• Op-Ed: Flight Sim Community Encouragement

    Flight Sim Community Encouragement

    By Paul Mort

    This is not a tutorial, it's not a review, so what is it...?

    I'll tell you. After years of being in contact with many other fellow simmers, the band of brothers, as I affectionately call our 'gang' of seasoned developers, quickly came to the same conclusion: we all need to encourage new people to join our squad. Be it scenery, aircraft or object design, or something else entirely (for those who are feeling more adventurous), we need to nurture the skills of the 'young' as they learn. But we also need to preserve and encourage the creative talent we already have.

    We would like to preserve our hobby but according to those in the know, we are actually in decline, not only in numbers but in our passiveness towards the hobby we love (and I include myself in that). I, and many others I am sure, do not want to be the part of this wonderful community that gradually slips into extinction. I don't believe flight simming as a hobby will ever die but can you imagine a flight simming world without new add-ons? What a dull world it would be!

    So what, in our humble opinion is the solution to the future of our community? My 'ole grandma, bless her cotton socks, would sometimes grumble about 'the youth not being like that in her day.' Well the 1800's was a long time ago (pause as grandma whacks grandson with a rolled up newspaper. After much sobbing...) and things have changed, moved with the times. The internet has made the world a smaller place but where has our community spirit gone? You certainly won't find it down the back of the sofa. In order to rediscover it, and help the community flourish, we all need to play our part. If it's a lack of knowledge, and difficulty in finding the help they need to produce quality aircraft, scenery or objects, that prevents new people from making their contribution to the hobby then I think those in the know need to be open with possible solutions for them.

    If, on the other hand, it's a sad case of having those that contribute and those that don't... then, my fellow flight simmers, why not try getting involved. A little effort never did anyone any harm and you are probably better at design than you think because you already have a deep and vested interest in the hobby. (Everyone knows that if you have an interest in something, you will achieve far more in your chosen subject/area because you already have a desire to learn more, to explore.) And take it from me, there's a certain satisfaction in creating something and then giving it away to people in your community who appreciate it and will use it. Who knows, it could be the start of a whole new career (or back to work for those people who thought they would have a nice easy life when they retired)! The strange thing about uploading your work to a site is that sometimes the stuff you think would be popular doesn't always take off in the way that you think, whilst the off the wall things you deem not exceedingly wonderful, can take off like a fire cracker! It's a funny business this!


    17 Comments
    1. DominicS's Avatar
      DominicS -
      Nicely put Paul, well done!

      Community participation is the key to this hobby's longevity. Without this vital element, it will dwindle into obscurity.

      Many thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      Dom
    1. liner simpilot's Avatar
      liner simpilot -
      What you said in the posting is a lot of info, but it is well written. I have also started back in FS98, now I have FS2004 since it came out and seen it grow to FSX. I have always been appreciative to all the efforts of creating freeware for this hobby. I give thanks on my screenshot for most of my pics, if someone asks what the panel or plane I answer with whatever the download item is. These downloads plane's & scenery's are amazing as for freeware. Kenny
    1. bwa's Avatar
      bwa -
      Great post. I needed some time thinking about it.
      I love creating new content. I basically build whatever I am motivated to make it look nice.
      It feels great to share this with the community. And it's quite easy to do with the current tools available.
      This post made me think about being not only more involved in creating content, but also to support potential creators some more. Great food for thought.

      Happy landings,
      Nils
    1. SWM1968's Avatar
      SWM1968 -
      Many thanks Paul, great article. As far as I am concerned the more people to activley support the various sims the better.
      One thing that I do think some members need to watch is how they reply to uploads ( both good and 'less polished'), questions or queries because everyone has to start somewhere and a critical post early doors can easily put people off further activity. Constructive critisism is one thing, however on occasion things go beyond that... not good in my opinion.
      Anyway, getting as many people involved as possible will keep our hobby, obsession or life alive for many years to come. My advice, is give it a go, start small, keep at it and you will be amazed at what is possible.
      Stuart
    1. jamesdeburghe's Avatar
      jamesdeburghe -
      If you want a community of simmers then you have to think beyond Europe and North America, in Asia there are allready more FS9 and FSX users than in the rest of the world combined. The community has to become a little more global. It is a great 'hobby' , if I may use that horrible word. But you wont see it grow without a concious effort to bring more countries into the fold. And encourage designers to post their offerings from a wider pool of creativity. The decline you speak of is local to the community you percieve, elsewhere simming is booming.
    1. Nels_Anderson's Avatar
      Nels_Anderson -
      Hi James...Interesting comment. How would you suggest reaching out to these others? The language barrier is an obvious problem too. I've long noticed a shortage of flightsimmers from that part of the world but had not idea what to do about it.
    1. bwa's Avatar
      bwa -
      I do experience this as a hobby, James! I don't think the word is that horrible, per definition.

      I, also, don't have a good idea how to bring multiple communities from around the world together.
      But. Wasn't it always global? I do see some simmers stay within their own national or regional community but I'm not sure if it is any 'worse' than before? Might be because my XPlane point of view is limited, though.

