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Help needed - market research for FG

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Re: Help needed - market research for FG

Postby Hooray » Mon Dec 10, 2012 7:30 pm

lol, how often do we get to see someone saying "I'd appreciate seeing more complaints ..." :D

Hooray wrote in Mon Dec 10, 2012 2:53 pm:
* A flight analysis featuring a map displaying the flightpath and a vertical analysis graph and VCR-like playback.

That should be very simple to implement using a combination of the canvas system and by accessing the built-in flight recorder subsystem.
Graphs can already be created using the canvas, we would just need a way to access the replay buffers from Nasal space.


Update: The required hooks for this just got committed by James: https://gitorious.org/fg/flightgear/com ... dfc1e1cb43
But it's using yet another subsystem called "FGFlightHistory" and apparently doesn't make use of the existing flight recorder subsystem at all ... :?
ThorstenB's flight recorder/property recorder system would have seemed like a more natural choice actually ...
Last edited by Hooray on Mon Dec 10, 2012 8:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Help needed - market research for FG

Postby Bjoern » Tue Dec 11, 2012 5:02 pm

gluon wrote in Mon Dec 10, 2012 2:13 pm:Let me mention, that FSX has a sort of default scheme for building models of airports, which has been mentioned in some magazine articles comparing FG to FSX. So there are no empty airports, which is neat.


MSFS had a way larger development team and (maybe) tools to populate airports with generic objects while FG hasn't. There is some effort in the "generic terminals" department, but placing them still requires user input.
Same with X-Plane, whose default airports are just as empty as FG's (or at least were in v.9).

* ATC: FS9 and FSX have a automatic ATC system where you can communicate with the towers and the regional ATC. In addition to the text it also sports different voices for pilots and towers so you can actually hear the radio communication. The voices are pre-recorded and sound natural (not robotic TTS). While the voices are nice, a text-based version would be sufficient. In FlightGear comparable ATC support has been broken since 2.0 and has only worked at approach.


Funnily enough, MSFS' ATC uses the just same "building block" method as any MSFS add-ons criticized for sounding too "robotic". It's just that the default voice sample processing is very well done and the samples themselves are very well made.

I too would love to see, err...hear aural ATC in FG, but the basics (new 8.50 airport layouts, AI system and flight guidance (clearance -> shutdown) system) need to be fleshed out first before one can think of implementing an aural ATC system.
For extendability, simplicity and keeping in FG's "everything is done procedurally" spirit, I'd suggest a text-to-speech system (yes, you may cringe), if there is a FOS one. But that's a future issue.

* Sounds: Sounds in FSX are in general much better. It features high-quality sound samples which don't sound repetitive.


Quality sounds are hard to come by. For full fleshed projects like the PMDG 737NG or A2A P-51 you can very well just have someone go out and record the crap out of the real thing, but for freeware, you're stuck with whatever you can find around the web. It gets even more difficult when the sounds have to be licensed under the GPL to be included in FG.

* Eye-candy: The water-shader in FSX actually shows reflections of clouds and scenery. Though not the best (X-Plane is much better), this really adds to the experience.


I find FG's water rendering method much better, especially the wind-dependent foamy wavetops.
Also, unless you've got perfectly calm lake areas like Crater Lake, you won't see many reflections anyway.
There could be a function which enables reflections on inland water areas (lakes) when the wind is below a certain speed, however.

The streets are populated with cars that are moving.


Nice to have, BUT I don't see this happening as it would further degrade rendering performance.

Landclasses are mostly seemless.


This is more of a texture blending thing that can be worked around (as far as I can judge).

Nice looking shorelines and animated waves incoming to shore.


The waves are always there though and don't scale with wind speed and direction.

If you change weather settings, the transition between scenarios is smooth and not abrupt.


Don't forget the smooth time of day transition! I hate MSFS' complete scenery reload when switching from night to day in the menu.



Thorsten wrote in Mon Dec 10, 2012 7:09 pm:Opinions are divided on the issue of the well-matchedness of the DDS texture set :-) Also, the higher resolution comes at the price of increased tiling problems (the texture resolution isn't exclusively in the file size, it's mainly the physical size onto which the texture sheet is mapped - and if you map to 500 m, you get a different result than if you map onto 2000 m). However, leaving that aside, the DDS set can't be default for the simple reason that DDS apparently isn't supported by OpenSouce Linux drivers, so there are many systems around which don't see any DDS textures at all.


Thinking about this, what about completely switching to .dds textures (to ease development and file organization) and just convert all textures into a compatible format?
I'm thinking among the lines of some older games that have users sit and stare at a "converting textures" loading screen.
You'd have FG check for the video card driver upon startup and, if necessary, convert all the textures to a non-dds format (a small, batch mode, GPL'ed texture conversion utility should be around the web). Have the function scan for any .dds textures in FG's folder and convert them.
Granted, you'd have to wait quite some time during the first startup, but after that, conversion should be very quick if, say a plane or scenery using .dds textures was added.

I think the only ones affected by open source drivers are people running Linux and older ATI cards (like me) or on-board Intel chips while the majority (I think) runs FG on Windows or with official drivers.

