If I was to sum up 2016 in one word…

'Erratic', maybe. It seemed at times, both personally and globally, that things were on the brink of disaster, and then I'd see a complete turn-around to save the day, followed by yet another disaster. However I've given up trying to understand the rest of the world, so I'll just concentrate on my own little corner, here in Godzone. But I'll extend this to worldwide flightsim, as this is one area where I have the most vested interest.

If the world has been particularly erratic, then we have had a preview of what to expect in flightsim in 2017. The biggest clue is in the announcements from Orbx, who have gone from a start-up to the biggest 'disrupter' in our hobby in a very short time. So if they get involved in the new and updated simulators appearing soon, then we can be pretty sure that simmers will go along for the ride. And I've learned that developers should follow, otherwise they'll get lost in the hype that the new regime generates. Yes, the market is going to get fragmented and messy for a while, but that's part of the fun.

Which reminds me, just a quick note about my recent 'dig' at Orbx regarding their decision to axe Paypal. Yes, I've well-aware that this was their only real choice for the moment, but the opportunity to promote my own scenery was there, so I took it. And it worked out for me, with absolutely zero affect on Orbx's business, so those who were concerned about poor Orbx need not worry:) They are having growing pains, that's for sure, which you only get when you grow fast. Personally, I'd be happy to live for a year on what they turn over in a day, (well, maybe two days at the moment, but I'm looking ahead to next year...) Hence the 'disrupter' label -- simming has had very few opportunities for a major upheaval, as simmers tend to be 'consistent', so it was well over-due.

Back in Godzone, though, these major developers are still notably absent. Flightbeam is working on NZAA, which will be a huge kick for local simmers, and those interested in flying in New Zealand, but Orbx is still out of the local market, and there isn't much else happening here. You'll notice I haven't mentioned Godzone, normally at this time of the year I post an idea of where I'll be heading in the coming year, but this time I won't. The market is just too erratic. In New Zealand, the interest in local simming has disappeared, the signs have been there for some time, (I covered this on NZFF.org, as some of you might have seen, but in the end there was nobody left to listen...) so anyone who is interested in having New Zealand represented well in any of the simulators would need to rethink things. Including me.

The problem is that my main interest in this is always going to be New Zealand. Sure, there are some amazing places to fly in the world, but for me, it's being able to fly places which I know, and get that instant recognition of a place that comes from viewing a photograph -- or in this case, a photoscenery. I've just reopened my 'office' after shifting house, and one of the things I've been working on is a photoscenery of my old back-yard -- Banks Peninsula -- which is a project just for me at the moment. I was thinking of releasing it for Christmas, but really I'm not too sure it would be in my own best interests at the moment. Not to mention that there are a couple of locals working on this area themselves, so I'm happy to wait and see what they come up with.

A recent post on NZFF.org included some statistics for world-wide simming, and it was quite a horrible picture. However I know that I need to look long and hard at the figures, I can't just continue to do my own thing, which I really enjoy, but part of the goal is to earn a living at the same time. The New Zealand market is tiny, back a few years ago I had about 500 'loyal' customers, that is, those who would support me if I asked, by buying every new release on release, and in some cases going well beyond that to make sure that I had an ongoing income. It was this figure which I factored into the 'subscription', which at $100 each would have given me a workable income from this base, giving me a whole year and a half to work on airports. However it didn't quite work out that way, the nature of the Subscription and the decline in local interest -- based on too many exciting things happening elsewhere -- meant that 500 had become 200, so the figures don't work any more.

To balance that, I took on a few contract jobs, almost none of which were NZ-based (the scenery, not the customers) so I've begun to see the benefit -- and fun -- of creating scenery as a business, rather than just because it is New Zealand. So maybe that's one answer, I should just follow the market overseas. Another interesting statistic -- out of my last 20 orders, 13 were from Europe, 1 from Australia, 1 from Japan, 1 from the US, and 4 from New Zealand. In the 'old days', 90% would be from New Zealand. So it seems that locals don't want local scenery. So anything I do to go after this market won't work, as the market just isn't there.

However, the worldwide market is strong, and screaming out for more developers.  I have a lot to think about in the new year.

Enjoy your Christmas, I'm currently living with my son and his partner, and their two children, 2 and 4, so I'll definitely enjoy myself as 'Pop Corn'. I'm also looking forward to the changes in our hobby next year, as I love change, even if it doesn't always support my 'business model'.

If you are a New Zealander, and would like to see a continued local development, then the one thing you can do to help is to buy Real NZ Dunedin, (and Nelson if you don't already have it*) I know there's plenty elsewhere to spend your money on, but if you do want ongoing NZ scenery, you will need to pay a little, or lose it forever.

*Although until the end of the year, you will get Nelson for free when you purchase Dunedin.

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