Sunday, March 02, 2008

Competition, Completion and Multi Projects

I can't say this blog has too many readers, about 10 a day, unlike my other site, The Wing Fell Off which has exceeded 100 day. Having had cancer over the past year, and now hopefully on the recovery trail, has taken time away from activities such as 3D aircraft creation, which has only really resumed in a focused manner since the end of December 2007. (I'm still restricted from sitting long hours at a desk and that will be the case until the end of this year.)

Anyway I appear to have fallen off many peoples' radar as to being a creator and a source of aircraft for FSX and even CFS3. However that does not mean I am not working away on my projects such as those I have mentioned in recent posts.

Now that development of FSX and its SDK's have stabilized with the release of FSX SP2 and FSX Acceleration, an increasing number of modelers/developers are now focusing on FSX, and many are producing pleasing results, if not incredible results, and we're in for many more, judging by many WIP pictures posted in various forums.

Of course that means that I have competition, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Indeed Gennadich/NeoqB's recent Fokker Dr-I release has been of great benefit to me. Firstly it's an incredible model and a pleasure to fly. Secondly it provided a bench mark to compare my own efforts. I could readily see areas where I might improve. I could also see differences in my approach, and areas which I find very pleasing in my own work, strong points, which I will continue to pursue. Additionally NeoqB illustrated the worth of using 2048 textures on the Dr-I, an approach I intend to follow. This did not appear to affect perf of the Dr-I. Lastly the release of the Dr-I showed that there is strong interest in WW1 aircraft for FSX, which has encouraged me to continue to support that genre for FSX.

I'm not sure I will use as many 2048 textures as NeoqB do, as I use specular maps also, which NeoqB did not use in the Dr-I. Some of my aircraft will use bump maps externally too, such as the Fokker D.VIII. Bump maps really have to be at 2048 resolution if subtlety has to be achieved. These days textures and materials have a greater impact on perf than triangle counts do. Vertex counts are important too particularly in FSX.

Returning to the theme of this post, with many aircraft under development for FSX and the prospect of competition, it's inevitable that many double ups will occur, i.e. other developers producing the same aircraft as I am (e.g. The Fokker D.VIII). Hopefully for the FS enthusiast this is good, as it provides choice. With that prospect what does one do with one's projects if someone else announces they are producing the same aircraft? In the instance of the Fokker Dr-I I dropped or shelved my project. The Dr-I was started a while back, before cancer, with the view to be included in a two aircraft payware pack (with a British WW1 aircraft - never announced), and wasn't slated for completion for some time. The Dr-I just went down the list. It was an easy decision to make which did not trouble me. Of course I immediately started to look for a home for the detailed Oberursel engine I had created and hence the Fokker D.VIII (and perhaps probably eventually, LOL, a Fokker D.VI).

I am a person who is continually starting on new aircraft meshes. It helps maintain interest when I have been too long on one particular aircraft. I have at least a dozen partially created airframe shells and probably 20+ others started in my WIP folder. Add to these many other aircraft that I have researched or am researching. The other benefit of potential competition is motivating me to move forward and actually make decisions as to which aircraft to complete. Thus I have 3 production lines as it were, those aircraft earmarked for completion/release in the next few months, my large 'factory' of commenced aircraft, and the parts production line for components such as engines, guns etc which can be used in a number of aircraft. Currently I am doing a lot of work in production line #3.

Returning to the question of what does one do if one finds someone announcing the same aircraft as oneself? In my case, if it is in production list number one, I continue on with my plans to complete and release the aircraft. If it is on list number two I lower its priority unless I am confident of doing a superior job. I would urge any other modeler/developer making the same aircraft to do likewise if they find me making the same aircraft as themselves. Please complete your aircraft. With Freeware aircraft many modelers make aircraft that they personally like so it's important that they continue on and complete them. I have encountered attitudes on forums, in the past, of individuals trying to deter others when they find someone making the same aircraft as themselves.

Admittedly it can be slightly disappointing to find that someone has been creating the same aircraft as oneself and might take a little bit of the gloss out of it. However at the end of the day it provides a challenge to do a better job. It's great if the other modeler shows off heaps of pictures in the forums as it shows me how I stand in comparison. There are a finite number of aircraft that have existed during the course of aviation history and as I said above, double ups will result.

On forums one finds posts by forum members on occasion bemoaning the fact that they end up with 2 or 3 versions of the same aircraft, and why can't developers get together and create other aircraft they need or want. Unfortunately it doesn't work that way and reading what I've written above, should provide some insight. I do find it annoying, however, when forum participants request or urge others to create the same aircraft for FSX, that they know me to be working on. No offense to the other modeler though. I've already outlined my philosophy to competition above, which I welcome.

I'll endeavour to post as much information as I can, on what I might be working on. (Many Sopwiths & Fokkers LOL). I'll continue posting bits and pieces on modeling , projects and potential projects here, on this blog, together with a miscellany of ruminations from time to time. I will be commencing a blog for my Aeroplane Art site soon which will feature news and hopefully wip pics of aircraft on my completion list. Aeroplane Art will focus primarily on aircraft I hope to complete. I won't show pics of WIP aircraft on my completion list until they are in a reasonably advanced stage.

With freeware I sometimes wonder whether releasing a good quality aircraft as freeware leads to these endeavours being taken for granted. Sometimes I think I perceive the mentality on forums 'if it's payware it has to be good and that freeware aircraft are not worth looking at. Maybe payware is the way to go?

As to payware, I have yet to decide even whether I will produce payware aircraft for myself or others. Of the many aircraft that I have commenced or researched there are a number that I have earmarked as possible payware projects. If and when I do create payware aircraft, when I am confident that I have the resources and information to complete an aircraft, I'll announce it. However there will otherwise be a complete blackout until the aircraft is almost there. (Hint most possible payware projects are interwar aircraft. Names such as Barnwell, Frise & Camm should provide further hints.... but I emphasize possible... anything can happen).

The 'Biff' was very successful for me. To date approximately 50,000 downloads of all packages, for all 3 simulators, from a number of sites, together with two magazine cover disks, a positive review and featured in another magazine article. However one can't rest on one's laurels. One has to get score on the board as it were and follow some more aircraft through to completion. Can I use the word soon? Depends on definition of soon LOL. Lets hope for at least two in the next two months. The likely candidates are listed in recent posts below. I'll be spending less time in forums.

Hopefully by completing another couple of aircraft and commencing Aeroplane Art , my profile as an aircraft creator will again increase and I'll return to more peoples' radar. Thus more will visit my sites, resulting in others having a clearer picture on what I am working on. Those who enjoyed the Biff will also enjoy my current projects.