Using this scheme would streamline development a bit, as one could basically unify of the two texture folders currently present and the texture type switching needed to display .dds textures.




Gee, I'm in a talkative mood today...
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Re: Help needed - market research for FG

Postby i4dnf » Tue Dec 11, 2012 5:20 pm

Bjoern wrote in Tue Dec 11, 2012 5:02 pm:
Thinking about this, what about completely switching to .dds textures (to ease development and file organization) and just convert all textures into a compatible format?
I'm thinking among the lines of some older games that have users sit and stare at a "converting textures" loading screen.
You'd have FG check for the video card driver upon startup and, if necessary, convert all the textures to a non-dds format (a small, batch mode, GPL'ed texture conversion utility should be around the web). Have the function scan for any .dds textures in FG's folder and convert them.
Granted, you'd have to wait quite some time during the first startup, but after that, conversion should be very quick if, say a plane or scenery using .dds textures was added.


That won't happen, as the .dds "codec" is the IP sensitive stuff (s3tc patents, etc), so that code can't be distributed with Flightgear. Unfortunately the OpenGL spec doesn't allow for advertising the texture compression capabilities of the hardware without the runtime on-the-fly compression capability, hence the issues with OSS drivers... the hardware supports it, but since the driver can't do on-the-fly compression it isn't advertised.
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Re: Help needed - market research for FG

Postby Hooray » Tue Dec 11, 2012 5:28 pm

The streets are populated with cars that are moving.

Nice to have, BUT I don't see this happening as it would further degrade rendering performance.


Not necessarily, X-Plane does provide fairly good performance actually:


Also, Mathias recently committed a new AI prototype called "fgai": https://gitorious.org/fg/flightgear/com ... 399bfa83d6
This is part of the ongoing HLA/RTI work: http://wiki.flightgear.org/FlightGear_H ... chitecture)

Using HLA, it should definitely be possible to implement such features, for example using "sumo": viewtopic.php?f=23&t=9553
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Re: Help needed - market research for FG

Postby Michat » Tue Dec 11, 2012 9:54 pm

FlightGear Know your rights: To Use - To Copy - To Modify - To Share - To Flight
yourexperience is our reward |#Michat |

Strategic Plan for FlightGear : ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

#1UserRights
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Devoted to freesoftware, sinonimus of Freedom our GPL is our ethical statement. Together in freedom is better.
FlightGear runs with almost same guaranty that Privative software. Almost Nothing.
However we offer better assistance. 24X7X365 Wiki - Forum - IRC - FAQ
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

#2FreedomOurStrenght
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

To Use - To Copy - To Modify - To Share - To Flight - To Teach - To Learn - To build - To program
With unmatched multiplatform software capable to run on more than 6: O.S GNU/Linux - Mac - Win
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

#3ImproveYourExperience
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


#3.1WebPageExperience
First Look Matter, we can improve graphics without complex.
We should drive New simmers and privative Simmers web visitors
Into a funny and atractive way to discover our important message,
some feedback before install , could be important.
Visual tour, to have general idea on what people can do entering in FGWORLD

#3.2Improve1rstTimeUsersxperience
Improve the installer img
FGWizard canvas, improved FGwizard Color or Style
FG FGCOM ready. Best assistance than via chat. Mumble.
Server selection Drop Box
Offers basic adventures, flying practice, some nimitz landing, etc
Introduction flight, Interatctive fist time user demo flight
With some keyboard use hints, using Alt Text over hotspots. IA Buildings included. (messages refered to Ai interaction)
Messages about AI buildings refering to objects and tools that user can create by himself for future contributors**.
Some tips about the ksfo silicon valley area. Virtual tour mode. Some FG friendly entrerprises or orgs could give money
to FG in order to appear in our KSFo virtual tour. Why not?. We are over silicon valley. There was made the first gui flightsimulator
with terrain an objects ever. Our buildings can show AI exponsorized tags, our balloons can show sponsored logos .

#3.3Improve1rstTimeDevxperience
**Gui tools, etc, but i have no idea exactly Signmaker.



#3.4Improve1rstTimeHackerxperience
i have no idea exactly.
BugTracker - NasalTour - Cmake - GIT
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

#4SpreedOurMessage
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Loudy, we are part of a culture we add free culture and common sense to our simulator and to your world.
We are not alone FSF - GPL - Blender - GIMP - OPENAL - GIT - mediagoblin - Inkscape
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

#5MakeMoreVisibleOurSolidarityProgram _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Study it's efficency by tracking if there are trully results.
Be critic ourselves.
Be critic with others . i.e it seems that MSBG is sponsoring poisoned vaccines.
I would like to see that our money don't go to those killing programs.

