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From the customers point of view... Quality discussion.

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Posted the below in the 727 forum earlier today, Tom suggested though that this would be a better forum for this post:-------------Hi,A few months ago I got really interested in the flight sim idea. I am a private pilot but in the flight sim FS2002 I saw some possiblities in flying big airliners too.I quickly found out that the default 737-400 became my favourite. I also found out quickly it wasn't "enough"So I experimented with updating the FS2002 737-400s' flight dynamics. It became more interesting. But not enough.So I bought some payware planes.I quickly felt that these are complex aircraft and noticed that good payware stuff was able to provide a much higher level of realism. Noticed too that one must spend some time, carefully learning each aircraft in order to enjoy it.The price for purchasing these aircraft really nothing, compared to the time you spend with learning them. So the way tutorials are written, if the aircraft contains errors etc. is a matter that is VERY important for end user satisfaction. I mean, even if you get the plane for free - if you then have to spend 30 hours solving things that have to to with problems around the MODEL, and not the *aircraft* then that's not good.I have bought several payware planes and livery packages etc. The good experiences come from the payware firms who are friendly and give good support. Firms that are available (email or forums) and whos' aircraft give you a confident, well balanced flying experience -where you can think about FLYING and not how to tackle issues with the sim-model. I have during this time seen many "smart" payware designers offer sophisticated packages, only to find that tutorials don't work the way I am used to see tutorials work, and that it is not possible to get proper advice on how to get it working.I have seen otherwise "sophisticated" aircraft models make funny strange nose-ups and nose-downs, making unrealistic turns, etc.I think this is "penny wise and pound foolish" by some manufacturers -but I'm not really sure... Making the products ready and really good working before release is perhaps not as profitable as just doing what it takes to get us buy them? Certainly, a product of this complex caliber, involving so many complex parameters will undoubtetly involve improvement over time involving customer feedback. But the most basic functions must work when the product is purchased. Otherwise I think it does not qualify to be payware, then it should be freeware. Then when the product is developed to an acceptable stage - complete it and make it payware.When reading about about new aircrafts, it all looks great on the preview screen shots and in the words on the screen. But I discovered myself thinking today: "I don't feel like buying it yet". I asked myself: "Do I want to spend hours on manuals, hours on forums etc only to find out it is yet another products who sell me the "vision of how well it will work" but actually yet don't work ... ". Do I want to solve their problems or do I want to enjoy flying?So I am becoming hesitant as a buyer now. Still loving the flight sim activity and with the view that this is an interesting market. Just think, with the PC performance only 2-3 years ago it wasn't possible to get these flying experiences in a PC! - - -All in all this is now my position: Better owning and using ONE or at least very few good reliable aircraft than quickly buying and download and spending time on bug-filled, non-finished products. Actually, I rather pay $450.- and get a really good working product than paying $20-30.- on something that will force me to waste time on the stuff that isn't fun - trying to solve the manufactureres problems.Are some manufacturers only doing what it takes to actually SELL us the product but then letting us down in real life? By showing us eye-candy, mouth watering interiors, VC's etc and then letting us find out that in reality we have a list of 50-200 unsolved mysteries waiting ahead of us... Not flying mysteries, but manual and tutorial mysteries, bug mysteries etc...Please note that a some flight sim aircraft designers indeed do A VERY GOOD JOB and definitely show a good responsible behaviour and deserves our applause. They can identify with the client and understand his situation and needs. Then some others seem more interested in getting the credit card info, and after that their interest makes a rapid descent... - - -What are other thoughts about this?I think a healthy discussion involving customers AND sim-aircraft designers is highly needed here! Otherwise I suspect there will be too many dissapointed turned-off clients and this is not good for the designers that actually do a very good, creative and skillfull job. And many thanks to you Tom for suggesting posting this here on the "Hangar Chat" instead. I have now spent time writng this in the hope that a fruitful discussion will help producing better products, better support, better manuals, more happy customers and that the flight sim community will prosper. With open and good communication I think much is to be gained. And in the long run, those manufacturers that listen to their clients are the winners!Censorship and silenced customers is a bad thing. It has been tested in various parts of the world but really never became a success.Open forums with sincere and goal-oriented quality discussions are good! My goal with writing this post: Better aircraft and better support and better manuals! And direct and open feedback when posting. The little guy out there sitting with his flight sim aircraft late Friday evening letting his imagination go is enthustiastic, dreaming, feeling and wants to use the product he paid for and feel good. Let's respect this and don't let him down.Be it Boeing, Airbus or whatever he chooses to fly. Thanks Tom for allowing this discussion here :)Lars----------------------------------------------------Intel P4 2.0 GHz, 1.5 GB RAM, Nvidia 4600 Titanium

