I'm really at the half-way point delivering on the Kickstarter project, given that I had to supply a 'delivery' date, and went for six months. Just to clarify, though, without appearing to be making excuses, the goal was to come up with a workable plan for multi-simulator scenery projects. So I'm on track, even though we won't see an actual release for a few more months.
So what will we see, and when? The project which illustrated the campaign was the Alps and Southern Lakes, as this seemed a great candidate for a multi-sim release. This is well-underway, but it really needed to be put on hold for the moment, in favour of another project.
The issue was with Aerofly FS2, which I hope to be a major part of Godzone/Real NZ in the future.
The problem was that just plonking a photoscenery into Aerofly NZ would be kind of strange, as the 'base' NZ at the moment is a default very low resolution imagery, and mesh, so there'd be nowhere to fly except within the Alps/lakes area. So I had to look for a solution which would still match the goals of the multi-sim project.
The solution, hopefully, is an airport-based project, and for a number of reasons, I've chosen NZCH -- Christchurch International Airport. Although for FSX/Prepar3d this will include a large area of Canterbury as proper 'Real NZ' photoscenery. I also hope to release an X-plane version of the airport only. More on X-plane shortly...
To solve the issue of no real 'base' scenery for Aerofly NZ, I've been talking with IPACS, and we have a plan to produce a full NZ photoscenery to act as a base for anyone who wishes to produce a nice NZ airport scenery.
Note that there's plenty of 'hopefully' and similar vagueries, which I am painfully aware of, but here's the current thinking about Aerofly NZ, and future Real NZ/Godzone projects. If IPACS releases a NZ scenery with my help, I hope to include it in the Kickstarter campaign. So those who contributed for more than a single project would receive the NZ scenery as a Kickstarter reward. However this would need to be via my own site, not via Steam or elsewhere. I also hope to have this in my own store, but it would be a payware product via Steam first and foremost.
However NZCH for Prepar3d/FSX will be the first release 'reward' for most contributors. If and when it is released for Aerofly FS2, those who contributed for more than one project may also own the Aerofly NZCH, again downloadable via my store, depending on when it was completed.
Kia kaha, Christchurch
Christchurch is a great project for me, and well suited to the multi-sim concept. It was the first international airport in New Zealand, and is currently the country's second-busiest airport. I was born and bred in Christchurch, but have not lived there for more than a year, so I can now view it from a (short) distance, which makes it easier to see from the perspective necessary to build a great scenery.
Christchurch suffered badly from the earthquakes in 2010 and 2011, but it was the 2011 quake which caused the most damage, and 185 people lost their lives. Initially I was approached by a scenery developer when the NZ government released a post-earthquake aerial image, but that wasn't the right time, or the right image, for a scenery. Up until the time I left Christchurch a little over a year ago, the city was too damaged and I couldn't visit the central city without being deeply affected by the damage, the lives changed, and the strength of the people who chose to stay and rebuild.
But now I see the rebuild happening, slowly at first, but I can see a time when the city will be vibrant again. Although the central city is basically a building site, and dominated by construction cranes, there are some very nice 'human' touches which show where the city is heading. Last week I drove past the old church and shopping centre close by the area where I raised my family, and finally seeing these completed, and people using them, was a huge healing force for me.
There's also an earthquake memorial, to remember the dead, which I have seen once, but it may be a few years before I can deal with the emotional power of this again. Many Christchurch folk knew someone who died in the earthquake, or someone close to one of the dead, including me, so the memorial is forever a powerful reminder.
So although it could be considered too early to try and model the city, I do hope to do it justice in some way, rather than just releasing the airport. I tend to model what I can see, so it may even be a growing scenery as the city grows. As I said, the FSX/Prepar3d version will include a photoscenery as well, which covers a triangular area from the Ashley River in the north to the Rakaia River in the south. The aerofly FS2 version will include the airport only, but this will hopefully follow a complete NZ photoscenery and mesh.
Now, to X-plane. Although I still plan to release at least one X-plane scenery to test the waters, so to speak, and this will probably be NZCH, my future support of X-plane is still cloudy. Yes, I love X-plane as a complex and complete sim, but there are a few reasons why it doesn't work for me from a development point of view. I won't go into all these reason here, as I tend to offend X-plane fans, but I don't really wish to. It's just that there is a definite X-plane way of doing things, which doesn't suit my methods. And plenty of people have pointed out that they would never purchase X-plane photoscenery, as it is apparently too easy to make your own. However I know from my customer base that most users don't do this. Whether or not I could develop a big enough user base to make it worthwhile is not at all apparent to me.
There's also the matter of a 'base' scenery for NZ. This is where things get tricky, there's a nice addon for the whole country, but really I'd like to see a major developement project, payware to cover the development costs, before I can see NZ as I hope to see it. It won't be me doing this, so it might make more sense for me to wait and see where X-plane is heading, especially in NZ.
Flight Simulator World
The other sim, of course, is Flight Simulator World. I love this, too, but for me it is too early to look at it from a development point of view. One day I'd love to release FSW airports, starting with NZCH, but there are too many unknowns for me. I haven't figured out how to get nice photoscenery into it, and although 3D models have some powerful display features, I admit I am still weirded out by the 'black glow' of 3D models, which takes my attention off the flying fun...
I understand that this 'black glow' represents ambient occlusion, but it does tend to overpower my scenery. The final screenshot below show my Real NZ Dunedin- Taieri Airfield, and it certainly illustrates this well.
Still, FSW can be lots of fun, and I can see the day when there's a great NZ for FSW. I'd love to be part of that, and it is still more likely than not.