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The Changing face of flight simming

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We talked before about whether freeware was slowly dying as we used to know it.We talked about the complexity of developing complete aircraft was so labour intensive and required such specialist skills in unique areas that the lone aircraft developer was becoming a thing of the past.We talked about peoples expectations now being so high that maybe this was partly the reason for freeware developers becoming justifiably angry at the demands placed on them and criticism of their work.http://www.fsavionics.comReplicating the Garmin 430/530 and Avidyne systems.These units are availble on the Seneca five I fly.I wonder now whether not only freeware but Commercial developers are going to be pushed to the limit.Commercial developers are themselves going to have to approach specialists to sub contract units like these into their panels and add those costs into the final aircraft selling cost.I could see the point at which not only will the complete aircraft be made by one company but by a number of specialist companies, especially as we demand more and more real avionics displays.Naturally commercial addon aircraft will be more costly, more sophisticated and users will be more demanding than ever and less tolerant of the poor lone freeware developer.Am I reading this trend wroung???Peter(picture is the Seneca five N145DR at FL 190 with the Garmin 430/530 the Avidyne is out of the picture to the right

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Sigh, maybe you are right Peter. Still I enjoy the increasing realism but don't have the time to learn all these fancy gadgets.

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Exactly the same idea popped into my head while looking at the virtual Garmin.You can look at it as the sign of a game becoming more and more of a training tool (concept perceptible in MS "Pro" version).Could also be due to a global quantitative increase of the market, although I have no idea whether this market is growing or of how big it is.On the other hand, look at Frolov's Dash: it was made by a free developer, with professional training in mind, and given to us as freeware, in part as a beta-testing strategy...

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ShrinkI use the Garmin 530/430/ Avidyne and have also got the training device from Garmin on my computer which came with the aircraft when the owner purchased it.There were many features missing from the real unit on the Garmin training cds and it was useful for basic procedures.The makers of the FS2002 units claim 80% accuracy to the real thing and to purchase all the units for F2002 is expensive.I can see that the demand in the future will be for 100% accurate nav equiptment.Where would that leave the commercial aircraft developers who will have to block purhase units to complete their aircraft or leave holes in the panel should someone want to add them seperately.But where would this leave the poor guy who builds planes for his enjoyement and already cant keep up with the level of VC and interior detail supplied by commercial outlets, not to mention the demands on flight models which can only be really well done by about five flight modellers worldwide.We are already seeing the effects of user expectations by the past rows concerning freeware and the fact that many will only have complete aircraft of very high standard residant on their systems.In the earlier days of FS you downloaded whatever caught your fancy as most were pretty well a much of a muchness.Its not the cream of the freeware developers who might take a year perfecting a select aircraft. They can be counted on two hands? but the mass of people who like to make nice looking and detailed exterior models.Maybe Im way off markPeter

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Peter,I think you are correct in your assessment: developing for flight sims IS becoming more and more complex. As more powerful systems are capable of delivering more realism, so will the demand for realism rise. Which means an increasing need for specialised developers contributing their knowledge to dedicated teams working together on highly complex projects, which take more time to complete. The time, effort, knowledge and documentation needed won't come for free anymore. I do think we're seeing the end of complex and realistic freeware aircraft.I don't think this is a negative evolution: I'd rather have 3 very realistic payware aircraft in my hanger than 300 'generic' freeware a/c which only *look* different but don't behave like the real thing and are all operated in the same simplified way. But that's just MY taste. But because there are a lot of simmers with different tastes than mine, this does not spell the end of freeware. There will always be 'would-be' pilots who have no ambition to go all the way. They just want to have fun and don't want to dig into all the intricacies of flying. For them a simple plane which approximates reality in a more or less beleivable manner will suffise. Nothing wrong with that.Another area where there's still plenty of room for freeware developers is airport scenery. Creating an airport is relatively simple compared to developing an aircraft. It can easily be done with fairly humble means and widely available documentation. And it is within the scope of what a single individual -with a little bit of help from his friends- can accomplish. Do we need an airport which is recreated to the last detail? Absolutely not. If I can land at an airfield where the 'airside' scenery gives me a good idea of what the real thing looks like, I'm more than happy. I'm not going to slew through the airport for hours and hours to explore every nook and cranny, not even at my 'home' airport. I think the need for 'perfection' (perfection always comes at a cost) here is not so great. I'd rather have 300 airports which are a fair representation of reality (and only the parts which I can see from my aircraft)than a few superb sceneries which recreate every building, inside and out and from all sides.I do recognise however that recreating even a moderate sized airport takes months of works, I'm not at all dismissing the outstanding work many freeware scenery designers have delivered and I'm very grateful for their input. In fact, I spent hundreds of hours myself in creating a scenery for Fly. But I did it for the fun of it. Creating a scenery was just as much part of the hobby as flying. And this will always be true for many others who like the creative part of it, and who think the praise of fellow-simmers is payment enough.There's another aspect of the 'commercialisation' of flight simming which bothers me more. Lately there have been offerings of airport sceneries where they ask 15, 20 euros or more for just one airport. Other commercial packages charge the same for at least 5, 6 airports and they even throw in some airplanes: five times more value for the same amount of money. If the market was really at work here, those overpriced products wouldn't stand a chance. But I'm afraid we simmers are very 'easy' consumers. We want it all and we want to pay the price for it. Now to me it looks like anyone can charge anything he wants, there will always be enough people who are willing to pay those exorbitant prices. If this wasn't the case, by now the market would have reached some kind of 'agreement' on what a fair price would be. Instead we see all kinds of prices which are by no means representative for what's on offer. And when you see those greedy developers getting away with it, you can be sure others will follow and prices will soar.Pretty soon only higly paid real pilots will be the only ones who can afford flight simming.Paul

