Thursday, July 4, 2013

Developer rant!

[Developer Rant] Collin of TFDI Design has some very interesting thoughts regarding the flight simulation community and the direction it's going in regards to the negative sentiment and behavior of many simmers. It's a very interesting read.

"Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me first say that the following represents my personal opinion, NOT necessarily the opinion of my coworkers. I have wanted to say this for quite some time and I feel now is a good time.

I've been an active member of this community for over four years, and due to the fact that I'm younger than someone in my position would normally be, I've had the opportunity to experience it from different points of view. When I was just starting out, I looked to the community for help when I needed it and there was rarely a problem that wasn't solved in a courteous and supportive manner. I was what would be considered a "noob", but still other members and the developers that ran the community helped in a way that allowed me to learn constructively.

Over the last few years, I've seen this community turn 180 degrees in the other direction. I find that more developers (myself included, on some occasions) are bitter and users are publicly demanding. Users expect those who donate their time (or work for a profit that does not match the effort put in) to operate at a super-human level, but do not appreciate it. I also find that people are too hasty in their assumptions, too severe with their decisions, and intolerant and unforgiving towards others with different opinions." 

Read the complete statement here:
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JamesHongKong said...

I have only really got back into flight simulation in the last 12 months restarting with P3D. This is a great hobby and one I enjoy very much. When FSX first came out I was amazed at how incredible it was (even with it's issues...cough...reinstalls...cough). Coming back to P3D I still find myself amazed at the realism of flying over something like Orbx Scenery into a Flight Beam airport in a Majestic or PMDG or Carenado aircraft. I have become more of a follower/reader of the many forums/blogs/youtube channels as a result (don't post much myself) and it's increasingly depressing to read the comments of some users criticising and demanding so much from these developers who do a fantastic job. Look at FTXGlobal and the criticism that has BEFORE it has been released - e.g.
"why haven't they looked at Africa?"
"Why haven't they put up photos of my town?" It's ridiculous. These developers are creating a simulation depth that matches those used in training simulators by real pilots. I just tried one recently - my P3D looked better! My pilot friends agree too. Yet these negative commentators (or trolls) are demanding more, expressing frustrations more readily and generally forgetting that they are landing a 737, in heavy rain/snow/cloud over photo realistic scenery ON THEIR HOME COMPUTER! Support the hobby and community people don't knock it or the developers will just stop including us in their work! Rant over

Eponymous said...

"those who donate their time (or work for a profit that does not match the effort put in)"

As long as I'm paying for it I can be as demanding as I like. Developers are not doing this because they're good hearted, they're doing this to make money. Thus, the customer needs to get the services he paid gor.

Now, if a developer realeases freeware stuff, that's a whole different story. No money charged, he owes us nothing.

I'm so full of that saint-like perspective of the devs, like they're doing us all a favor. It's a business.

Mark H said...

Someone is lonely. Nevermind, the FS community doesn't have too long left. I am 38. When I go to FSWeekend, on entering I lower the average age by approx. 25 years! ;) Piss sacks everywhere.

Big Duke 6 said...

This is a very good piece - really perceptive and on target for the most part. I've been a simmer since 1998, so I've also seen the same overall "degradation" in the community over the years. "I" think a large part is due to the internet and out multiple electronic devices which allow us to withdraw from close, personal contact and become more insular in our electronic cocoons. The internet breeds a mentality of entitlement - it's out there; it's free; and "I" want it now! Society in general is losing its social skills and become coarser in its interactions, facilitated by the general anonymity of electronic intercourse. I don't want to make over-generalizations and I especially don't want to offend the many generous developers and superbly helpful forum participants who give freely to enhance our hobby. I guess the best solution is to first ask yourself "Would I say this to this person's face" before blindly typing away. Good manners are always in vogue, but are difficult to recover once lost.

Dave Chapelle said...

Don't want to be cynical Charlie here, but...welcome to life. This problem is not only something that is present in the FS community. Rather it is something that is present within the whole world. As a leader (developer in this case) you sometimes have to ignore what the "people" say and just press on with what you are doing. If you let people's attitude and ungratefulness dictate your attitude and outlook on things, then you might as well move under a rock with Patrick and Spongebob as you'll get nowhere. Keep doing what you're doing Colin and take negative comments with a grain of salt.

B77L said...

Everything was better in the good old days, even the future! :)

I seriously can't see any difference regarding the behaviour of simmers and the world outside. So no open letter to fs-community will change anything. You'd have to change the world or start learning how to deal with it.

