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darth_damian_000

Add-on Developers, Why the Secrecy?

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I am relatively new to flight simulation, and at this point, I have, unfortunately, sunk into a standard of "high expectations" from the add-ons that sometimes can be pricey. That is not to say the add-ons aren't worth the price, but their quality sometimes generates hype about upcoming projects.

 

I would like to know why do developers keep everything a secret, and why do they update us, their customers, so rarely? It's like you have to look for updates on wikileaks, or perhaps find your way to a vault where only a country's top officials know the code!

 

Is it some business tactic? Is it a conservative approach, making sure they dont release any products / information prematurely?

Or is it because they don't work on these projects as long and frequently as I THINK they do? Is this some illusion that I have, as in, certain products take a very long time to develop when I expect them to be finished quicker?

 

In the end, I do appreciate the work they do. By the quality of some add-ons that I tried, I can certainly understand why they would take so long. 

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There are likely as many reasons as there are developers, but in general terms I think it's mostly because development on complex projects is just not reliably predictable! What appears at first to be a relatively simple task can occasionally morph into a month-long ordeal...

 

...which in turn cause other tasks to be set back as well since there's so much inter-dependency between multiple elements of any given project.

 

This causes developers to be extremely wary about making any "schedule announcements" because sure as certain, it's going to =@... :dance:

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Additionally many of these developers are one or two person operations. If the product suddenly takes off, they can really be overwhelmed and fall well behind in both communication and development. In operations like that, time spent on support or information is time not spent on coding, etc.

 

 


This causes developers to be extremely wary about making any "schedule announcements" because sure as certain, it's going to ...

 

To me this is probably the above is the single biggest reason - the sim community can get quite vocal when a promised delivery date is missed.

 

Vic

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And the sim community can get just as vocal when no date is given.  It's a "no-win" situation for developers sometimes.  I "tinker" with my own versions using ADE9X, GMAX, Sbuilder, and others and then  patiently wait, giving developers all the time they need to put out a fantastic product.  That's a "win-win" for me.  I'm learning about scenery design and ultimately getting a great product that puts mine to shame.  Still...I try. :smile:

 

Randy

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Still...I try.

 

And THAT'S what is important. Everyone starts somewhere. ho knows, you may become one of our premier developers down the road.

 

Not to mention the satisfaction of making something for yourself that enhances your sim experience.

 

Vic

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I think bottom line this just comes down to people are people and each has their... "particularities" let's say...  

 

You have ORBX for example, who will tell you their general planning for years ahead, and then you have PMDG, who act like they think they have national security secrets or something, pretty much...

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I dunno.  I can only see a public relations boon from having a blog of development.  Sure, there'd have to be the reminders of "No...no release date set" and keeping expectations patted down.  You don't need to release every little step but, as progress is made people still have a sense that someone's working on it.  Having said that, being that these are mostly people's side jobs intertwined with family, life, burnout, and everything else, there simply won't be progress for stretches and that's the way it is.  I get impatient too but it does surprise me how upset and eager people get at times.

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Dev support foums and FB pages can be visited from time to time.. We try to at least let folk have rough drafts but cannot answer the proverbial "are we there yet?" and "how much? type questions, as Bill outlined above.

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Don't forget the people who constantly hound developers with questions about whether ashtrays will be included with this X version, or if we can see simulated bird strikes in the engine cowlings, because they saw it happen with X aircraft at X airport.  While it is good to see a certain level of advertising by a developer (hoping they don't go the way of the Dodo), user patience wears thin after a while.  I've seen a developer or two advertise a new product, but literally take years to put it together and all the while, the interest level from users drops and then the developer gets angry when a new person comes along with the classic line "is it ready yet?"  Said developer gets upset, users come to each others' defense, and it turns into a mell of a hess.

 

I wouldn't call it "secrecy" per say, but rather that the developer says "yeah, we're working on this project", but wants to leave it at that as if the more information they release, the more fired up the users get.

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I wouldn't call it "secrecy" per say, but rather that the developer says "yeah, we're working on this project", but wants to leave it at that as if the more information they release, the more fired up the users get.

 

As a developer struggling with the obscurity of my product, I would give several parts of my anatomy to be in such a situation. It's really a rare privilege to be in such a situation, yet it seems that most developers treat it as an annoyance.

