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KenWood

an open source future for Fly?

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I've been mulling over the future of my favorite flight sim (that'd be Fly2 :) ). I can't say I know the current situation, who owns the rights to it, what legal issues there are, and so forth, but I have some thoughts. It seems a bit... trivial... to talk about this in light of Richard's position, but it seems like he'd want business as usual here, and this is on my mind, so...I _really_ want to see Fly continue to improve, to gain new users, and to prosper. As much as I respect the MS simulator, it just doesn't "do it" for me like Fly does, and even if it did, I really believe the whole simming community benefits from competition and choice, even if you don't personally chose Fly.To this end, I want to believe that there is a way for Fly to achieve this. It seems to me that serious corporate financing would be hard to come by, given that the competition is, well... Microsoft. But I wonder if an open source model might be a possibility. Yes, the community can extend Fly2 through add ons and such, but I think sooner or later the core program will need improvement as well to remain viable competition for other actively developed sims.I don't know who owns the rights to Fly, or what it would take to do such a thing. I bet there would be a lot of talent out there willing to contribute. I'd contribute to it if I could!I wonder if perhaps the community might band together and buy the appropriate rights, and then make it an open source project.Thoughts? BTW I don't mean any disrespect to anyone with these comments - I say them only because I think Fly is the best (albeit not the most popular) sim on the market.

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It's a great idea but I believe the code resides with TRI since they use the same code in some of their other software like EVO 4x4.I don't know what the going rate is for code these day but I'm sure it's not cheap.Maybe just maybe TRI would be open to the thought. . .especially if greater sales can result from it and they'd get a piece of the pie.Peter

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I _really_ want to see Fly continue to improve, to gain new users, and to prosper.Believe me, there are several of us developers on the beta-team that would love to continue the Fly legacy.Rich is quite aware of the opportunity. Unfortunately, TRI has completely shot down any possibility of releasing the source.The problem is indeed the shared code. That is, a portion of code (about 10% as per Rich) is shared among TRI products that deal in a first person perspective.While 10% might not seem to be much, I believe Rich once told me that there are about 1.5 million lines of code in the Fly2 engine. So, 10% is still a significant amount.This is all quite a shame. I have spent a very significant amount of time doing low-level development for both Fly2 and FS2002. The Fly2 development platform is by far the most intuitive. I will really miss it.On the positive side, Rich and the others on the Fly team have shown us the right way to build and support an open-ended software product. It would not surprise me to see many of their ideas/principles applied to flight sims of the future.Also, hats off to the ROTW team. They are still doing some really incredible stuff for Fly2.Cheers everyone,Allen Kriesman

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G'day madmax,This topic has been quite extensively canvassed in the past.We all love Fly! for the great sim that it is. We were there when it was born, went through the early teething problems, saw it wobble as it took it's first steps only to see it spread wings and soar like an eagle.Fly! is growing and attracting new users! (read the forum posts) and with such great utilities and third party add ons as are currently available the demise of Fly! is a long long long way off in the future.Cheers,Roger @YSSY

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I wonder if TRI would allow a select few to sign a Non-Discloser and be able to provide us with future fixes/enhancements. They could oversee everything and be able to further market the product. It would be a win-win for everyone. Tri gets _FREE_ updates and our fav sim stays alive. Any thoughts. Are there any programmers here willing to code for free and give TRI the credit? I'm not sure of any other way we could do this.

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There isn't a "going rate per line" as such, or at least not one that I have heard of. However, I know of companies that have needed to pay well into six figures to obtain code bases significantly smaller than that of Fly II.[table cellspacing=0 cellpadding=0][tr][td width=320]http://www.usinternet.com/users/mystic/infomsig.gif[/td][td width=170 align=center]God wants Richard Harvey to be his copilot.[/td][/tr][/table]

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Peter and all interested,I've posted days ago my point of view on this matter. I do respect, and will continue to respect, intellectual property. However, Terminal Reality quit the Fly! Business. People that invested in their software are now left alone. (In Portuguese we use to say with

