TechguyMaxC

Early Access and Tempered Expectations

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A common theme of negative FSW reviews centers around the nature of early access.  Comments like "this sim isn't ready for release yet" indicate a misunderstanding of what early access is.  Additionally, they indicate either a mistrust or a misunderstanding of DTG's intentions.  The mistrust I won't address, that's a personal decision and every consumer is entitled to their opinion.  I would, however, like to address and attempt to clear up the misunderstandings about early access software.  

I'll start by defining early access.  Without quoting complex legalese by citing a EULA or pre-sales disclaimer, let me define early access software in the following manner:

Early access allows interested consumers to purchase an application:

1) before it is complete

2) at a discounted price

From a customer's perspective, this is the simplest way to define the purpose of early access.  What about from the developer's perspective?  What are the benefits of releasing an application into early access via a distribution method such as Steam? The reasons are numerous, but I'll list some of the most prominent here:

1) obtain a revenue stream during development

2) get the product into end user's hands so they can provide feedback and perform testing to find bugs

Now, if you are unfamiliar with software development, or are only familiar with more traditional development models (publishing house pays developer X amount of money to develop game and release by a given date, developer receives bonuses/royalties from sales figures once application goes on sale) you may not understand why the first point is necessary in today's software development environment.  To put it simply, things ain't the way they used to be.  Software development is an incredibly complex process which can take thousands or even millions of man-hours and this is very expensive.  With the invention of crowd-funding and early access programs, developers without multi-million dollar budgets can ask their potential customers to fund development of a project and help to make it a reality.  

With the explanations out of the way, hopefully those who are less familiar with the process of software development can understand DTG's actions.  If not, I encourage you to take a look at the market for software and see how many games are available for sale on Steam via early access to see just how prevalent this development funding model has become.  Also take a look at crowd-funding sites such as Kickstarter and see the number of games which have been funded through this method.  Some famous examples include Day-Z, and Star Citizen, which you may have heard of before.  More recently, a space combat simulator by the name of Starfighter Inc was finally funded after multiple attempts to reach a certain funding goal.  I backed this project in the hopes of seeing it come to fruition.  Without funding from the public, this game would NEVER exist.  

I hope people take all this into consideration before posting in an aggressive fashion regarding FSW/DTG, here or on Steam's forums.  As a consumer, we all have the right to vote with our wallets.  Thanks to Steam's refund policy, you also have the right to request a refund on recently purchased software.  If you truly feel that FSW is not worth your $25, you have the ability to get your money back and be "made whole", as it were.  If, however, you think that FSW might just turn into a simulation platform worth owning then I would posit that a mere $25 is a pittance of a purchase price.  Personally, I have over $2500 invested in add-ons for FSX alone (not to mention thousands more in hardware over the years), some of which have been replaced by newer, better add-ons and others which have been scrapped as "bad purchases" for which I must simply discount the expenditures and move on.  

Ultimately, we all want a better simulator than what we have now, regardless of which sim you are using.  Otherwise no one would ask "when is the next version of X simulator coming out" or "I wish a new sim would come out and address X,Y,Z concerns".  I think we can agree on that fact.  For that reason alone, you should cheer for DTG to be successful with FSW.  That being said, hold them to account.  If DTG makes a specific promise and does not live up to it, or fails to deliver a compelling product when it is finalized and exits early access, vote with your wallet and do not make purchases from them in the future.  Personally, I'm going to hang on to my copy and not request a refund.  I'll go along for this ride and see where DTG takes us.

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Thanks...may clear, open minds prevail.

I remember the FSX vitriol.  (That early-mid 20th century german leader send-off video...what a riot..so funny, it spawned lots of knock-offs).  Odd isn't it that FSX has now become the FS gold standard.

Edited by TheFamilyMan
polical correctness
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I understand the "it's just early access!" statements. But i also understand the fact that on Steam they mentioned just 3-4 months of early access if i am not mistaken. And i am not convinced that the biggest game changing features are introduced during the short early access, but before. Minor changes and bug fixing, sure. But the biggest i don't think so.

As usual, happy to be proven wrong in the next 3-4 months.

