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Hi guys.

Is it just me or do other people notice that posts criticising Flight Factor vanish from the face of the Earth, never to be seen again? A recent thread on another forum (which shall remain nameless) has gone astray.

I've had my problems in that regard a couple of years ago, when I (quite rightly) asked when they were going to fix the A350 which was promised as 'imminent' on Facebook. They deleted the thread with no discussion, and deleted other peoples' posts asking what became of the thread. Well 2 years later, and the A350 is still not fixed, and never will be.

If developers are going to mess all over purchasers, making false claims, and generally acting like word not allowed, then they can expect the consequences. In the real world of commerce and market places, companies that act like that soon find out some cold, harsh facts.

Or am I being unrealistic? Is the Flight Sim World just full of malpractice and false advertising? Are companies unable to grasp Rule Zero of Commerce: Do Not Scare Your Customers Away?

The reason I ask, is that this seems to be happening a lot. My recent experiences with a certain CRJ seem to bear out my fears - they take your money and deliver shoddy merchandise. Or they do not deliver anything even remotely resembling the deliberate hype.

Please tell me I am paranoid. Or please tell me I am right. Just put me out of my misery.

If I am right, then I will go back to another hobby universe I enjoy, Vintage Computing. A world where people act with respect and honour.

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I can't say about other forums, but what happened with the FF A350 is unfortunate.

The A350 is/was a partnership between QPAC and FlightFactor. It appears Flight Factor fulfilled their part of the partnership but QPAC did not (this, by QPAC's own admission).

The component that QPAC was meant to provide was the Flight Management Guidance Computer and all internal systems...they made several promises and never delivered. Last month, a leading developer for QPAC stated that the QPAC team had disbanded, and he would continue the long-overdue work on the A350 with new partners so as to fulfill their commitment to the A350 and take over the work never completed by QPAC.

Here's hoping.....

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I have no dog in this fight, especially with FF. But I do find that some developers do NOT like criticism of any sort. I even mainly left the other forum due to unhelpful, even insulting comments from some developers. Censorship is fairly common. I have seen it in FB groups and other forums and it is a HUGE turnoff. Mind you, I dislike personal vitriol as much as the next person, but negative as well as positive feedback should be welcomed.

I find this forum much more open and friendly.

I often wonder why XP is so insular. Perhaps it is because the developers are often doing it as a hobby, thus are not so invested in their products. We as customers buy a product thinking it is from a fully professional company, when it is not. We expect updates and service afterwards, and this is often not forthcoming.

I am a software developer myself, and I am also frustrated by the poor responses from some developers. I do this sort of stuff myself (although not in the flight sim arena), and it is not good to see software developers in this light.

The other problem is that we are a very small community, so I presume we are grateful for any half decent product that comes along. We complain, then move onto the next shiny product that comes out. Like most users, I guess 90% of what I have bought over the years is sitting in the hangar doing nothing.

But I am hopeful. There are some companies that do it right. X-Camera is one that pops to mind. Brilliant product, cheap, and has been around a long time with quick contact with the developer. There are perhaps others. There are also good products like xOrganiser, Plan-G and stuff like Ortho4XP and Mesh V3/4 that shows up the good side of the XP community.

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I would add World Traffic and Pilot2ATC in the hig-caring-for-customers club. You really feel as your request are taken into high priority.

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15 minutes ago, Desaix said:

I would add World Traffic and Pilot2ATC in the hig-caring-for-customers club. You really feel as your request are taken into high priority.

That is very encouraging to hear. I tried WT but could not get it to work for me, but as you say, the developer was certainly helpful. It was just too much effort on my part! I am looking at V3 and might get back into it....

I also had a lot of time for STMA, but they don't seem to have done much of late and nothing for XP 11. So the good companies are out there.

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I can vouch for Pilot2ATC.  There support is outstanding. Has been since it was released.

It is as good as ATC can get without going online.

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1 hour ago, kneighbour said:

I have no dog in this fight, especially with FF. But I do find that some developers do NOT like criticism of any sort. I even mainly left the other forum due to unhelpful, even insulting comments from some developers. Censorship is fairly common. I have seen it in FB groups and other forums and it is a HUGE turnoff. Mind you, I dislike personal vitriol as much as the next person, but negative as well as positive feedback should be welcomed.

I find this forum much more open and friendly.

I often wonder why XP is so insular. Perhaps it is because the developers are often doing it as a hobby, thus are not so invested in their products. We as customers buy a product thinking it is from a fully professional company, when it is not. We expect updates and service afterwards, and this is often not forthcoming.

I am a software developer myself, and I am also frustrated by the poor responses from some developers. I do this sort of stuff myself (although not in the flight sim arena), and it is not good to see software developers in this light.

The other problem is that we are a very small community, so I presume we are grateful for any half decent product that comes along. We complain, then move onto the next shiny product that comes out. Like most users, I guess 90% of what I have bought over the years is sitting in the hangar doing nothing.

But I am hopeful. There are some companies that do it right. X-Camera is one that pops to mind. Brilliant product, cheap, and has been around a long time with quick contact with the developer. There are perhaps others. There are also good products like xOrganiser, Plan-G and stuff like Ortho4XP and Mesh V3/4 that shows up the good side of the XP community.

Sometimes the customer is not always right.  

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18 minutes ago, GoranM said:

Sometimes the customer is not always right.  

Of course not. The same could be said of the developer. But civility can prevail, one would hope, even on the Internet.

