When did you start developing for flight simulators and what got you interested in it?
I started developing scenery for X-Plane in the fall of 2012, so I am relatively new at it. When I first got X-Plane 9, X-Plane 10 was in development and nearly ready for release. What can I say, I showed up a little late to the party, I guess! Last fall I asked Brian Godwin, another scenery designer, if there was a chance one of his X-Plane 10 only scenery packages could be developed for those of us still using version 9. He graciously attempted to convert the scenery to version 9 on my behalf but went a step further. He asked me if I would be interested in developing an X-Plane 9 variant of the X-Plane 10 scenery he was working on. I hadn't really thought of developing scenery on my own before and Brian assured me that he would walk me through it. Brian had already drawn the taxiway, ramp, and placed the runway so all I would have to do is, essentially, place objects such as hangars, static airplanes, and various other buildings and vehicles. I was intimidated at first and had tons of questions. Brian was nothing but patient and helpful and quickly got me pointed in the right direction. He is the best scenery mentor a guy could ask for and is a fantastic designer, much more talented than I. With Brian's help, my first project, 1S0 Pierce County Thun Field (though the ICAO code is now KPLU) was well received by the community at x-plane.org.
Tell us about the nature of your designs and what you do?
General aviation is the kind of flying I enjoy the most in the sim so, naturally, all of my current scenery designs reflect this. A lot of folks are really into flying heavies in and out of the big international airports or regional hubs. That's fantastic...just not my style. There is also quite a bit more time and effort that goes into modeling a large airport like that. I could turn out several quality smaller sceneries in the time it would take me to model just one of the big ones. I am also of a somewhat biased opinion that small GA fields tend to have more character to them than the big ones. There's just something special about a small, country, home-town airport set in a scenic location. Those are my favorites!
What do you consider your best or most popular work?
I'm pretty confident that one of my most popular scenery packages was also one of my most recent; KHQM Bowerman Airport. It has proven to be popular and well received thus far so I'm pretty proud of that one. I did it for X-Plane 10 so everything I'm building now seems to look better. I attribute that more to the beauty of X-Plane 10 than to my skills improving!
What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of a project?
This may seem obscure, but I find the most challenging aspect of a project to be attempting to bring the character of the real world airport into the simulator (if that makes sense). My goal for every scenery project I do is to make the user, "feel," as though they're really there. I think that can be really difficult to pull off sometimes without the benefit of being a 3D modeler and constructing very location specific objects for each project one does. We typically refer to that type of scenery as "payware!" I do not do any 3D modeling or have any plans to learn at this point, I'm just too busy with life outside of the simulator! I really strive to give every project the effort and attention to detail that I would want someone to give my home airport. I think I best achieve this through my work by making sure the objects I place in the scenery (buildings, static airplanes, pavement markings, forests, etc.) line up as closely as possible to the real world location. If one takes the time and effort to do this, one can achieve a level of believability with their scenery package beyond mere plausibility, even with limited stock or more generic objects.