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Steam mentions 3-4 months as a generic guideline.  It is neither a requirement nor is it a communication from DTG.  FSW could be in EA for a year or more, for all we know.  

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21 minutes ago, TechguyMaxC said:

Steam mentions 3-4 months as a generic guideline.  It is neither a requirement nor is it a communication from DTG.  FSW could be in EA for a year or more, for all we know.  

That is incorrect. Check other EA games on steam and you'll see that they clearly state how long they expect it to stay in EA for.


Examples of worthy big games in EA:
http://store.steampowered.com/app/264710/Subnautica/

http://store.steampowered.com/app/433850/H1Z1_King_of_the_Kill/

 

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1 hour ago, france89 said:

That is incorrect. Check other EA games on steam and you'll see that they clearly state how long they expect it to stay in EA for.


Examples of worthy big games in EA:
http://store.steampowered.com/app/264710/Subnautica/

http://store.steampowered.com/app/433850/H1Z1_King_of_the_Kill/

 

It's a little of both.  I was mistaken when I said it was not a communication from DTG, I checked the product page and it is in fact a communication from DTG.  However, the problem is that you need to take the FULL answer into context.  Here is the relevant section from the FSW Steam product page:

Quote

 

Approximately how long will this game be in Early Access?

“We intend to roll out planned features over the next three to four months. This includes time to discuss and implement your valuable feedback. That being said, we're not setting any hard limits on how long we will be in this phase. When it’s ready, it’s ready!”

 

Check the bolded part.  3-4 months is not the release time frame, it is the time in which they expect to roll out features for testing.  The actual time the product will spend in EA is not set in stone.  

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As I wrote elsewhere:

Early Access should give you a sense of what is coming. Sure it can have bugs and be incomplete.

But to say: 'Hold on it is only EA, the final product will be much better" is wishful thinking.

The "WOW factor" is completely missing from DTGs NEXT GEN flight sim.

Let's take away the current bugs. What you have is FSX with ORBX Global, cool rain effects, wiggly gauges, 64 bit, new UI, 7 GA aircraft and what?????

None of the old FSX weeknesses have been addressed (autogen popping, blurry textures, awful lights etc etc).

In addition they are closing themselves off to major 3rd parties (yes, they included the work of three or four, but that is not enough).

Have they looked at other flight sims lately???? Have they looked at the competition???? It does not seem that way!

For a NEXT GEN flight sim they are far behind!

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16 minutes ago, Silicus said:

As I wrote elsewhere:

Early Access should give you a sense of what is coming. Sure it can have bugs and be incomplete.

But to say: 'Hold on it is only EA, the final product will be much better" is wishful thinking.

The "WOW factor" is completely missing from DTGs NEXT GEN flight sim.

Let's take away the current bugs. What you have is FSX with ORBX Global, cool rain effects, wiggly gauges, 64 bit, new UI, 7 GA aircraft and what?????

None of the old FSX weeknesses have been addressed (autogen popping, blurry textures, awful lights etc etc).

In addition they are closing themselves off to major 3rd parties (yes, they included the work of three or four, but that is not enough).

Have they looked at other flight sims lately???? Have they looked at the competition???? It does not seem that way!

For a NEXT GEN flight sim they are far behind!

I think if you really check into this, you will find that there was most likely very little expertise in aviation simulation that the FSW development team has.  I may be wrong, but I doubt it. I have a feeling that for most of  the people working on this program, it is OJT. I think they missed some very obvious issues, like the runway brightness for instance, which anyone that had simmed or flown real aircraft  for any length of time would have picked up on instantly. 

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29 minutes ago, Silicus said:

As I wrote elsewhere:

Early Access should give you a sense of what is coming. Sure it can have bugs and be incomplete.

But to say: 'Hold on it is only EA, the final product will be much better" is wishful thinking.

The "WOW factor" is completely missing from DTGs NEXT GEN flight sim.

Let's take away the current bugs. What you have is FSX with ORBX Global, cool rain effects, wiggly gauges, 64 bit, new UI, 7 GA aircraft and what?????

None of the old FSX weeknesses have been addressed (autogen popping, blurry textures, awful lights etc etc).

