Hey everyone, Matt here.
I’d like to thank those of you who dropped by our Flightsim Expo booth and also those who attended our presentation. I have a ton of information to share with you regarding the company as a whole along with all of our projects going forward. I couldn’t quite condense it into 30 minutes of presenting, so this (very long) blog post will hopefully suffice.
As I’m sure you’re all aware, Mettar Simulations and our projects - Simstall, projectFLY, PTA (Prepar3D Tweak Assistant) and the A380 have been the subject of some intense speculation over the last year, given the turbulent times that had gripped the company (I wrote an article here explaining what happened). Hopefully, this post will serve as a general update on our status and what has been occuring behind the scenes over the last few months.
To start with...
I’m pleased to report that the company has been quietly operating in its full capacity for the last few months. We’ve had a bit of time to sit back, reassess and realign our targets. We’ve also taken this opportunity to expand the team out and have made some very substantial additions to help us nail the goals we set out to achieve.
With that in mind, I’d like to take a moment to discuss the pair of new additions we’ve made to the team. I’m actually quite excited to share the experience that these two bring to the table as you’ll be able to see, quite immediately, the impact they will make on the quality of products and services we’re going to bring out.
First up, Marcus. Marcus is joining us from Raytheon, where he was a system-level verification and validation engineer, as well as being a test engineer in several radar programs. In his free time he also created a team for a NASA-run robotics Centennial Challenge. He then went to Newcastle University to pursue a Masters degree in Computer Game Engineering, achieving a Distinction in the process. Raytheon, for those who are not aware, are a large US defence contractor - for the DCS or military nuts here, you’ll know them as the folks behind the Maverick, Tomahawk and Sidewinder Missile systems. Marcus, courtesy of his existing skills and knowledge, has been brought on board to rewrite PTA from the ground up and expand upon the base level of shader tweaks present in the industry today. Once he’s done with that, he’ll be on to our aircraft projects. More on PTA and the aircraft later.
Our second addition, is Carlos. Carlos was a senior software engineer at Groupon, where he helped scale the company’s eCommerce solutions to over 30 countries. A specialist in payment management, order management, and user authentication, he has helped scale the groupon experience to millions of customers around the world, safely and securely. He has also worked for the biotech company, uBiome, where he worked with machine learning, artificial intelligence and advanced statistical techniques. We plan on harnessing Carlos’ incredible level of experience to make Simstall an industry-leading, best in class eCommerce platform that allows you to safely, securely and intuitively purchase and sell the addons that you want. Carlos is going to help us change the way the industry interacts with third-party software, forever.
On that note, let’s talk a little bit more about Simstall.
Getting straight to the point - Simstall is well in development now. We are currently in the process of putting our authentication and back-end infrastructure through rigorous testing and shakedown, to ensure that Simstall is the safest and most secure platform for customers to utilise. We are not taking security and privacy lightly, hence why we are placing extra care and taking extra time in order to ensure you feel as safe as possible when using Simstall. We’re happy to announce that we will migrate these improvements to the rest of our software line, including projectFLY, once testing and integration is complete.
Now that we’re this far along with Simstall, we’d like to open communication with developers to ensure that they’re happy with the way Simstall is shaping up and begin the process of talking them through coming on board our platform. If you’re a developer, please reach out to us - let's get the conversation started! We’ll be reaching out too, so don’t be surprised to find emails landing in inboxes fairly soon.
We’re giving you guys the lowest commission in the industry, between 8 and 12%, lower still should you choose to use us exclusively. The reduced rate means you can drop your prices for your customers or you can take home a bigger slice of the pie to enhance future development. Either way, you and your customers benefit.
We’re also going to support your legacy customers who have used other stores in the past by helping you migrate them over. One-click purchase and install capability means that your customers will thank you for having everything handled for them, with white glove service to boot.
Background updating means the moment you push something out, it lands on the user’s computer. No more wandering around forums looking for a fix. It’s sent straight to them, and you can rest safely knowing everyone is on the latest version, automatically and seamlessly.
Your customer satisfaction will be through the roof. Integration with projectFLY means we’re also driving 50,000+ users to your content - something we plan on doing to enrich the entire third-party experience.
We’re now talking to Lockheed Martin to cover off one-click simulator restoration and installation for P3D. We plan on making this a reality at launch, so you don’t need to spend hours fumbling around and reinstalling your entire simulator bit by bit, we’ll take care of it for you - simulator, addons and updates inclusive. We will extend the same to our X-Plane users just as soon as we start the conversation with Laminar Research.
We are creating a forum for you all to use, integrated into not only Simstall, but projectFLY as well, so you can discuss the addons you love with a community of like-minded individuals. Support forums are automatically unlocked for products you have activated on your account, so you can get in touch directly with the developers of your favorite addons and provide feedback to help them create the best products possible.
Lastly, we're integrating Simstall into projectFLY to make planning your next flight as easy as it can possibly be, with customised and tailored route suggestions based on the addons you already have installed as well as route suggestions based on what you could have installed.
