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cameni

Outerra Roadmap

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Hi everyone @AVSIM. I'm one of the Outerra founders and lead developers, and I would like to thank here to AVSIM staff for creating this forum dedicated to Outerra, and also use it to present our plans and to receive valuable feedback from flight sim users.

 

Let me start with a brief history of the engine for people that might be interested in how it came to be and where it's now (and where it is going).

Outerra started in 2008 as a hobby project, evolving from an earlier fractal terrain program. This was the first iteration of the to-be Outerra engine in summer 2008:

t001.jpg t002.jpg t003.jpg t010.jpg

It was a hobby project back then, and probably a very few people would have guessed it's got any future.
The first video that hinted at any flight simulator potential was shown in summer 2009, followed by the "Cessna Test Flight" video that first raised interest from the flight sim community.



(As a side note, I wonder how is it that the same youtube videos that played smoothly back then presently stutter like mad on my much faster current computer).
After working on some basic vector data support and tools we created some test scenery and in summer 2010 released the "Himalayas trip" video:



After we left our day jobs and founded Outerra company in 2010 to focus on the development (a two-man firm for a long time), we worked on a few special simulation projects and got a couple of early licensees who were capable of using the engine in its early state, but which also could and needed to utilize its capabilities. The breadth of work radically increased not just because of the required support, but also because what we call "fractal programming": every completed major feature opens four slightly smaller ones, and the work can't ever end, while the apparent progress now takes smaller steps.

Later we added things like enhanced terrain texturing and terrain normal maps, 3D grass, dynamic and adjustable time flow, random rocks, realtime terrain deformation - craters, MiG 29, support for Oculus Rift and stereoscopic rendering modes, FreeTrack support, watercrafts and amphibious vehicles, and first level biome support: biome colors and vegetation density

Recently we grew our core team and are hiring more people, but of course it takes some time until the results show. We are also working with other companies on OT-based software for special simulation areas, what DetCord meant by singling out non-commercial applications (erroneously though, as a simulator would be a commercial application as well).

✈ ✈ ✈

With regards to flight simulator development, we have been contacted by various flight sim companies ever since the first video with the Cessna test flight. Addon makers were looking for a FSX replacement for a long time, though at that time still not actively trying to develop a simulator by themselves, but looking for rising platforms for which they could continue producing content once FS goes into decline. It was very early for OT, and Orbx must have been quite shocked to see our early plain demo in 2009. For some reason they thought someone larger was behind it and expected a ready made tool chain for scenery editing and all.

The problem with flight sim scene is that it is arguably the most demanding game/sim area, with a disproportionally sized user base for that. Investors do not exactly rush to fund development of new simulator platforms, more so after Microsoft pulled out. Development requires expertise in many areas. Many simmers want nothing less than a replica of the real world, or something as close as possible to it. That not only requires a very robust base capable of handling a large amount of data, but also creating tons of content for it. Compare that with typical games that focus primarily on some concrete game play and are usually cheaper to make but able to gain a much wider (though more temporary) user base.

Currently we have ongoing discussions with several companies and developers operating in the flight sim business, with the larger ones actually interested in (possibly) making a new simulator. Don't get your hopes high though - this is business, the numbers are tough and addon/hw makers do not have large software systems development experience that's a necessity here. That all contributes to a high risk, and after the initial determination and enthusiasm it mostly breaks down on the money and the breadth of development scope.

As we wrote in 2013 Retrospective, 2014 Look Ahead blog post, another option to fund relatively niche products (or products considered niche by conventional investors) is to crowd-fund the simulator development by launching a Kickstarter campaign to develop an open simulator platform based on the Outerra engine. Making the simulator would involve assembling a dedicated development team working on the simulator functionality and closely working together with our core engine team and also with other addon developers to create a rich ecosystem for it.

The question is whether the community will be able and willing to support a project like that. I was quite surprised how much positive feedback we were getting through the huge "Interesting future for Outerra" thread, and we are grateful to HiFlyer for his constant promotional effort there. But how would it would work on Kickstarter - that's still very hard to tell.
To elevate the chances of success, there are several things that we believe need to be done first:
  • A prototype demonstrating all the potential and important basic capabilities.

    Generally, for successful campaign we will need a prototype showcasing the potential and addressing the main concerns. The prototype is also needed for other developers that would want to prepare and develop early for the simulator. That means enhanced scenery tools, stuff like basic weather support, plugin support for simulation cores, 3D cockpits and instrument rendering, support for other simulator types (mainly the rails for the prototype) and more.
    Note that even though these will be fully developed as a part of the simulator work, initial versions have to be created for the prototype to convince a significant part of the target audience.
     
  • Getting support or endorsement from addon and HW makers early in the process, best ahead of the campaign launch.

    The prototype already needs to be created with this in mind, as the addon makers are essential for the success of the platform, and also the crowd-funding goals could be hardly achievable without some declaration of support from the developers.
     
  • Making the simulator platform universal, suitable not only for flight but also other simulator types - vehicles and rails, sea and deep waters as well as the space, to make it appealing to a wider user base. With Outerra it's realistically achievable on a global scale.

    There's more to it - our goal is actually to make it possible to plug in multiple simulator cores, even for the same type. For example, ground vehicles can be simulated in a simple way as it is currently done in the tech demo, where they are using a simplified physics core with raycast wheels. There could be a more advanced simulation plugin possibly developed by a racing specialist, where tires and transmission are simulated in complex way. Aircraft are currently using JSBSim core, but the simulator is meant to be designed in a way that developers can plug their own core, and have other developers using it instead of the default one for their models.