In addition they are closing themselves off to major 3rd parties (yes, they included the work of three or four, but that is not enough).

Have they looked at other flight sims lately???? Have they looked at the competition???? It does not seem that way!

For a NEXT GEN flight sim they are far behind!

I'm going to quote Cryss from the FSW forums here:

Quote

Appreciate the feedback on textures outside of the craft, improving how things look outside the cockpit are things we have on our to do list (a pretty extensive one at that). 

Jumping into Early Access, we put most of our emphasis on the plane models (since they're a core part of the sim experience) and I think (IMO, not company jargon) that they're some of the most delicious default models available in a sim. 

In the future, we'd like the world outside the plane to be as gorgeous as the environments within it.

 

https://forums.dovetailgames.com/threads/flight-sim-world-available-now-in-early-access.987/#post-5961

Your assessment of the situation is more in the vein of Chicken Little than it is an honest assessment of the facts.  

 

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1 hour ago, Bobsk8 said:

I think if you really check into this, you will find that there was most likely very little expertise in aviation simulation that the FSW development team has.  I may be wrong, but I doubt it. I have a feeling that for most of  the people working on this program, it is OJT. I think they missed some very obvious issues, like the runway brightness for instance, which anyone that had simmed or flown real aircraft  for any length of time would have picked up on instantly. 

These claims you make are able to be researched and quantified.  There is no need for guesswork.  For example, the Executive Producer for the Flight Sim World project has worked in software development for 20 years, with some rather big name studios on his resume: https://www.linkedin.com/in/stephen-hood-46578a1/?ppe=1

Now, having established that you have not researched your claims, would you care to give your qualifications in software development in order to explain how you are in a position to both ascertain the experience of said team members as well as their ability to successfully complete this project's goals?  

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29 minutes ago, TechguyMaxC said:

These claims you make are able to be researched and quantified.  There is no need for guesswork.  For example, the Executive Producer for the Flight Sim World project has worked in software development for 20 years, with some rather big name studios on his resume.

Working for 20 years in software development does mean nothing if you lack passion and knowledge for flight sim development.

And it clearly shows in the result.

Now having established that you don't know what you are talking about, we can move on.....

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By way of the development roadmap, DTG has today announced an update this week, and two more after that, based on bug reports and reading various forums. They're doing exactly what they said they would do, and I expect they long ago learned that of the thousands upon thousands of words (it really is quite a staggering amount, all things considered) of advice and criticism produced in all the forums, relatively little of it is relevant to DTG's immediate aims for this sim. The perfectionists have the temples of P3D and X-plane at which to worship; FSW isn't meant for them. Yet.

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1 minute ago, Silicus said:

Working for 20 years in software development does mean nothing if you lack passion and knowledge for flight sim development.

And it clearly shows in the result.

Now having established that you don't know what you are talking about, we can move on.....

If you have a case to be made, make it.  Resorting to ad hominem as a means of rhetorical debate essentially concedes any argument in which you partake.

Also, why are you responding to a post that was not addressed to you, rather than one which was?  

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1 hour ago, Silicus said:

The "WOW factor" is completely missing from DTGs NEXT GEN flight sim.

Why should a 'wow factor' exist in first place? Is it a new requirement? As far as I am concerned, I was not expecting any 'wow factor' from a product which has long been announced as another FSX version. So no unrealistic expectations here.

1 hour ago, Silicus said:

None of the old FSX weeknesses have been addressed (autogen popping, blurry textures, awful lights etc etc).

Simply false. You don't have to believe me, care to read what reputable AVSIM veterans like @Bert Pieke, @Chock or Jim Barrett posted in the last few days. All of them agree that autogen popping, blurries and other historical FSX shortcomings have been significantly reduced along with a higher GPU load. No 'wow factor', of course, FSX will ever be FSX, yet a lot of more smoothness and a decent performance even at highest resolutions. This does not mean that other aspects like lighting and colors are not below the expectations or that too many important features are not missing.

2 hours ago, Silicus said:

Have they looked at other flight sims lately???? Have they looked at the competition???? It does not seem that way!

For a NEXT GEN flight sim they are far behind!

