Thursday, June 23, 2011

Exclusive : Pacific Islands Simulation, the Interview

Graham Michael, lead software design and developer of Pacific Islands Simulation, has kindly accepted our interview request*
(*) Already interviewed : Overland, Ariane Design, France VFR, Flyhalf (freeware), Live in FSX, Blueprint Simulation, Latin VFR, Tropical Sim and Fly Tampa. Only Imagine Sim refused the interview. 

1) Airdailyx : A very classical question first. From where comes the idea of Pacific Islands Sim. at the beginning and how did you assemble a team ?

Graham Michael : Pacific Islands Simulation started from 2 fundamental reasons:
1). Not enough third party scenery addon coverage of Pacific Islands countries' within FSX;
and 2.) Frustration with low frame rates (FPS) in default FSX and third party scenery addons.

I am originally from Papua New Guinea (in the South Pacific) but am currently living in the United States the last 15 years. I have been simming since FS origin almost 26 years ago and have been somewhat frustrated with lack of scenery coverage of the Pacific Islands region. The Pacific Islands region has some of the most beautiful islands and atolls in the world and yet, with every succeeding FS platforms, little, if nothing, has been done to improve or reflect beauties of these islands in FS. There has been nice Carribean sceneries, but not Pacific Island scenes. I was also not happy when FSX first came out with poor FPS reviews, especially around major cities and airports. That very reason obviously forced me to re-think ways to develop sceneries for the Pacific region where I can enjoy FSX without being bogged down with FPS issues. I started creating freeware airports initially for Papua New Guinea mainly using AFCAD to reposition airport runways, objects and developing new ones in FSX which Microsoft left out so that simmers can see what Papua New Guinea airport terrain and real-world airport placements/location looks like. (You can search by my name for sceneries and other FS freeware stuff I developed over the years at either or libraries). Using AFCAD only wasn't enough, so I started reading up on essential scenery and object tools within FSX's SDK, and using SBuilderX, gmax, etc to expand my scenery development skills. Airdailyx copyright june 2011

By 2009, I was ready to go professional and started recruiting specialist developers to assist and the rest is history. With help from as far as Australia, Germany, Nerthelands and USA, we have been able to develop 7 sceneries so far, although just one product, VFR Appalachia (click link to access product), is not a Pacific Islands scenery. Most of the colleagues who assist with development of our sceneries are either real-world pilots or hardcore FS simmers from FS origins.

2) Marshall Islands and Kingdom of Tongas ar certainly not the last sceneries you will ever do in Pacifica.

Nope, these are not the only Pacific Islands sceneries as we hope to develop more sceneries from the region roughly every 3 to 4 months. We might from time to time create sceneries outside the Pacific region but that would depend entirely on major simmer interests, and of course, if the market potential for a product is worth investing our development time and effort in. Also important is the fact that we will consider developing sceneries outside the Pacific Islands region if we have resourceful information and pictures about scenes that are of interest to us.

Are you already thinking of new features or techniques to improve these sceneries in the future ?

As regards improving current sceneries with new features and techniques, our answer is no. We are not going to re-visit completed sceneries unless there are specific technical issues raised by our customers. Beleive it or not, majority of our customers are satisfied with what they've bought from us for the simple reason that we ensure all products are market-worthy with no tech issues before release. We try, within our technical capabilites, to develop sceneries that are going to meet customer standards not by other developers' standards.

3) Airdailyx : In term of copies sold - if it is not a secret - what is Pacific Islands Sim greatest sucess so far ? Ingalls Field ? VFR Appalachia ? Marshall Islands ? Any else product ? Airdailyx copyright june 2011

Graham Michael : So far, Atolls of Tuvalu, Marshall Islands, and Raw Grit:PNG Bushpilot-Extreme Bush Trekker combo pack are our top sellers. VFR Appalachia is second, followed by Kosrae International. But then again we are merely modest and unbiased with all our products as far as sales performance is concerned.

4) How do you analyze the flight sim market today ? Do you think that you (your team) will have to make some choice in future, maybe to improve your turnover, or to be prepared for Microsoft Flight ?

Sim market is currently competitive for all developers, but unless you have good customer base or repeat customers, it can get rough, especially if you are a relatively new developer. We strive at our own pace and within our technical capabilities to ensure that we bring new and exciting sceneries to the sim market. If the Pacific Islands is not exotic enough, we will find another exciting, yet unique, scenery destination for our customers. At present rate, we are happy with what we are producing based on customer feedback and sales from repeat customers. Current FS customer base, as every developer knows, is very small, so having repeat customers is essential to our survival. As I see it, there is not much in the way of improving turn-over in future unless we produce more to retain current and attract new customers. Like other developers, we are excited about MS Flight, however, there are too many negative rumors, innuendos and apprehension about what Flight holds in the way of future scenery development platforms so I cannot predict at this stage. It would be nice if I know in advance what Flight's SDK entail so I can educatively predict future product potential and therefore improve

5) Airdailyx : Maybe a word for american readers of Airdailyx, Is Pacific Islands Sim already thinking of new project in USA ? If so, maybe just a tip about the kind of scenery or region ?

If we are to develop sceneries in the US (which we will at the latter part of the year), it would be the eastcoast. I am a real-world pilot and the airports within the area are very familiar to me, just like VFR Appalachia. The type of sceneries planned for the US eastcoast region are mixed regionals (with over 6000ft runways) and small bush airports.

Kind regards,
Graham Michael
Lead - Software Design and Development
Pacific Islands Simulation
Airdailyx is very grateful for this extensive - the most one - interview.
Airdailyx copyright june 2011

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