Update: Since this post was published, the Vector Landclass website is now closed, but there should be a download link available on the NZ Flightsim Forum.
One of the early driving forces in NZ development for FSX was Vector Landclass (VLC), a major update of the whole country based on vector data, including revamped coastlines, rivers, lakes, roads and rail, plus a 20 metre elevation mesh. Released in 2010, it became the defacto standard for local simmers. VLC was the work of Tim Barnes, a GIS specialist, who had a great grasp of how to turn data into scenery, plus a vision of how he wanted New Zealand to be represented in the simulator.
Godzone has always been a big supporter of VLC, acting as distributor in the early days, and I've always used VLC as my 'base' NZ scenery. Godzone scenery, while aimed at the widest compatibility, was first and foremost designed for VLC compatibility, and makes good use of the free VectorLandClass Libraries, which I've contributed to over the years. Tim, and those of us who love VLC, always hoped to be able to update VLC at some point, my own particular interest was in creating custom ground textures based on real NZ aerial imagery. However, when Orbx released their NZ regions, the market became divided, and it became difficult to fund development. As Tim has built a successful career in his profession, he has had less and less time to work on VLC, so he has now decided to release it as freeware.
In reality, with our total population of 4 million, there isn't room for more than one 'base' scenery addon for simmers. I believe that VLC could have become the one, but with the market split, both options became unprofitable, and Orbx promptly quit plans for future airports. There were a number of other reasons for this -- one is the lack of local developers, Orbx's NZ was developed off-shore, so didn't rely on locals, but the one which I dwell on the most is that the 'next step' in VLC development was meant to be custom landclass textures, which was my responsibility, but fell by the wayside when I had some health problems which put me out of action for some time. Now, Tim has developed his own successful career, outside flightsim, so he has decided to release VLC as freeware.
Although Orbx had planned to release a number of custom airports for NZ, they abandoned this some time ago, not surprisingly considering that all their subsequent regions cover areas with much larger populations than NZ, therefore much more profitable. There are a few more VLC-compatible airports, but not as many as there should be. As one of the few -- less than a handful -- local developers, that's mainly down to me, and despite some major issues and delays, I'm still producing NZ scenery, and I have no intention to give up VLC-compatibility just yet. Tim is looking at ways to make VLC available for others to develop, I'm not sure what will result from this, but I'm not aware of anyone left here who could run with this. The local flightsim forum used to be a hive of activity, so this might have been the ideal platform for a community-based development, but that no longer has the membership or interest.
The point I'm trying to make is that I don't know what future VLC could have, but I'll still release VLC-compatible airports, although I also aim for Orbx compatibility these days. The old Godzone airports which have since become freeware, such as Real NZ Wellington, were VLC airports, so they are a good place to start to build a VLC-based sim. You can grab a number of old Godzone and Real NZ airports at AVSIM, just search for my name -- Robin Corn, for those who don't know me:) There's a link below which should show all my compatible scenery on AVSIM. These are designed for FSX, and may require a migration tool.
There are also some freeware airports on the VLC website. And don't forget the VLC-compatible scenery packages here in the Godzone Store, Real NZ/VLC Nelson, and Real NZ Dunedin. You could build a great local VLC-based simulator now, all for free, and test the payware waters with one of these airports! Nelson is only NZ$25, so this would be a good cheap start...
If anyone really wants to do something great with VLC development, please contact Tim or me. Sure, Orbx do some nice stuff with NZ, such as custom trees and autogen, but there's no reason why someone couldn't concentrate on these aspects for a freeware VLC -- if it's great, by all means sell it, I'd be happy to talk about the practicalities of this. I'd be keen to help anyone with an idea to develop, although at the moment I need to concentrate on Real NZ payware projects currently in development.
My freeware scenery on AVSIM - should all work with VLC! You need to have an account with the AVSIM library to download.