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Hi Lars:You make some valid points here. I fly for the fun of it. Flight simmulation provides me with many hours of pleasure. I cannot get a private pilot license and I really don't have that passion either. I spent nearly $250.00 in add-on payware software in the past couple of months. Some of them good, some of them not so good. I do see with some developers out there customer support is great, for some their support suffers. I also think that it's a no-win situation also. You cannot please everyone. Also, buyer must we aware also. You cannot place all the blame on the producer when video cards, computes etc all vary as well as frame rates. What I think is that perhaps AVSIM needs to set some standard for those developers both freeware and payware to have as far as customer support is concerned. If they don't live up to this standard after some time, they should be gone. It should be a privilage to have host a forum here on AVSIM and it should not be taken for granted. Furthermore, I think also that customers expectations should also change, you cannot expect for example a DC10 that is make for MS FS to fly like the real thing or have everthing modeled to the letter. It cannot be done. I cannot be the judge of this DC10 made for MS FS either, unless I actually fly the thing myself professionally or privately. Its a great and interesting topic here. Happy New Year.Charles

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Charles: "Hi Lars: You make some valid points here."Lars: Thanks Charles :)Charles: "I spent nearly $250.00 in add-on payware software in the past couple of months. Some of them good, some of them not so good."Lars: Yes, there is a big variation in quality indeed.Charles: "You cannot please everyone. Also, buyer must we aware also. You cannot place all the blame on the producer when video cards, computes etc all vary as well as frame rates."Lars: True, this is an interesting point! This is why some manufacturers must raise the quality level of their support AND of their tutorials. There is a myriad of things that go wrong. If users are not very skilled in computers and are inexperiemced with aviation then that is a compbination that can induce many "strange" questions. Too many of these questions, and perhaps the support guys lose their motivation? I don't know? I happen to work with computers 10 hours a day (audio and video) and consider myself fairly knowledgeble and I am also a provate pilot. Still.... still some tutorials simply don't work for me, and when I ask questions I don't get good answers. Charles: "What I think is that perhaps AVSIM needs to set some standard for those developers both freeware and payware to have as far as customer support is concerned. If they don't live up to this standard after some time, they should be gone. It should be a privilage to have host a forum here on AVSIM and it should not be taken for granted."Lars: I don't know anything about AVSIM. Do they design and sell aircraft? Or are they a totally neutral and objective company? I think here arises some questions wether or not they want to allow open disussions. Open discussions always contain the risk of someone saying something negative about a product. The manufacturer of an aircraft add-on may choose to interpret this as "bad" and not want it on the forum. Then another manufacturer who is open to improvements and wants to use the negative critiscism as a *possiblity* may choose to interpret it as "good" and make use of this "possiblity" to improve and show readers "see, we are open, friendly and are able to discuss".If it is labeled as a "Support Forum" then my personal opinion is that it should be just this! Not a "camouflaged sales forum", with the intention of tempting future buyers to get a "falsely good" impression. This may fool some but only for a short period of time.I think here the flight sim manufactures community lacks behind a little compared to major PC software manufacturers. When AVSIM is allowing and stimulating this very thread here, I think that is a good sign!Charles: "Furthermore, I think also that customers expectations should also change, you cannot expect for example a DC10 that is make for MS FS to fly like the real thing or have everthing modeled to the letter. It cannot be done. I cannot be the judge of this DC10 made for MS FS either, unless I actually fly the thing myself professionally or privately."Lars: Very few people actually have the possiblity to compare a real DC10 and a flight sim DC10. But things they indeed are able to compare and test are for instance:01 - Flight dynamic "personality". Personality and not necessarily exact numbers. Stall speeds, etc. Real info about this can be found at many sites as well as climb performance and various other aerodynamic specs. The specs of the simcraft has not to be precicely, but should mimick the "feel" of the real aircraft. Like for instance, an aircraft known to sink rapidly when power is pulled off must reflect this "personality" in the model. Stall characteristics etc etc.02 - Expectation that MUST be satisfied are "non-negotiable" items like these: basic aicraft behaviour: If a turn in a real airliner on autopilot is "passenger friendly" that is, smooth and "normal" the turn in the simversion can't be abrupt and throw coffee cups and drinks around in the cabin. Changing speed while on autopilot must NEVER result in abrupt nose dives or nose ups when these are totally unrealistic in the aircraft it is supposed to model. 