A lot of people have critisised Flanker for not having "gameplay", "immersion" --- that there is no point to Flanker beyond the training missions. Some take this as a sign that Flanker has no longevity. I challenge this view, although it wont apply to all.
People often get entangled in sim vs game claims when discussing Flanker. This is very pointless to me, so let me try some definitions:
A game is an environment with objects, one or more players, rules/constraints and a well defined goal to be achieved. The game factor is the challenge in overcoming the constraints and achieve the goal by following the rules using your skills.
A sim is just a simulator (duh), imitating a real system and its behaviour in the real world. A sim doesn't intrinsically define a goal to be achieved, thus isn't a game in itself. You can look at a sim as "the dice, not the game". With a pure sim the user define the game factor. The sim just provides the environment and the constraints.
This is why I have always considered Flanker a sim, not a game. The gaming factor is determined by the scenarios the designers/users create (campain/mission files). I like that. In my opinion that provides flexibility and longevity. In my case, this is proved by the fact that Flanker 1.5 outlived all the other flight simulators I bought around the same time --- even those with prettier graphics and a game factor built-in (eg. JSF and EF2000). IMO, the built-in game factor and lack of flexibility (eg. scenario designer) shorten the life-span of these games.
Hence, two of the reasons that Flanker has had so much success on my hard drive, is its scenario editor and its ability to record flights.
But, sim or game, it doesn't matter if it's boring. Here is where immersion enters the scene. Immersion is the subjective factor that is needed to keep up our interest. For some the joy of just flying around over Crimea provides enough (but probably not lasting) immersion.
Others want to feel part of a ongoing war in a living, breathing theatre. This group seeks immersion by role-play. Most that are negative towards Flanker fall in this category, I guess. Nothing wrong with that. Flanker doesn't fully provide this type of immersion, though.
A third group --- the group I expect most 'flankerites' belong in --- consists of people that get immersed in learning and practicing skills. This group of people speak about turning circles, corner speed, etc., love air-shows, formation flying and guns-only dogfighting, and are keen to become proficient in the art of BFM. Flanker scores very well in this area due to its good flight model and user-interface (padlock etc.).
A fourth group are die-hard aviation fans, and gets fully immersed just knowing that a sim is the closest they ever will get to the real thing. Aircraft and weapon specifications are like pornographic literature to this group, and even a small simplification of a radar mode may disappoint. Still, Flanker scores very well here as well.
Let me add that these groups are not necessarily distinct, and probably overlaps to a large degree. Nevertheless, most of us will probably identify with one group in particular.
Ok --- enough said --- my point is that Flanker is a product for people that get immersed by learning and practicing skills, and not so much for people that primarily want immersion through role-play.
[This message has been edited by Attila (edited 11-26-1999).]