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Some of the beta team stuff happened in a manner somewhat like you have described. However, I'm sure there won't be any more of that happening from here forward. Even after contracts were signed, TRI only provided extremely limited sections of the source to anyone outside their own company during the beta, and no sections whatsoever that contained shared code. This means there was no way for anyone outside of TRI's own staff to actually build the program*.The only reason this worked at all during the beta team process was that there was someone with TRI (Richard) who was willing to take their own personal time to coordinate the process, do the builds, etc. Other than Rich, TRI has washed their hands of the flight simulation market, and have expressed no interest whatsoever in allocating any of their resources toward such a continuing effort.* For anyone who doesn't know much about software development, all of the program sources are required to be present in either source code or library form in order for someone to actually compile and link a program like Fly II. This includes the shared code that TRI has been most concerned about. The only way around this might have been to find a way to break the shared code out of the app (perhaps as DLLs). Rich had expressed interest in trying to break out the shared code, but indicated it was an enormous task. The opportunity to attempt such a task is no longer available for reasons that should be apparent to all.Ken S.: these same questions are being asked often enough lately that I wonder if it might be a good idea to pin this thread to the top of the forum?[table cellspacing=0 cellpadding=0][tr][td width=320]http://www.usinternet.com/users/mystic/infomsig.gif[/td][td width=170 align=center]God wants Richard Harvey to be his copilot.[/td][/tr][/table]

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I assume that the software you are talking about, where your company requires that their investment be preserved, is something like a company customer database manager or some similar program that is customized for your company and probably cost the company five figures to license. With an investment like that one can make such requirements of a software vendor. Whereas with a $40 investment in Fly II, what you paid for is the program as it shipped and any patches TRI chose to create for the program to make it run properly on the systems it was designed for. A person can't expect an open-source, infinite support guarantee for $40.Consider this: what happens when your company buys a site license for Microsoft Windows XP Pro and/or Microsoft Office? I think it's safe to say they aren't getting a guarantee of open source from Microsoft if they decide to stop making or supporting one or both of these programs. :) And those programs both cost much more than Fly II.[table cellspacing=0 cellpadding=0][tr][td width=320]http://www.usinternet.com/users/mystic/infomsig.gif[/td][td width=170 align=center]God wants Richard Harvey to be his copilot.[/td][/tr][/table]

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David I fully respect your observations. About the company I work for, I'm talking of non-tailor made or customized software and, its true, we don't require anything from Microsoft or from other vendors of similar solutions.I can live with this Fly! Situation. What bothers me is that it should not run in future Windows platforms. If it happens I'll be forced to go back to MS Flight Simulator and I hate this idea.Thanks for replying___ JJLobo ___55 11 37268158

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I have a funny feeling that we have not heard the last from Richard. FlY2 is Richard's dream, and he's had a grat deal of time to think about his issue--even knowing the limits that TRI imposed. It would also be ironic to think that TRI is unavailable to hold new discussion on this matter. Let's face it, the sim world is changing and so are the graphic engines. tony

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I want to thank everyone for the replies, and sorry if this is an overdone topic.To address a few things I saw mentioned:- Part of the code being shared with TRI's other offerings is not necessarily the end of the road. Depending on many factors (I won't try to list them all here; it's not my main point) it can be possible to do clean-room reimplementations of those sections of the code.- Convincing TRI to release the code seems like a larger stumbling block, but again I want to think positive. As I see it, to have a chance, the user community would have to purchase the rights from TRI for a comparable amount to what they thought they could make by letting it continue on its current path. This might be problematic.- Some person or group would have to step up to be a project lead, and coordinate everything. Again, possibly problematic, because most of us have full time jobs already :)But all that aside, I'm hesitant to just give up and say, "it's never going to happen". Fly can continue on the strength of its excellent user add-ons for some while, but eventually the lack of core development will catch up with it. It's my belief that while avoiding that might be hard, it might also be possible if enough people could work together. I'm not yet resigned to the impossibility of the situation I guess :)

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I must not be following what you mean about "hearing the last", and I'm also not seeing the irony you speak of. And while Fly! certainly was Richard's dream, it remains a financial and intellectual property of a company, rather than of any individual.Lest anyone think that these ideas are being dismissed without even having been tried, rest assured that numerous people (including Rich from what I understand) have already been around and around with TRI on these matters, many, many times before today. As far as I've ever heard from anyone, that door has been closed and padlocked. I just don't want people getting false hopes.[table cellspacing=0 cellpadding=0][tr][td width=320]http://www.usinternet.com/users/mystic/infomsig.gif[/td][td width=170 align=center]God wants Richard Harvey to be his copilot.[/td][/tr][/table]