      I have nothing solid to back it up with, but I have a feeling this is not the only issue.
      What do the flightsim.com visitor statistics say? Or is that not a discussable option to review?
    1. karpathos's Avatar
      karpathos -
      While basically right, as somebody who has been developing ad-ons since FS4 I also have to point out that we also do not live in isolation. I might be able to create programs and scenery but I can't be everywhere in the world to do that. Without input, pictures and data the best I can get together is add-ons in the out-of-the-box FS quality. Those already exist. No need to do them over to get my name in print.

      And every time I attempt to make a worthwhile project always fails for the same reason, collaborators loose interest when you actually need a longer time to create something better than the out of the box stuff. Like my last attempt, a VFR quality scenery of a Central American country just petered off after a few months into the project. So I am sitting on about 1/3 of the project in need of Beta testing and 2/3 yet to be done.... which can't be without tester and further input.

      That kind of spoils it.
    1. jamesdeburghe's Avatar
      jamesdeburghe -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nels_Anderson View Post
      Hi James...Interesting comment. How would you suggest reaching out to these others? The language barrier is an obvious problem too. I've long noticed a shortage of flightsimmers from that part of the world but had not idea what to do about it.
      Hi Nels,
      The language barrier is not that great, most people who are into simming get by with some English or use some clever software that translates screen content into their own language. I live and work in China and here there are around 4 million simmers who are registerd to sim clubs and countless others who are not. One thing that might help here is establishing satellite sites that redirect users to your main site dot cn, dot com dot cn are commonly used. Equally membership fees are a problem, you cant rely on the same methods that work in Europe or North America. Emsisoft (the Anti-virus company) seemed to be the only people whi have soleved this without opening an office here. China gives you easy access to the entire ASEAN region - a market of around 2.1 billion consumers. If you want to pursue any of this feel free to contact me at jamesat1st-sim dot com.
    1. jamesdeburghe's Avatar
      jamesdeburghe -
      Quote Originally Posted by karpathos View Post
      While basically right, as somebody who has been developing ad-ons since FS4 I also have to point out that we also do not live in isolation. I might be able to create programs and scenery but I can't be everywhere in the world to do that. Without input, pictures and data the best I can get together is add-ons in the out-of-the-box FS quality. Those already exist. No need to do them over to get my name in print.

      And every time I attempt to make a worthwhile project always fails for the same reason, collaborators loose interest when you actually need a longer time to create something better than the out of the box stuff. Like my last attempt, a VFR quality scenery of a Central American country just petered off after a few months into the project. So I am sitting on about 1/3 of the project in need of Beta testing and 2/3 yet to be done.... which can't be without tester and further input.

      That kind of spoils it.
      I agree with you, in so far that I have collaborated in several projects that have died because others loose interest or pull out. I tend to work in isolation now producing scenery for the local market. Not because I dislike the global market but because it is near impossible to upload to the large freeware sites from where I am. In the reverse situation I have often wanted to download some great addons but cannot because the links time-out. Some developers are kind and provide a direct link when you tell them of the problem others ignore me.
    1. jamesdeburghe's Avatar
      jamesdeburghe -
      Quote Originally Posted by bwa View Post
      I do experience this as a hobby, James! I don't think the word is that horrible, per definition.

      I, also, don't have a good idea how to bring multiple communities from around the world together.
      But. Wasn't it always global? I do see some simmers stay within their own national or regional community but I'm not sure if it is any 'worse' than before? Might be because my XPlane point of view is limited, though.

      I have nothing solid to back it up with, but I have a feeling this is not the only issue.
      What do the flightsim.com visitor statistics say? Or is that not a discussable option to review?
      Actually no it was not ever global as far as the MS software is concerned. Most of Asia relies on the Japanes version of FS9 and FSX which are I suppose grey imports. As far as X-plane goes I have no direct experience, but certainly it's user base in China is very small.

      The internet gives us the means to create global communities (not without some difficulty) but surely the biggest barrier is our own comfort zone, we can't imagine a different viewpoint from our own experience.
    1. bwa's Avatar
      bwa -
      Well. I can imagine a different viewpoint. I just don't know what is factual.
      And my comfort zone. Well. It's there for a reason. But that is a different story.

      I like to work solo as well. Just building whatever I personally miss in XP, and share it. And I am glad people like it. I feel like I maybe could work together. But I'm quite an introvert solo kind of guy who does not like being dependant that much. But that's just me.

      The laguage barrier is an issue. Translating software is available but sometimes all that comes out is nonsense. Simple translations work. But whenever someone starts describing sim problems for example, it can become quite hard to find out what the problem is.

      But I think I lost my head here. What is it that should be done here? Do we have to reach out more globally? Do we have to invite other regions in? I read something about downloading and uploading not being possible. Is there a question if creators can create collectively and i.e. scenery for other regions?