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Peter,it is oneof the questions I will ask the audience at the FS weekend tomorrow and Sunday. As I have in the past.I think you have a point to a certain extent. I believe there are two very distinct groups of users in the flightsim community.... actually, there are a lot OUTSIDE of the community. The groups I mean are the regular flyers and usually stickers for realism, in different areas I might add, and the 'occasional' user.Judging from my contacts in this world I would say that the vast majority is still in the second group, and most of them do not have a clue about internet sites for FS, about downloading files and about installing add-ons, let alone be worried about the to be or not to be of freeware :-)So your question pertains to the regulars. And of them yet another precentage is not too worried by this trend in expanding realism. Many people still have never bought an add-on, especially not such complicated ones as the Avidyne, Garmin, RealXP and other avionics. So, I think there is still, and will be for a long time to come, a 'market' for freeware add-ons, information and exchange. Yes, the sophisticated users will want more and more, and hence those products will have to be more expensive. The answer of course is modularity, as in real life. A real aircraft, just like a car, comes in a basic configuration as far as interior and avionics are concerned, and the buyer adds bits and pieces according to his use and wallet.I imagine that is what will happen in our simualted world too... and already is to some extent.Yes, we probably will see aircraft builders (and scenery builders too) team up to collect different skills needed to produce high quality add-ons. And payware and freeware builders alike might start making provisions to add IN modules that can be bought seperately. Why not? Would that be bad?In the end the hobby is already getting more expensive for those of us that want more realism, which in my view is only logical. If you want a higher resolution digicam, or a bigger tv with more features, you'll pay more money too.... let's not even start about PC's !! :-lol :-lol :-outta Francois :-wave________________________Francois A. "Navman" DumasAssociate Editor &Forums AdministratorAVSIM Online!email: fdumas@avsim.com________________________

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You are right on-but that is progress!20 years ago I programed (even in machine language-what is that?) small programs that were even useful-my business used one at the time.The difference of what you could buy then, and what I could do as a hobbiest were often not that different-both in function and quality.When groups of teams of programers started being used on commercial products I quickly realized my time was over. Of course, software products quality also took a big rise up so I wasn't disturbed at all.The loss of a hobbiest programmert was made up by the bargain-a program that although fun would take me months to write vs. the same program executed 100 fold in quality and features by a software team for $40-much more of a bargain! Instead of being disturbed at the loss of my hobby I just took up a different one (flight simming :-lol ) and realized the programming end was better left to the pros.I would much rather myself pay for this higher quality-you get what you pay for-and an aircraft such as you guys have made does now take a team and thousands of hours.Yes , perhaps fs freeware in the future will possibly be relegated to repaints and small utilities MS doesn't include-but that is the price of progress.On the other hand-the increased realism that will be payware and probably should be, is not really a problem-you don't have to buy it and I suspect it caters to a relatively small market anyway. But to the people who need or require this increased reality it is actually a blessing!I have been waiting for years for realistic avionics-this is the first year we have started getting some finally. Yes-most are payware and considering their complexity they should be. But-for instance-for the cost of 1/2 hour of flying a real bird the reality xp radio/gps stack (which copies the apollo real world series) has probably saved me literally 100's of dollars in wasted training time in the air that I can now do on the ground. That's a bargain-and I doubt a freeware developer would have ever been able to pull it off.Something to be said for that.http://members.telocity.com/~geof43/Geofdog2.gif

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I think you're totally right. FS is becoming more of a "world/life simulator" than a game. I shudder to think how real this is going to be even 5 or 10 years from now when we have video cards that can make it look like film footage.The sub-contracting idea has already started happening - Dreamfleet and Flight1 are a good example - Nick Jacobs from DF programmed the Flight1 Cessna 421's GPS...Personally, I have absolutely no problem with any talented FS design team charging for their products - the amount of time and knowledge that goes into making some of these crazy new aircraft like the RealAir SF.260 or the Dreamfleet Cardinal is just staggering. IMO, it'd be a crime if they released that stuff for free - it's getting to the point where these are almost real freaking airplanes for cryin out loud!