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> it can be possible to do clean-room reimplementations of> those sections of the codeTechnically yes, although it's a pretty extensive job to expect to have done for free by anyone.But I have to point out that, at the very least, someone would first have to strip out the proprietary shared code ... and that person would have to be a TRI employee (because TRI won't let anyone else see that code) ... and TRI isn't going to pull someone off of a paying project to spend time identifying and stripping chunks of code out of a flight simulator that they don't want to spend any more time on. (From what I gathered from Rich, the shared code is not localized in a nice way that would make it easy to clean out ... it's scattered all through the sources.)[table cellspacing=0 cellpadding=0][tr][td width=320]http://www.usinternet.com/users/mystic/infomsig.gif[/td][td width=170 align=center]God wants Richard Harvey to be his copilot.[/td][/tr][/table]

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Here's an idea... or a dream?We create a non-profit organization or foundation dedicated to the sponsoring of future pilots. The source of the money would be from the continuous development and selling of a Personal Computer Flight Simulator called.... yes! Fly! All the proceeds generated from the sales of future versions of Fly! go towards this NPO.TRI donates the proprietary code and gets a hefty tax deduction for it. At the same time we ask Mr. Bill Gates (and others such as Aerospace manufacturers) to donate towards this good cause, and being the philantropist he is, he may! Again, it's all tax deductible!!!The name of the NPO... The Richard Harvey Foundation!!!Alejandro AmigorenaCheshire, CTFly! II Beta Team MemberAthlon XP 1800ABIT KR7A-RAID768Mb RAMMSI GeForce 3 Ti 500 64MBSB Audigy GamerCH Flight Yoke USBCH Pro Pedals USB

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Don't forget about Take 2 Interactive, the publisher of Fly II. I fear their lawyers might have something to say about anything even closely resembling Fly II being sold by anyone other than themselves, regardless of how noble the purpose. (Recall that TRI was prevented from doing a followup release of Fly II with the new patches because Take 2 owns the rights unless much more significant changes were introduced.)[table cellspacing=0 cellpadding=0][tr][td width=320]http://www.usinternet.com/users/mystic/infomsig.gif[/td][td width=170 align=center]God wants Richard Harvey to be his copilot.[/td][/tr][/table]

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David:I don't, as you know (probably better than anyone else) there HAS been significant development and code change, especially in the Weather area but also in the runway lighting, font utilization, aircraft night textures implementation, navaid database (ILS), marker beacons behavior, etc.Furthermore, if several 3rd party developers agreed to donate their creations and have them bundled even with the current version of Fly! II, it would be considered as a new version and lawyers could do nothing about it. It would be similar to Fly!2k vs. Fly!Anyway, just thinking out loud...Alejandro AmigorenaCheshire, CTFly! II Beta Team MemberAthlon XP 1800ABIT KR7A-RAID768Mb RAMMSI GeForce 3 Ti 500 64MBSB Audigy GamerCH Flight Yoke USBCH Pro Pedals USB

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I have my doubts that the patched changes to date would set a new version apart sufficient from the released Fly II in a legal setting (although they are obvious to those of us here with an intimate familiarity with the program). However, I'd say you are correct in that the inclusion of add-ons would stand a better chance of helping it reach that point, as was the case with Fly2K. (Do you remember how much better the original version of Fly was after all the patches? In fact I'd opine that the patches for Fly 1.0 cumulatively made a significantly greater change in their sim that the Fly II patches have. But the inclusion of add-ons was still required to reach a threshold of distinctiveness sufficient to allow Fly2K to be released as a product separate from Fly 1.0).Of course it's all immaterial unless TRI sees fit to release the source code, which I've already commented on elsewhere in this thread. There are a lot of hurdles to be overcome.[table cellspacing=0 cellpadding=0][tr][td width=320]http://www.usinternet.com/users/mystic/infomsig.gif[/td][td width=170 align=center]God wants Richard Harvey to be his copilot.[/td][/tr][/table]

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David-Alejandro has a point:Rich has already mentioned a couple times in the past that Take2 already had (and used) the right of refusal for any new publishing of the Fly! series. As such, the code is now wholly owned by TRI alone - TRI can decide what they will do with it without Take2's input on this. Rich also mentioned that the code is significantly changed to satisfy the requirement about similarities.Who's going to approach Evan Russell?

