However as New Zealand is a small, niche part of the simulator scene, it is entirely possible that New Zealanders won't really get to see their own country represented in these new simulators, simply because there are not too many developers left here, and the market is tiny.
To fix this, and to give the best chance of a continuing development for all or most of these simulators, I'm putting together a project to evaluate each simulator, and produce 'Real' New Zealand scenery for as many as I can. 'Real New Zealand' has a particular meaning at Godzone, it represents the highest quality of anything I produce and normally includes a large area of photoscenery, plus one or more accurate, photoreal model of an airport within the area.
An example of this is Real NZ Dunedin, which was my latest release for FSX and Prepar3d. There are details on my website, but this represents the type of quality you can expect from this particular project.
The initial project area is not yet finalised, but I am working on the Southern Alps and Lakes, which is an area particularly dear to me. I have been working on a FSX/Prepar3d version, and have also begun on an X-plane version, which is shown in the video above. This will include a number of airports, such as Wanaka, Tekapo and Mount Cook airport.
- Flight Simulator X, FSX Steam Edition
- Prepar3d v3, v4
- X-plane 11
- Aerofly FS2
- Dovetail Games Flight Simulator World
The actual simulators supported will depend on the viability of creating and distributing scenery for a particular simulator, and the state of the New Zealand market for a simulator. For example, at some stage support for the older 32bit simulators may cease as the demand drops off, and there really is no way at the moment to gauge the viability or market for the new simulators.
- Even if you switch to a different simulator, you should have access to the New Zealand scenery that you already own;
- Ongoing scenery development for NZ simulator users;
- Putting New Zealand on the flight simulator map.
I foresee a time when just the 'current' version of each different platform will be supported, which is similar to the way things worked back in the early days.
Here's a couple of videos of a similar flight in Prepar3d and X-plane, showing some of the intended scenery.
Funds will go towards a full-time commitment to this project, and anything over the initial goal will be used to purchase some useful software, plus some more storage for the huge aerial photos which form the basis of each project.
If you want to see further New Zealand scenery development, then this is a way you can help this come about. The idea is that whatever simulator you choose in the future, or whether you stick with your current favourite, you'll have access to ongoing, quality scenery releases.
The initial Alps scenery may be followed by Real NZ Wellington. I do reserve the right to first release one other smaller scenery, such as the Coromandel Peninsula, as a 'proof of concept' for the new simulators.
This is a great time for simmers, so it is the ideal time to ensure a healthy commitment to New Zealand, and this is a way you can do that. For NZ$25 you'll receive a multi-platform version of the first scenery release, but also you'll be helping fund future releases. For NZ$80, you'll receive four releases. The higher tiers are really for those who have used my scenery for a long time, and really understand what I can produce, but also understand the need to go above and beyond to keep this niche market going. If you need to think too long about these higher pledges, then they are not for you, but if you are 100% committed to the future of NZ simming, then this is the way to show your support.
Risks and challenges
So, what can go wrong? Those who know me and support my work will know that funding is the biggest issue, so the goal is to cover the cost of supporting myself for 6 months, but things can happen which could prevent me from doing this. I'm 60 years old, and although I'd hope to do this till I'm 70, nothing is certain! I've had health issues before, which set me back a while.
Then there's the long-term success of the various simulators -- whether I can continue to support a particular simulator, or even start to support it, will depend on it's share of the market, and whether it is financially viable to develop for it. Part of this is licensing of third party addons, and whether I can sell and distribute them myself. For the new simulators, this is not yet settled.
But provided I'm still on my feet, at least some projects will continue, even if things turn pear-shaped, I'll still need to produce scenery, it's what I do for fun. Worst-case, provided I'm fit and healthy, I'd go back to spare-time development.
One thing to bear in mind is that this is the start of something, so even if your favourite simulator ended up not supported, there will be plenty of others to choose from. So whether you try one or try them all, you'll still have access to some great New Zealand scenery.
- (30 days)