This site serves as an archive and tribute for all things pertaining to FS4 (Microsoft Flight Simulator 4.0b w/Add-Ons).
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  FS4 INTRODUCTION
   Welcome to the all new: FS4 Webport
 
MICROSOFT FLIGHT SIMULATOR 4.0b w/ADD-ONS (FS4): still the best... most open form, complex, engrossing, easy to use, expandable, enjoyable, and satisfying suite of flight simulation / VR environment creating software ever written...
Microsoft Flight Simulator 4 Box: Front Cover - Click for Larger View From 1989 through 1993, if you wanted the ultimate in user configurable civil flight simulation software environments - you would have end up using Microsoft Flight Simulator 4.0b and its various and long list of Add-Ons by BAO (Bruce Artwick Org.),Mallard Software, & others. While Microsoft has gone on to create newer and graphically more "photo-realistic" versions of Flight Simulator; - no later version has provided the level and depth of features, ease of use, learning, creation, or customisation - that was/still is available through FS4 with its suite of various add-ons.
 
Other FS4 Product Views
Microsoft Flight Simulator 4 Box: Back Cover
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Microsoft Flight Simulator 4 Box Contents
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General Questions and Answers:
 
What is FS4? For the purpose of this website, FS4 encompasses the subLogic / BAO developed and created Flight Simulator 4.0/4.0b core program AND a variety of Add-On programs that evolved with and out of Microsoft Flight Simulator 4's life cycle.

So what programs made up the complete suite of FS4?
  • Microsoft Flight Simulator 4.0b (There was initially the 4.0 version which had some problems...)
  • Microsoft Flight Simulator Aircraft & Scenery Designer (ASD)
  • Sound, Graphics, Aircraft (SGA) Upgrade for use with Microsoft Flight Simulator ver 1.50b
  • Aircraft and Adventure Factory
  • Scenery Enhancement Editor
  • Pilots Power Tools
  • RMMFP (Flight Planner)
  • subLogic Scenery Disks
  • subLogic USA Scenery w/maps and SMS
  • Mallard Scenery Disks (Hawaii, Tahiti, Grand Canyon, and Japan).
  • Many shareware programs
  • Thousands of custom SC1 scenery files (created with ASD).
  • Thousands of aircraft files, created with ASD and AF.

Where can I get all this stuff... Well, you could scour away on eBay, flea markets, yard sales, and in old forum databases trying to find this stuff; or you can get it right here (or at least a pretty good chuck of it)!

Are not older DOS based flight simulators difficult to get running in Windows today and often require their own dedicated vintage DOS gaming platform to run correctly? Well, that certainly "used" to be the case... but not so much anymore with the development of DOSBox, version: 0.70+. This program is a free easy to use 8088 DOS emulator which runs a great deal of older DOS programs (like FS4) quite well - with sound - and at the right speed!
 
Yes, FS4 and its gobs of add-on goodies runs somewhat nicely now under WinXP/Vista/Win7 and lovely Linux Distros within DOSBox 0.74; simultaneously while you do other things (like reading this webpage). However, If you are a bit of a purest, you can always put together a spiffy older DOS based PC system (say: a 486DX2-66 with a decent ISA video card and a Soundblaster 16, running MS DOS 6.22 or PC DOS 7.0 - and be really styling. As far as finding one - older 486DX-33/DX2-66 based systems (sometimes already nicely reconditioned), can often be had regularly for around $400 on eBay (used to be $100 a few years back, now Vintage Computing has changed all that).

Can I run FS4 on say a P3-450 or something with DOS as the operating system? Yes, I have tried this recently with marginal results. First, you are going to need an ISA sound card for sound, I suggest a Soundblaster Vibra 16 series, (ct2800). As far as the PC, you might want to try an older Dell GX-1 which came with an ISA to PCI bridge (allowing ISA cards to be used). Next, you will need a slowdown utility like Moslo. However, in actual use, there are still minor timing issue problems with FS4 and a hyperfast DOS system. It is hard to believe, but functionality is still superior overall with a 486DX.

When I start up FS4, it flickers on the screen. How can I fix this? Okay, there is a very simple procedure for correcting the "Flickering Problem" (which has been an issue with FS4 since the get-go. Just go to "Views" sub-menu by pressing Key 2, then Select Item E (Key E): "Display Control" . Now press the 1 key twice to change Flicker/Speed Trade Off option to: 'No Flicker/Slow'. Next, press the 2 key once to change the Image Complexity to: 'Complex'. Press the Spacebar to return to the simulator and you are done. No more flicker! Unfortunately, you need to perform this little keystroke sequence, each time you use FS4 to eliminate flicker on faster systems (486+... and even within DOSBox). The flicker issue is a throw back to 386 systems and slower... Just remember "2E 112 Spacebar". Its not that big a deal; you'll get used to it, really...

Is there a preferred type of sound card for use with FS4? Yes, I think so. From my research, I quite like FS4 audio performance with a Soundblaster Pro 2 (CT1600). FS4 seems to have been programmed direct to this card and it works very well. There are two variants of the CT1600, with some minor changes. You can tell which type you have by the label on the back. IBACT-SBP2P is version 1, IBACT-SBP2P5 is version 2. Either will work fine, but remember this is an older ISA card, and unfortunately, it does not seem to work properly with faster systems that have the ISA to PCI bridge. (P2 and beyond tested). Your best bet here is to use the CT1600 with a 80486 machine. I have had excellent results there.

