The painfully timeconsuming path to creating something new
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Thread: The painfully timeconsuming path to creating something new

  1. #1

    Lightbulb The painfully timeconsuming path to creating something new

    So.... I was just warned and banned from avsim for a day for having the audacity of posting the following story in the hangar chat. I am still bewildered by this experience and still await a response from the moderators over there.
    I really like to share my experience and hopefully get some good ideas from the flightsim community.

    I hope SOH does not see this as blatant advertisement and allows content like this to be hosted here. Please let me know if I'm in violation of any codes of conduct.




    Hello Avsim!

    I would like to share some of the joy and some of the agony I experienced over the past few years working on the simulation of ONE add-on for flight simulator. This is partially personal story, shameless product placement and rant. I started working on the Lockheed Vega about three years ago. The decision to work on that particular aircraft was driven by my passion for vintage aviation and the idea that the simulation of an aircraft like the Vega would be simple enough to complete within about a year time. Boy, was I wrong.

    While the essential bits of this iconic aircraft - the 3d model and textures - were completed rather quickly, the simulation of the systems is an entirely different matter. The reason being that I couldn't be satisfied producing an aircraft that just looks good and flies well - I knew from the start that it is the systems simulation that transform a good aircraft to an outstanding add-on.

    I launched Wing42 about a year ago and with it released the Lockheed Vega as an Early Access product. I received some criticism for that decision, being told that Early-Access is "money-grabbing" or "pay-for-beta". I whole-heartily disagree! While it is true that the sales I make with the Early Access definitely help financing the development, my main motivation to go down that path was to tap into the hearts and minds of the users and through the interaction with the customers shape the product as close to perfection as I am able to. And let me tell you: the feedback I received through this process has been way beyond my imagination. I can confidently say that the Wing42 Vega would've never gotten to this level of realism without the feedback and criticism gained through the Early-Access program.



    The overarching goal of this devellopment is to provide the user with an experience, rather than just an aircraft. I am trying to replicate the experience of operating an aircraft in the 1920s as closely as the platform allows. This immersion into the past is what this add-on represents - at least to me, and I hope for my customers too.

    To facilitate said immersion, I tried to replicate operating procedures well beyond the actual flying of the aircraft. With version 0.85 I implemented an interactive ground crew together with a dialog interface. The interface is used to instruct your rampie to install the various ground equipment available and he will respond to you and inform you when the instructed tasks are completed. Apart from the programming of this interface, I also commissioned some artwork to give "Heinrich" a face and I spent considerable time recording the different responses. Another example of how the Vega tries to immerse you into the 1920s lies in the design of the various 2d panels that come with the add-on. The goal with the UI/UX is to incorporate design features of that time and give every interface the look and feel of a piece of paper. As an example for that, have a look at what I am working on at the moment. The upcoming version 0.90 of the aircraft will feature the new "Aircraft Desk" which is used to interact with aircraft log and engine log as well as provide some feedback on the wear & tear of the airplane. I am currently working 70-80 hours per week on this and many other new features, in the hope to get it done by the beginning of June.



    So far I received overwhelmingly positive feedback from my customers. I can't recall a single one who was unhappy with the product as it is right now. The feedback that I get from users is mostly suggestions of things they like to see in a future update, or a report of some feature that doesn't work just yet. Despite that, sales have been abysmal lately. I am under no illusion that by itself, this project would ever be able to recuperate the immense expenses that I sunk into this project. But my hope is that the technology that I created in the process of developing this aircraft can be transferred into future products as well and in that way transform Wing42 into a viable business. However, I am still a bit disheartened by the lack of interest by the community as a whole, therefore I'd like to end my ramblings with two questions for you:

    1. What do you think is the reason for the disregard of the add-on in the wider flight sim community?
    2. I welcome any suggestions how to boost the profile of Wing42 and the Lockheed Vega.

    Lastly, I want to thank all of the supporters of my work and everyone who already purchased the Lockheed Vega already. I am certain you will be blown away with the release of the next update and I'll do my best to deliver as fast as possible.

    Kind Regards,
    Otmar

  2. #2
    That's why I hang out here and not at Avsim anymore. I love these discussions, and love interacting with developers and people who like flight simming without the drama...

  3. #3
    And, as a side note, your constant interaction with the community and release of beta product to the purchasers totally justified early access sales. Criticism should be reserved for those who sell things and don't deliver. You've delivered a million percent.

