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Developers in bed with MS?

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Hi all-After reading some posts, I wonder if some of the MSFS beta testers are addon developers. I remember reading about some of ProjectAI's members were beta testers. In fact, didn't one of them convince MS to make assignable parking spots? Also, think I read a while ago that an addon developer meet with some MSFS team members. If MS beta testers are also developers, would that be a conflict of interest?No flame please, just wonder about these things sometimes.Mike

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I agree, in terms of it helping make addon's more realistic. However, is it fair? If beta testers are payware developers, then they make profits based on inside information.

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Let's try to apply some common sense. First, external Beta Testers aren't under the employ of the company they are testing for. They are often asked to participate and others beg to participate. And, they are a cross section of the community which they represent. Do developers participate in betas? You bet! Is that being "in bed" with the beta's sponsor or a conflict of interest? Hardly. If I am writing software for the restaurant industry and want it to interface to the Credit Card auth center for real time CC processing, I'm going to go out of my way to invite the vendor who writes the interface to my beta. I will also go out of my way to invite the cook who has never used a Restaurant Point of Sale system. And I'll accept the unknown vendor who asks to participate because they want to see how their latest touch screen monitor works with my system.IOTW, Betas try to seek a cross section of the community and that means those who support a product with their own work, and those who support the product as customers.-John

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Exactly to the point John:-) If a platform developer such as the MSFS team were to refuse support/beta testing rights to addon developers be they freeware or payware, it would seem that they would place their platform at a disadvantage.Let's hope that the MSFS platform developers would offer even more support/beta testing rights to addon developers so that everyone benefits.It seems that such a relationship would help addon developers provide the best products possible for the community.:-)

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>If MS beta testers are also developers, would that be a conflict of interest?

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I understand what everyone is saying, but it seems strange to me that MS would allow seperate payware companies to see future versions of FS. Well, hey...maybe that's why I'm not in the business! :)

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Maybe not ;-) Seriously, who better to test than those who are intimately familiar with the sim's inner workings? Makes perfect sense to me.

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MikeMy reply was only lighthearted :-) Microsoft run an open policy which means that they want individuals to use the product as a creative tool.A few years ago there was very little commercial ware and mainly freeware where people could offer the results of their creative labours for all to enjoy.Infact so strong was the freeware element that there was an almost dislike of any commercial involvement.Now everything has changed as creating say a full aircraft with VC and to the full avionics and flight engine capability has put such a project out of reach of most and requiring a team specialising in each area.In many ways this has somehow gone away from the original goals of the open MSFS as not only a sim but a creative tool. MS need to either bring the product back to the individual by introducing easy to use tools so that a lot of the labour and skill intensive requirements are removed or accept that the openess of the product is now feeding a large commercial market.There is arguement that some commercial addons are now the price of the original programme and I could see that going to double the price in the future.More strange to me is that MS have not licenced people using the base product as a lucrative business? but maybe thats to come?Peter

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Hi,I've been developing FS freeware since 1996, so I understand the feeling of loss you express re. the old days when freeware and complete openess was the preferred option.However, while the early FS community did have a goal of an open (and free) FS, MS was never committed to that, specifically in regards to freeware vs payware. I think (quite properly) that MS feels it's in their best interest to help anyone who can create significant additional content for the sim, freeware and payware. With the increasing complication of FS projects, they are naturally turning to payware companies with that expertise.They also know that payware companies *in general* are going to be around longer, not violate their NDA, and put more effort into making the next version of FS as good as it can be. I have set up several beta tests of my freeware stuff, and the response was usually pretty pitiful. Many downloads, little feedback. I know for a fact that payware developers are already heading to Redmond, getting the inside scoop, and signing NDA agreements. I haven't heard of any freeware authors getting that treatment at this point (they might be, though). I see no reason why MS should announce any of this to the world, and jeopardize their competitive position with possible rivals.I feel that the days of freeware aircraft are not over, but becoming very limited. There are only so many people (or groups of people) willing to put the effort and time into a project that might take a year but yield nothing to them but a few thank you's. And managing freeware groups with no power to force anything often leads to lots of arguing with little getting done, or people leaving. Through FS98 I felt it was no problem to create a complete Plane/Panel/Sound package by myself. We used simple tools and created simple aircraft. We used default gauges. Sound packages were small. I would never dream of it now. FS is just getting too complicated for the old days - kiss them goodbye!Hope this helps,--Tom GibsonCal Classic Propliner Page: http://www.calclassic.comFreeflight Design Shop: http://www.freeflightdesign.comDrop by! ___x_x_(")_x_x___

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I think having addon developers of any kind on the MS betas is very beneficial to everyone, they can help MS design the new platform to be easier for making addons, which benefits everyone, and they are probably the most knowledgable people on the sim outside of the the FS Dev team on the sim too.Either way I think MS should take on a few experienced addon beta testers. (Psst - MS - I'd love to test FS10) :-hah

