• Interview With Allen Kriesman

    Interview With Allen Kriesman

    Conducted by Vic Baron

    About You

    Tell us a little bit about yourself and the sorts of things you have done or enjoyed besides flight simulation?

    Hello, this is Allen Kriesman and I am the owner of Scenery Solutions LLC. We are the creators of the Ultimate Terrain family (UTX) of products and also the new Xtreme Cities product lines. Our first commercial product, USA Roads for FS2004, came out in 2004, which started our commercial venture into the MSFS flight simulator market. Prior to 2004, I was a developer supporting the Fly! Simulator platform, before its unfortunate cancellation.

    I am a very happily married 54 year old living in Texas. I have two teenage boys. I work as a software developer (using C++) during the day. At night and weekends I am usually working on Scenery Solutions related work. I am a little busier than I would like to be. Actually, a lot busier.

    When did you first get involved with flight simulation and what got you interested in it?

    Prior to 1983, I was a floundering college student with ever changing majors. In 1983 I was first exposed to a personal computer running Flight Simulator 1.0. When I saw the power of the PC, my future was determined. At that time, I started teaching myself programming. I eventually graduated from college (University of North Texas) with a BS in Computer Science. You could say that Flight Simulator 1.0 helped to decide my career path. I have been a flight simmer ever since.

    Do you have any real world aviation experience, fly any planes, or own any aircraft?

    I still have hopes of getting my PPL eventually. However, I have been saying this for about 10 years now. Free time is always an issue.

    Who do you consider your mentors in the flight simulation development world and why?

    I am glad this question was asked, because there have been so many people that I have respect for in this hobby.

    As I mentioned, my first venture into flight sim development was working with the Fly! Simulator. I was the creator/developer for the scenery development system called Terramodels For Fly!. It was during this time when I worked loosely with the late Richard Harvey, who was the lead developer for Fly!

    Richard Harvey was one of the finest men that I have ever met. I learned a lot from him when it comes to business ethics. Primarily, I learned that if you are honest and up front about things to your customers, they will be more understanding and patient. It wasn't just about money with Mr. Harvey. Fly! was his baby and he spent endless hours working on it right up until his passing from Cancer (at the age of 27). I still owe this man a lot.

    I previously mentioned my initial foray into FS2004 with USA Roads. At that time, I was the new kid on the block when it came to MSFS development. I needed some assistance with a few technical things after crossing over from Fly!. I clearly remember several individuals who were very helpful when I ran into a few technical difficulties unique to FS2004. In particular, I would single out Holger Sandmann and Richard Ludowise.

    You've been developing for long time and your work has been recognized with many awards. As well as some FlightSim.Com awards, there was even a favorable review of your product way back in August of 2005. Tell us what you think some of the highlights of your career have been or how your work and technology has changed since then?

    Yes, I think the best years for me were 2005 thru 2008, when Ultimate Terrain won a total of 6 industry awards. Enhanced vector terrain and landclass products are still very, very important when enhancing FSX/P3D. However, the success of Ultimate Terrain has resulted in a lot of product clones over the years, which attempt to offer the exact same feature sets. Most of these developers come and go. But, there is now always competition. They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I try to tell myself that as much as possible.

    I am always looking for new and creative development ideas. I feel that we have a bunch of unique ideas to implement over the next couple of years that I am excited about.

    Development

    What other types of designs and projects have you worked on over the years or have you focused on only scenery related products?

    I have always been interested in scenery related design, because I am a visual software developer. Even though I enjoy creating, I really have no creative talent in my hands. My handwriting is terrible and the only humans I can draw with a brush are stick figures. With 3D modeling tools, imaging tools like Photoshop and custom software creation, anyone with imagination can produce creative works.

    What were some of your favorite developments and why?

    I am really proud of what we have accomplished over the years. We were the first developer to update FS2004 roads using accurate commercial data. We were then the first developer to use accurate, licensed commercial data for things like landclass, ground polygons, enhanced water, railroads, etc. However, I am probably most proud of the Terramodels For Fly! development environment that I created back in 2002. This product was extremely cutting edge and made use of Microsoft's Terraserver product in ways that were not previously thought of. "Terramodels For Fly!" has even been referenced in existing patents. 13 years later, Terramodels is still being used to create scenery among those remaining Fly! diehards. In fact, the new Xtreme Cities product lines that we see as our future are based on a much newer and powerful version of the old Terramodels concept that we have developed.


    2 Comments
    1. ricardo_NY1's Avatar
      ricardo_NY1 -
      Nice read.............Fly! had so much potential. I'm still surprised at how good Fly!ll looks. The clouds were done very well for the time.
    1. bobreardon's Avatar
      bobreardon -
      Thank you for his. It was a great read especially to get some insight into the people behind these great products. I really take my hat off to them for their efforts. I have all their UTX products, and the new V2 products are really great. Looking out for more.
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