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You can do it, Lefteris. I still use AS2 and, as you may know, this sim has the old ATP graphics engine. Single handed, Simon took an antiquated sim and turned it into a fairly reliable sim, concentrating on md80 flight modeling. He's currently working on a brand new AS3 from scratch, but it's possible. Let's not forget what x-plane represents: one man's dream. Let's face it, we're not talking about nuclear secrets or software that is earning millions of dollars. As we know, lots of gaming software is dead on arrival. The proprietary and monetary value of games,including simss,changes from month to month, depending on the winds of change. Take for example, PMDG's software, as time passes its planes for FLY will not have any value. So what stops Pmdg from distributing its planes for free? I still have many flight sim titles in the basement: pro pilot, original FLY, atp, MSFS and many others. Why do I have them? no reason other than sentimental value. I know that if someone approached me on these, I'd probably give them all away. Some one should talk to TRI, perhaps you or Tom Allensworth or some people involved in the open source business. For Richard, FLY was his life--not just another job--and this has great value and weight when anyone talks to TRI. The money that anyone would earn from FLY2 sales is insignificant with respect to the idea of keeping a great sim alive. So, if the hook for TRI is some sort of protection for parts of their software, Lefteris, offer them a deal they can't refuse. And if they say no, heck, you've tried.tony

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Last night I sent an e-mail to Evan Russell to see where he's at on this subject. If anybody is interested in seeing a copy of the message, just drop me a message and I will forward it to you.Let's hope he responds. I sent it to his work e-mail address.It is probably better to join forces and have just a limited group of representatives talking to TRI and I agree in that Lefteris and Tom are probably the best candidates, as long as they are willing to.So, Lefteris and Tom, what do YOU think?Alejandro AmigorenaCheshire, CTFly! II Beta Team MemberAthlon XP 1800ABIT KR7A-RAID768Mb RAMMSI GeForce 3 Ti 500 64MBSB Audigy GamerCH Flight Yoke USBCH Pro Pedals USB

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I hate to say this....Maybe we should hook up with these guys:http://www.flightgear.orgOpen source flight sim that has a pretty good start.If something doesn't happen soon, the others sims will pass us by, and it isn't going to take that long. Some of them are getting close now. I would really hate to see this happen. After reading this thread, I'm getting a little worried for the future of Fly. I would be surprised if we got anything from TRI. There are in a pretty tough business as it is worrying about turning a profit. But like most of us, I will hope (prey) for the best.

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Alejandro, Im not really sure if you or any one else here is aware of Evan's position as of 08 / 21 / 2001. On this date he was promoted to VP of Terminal Reality. http://www.terminalreality.com/news.htmThe one thing that comes to mind here is the date. As you will see for yourself when you visit the site. This is the last update for any news on the site. Kind of stagnant if you ask me. I also checked out some of the forums for 4X4 evo and 4X4 Evo2. These are other titles that were released and designed by Terminal Reality. Not to rain on the parade but I wouldnt get hopes up for any resolution to this. It would be great to see some movement in the direction of releasing the code. Its not going to happen. I also noticed that with regards to the 4X4 programs it was repeat of what we saw happen with Fly2. A early release with too many bugs. I'm not pointing fingers at Richard or Russell. These things were beyond their control. But now that Evan is in the Vice president's seat. I'm sure the least of his worries or concerns are Fly2. I could be wrong and hope that I am wrong. imohttp://mywebpages.comcast.net/cadillac43/dedication.htmlhttp://mywebpages.comcast.net/cadillac43/takeoff.gifTonyFlyII! ver. 2.40Directx 8.1nVidia drivers 41.09

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>If something doesn't happen soon, the others sims will pass >us by, and it isn't going to take that long. Some of them >are getting close now. I would really hate to see this >happen. I don't quite share that feeling. Look at the Flight Unlimited series. It has been around for quite some time, and despite that, there is a flourishing community of dedicated workers who do what they can to help breathe new life into the series. That is pretty fair proof to me that something good doesn't have to end simply because the publishing company no longer offers support and upgrades. And the Flt Unl. series does not have near the open coding (much less any real SDK) we have available to us with the Fly! series. The supporters/ developers for that series really had a lot to overcome, IMHO - and have persevered.The same holds for our Fly! series. There are many dedicated developers out there who work long and hard - for no pay most often - and help to enhance the program simply because they love doing that. Granted, there will come a time when one may no longer feel like doing that, but for the most part, that will most likely be when I can no longer see anyway! :-lolAbout the *only* worry I can see currently, is what do we do once the computers advance enough that we can no longer run our sim of choice with the latest and greatest hardware/software for the latest OS? Me - I will just keep the last OS that my sims run under great, is all... ;-)Just my two cents worth...Ken Wood

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