Fanboy Friday: Endings and a New Beginning
Sorry for missing the last couple of Fridays, but things have been in a bit of turmoil around my house lately and it’s drained off all my attention dealing with non-sim stuff. In the midst of everything else that’s going on, I thought it’d be sporting to pop in here and catch you up to date on what’s happening.
So long, Flight
The word came down a couple of days ago that Microsoft has shuttered the studio that created MS Flight, pulling yet another team of talented developers off the flight line. First off, I want to tell all those affected how sorry I am about the closure. No matter how we all feel about a particular hobby or product, it’s never good news to hear about layoffs, especially when they hit so close to home. You guys and gals are all pros, so I have no doubt you’ll land on your feet – if indeed you’re even out of work. Maybe you’ve all been shipped off to other projects. In any case, god speed and good luck.
Having said all that, I must admit that Flight failed to captivate me. I tried it out not long after release, but at that point there was no TrackIR support and only a couple of planes available, and it just wasn’t enough to move my personal needle. I know they added some new scenery, aircraft and capabilities later, and it sounds like it could have been a promising platform. We’ll never know now.
And yeah, maybe I was a little peeved at the decision to abandon an open platform and cut third-party devs like me out of the loop. That can’t be much of a shock to anyone involved, even the MS team themselves. Let’s hope if they ever decide to get back into the civilian flight sim market again — which is looking less likely with every closure — they rethink this closed model. I can’t help but wonder if it had something to do with the product’s demise.
Anyway, on to happier things…
If you’ve been following this blog lately, you know that I’ve got two major scenery projects in the works at the moment – Nantucket, and Pearson Field. Both are progressing well, with Pearson being in the more advanced state of the two at the moment. While working on those projects, I came across a set of photos I took at another airport, a smallish field on the Oregon coast, and was reminded of how much it charmed me back when I shot it a couple of years ago. That got me to thinking… what about doing a small, interstitial project just to work out some new technical & creative ideas?
So for the last couple of weeks, I’ve been diverting my dev attention to this new project. It’ll be a “light” release, more along the lines of Orbx’s “Israel’s Farm” or “Walter Sutton’s Place”. The focus here is on creating a really detailed airport without a huge photoreal coverage area. Frankly, the default FTX PNW textures for the coast are very close to what’s actually there, and I’m not sure weeks of creating a large photoreal patch with all its attendant annotating would look that much better.
We do have a few tricks up our sleeves for this release, however, including a new “flow” tech to be announced. Inspired by Russ White’s fabulous Stewart airport with its high-res ground textures, I’ve been working up something of my own on that count. As it stands, the airport PR is done, and the ground work is partially finished. What you’re seeing here are the ground polys, which are about 75% done, but with no grass or models included yet. This one is going to be fun.
I’ll try not to skip many Fridays in the future, ’cause there’s a lot going on in my dev life to write about. If you don’t hear from me, just assume I’m head-down, pushing pixels and polys like a madman.