 

A development blog is a fabulous way to communicate with your users. The more information you provide, I believe the more goodwill you engender. Look at what Phil Taylor was able to do when at MS. He had limitations on release dates and specifics, but could provide a wealth of information and context behind certain actions and decisions.

 

Cheers!

Luke

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As a developer struggling with the obscurity of my product, I would give several parts of my anatomy to be in such a situation. It's really a rare privilege to be in such a situation, yet it seems that most developers treat it as an annoyance.

 

Luke, what's your product?  I agree with your thoughts.  A blog would head off many people's questions.  "We're working on X gauge"...maybe with a photo or little video.  That's worked at Orbx from time to time.  They even have videos showing timelapse development on some products.  They're aware of PR and it's worked and created some good will.  Silence really only makes people frustrated and, after a while, people forget about the product.  I've often puzzled about A2A's policy on silence.  Rumours have been floating that they're working on a Seminole and here comes Carenado with a Seminole so people don't know whether to buy the Carenado one or wait...for something that may not even appear.  Ah well...their choice. 

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I believe people are instinctively drawn to drama.  Someone hints or teases a new project, one that gets everyone's attention, and with limited details and information, coupled with disclaimers about not releasing further information, gets everyone's curiosity up and in turn, becomes drama.  Personally, I think developers eat it up because it creates more exposure.  

 

Referencing Gregg's comment about multiple developers creating the same thing, it's simple competition.  Now, as far as what goes in to each model, there in lies the "secrecy".  By reputation, every developer has their trademark, for example one company who focuses on flight dynamics and functionality versus the other, with their eye candy, ready-for-photos aircraft.  Everyone has their niche, so to speak and yes, in the end, it is up to the consumer on what they want.

 

Some developers jump the shark way too much, so when an announcement is made, everyone takes it with a grain of salt and then their are developers who announce a project, show progress and then POOF, nothing for months on end.  Users hound the forums asking for release dates and status, the developers hit back with sketchy claims or outright statements of stalled development.  Again, it all boils down to drama, and to that end, you factor in social media, where users believe the closer they are to the mouthpiece, the better the information.

 

I've taken a "I'll believe it when I see it" attitude now and just stop by the developer's sites and forums occasionally to see if perhaps a release happened overnight. :)

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I think another big reason is many developers have full time jobs and families. Any free time away from the day job goes to family first. The rest of their free time is spent developing rather than giving updates.

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I think another big reason is many developers have full time jobs and families. Any free time away from the day job goes to family first. The rest of their free time is spent developing rather than giving updates.

 

That was certainly the case with John Dekker - the co-developer of Radar Contact. In fact he was the only coder. His partner, Doug Thompson, was the brains behind the ATC knowledge as a former Controller.

 

There were many others (including myself) in the development team and we provided our own expertise but it was all down to John ultimately as the coder. Family circumstances forced him to drop development of RC v5.

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I think another big reason is many developers have full time jobs and families. Any free time away from the day job goes to family first. The rest of their free time is spent developing rather than giving updates.

Todd..

 

Well said. I spent years 'playing' with Assembler - programming procedures, getting my library of routines, and after a while it becomes so tedious - when a 'mental block' occurs.

 

You come across a point where whatever you try, that hiccup in the code will not right itself.

So you lose interest - for a while.

 

Can you imagine someone like Lefteris at FSL trying to 'bring together' a group of like individuals on such an intensive program ? or PMDG for that matter ? I'm really not surprised at the time it takes to consider release.

 

I'll bet if those staff were working in the same building, and not in the 'global' village, they may have come to blows at times....

 

I found that family life was a great release. I could return to my programming after a few months and the fault was eventually found, and removed.

 

I have only admiration for some of these teams, who eventually release their work. It is so easy to criticise a product, especially in this hobby, which, when you sit back and realise the complexity of something like a 'bus or some commercial scenery.

 

I found that the frustration on many occasions nearly caused me to quit - I could afford to - I wasn't committed in order to earn my bread and butter - but many are in this game.

 

Simulation is, IMO, much more difficult. It has to mimic reality - exactly - if our current membership of this hobby are anything to go by....

 

Regards

Bill

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