    This has also some downsides, as some hardcore flight simmers will fear that a universal simulator will compromise on the flight sim aspect, so this needs to be addressed in the campaign.

There's a lot more things that have to be addressed for such a project, but these are probably the most important ones early on. The prototype will probably take most of the time, depending how far we'll have to go with it. We would welcome your opinions in this regard - where to draw the line between what the prototype must have and what's best left for the project itself, balancing the time needed for the former with a reduced workforce vs. the enticing potential of the campaign when less of it is shown in the prototype.

Of course, if crowd-funding becomes the chosen way to create an OT-based simulator platform, it will be essentially driven by you, and we would like to hear your opinions on every aspect of it. This newly created forum looks like an ideal start point for the discussion.

 

Thanks everybody in advance for participation!


Brano Kemen, Outerra

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 I suspect once people realize this is here, this thread will become very lively! Thanks Cameni for stopping by, providing some great info, and setting some records straight. Glad to hear from you!!   :p0504:


We are all connected..... To each other, biologically...... To the Earth, chemically...... To the rest of the Universe atomically.
 
Devons rig
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Now this is one great read indeed Cameni!

Thank You very much for posting!

In regards to the Kickstarter campaign - well count me in - and i am sure many others are just waiting to get their hands on a dedicated Outerra simulator as well and willing to purchase an adequate and supportive price for it.

 

As pointed out - us flightsimmers here certainly have very specific expectations for it all - but some stuff certainly is not exlusively for flightsimming only, i mean:

Weather for instance certainly is an important factor for any kind of simulation.

And sure - the aspect of money is a very crucial point, as You have also mentioned, but even then:

If a convincing and decent prototype was available - for instance for one specific geographic region, where all of the by then ready Outerra-engine's features will be presented - i see no reason why Outerra should not be successful.

Sure it is a niche market, but within its limitaions i think, Outerra may really proceed and evolve nicely on a continuous level!

So keep on with Your great work and launch the Kickstarter campaign when the proper time to do so has come!

Really looking very much forward to it!


Enjoy flying and happy landings.

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Welcome to the Avsim forum and thanks for posting. I think I'm not alone in saying many people here would be very interested in a kickstarter and seeing this get off the ground. The amount of work already done by the community is impressive, and judging by the interest and the 40+ page huge thread, I think a lot of people want to see a simulator based on this engine

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A good read Carmani

 

Thank you for taking the time to inform us.

 

Just make a small highly detailed area and show off planes, trains, automobiles and boats all working together in an open ended and moddable Outerra and I believe you will have a very exciting kickstarter. 


Floyd Stolle

www.stollco.com

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Count me in!

 

Consider gambitious - its a crowd-investment platform and the first title will release this week: train fever.The transportation genre is a niche market, too. People invested and will get their share of the sales. 650 investors raised 250.000 Euro. This makes an average of 380 euro. This can be topped. There are many highly dedicaded flightsimmers out there maybe  with some money left - to invest some real bucks. 

From a business standpoint this could lead to some conflicts between conventional investors, publishers and the crowd. But how this worked out only the small team behind train fever knows - maybe try to contact them.


Kind regards
John 

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I remember seeing the first videos of Outerra on YouTube and being gobsmacked, but TBH 7yrs of the same Alpine scenery has left me wondering if there's really that much else to the engine.

 

I would recommend putting together a demo that closely models a real area with several different landclasses including a built up city. I think another snow-capped-mountains-and-evergreen-forests demo won't add much to what we already know...


i910900k, RTX 3090, 32GB DDR4 RAM, X34 3440x1440, Ruddy girt big mug of Yorkshire Tea

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I would recommend putting together a demo that closely models a real area with several different landclasses including a built up city. I think another snow-capped-mountains-and-evergreen-forests demo won't add much to what we already know...

 

+1

... but i am pretty sure that a demo that closely models a real area ... and also furthermore clearly proofs the potential of Outerra to be a convincing engine for a wide ranging simming platform will exactly be the one to be on the horizon and offered for the kickstarter campaign.

So let's stay tuned!


Enjoy flying and happy landings.

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I remember seeing the first videos of Outerra on YouTube and being gobsmacked, but TBH 7yrs of the same Alpine scenery has left me wondering if there's really that much else to the engine.

 

I would recommend putting together a demo that closely models a real area with several different landclasses including a built up city. I think another snow-capped-mountains-and-evergreen-forests demo won't add much to what we already know...

 

Not quite what you were looking for but close...

 

 

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An in formative and realistic post from the Outerra developers - far more realistics than Outerra's protagonists


Gerry Howard

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Nothing was said that was startlingly new. The same has been said repeatedly in various ways by numerous people in the Outerra forums over time, Including Cameni. The potential that many have always seen remains unchanged.


We are all connected..... To each other, biologically...... To the Earth, chemically...... To the rest of the Universe atomically.
 
Devons rig
Intel Core i7 8700K @ 5.0GHz / 32.0GB G.SKILL Trident Z Series Dual-Channel Ram / MSI Gaming Z Trio GeForce® RTX 3080 Triple Fan 12GB / Sound Blaster Z / Oculus Rift VR Headset / Klipsch® Promedia 2.1 Computer Speakers / ASUS ROG SWIFT PG279Q ‑ 27" IPS LED Monitor ‑ QHD / 2x Samsung SSD 850 EVO 500GB / 1x Samsung SSD 860 EVO 1000GB / 5 other regular hd's with up to 10 terabyte capacity each / Windows 10 Pro 64-bit / Gigabyte Z370 AORUS Gaming 5 Motherboard

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