• Interview With John Venema From Orbx

    Interview With John Venema From Orbx

    Conducted By Dominic Smith

    Development

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

    I first began developing textures for FS2004 for a project called Bird's Eye View (or BEV), back in 2003 I think it was. Not long after, I began creating my own textures for Australia purely for personal use. I began to post preview shots on a temporary forum and soon it grew into a major freeware project called Vista Australis (or VOZ), which incidently became possibly the most downloaded freeware project for FS2004 in its day.

       

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

    Orbx tends to differentiate itself on the quality of our FTX (Full Terrain Experience) textures, that is both for landclass ground textures and those used at airports. First and foremost we make new ground textures and landclass for large regions of the world such as the Pacific Northwest in the USA, or England in Europe. We've done a bunch of these FTX regions to cover Australia, New Zealand, the UK, most of the USA/Canada western coast areas and currently we're working on Norway in Europe. These regions include new textures, new landclass, elevation mesh and vector data for roads, railways, coastlines, lakes and rivers. Additionally, we add many POI's like bridges, photo-real mountain areas, etc. Each FTX region is meant to be a stand-alone simulation area where you can enjoy them out of the box.

    Of course, sitting on top of those FTX region we make FTX payware and freeware airports. These are designed to blend cohesively into the region so you can experience incredibly detailed airports right down to seeing mechanics repairing a C172, the groundsman sweeping the apron, and trees and grass blowing in the breeze. Because of this immersive level of detail, Orbx tends to focus mostly on GA, VFR and regional airports.

           

    What do you consider your best or most popular work?

    FTX Global is probably our most popular product since it creates a "Region Lite" for the entire planet with a single installer, and uses six years of ground texture development. So in essence, FTX Global is a celebration of all the hard texture work that went into our earlier FTX Regions, but engineered to create a one-stop solution to provide those famous Orbx textures over the entire planet. So yes, we're very proud of FTX Global.

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

    That varies from project to project. An FTX region is challenging purely from the scale of it (for example a whole country like Norway takes an enormous amount of work), whereas an FTX airport is challenging from the perspective of getting good photographs of buildings and objects around the airport so as to model and texture it the best way possible.

    What have been your favorite projects?

    For me personally I loved working on our debut regions in Australia; I poured a lot of passion into those four areas (which we now sell as a single region covering all of Australia), and it was pioneering stuff for us back then. I also enjoyed working on airports like Tamworth, Israel's Farm, Walter Sutton's, Aeropelican - you can tell by their names they were quaint destinations with loads of character in them.

           

    John, was there a particular reason why you chose Australia as your first major scenery package (both freeware and payware)?

    It was mainly because I was living there at the time and wanted a better scenery to use in the sim (I was studying for my PPL).

    Tags: john venema, orbx

    15 Comments
    1. Ragtopjohnny's Avatar
      Ragtopjohnny -
      I still buy their stuff, but they are unfair when it comes to banning in their fourms. Banned first for responding too much to a support request? I'm sorry, but I thought you were supposed to. Also then got banned for life after writing a review about it. They do make great items, but their diplomacy needs to be a bit better.
    1. britfrog's Avatar
      britfrog -
      Quote Originally Posted by Ragtopjohnny View Post
      I still buy their stuff, but they are unfair when it comes to banning in their fourms. Banned first for responding too much to a support request? I'm sorry, but I thought you were supposed to. Also then got banned for life after writing a review about it. They do make great items, but their diplomacy needs to be a bit better.
      sadly as is so often the case, and it is evident in other producers of products for fsim, no sooner do these companies make a buck or two, than the head honcho turns into a prima donna, and refuses to listen to any form of criticism no matter how well meant. I just find it sad that they choose to bite the hand that feeds them. they should all take a leaf out of ryanairs book, that says that all criticism whether good or bad is free advertising , but sadly as is so often the case, they find great glee and satisfaction in banning people from their forums (how petty is that?) , well that showed them didnt it? I have the power and will dispense it as I see fit.
      Ultimately they need to realise , it is the buying public that have the power and the sooner these guys figure that out the better for them and their future. When it comes to ftx or orbx, I think they are soon going to hit a huge hole in their sales in 2015 , once they have finished their world domination stuff it will be back to releasing small airports as their only source of income and the odd country where they are allowed to buy the necessary photography, (that didnt happen in France did it?) , and there is not a lot of moolah in that to support an MD that requires wide door posts to get his head through ,unless they again have a change of heart again about bigger airports, so if the shareholders have a say in it all, if I were JV i would start looking over my shoulders any time soon as there is a finite amount of small beautifully made airfields that people will buy.
    1. Ragtopjohnny's Avatar
      Ragtopjohnny -
      Yeah, I think your right about the 2015 stuff. Either they need to start really diving into the Rest of the U.S. as well, or create more airports that will fill in gaps in Washington State and California, Oregon, etc.
      I love Orbx now that I have a nice Beefy computer, they're really top notch stuff and would recommend them any time. Even better with DX10.
    1. W33's Avatar
      W33 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Ragtopjohnny View Post
      Yeah, I think your right about the 2015 stuff. Either they need to start really diving into the Rest of the U.S. as well, or create more airports that will fill in gaps in Washington State and California, Oregon, etc.
      I love Orbx now that I have a nice Beefy computer, they're really top notch stuff and would recommend them any time. Even better with DX10.
      Thank you John for your interview! Superb work from yourself and your talented team!

