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How to write a FlightGear review (brainstorming) ?

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How to write a FlightGear review (brainstorming) ?

Postby Hooray » Sun Feb 21, 2016 11:01 pm

Okay, this is inspired by this:
Review of FG on reddit: xpost
Thorsten wrote:Writing reviews others can actually make use of is a skill that requires to distinguish the personal from the universal. Honesty is a requirement, but far from being the whole.

If I criticize a hotel because the plane was late, I arrived late and stressed out and therefore slept poorly in my hotel room, I disqualify myself as a reviewer because what I criticize has nothing to do with the hotel. Though it is undoubtedly honest to claim I slept badly in the hotel room.

Similarly, if I have an acquired habit of using right mouse-click to transit from control to view to click and criticize FSX for not doing it the same way, I'm not qualified as reviewer.

Telling a personal story is (unfortunately) often confused with reviewing in the internet - which is why I don't believe in the wisdom of crowds :-)


So, given that we need reviews for promoting FlightGear, it might be a good idea to gather some community feedback on reviewing a flight simulator like FlightGear, and what to include in such a review - ideas appreciated, I am going to collect those in a dedicated article on the wiki, starting with:

http://wiki.flightgear.org/Howto:Write_ ... ear_Review
  • FlightGear version to be reviewed, download location
  • background of the reviewer (e.g. previous flight simulation experience)
  • expectations of the reviewer
  • operating system, hardware (graphics card, ram, cpu)
  • settings used
  • aircraft/airports tested
  • summary (pros & cons, suggestions for improvement)
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Thanks & all the best,
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Re: How to write a FlightGear review (brainstorming) ?

Postby MIG29pilot » Sun Feb 21, 2016 11:38 pm

Two things to avoid in writing such a thing: writing what disappoints you because of personal preference, but also taking care, while backing away from that trap, not to fall into the other pit of sounding dry, bland, and impersonal. Nevertheless, things relating to personal preference rather than real user convenience may be inserted so long as A.) it is presented as such, B.) it can relate to other users. C.) it can be proved to be inconvenient in any scenario.
Moreover, the review, with regards to performance, ought to be written by one person but based on the experiences of at least two different pcs with different specs--in other words both ends of the gamut.
Also we should not be afraid to write about bad things in FG--awkward chat boxes, horrible clouds in basic wxr (and basic wxr is necessary for low end pcs) etc. In short, we need an Unbiased, objective, honest, lively, and engaging review. I'll try something if you like. I'm running 2016.2
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Re: How to write a FlightGear review (brainstorming) ?

Postby vnts » Mon Feb 22, 2016 5:46 am

Hooray wrote in Sun Feb 21, 2016 11:01 pm:So, given that we need reviews for promoting FlightGear

Where reviews by journalists from websites with a large audience are concerned...

My understanding is that those websites want news, i.e. things that are new that the public cannot immediately try out and see.. They value some measure of exclusivity.

Is there anything to be gained by contacting journalists/websites and sending them links to 'review code' 1-2 weeks early?. This might make them more inclined to spend time reviewing a freely available sim. It does not matter if the review binaries are publicly available via the unstable branch, it is just sufficient that it's different from the main download link presented on the FG site which most of the public uses.
Hooray wrote in Sun Feb 21, 2016 11:01 pm:it might be a good idea to gather some community feedback on reviewing a flight simulator like FlightGear, and what to include in such a review - ideas appreciated

Most reviews on websites provide a conclusion that sums up the value of a product. Often it's aimed at the lowest common denominator (the worst example of this being a score), and sometimes it even goes against the tone of the rest of the review. Ideally reviews should try to separate out how different categories of people might value FG based on their criteria, as far as the experience of the reviewer allows them to say.

(This is something FG reviewers should be conscious of because FG can suffer from a conclusion aimed at the lowest common denominator - which turns out less positive than it could be because of FG's quirks/entry barriers).

I looked up FG reviews on websites, when I was considering FG's first impressions. It seemed to me they were: outdated, written by websites whose audience were new to simming (often by reviewers who didn't specialise in flight sims to a great extent), and did not dig deep (perhaps put off by first impressions).

Some points a review could potentially talk about - stimulus material for reviewers:

A check list of things that FG does well, and that other sims do not have or are not likely to have might help with write ups? (for instance the weather simulation, and the way it interacts with terrain to both affect flight and provde visual cues). Examples of aviation situations where FGs strengths at simulating come to the fore would help reviewers. I think the promotional value of specifying unique aspects should not be underestimated for a sim that people currently invested in other sims can try out easily.

A list of links to evidence that give measures of the quality of JSBSim as well as accuracy of some of FG FDMs might help, as they can be dropped in reviews to great persuasive effect (e.g. this link from an article in the tour section).

FG reviews have to contain some reference of FG's opensource nature and what it means. What are a checklist of positives to include? Are there examples of issues in closed source projects that an open source engine would avoid? e.g. aircraft devs getting stranded by lack of engine development.

(Is the features page up to date? Any journalist reviewing FG would look at that.. come to think of it screenshots on the front page are outdated).

Kind regards,
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Re: How to write a FlightGear review (brainstorming) ?

Postby Bomber » Mon Feb 22, 2016 10:47 am

I think with any review you have to consider your target audience.....

A user doesn't give a rats ase about the product being open source. Can i fly quickly without having to jump through hoops or take up a programming tutorial and are there free planes available ?

A person interested in extending a product via 2d 3d or programming extras isn't that much bothered about the user experience but does have an interest in the open source nature and general development culture..

The audience of a review needs to be considered
"If anyone ever tells you anything about an aeroplane which is so bloody complicated you can't understand it, take it from me - it's all balls" - R J Mitchel
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Re: How to write a FlightGear review (brainstorming) ?

Postby Hooray » Mon Feb 22, 2016 11:32 am

thanks for the feedback - please keep it coming. If possible try to keep it sufficiently generic, so that I can directly copy useful stuff to the wiki, without having to hand-edit stuff like "rat's arse" ;-)
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