• Bear East Developer Interview

    Bear East Developer Interview

    Conducted by Dominic Smith

    Bear East     Bear East     Bear East


    Could you tell us about the nature of your X-Plane designs and what you do?

    Bear East is the nom de nerd of X-Plane users K. Grace (me) and Jayson Ng. We model Asian airports that strike our fancy, for whatever reason. Jayson lays out the airport and creates ATC routing, and I do the custom modeling. We started out concentrating on just the marquee buildings, such as terminals, towers, etc. but we've now amassed an inventory of Japanese ground vehicles and other items to populate the aprons and surroundings.

    If we have a signature style, it's that we try to create a little jewel-box of each airport, with elements that make the user feel like they're in a place with a distinct atmosphere. We mainly want to provide touches that say 'you are now in Japan.' The Japanese signage and advertising billboards, the real and made-up company logos on the tarmac vehicles, the plethora of taxi companies and buses on the roads around the airport; we want these things to give visitors a sense of having arrived in a different world. For those of us living in Japan, we want each package to give a little jolt of recognition. I've never been to any of the airports we've done but people who have will recognize the local taxis and buses.

    Bear East     Bear East     Bear East

    The accuracy and realism of the sceneries are as close as Google and Flickr and so forth will allow us, but that's more in the service of placating my obsessive tendencies. Both myself and Jayson are more interested in presenting a portrait of a place than an absolutely exact replica, so there are fictional and fanciful elements in every scenery.

    What do you consider your best or most popular work?

    So far we have only created a handful of airports together and these are as follows:

    • Sapporo Area Airports Package (RJCC/RJCJ New Chitose Airport and RJCO Sapporo Okadama)
    • RJFT Aso Kumamoto Airport
    • RJOM Matsumoto Airport
    • RJDA Amakusa Airport

    Separately, Jayson and I have created a number of other sceneries for Japan, the Philippines, and Korea. Our output is very slow, which is to say I in particular work at a glacial pace.

    Bear East     Bear East     Bear East

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

    Without a doubt, my biggest challenge is stopping. It is really hard to say, OK, this is finished. There is always some detail that could be improved in a model, and Google relentlessly serves up evidence that your model departs in some way from the real thing. For obsessive types like myself, the challenge is to focus on the big picture and let go of the tiny details that no one will ever see or care about. My success on this front has been mixed.

    But enough about my personality disorders! Something that others might find useful (especially modelers), is that this hobby has taught me that careful planning will help in every respect. If your package is too resource-intensive and/or complicated to install, not everyone will be able to use it, so it's important to make models that look good without bogging down the user experience. Trial and error is the best way to progress, as in most things. Start with something, do the best you can on it, put it out there, then try something new that builds on what you've learned. Your workflow will get more efficient, your planning will help you avoid problems down the line with texturing, and you'll have models that enhance the scenery without eating up frame-rates and memory.

    Bear East     Bear East     Bear East

    1. RatRace's Avatar
      RatRace -
      I'm appalled ... "made-up company logos" ... "there are fictional and fanciful elements in every scenery." What happened to "As real as it gets" ?

      Just kidding of course. Those sceneries are among the very best XP has to offer.
    1. krogerfoot's Avatar
      krogerfoot -
      Sorry, we go for "As surreal as it gets."

      Thank you for the kind words. Part of the fun of making Japanese sceneries is that some of the wackiest-seeming logos and graphic designs we've included are 100% real-life Japanese companies.

      - Kay, Bear East
    1. jomni's Avatar
      jomni -
      A 787 in RJCO!!!! That's crazy.

      Our basic workflow is as follows:
      I do things first in WED. Like set all the pavement, pavement lines, lighting, ATC routing including runway use rules, taxi sings, weathering, and placing dummy buildings (to be replaced by Kay's custom 3d models), etc. I also fix some airport details if it needs fixing, like runway length, radio beacons, ILS, ATC frequencies. But since X-Plane NavData can now be updated using Navigraph, then fixing the latter parts are not necessary most of the time.

      Then we go to OE. For me, OE Is mainly used for making roads that really work, slot numbering, runway and pavement markings. The markings and custom roads don't appear in WED.
      I believe Kay adds his animated vehicles and the routing in OE also. Basically all the chrome is done in OE while the essential airport groundwork is done in WED (especially those that are saved in Apt.dat that are never editable by OE).

      Now switching back and forth is possible. There used to be a time that WED does not easily load Bing maps as reference for visual placement so I start with OE first. But now WED can do it also so I purely start with WED. To get your OE work to appear in WED, you can simply import the scenery into WED. Do remember to delete duplicate items. But the most tricky part is that not all are imported... especially the roads. Once you forget that, you will need to rebuild the roads in the end. The pavement markings and letterings will still be there but you will just see a polygon in WED without the actual letters.

      My favorite task in making the airports is building those massive carparks.

      As you have noticed, our sceneries don't use orthophotos (satellite images for the ground textures). We've been thinking about it before but we agree that it looks quite ugly up close and our airports really come alive when viewed up close.

      -Jayson Ng, Bear East (forum nick: jomni)
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