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Author Topic: What makes a civilian flight simulator and why Outerra is destined to become one  (Read 15444 times)

JP

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Hi,

if FS threads are going on everyones nerves I want to apologize in advance. In this post I want to give some thoughts which are much more detailed than what I have read so far though.

First I would like to give a quick introduction of myself. I am nobody important in the FS-world nor do I know much about software development. I did play around extensively with X-Plane's Plane Maker in the past and am a real world pilot who holds an instrument rating and an absolute aviation-nut since age seven. I am currently studying applied geoscience and, due to an eye injure, will likely never be able to get into professional flying in the future. So I get excited about flight simulators and that is why I am going to make this post!


A.) So what makes a civilian flight simulator (that outerra doesn't already offer):

A.1.) Navaids: When Pilots practice flying on a PC they need Navaids. Navaids are radio-navigation facilities ranging from simple setups such as a non-directional beacon (NDB) which, if in range and tuned to the correct frequency, causes an indicator on the cockpit-instrument "automatic direction finder" (ADF) to point into the facilitie's direction. The Pilot knows the NDB's position from a map and can now use that information to navigate his aircraft.
More elaborate facilities like the VOR station let the pilot know directly which direction FROM the facility his position is. VORTAC and VOR/DME station add distance measuring equipment (DME) so the pilot also knows his distance. Modern instrument flight procedures, even if they use GPS, use the positions of such stations for their instructions. The position can be determined old-school-style using radio navigation or via GPS, although pure GPS waypoints are also sometimes used (but much less fun!). Instrument landing systems (ILS) represent the highest in precision radio navigation and are widely used at bigger airfields and airports.
Digiatal databases of navaids exist and, since their functionality is precisely defined (range etc.), are imported into all big-name flight simulators automatically on a world wide level.

A.2.) Airports: As with navaids, databases for all registered airfields exist containing length, direction, width and type of all runways plus taxiway and tarmac layouts. All big name FSs import them into their world by automation. The tarmac is then, in the case of MSFS, filled with buildings via autogen.

A.3.) A basic weather model which models the effect winds have on an aircraft's trajectory. Wind-, precipitation- and cloudcover-data can even be downloaded from the web inflight!

And thats it! You guys already have some aircraft and a flight model. Now, pls dont take this as: "I think its easy" or anything of that sort. But I hope I could emphasize the point of just how much your engine is destined for exactly that role.


B.) Why I think the market needs a new civilan flight simulator:

B.1.) There is no product which people are really, truly 100% satisfied with at the moment. FSX is from 2006 and has been showing its age for a while now. Microstutters and crashes are reported on even modern PCs. Prepar3D is too expensive and for 90% of simmers not really an option. X-Plane is developed by a group of old men who refuse to do something new and ground breaking and take their product to the next level. What you guys are doing with your engine has been asked for in X-Plane's various forums for ages now and to this day the answer is always the same: "It cannot be technically done!". X-Plane is starting to dust and its not going anywhere under its current leadership. They are very satisfied with what it does and will not try anything groundbreaking and when the *do* try someting new its usually a fail (looking at you X-Plane AI traffic and ATC  >:(). I will say, though, that their flight model is to date hands down the best "feeling" on the market!

B.2.) Visuals DO matter! Your engine looks georgeous. Better than FSX and X-Plane combined! People will want to fly in it and they will pay for it! I know I would...  ;)


C.) So what am I sugesting here:

In my non-professional opinion I think you guys should do everything to get with someone who knows flight simulation or take advice from real-world aviators and aviation-engineers (or do it yourself) and make Outerra the highly successful flight simulator it deserves to be! Make it what Aces should have done next if they would still exist. Remember, they were making black numbers, just not *enough* for Micro$oft's managers!


I hope I could spark some new thoughts on the issue and wish you guys much success wherever your project leads you!

Peace out!

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cameni

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Right now it's mostly a matter of getting the sufficient funds for the development of a simulator, to create a dedicated team for it. Classic investors are avoiding it, possibly for the same reasons Microsoft pulled out - low gains, and in case of other smaller teams without much marketing power also high risks, relatively small and conservative user base that already invested a lot into addons for old FS and will wait with support, and so on.

