A Change Is In The Air

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Archive: May 6th, 2013

Submitted by a flight simulation developer who has asked to remain anonymous.

I shall start with the most recent news which is the decision by AviaSim to step away from development. You may say “fair enough, it is their choice.” And so it is but what is troubling me is the real reason. Only a few people stopped by to give a comment of respect with a majority saying it is “self-inflicted.” I will not let a fellow developer take abuse like that from a few armchair pilots on the internet. AviaSim promised many projects but did not deliver for a wide variety of reasons. I spent most of last night reading up on this developer and all the reasons cited for ending development are legit. Developers face challenges every day, it is not an easy life.  If you armchair pilots (they will know who they are) think you can go about holding developers to ransom, spreading lies about them and shouting personal abuse at a developer is okay, well I am sorry it is not. We would all love to have our favourite scenery or aircraft recreated in one of the many simulation platforms available and many of us live in hope that it will be done sooner or later but there is a very vocal minority trying to force developers to do there area and if they do not they tend to rebel against them. It is disgusting. If you want your area done so badly why not do it yourself? This brings me onto my next point.

Wherever you go there will be different quality benchmarks. It is unreasonable to expect every developer to meet the standards of PMDG, ORBX, FlyTampa or Aerosoft. They are very large companies and have a lot of resources. A majority of the FS market is made up of smaller developers, usually less the five people per company who work hard in their free time developing something for our simulators. Anything who thinks a one man band can create the same scenery as the top four is clearly deluded. It gets worse as then main simmers begin badmouthing the developer and hurling personal abuse at them. Do you ever stop to think for just a few seconds before posting something? Will it be relevant in one week, one month or one year? Most likely not.

When you bad mouth a developer or post a personal attack on he/she do you ever think that there is a real person with real feelings and possibly real problems? It is all too common to hide behind the face of ‘Anonymous’ when doing such things. If you do not have the confidence to put your name to a post then why do you insist on posting it? If it was so important to post surely it would only be right to add your name? Many simmers appreciate the more basic offerings of ImagineSim, LatinVFR, Taxi2Gate, Lionheart and several other smaller developers. They do not have the time or resources to compete with the big guys. Almost all simmers like a basic upgrade to an area which they enjoy flying in and this is exactly what these developers do. Fill in a very important niche. Without them there would be a vastly smaller amount of add-ons available to us. The world of simulation would be a much duller place. Every developer has a place in the market. We at present have no universal challenger to replace FSX and it is a dying hobby so why do we express such hatred to ‘second tier’ developers?

We all enjoy having good interaction with developers and we (the developers) enjoy as well, but it is a very fine balance. We enjoy spending time with 95% of the community members but there is an increasingly vocal minority telling the majority. It is hurting business and bringing this hobby to its knees! Everyday there are people threating developers to include a feature which they want or they will not purchase the product. Is this really fair? Should we really be having 5% control what the 95% think about developers? Absolutely not! It is disgraceful. Many developers have other jobs apart from flight simulation and for most developing is a hobby. They work on their projects in their free time for their enjoyment and are kind enough to release their creations for a small fee to the wider community. It is this kindness and openness which is the very base of how this hobby works but it is increasingly coming under threat. The same rhetoric is being repeated time and time again that if a developer charges for something he should have thick enough skin to accept criticism but there is a big different between constructive criticism and badmouthing a developer and launching personal attacks. It is sickening what some people in this community think is an acceptable thing to do. A developer should never feel pressured to give into a few disgruntled people. This must not be allowed to continue. We as a community are shooting ourselves in the foot.

When a developer announces that they have the intention to develop your favourite scenery/aircraft we are of course very excited, but this needs to be controlled. A developer is always grateful of your support but it is a fine line between being excited and demanding news and previews every other week. Development takes time and it takes even more time when there are people on the forums whinging for news and new images. You do not have any right to get some new images or news of a product so please do not go around acting as if it is. The product will be ready when it is ready.

Before I come to a close there are some more points which I wish to discuss. It is rather obvious on the three main flight simulation forums that there is a political culture about them. In 2007 I would never have dreamed of such a thing happening, let alone have it beginning to destroy our hobby. On one forum it is becoming increasingly obvious that the admins and moderators are unable to take a joke or will not let topics continue which are not about their advertisers or people companies who have setup sub-forums with them. We should never allow large companies to get ‘prime time’ on the forums or tell the forum staff what to block and what news items to post. This not the way forward for the community. We need openness and truth about what really happens, not have it all swept under the carpet.

Some readers may be no questioning if I believe in freedom of speech and I can assure you that I most certainly do but one must remember the real people behind the forum names and that they have real feelings. We need openness and transparency in our hobby and we must be friendly to new members. I saw a case on AVSIM where a poor simmer was having a problem with the installation of photoscenery, he thought it was installed but it wasn’t and the member was instantly bashed and make fun off. If we want to keep this hobby alive we need new members and we must be willing to assist people who are not as knowledgeable of the platform rather than hang out in our own ‘group’ and act like we control the entire FS hobby, the reality is the members on AVSIM only account for about 40% of the entire add-on sales industry according to our own market research. Most customers will never visit those sites so why should developers be forced to lean backwards and only support the 40% instead of pleasing everybody, Airbus X Extended by Aerosoft is a perfect example of pleasing all sides. Enough complexity for most simmers while retaining friendly features and utilities for new members.

At present we are heading in the wrong direction, we need to change course. It is time to get up and do something about it. It is time to make sure we have a hobby with a future with friendly members who show respect and gratitude towards developers. Not every single simmer is like it, as said it is a very vocal minority who are telling the majority and developers also have a part to play in the direction we are heading, it isn’t all the customers fault. Everybody in the community needs to clean up their act and renew the community spirit in the hobby before it is too late. What use is it complaining, it is time to get up and do something about it! It is time to look to a brighter future of openness and friendliness, not a tightly controlled closed garden system which we are heading towards.

-Anonymous Developer