First of all, apologies for the lack of update last week - I was trying to post something using various bits of data from all over the USA, but I could never seen to find something that was stable enough to let me do so. Either way, I'm kinda glad I waited because this update will be a long one. Buckle up.
So, I'm going to break this down into 3 parts. The first will be about my experience overall of FSExpo, secondly will be about who I met/exhibitors/new & cool upcoming things and lastly my thoughts on the whole "PMDG 10 year development" and how overnight it's become a projectFLY meme.
FSExpo - what was it like?
I've attended the Flight Sim Show (We'll call it Cosford) in the UK for the past 5 years and up until visiting the USA for FSExpo, I assumed that Cosford was about as good as a Flight Sim conference would get. Lots of exhibitors, some speakers and a decent-ish gathering of people for some good social times.
Well. I was wrong.
I've never seen anything within our industry organised as well as FSExpo. Everything just worked. From the pre expo stuff we needed to do, to setting up, to actually doing the expo, everything was seamless. I didn't actually hear anybody complain (which for the FS industry is literally a first).
So, if you were one of the organisers (I tried to meet you all in person but there's just so many of you), give yourselves a pat on the back because you thoroughly deserve it. A huge congratulations and well done from us all.
FSExpo - sooooo many people...
1107. That was the official number of people who were due to visit over the weekend. That's a lot of people. I always assumed that my audience was primarily European so I didn't expect to really have much interaction with the general public... once I again, I was wrong.
I spent both days (apart from the hour break to go and watch the speakers - we'll get on to that in a minute) talking non-stop to fans, users of projectFLY and developers/exhibitors. I couldn't catch a break & I regret nothing. The rest of the team who came also were super busy and it even took them by surprise. I didn't meet a single person who had something negative to say, everyone was incredibly nice and so please know we are incredibly humbled and grateful. It was a surreal experience.
As far as announcements from other developers, I invite you to read any of the news websites who attended (FSElite/ADX/PCFlight) - they had solid coverage of the event all weekend, including interviews with developers.
However, I will say that GSX v2 (or level 2 as they're calling it) looks absolutely incredible (woot, BetterPushback for Prepar3D) and also MilViz bringing their 310R into X-Plane is awesome news.
FSElite announced DCTRY, which is basically a directory for all things sim - really well thought out - lots of hype around this.
Oh yeah, Navigraph had their own hot sauce, which I'm pretty sure is why the bathrooms were ALWAYS full.
FSExpo - the fly on the wall...
I almost never attend the speaker sessions at any of the conferences because usually I'm too busy, but I made a specific effort to attend a few, one of them being the PMDG session.
I'm going to be, as always, completely transparent. Some of the things I say here might sound a little left of centerline, but I get things sent to me on an hourly basis sometimes and after piecing things together, the outcome was more than interesting.
About 3 weeks ago, I received an anonymous email stating, and I quote, that I "shouldn't attend FSExpo because I'm going to have a really bad time on one of the days". Now, to put it into perspective, I always get stuff like this sent to me. Every time I say I'm going to do something outside of my office and venture in the open world, I get some sort of correspondence which tries to deter me away from doing it - I've learned to ignore it, I also ignored this... until the following happened.
The day before the Expo, I was informed that someone had complained to somebody within the FSExpo team that I was a "racist" and that letting me anywhere near the "spotlight" was a bad idea. For those of you who follow my streams, I've had an issue for the last few months with a specific individual taking, lets face it, harassment to the extreme and finding ways of publicly voicing his dislike for me over various VOIP methods.
As a result of this, all of my ties to any of the panels/public speaking exhibits were cut. I was told this was because I was too "controversial".
Whatever, I know who I am, most of you guys know I am. No big deal. I had plenty of things to be getting on with and actually it ended up working out better because I was so busy at the booth.
Ok, so the above was issue number 1. It was relatively minor, I moved on from it, by the time I was an hour into day 1 I'd already forgotten about it.
Next up it was time to go to the PMDG presentation. I attended with a few friends and we managed to sit right on the front row.
I'm not afraid of confrontation - never have been. If I don't like somebody, I have no issue with telling them/explaining myself. At the end of the day, I never dislike somebody "just because", there is ALWAYS a reason.
Let's just backtrack a few hours earlier. I attended the Streamer presentation (not as a speaker, just as a viewer). About half way through, right in the middle of a pretty lengthy, in depth discussion about how streamers plan their days and work through problems, out of nowhere Robert Randazzo runs on the stage and grabs hold of Matt Smith (Chewwy) and starts hugging (I guess?) him.
Catstrator (Ty) was the host of the panel and as much as he tried to put a humorous spin on it, you could tell he was pissed. Robert stayed up there for a few more minutes and then eventually left leaving Matt red faced - it's all on video if you don't believe me. I was embarrassed for him. I later got told that Robert actually asked somebody on the sidelines if it was a good idea for him to run on stage, and when they said no, he used the old ego inflating line of "do you know who I am?". That was the first time I'd ever seen Robert in the flesh - great first impression, eh?
Anyway, back to the PMDG presentation.