Crowd funding is an option, but the same problems remain. It's generally understood that an unproven developer can't get over 400k on Kickstarter, but that's just a fraction of the development costs, while the user expectations are high. A barebone simulator that needs lots of extra addons probably won't get even there. On the other hand, there seems to be a lot of smaller indie developers willing to work with us, providing the content, so that may be the way for the project.

In any case, with few other options I guess we can only try, but it's clear that the presentation for the crowdfunding campaign must be prepared extremely well. That's what we are doing, or going towards - developing the necessary functionality so that we can show something working for all major areas, but not going into much specifics that would be subject of post-funding development.

And we are going to aim for a combined aircraft/rails/trucks/watercraft/spacecraft simulator platform, not just to widen the potential user base but also because it's possible to do with OT and will be great :)
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murkz

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And we are going to aim for a combined aircraft/rails/trucks/watercraft/spacecraft simulator platform, not just to widen the potential user base but also because it's possible to do with OT and will be great :)

No tank love cameni :) I wish you guys all the best and really do hope you get the required funds.

2eyed

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No tank love cameni :) I wish you guys all the best and really do hope you get the required funds.

Sounded like a "good bye" !?
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aWac9

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Physicist Hawking Stphen says everything can be explained with words and drawings.
Currently the game industry bill than film and music, and that was almost unthinkable not long ago.
Grand Theft Auto V cost $ 265 million, slightly less than Avatar, James Cameron's film, which he calculates a cost of nearly $ 300 million
The video game industry generated revenues of 75,000 million dollars in 2014 with an increasing trend (11% in Asia).
There are currently more than 1200 million fans to games (with increases of 35% in areas of mobile / tablets, etc.
The game Destiny has cost over 500 million dollars in the first week and had raised (Activision).
The game Grand Theft Auto V grossed $ 800 million in the first 24 hours.
Balck Ops Call of Duty, reacudó more than 350 million dollars in the first day of its release (production cost $ 30 million) and as of today bears raised more than 1000 million.
Typically, the production of a game costs $ 50 million

I think we're in the right business, another thing ,,, find out who is going to lend the money.

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Revolver

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WoW ... had GTA5 $ 265 million budget costs? :o I would have so much for a Flight Sim. Is someone who borrows so much to me, but please today when it comes. Thanks. :)
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murkz

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No tank love cameni :) I wish you guys all the best and really do hope you get the required funds.

Sounded like a "good bye" !?

No, not goodbye :) Just missing the tank love.

JP

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[...] And we are going to aim for a combined aircraft/rails/trucks/watercraft/spacecraft simulator platform, not just to widen the potential user base but also because it's possible to do with OT and will be great :)

You guys are really ambitious and have a big vision. I salute you!


However, getting enough funds do bring something like that into reality at once might be more dificult than it needs to be. Let me express a thought I have on this.

Kickstart just a very rudimentary flight simulator and then refine your vision during a 3 to 5 year early access phase! This could look something like this:


Phase 1) The Kickstarter: Sell early access for a rudimentary flight simulator using your Outerra engine, 3 flyable aircraft and as many airfields as you can get in there for your budget. Make it clear that you intend to take this project for the long haul and what you envision your steps to be!


Phase 2) Early Access: Introduce features step by step as you keep selling early access copies, allowing people to make addon aircraft freely along the way...

2.A.: Get all registered airfields into the simulator using automation and databases (naked tarmac will suffice, X-Plane only recently started addressing that issue)

2.B.: Import navaids and model their functionality

2.C.: You have a solid flight simulator now. Keep selling early access but up the price!

2.D.: Implement a weather-engine and give it the ability to download weather from online sources.

2.E.: Use osm-data to generate what X-Plane devs would call a "plausible world".

2.F.: Implement multiplayer.

2.G.: You now have a good flight simulator. Keep selling early access but up the price!

2.H.: More flyable aircraft. Get payware developer on board too!

2.I.: Implement AI traffic and ATC. DON'T try to do what X-Plane wanted to do. Look at how MSFS handles it.

2.J.: Implement seosonal changes and make sure your autogen represents the style and culture of respective world regions!