There are no real next gen simulators out there. There are several optimized and decently working old platforms with a strong 3rd party or freeware ecosystem (FSX, P3D, X-Plane) and new advanced platforms like AeroFly FS2, which still lack many features and 3rd party support. That's what we have and what you have to choose from today. Wow factors and next gen sims are just marketing hype.

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6 hours ago, france89 said:

I understand the "it's just early access!" statements. But i also understand the fact that on Steam they mentioned just 3-4 months of early access if i am not mistaken. And i am not convinced that the biggest game changing features are introduced during the short early access, but before. Minor changes and bug fixing, sure. But the biggest i don't think so.

As usual, happy to be proven wrong in the next 3-4 months.

Not sure where you got that from, there's absolutely no guarantee how long "early access"lasts...

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2 hours ago, Raven9000 said:

Not sure where you got that from, there's absolutely no guarantee how long "early access"lasts...

Raven, from the official steam page. The early access section of it can be expanded to get more infos from the developers talking about why they decided to get into EA.

WHAT THE DEVELOPERS HAVE TO SAY:

Why Early Access?

“The current flight sim space is a fountain of experience and expertise, and Early Access is our way of drawing upon that knowledge to make Flight Sim World the best it can be. We will have a better, stronger simulation platform if we collaborate with you on the future of this project.”

Approximately how long will this game be in Early Access?

“We intend to roll out planned features over the next three to four months. This includes time to discuss and implement your valuable feedback. That being said, we're not setting any hard limits on how long we will be in this phase. When it’s ready, it’s ready!”

How is the full version planned to differ from the Early Access version?

“During Early Access, we plan to roll out additional features, some of which will have an immediate impact on gameplay while others will provide the necessary extensions for future plans. Ultimately, our criteria for leaving the Early Access program is for Flight Sim World to be a stable platform upon which you are able to build the flight experience you want.”

What is the current state of the Early Access version?

“Flight Sim World is very much still in development. There are still more features and gameplay options which need to be implemented over the next few months which we are excited to share with you as they are made available.”

Will the game be priced differently during and after Early Access?

“The Early Access version of Flight Sim World is priced lower than the full release. This reflects the amount of content that will be added over the coming months and also makes it a good time for you to get involved in the Early Access process.
Price will change during the Early Access period, however this is largely subject to incoming features.”

How are you planning on involving the Community in your development process?

“We want to give you the chance to be part of a hobby you are passionate about, while harnessing your knowledge and expertise to make Flight Sim World the best that it can be. We will be releasing updates and interacting with you regularly to test ideas, resolve issues, and help guide us in the right direction.”

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My understanding is that FSW will be in early acces until is ready. Steam are not imposing any limits to developers, for example Aerofly FS2 is in early acces for a year now

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Interestingly, FSPilotShop is also selling it..https://www.fspilotshop.com/dovetail-games-flight-sim-world-fsw-early-access-p-6738.html

 

NOTE: This purchase provides you with a 'key' to allow you to download Flight Simulator World (FSW) from STEAM. The download for this title does NOT include an install file. It only includes instructions on how to obtain the download from Steam.

As with all download purchases, there are No Refunds on this purchase, regardless if the key has been used or not.

NO refunds from them?

 

 

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1 hour ago, lodestar said:

My understanding is that FSW will be in early acces until is ready. Steam are not imposing any limits to developers, for example Aerofly FS2 is in early acces for a year now

Yes, but i also believe they stated they would be in EA for quite a bit from the start.

Reading 3-4 months makes me a bit worried they are already in the finishing phase of adding new features. Anyway, i'll keep those thoughts for myself. No point saying them over and over again. let's hope they continue on this path for more than few months!

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4 hours ago, france89 said:

Yes, but i also believe they stated they would be in EA for quite a bit from the start.

Reading 3-4 months makes me a bit worried they are already in the finishing phase of adding new features. Anyway, i'll keep those thoughts for myself. No point saying them over and over again. let's hope they continue on this path for more than few months!

I am not a member of the FSW development team, nor an employee of DTG.  I have seen members of that team state now a number of times that there are features in the sim which have not yet been turned on.  That means the code has already been written, but is disabled.  This should allay your fears of rushing to add features within a short period.  

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