  4. #4
    To answer your questions:
    Quote Originally Posted by Vitus View Post
    1. What do you think is the reason for the disregard of the add-on in the wider flight sim community?
    2. I welcome any suggestions how to boost the profile of Wing42 and the Lockheed Vega.
    1. It's a single product with likely somewhat limited audience. Flight simming is a HUGE expanse of interests.
    2. It's your first product... It'll take probably a few years for it to really start gaining some traction....Marketing will be very important.
    3. I'll bet the audience for beta product is somewhat limited. Many people will want to pay only for finished product.

    In general, I think patience is in order on your part. My bet is interest will be slow to build, but that it will once you release the product for real. Then, I think the good thing is, hopefully you'll consider developing 2 or 3 more planes, and that the process will go MUCH faster for those planes based on your experience with this one. Having an expanded product line and high quality products like this one, will drive more and more word of mouth and more and more people to your site and to purchases.

    To sum it all up - Don't give up! You're on your way You've created something very impressive here. I imagine you already have, but think about approaching the CalClassic folks. Big audience for you there.

    P.S. Your plane is on my list of purchases to be made, likely over the next year or so.

  5. #5
    P.P.S... And not wanting to have you dilute your work, but maybe get together with a really good scenery developer and create some period airports and scenery. It's always nice to fly in context.

    Edit: I think I misworded what I meant, as scenery won't dilute your work in any way, but having to learn all you'll need to learn to create a new scenery would tend to take you away from your other work. There are plenty of people out there who you could work with to develop it... And I think such a product would be really key for a lot of people.

  6. #6
    I don't frequent avsim for the same reasons, but to stick to the topic:

    I've been through that curve myself and I believe that we'll come out of it soon. From my standpoint, the steps to growing are:
    • Quality: that's something your Vega seems to have to the max
    • Quantity: get more products out. One plane is a firework, no matter how good. Many planes are what will catch more people's attention, increasing your market. As we're doing simobjects, we need to put more products out. On the other hand, if you were developing something like AccuFeel or Chaseplane you could get 10x more sales than you would with an excellent airliner.
    • Experience: That's something where views may differ. Your Vega seems to offer the full monty in managing the machine itself. My personal preference to take this one notch further would be to add, i.e., a scenery that matches the era. Be that a different product or part of the same.
    • Honesty: Don't sell your stuff for what they're not. People hate it when they get less than they were promised. If there's a reason to withdraw a feature, be up-front and say why. If you can't do something, don't promise it.

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    3D Modeler & Animator
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  7. #7
    Well, for what it's worth, this post encouraged me to head on over to the Wing42 site to have a look. (Which I guess plays to FlyingsCool's remark "Marketing will be very important".

    It certainly looks like an impressive development and the deep simulation of systems is something that appeals to me (I've never really been a ctrl-E sort of guy). A2A have shown that there is a desire for classic aircraft with complex systems and I'm guessing that those who liked the Connie or the Strat might well line up for this too.

    The question of paying to gain early access to software is always going to divide folk. On one hand its a great way to encourage a developer and to participate in the development of the product (I know I have a smug feeling when I use a feature that I've commented on or made a suggestion to improve). On the other the FS world is littered with products where development times have stretched into the far horizons (and in some cases never been realised - the AT Sims Antonov AN2 has only now fixed stuff in the original Sibwings product of at least 6 years ago!). Not many folk have that much patience. The issue will always be whether there are enough of the former to keep the developer going until they get to release

    I guess my advice is the same as that of Winston Churchill, "Keep b***ering on!" I'm sure that the enthusiastic plaudits of your early access users will be a great aid to promotion once the product is complete.

    As to why AVSIM got themselves in a twist over this, I can't imagine. Some folk have problems recognising the commercial realities of the world in which developers often want (quite reasonably) to get paid for their efforts. Certainly it seems you ask two very reasonable questions. From my own viewpoint the Vega isn't an aircraft I would have thought have buying - I don't think I ever flew the one one if FS2004 - but what I've read on the Wing42 site has me intrigued and I'll add it to my watch list!

    Cheers and good luck - the FS community needs developers committed to pushing the simulation envelope with whatever airframe!