      In regards to the above comment; the world is not solely the US.

      Living on the Pacific Coast I'm pretty sure Japan and a few other countries lie somewhere out there...

      By releasing Global and then Vector, they (Orbx) have in effect, created a whole new canvas to build upon. Whereas before there were only certain regional areas, now there is the whole world.

      Personally I think the future looks very positive, for Orbx and also for flight simulator enthusiasts from around the world.

      W33
    1. Ragtopjohnny's Avatar
      Ragtopjohnny -
      Japan - now that would be an interesting focus!
    1. jmig's Avatar
      jmig -
      I have read much about the alleged arrogance over at Orbx. However, the one time I complained about something I thought wasn't right, I got set upon by the fanboys but, Orbx made good and I left a happy camper..even if some of my trousers' back side was missing.

      I have purchased much of their scenery. Some of it, like Australia & New Zealand, I have never taken out of the box. I think they have a good product and I buy it to support them and encourage them to continue. Who knows, maybe one day when I am in my rocking chair, I will pull out those far away exotic worlds created by John and this crew and visit them.
    1. ejoiner's Avatar
      ejoiner -
      These guys make great product and I own several regions as well as FTX Global etc. Am well pleased. Their freeware airports are also very good and well appreciated. Their payware airports also look great, but I am not willing to dedicate a gigabyte of space to a single airport. Orbx/FTX eats gigabytes of space like rice at a Chinese wedding.
    1. Jezz006's Avatar
      Jezz006 -
      I have bought many FTX products, and whenever I get into trouble I've found the help and support both courteous and comprehnsive.
    1. RaysAviation's Avatar
      RaysAviation -
      I have tried out several ORBX sceneries and FTX regions and in my oppinion the quality is excellent. The airport environment are always very detailed, the atmosphere that surrounds the airport, especially the smaller airports, are again also very realistic.

      I love their flow-technologies as the people flow which really adds to the realism of a scenery and the details and accuracy which each scenery is created with. They really do have an eye for the details in my oppinion!

      I have only had one scenery that gave me trouble and when I contacted ORBX I got a quick, thorough and superb support from both John and the person who had actually created the scenery together with other forum members.

      Keep up the excellent work and thanks to the team and John for these awesome sceneries.

      /Rays Aviation
    1. birdguy's Avatar
      birdguy -
      As one of those also suffering a lifetime ban form the Orbx community along with Ragtopjohnny I have also to say I remain a devoted Orbx customer. Their product has no equal. But they are thin skinned when it comes to accepting criticism.

      But they do have a restricted member's support forum that I have found to provide excellent service. However, the fact that they have to have a special support section for we 'bad boys' no longer welcome in the regular community for criticism tells you something.