Man, those graphics are primitive! How do you deal with that? Ha ha. FS4 can run in a variety of resolutions, but the standard VGA 16 color 640 x 400 is perhaps the most compatible for today's computers. There are higher and lower resolutions available. Some require a specific video card. There is even a special 256 color mode for one particularly rare card.
 
Shapes are classic polygon design, sharp, crisp, with no shading or texturing. Some remark that FS4 is amazingly colorful, that is true. While not photo-realistic like later issues of Flight Simulator, the images presented are highly "simulistic" I think. Perhaps you may consider it as being inside a type of mathematical model. It's not reality, it is an alternate computer generated polygon based one (PBR - "Polygon Based Reality"). Sometimes less can be more, and I think if you give it a good try you will see what I mean... Check out the Graphics page!

How long have you been using FS4? I got into FS4 in 1990. Then I bought every add-on that came down the pike up through 1994 (when FS5 showed up - what a disappointment). Also, I joined CompuServe and was active in the Flight Simulations Forum. There was a lot of great folks there including a heavy dose of programmers and real pilots. Adding a variety of very dedicated sysops and users, it was a fantastic place (such a shame it is all gone).

Just how much stuff was in the CompuServe FS Forum concerning FS4? There was literally thousands of files contributed by many talented and dedicated FS4 users. Unique aircraft, cool scenery, nifty utilities, great help files, etc. Just have a look here at this CompuServe FS Forum library partial listing text file from the mid 1990s! Then, after AOL bought CIS, they started dumping and deleting files that had no downloads in the past six months... (My u-boat for FS4 got wiped out that way.) My question, what did AOL do with the rest of these files... (once they bought CompuServe and dismantled the great FS Forum)? Good Question, huh!

I see you are also into FST (Flight Sim Toolkit) too, which lets you create the whole sim. Is not that superior to using FS4? I really don't think so. It is quite a bit of work to build out a full detailed world in FST. Not only is that a very slow dedicated process; you often get sick of it by the time it is something worth sharing. In FS4, much of the world is provided or already done by others. You can create as much or as little as you like. And, you can share what you create (a little or a lot). Further, FS4 has a tremendous amount of functionality within the program i.e, - while it is in use. This is lacking in FST (even with the terrific new developments in the FLY.EXE engine by Dave Daniels). Things like changing a flight model while in flight, on the fly scenery creation, instant replay, landing and approach track analysis, the ability to move external viewing positions; are just some of the advanced features in FS4, not in FST (or in later version of Flight Simulator for that matter).

How do you create custom aircraft in FS4? Custom Aircraft are created in a Windows based program called: The Aircraft Factory (AF), which was part of the AAF (Aircraft & Adventure Factory Upgrade). This is available right here... Within AF, you use a simple type of CAD design program and support menus to build and color your aircraft's exterior appearance. When you are done with the exterior design, you tie it to an existing flight model that you have built out and saved within FS4's aircraft designer module - which came with the ASD package. (This aspect is pretty neat as you can give any shape, any type of flying characteristics. ) The result is a two file unit that creates a new plane for use within FS4. The entire project can also be packed up and shared with other AF builders via something called an AFX file.

What was the Adventure part of the Aircraft & Adventure Upgrade you mentioned above all about? The "Adventure" part of the package allows the user to create a "flight adventure" that can be launched within FS4. Via an easy to use scripting language, similar to BASIC; one can write an compile a mini program that runs within FS4 and does a variety of things that interact with the user input and the running simulation. It has tremendous potential and can be very fun to create adventures for yourself and friends to enjoy. The adventure module for FS4 even allows the, in sim, playing of VOC audio files, and displaying of 256 VGA graphical images! This ability was dropped in FS5... like many great features in FS4, FS5 and beyond was "dumbed down" and "eye candied up" for the masses discarding utility, creativity, and an ease of entry for aspiring new users.

You can't be serious stating that further issues of MS Flight Simulator were dumbed down... Well, lets just say that many advanced features within FS4 were removed. Gone. When and if they returned, they were no longer part of the "in program" package and became so specialized and complex in nature - that they became a rather removed activity from the larger variety of general FS users. In the heyday of FS4 on CompuServe, there were hundreds of "free working" scenery and aircraft designers, building and sharing all sorts of neat stuff... And, the process was simple enough that you could get into it without six months study.

Do you have a beef or something with advanced graphical images in a flight sim or something? No, not at all. However, because it is so close to reality, I tend to focus on what's "not right", with the visual image (like one of those nasty smudges of expanding texture). I think this is ultimately distracting in a sim environment. The image presented also does not look quite solid to me and seems a bit more like classic 2D animation.
 
Remember in FS4, you can make your own scenery and aircraft. There is a line at which additional detail does not add all that much to the simulation...

I like the idea of customising my flight simulation, but would like to do more... Okay, you really need to do yourself a BIG favor here and check out Flight Sim Toolkit (FST). FST lets users build their own complete flight simulator (and share their efforts with their friends). Its an amazing program which is all the better now, as the flight engine has been reworked and modified to run on modern computers. In many ways FST blows FS4 out of the water... but in other ways it can't even hope to compete.

Where can I meet other FS4 users. Ask questions and share the FS4 experience in a community setting. Glad you asked! You are always welcome to visit and join the:
 
Go to the FS4 Webport Forum at Yahoo Groups

Hey, I have a question or comment on FS4 that is not addressed above? Oh, okay. User feedback is always welcome and encouraged! Please just go ahead and use the nifty form below to enter your question or comment; then press the "Send It" button once. I will receive it and reply directly to you. (Some questions may even appear here in later updates of this page.)



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