  8. #8
    I would echo much of what FC had to say. The passion of a developer for a particular Era of flight is something that may not be shared by others in the Community in the numbers you might have wanted or expected. Everything has a niche and depending on the individuals that can be quite vast for some (WarBirds, Business Jets and larger Commuter types for example) and not so much for others (Experimental, WW1, Amphibs) those groups are passionate to be sure, but the actual numbers may not be what you would have expected.

    Your Vega is a first rate Airplane and your desire to make it exceptional is evident, but it falls into a niche where your passion for that airplane and the Era of Flight it represents is not shared by a huge following, probably not in the numbers you had thought, IMHO.

    Your reason for the Early Access Program as a way of releasing the product and the intentions you stated as your true reason for doing so are commendable, however, in the end. . .folks see it as "I'm paying someone to beta test an airplane". Simple as that and as FC stated, the audience for Beta Testing an airplane you paid for is limited and frowned upon in most cases. This idea has been used to the point of frustration by buyers who don't think it's a good idea or good form to pay for an airplane they view as unfinished.

    You have a great product, you have a following. . . .in numbers that may grow over time and sales that will continue to happen. The best to you and your continued development.
    USAF Retired, 301st Fighter Wing, Carswell AFB, Texas
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  9. #9
    For what it's worth, Jim Young at Avsim has made minor edits to Vitus' post to remove violations of their forum policies and made the post visible again. He also added a bit of commentary in support of developer discussion.

  10. #10
    Hey guys,

    just a quick heads-up: Jim Young of avsim reacted to my message and unlocked the topic again. Not without leaving a remark (warning?). You can find it over here:
    https://www.avsim.com/forums/topic/5...something-new/

    While I disagree with his interpretation of my original post, I am glad that he allowed it for others to read and react and I would like to leave it at that.







    Thank you all for your comments and suggestions! One thing I want to stress straight away: I am actually extremely happy in the little niche of vintage aircraft and I think that it is big enough to build a business around. If anything, A2A showed us how success can be achieved within this space of aviation. While I am a wee bit disappointed about how the sales were going since update 0.85, I can appreciate and understand the hesitation many flightsimer have both towards Early Access and a newcomer like Wing42.

    What's really interesting is your suggestions of taking sceneries into the portfolio. This has also been on my mind for a long time, among a lot of other things I have planned for the future of Wing42! If only I could work faster or longer hours, I have so many ideas what should come next

    Marketing is another huge issue that needs to be tackled in one way or another. I try to get in touch with youtubers to help spread the word, I booked advertisement and I try (sometimes more, sometimes less frequent) to utilize social media to keep Wing42 fresh in the minds. But for the most part this is also a double edged sword. The more time I spend "advertising", the less time I got for the development and I really want to get the Vega out and move on to the next project...


    Thank you all for your encouragement and your suggestions! I love this community!

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Vitus View Post
    ...

    What's really interesting is your suggestions of taking sceneries into the portfolio.

    ...
    Immersion is what it's all about!


    Quote Originally Posted by Vitus View Post
    ...

    This has also been on my mind for a long time, among a lot of other things I have planned for the future of Wing42! If only I could work faster or longer hours, I have so many ideas what should come next

    ....


    But for the most part this is also a double edged sword. The more time I spend "advertising", the less time I got for the development and I really want to get the Vega out and move on to the next project...
    Yeah, there's not enough time in the day for anyone.

    This is why I suggested getting involved with one or two other people, most development is done by teams of people for this reason. Scenery development is largely a WHOLE other set of skills, and would definitely veer your focus away from what I know you want to finish...

  12. #12
    flyingscool.

    I note your copious advice to Vitus and your diatribe saying --

    P.S. Your plane is on my list of purchases to be made, likely over the next year or so.

    Perhaps if the likes of you said less about planes you have never even purchased before you passed an opinion the likes of Vitus would be better off.

    It is obvious you know nothing about the project which is fantastic.

    Buy it and then pass an opinion!!!!

  13. #13
    Speedy, I appreciate your enthusiasm I value the support you gave me tremendously! But to be honest, I am more than happy to hear flyingsCool's opinion, in part because I couldn't convince him of the product yet. I want to know why and I want to know what I can improve to convince him!

    Every one of us has reasons why we decide to spend money on add-on A but not on add-on B, and from my point of view it's not the users fault if product B doesn't sell at the end of the day. My intention is be better at what I am doing, whether that is the product itself, the support or the marketing.

