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!