising announcements in the gaming world this year was the revelation in June that the Pelican, the iconic crew car from the Halo series, was being added to Microsoft Flight Simulator. The reason for the surprise lies in the name – it is a simulator and the Pelikan does not really exist.
In a wide-ranging discussion with the head of Microsoft Flight Simulator George Neumann, VG247 decided to check how the unprecedented decision to add the Dropship 77 Troop Carrier aka D77-TC aka “The Pelican” was received by fans six months later. The answer is perhaps just as surprising – it was not only well received, but so well received that the Flight Sim team will be delivering similar content in the future.
Of course, the Halo nexus wasn’t this remake of Flight Simulator’s first crossover – with the hugely successful Game Pass first including an add-on pack to celebrate the release of Top Gun Maverick in cinemas. In many ways, Top Gun is where this story begins.
“I felt very comfortable with Top Gun because our team is quite diverse between core sims and players … but core sims loved it,” Neumann said. “There’s not one person who said, ‘Top Gun, are you serious?’ Everyone was like, oh, this is great.
Part of the reason, notes Neumann, is the perfect fit between the Top Gun and Flight Simulator brands. The Flight Sim team’s “fighter pilot,” it was noted, joined the Navy because he saw Top Gun. Shared DNA is important. For Halo, the equation is not so simple.
“Top Gun wasn’t even a consideration. The Pelican was risky in a way,” admits Neumann.
So, months later, and with Flight Simulator enjoying high-profile celebrations for its 40th anniversary, how did it go? “It was very positive,” says Neumann.
“The Halo guys loved it. Then the Halo crowd, look — they ate it up. And the plane sims weren’t as annoyed as I thought they were,” laughs Neumann. “And especially because we didn’t flip the plane.
“Actually, yes, we asked the Halo team – ‘how does it work?’ And they’re like… ‘oh just find stuff – like flight stuff’. So we came up with a lot of stuff – but it all makes sense. So we actually pushed it through the hardcore buzz everywhere and said – okay, here’s the avionics package, here’s the radar, here’s how it’s going to work – and they all liked it, so it’s a really believable plane now.
This differs significantly from the content of Top Gun, where, because the film used real aircraft, the military-run aerospace company Lockheed Martin sent employees, including simulation fans, to help the developers. With Halo, the Flight Simulator team had relatively free reign to decide how this unique and iconic ship would realistically fly – in a way, that’s where the magic happened that allowed it to become an add-on. interesting to both fans who just want to zip the Pelican around the world and simulation fanatics who are excited to learn a new aircraft – even if it’s not real.
The Pelikan’s success also inspired some decisions about future content and Microsoft Flight Simulator tweaks – as Neumann explains.
“I think the only time I got a little nervous was right at launch when all of New York was—literally, if you were in the simulation, look at New York, and there were thousands and thousands of pelicans – and Simmer’s reaction was like… ‘hmmm… that’s a bit much’,” laughs Neumann.
“So they weren’t angry, but it’s like, I think we’ve tested their resolve a little bit, they’re on edge.
“At that point, I said, you know, there honestly needs to be a mode that he can click on. If you want a real reality mode that’s just about planes flying today, you need to be able to click on it, and then some of the other stuff shouldn’t be allowed. It’s not a private lobby, right? But it’s a shared world that has a logic. So if you want to allow everything, allow everything.
A system like this is part of the grand plan for the future of Flight Simulator, which stretches many years into the future thanks to the resounding success of this Game Pass-powered reboot. Another part of that roadmap, Neumann confirms, is more content along the lines of Top Gun and Halo updates.
“Yes; there will be more of that,” Neumann clarifies – although it’s still part of a larger whole. Updates with real-world aircraft will always be a key priority, and the development team is constantly digitally scanning and evaluating the aircraft for future inclusion. But at the same time, after the success of Top Gun, Hollywood comes knocking on the door.
“I mean, what probably doesn’t get talked about a lot is the Paramount relationship — which was great,” Neumann reveals, referring to the film studio behind the Top Gun franchise.
“So Paramount put us in touch with Lockheed, we worked with Lockheed. We clicked right away with the guys at Lockheed because they’re actually small fry, so they really care about aviation. And the guys at Paramount are running around the world saying, that this was the most positive game integration ever for them – and they’re running around Hollywood saying so.
“At that point I get calls from Hollywood. Like, ‘Hey Jorg! We got this thing! I’m like, this is on the edge of what you would call aviation… I don’t know… maybe ? »
So. not everything will happen. But at this 40th anniversary event, Flight Simulator is showcased from many angles – as a simulator, as a learning tool, as a digital exploration and as a celebration of the joy of flying in general. The latter, and the cultural significance of flight, is practically inseparable from how flight is presented in other forms of media – including fictional airplanes.
“I think at least we have a good reputation because it’s the same care, right? says Neumann, referring to how even fictional or cinematic links are given the same microscopic level of attention to detail as simulating a real vehicle to a standard suitable for training. “We don’t do half ass, we don’t have half things. »
So… Avengers Quinjet, anyone?