    So no need to be upset at each other. We're all in different positions in life and I would love to continue an honest conversation both from people like you, who have the first hand experience already, but also from people that are still unconvinced.

  14. #14
    Niche market in a niche market. Eg vintage GA in a community where approximately 10-20 % of the people on forums will actually buy your product. I have to say this quietly though as a number of people ( even on here ) don't like to hear that this side of the market is dwindling. Look at the big boys and what they are developing. Not a single vintage aircraft. Or if it is , it's a passionate project.

    Early access is an issue even if intelligent people know that you're actually improving the product and acting upon (some of ) their wishes. Early access has been stained by the steam debacles of past. People see early access now as something to avoid. I know I would be waiting for v1.0 rc rather than early access even with the price discount.

    As for the avsim thing... it's understandable. I think they should have what they have on the sub-reddit flightsim forum or xplane forum where devs can advertise their wares on a specific section. sure the traffic might not be as great as general discussion but you are at least adhering to a convention of sorts. If anyone from avsim is looking in on this ? A space for commercial interests posting news would be quite useful in bringing more devs back to avsim after some of the community issues avsim seems to have had in the past. But at the end of the day I think avsim is for end consumers and not devs.

    SOH seems to be a little more relaxed about devs which is nice. But you still need to watch how you interact on here. This is primarily a forum for end users.

  15. #15
    Vitus,
    Anything that is non-combat or contemporary will struggle, that seems to be a brutal fact.
    I applaud yourearly access approach, as it does allow (those of us) early access buyers to give positive feed back and a feeling of involvement in bringing the Vega to fruition.
    'Early Access' is not a bad thing, having personally been involved in a couple of Race Sim projects I have gained considerable insight into project developement and the pitfalls within.
    This is a process entirely dependant on the enthusiasm of all involved, ergo the failure of certain 'Steam Efforts', due to a few rogue developers and a largely puerile audeience.
    Keep on keeping on, when the Vega reaches completion and your work becomes known, the hard yards are over!
    "Illegitimum non carborundum".
    Commodore 64

  16. #16
    It looks very nice, post some screenshots on other flightsim sites the more people that know about it the better.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by pilto von pilto View Post

    As for the avsim thing... it's understandable. I think they should have what they have on the sub-reddit flightsim forum or xplane forum where devs can advertise their wares on a specific section. sure the traffic might not be as great as general discussion but you are at least adhering to a convention of sorts. If anyone from avsim is looking in on this ? A space for commercial interests posting news would be quite useful in bringing more devs back to avsim after some of the community issues avsim seems to have had in the past. But at the end of the day I think avsim is for end consumers and not devs.
    There are a couple of ways to do it at AVSIM. You can submit a new Product Announcement/Press release or post in the Bargain Hunters forum as a Commercial Member, which Vitus is.

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  18. #18
    Hi Vitius

    I find this discussion interesting for many reasons but lets start with potential customer feedback:

    Would I buy your product? At present, no, for these reasons.

    a. I know little about the aircraft in reality so the prime interest is not there. I went to A2A originally to find a good Spitfire - in the end I left combat sims and switched to FSX just to get the A2A Spitfire. So that is the drive to get a new aircraft.

    b. I have a limited budget (very limited budget!) and need to make my purchases carefully.
    - A good demo video or a free demo version are two possible ways to attract my attention.
    - Positive customer feedback is another way.
    - And previous good experience is a third way.
    So basically if I buy a plane somewhere after being convinced by a demo video and good customer feedback and then something doesn't work and the customer service is poor I wont buy there again (this happens far too often). A good free demo version is a great way to get my money because when I have tried something and I like it I feel very obligated to make a contribution (I know lots of people don't have this compulsion but I do). There are a few examples in my hanger of planes I had never heard of where I have gone on to purchase a few planes from a developer just because I was so impressed with their products.

    So what would convince a person like me to buy?
    - An historical context for the product (I like the idea of period scenery but that is not necessarily important - a simulated airshow would likely suffice).
    - Why is the aircraft important to you?
    - Why should it interest me?
    This may all be in your website but as a busy family man (my kid is pummeling me with his pad right now!) I have little time to spend reading unless I am motivated. This thread has gone a little way to grabbing my interest, a good short/ish video would go a long way towards convincing me.