Beside of that competition finally has reached the FS-market, customers normally know what they like and what has to be fixed. In former days they have been ignored by trend, now they have a plattform called the www....

High Plains Flyer said...

Developing add-ons for Flight Simulator is one of the few areas where someone can open up a shop, consiting of several people, and actually have a chance of competing against large software developers. I suspect this has much to do with profitablity. Large software developers simply are not interested because the sales do not justify the effort.

The trouble with small developement teams is that they often lack the skills and knowlege needed to actually complete their projects. As a result, we tend to find a lot of work which is incomplete, late, buggy, or just poorly done. Quite often, small developers really don't know what they are doing, and it shows.

Once someone starts charging money for their work, they are held to a higher standard. If a developer really does not know what he is doing and cannot deliver a quality product on time, he really needs to reconsider charging money for that product.

There is a difference between someone who really has no skills and is working a minimum wage job and someone who has developed skills, either through formal training or on the job experience. Having a friend fix a leaky pipe is a different matter than hiring a plumber to fix it. Accordingly, the plumber is paid and is held to a higher level of performance than your friend.

Dan said...

If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. A customer is supposed to be concerned/care about a developer's feelings why?

While I agree with the author's analysis of the current state of the market, he is exhibiting the same whiney attitude that he's complaining about.

15-20 years ago when this was a very niche market with fewer people, things were different (more civilized, friendly), however as with everything else, the landscape has evolved. For better or worse, it's the current market, and not much you can do to change it.

If, as a developer, a small sub-set of vocal, uneducated, selfish, unappreciative idiots are going to cause you such angst as to publish a public rant on your own company's website, perhaps you shouldn't be in the industry.

Welcome to the real world.

Aaron Graham said...

It is business...blah blah blah

You (customers) need to be realistic. You are paying around $40-60 for an add-on that is almost as good as Level-D system simulators. Your expectations must be realistic. Most add-ons simulate aircraft systems for a fraction of the price of a real simulator. Wake-up to reality. Here is your choice, go pay $599 for a real simulation with a leading European airline or $69 for an advanced add-on which simulations 90% of the real one.

Don't criticize too much, criticism has drove several developers away from the platform.

Jack said...

I agree with Aaron's statement.

To Eponymous,

You'd be surprised at how little FS developers really make, when you factor in the long hours of development and that even the most popular FS products are 'bad sellers' when compared to equally complex or time-consuming products in other gaming communities. Yes, FS developers more or less do it out of the kindness of their hearts, even if you pay $60+ for an addon, the net return to an individual developer is far less than you think. Developers jump ship from this community because despite them being in a relatively unprofitable business, they often go underappreciated and spend more time dealing with trivial complaints than it's actually worth and some leave for a more profitable gaming genre and FS looses more talent from it's already small talent pool.

You can still feel the way you express, all my intent is to try and educate a little better on the realities even payware devs face. There is a misconception that if a dev is charging $60+ for an addon, they must be making thousands. Even if the product itself is making thousands, the individual is not. You have to divide that profit amongst the team and whatever costs incurred during development. After that, you have to factor in the sheer amount of man-hours put into a complex simulation. Even if an individual dev makes $10,000 (most don't even make close to that, this is a very, very optimistic figure), but worked 365 days at 6 hours a day, they have only made $4.56/hour, nearly half of US federal minimum wage. Factor in many, if not most devs have primary jobs and their FS life/job is secondary. Many have families. Maybe you can start to see that yes, even payware devs do this out of the goodness of their heart, and yes, you pay money for it, but consider just what kind of personal sacrifice goes into it. I'm not saying you should never ever gripe about a product or a developer, there are things developers still need to be held accountable for, but it's equally important people realistically look at their product and understand what happened to get it to final release before being too critical or harsh against developers.

VonClout said...

I'm with Big Duke 6 on this one. There's a lot more take, take, take these days rather than give give give. Reading some of the comments above has only reinforced my feelings on this. Don't forget the developers are simmers too! The only difference between them and us is that they've got off their behinds and decided to make our hobby better.

Belisar said...

I am liking this "Rant" articles. I agree at a certain extent. The community is harsh, but there is one thing you should keep in mind. The community is harsh to developers mostly when they develop an inferior product compared to the competition, market it as superior and charge more. When you charge for a product you will have satisfied and unsatisfied customers. The balance is what makes you a winner or a loser. Some developers are as arrogant to customers on the forums etc. The market dictates what is the acceptable quality for different price ranges. If you're getting more heat than you expect, than you should look into that. On the other hand we have the potential customer base pressure for release dates. That I think is not a real problem and serves more to promoting the product than demotivating developers.