2.K.: You now have a banging awesome flight simulator. Sell at full price!


Phase 3.) Develop major addons:

3.A.: Make sure the autogenerated roads are passable everywhere and give the player some trucks and automobiles. AI-traffic for land and sea. Steerable ships and ship naviagtion aids. -> "Land and sea traffic" addon!

3.B.: Introduce an economy: Autogenerated missions for hauling cargo or passengers from port to port, depot to walmart or airfield to airfield. -> "Commerce" addon!

3.C.: Military stuff? Have designated warzones (3-5 % of total planet surface). Affects civilian traffic via no-fly-zones. Brave truckers could try their luck for increased profit. (Must admit I am not a big proponent of war simulation in this!) -> "Combat" addon


I really hope I don't come across as a know-it-all. But I just wanted to share my thoughts. If it was helpfull in any way or sparked just some small considerations then it was worth the time. Essentially I am proposing something similar to what Squad did with their Kerbals...

Peace out and cheers!

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SteelRat

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Hi Cameni!

Translate:
I have an opinion, I am sure it is not far from the truth. If you, the developers give us loyal users, enthusiasts of your product, such an instrument we will be able to create, albeit simple, but the gameplay. We will play it, and we will record video clips, and will share them on YouTube.
What will be a good advertisement for your product.

Take the example of Bohemia Interactive. They at one time made a very correct decision, they gave active users of their product powerful tools to create gameplay. What was he an excellent testing ground for the development of the engine. And an active part of the user to create a free, do a little of what shamelessly took advantage of Bohemia Interactive)

RU:
У меня есть мнение, я уверен оно не далеко от истины. Если вы, разработчики, дадите нам лояльным пользователям, энтузиастам вашего продукта, подобный инструмент, мы сможем создавать, пусть простой, но геймплей. Мы будем его играть, и будем записывать видео ролики, и будем выкладывать их на Ютубе.
Что послужит хорошей рекламой вашему продукту.

Возьмите пример с Bohemia Interactive. Они в своё время приняли очень верное решение, они предоставили активным пользователям своего продукта мощные инструменты для создания игрового процесса. Что послужило им отличным полигоном для развития движка. И активная часть пользователей создала, бесплатно, не мало того, чем Bohemia Interactive беззастенчиво воспользовалась)

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Revolver

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Возьмите пример с Bohemia Interactive. Они в своё время приняли очень верное решение, они предоставили активным пользователям своего продукта мощные инструменты для создания игрового процесса. Что послужило им отличным полигоном для развития движка. И активная часть пользователей создала, бесплатно, не мало того, чем Bohemia Interactive беззастенчиво воспользовалась)

 :o
Хммм...признать чесно, то я ваш пост, точнее выше сказаное;
не совсем понимаю.Это таксказать тонкий намёк на толстые обстоятельства?
Или вы попросту не в курсе, что сегоднешняя группа Titan IM это ничто иное, как
BIS в своём первоначальном виде...ну если так можно выразится. Далее, чтобы не
быть многословным... http://outerra.blogspot.hu/2014/12/titanim-outerra-based-military.html
ну и соствено: http://titanim.net/www/ потому не совсем понятно кто с кого должен брать
пример и для чего, если всё в даный момент обстоит с точностью до наоборот. ::)
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werden kann, und dies ist die Verfälschung der Geschichte."(F.Hebbel)

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cameni

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they gave active users of their product powerful tools to create gameplay

Yes, so there needs to be a product first. A simulator platform would not actually make sense without 3rd party developers being included early in the process.
Right now you are receiving functionality updates developed primarily for our commercial licensees. A simulator needs its own funding, or else it will take forever.

Kickstart just a very rudimentary flight simulator and then refine your vision during a 3 to 5 year early access phase!

I wonder what funding goal would be realistically achievable presenting just a rudimentary flight simulator. What you described isn't really a model for Kickstarter, but an early access model.
Kickstarter gives you a chance to get the necessary funds to kickstart a serious development with all the staff required for it. However, the project must be inspiring enough to gain the necessary support from a wide audience, and I'm not sure how a rudimentary simulator would fare at that.

