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JoTayhen

Another "something" to stir the pot.

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Hey fellas, I've been sitting here wondering what I would try to do if I found myself deep in the bowels of MS and responsible for authoring the overall "Flight strategy". You know, the "grand plan" so to speak. Here goes - - - all hypothetically, of course.Now, I'm no software genius but I have a group of great, young teammates who will handle that aspect of this project. It's my job to put a product out there that will appeal to the broadest spectrum of the market for such products. It's also my responsibility to design, if possible, a product that will take maximum advantage of the significant economic upside available to all those products of its class that become "franchise products" and that develop large numbers of passionate devotees.Conceptionally speaking, what would such a product look like? Well, consider this: I believe this product involves an activity that is of at least casual interest to a relatively large number of folks of varying age groups and abilities, that's why the corporation is interested in it in the first place. I also believe it also has a history in that it has predecessors that have themselves created followings of various levels of loyalty and sophistication.Given the above, I would want a product that enters the market at a level that would appeal to the greatest majority of potential customers. A product that offers graphics, in-game strategies and activities of at least the quality that can be found in today's most sophisticated and successful arcade games. I would try to make the initial in-game activities and challenges as compatible as possible with the anticipated levels of ablilties, interest and sophistication possessed by the largest possible group of potential customers and then I would rely upon their level of interest in the product increasing as their abilities and their perceived level of success with the product rises.My goal would be to offer customers who might be mildly interested, an eye-catching, interest-generating entry-level experience at a very attractive price point so the largest number of those customers would feel positively inclined to sample my wares. You know, spread the net as far as possible.Then - - -I would ask the software team to create a scalable platform, modular and fully cognizant of today's hardware capabilites. It would be flexible and compatible with the concept of future modification.I would ask for the creation of "gates" that would allow controlled entry to the platform. In the future and at the pleasure of the corporation, third parties would be permitted to create attendant products under and subject to parameters established by the corporation. Both the corporation and the third-party developers of those attendant products would benefit. Because the decision to enable third party participation has yet not been made, the existance of these portals would remain confidential but they would be engineered into the software now to insure continuity.I would suffer the criticism of the more knowledgeable and sophisticated users as the cost of introducing the product to the potentially greater marketplace and hope that marketplace will develop an appetite for the product and start to vocalize its desire for a greater degree of capability and sophistication. After all, there exists already a clamor for such a movement. Could that clamor not prove to be the necessary seed for yet a larger movement?Now, you ask," why did I have to read through all of the above just to get to these conclusions when I already knew most of them? Why didn't they just up and fix FSX and be done with it!"Because FSX is unfixable as most of us have already decided. FSX is also the platform upon which many thousands of dollars of add-ons are based and there are huge numbers of us who have a very real vested interested in being able to continue to use those programs. The decision to "fix" FSX would most likely have carried with it the potential risk of destroying our ability to continue to use some or most of our respective investments - pure and simple.I believe what we are witnessing with the introduction of "Flight" has the potential of being far grander that we have yet considered. We may be witnessing the birth of a franchise product that will be fully scalable, capable of increasing both its scope and its level of sophistication as required by the economics of the marketplace.How many of us will choose to ignore the fact that, although "Flight" may not yet be to our respective tastes - it proves to be lightning fast on our machines? And "rock" stable? How long will it be before we are seeing comments here and elsewhere documenting our desire for "Flight" to be more than it is? If I'm not mistaken, we are already reading them. Who among us will not avail himself of the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of coding that is cognizant of and that takes full advantage of the capabilities of our respective machines - especially if we suspect we may have the opportunity to upgrade to something that is much more satisfying?Believe me when I tell you that MS is more than aware of our position in this matter. I also believe they know they already have us in their "hip pocket" so to speak. It's the potential of the greater marketplace and the financial impact of a new franchise product that has put the glint in their eye.We'll see.John