Collin Biedenkapp said...

I see your point, however I am, in no way, in "angst" over it, I only wish to inspire thought in others. Many of the points I covered in my piece are not solely about myself as a payware developer. I'm well aware of the heat I'm going to face and I plan to deal with it.

Either way, thank you for reading and for your feedback.

Todd said...

Everyone has a right to express his or her opinion about the quality of an add-on and I have no problem with that. There are a lot of cases where criticism is justified. What I don't like is how nasty and personal some of the criticism gets. That's where it crosses the line.

There's also a difference between an addon being of lesser quality due to the developer's skill level and an add-on simply being buggy and incomplete. For the latter, I expect my money back or the issue to be fixed. For the former (lesser quality), the addon may still be very nice but just not as nice as some of the competition. I can live with that because I usually know what I am buying in the first place. This is especially true for scenery addons. There is no doubt that FlightBeam and others have raised the bar in scenery design. Just put FlightBeam Dulles next to Imaginesim Dulles and the difference is night and day. That's not to say I don't like Imaginesim, because I do very much and own many of the developer's sceneries. Even though they may be lesser quality than Flightbeam, they are still nice sceneries that took a lot of time and skill to develop. I'll say the same thing for Blueprint sceneries. Now, I'm not a huge Blueprint fan, but I do appreciate the amount of work it takes to develop even basic sceneries. And there are many simmers who like Blueprint or simply find their sceneries more affordable. Choice is a good thing. But, to complicate things you have SunSkyJet who develops very nice scenery for free (which still blows me away).

So, my only wish for our community is to keep our criticism respectful. There are people behind these sceneries who worked hard for the end product. And they are doing so at a time when flight simulation is in serious decline.

Harsh criticism is deserved, however, when a developer releases an incomplete or buggy product and then does nothing to either fix the problem or make the customers happy. Thankfully that is becoming less of an issue in our hobby. I think another thing that is very much helping our hobby are blogs like this one that help introduce us to the people behind the addons we buy, as well as give us insight into addons before we buy them.


madpuppy said...

Dan: Completely agreed. Try to be a comic in front of people that don't like you. Or a doctor who misdiagnoses. ON an on. The world's not often a terribly kind place--get used to it or do something less stressful.

Cowpatz said...

Mark H have you got your age listed correctly? Surely you're 18 not 38.
Maybe flight simulation is just not suited to you. Stick with FPS's and music videos on you tube.

Oldfart said...

You sure showed maturity with that comment. Shouldn't you be encouraging younger people to join flightsim? If it's just old farts the hobby will quickly die.

Prop Strike said...

I believe Collin that the situation is a bit of two sides of the same coin. I agree 100% with your feelings and statements. But these individuals have always been around, there were just fewer forums 10 years ago, but believe me they were around then and just as vocal and negative.

Now for the other side of the coin. 5 years ago there was a fraction of the payware developers that there are today. Since FS9 and onward there was a steady explosion of developers entering the flight simming scene. Unfortunately a lot of customers got burned by a fair number of them, whether their intentions were honest or not. Aircraft were sold with the promises only to never deliver. I myself got burned by many of these. Money wasted on undelivered goods with no recourse on my end. Some just closed up shop leaving paying customers holding the bag. Claims of products being sold as compatible with "X" platform only to be found to have problems. Problems with products that make it near impossible or undesirable to use and no further fixes from the developer as they focus of pushing out the next product. What does all this do to the customers? I believe it makes them cynical, angry, and usually distrusting toward developers. Unfortunately, I believe long gone disbanded developers created the bed in which current ones and up and coming ones must now sleep in. Unlike the past, it is now the developers responsibility to earn the customers trust and respect. Fact is, some developers do this better than others. Those that do, are growing and expanding, those that are evasive or fail to improve over time will shrink. It is an inevitable conclusion when money is involved. Even if the developer is making little money does not change the fact most of us customers had to work hard for the money we did spend, and it likely wasn't very fun doing so. Some negativity does come from trolls, but I believe the majority come from customers that have had a negative experience from a developer and are able to voice that said experience. This simple principal has been the birth and death of many a business for thousands of years, it's not about to change any time soon. Just my 2 cents worth...

Cowpatz said...

Absolutely we should encourage younger people to participate but not if they display the same attitude and lack of respect as this individual.
Anyway define old fart. My teenage son might consider a 38 yr old to be a quote "piss sack" unquote.

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