We’re also including parameters like the aircraft types that you have installed and the length of flight you would like. Once you’ve selected what you’d like to do, you can one-click purchase and install what you don't already have, even right down to the livery you're flying, pulled via our freeware hosting arm to get you set up as quickly as possible. Yes, we’re supporting freeware products too. It’s where most of us started in Flight Simulation and it’s something we want to continuously support in the future.
We aim to create and maintain an ecosystem that takes away an hour or so of setup one has to do before actually even beginning the process of finding a flight. We will also be looking at proactively working with popular online networks and developers to discount airports that are route paired during popular events, so everyone is able to get online with the same scenery.
There's a LOT to be excited about and it's all coming together sooner than you would think. We're almost done creating the incredibly robust and secure marketplace back-end, and the work on the front-end starts next month. We will have much more for you during our presentation at Cosford, but keep an eye on our developer blog for updates regarding the progress of Simstall.
We’ve torn PTA down to the studs and have rewritten the application in its entirety, to take advantage of some of the cool new features of P3D v4.5. Bringing on Marcus as a relatively experienced HLSL developer has allowed us to do things we previously thought were never possible. We’ve also waited, watched and learned a lot from our competitors, freeware and otherwise, and have enjoyed some of the stuff they’ve come up with. There are, however, ways to do the things they’ve done better, cleaner and faster, and that’s exactly what we’ve done.
We’ve also (courtesy of v4.5), been able to take advantage of tweaking on the fly. You can now adjust your shaders while the simulator is running and see the changes in real time. It is now possible to have separate profiles for night and day and switch between the two with little to no interruption.
Beyond all of that, we’ve entirely redesigned the UI and UX, to make sure that diving under the hood of PTA is as accessible as possible, so that everyone can finetune the shaders in their sim and not just apply presets. If you should choose to utilise other presets, we’ve made creating and sharing profiles and presets easier than ever with a new system built right in to PTA.
PTA3 will enter beta testing at the end of the month and will replace PTA for the same, exact price. Existing owners of PTA can pay a £2.99/$3.99 upgrade price to get the new version or continue using the old version, which we will continue to support. We are looking to launch at the end of July, but more information and screenshots will be released at the end of the month on our developer blog.
I'm sure many of you are waiting with bated breath on the update about, at this point, the infamous A380. I'm happy to say that a significant amount of progress towards turning this aircraft into a reality has been made over the last few months.
We will leave it to the end of the year to provide a comprehensive update, but look out over the next few months for what we consider to be a technology demonstrator and as such, a demonstration of what we're capable of as a company.
projectFLY v4 + Dispatcher
On our final product update, I'd like to now show you our proprietary dispatch solution, integrated into projectFLY. We've worked really hard on making the UI as accessible and intuitive as possible, while still maintaining the level of complexity that simulation enthusiasts crave.
We're utilising a real world, dynamic route generator used every day by airlines across the world. This ensures unparalleled accuracy in the way you conduct airliner operations. It also ensures that when your aircraft is simulated to the nth degree, so is your route.
In the words of AviationCloud themselves:
Custom constraints such as minimizing time or cost, avoiding FIR’s or countries, bypassing weather or even custom-defined airspaces, provides operators with an extremely flexible way of consistently implementing the business logic that matters most. This results in full 4D route trajectories with both lateral and vertical optimization that stay-over-land, avoid terrain and meet all other designated constraints.
It’s incredibly powerful, incredibly flexible and courtesy of projectFLY, incredibly beautiful.
The dispatcher is currently in the hands of our Focus Group which consists of 40 people, who are currently shaking it down and feeding back any issues that need to be addressed prior to its launch.
We expect it to launch by the end of the month, barring any significant issues and we can't wait for people to get their hands on what we consider the most advanced and realistic method of dispatching airliner operations to date. We've priced it at £6.99 a month, which also gives you access to all of the premium features of projectFLY. A tiny preview of the dispatcher can be seen below:
Speaking of projectFLY, v4 is also now in the hands of the Focus Group and we're preparing to launch it at the same time as the dispatcher. It's the most beautiful, most accessible and easiest to use version of the app yet. We've received and acted upon a lot of user feedback and used it to improve the app across the board as seen in the following images:
New to v4, we have a globalised fleet system, so no longer do you have to tediously add each and every airframe before a flight. It's all done for you, by us.
We're incredibly proud of the community projectFLY has spawned and as such, it has had a staggering growth rate, with 50,000 total users and a 41% increase in active users over the last 6 months - the numbers speak for themselves.
We invite everyone to get involved and recently, we have started running monthly group flights and have so far given away products courtesy of Orbx and Digital Design.
It's been an absolute blast and an honour to play host to what we consider to be the best community in the industry.
Keep your eyes peeled on our blog for further updates. We can't wait to share our progress with you!
Thank you for the support!