    You mentioned you have talked to youtubers about marketing. In what sense? An ad that pops up? That would cost you I bet. Has no one been willing to make a video to show off your product's features? I have a You Tube channel which I do NOT use for plugging products or doing reviews - it is just for fun - but I do know how to make You Tube videos. I know a friend of mine who has a channel of his own makes videos commercially for customers to use on their own websites or whatever. He does not do simulator stuff but has done aviation videos. If you want to ask for more information about the You Tube thing feel free to send me a personal message.

    Edit: I've had a bit of time to take a closer look at your page and see you have some perfectly good videos up there. So my comments about the video side of things are more-or-less redundant. (Remember I said my kid was hitting my round the head with his pad.....makes it hard to concentrate....)
    Last edited by Bruce66; May 18th, 2019 at 10:33.
    The Sky is the Limit
    The ground is just an unfortunate inconvenience!

  19. #19
    Expand the experience to outside of the airplane to make it stick out from all the other add-ons. All the complexity of an old aircraft doesn't work if user are flying it in a 2005 environment.

    A stretch of an air mail route, with lighted beacons, emergency (mud) fields, maybe even some Low Frequency Radio Range stations and backdated airports would be cool. Add some scenery objects like trains or cars from the period or something else. If you publish the assets you've used for that as a SDK, you might even get users interested in expanding on your original work. I figure a late 1930s FSX would generate quite a bit of interest.

  20. #20

    I like it

    Got the Vega 5 today and with the help of Vitus, it was subsequently rendered functional in P3D V3 - originally, it would install in P3D V4 or FSX; I use neither, but Vitus reconfigured the installer
    so that it would install in P3D V3 and it works great. It is an awesome experience to fly a work of art such at this and it's only a beta. It has a spark advance lever that has to be set correctly or
    else a lot of backfire will happen. There is the assistant "Heinrich" that you can call on to install/remove chocks/Pitot tube/ baggage cart and ladder. There realisim settings are a WIP.

    I have a few screen shots of some of the liveries - didn't capture all of them. I highly recommend this one






  21. #21

    More photos

    Thanks Vitus for this creation.....




  22. #22
    Well the kids have gone to bed and the wife is watching a romance so I took some time to watch the videos and read up a bit. And I see my friend Gray Eagle has purchased and recommended this plane as well!

    I am impressed with the detail of the systems etc and it looks really nice! I take it the engine sounds have not been implemented yet? Also in the videos the wheel smoke etc seems to be in the early stages - I assume that has been sorted. I think you may need some recent videos - or perhaps you are waiting for the final version for that.

    I am still struggling with the price (I know I'm mean) for a plane I never actually heard of until today. (The Electra now - that interests me!) Not that I think it is overpriced for what a person would be getting. Just on a budget a guy has to make choices somehow...

    We will see.....
    The Sky is the Limit
    The ground is just an unfortunate inconvenience!

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce66 View Post
    Well the kids have gone to bed and the wife is watching a romance so I took some time to watch the videos and read up a bit. And I see my friend Gray Eagle has purchased and recommended this plane as well!

    I am impressed with the detail of the systems etc and it looks really nice! I take it the engine sounds have not been implemented yet? Also in the videos the wheel smoke etc seems to be in the early stages - I assume that has been sorted. I think you may need some recent videos - or perhaps you are waiting for the final version for that.

    I am still struggling with the price (I know I'm mean) for a plane I never actually heard of until today. (The Electra now - that interests me!) Not that I think it is overpriced for what a person would be getting. Just on a budget a guy has to make choices somehow...

    We will see.....
    There are engine sounds....Not sure about what sounds were not implemented.

    Here is video of real deal - the one in this video is included in the vega 5.


  24. #24
    Just got this last night and got a flight in today. Engine kept backfiring then I saw the spark advance lever. Now I can make like Stan Laurel with his Model T and misuse this lever to make ear splitting bangs! Flies very well just have to get used to no flaps and plan my approaches better. Can't wait for the full version! I do have a hard time seeing under the instrument panel as it's very dark. I did find the starter though.

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by gray eagle View Post
    There are engine sounds....Not sure about what sounds were not implemented.

    Here is video of real deal - the one in this video is included in the vega 5.
    Cheers Gray Eagle, I just watched that video and was about to post it myself! Very cool!

    Love those engine sounds near the end!
    The Sky is the Limit
    The ground is just an unfortunate inconvenience!

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