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>>If MS beta testers are also>developers, would that be a conflict of interest?Before you ask such question pause a little a bit and see if it makes sense. Where exactly would this conflict of interest be?. Conflict of interest is not an empty slogan - unless you can articulate where there may be a conflict - there is none.Michael J.WinXP-Home SP2,AMD64 3500+,Abit AV8,Radeon X800Pro,36GB Raptor,1GB PC3200,Audigy 2http://www.precisionmanuals.com/images/forum/747400.jpghttp://www.hifisim.com/images/asv_beta_member.jpg

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>>I would never dream of it now. FS is just getting too>complicated for the old days - kiss them goodbye!Which is why a rival like X-Plane, might never catch up! Other than that, I'm waiting for a complete simulated Garmin 1000 glass panel system, with all working options. And throw in the recently released touch pad system to go with it! Should only take a good developer a year or two to program, let alone a plane to go with it... :-hah L.Adamson

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easy. Who says the developers that MS invites to be beta testers ONLY produce addon's for MSFS? Didn't PMDG produce an aircraft for Fly? Would you want a group of developers seeing your future FS features if they freely walk to X-plane later? If the addon makers limited their products to MS only, I see no problem. I sure as heck would not want to share information with someone if they could take it else where. NDA or not.

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>Would you want a group of developers seeing>your future FS features if they freely walk to X-plane later? >If the addon makers limited their products to MS only, I see>no problem. I sure as heck would not want to share>information with someone if they could take it else where. >NDA or not.Then it would still have nothing to do with conflict of interest. Perhaps industrial espionage which would be covered by NDA like you say. Find somewhere a definition what conflict of interest is. Conflict of interest would mean that developer for some reason is torn between giving you a quality product and something else, whatever this something else would be. Michael J.WinXP-Home SP2,AMD64 3500+,Abit AV8,Radeon X800Pro,36GB Raptor,1GB PC3200,Audigy 2http://www.precisionmanuals.com/images/forum/747400.jpghttp://www.hifisim.com/images/asv_beta_member.jpg

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Donny AKA ShalomarFly 2 ROCKS!!!A few years ago, console games filled 80% of vid game stores, now it's often 100%. Several sims used to grace the shelves of Staples, Walmart and Kmart, now just one. And the company producing it made more in the first few weeks after Halo was released than most movies make in their entire run. Simple economics scream for more effort to be put into shoot-em-up console games than PC sims. Sublogic could resist that pressure well, but they were squelched- sued by MS for copyright infringement for software Bruce Artwick had developed in their employ Sublogic had intended for other sims to be able to use for the betterment of the hobby as a whole.Committed as MS devs are, they are a small division in a huge corporation where bean counter's opinions matter.If the plug is pulled on the MSFS series and no viable alternative exists, will you still be yawning?Best Regards, Donny:-wave

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I would hope that any beta team would represent a cross section of the total users of the product. I was a beta tester and am not a developer(commercial that is). Seems like a good balance of both developers (commercial)/non developers would be and is very favorable to the end result of a beta test. Looking at the end result I would say something must have been done right,and I think all of us reaped the benefits. :-)http://mywebpages.comcast.net/geofa/pages/rxp-pilot.jpg

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In an ideal world that would be so.But beta testers should have some expertise to know what they're doing, something most of your average users don't have.And especially the younger crowd can't be logically expected to have the sense of responsibility to take their task seriously, nor to keep to their NDA (and for minors, they can't even legally sign that NDA so they're automatically excluded).As someone else said, if I create a product that will either use other products or be used by other products I'd want to have the creators of those products on my beta team. I'd likely even invite them for meetings during all stages of development in order to hammer out potential interfaces and get a feel for possible conflicts that will need to be smoothed out either by ourselves or by those 3rd parties in order for the changeover to the new version of our own product to go smoothly.There's no conflict of interest there at all. We get to have the best assurance we can that our product will work with those of those who we rely on and those who rely on us, and so do our suppliers and users.It's not as if Microsoft forces beta testers to sign a contract to never use anything but Microsoft products...In fact I'm pretty sure Microsoft WANTS their testers to use other products, in order to get a feel for possible compatibility problems with that other product.As an example of why cooperation with outside partners is a good thing:During an early test of a version of DOS (I think it was a 3.x version, could have been 2.x) by someone from Lotus corporation it was discovered that their 1-2-3 product no longer worked.Microsoft and Lotus investigated and it was discovered 1-2-3 relied on a piece of code in the older DOS version which had been removed in the new version so that a command worked slightly differently. This was an undocumented API call, so 1-2-3 should never have used it in the first place (such uses were extremely common back then, more so than now).In order to prevent possibly tens of thousands of users from having problems with 1-2-3 Microsoft decided to revert that code to its prior working despite the bug being in 1-2-3. Had Lotus not been invited to partake in that testing cycle a great many customers of both products would have been extremely unhappy a few months later.

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Yeah this happens in almost every industry... if I'm a guitar maker designing a new instrument, am I gonna want some kid that just started playing testing it? No way, you get a big name skilled player in there to tell you what works and what doesn't.Boeing has done exactly this by inviting airlines to help design and test the 777 and now the 787 as well...

