• Interview With Richard Elliott X-Plane Developer

    Interview With Richard Elliott X-Plane Developer

    Conducted by Dominic Smith


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

    I started in the late 90s, back in the days of FS5.1, mainly because I wanted customised scenery for my own favourite airports. I had been a railway modeller for many years previously so making my own scenery was just a natural thing to do, and doing it digitally is a lot less messy than Plaster of Paris and paint!

    Richard Elliott     Richard Elliott     Richard Elliott

    With FS5.1 I very quickly found myself spending more time developing scenery than actually flying. Eventually, mainly because of other pressures on my time, I gave up both flying and scenery development for many years. A couple of years ago I drifted back into flight simulation with X-Plane and this time it only took a matter of weeks before I was off again on the scenery development kick. It's addictive!

    What made you decide on X-Plane over MSFS?

    Well, I wasn't really intending to get back into flight simulation in a big way - just looking for a fun app for my smartphone. X-Plane was available and had good reviews. I was impressed so I bought the desktop version just to explore the possibilities a bit more and very quickly realised that it had a lot of scope for scenery design. Within a few weeks I was hooked!

    Richard, could you tell us about the nature of your designs and what you do?

    I guess I'm best known for my 3D buildings because that is mostly what I upload, but I actually do a lot of scenery for my own personal use. My airports tend to be a very sterile-looking exercise in accurate scale modelling of building layouts, though without any of the fancy extras everyone wants, so I don't bother to upload them. Most people would find them incredibly boring.

    Richard Elliott     Richard Elliott Northern England For FS5.1     Richard Elliott

    What do you consider your best or most popular work?

    My own all-time favourite was actually one of my old FS5.1 projects. I did the whole of Northern England from Latitude 54 (where the Apollo commercial add-on stopped) to the Scottish border where my scenery blended into another add-on (see picture above, center). Those were the days before terrain mesh so the entire landscape, much of which is mountainous, had to be made from 3D polygon objects. It was crude by modern standards, but a real challenge and fun to do.

    My most popular work, in terms of downloads, is my RE_Library but that is simply because people don't have much choice about downloading libraries. My current Seasons add-on is rapidly becoming popular and I think that is a better indicator that I have made something people genuinely want.

    Richard Elliott     Richard Elliott     Richard Elliott

    For those who don't know about your RE Library, could you tell us a little about bit it?

    The first objects I designed were just for my personal use in a few of my own sceneries. I thought they might be useful to others so I uploaded them, and they got a good reception, so I started designing more buildings that I thought might be of more general use. Once I had uploaded a dozen or so object collections, I thought it would make life easier for scenery designers if I gathered them all together in a library. I thought it would be used mainly for personal scenery designs but, to my surprise, a few well-known designers began to use it in their uploaded scenery and it soon became one of the mainstream scenery libraries. I guess the main reason for this is that it includes a range of airport terminal buildings designed to be used in a modular way, so it can be used to make "semi-custom" terminals without fiddling around with facades.

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

    The background research. I'm very much a technical modeller, not an artist, so there is no way I could model a building with just a few photos to guide me. I spend a long time searching the internet for documents, dimensions and technical drawings and fill pages with notes and sketches. I can easily spend two weeks researching something and then run up the Sketchup model in a couple of hours.

    Richard Elliott     Richard Elliott     Richard Elliott

    What have been your favorite projects?

    I mentioned the Northern England scenery above, but another favourite is my collection of ex-RAF control towers from 1934 to 1955. Not one of my best technically, but I am interested in military history and the research was very enjoyable.

    1 Comment
    1. Raffles S.A.'s Avatar
      Raffles S.A. -
      Richard is certainly very dedicated and his work is much appreciated.
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