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Civility is always open to misinterpretation.  Especially in text.

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Some of it is the community's own fault.

The notion of paying for beta or alpha releases, or 'Early Access' or whatever they call it, should NOT be supported by the community. Period.

I don't know if this is the case with the FF350, but it certain falls into the category of offering unfinished products with promises that are not kept in 'a reasonable amount of time'.

If it is not a 'Full Release' it should not be offered in exchange for money. If it is not a 'Full Release' I certainly will not pay for anything.

If the community does not pay/support unfinished products this practice will likely disappear or at least will be cut to a minimum.

We can vote with [insert your currency here].

My rules of thumb paying for FS products  are:

1. Only purchase full releases

2. Only purchase products with a 'money back guarantee'.

3. I do my homework, i.e. read reviews, get a feel of the stage of the product.

4. Wait a few month, until the dust settles before hitting the 'Buy' button.

Cheers.

 

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6 hours ago, Silicus said:

4. Wait a few month, until the dust settles before hitting the 'Buy' button.

Cheers.

 

This sounds the best advice for me, given recently we don't have a shortage of new products to enjoy with. There's always a good amount of free testers ready to do the dirty job.

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9 hours ago, Silicus said:

2. Only purchase products with a 'money back guarantee'.

Sound advice, but apart from Flight1 who offers this?

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11 hours ago, kneighbour said:

Perhaps it is because the developers are often doing it as a hobby, thus are not so invested in their products. We as customers buy a product thinking it is from a fully professional company, when it is not. We expect updates and service afterwards, and this is often not forthcoming.

In some cases this can be part of the issue, both for one-man-projects and for team efforts. This affects a lot of areas. From my own experience, these are at least the following:

 

The first area are the development skills. One can often see in which areas a developer is capable and in which he's not. In some cases, over time, a team builds around this developer, adding skills in the areas which formerly were lacking, improving product quality. One can see this nicely, when subsequent products are better than their predecessors. My favorite example in this regard is Aerobask, whose modelling skills got better with each release, and also made a HUGE step forward when Lionel joined them with his model of the SkyView avionics.

The second area is all about soft skills, and this is not just about being polite, patient and timely. To do proper customer support, the person responsible for support needs to translate between customers and developers, which is esp. important in "extreme" cases. Some customers are not able or not willing to express their requests in a way that can be understood by developers. For such customers it's often "It does not work, I paid a lot of money, fix it now!". In these cases the supports person has to be able and to be willing to help the customers express their request in a useable way. Other customers may be the contrary -- they might have even more technical knowledge (or, in case of X-Plane, flying knowledge) than the supports person; their request may be very detailed and even affect things the developers never even thought about. With both customer types, it's tempting to simply tell them "no, you are wrong" or "we don't support this", to avoid bothering with the request, but of course this was bad customer service. In fact, in my experience (I'm doing customer support both for X-Plane and non-X-Plane related things) these customers may very well have a valid point, even if the supports person does not understand the request fully yet. In these cases, time has to be spent to find a mutual understanding and, in the end, either offer a solution, or a clear explanation.

The third are is economic knowledge / skills, esp. if one wants to go "pro" at one point. If it's just a hobby, it's not so important if one sells twenty or ninety planes in a month, and how revenues and expenditures are related. But if it starts to get professional, this gets very critical. You need regular income that has to be high enough to pay yourself, your team members and cover all the other costs, plus taxes. Your product needs to be good enough that people want to pay for it. If you have many customers, you can't spend hours for just one customer request, but your customer support still needs to be good enough that people come back to you and spread positive word about you and your product. You have to decide how long you support a product with free updates, when you start focusing on new projects, or start charging money for updates. This is esp. difficult for X-Plane, because the simulator itself constantly changes and products require updates regularly.

 

These areas are all related and need to be in balance. One important factor for this relation is the priority of the X-Plane project vs. other jobs and "real" life. One-man projects often indeed start as hobby projects. Often, these developers have a main job which has to be the top priority. And sometimes this can be the case for months, sometimes in an unforseeable way. You think you can do the support work, but suddenly you notice that you can't, because you need to be in the office, and also to sleep, eat and care about your family. Then it's good to be part of a team, where others can take care about things you can't. Many team projects, though, also started as hobby projects. Sometimes customers assume that such teams sit in a nice office building working together from 9 to 5, and having dedicated customer support staff, but often these teams consist of freelancers scattered all over the world, working at different times, and basically having the same "fate" as one-man projects (esp. having other jobs, either besides X-Plane or within X-Plane, but for other clients).

All in all, it's not easy ^^

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There is certainly a huge difference between how support is done in simulator-land as opposed to what I personally have to deal with in my  day job. If I deleted a support email or post, no matter how bad it was, it would be a very very bad thing for both myself and the company. I think it generally comes down to how much one pays for the product and of course that most X-Plane devs don't actually earn that much and are doing it as a second job.

As a developer, I hate hearing bad feedback about what I write and also people telling me how I should have done things when that person doesn't really have an idea about how much is involved and the thought that goes into various things. I'm not talking generally about simulators here, but this happens everywhere. Some developers will take it very badly and get aggressive, whilst others will just acknowledge it in a polite way and move on.

Whilst I think a developer or company has the right to delete bad posts about their own products on their own forums or Facebook page, it's not going to fair well as the disgruntled customer will likely go on a rant elsewhere. However, it's always worth being polite and constructive when posting, as swearing and jumping up and down won't get you anywhere, and there are often two sides to every story.

 

 

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