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FrancoisI agree with what both you and Paul are saying.I remember in the days of FS95 there were many aircraft released daily as freeware, all much of a muchness and I would download and install aircraft which appealed to me.Now complete aircraft releases are far less with a large increase in repaints.Freeware is much more strongly defended by the community and criticism by a far more reality demanding user less tolerated than it used to be.Maybe this is a reflection of fear amongst the community trying to maintain a dwindling freeware sector.I also agree that the cost of adding all the commercial addons whether aircraft or scenery is making the hobby very expensive.It would be interesting to know how much people have spent on addons to the basic FS2002 since its release. Im sure the answer for soem would be frightening.By the time we reach FS2004 the cost of inhabiting the FS world will be horrendous if users want to have a top notch FS.Peter

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AddendumFrancoisThis brings me to another point which I feel will become more and more important........Tools!!! MSFS is a creative medium and to go together with this extra complexity tools to make the job simpler and not requiring people to be Einsteins in every field will surely be needed.I could see a simple flight modelling tool which allows you to add performance spec into an interface and then also allows you to adjust the feel of every control with sliders from within the sim until an airfile is automatically created.I could see simular creative tools for making panels and VCs.Airports from a huge database of buildings taxiways etc which are simply drag and drop.The list could go on :-)Then and only then will freeware take up its old positionPeter

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True, Peter, but then again the tools makers become more and more professional now too these days, because FS becomes more complicated all the time :-( (Look at the major tools like FSMeteo, FSNavigator, LAGO's many new entries etc.).I don't think we will see a freeware world as we once had it.... but you never know.We used to have a 'free' CP/M world one day.... that disappeared and it took a very long time for something like Linux to show up ;-)Kind regards,Francois :-outta Francois :-wave[table border=0 cellpadding=10 cellspacing=0][tr][td valign=bottom" align="center]"At home in the wild"[/td][td valign=bottom" align="center][link:avsim.com/alaska/alaska_052.htm|Don's Alaskan Bush Charters]"Beavers Lead the Way"[/td][td valign=bottom" align="center][link:www.avsim.com/vfr_center/mainpages/vfr_flights_main_page.htm]VFR Flight Center]"Looking Good Outside"[/td][/tr][tr][td valign=top" align="center]http://bfu.avsim.net/sigpics/logo75b.gif[/td][td valign="top" align="left" colspan=2]http://www.fssupport.com/images/moose2.gif[/td][tr][/table]________________________Francois A. "Navman" DumasAssociate Editor &Forums AdministratorAVSIM Online![/bemail: fdumas@avsim.com________________________

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That's a good point. Peter's reasoning takes place within a monopoly situation and what he describes could very well be a direct product of this.However, periodically, there are some quantic jumps that sort of change the landscape and reset everything to zero...

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Peter -Very interesting observation, which I'd say is quite accurate. What we may see happen is a bifuration of user groups. That is, there may be those that use FS20xx as a game, who will certainly not need or want such intense level of realism. While, on the other hand, there may be a separate and distinct group that uses FS20xx as a real world training aid that could support an "intense-realism" industry.Currently, it seems that the general impression among the typical real world pilot is that simulators are games, for kids. That being based on the simulators of the past. It has only been more recently that we are seeing articles on AVWeb or in piloting magazines about the realism and usefulness of simulators. As this impression shifts and we see more pilots begin using simulators as training aids, this new market is going to want their virtual planes to be equipped with the same avionics they already use or those they are considering purchasing (or, obviously, the ones they wish they could purchase ;-)).Basically, I see that as realism increases, we won't necessarily see a drastic decrease in gamers, but will see a reasonable increase in real world pilots using the software. Hopefully, the increase market size will support the increased addon costs necessary to facilitate such avionics and aircraft development.Regards,http://mywebpages.comcast.net/jsnyder99/sigs/photopiper.jpg | [LINK:www.airliners.net/search/photo.search?photographersearch=Jeffrey%20L.%20Snyder&distinct_entry=true|AIRLINERS.NET PHOTOS] [link:www.biblegateway.com/bgaudio/english/NIV/Max%20McLean/RM/bgaudio.pl?selection=1|AUDIO BIBLE] ] JEFF_S_KDTW@YAHOO.COM[/font

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this is the sort of topic that proves the value of avsim and the diversity of participants. Our hobby is large enough to accomodate those who want the absolute in "simulated reality", an oxymoron if there ever was one. On the other hand, there are the more casual flyers who may be a little less demanding. There is at least one area where clashes can occur, and that is during online flying with vatsim. I am not criticizing vatsim, but pointing out the reality that some controllers are very professional and expect the same of the pilots who fly in their sectors. At the same time, when a flyer is asked for charts, and says he or she does not have them, the controller will more often than not provide vectors. So, cooperation is possible on line and off among simmers, of all abilities, no matter their demands. Peter, who started this thread, has done some wonderful things for our hobby, not the least of which are his beautiful real life in flight photos as well as contributions to sim flight. And, Peter, thanks for opening up a most interesting discussion. And, for anyone else who is a developer, if you can figure out how to give us a room module that responds on an x-y axis to the banks and turns of sim flight on our 17 inch screens, and maybe do it for a couple of hundred dollars...that would be an accomplishment...:-)done babblin'sherm

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