So, what’s Godzone’s plans for the new sims?

There are two parts to this, first, what I'll be supporting in the future, but initially what existing stuff will be converted.

I've always stated that I'll support the 'current' choice of simulator, aimed mainly at New Zealanders. In the past, this has been easier, as we've had only one main 'family', MSFS, so it was easy to choose FSX when it was released. Since then, the main change has been to Prepar3d, but since they share a lot of development, most developers -- including me -- were happy to support both.

All of a sudden we have a lot more choice:)

  • Keeping FSX, through the Steam Edition;
  • Prepar3d v3, which is my favourite of all time;
  • Prepar3d v4, the newly released version still in development;
  • Flight Simulator World (FSW) which is the 'new' entertainment sim built on FSX, currently in 'early access';
  • Aerofly FS2, another early-access simulator, but is a hit with some simmers;
  • X-plane 11, another step forward for Laminar Research.

Most of the discussions around the web hinge of 'what has a future', but for me, it's more important to decide 'what will be popular enough to invest in development?'  Ideally, I'd like to support all of these, but the truth is that this would be impossible for a single, currently overworked and underpaid, developer. So I'd extend this support to other developers -- if someone is prepared to produce quality New Zealand scenery for any of these simulators, I'd be happy to help in any way I could, such as marketing and sales through my current Store. But there's also advice -- first up, it's tough, the New Zealand market is tiny, and can appear to be fickle because there are just not many of them.

My initial reaction is that Prepar3d v4 will become the 'current' simulator of choice, but this may change quickly. FSX itself would normally be up there in first-equal place, but it has practically become obsolete with the current work being done on FSW*. Although a lot of people would baulk at this, we could basically view FSW as the new FSX. They have a long way to go, and frankly the 'community', market, whatever defines these things, are not that forgiving of new directions in their simulators.

So, no matter what happens, those who own existing Real NZ scenery -- that is, the stuff which is currently available in my Store, including the Subscription -- will get free updates, if and when available.

So, initially, the existing scenery in the Godzone Store, including the Subscription, will be available for Prepar3d v4. Real NZ Dunedin may be slightly delayed, and by 'slightly' I mean months, as there are some third-party tools which need to be updated first. However Real NZ Nelson, and the Subscription scenery, are practically ready to drop into P3Dv4, so I just need some time to build the installers. However one of the new directions with P3Dv3 was the way in which addons were installed, and it may be possible to simply activate installed P3Dv3 scenery -- the stuff in the 'Godzone' folder -- in P3Dv4, although there are a few extras which I'll deal with first -- things like those nasty elevation stubs, and autogen textures which live in the main 'texture' folders.

So initially there might just be a tiny little updater tool which moves half a dozen files at most, and just adds the existing Godzone entries to the Scenery Library. There was only ever meant to be one Godzone folder system for Prepar3d, so it was designed to be used into the future. If we ever need to have divergent scenery for both P3Dv3 and v4, I have a plan for that too...

What about the other choices? These are all up in the air enough (sorry!) that I can't really make any first promises, but I do have some high hopes!

  • FSW -- this doesn't have a SDK at the moment, and frankly I think it is too early to judge its success -- the community is destructive, as I've said. Plus, it's system requirements are too high for my computer at the moment, so I can't even install it. This may change, and as soon as it does, no doubt I'll be experimenting with NZ scenery...
  • Aerofly FS2 -- again, far too early, although I would love to see New Zealand photoscenery here. Photoscenery has been the poor-relation for a long time, so having a simulator where it is a major component would be great! I am currently doing some quiet experimenting of my own, but don't hold your breath...
  • X-plane. Well, this is a 'finished' product at least, and I have played with making scenery. I have never really been grabbed by X-plane, though, and neither has the NZ community. Plus, I haven't been able to purchase it yet, as it is quite expensive. It is probably going to be the first that get's a 'Real NZ' treatment, though, just to test the water...

The main over-riding limitation, though, is the small NZ market. Most keen locals already own my scenery, but it would require a continuing market growth to make it work into the future. So, what can you do? If you don't already own the current Godzone scenery, then buying it now may or may not mean that you'll already own it for future sims, but as you'll appreciate, the future is too variable to make any promises now. Except P3D v4, of course.

Supporting Godzone via Real NZ scenery is going to cost money, that's for sure, the reality is that you will need to pay for ongoing development, this isn't a market where too many users can go along for a free ride. Orbx discovered that quickly, quitting all New Zealand development plans before we saw more than two new airports. Previously, I'd looked at the NZ market and tried to determine how much each user should be expected to contribute each year for ongoing development -- hence the $100 subscription price back then. Even now, with the subscription discounted to $59, and includes a 'free' Real NZ Nelson, you would pay "only" NZ$94 for everything available now -- and more to come. Sure, I'd prefer it is NZers could have a thriving scenery development for the price of a burger lunch, but it's a niche market. And I'm talking about a great burger, for you and your loved-one, not a big Mac...

If you already own the scenery, then thanks! You too could help, by getting the word out -- user reviews are a powerful tool, if you like my work, recommend it to whoever will listen -- social media is a bit of a dirty word in the NZ flightsim community, but it could mean the difference between plenty of new releases for our sims, and the current rather lacklustre release schedule, which I'm well aware of, and mainly responsible for.

By the way, I will mention the other current NZ project, NZAA by Flightbeam -- this is still a work in progress, and it will put NZ's name back on the flightsim map, but there's a way to go, and it won't automatically mean that we'll see a huge increase in NZ releases thereafter...

*This is based on the fact that a living simulator, no matter what stage its development is at, will always be better than a great, dead simulator.

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