The biggest problem with the early access model is that you do not get enough funds to hire a sufficiently qualified and capable team for the development, unless you can expose the alpha to a huge community. One possibility there is the Steam early access where millions of people will see it, and even with a low conversion rate (for a simulator) you can get some nice numbers if you manage to get green lighted. It's not without problems though, you basically have to have a well playable alpha there, which in case of a simulator still involves a lot.

To me it means that both the Kickstarter and the Steam Greenlight need something that's already a well playable alpha simulator, and that needs to be developed in advance.
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SteelRat

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Возьмите пример с Bohemia Interactive. Они в своё время приняли очень верное решение, они предоставили активным пользователям своего продукта мощные инструменты для создания игрового процесса. Что послужило им отличным полигоном для развития движка. И активная часть пользователей создала, бесплатно, не мало того, чем Bohemia Interactive беззастенчиво воспользовалась)

 :o
Хммм...признать чесно, то я ваш пост, точнее выше сказаное;
не совсем понимаю.Это таксказать тонкий намёк на толстые обстоятельства?
Или вы попросту не в курсе, что сегоднешняя группа Titan IM это ничто иное, как
BIS в своём первоначальном виде...ну если так можно выразится. Далее, чтобы не
быть многословным... http://outerra.blogspot.hu/2014/12/titanim-outerra-based-military.html
ну и соствено: http://titanim.net/www/ потому не совсем понятно кто с кого должен брать
пример и для чего, если всё в даный момент обстоит с точностью до наоборот. ::)

Я в курсе дружище!)
Я привёл BISов в пример, тех, ещё молодых, и амбициозных, которые приняли мудрое решение, дать пользователям максимум возможной информации, и дать инструменты, что бы эти пользователи с пользой для себя и дёшево для BISов, помогали в развитии движка.

Quote
http://outerra.blogspot.hu/2014/12/titanim-outerra-based-military.html
Дата последнего поста Sunday, December 7, 2014

На официальном сайте тоже тишина, я даже перестал туда заглядывать.
Может им некогда?
« Last Edit: August 09, 2015, 03:36:52 pm by SteelRat »
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JP

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I wonder what funding goal would be realistically achievable presenting just a rudimentary flight simulator. What you described isn't really a model for Kickstarter, but an early access model.
Sure it is! As long as you communicate to the community that you're kickstarting an early access project then you can do that.

Kickstarter gives you a chance to get the necessary funds to kickstart a serious development with all the staff required for it.

Not necessarily! Even Chris Roberts's (Star Citizen) original plan was to raise only enough money to come up with something presentable enough to present to a publisher. If he can kickstart a corporate presentation then you guys can kickstart an early access simulator. ;)

However, the project must be inspiring enough to gain the necessary support from a wide audience, and I'm not sure how a rudimentary simulator would fare at that.

Although I can only speak for myself. But if you guys are honest about your intentions and make it clear that you want to take this for the long haul then I would be *much* more inclined to fork over cash than if someone promised something awesome but unrealistic! Lay out your vision and a plausible course of action and people will trust you (I would think...)!

The biggest problem with the early access model is that you do not get enough funds to hire a sufficiently qualified and capable team for the development [...]
Just thought I'd throw in that X-Plane is basically developed by 3 guys or so... :)

To me it means that both the Kickstarter and the Steam Greenlight need something that's already a well playable alpha simulator, and that needs to be developed in advance.
Release anteworld as a demo during your kickstarter and let people fly the included aircraft. That is WAY more than any other kickstarter project had for demonstrating its potential and win people over!


Btw.: Yes I am trying to convince you now! ;D
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Uriah

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Hi JP, and welcome to OT!  :D

I agree, navaids and airports are two primary features necessary for any flight sim.

Navaids are something I have been pursuing for months. Currently, I can actually add them to a specific aircraft on a limited basis by including a script file with all of the necessary parameters, and a function to look up the aircraft's current position and return the data. This could be used to model GPS, ADF, NDB, DME, or even ILS, but would need to include the definition for each airfield, and the scripts be added to each aircraft. A line of sight parameter could also be introduced to model terrain interfering with the signals.

