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Interview: Antoni Wroblewski


Interview With Antoni Wroblewski

Conducted By Dominic Smith




When did you start developing for flight simulators and what got you interested in it?


I've been a fan of flight simulators since FS2000. I remember seeing the simulator for sale at a discount in a game store, I bought it, and have been hooked on it ever since. After the release of FSX, I moved over to X-Plane after purchasing an Apple laptop. I'm a programmer and my main full-time job is writing software, however I never thought of specifically developing for X-Plane until I started to realise that nobody was going to write or implement the features I wanted. Specifically, I realised the huge potential of using OpenStreetMap data to generate scenery, and after OSM2XP was no longer being developed, I decided to start a new project. I also regularly update maps on OpenStreetMap and it was only natural for me to connect the two together.






Tell us about the nature of your designs and what you do?


I'm the main/only programmer for World2Xplane, which in short, converts OpenStreetMap data into scenery for X-Plane. I started the project from scratch, and reached out to the community to help with mapping, photography, and 3D modelling. Several users joined in and have contributed some regional buildings into our library, and many people continue to help out and improve the project. My main area of interest is creating scenery for the UK (where I was born) and Poland (where I presently live), however others have created buildings for Switzerland, Italy, Germany and the United States.


What do you consider your best or most popular work?


Outside of flight simulation, my most popular work was a free map editor for Grand Theft Auto 3, Vice City and San Andreas. World2Xplane has been extremely popular in Europe, and I'm hoping many new users will continue to join in and start mapping their towns in OpenStreetMap. I'm very happy with the project and I'm very pleased how far it has progressed.


What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of a project?


The most challenging aspect of a project for me is actually the artwork and 3D modelling. I started out with no experience with 3D modelling, but have created myself a workflow where I can quickly create lots of models of various sizes quickly using Blender. The programming side has proved challenging, especially in regards to testing, since it's impossible for me to test the entire world. Many users have beta tested the application, reported bugs and this has greatly helped me with software development. I've also been in contact with Andras Fabian (author of the HD Mesh), who offered me advice and tips on scenery generation and also Ben Supnik (programmer for X-Plane), who implemented some features I needed into 10.30 regarding roads and power lines.














What have been your favorite projects?


I only have the one project, but by far my favourite project in X-Plane has been OSM2XP which allowed me to generate my own scenery. World2Xplane is a logical progression of OSM2XP and has lots of features that users wanted and requested, e.g. multipolygon support, regional generation, real 3D models instead of facades, roads and powerful configuration options.


What software packages and tools do you use to develop?


The application is written in Java, and I use standard Java tools to create and manage the project, e.g. maven, intellij. For 3D modelling, I work with Blender, however others have also contributed using Sketchup.


Who would you consider to be your mentors or inspiration in the development world if you have any?


I have the upmost respect for people who contribute their free time to create applications and scenery for free for the community. Andras Fabian (developer of HD Mesh v2) and Benny (author of OSM2XP) are two of those developers who inspired me to get my hands dirty and join in. Also, Armin, the admin of Simheaven.com has inspired me to continually improve the application and has really helped expose the project to users by offering and hosting huge amounts of scenery for free. I continue to work with Armin, implementing features requested by users and continually improving the scenery generation algorithims.


Do you develop payware/freeware or both and why?


I released World2Xplane as freeware, as I don't believe applications based on OpenStreetMap data should be payware. OpenStreetMap data is contributed by users in their free time, and I believe it would be wrong for me to charge for conversions of this data. Also, our building library is open source, and many users have contributed buildings and artwork. Many people have kindly donated to the project, and this has helped me cover the costs of hosting and also really encouraged me to continue on with development.














I have also played with the idea of offering payware scenery based on commercial data, such as the ordnance survey data in the UK. Such data can be quite expensive, however it's much better quality and more complete than the OpenStreetMap data. I may in the future convert such data for X-Plane and offer the scenery as payware to cover the costs of the data and support future development. However, I'm not sure how much interest such scenery would generate, and whether it would be worth the development and cost. At the moment World2Xplane only converts OpenStreetMap data, I have an unreleased version which will convert other data, but this is quite difficult to setup and manage for normal non-technical users.


The Team

How many people work with you or your team?