      Noel
    1. FlexibleFlier's Avatar
      FlexibleFlier -
      I have never had a bad experience with Orbx, either with a product or support. Without seeing the complete threads that apparently lead to various "bannings", the unhappy comments here are hard to accept at face value. To paraphrase an old saying: one man's critique is another man's flame. In a world that seems to constantly grow more openly hostile thanks to the anonymity of the Internet, it's hard for me to blame a developer and/or forum administrator for taking strong steps to try to keep his business as civil as possible. Of course, there are always at least two sides to any story and I'm not suggesting that some complaints aren't legitimate. But it's also true that any business person can run his business as he/she chooses...and we get to vote with our wallets. ~Michael
    1. PeteStepanoff's Avatar
      PeteStepanoff -
      Michael,
      You make a great point regarding the banned posts and posters. Sometimes people get a bit too fussy and too sharp in their criticism which may lead to unpleasant actions.
      Like you I've never had a bad experience with ORBX and will continue to support their exquisite sceneries.

      Pete
    1. Ragtopjohnny's Avatar
      Ragtopjohnny -
      Flexible - you should be able to respond to your support requests as often or as frequent as you need to. I was home, I am always home due to a condition that I have with horrendous sound sensitivity and daily migraines from it.

      They should show the respect that customers deserve especially when someone writes what they called "A Childish - Retaliatory review. Nope, it was my experience with them!

      To get a comment first of all from someone that does help with the support when I constantly kept getting crashes, they tried to blame it on a poor computer making me feel very poor when I'm actually quite comfortable for myself in life.

      Hope they read the article and these comments so they can see where they made their mistakes over the years.
    1. britfrog's Avatar
      britfrog -
      Quote Originally Posted by Ragtopjohnny View Post
      Flexible - you should be able to respond to your support requests as often or as frequent as you need to. I was home, I am always home due to a condition that I have with horrendous sound sensitivity and daily migraines from it.

      They should show the respect that customers deserve especially when someone writes what they called "A Childish - Retaliatory review. Nope, it was my experience with them!

      To get a comment first of all from someone that does help with the support when I constantly kept getting crashes, they tried to blame it on a poor computer making me feel very poor when I'm actually quite comfortable for myself in life.

      Hope they read the article and these comments so they can see where they made their mistakes over the years.
      Having just read a current thread on their site where a customer is offering constructive criticism on the beta of a bit of northern Italy, I have to say I was extremely upset by JV's sarcastic response, this is not how a professional person should respond at all, Especially to a current customer, very sad his megolamania has got to be affecting sales, I was seriously considering buying the Norway product when it will be launched but after his response , i find I can do without it thanks, his arrogance is not welcome and it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
    1. Scorpio47's Avatar
      Scorpio47 -
      I have to agree with those criticizing their arrogant behavior and in particular that of Mr. Venema. It is simply unacceptable in a professional environment!!!

      I wish him success, but it will not be with my money any more (I have bought about 12 sceneries from them and was accused of piracy... Can you imagine?

      John Venema really pisse me off and that is why I will have to live with what I have and shall not purchase any new products from them.

      BTW, the alternative link for banned users does not work for me. I seem to be banned from that one too.

      Scorpio47
  • Recent Forum Activity

    CJS

    Interested in getting started in Flight Sim FSX...best starting computer???

    Thread Starter: CJS

    I am looking for the best way to get started in flight simming. A good fun experience that allows me to learn flying with a mid-level cost system...

    Last Post By: CJS Today, 11:08 AM Go to last post
    iluvairplanes

    What's the best freeware FSX addon in terms of airplanes?

    Thread Starter: iluvairplanes

    I would also like to know about some good airport ground textures (can be payware)

    Last Post By: Clutch Cargo Today, 10:57 AM Go to last post
    Apollo212

    Help with Rex essentials

    Thread Starter: Apollo212

    Hi first of all I'm sorry if this is not the right place to post. I just have a couple of questions I hope someone can answer please. Can I...

    Last Post By: Apollo212 Today, 10:46 AM Go to last post
    PeteStepanoff

    Contemplating a new PC build.

    Thread Starter: PeteStepanoff

    I am ready to start building a new PC for my P3Dv4 and FSX-SE. Here's what I'm looking at, so far: CPU - Intel I7-7700K with Corsair Water...

    Last Post By: lesh Today, 10:32 AM Go to last post
    Susu986

    A customizable hangar

    Thread Starter: Susu986

    Half Moon Bay Airport (on the US West coast in California) is in the works for XP11. One of the highlights will be a customizeable hangar, which you...

    Last Post By: Susu986 Today, 10:23 AM Go to last post