Godzone in 2022

This year has been 'interesting', to say the least. I normally start a year with a list of expectations and goals, but 2021 hasn't really played ball. Although removing the pandemic from the picture, it was a very good year. I relocated to Wellington, and I now get to live as part of an extended family, which is working out well, and this year I reached 'retirement' age, which gives me a bit more freedom to choose up-coming projects. Not that I'd retire, there's still too much scenery to build.

Of course we can't remove the pandemic from the equation, and pandemically-speaking, the year has been crappy. Although I'm lucky to work in an industry which can relate to customers fully online, there are other issues which are beginning to affect the way I can operate for the next 12 months. Since the release of Godzone NZTI Taieri, I've begun three different projects, and made good progress, but two of them have had to be put on hold because of access issues. I can understand that airport management has a lot to deal with, so looking after an old bloke with a camera is not a priority.

The one continuing project is NZCH for MSFS. This was always on the books, following the release of NZCH for P3D/FSX, but the developing state of MSFS meant that I was more comfortable completing a smaller project like Taieri, while the simulator and development tools were improved and became more stable.

I'm aware that there's another developer working on NZCH for MSFS, and I've thought long and hard about how this would affect my plans. At the moment I'm keen to continue, as I love the way MSFS portrays my NZCH. It was interesting watching the Flight Sim Association's live-streamed developer panel discussion this morning, which included six well-respected developers, 3 of which have had a big impact on NZ scenery development. One of the questions related to more than one developer separately working on the same airport, and I was intrigued to hear the response from Elijah from NZA Simulations, who are also working on NZCH. He said that more than one choice for an airport was 'over-whelmingly good' for the community, and I certainly hope he is right! The other developers didn't share his optimism. Personally I think that there are too few developers and too many airports, and doubling up isn't going to solve this in the long term.

The panel discussion -- linked on FSElite -- is well-worth watching for an insight into development, it appears that all developers have very similar issues to deal with, and it's good to know that my experience of the last 12 months have not been any different from others!

As I said, I'm really thrilled to see my NZCH working in MSFS, and I do hope that this will go all the way through to completion. It's still early days, so I'm not sure when this will be ready, or even how it will be marketed, so I'll be closely following the trends in 2022. However I need to remain open to opportunities, especially if I manage to get access to the two half-finished projects.

Speaking of issues with access in the time of covid, I would put a call out to anyone who is in a position to give me access to an airport, any NZ airport, as this is the major hurdle which needs to be overcome. Yes, I have a vaccine pass, and I do have experience working in and around airports, I just need someone to see the benefit of having their airport portrayed in a modern, realistic flight simulator.

Another hurdle to overcome heading into 2022 is access to the MSFS Marketplace. My initial plans for 2021 assumed access at some point, but this is looking more and more unlikely. This is a shame, as I've always been a big fan of the Xbox, and the idea of having my scenery working on the Xbox has been a long-time dream of mine. Like many developers, I have reduced the prices of existing products in preparation for a markedly different market for MSFS, but this does rely heavily on Marketplace access.

A quick thanks to the folks at Otago Helicopters and the aero club at Taieri, whose support made it possible to do a proper job of Taieri.

I know I have only mentioned MSFS, and there's a good reason for that. However I am still keen to release dual-sim projects, MSFS and Prepar3d. I think that NZCH was my last FSX project, and I have talked about the issues with both X-plane and Aerofly FS2 for NZ developers, but if these issues (separate issues for each sim) are resolved, then I'll look at this again.

So a very merry Christmas to all those who have supported Godzone, and I do hope that 2022 actually starts to show that there's more to life than living in a pandemic. To those of us here in NZ, enjoy your summer, and fingers crossed that things are going to work out according to the current plan!

FSX/Prepar3d price reductions

I have stated before that the release of MSFS really spelt the demise of FSX and Prepar3d as a viable third party development platform. This doesn't mean that I won't release any future updates of the existing scenery projects, or any new projects, but the main focus will be on MSFS as this is where the market is.

At the moment I'm putting the finishing touches to NZTI - Taieri for MSFS, and this will be followed by NZDN - Dunedin Airport. These are rebuilds rather than ports, so there won't be an upgrade path for Real NZ Dunedin owners, but the price will reflect that.

Here's a preview of NZTI taieri in MSFS:

I may possibly release an update of the FSX/Prepar3d version of Real NZ Dunedin based on the new models/textures, but as this is not yet decided the price of the existing Real NZ projects have been reduced. Real NZ NZCH Christchurch and Real NZ NZDN/NZTI Dunedin are now priced at NZ$18, and Real NZ Nelson is priced at NZ$10.

As a rough guide, here are the prices in other currencies based on the current exchange rates:

Real NZ NZCH and NZDN NZ$18:
US$ 12.80
EUR 10.75
AU$ 16.85
GBP 9.20

Real NZ NZNS NZ$10:
US$ 7.10
EUR 6.00
AU$ 9.35
GBP 5.10

Note that these can change based on the exchange rate, so you should check your own currency exchange rate at the time of purchase.

I had planned to model the new terminal and tower at Nelson, with an update for FSX/Prepar3d and a complete rebuild to support MSFS, but the release of the NZA NZNS has made this less of a priority. However I will continue with the MSFS version of Real NZ NZCH for MSFS, and will consider an update for Prepar3d.

Cut-price FSX-only version of Real NZ NZCH now available

For those who are happy to stick with FSX or FSX Steam Edition, there is now a FSX-only version for only NZ$11.50.

Note that there is no upgrade path from this product! If you expect that you may upgrade to Prepar3d in the future, then you should consider the full-priced product, as this supports Prepar3d v3/4/5 and FSX/se.

The included scenery is the same as the full FSX version, so you won't lose any features, except upgradability.

This is a trial of a different price structure, while I research pricing for upcoming MSFS products. I have no idea at the moment whether a lower price will attract more customers, for example. At the moment I have no plans to include any other products in this trial.

2020 musings…

I haven't mentioned the upcoming Microsoft Flight Simulator here at Godzone, as it is really too early to make any judgements, and pending a lot more details of the development tools, it is also far too early to make any decisions regarding whether or not existing scenery can be updated, what sort of work it would take, and what the cost would be for those who already own a Real NZ product.

Once I have a firm idea of what is possible with the new simulator, including whether or not we can have updated versions of these airports for the new sim, I'll figure out what it would likely cost, and whether or not existing customers will receive a discount. You'll understand that at this time I have no idea. If it is going to be possible, though, I'll make it happen.

The new simulator is of particular interest to me as it included features which were missing from all previous simulators -- a reasonable-resolution aerial image base. Most Real NZ and Godzone scenery includes some photo-scenery coverage, as I always knew that this is the best way to show the real New Zealand. However creating a NZ-wide photo-scenery was always too-big a job for me, without help. Orbx have previously mentioned a 'True Earth' New Zealand, but it doesn't look like this will happen now.

So a new sim with the ability to display photo-scenery world-wide, built in, is more than I could have hoped for.