Sunday, March 21, 2021

Manual installation of our Microsoft Flight Simulator aircrafts - STEP BY STEP guide

Background

While we tried to provide clear and comprehensive instructions to install our aicrafts in Microsoft Flight Simulator, it seems that some customers are having some difficulties during the installation phase.
Depending on where you have purchased our aircrafts, the installation method will vary depending on the distributor.

While the number of users having installation problems is VERY small, we feel we failed to communicate the installation procedure effectively and we think we owe an apology to those customers, along with a better explaination on how to install our product.

First thing, this guide does apply ONLY if your download is provided without an installer.

If you have purchased our Flight Simulator planes from the in-game store ("Microsoft Marketplace" or simply "Marketplace") 

If you have purchased our products from ORBX, through Orbx Central, download and updates are managed automatically by the Orbx Central app.

This guide is intended for users that have purchased our planes from other distributors (such as SimMarket or FlightSim Store) in case the product is supplied without an installer.

Why no installer? 

First, we hear some customer saying "Why didn't you provide an installer with your products? It is not acceptable!"
Of course an automated installer would be easier to use, but we have preferred not to supply one as we felt this gave more control to the user. Also, we after a quick survey, it looked like most of our customers preferred to have a manual installation.

MANUAL INSTALLATION PROCEDURE

The manual installation procedure should not be that hard, basically it is made of two steps:

1) Locate the Community Folder

2) Unizip, Drag and Drop the package into the Community Folder

Let's go step by step through the procedure.

1) LOCATE THE COMMUNITY FOLDER

Unlike Flight Simulator X and Prepar3D, Microsoft Flight Simulator adopts a Virtual File System... that is multiple folders in different locations are "merged" virtually in the Flight Simulator File System.
You are supposed to put your downloaded add-ons in the COMMUNITY folder.

Note that, depending on your installation preferences and MSFS version, there MAY BE MULTIPLE COMMUNITY FOLDERS. However ONLY ONE is the "good" one and the one being watched by the file system.

To be 100% sure you are looking at the "real" Community folder, you can use the following procedure

1A) LAUNCH FLIGHT SIMULATOR - Here is the typical starting screen



1B) ACTIVATE THE DEVELOPER MODE - To activate the developer mode, go to OPTIONS -> GENERAL, then select DEVELOPERS -> DEVELOPERS MODE ON




1C) SELECT VIRTUAL FILE SYSTEM in the DEVELOPER MENU - After activating the Developer Mode, hovering the mouse on the top part of the screen will make the Developer Menu appear.


1D) LOOK AT THE WATCHED BASES - Select the Watched base option and you will get the list of the locations that Flight Simulator uses to work. In particular, in our case, we see that the Community folder is located in M:\MSFS\Community

THIS TELLS US THAT ANY ADD-ON WE INSTALL SHOULD GO, IN OUR CASE, IN THE FOLDER LOCATED AT M:\MSFS\Community 

IMPORTANT! YOUR LOCATION WILL BE DIFFERENT AND THIS DEPENDS ON WHERE YOU HAVE DECIDED TO INSTALL FLIGHT SIMULATOR!






1E) You may now want to EXIT the DEVELOPER MODE



1F) CLOSE FLIGHT SIMULATOR - You must CLOSE Flight Simulator now. Before closing, let's have a look at the Hangar. In our case we have 30 aircrafts (Premium Deluxe Edition)


2) UNZIP, DRAG AND DROP THE PACKAGE IN THE COMMUNITY FOLDER

Microsoft Flight Simulator Add-ons are distributed in PACKAGES, that is folders that contain everything the add-ons need. These must not be altered for the package to work. We just need to copy paste the package folder in the Community folder. We'll use the MB-339 as an example.

2A) First we locate the .zip file downloaded from our vendor. We took the latest version of the MB-339 as an example. The .zip file in this case is called MB339_MSFS_RETAIL_V120.zip





2B) Double click on the .zip file to check its contents. We see it contains one folder named indiafoxtecho-mb339  


2C) We now simply COPY the folder, either by right-clicking and selecting COPY or by pressing Control+C

2D) Then we paste it into the COMMUNITY folder located previously. Here you see the MB-339 along with other add-ons we had in our folder


2E) Restart Microsoft Flight Simulator again... and check the hangar. Now we have 32 aircrafts, as the MB-339 package includes two variants.





WHAT CAN GO WRONG?

Not much in our experience. Most of the cases of failed manual installations were one of the following:

1) User did not properly locate the Community folder, or located a wrong (inactive) Community folder or created a new Community Folder unliked to MSFS

2) Users put the .zip file into the Community folder. This is incorrect - you should copy and paste THE CONTENT of the .zip file, not the zip file itself.

3) Users copy-pasted the SimObjects folder (or other parts of the package) - this was the right thing to do in FSX and P3D, but it is NOT CORRECT in MSFS. You must copy paste the package as a whole.

4) FILE NAMES TOO LONG. This is a special case...and a bug of MSFS. It may well be that you Community folder location is nested so deeply that the file names of the add-ons may be too long and generate errors. You can solve this in two ways:

- rename the package folder (e.g. "indiafoxtecho-mb339" package folder can be renamed to "mb-339" or just "339"

- replace the package with a symbolic link. That is you put the package somewhere else and create a link to it...and then put the link in the Community folder.

MORE DETAILS?

This YOUTUBE video will go into more details on how to install add-ons to MSFS:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ltT-2YYFlcQ



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2 comments:

centerpost said...

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Unknown said...

I like the MSFS 2020 Community folder system. Any news on the F35 dev for FS?