I could easily build a basic demonstration of these capabilities on the Cessna 172, although I am not quite sure how to correctly select the destination and display the data temporarily. (HSI bearing?) I could simply add a user_parameter to the top of the script, which you would set to the destination. Alternatively, I could have the "transponder" ping the airport once the aircraft comes within a certain distance. I would like to hear you suggestion on this!  :)  It wouldn't be a long-term solution, but could provide you with navaids temporarily. I already have much of the functionality done, and would be happy to work with you to build a demo.

Currently, you can build any airstrip in a matter of minutes using the procedural road system. The process is quite straightforward, and with a little bit of effort you could add dozens in a short amount of time. You can also extract the scenery cache files for a specific area and share these airstrips with the community (See this post: http://forum.outerra.com/index.php?topic=3231.msg36246#msg36246 ). Acetone will be posting a short tutorial on building runways on the Scenery board shortly, and I'll post the link HERE.

In the future, OSM includes all of the airfields world-wide in a separate layer, and those can imported automatically. Now, there are some additional functionalities needed to automatically import the navigation beacons along with each airstrip, but I am sure it can be done with the right data source.

The biggest milestone we are all waiting for at the moment is the extended controls and click-able cockpit manipulators. Once those are released aircraft can be built full-featured, including start-up procedures, etc.

To answer some of your other questions:

Weather (physically and visually) are planned features, and Outerra plans to have it updated from online sources.

AI traffic for land, air and sea is feasible in the future.

Seasonal changes are also a planned feature and have been discussed on the forum at great length.

However, as Brano points out, funding is the great cornerstone. JP, you have identified a small number of the features we'll need for a full fledged flight sim, and only for aircraft, however many of these items have many sub-features and dependencies which will be necessary, and there is a long list of requirements in addition to those.

Again, we are not simply building an "aircraft" flight simulator, instead we are trying to gain traction with a much wider audience, interested in space flight simulation, vehicle simulation (including tracked vehicles!), train simulation, etc. The idea is to have a fully integrated environment, where all of these activities can take place simultaneously, and without the limits to scale many other engines have.

To me it means that both the Kickstarter and the Steam Greenlight need something that's already a well playable alpha simulator, and that needs to be developed in advance.

I like the idea of Steam early access, it certainly provides a wider user base, above and beyond the flight sim traffic a Kickstarter campaign might generate. If that is the case, we would need to identify what the basic feature set and requirements should be, and qualify the current state and difficulty of each requirement item.

Best regards,
Uriah
« Last Edit: August 09, 2015, 04:49:24 pm by Uriah »
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Acetone

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To me it means that both the Kickstarter and the Steam Greenlight need something that's already a well playable alpha simulator, and that needs to be developed in advance.

I like the idea of Steam early access, it certainly provides a wider user base, above and beyond the flight sim traffic a Kickstarter campaign might generate. If that is the case, we would need to identify what the basic feature set and requirements should be, and qualify the current state and difficulty of each requirement item.

Kickstarter and Steam Early access share both the same advantages/problems for game devs and users.

For devs, it's a way to get an income before starting to sell the product, something really important in a long term plan. But it requires a lot of communication and progress at a constant rate if you want to keep the momentum and not burn the reputation of your product before you release it. Let's face it, most of the people here are really polite and ready to learn a bit how things work, but dealing with thousands of new users, each one with he's own opinion of what Outerra should be (from Let's do Minecraft, guyz to I'm really disappointed by the lack of ILS); things could go wrong if the project is not strong enough to handle it.

Everyone thinks Outerra is fantastic, because it's easy to see what great things you could do with it. But it's not possible to do everything with it at the same time.

That's why I think it is indeed wise to not jump into the wagon until the roller-coaster is ready. The list made by JP (welcome!) is interesting, I think he's giving a good picture of what should be available from start for this kind of project. In my opinion some sort of basic career/job system should also be ready day one, even if it's really basic. Even if it may irritate a small part of the audience, it will help keep a larger one interested and maybe even ready to be invested in the project.

I have the impression that Outerra is slowly creating a real momentum, not only attracting the attention of users from various fields of interest but more importantly, content creators.
And a lot of nice folks to talk with  :)
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