I was sat, as I said, at the front. They were having some technical issues which wasn't much of a problem - it was dealt with quickly (for the most part).
Out of nowhere, Robert spots me and walks over to me and shakes my hand. Everyone looks over and then you hear the whispers "why did he just do that".
You're probably wondering why this is so strange? Well, I can summarise what Robert thinks of me in this one sentence which was sent to me directly from him a few years back.
"You are a teenage punter living in your parents basement with no clear goals or future".
Sorry, but if that is what I thought of somebody, I wouldn't even acknowledge their existence, nevermind shake their hand.
Anyway, the presentation continues...
The first part of it was actually quite good - I enjoyed his sense of humor, heck I even felt somewhat emotional when he mentioned that Vegas had a special place in the heart because of what it meant to both him and his wife.
He's a good public speaker, there's no doubt about that.
By now, you already know what their 10 year development announcement is. "Global Flight Operations". If you were in any livestream at the time of the announcement, you'll already be aware of the reaction to it. It was, without a doubt, unwelcome. You are also more than welcome to read any of the News outlets (FSElite/ADX/PCFlight) and also reddit/facebook/twitter to see the absolute disappointment from the community.
PMDG are renown for making Aircraft. They do it very well. You're telling me that they can make a 777 in circa 4 years, but it takes them 10 years to make something like that? I'm sorry, but they're fooling nobody, certainly not me.
Everything Robert announced with GFO, at some point, has been discussed publicly by myself with a view to integrating it into projectFLY.
Pricing wasn't mentioned, but PMDG being PMDG, it'll be behind a paywall. I can guarantee that.
So, was I pissed? Yeah. Does that mean we're quitting? Not a chance. In fact, this has given us an even greater reason to make projectFLY into something that cannot be rivalled. We've already got the foundation, we've already got the player base, we've already got the support. Without all of that, i'd be worried, but I'm absolutely not. So thank you, for inadvertently being the backbone in what we do.
Alright, with that out of the way, in the next section I'll outline what you can expect to see from projectFLY. Everything I'm about to tell you has already been discussed in public before so for the die hard fans, it won't really be anything new but for the newcomers, I hope it sheds some light on the reality of our long term goals. Timeline? We have a full time development team working around the clock now - although I'm not entirely sure, we're talking months at most. We'd love to release it by the time the Flight Sim Show at Cosford happens (October this year).
Just as a quick heads up, we're passed the whole GDPR headache (we've still got some more minor things to add, but we're compliant so GGWP).
As it stands, projectFLY has only a "sandbox" environment available to it's users. The idea of the sandbox environment was to allow people to utilise all of the projectFLY tools/features whilst flying what they want, when they want & how they want whilst building a foundation of data for us to use as we develop the non sandbox environment that we're calling projectFLY World.
projectFLY World has been in development for about the past year (just to give you some sort of perspective). Some of the features listed below wont be exclusive to projectFLY World, you may also see parts of them within the sandbox environment.
- Simulation of the real world aviation economy with fluctuations just as per reality (fuel costs/handling fees/diversions/political environments/maintenance for example).
- Users can own/run airlines within projectFLY World using already existing pilots that use projectFLY
- Users that own/run airlines can buy/rent & lease aircraft using loans or earned money
- Airlines can create their own routes and generate revenue in a dynamic economy based upon passenger/cargo/other demands etc.
- Private pilots can rent/buy their own aircraft - either for training purposes or to just enjoy flying.
- Sharing of fleet between projectFLY users
- Persistant aircraft states
- Example: User A flies an easyJet A320 with registration G-EZTA from Manchester (EGCC) to Palma (LEPA). On landing, we take all of the sim data and upload it to projectFLY. User A can then share that specific aircraft to another user within projectFLY who can then load into the simulator at the exact same place user A left off, in the exact scenario user A left the aircraft in.
Dispatcher & Ops
- A fully functioning dispatcher with the following features:
- Dynamic Route Generation
- Payload (weight & balance) based upon real world data (or manual entry)
- Correct SID/STARS
- Correct altitude restrictions
- Airspace restriction compliance
- Fuel Flow Calculation
- Flight Plan Optimization
- Briefing Generation
- Export Options
- In addition, we're including the following operational features:
- Performance Calculations (for all Aircraft)
- Gate assignments
- ACARS integration (as a 2D panel) to access data such as performance/weather/general flight data
- In house autosaving to allow you to either recover from a crash or to use for recreation of specific segments of flights
- Screenshots & video snippets that are saved to your profile with the ability to share them among users of projectFLY.
- Provide utilities to various online networks to:
- Monitor autopilot system and MCP usage to determine how a pilot has flown the aircraft.
- Verify hand flying ability for various procedures
At this time, although development has begun, we're keeping anything Simstall related close to home until we're all in agreement that we've got enough to share.
The A380 continues to be a part time development whilst we focus on projectFLY & Simstall. Keep an eye on future dev updates for any changes regarding this.
That concludes dev update #4 - If you have any questions/suggestions or would like to get in touch, we're available on all social media, using the comment section below or you can email [email protected]