• Interview With Thomas Ruth

    Interview With Thomas Ruth - Aircraft Developer

    Conducted by Dominic Smith


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

    My first encounter with flight sim 'mods' was almost fourteen years ago. This involved reworking the HEX code of MDL files so as to add night light texturing effects. This was, you might say, my first foray into developing for Microsoft Flight Simulator. I never actually made these files public and they were lost around ten years ago when my computer had a major crash. The first real, or more to the point, public add-on I created were the Antonov AN225 for FS2000. There were models available for FS2000 but they were based on FS98, and not wanting to wait a few years for native models to arrive, I decided it was quicker to create my own.

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

    My models are as simple as possible without losing too much in the way of details. Some designers I've noticed, put every polygon FS can handle into their model, but in my opinion this can have a detrimental effect on performance. They create beautiful models (no question about it), but you have to remember that FS is a game, not a professional rendering machine. FSX has to render not only the visual model at least a dozen times a second (so as to create smooth movement), but also the scenery and weather. An aircraft that uses the majority of your computing power, can look like a piece of art, but from a gameplay perspective, is totally useless in my opinion.


    This is why major parts of my aircraft have been optimized by hand, and is why on some parts of the aircraft, where high detail is not necessary (in my opinion) I use less detailed modelling. An example of this is with fan blades, as most of my fan blades are made out of a single triangle, and the 'blurred' version out of a single plain mesh.

    When it comes to textures, FSX gives us the opportunity to use textures bigger than the default 1024x1024 textures normally available. The smaller the number of textures (size doesn't matter), the less so called Draw Calls FSX uses and in theory, the better the performance. However, because my aircraft models are polygon optimised, it means that I can get away with using a more detailed texture resolution; 2048x2048. In the future I might even try 4096x4096. I could also create an aircraft which uses one single (large) texture for everything, but that is quite difficult to model and map. Usually I end up creating one map for the wings, and another for everything else. It works well and is a good compromise, as it means my models perform well (on my system) in regards to frame rates.

    In the future when hardware catches up I don't think we'll have this problem as complex models will become the norm, but until that time, FSX and P3D will still experience issues when complex models are involved. It's for that reason that I keep my models simple.


    What do you consider your best or most popular work?

    My best work is the Me-264 for FSX and of course the Tu-144 for FS2004. Both of these models were as complex as I could possible have made them at the time and have been downloaded thousands of times, which is always satisfying! The Me-264 was my first 'complete package' and included textures for the model, FDE and also sound. Unfortunately the sound was never made public because of copyright constraints.

    The Tu-144 however was the most complex (in regards to systems) I've ever built and gained a Gold Star award here at FlightSim.Com. My most popular work though seems to be the A330/A340 series I created for FSX. This model came out when no other native FSX Airbus model (with VC) existed. Looks like I created the right aircraft at the right time!


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

    A few years ago, the main challenge facing aircraft designers was in finding the correct and also right amount of information so as to create and model their aircraft. It was extremely difficult to find the required information and without connections to real world aviation, almost impossible. All this changed however with the advent of the World Wide Web (WWW) which has given developers a wealth of information. Now the biggest challenge facing freeware aircraft developers is in complex aircraft systems. Flight simmers are now used to extremely complex payware aircraft and it's because of this (in my opinion) that freeware releases have become far less frequent. They (freeware developers) know, that they just can't compete with professional payware anymore.

    What have been your favorite projects?

    It will and always will be, the AN225/AN124 models. Yes, they are getting on a bit and could do with being upgraded with a new virtual cockpit, but until I find the right amount of information to model one (lacking at the moment) they'll be on hold. I'm hoping that one day I will get the chance to visit the flight-deck of a real AN124/255 so as to get some good pictures and to ask the flight-crew some questions, but after ten years, this has still yet to happen, but I'm always hopeful. If any of you reading this might be able to help out...

    Tags: thomas ruth

    1. rishabk97's Avatar
      rishabk97 -
      Massive respect.