John

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Good points, I think a principle concern isn't the gaminess, or even the requirement to buy the scenery. No, I think the shutting out of the freeware/payware ecosystem is our problem.Did they really hire enough developers to create the same volume of content we have for FSX? Do these developers posses the long-term expertise of our better 3rd-party devs? At first, I thought the marketplace would be great, because I thought it would filter the charlatans out, but now we hear "NO SDK."That's weird though, because I recall people posting links to job postings that clearly spoke of SDK development.What's the true story?Tom, and others, have intimated: NO SDK.But without an SDK, how could they EVER get product to market?And, even if there is on, if it is commercial devs only, then they've KILLED the spirit of freeware.Freeware was a MIGHTILY important vector into payware for many of our top talents.In any case, I appreciate your well-reasoned reflections.


Jeff Bea

I am an avid globetrotter with my trusty Lufthansa B777F, Polar Air Cargo B744F, and Atlas Air B748F.

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John, I sincerely hope that something positive comes out of all this, and that we eventually get what we want. But after this fiasco, my attitude towards Microsoft will be along the lines of "screenshot or it didn't and never will happen." Even then, my trust would extend no further than the proverbial throw.


Regards,

PD

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Perhaps, who knows but then there is the mega_shok.gif/20 rule. If they think that the initial product is going to already cater for most of the market why would they then follow up with mega_shok.gif% more effort to capture the remaining few. My guess is that mega_shok.gif% of the work has already gone in to what they vision their proposition to be, not 20%

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Hey fellas,You know Philip, I surely do hope so also! I don't know how all of this will turn out however I do believe folks do things for reasons - for the most part. I understand completely your feelings and your sincerity. Jason, you raise a very good and pertinent point. It would certainly appear at this stage MS is being short-sighted in their approach to this project - your assertion being," Come On! Why can't you guys go just a little farther and put together a more comprehensive product that would appeal to a broader audience?". In my "former life", I helped to formulate new product strategies for a few major corporations. One of the issues we played with at that time was the concept of new product positioning, steerage and maneuverability and the potential economic impact those actions would have on profit projections. A lot of B-school mumbo-jumbo which simply boils down to:1. How much development must we subject a particular new product to before we can expose it to potential customers to receive the benefit of their initial reactions - and be able to consider those reactions to be both informative and valid?2. At what point(s) in a new product's gestation can we safely pause its development for the purpose of altering the course of that development due to customer input and how do we accomplish that in the most economically efficient manner possible.Bringing a new product on-line in a manner which allows the development of that product to be altered by valuable customer input in the form of suggestions and/or criticism is by far the more economically efficient procedure. One must try to avoid the expense of developing a product only to find its marketability diminished by virtue of having done so in a proverbial vacuum. The other side of this coin is there is always a risk to the company when potential customers are exposed to a new product in a premature state - for all the obvious reasons that I don't need to take your time up with here.Bottom line? I'm just as much in the dark and guessing as the next guy here. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.Y'all take care now,John.


John

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Hey Jeff,I appreciate your comments regarding the potential absence of an SDK.. In my mind they reflect some solid thinking.I agree that the thought of the absence of any ability on the part of third-party developers, be they freeware or payware entities, to positively and effectively interact with this new product is disturbing. Frankly, it seems on its surface to be counter productive.I choose to believe at this stage anyway, some means to allow third-party interaction is being incorporated. I suspect that, if I am correct, that mechanism will remain confidential pending the full development of the platform and possible subsequent negotiations with interested parties.I'm certain you realize corporate attitudes regarding the worth of new products can vary across a very wide spectrum. I would even venture to say there may yet be some in MS who believe the FSX platform was never fully recognized in an economic sense for its value to all those third-party developers. I think you and I could agree that the road runs both ways here. FSX would not be nearly as attractive as it is today to most of us if there had been no third-party development of complimentary products.Let us both hope that somewhere within MS there are folks who will reflect upon the genuine opportunity Flight offers and that those folks will be able to make their voices heard.Respectfully,John


John

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