      Or is this about users just downloading, not commenting, very few new creators. And a community that is very fragmented?
    1. RatRace's Avatar
      RatRace -
      Interesting discussion, but I'm not surprised that the flight sim community is so fragmented. Every Tom, Dick and Harry can set up a forum on the internet these days. Just my 2 cents.
    1. Nels_Anderson's Avatar
      Nels_Anderson -
      I'd certainly like to pursue attracting people from parts of the world that we currently don't reach. Just not sure how to do that beyond what we already do...anyone with internet access can already reach us.

      The fragmentation mentioned is also something I see as a problem. People having their own web site is certainly just fine, but if those people stick entirely to themselves and don't participate in the larger community sites like this one both they and the larger community miss out.
    1. welker's Avatar
      welker -
      Thanks to Paul Mort for that thematics.
      It is worthful to think about it and I agree with him.
      All members of Flightsim.com and also those of other sites are happy to get such a incredible choice of free addons. Some like me, are using this great opportunity for many years. But not all are participating with their own creative work. I do! I began allready 1 year after I have started with FS98 in 1999 with creating or improving 2D panels. First only for my own, later I began upload my modest improvements. In 2014 I began to learn FSDS and in the meantime I love 3D-modelling as hobby very much. Alltogether I provide now almost 600 addons - a return to the community.
      But of course I am not a reference, neiter in the amount, nor in the abilities. I don't know how to create gauges, I am no expert in FDE tuning or sound making.
      Not every flightsimmer is an expert in photoshop work, 3D-modelling, sound-, gauges- or scenery creation. But I would expect just a minimum of contribution. At least a minimum of feedback.
      My e-mail address is in all of my readmes in all of my addons. But if a downloader experience a malfunction in one of my addons which works properly in my FSX normally I do not get any mail.
      But very quickly I find bad or worse words in the Reply-option at Flightsim.com. And suddenly 10 or even 20 other persons are following with cheap and worthless negative critics. But hardly I can find any good reply concerning my addons.
      This are not constructive feedbacks which are positive for all: the developers and the end users; that's just demotivating! Sometimes I have considered allready to stop to upload my addons.
      Very seldom, but sometimes I get emails from persons who tells me that they are happy with my addons and they are eager waiting for my next project. That is always a motivation for me.
      But sometimes I get e-mails from persons who writes in the style of a SMS: without even starting the mail by using my name, they are just asking if I could build this or that. And at the end of the mail there is no Regard and even no name to the asking person.
      That can't be the future of flightsimming: that could be the end!

      Erwin Welker
    1. vflight2's Avatar
      vflight2 -
      After reading all the comments above I see some great thinking and some barely veiled bitterness over past community interactions and exchanges on many topics from addons to corporate mergers. I have been into the bitter tea a time or three myself, not something I am boasting about. In the last decade of my near 40 in flight simmimng I find that it's good to recall the days when flight "simulations software" was also simple fun; Aces Over The pacific, Aces Over Europe, and several others were great mixes of simulation and arcade fun. I have learned not to take anything too seriously, even flight simming, but I must admit in the current swim within our super critical flight simming communities its getting tough to smile and stay positive........... Good golly how I loved the Aces series...., maybe ..just maybe bringing some "simple fun" back to our "hobby" would help a new generartion to join in at least the Fun!
      ~Doc~
    1. jdredding's Avatar
      jdredding -
      Unless you are only interested in how many times your work was downloaded, I have been one of the freeloaders since FS4, a couple of years after it came out. About the time a new version came out I was trying out the previous version. I may have done better with buying FS98 and definitely better with FS2004 which was /is my favorite. I received FSX as a Christmas gift and could not install it for months because my computer and FSX were not compatible. I was never able to interest my grandkids in MSFS because they were into other gaming, but they suffered through a few lessons from Pa-Pa. Before FS2004 I actually did my real solo flights but did not complete my license requirements as it was and is an expensive hobby. Too bad I did not have FS2004 before taking those lessons, it would have made those lessons so much more fun and given me more confidence in my flying ability. My computer and technology have not kept pace with the capabilities of FSX so my amount of time has been on a steady decline for a few years-- I'm now 71. I very much appreciated the work of the creators whose panels I often redid to my liking. With FS2004 I actually redid a local airport from scratch because the original in FS2004 was in the wrong location-- had a bit of trouble keeping trees from growing in the tarmac, but fixed that. With this fast moving world, I can believe that Flight simming may be losing out to other games. The higher cost of real flying lessons etc may be some of it. It takes a lot of time to create planes and scenery and younger folks are looking for instant gratification. I never had the time or pactience to make a sim flight of an hour or more. This is a big negative for younger folks. I do not want this to sound discouraging. A majority seem to favor 3D cockpit, but I have always liked the 2D though I admit there is a more realistic sense of motion using the 3D. I just like the visuals of the 2D panel. I do want to see flight simming continue. Perhaps more interactive missions or online activities (which I never tried) would bring back some interest. - Joseph
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