Surprise Surprise – Squawkbox 3 is here!
So, about 60000+ people have been waiting for a very long time for a product to replace Squawkbox 2.x and today – earlier than some of you may have thought – Squawkbox 3 is released. 14:45Z.
This has been a very open development by the talented and very patient Mr Joel DeYoung. I have been lucky enough to work with him on the beta team for SB3 and also designing some of the very low polygon Aircraft models for the SBX model set.
For those of you that know what this is all about… just head on over to here for the download. For those that are saying “What are you talking about Nick”… read on…
Microsoft themselves have a “Microsoft Zone” product that allows pilots to fly online together. However, what is the point in flying, if there are no controllers…. That is where VATSIM (and other online networks) come in.
Squawkbox 3 is the “Pilot” part of the online experience. It plugs into Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004 – A Century of Flight and allows the pilot to connect to the network, file a flight plan, and fly – WITH controllers. The system uses built in Voice so that people actually talk across the internet as opposed to type, and…. Well, I could go on and on about this, but I would fill up the blog. Suffice to say, it is VERY realistic, keeping in line with Microsoft’s “As Real as it Gets” philosophy.
Now… there is another interesting point I am trying to make here… Let’s just take a step back here and remember that this is ALL FREE. VATSIM’s networks, the controller client ASRC (Written by Mike Evans), Squawkbox 3, everything… and it is all written without the direct support of Microsoft. This is something that I really want to see change. Something I am trying to change…
Whilst there are specific people in Microsoft, who I know take a massive interest in these add-on products, be it scenery, aircraft, SB3, ASRC, there is no “official” way for add-on developers to work with the Flight Simulator team on future SDK / Interfacing development. I hope to see this change in future versions of the product. With “some interface” between developers and the MSFS team, I am certain that these add-ons will continue the growth of this already extremely popular game.
In the mean time… if you even have a slight interest in Flight Simulator. I strongly suggest going and signing up with www.vatsim.net and downloading Squawkbox 3 for an amazing experience!
If you want to control on the other hand… sign up with VATSIM and download ASRC from www.asrc.info
Below are some images of the beta testers using SB3 on the ground for a recent test in Vancouver. Also a couple of shots from the controllers perspective. (I’m EIN1000), Click for larger versions.