Hello all, Matt here!
It's been quite some time since I posted any real update & for that I can only apologize.
Interestingly, I always feel like I'm keeping everyone up to date with things because I speak frequently & openly about things during my Livestreams (pls follow <3). I forget that not everyone watches them and thus we end up in a situation like we're in now... my bad!
Okay, so I'm going to assume the last thing you were made aware of was the Q1 update that was posted in June. If you've not read that, give it a quick read before you continue - then we're all on the same page.
The theme of this update is community.
Since the Q1 update a lot of things have happened (mostly negative). Having said that, what I/we witnessed last month was nothing short of incredible. It really put this whole "thing" into perspective. If you've no idea what I am talking about, bear with me... :)
In the June update, you heard of "our" new recruits. Everything seemed to be going in the right direction. I was leading the technical side, Aamir was leading the administrative/financial side (he came on board at the start of the year as a new investor). We had a team of 10, all full time.
Sadly, it seems whenever the term investor/investment is used anywhere near me or my projects, it never comes good & all seems to eventually, go to shit (if you followed the story from the first investor back in 2017/18, you'll understand what I mean).
So for the second time (and FINAL, I will come on to why in a second), the agreed investment didn't happen, people went unpaid & eventually everyone went their separate ways. It was literally deja vu.
I completely understand there will be a myriad of keyboard warriors who proclaim to understand everything to a level better than me and thus will spew their limited vocabulary all over the Internet to try and prove just how utterly incapable & worthless I am as a human, and there's absolutely nothing I can do to stop them, but please if you read said drivel, remember that we're all human & peoples livelihoods were affected by this. I'm not sure why anyone would want to gloat over the scenario which occurred but there are some sick, twisted people out there.
If you watched my presentation at FSExpo in Orlando, you'll have heard me say we were a few weeks away at most from releasing projectFLY v4. This was the case and we left Orlando assuming we'd go home, work on the outstanding tasks, then release v4 (along with a new version of PTA too) within the month of July. Sadly that never became a reality because of said investment failure.
Before I move on - to the team (you know who you are), thank you for your patience & complete professionalism whilst enduring the opposite behavior from the people who should have been setting an example. You're now on my "I owe you a LOT" list & should I ever make it to a point of financial success, I will at least offer some sort of personal compensation.
So... what now?
I'll be honest with you, after the second investment failed and word started to get out, the sheer amount of hate that came flooding my way was all a little too much. If you didn't see it at the time, you've probably seen it since. From petty things like people telling me to just quit, get a "real job" or even... wait for it... go back to being 550lbs because I was more successful then, to the usual death threats and general chipping away at me from any possible angle.
I ended up taking just over 2 months away from it all. I worked with my Therapist and Doctor to work things out.
During that time, I really focused my energy on learning as much as I could about the skills that projectFLY/PTA/Simstall/A380 needed in order to continue existing/being developed.
Whilst all of this was on going, I found myself between a rock and a hard place.
projectFLY I've always paid for out of my own pocket, even before the subscription system. Once subscriptions became a thing, it just made it easier on my bank balance but, it never paid for itself - In fact, it went the other way. As the growth of projectFLY snowballed, so did the infrastructure/operating costs.
Due to the lack of investment finances, I always paid people out of my back pocket as soon as I got any money. This in turn bled my finances dry & in July I sent an email out explaining the scenario - essentially I was trying to promote the subscription/donation system as I knew I couldn't maintain it for much longer by myself.
Unfortunately, although there were some really generous donations from members, we never managed to cover the costs back in July. Subsequently, August & Septembers bill went unpaid and eventually our host, Google, suspended our servers and projectFLY went down.
To say I was crushed was an understatement. I genuinely thought that was it. I had nobody to turn to because it's normally me that people turn to in financial difficulty... or so I thought.
I made a post on Facebook explaining the situation. Initially, it was to just explain what was going on, I didn't ask for donations, I didn't ask for help, I just simply explained what was going on. Within about 5 minutes that post was shared/reposted everywhere and people were sending so many messages asking if they could donate to bring things back up.
I assumed because my previous email hadn't worked, that there wasn't enough people either interested/able to help support projectFLY financially, so I didn't even think of setting up a donation page.
Needless to say, less than 15hrs later, projectFLY was back online. It was completely funded by its users, zero third party investment required.
PS. You can support us & keep projectFLY alive with a recurring or one time donation here: https://www.paypal.me/mettarsim <3
Even typing this now, I am filled with such a deep sense of humbleness & warmth. It's truly one of the best moments I've had to date within this industry & I have had my fair share of incredible moments.
As a result of this drive to bring projectFLY back online, I was approached by industry experts who were willing to volunteer their time and skills to help with things like reducing costs/infrastructure setup/coding/marketing/you name it.
From that moment, v4 was back on the cards and we've been working on it ever since.
If you are one of the people who donated/volunteered your services, seriously thank you from the absolute bottom of my apparently black heart. You don't realize just how much it means.
To the future!
In order to not suffer the same fate for projectFLY as we did last month, we need to get v4 out before the next billing cycle (mid December).
I am completely relying on the support from projectFLY members to purchase one of the subscriptions (they start at £1).
Members who are currently signed up to any of the subscriptions will be moved across to the supporter subscription at the same price as the current subscriptions. If you want to edit the amount, you'll be able to do so within your settings.
For example, let's say I am currently a Gold subscriber. Once v4 is released, I will be automatically moved to the Supporter subscription with a monthly cost of £4.99.
More information about subscriptions will be published before the release including an invite only (providing you're willing to pay :P) lifetime subscription that we're yet to figure out a name for.
We're in a good place right now in terms of time line - we're going to push out some final beta builds to the focus group (testing group) over the next week or so, fix anything that crops up and then get everything prepar3D (lol) for release.
As much as I say the above, should we not be able to release it for that billing cycle deadline, I may, depending on my own finances, do a final donation drive to cover the server costs. Anything that is donated will only ever go to our services, you can be 200% sure of that. I will, when I find a bit more time, post a breakdown of costs and also a road map of things going forward.
Also, we normally celebrate version releases with a group flight on VATSIM. However, due to them permanently banning me without any word as to why, that obviously cannot happen and thus I need to find a different way to celebrate the release. If you have any ideas, please get in touch!
The link to donate (PayPal) is https://www.paypal.me/mettarsim
projectFLY v4 preview screenshots:
What about the other projects?
Remember, beyond the volunteers who are volunteering their time for just projectFLY, I am a one man band. This means that PTA, Simstall, A380 and any other things I was once working on with others, is now just me.
None of the current projects that have been announced are dead/canceled/not happening - they are all still in the background & are very much being worked on when I get the time/feel like a change of scenery.
I didn't realize just how many people were willing to help me achieve the goals I want to achieve.
With that in mind, if you have a skill set that you think I may find useful and you're willing to volunteer your time, I will love you forever. You can contact me via email/discord/twitter/twitch/facebook - any method works.
All I ask is that you are completely honest with your skill set and skill level. Too many people come to me proclaiming to be the next Elon Musk but end up being Barney the Dinosaur. What a terrible analogy.
That's all for now.
Thank you for reading my TED talk.
Seriously, it's a long post so if you made it to the end, thank you for sticking with me. I am confident with you behind me (no surprises pls), we will build something incredible.
I love you all, even the haters <3
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]