I'm the programmer/admin for the application and have created most of the artwork for the UK, Germany and Poland. However, several other users have contributed, specifically Henry (Daikan) who contributed several buildings for Switzerland, and Raphael (Blacky75) who worked incredibly hard to create a huge amount of generic European buildings to fill out the scenery and also test the application. Without the help and support of the other contributors, I probably would have given up sometime ago. All the people who have contributed to the project are listed on the web site. The project really needs help and we are always looking for more contributors, whether it be editing on OpenStreetMap, to photographing of buildings to 3D modelling, everyone is welcome and encouraged to join in.


Real Life

Do you have any experience in real aviation?


After using FS2000 for some time, I decided to go for real flying lessons and work towards my PPL. However flying is quite expensive and limited in Europe, especially the UK, so I've never really progressed any further. One day, I would like to get a full IFR rating, but may need to go to the US to do so.














What started your interest in aviation?


It was actually FS2000 which started my interested in aviation. However, it wasn't until later that I took it more seriously and learned about IFR, procedures, etc. I believe flight simulation is an incredible tool for training, and I'm really surprised it isn't that popular in flight training. With the correct scenery and equipment, it can sometimes feel very real.


Any memorable flights in real life?


My first PPL flight was the most memorable, being given the controls for the first time and seeing scenery that I instantly recognised from my flight simulator. It's no surprise that this is the area I now concentrate on when editing OpenStreetMap.


What other hobbies or things do you do for enjoyment?


Besides aviation, I enjoy learning languages and travelling. I also enjoy adding to OpenStreetMap from walks or journeys I've done, e.g. adding new roads, tracks, etc. It's a great way to discover new places or areas, even if such edits don't benefit flight simulation directly.


Have you ever considered doing flight simulator development full time?


I wish I could, but I think at the moment there simply isn't enough interest for me to do so in the X-Plane world. As I've said earlier, I've looked at doing commercial projects, but at the moment I'm quite happy working on the application when I get a spare moment. I'm always open to the possibility of branching out onto other platforms, and when the time is right or the need is there, I will begin looking at it.















How do you choose your next new design or project?


Quite simply, it has to be something that people want and something that I'm personally interested in doing. I've not yet thought about what I'd like to do next as a flight-simulation project, but as with World2Xplane, if I see something that I believe I can write, and is badly needed, then I'll jump straight in.


What simulators do you design for now and which ones do you plan to develop for in the future?


I develop solely for X-Plane 10 as it's a great and powerful platform, and the developers of the simulation are easy to talk with and are always willing to help and offer support. I'm also very interested in the Outerra engine, and AeroflyFS as future platforms for flight simulation. I would like to create a similar project for FSX/P3D, but the memory-limit is too prohibitive for really complicated scenery, but when P3D eventually goes 64-bit, I may create a World2P3D.


In what ways do you see development changing in the future?


I'd like to see flight simulators making better use of today's hardware and catching up with the look and feel of some modern games. Engines such as Outerra are attracting large amounts of interest from the flight simulation community, and its future is looking very promising. X-Plane has lots of potential but is progressing quite slowly, and the pace and path of development seems to irk many users, and many features often requested simply aren't there, e.g. correct ATC, AI, realistic weather depiction. I'm unsure about P3D and where it is going, but I think it's time the FSX engine was left behind and a more modern engine suitable for today's hardware was developed.


Your Thoughts

What can sites like FlightSim.Com do to support you and the hobby better?


I think FlightSim.Com, and many other sites already do a fantastic job of promoting the hobby and creating communities. It would certainly be nice to see more coverage of X-Plane on FlightSim.Com, and I'm sure this will happen as more and more people begin looking at alternatives.










How do you feel about the future of flight simulation in general?


As discussed above, I think there are several promising projects in the pipeline, and I think it's a great time to be involved in flight simulation.


What are some of the most important things a site or community can do to help the developers?


I think one of the most important things a community or site can do is give developers exposure for their projects and also encourage new developers. There are many great flight simulation communities which have really helped my own project grow.


What would you like people to know about you or your team and work?


I would like to add that the project really needs more contributors. You don't need to be a programmer or even know how to create 3D models. There are many ways to contribute to the project, such as:


1). Editing and contributing to OpenStreetMap. This not only benefits X-Plane, but also hundreds of other projects which use OpenStreetMap, such as free SatNav applications. It's easy to do and can be quite rewarding.


2). Playing with the application and requesting features or reporting bugs. Recently a user from the German Aerosoft community experimented and has come up with a way of creating regional autogen.


3). Contributing to the 3D model library, even by creating regional models from your area or taking photographs for other users to model.






More information about how to contribute is available on the tutorials section of the web site:




YouTube Links:












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