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There have been some really BIG changes in the way Microsoft is approaching Flight Simulator and other games in the past year.They have moved to establish Microsoft Game Studios as a brand name, with it's own web sites, it's developers hitting the web and being public about their work and how they develop the games, etc.When the FS9 patch was released, for the first time in my memory, Microsoft not only acknowledged an addon - but recommended a specific version - FSUIPC. Though many of us voluntarily contribute to Peter to keep him working on the module, most do not. That's fine and it's good that most of the functionality of FSUIPC is available, and will continue to be available for free.I've talked with some of the people in the FS2004 beta test. Frankly I don't think many of them have a clue how to test a piece of software. Most focus on their one small area of interest and made no effort to explore the product.For too many people a new version is FS is not an opportunity to grow, expand their knowledge and technique - rather an opportunity to complain about why older aircraft, panels, scenery and techniques do not work.Unfortunately, that is how the real world and most FS users work / think. I'd say that 75% of the beta testers I talked with spend hours and hours on trying to get FSNav to work and never explored the new GPS. They never considered the possibility that MS could produce something as good, or possibly better, then their favorite addon.I'm lucky because in my real world job I get to participate in some MS Beta testing cycles (server and software/patch distribution oriented stuff). When we test something, there are specific goals about what the new product should do, and what it should not do.Beta testing should not be just an opportunity to play with a new game first. It should be a structured review of the program, does it work as advertised, what does not work, can you replicate problems. The one try and it broke is basically useless to everyone. Just as useless is the my favorite aircraft or scenery is perfect approach.Like it or not - one of the main reasons Flight Simulator still exists is addons. Though Microsoft's survey reports that the majority of FS users fly completely default - the group which keeps buying and will make the big initial purchase of the next version are addon users.The reaction upon the release of FS2004 was extremely negative compared to many of the other games.I didn't see a single thread for almost four months which did not complain about some scenery, some aircraft, some gauge not working.AI traffic was basically useless for three months because we could not edit or add parking.The first SDK was not released until November and the critical ones not released until April.I sincerely hope MS has learned and is working now with key developers - and yes - the majority are payware.The success and future of Flight Simulator (in my opinion) depend on an acceptable level of compatability between versions.Microsoft has already made it very clear they intend to move to XML for all scenery elements. The move of about half the code in FS2004 caught many people, many developers of both payware and freeware, by surprise.There is a tremendous amount of great scenery which will probably not function in the next version without extensive redevelopment. Giving the developers a head start and insight into what changes they need to make is very good in my opinion.The future of gauges is XML. Think how many of your favorites will not work if legacy support goes away. Developers need to be working for that change.The company which made gMax has announced the end of their support for that modeling technology - how long before all the gMax aircraft are no longer supported by Flight Simulator ?The FS2004 rollout / release was poorly done in my opinion.It is greatly in Microsoft's interest to make the next release smoother and less traumatic.Does this benefit certain established developers over newer, smaller developers? Yes.That's the way the world works. If you as a developer move forward, make your mark, put out the high quality products, learn to work with Flight Simulator's strengths and gain the community acceptance - I'm sure Microsoft will be talking to you.Having the developers involved at a pre-Beta technical level will be a greater long term benefit for Microsoft - and the FS user community.

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>>I've talked with some of the people in the FS2004 beta test.>Frankly I don't think many of them have a clue how to test a>piece of software. Most focus on their one small area of>interest and made no effort to explore the product.>>snipped>Beta testing should not be just an opportunity to play with a>new game first. It should be a structured review of the>program, does it work as advertised, what does not work, can>you replicate problems. The one try and it broke is basically>useless to everyone. Just as useless is the my favorite>aircraft or scenery is perfect approach.>Just as in real flight, NO one is going to have a dedicated interest in ALL aspects of flight. And this is why Microsoft, as well as other developers I'm familiar with, use a wide spectrum of beta testers with varied interest's. A "forced" down the line structured beta test would soon become a bore to many. But on the other hand, there certainly IS noted problems, testings, repeats, fixes, fixes again etc. Basically, the two above quoted paragraphs are incorrect.L.Adamson ---- MS beta tester, among others

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>>Just as in real flight, NO one is going to have a dedicated>interest in ALL aspects of flight. And this is why Microsoft,>as well as other developers I'm familiar with, use a wide>spectrum of beta testers with varied interest's. A "forced">down the line structured beta test would soon become a bore to>many. But on the other hand, there certainly IS noted>problems, testings, repeats, fixes, fixes again etc.>Basically, the two above quoted paragraphs are incorrect.>If you don't want to participate in a structured testing process maybe you have no business in that beta program at all.As stated, too many beta testers among amateurs are only interested in having a new toy before the rest of the world and not really in making that toy as good as it can be. After all, what would there be left to complain about which indeed seems to be the REAL hobby of many people here, rather than have fun with that product.

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