03 - Errors like the airplane model has its wings or wheels at different locations than the real aircraft. For instance, if the proprtions of the aircraft is significantly different than the real aircraft, this is the not acceptable.03 - General bugs and errors in the program and tutorial. Like when trying to follow a tutorial, you enter EXACTLY what is written there and things still don't work and via support groups and experimenting you have to find workarounds or accept bugs this is not acceptable.I think that it would be good to set some standards and have manufacturers of simcraft being able to communicate these with their customers. I think in order to eliminate the dissapointment factor here the simcraft seller should DEFINE what he is selling so that the buyer can CHOOSE what he is buying.It is NOT enough showing a nice screenshot from a cabin making us BELIEVE it will work like the real thing. Real aircraft manufacturers show drawings on their website. Why not have sim-manufacturers show drwaings too so that we can see if they made the aircraft looking real also in proportions, wing placements etc. etc.?How about the airsim manufacturers producing nice MPG-videos that we can view online in Windows Meaida Player or RealVideo? That way we can see how they land, take off, how the VC performs during panning etc.Right now some simmanufactureres tempt us just because this is something new, unidentified and fresh as a concept. Instead, lets be happy we can do this but raise the standards a little...I think generally speaking, gereally speaking, European manufacturers lack behind a little in electronic support. It's lke phone support for computer software. My own experience is that US companies are far superior to European companies in providing fast reliable phone support. European companies stil have something "socialistic totalitarian" about themselves and I think that with the open world of Internet, we just have to face facts - the customer is always right, you can't regulate, educate or tell him how he should behave, just listen, show you listen, shorten his waiting time and be very nice to him.So following this: "what is a good simcraft"? What things are acceptable errors and what things are NOT acceptable? For instance, if the marketing website says "this aircraft has a FMC but it is not fully working" then I will not be able to complain. If it says "not spinning wheel" then I will not compoain about wheels not spinning. If it turns abruptly and "strange" then I will compain because I assuemed - and very correctly so - that the basic functions should worl "noarmally". This is not so difficult. A normal turn isn't necessarily an exact replication of the real turn, but it isn't "strange" and "abrupt". See what i mean? I think, after all it is possible to define some quality criterias that both the seller and buyer would benefit from.Here's an idea. i don't know if its a good one. But lets just play with the idea of defining things:Class D: Airplane looks about the same but is just a PC toy for fun. No FMC. Jagged lines, low res graphics but works in low perfroamce PCs.Class C: Airplane looks like the real thing. Panel looks same but perf isn't the same and panel is far from complete. Some FMC functions.Class B: Airplane exterior photo realistic, panel looks real, performance and funcions slightly limited and good enough for gaming. FMC works.Class A: Exterior and panel realistic, flight dynamics modeled very authentic. FMC works like the real thing with the limitations of xxx and yyy. Sound bla bla bl, VC bla blaAbove far from ggood I think, but let's find a way of defining what we buy. If major companies like Boeing and Airbus can define what they are selling, perhaps it should be possible for simmanufacturers too...? At least better than today.Charles: "Its a great and interesting topic here. Happy New Year.Charles"To you too Charles. And thans for being the first to respond constructively here!LarsIntel P4 2.0 GHz, 1.5 GB RAM, Nvidia 4600 Titanium

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I agree with Lars i have spent 200 to 300 dollars on payware aircraft and scenery of late and i was very happy with most but i was about to Buy my first jet liner and i had a look at the forum for this aircraft and all these people where still waiting for there key codes so that put me off. i think i will wait till the new Porter that comes out soon i hope. And if people want to sell add on"s they have to do a really good job. there is guys doing a great job on freeware Airaft as well.mike stone is one there are heaps of others too.regards Shafs.

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