      Personally, I've used his A330 and A340 models. He did a very good job!
    1. macsimian's Avatar
      macsimian -
      Thanks indeed, Dominic, for your absorbing interview with Thomas. And Thomas, many, many thanks for your fine aircraft. I can still remember the first time I installed and 'flew' one of your planes; it was an A330 out of YBBN, Brisbane - and I've been routinely flying them ever since. I'm sure you're right about the need to limit the 3D complexity - well, for people like me with ordinary PC's. Best wishes for your 'real' cockpit, and I'm looking forward to any future updates of your aircraft - especially the AN124. I actually got to walk through the hold of an AN124 years ago, and watch its extraordinary flying demonstration at an RAAF air show (Richmond YSRI, 1988). Wow! Sadly, I can't help you with the flight deck, etc., but I do hope some readers can. Thanks again to you and Dominic.
      Ian Macdonald, Australia.
    1. TseTse's Avatar
      TseTse -
      Finally! A Tom Ruth interview! His A300/310 series is the best!
    1. Bennzo's Avatar
      Bennzo -
      I'm finding the flight models sometimes are a bit suspect - other than that this is one of my favorite designers.
    1. EmperorPenguin99's Avatar
      EmperorPenguin99 -
      Can he do an MD-11 KLM with VC-that would be best
    1. caut's Avatar
      caut -
      The time and effort you have spent creating your planes has resulted in planes I, and many others have enjoyed... Thank you for all of your gifts. I look forward to your future projects.
    1. Antares's Avatar
      Antares -
      Deepest thanks, Thomas, for your indelible contribution to the community. As a rookie I wanted to emulate your career as a flight sim designer but never had the patience. Sadly (!) all I can do is sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labour!
    1. rudiolfock's Avatar
      rudiolfock -
      In the Hall of Fame of flightsim Mister RUTH would have a place...keep to share your work it 's really one of my best experience...flying your plane on FSX...
    1. rudiolfock's Avatar
      rudiolfock -
      thousand times thank you for you to enjoyed my simulation life with your so great airplanes 'better than some payware...keep on.
      your Fan
    1. Segun Akinfesola1's Avatar
      Segun Akinfesola1 -
      Big, Big Thanks to Mr. Tom Ruth
    1. vibesinc's Avatar
      vibesinc -
      Great work Thomas!!! I have enjoyed all of your aircraft. I look forward to your next project.
    1. pedrornunes96's Avatar
      pedrornunes96 -
      I think that these past 14 years have been the golden age of flight simulation... No doubt Thomas Ruth is one of the diamonds placed in the crown of MSFS and flightsim! And yes, I hope that developers and flightsim communities continue to develop new stuff for the Flight Simulator game in general, because it's they and the gamers at home who make the game alive after all
    1. Jimmy_S's Avatar
      Jimmy_S -
      There are so many people that endlessly complain about both freeware and payware. I have all of Thomas' work in my hanger. Absolutely awesome work. The flightsim community is forever enhanced by his hard work.
    1. NimbleCat's Avatar
      NimbleCat -
      Quote Originally Posted by rishabk97 View Post
      Massive respect.

      Personally, I've used his A330 and A340 models. He did a very good job!
      I use those too also Thomas Ruth+Erick Cantu DC-10.
    1. NimbleCat's Avatar
      NimbleCat -
      Best freeware airplanes ever! I heard that Wilco A340s are not very good. But the Wilco and CLS payware $80 lol. But this, (points to Thomas Ruth A340) is much better and it's free. Even better than CLS too. Thomas Ruth A340 is legendary. :3
    1. NimbleCat's Avatar
      NimbleCat -
      Wow he lived near Duesseldorf airport.
    1. attw's Avatar
      attw -
      I really hope he makes an MD-11 soon...
    1. mabe5454's Avatar
      mabe5454 -
      Glad to hear from Tom Ruth and his past designs. But now there is still one up there, the A350 and is calling him once again for another of his great designing work. Thanks for the past and thanks for the future Mr. Ruth.
    1. myoungc's Avatar
      myoungc -
      Thank you Mr. Ruth for all your hard work. You certainly do a beautiful job, way better than many pay ware folks out there. Happy New Year Sir.
    1. lvwty's Avatar
      lvwty -
      Thomas Ruth is a very good talent and a remarked name on FSX, with very very nice packages. The Airbus widebodies is very nice, and both 727 and DC10 also. We hope he release more good planes
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