• Neil Birch Developer Interview

    Neil Birch Developer Interview

    Conducted By Dominic Smith

    Neil Birch

    Neil, when did you first start developing for flight simulators and what got you interested in it?

    I started way back on the ZX Spectrum 48K - I think the programme was Flight created by Psion. It was just green squiggly lines at about 3 frames a second, but it was a start. Next came the Commodore 64 (complete with external hard drive) and Sublogic's Flight Simulator II and all the add-on scenery which came with it. They even had a UK scenery disk but unfortunately it stopped at Birmingham!

    Then came the Amiga 500 which was a big leap forward! The sound for a start was beginning to sound realistic and you could look at your aircraft from the outside. It was also much smoother, but it still had no virtual cockpit (that was still a long way into the future). Green represented the land, yellow for cities and pyramids....the hills.

    It was Flight Simulator IV that really got me started into designing scenery though. I remember using programs from a guy in the states called Laemming Wheeler, but the most important program I used at that time was one from Aerosoft. With this program, plus a degree of patience, you could create your own terrain mesh and tiles. I did the whole of the UK for FSFW95 and FS98 and Aerosoft sold quite a few of these, as well as other companies such as Gametek and Instant Access. This went on for a few years but then as computers advanced, things just fizzled out.

    FSX got me back into things though, as it was a much improved simulator. Then came Instant Scenery from Abacus, and so this, coupled with my interest in flying from real farm strips; I began designing my own sceneries of them. To date, there must be hundreds!

    Neil Birch     Neil Birch

    I thought Flight Simulator Enhancer from Lago was brilliant and I can't understand why no one has carried on making that today, it was a really simple way of creating A.I.!

    What do you consider your best or most popular work?

    My best work to date is the most recent and completely re-written versions of my farm strips which I created for Dovetail Games. I also like my Lake District scenery, which, although relatively sparse, offers some very scenic views. For me personally, it's the flying and the scenery that's most important and I think some people forget about that. As well as creating sceneries of the UK, I really enjoy informing people about the history of this beautiful country of ours...especially as we have so much of it!

    Neil, what software packages and tools do you use to develop your farm strips?

    I use SbuilderX to design the undulating terrain of these rough strips, SketchUp to design the models and Instant Scenery to position the said models.

    When it comes to creating your sceneries, what do you find to be the most challenging aspect?

    Without a doubt - FSX memory!

    Neil Birch     Neil Birch

    Neil, what have been your favorite projects to date?

    That would have to be what I am working on at present - the English Lake District. When flying in a microlight, the mountains and the scenery as a whole look simply fantastic. You do however need photographic scenery for it to work.

    Do you develop payware/freeware or both and why?

    Over the years, I have done an awful lot of freeware and a little bit of payware as well. With my current Lake District scenery I'd just like to say that if you have enjoyed it - please feel free to donate. Now a pensioner, I could really do with updating my computer so as to create more sceneries.

    Tags: neil birch

    2 Comments
    1. DominicS's Avatar
      DominicS -
      Great meeting you Neil, and many thanks for all your generous and wonderful contributions.

      Dom
    1. neilfb's Avatar
      neilfb -
      Quote Originally Posted by DominicS View Post
      Great meeting you Neil, and many thanks for all your generous and wonderful contributions.

      Dom
      Thank You
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