Is better our solution?. If is true, we must to SpreedOurMessageLouder




Smile with FlightGear
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

#6MakeMoreVisibleOurUniversityProgram
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Loudy, we are part of a culture we add free culture and common sense to our simulator and to our academic world.
FlightGear University Program
FGUP - Urbana Campaign - Udine - ATL - more

Hardware Discounts
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

#6MakeMoreVisibleFGDIYcockpitProgram
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Loudy, we are part of a culture we add free culture and common sense to our home simulator builders.
FlightGear DIY Cockpit

777 - MD80 - Galactica - Parapent - more

FG friendly avionics
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

#6MakeMoreVisibleFGMuseumProgram
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Loudy, we are part of a culture we add free culture and common sense to our FG friendly museums.
FlightGear Museum Program

CurtOlson Rc Museum - PAF - Dumont Museum - more


FGBundle Ticket + Joystick + freecopy of FG ourMuseumCustom Edition.
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

#6MakeMoreVisibleFGEmbassyProgram
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Loudy, we are part of a culture we add free culture and common sense to our colaborative partners.
FlightGear Embassy Program


FG WEB Gatged - FGOrg Model Letters - Intitutions - logos - banner - MGFGMediaChannel


FG Friendly Plane Spotter Sites Be a part of it.
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

#6MakeMoreVisibleFGHardwareProgram
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Loudy, we are part of a culture we add free culture and common sense to our home simulator builders.
FlightGear Hardware Program

Buy me a yoke Daddy - FGFriendly Shops - DIYDrones - Free Hardware - Arduino


FG Friendly Hardware where users, dealers, and manufacturers are connected in good harmony.


Hardware Discounts - FGBundle - Joystick + freecopy of FG - Helicopter - F14 - Classic - More

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


This is my general idea of how we can improved FG. But I have no Idea about how to match those privative (minds) games users of MS-X-Plane.

I'm a simmer before MS ran its first version of MSFS, where the most significant was the name of the game and the manual. My PSION Flight Simulation, my dear Fighter Pilot from Digital Integration, my interceptor cobalt, my little access to the basic code in ZXSpectrum. I was a Simmer, yes, and a potential hacker. Thats was before Microsoft launched Flight Simulator, under DOS. Its well known that MS is more Known for to copy and close than to invent.

After that, I never could see code, all along next versions 2.0. 4.0. 5.0. 6.0 fs98+fs98patch FS9 FS10., they transform a young potential programer and free simmer, into an unhappy and old MS user, 30 years later where the most interesting thing without doubt was IVAO, VATSIM, and later become a part of one of the most experienced virtual company, DC3 Airways, where I tried to spreed the word that their legacy will dissapear if they continue using MS due to format changes. Time later, MS stopped the franchise of that game (Is a game nor a simulator).
Because FSX is a frame killer, and a source of new problems, a lot of people remained in FS9 that is the standard problem edition. Those great people are getting very older and they will lost they legacy due to a game format files.

However some of them are really sensitive, some of them knew about FG health's kind properties, but finally the main flow opt by FS9 some others with X-plane, even a couple bought a fake version of FG called ProFuckSimulator. That's when I knew that some of them unmasked the fake easily, because they have heard about flightgear before. That's sound good to me, so I requested a FG section on their forum, as X-plane did. But admin didn't answer our suggestion. There are a lot of people that protect a product as owns. Its not exactly the case of DC·3 crew, but is the general perception of all only privative software users.

To me MSFS is a dark huge black hole in my life, where I did loose the time almost totally, hopefully I was the nail of the best flying group I ever found in my life, where I get my classic style, but the software, software was horrible, I still remember, that poisoned menu of MSFS, Those horrible function keys that become me in a stupid click user. The unusuable map ; Those crashes in blue screens on windows 95, 98, ME, XP. Those horrible turns, bad physics, those lost of data +reinstalling everything again, those customs scenery to crack, those hazardous installs, folder by folder, those privative dds, dll, gauges, folders, and more folders, those extra textures, those extras, and some others and others more. Once I had full equipe, my system crash, and back again, again, again and again.... and again.... I Remember how difficult to find, to connect, Old Ivao and New Vatsim Sofware, a lot of version problems, a lot of pluggins a lot of software incompatibilities, a lot of programs, a lot of windows instances openned, a lot of server adresses, a lot of privative servers, a lot of passwords, a lot of team speak and ventrilo privative accounts, a lot of famous unfinished approaches because vatsim crashed, a lot of registration procedures, a lot of unhappy people, a lot of privative minds software discussions, a lot of replicating problems, a lot of no solution available. HORRIBLE.

But I found Just a pair of jewels: FSNAVIGATOR a good example of how a privative project can be massive attacked by users with registration cracks till the dev can't support, the cost of development, web page, the cost to maintain SID STARS FIX Updates and the change of the MS format. Our google map should take magic from the nice mouse function of FSNAVIGATOR. Poor the author they must prefered to GPL they code and take donations than lost that precious jewell. Nobody told him a thank.

The other jewell is the Mid Atlantic Air museum, Dc3 Pack CD. Supported by dc3airways for the M.A.A.M it has the best dc3 and others I ever seen, with awesome panels, 2-D and 3-D (I love good 2-d panels), With radio range, sextant navigation, awesome textures, and more, many more. That CD is Only available trough the museum
and they care it.

The problem with privative software is that the small dev, must to create a digital fortress to protect their creations from the so called illegal copy. When the problem itself is to build a privative programs with privative software pending of a bigger privative program that is up to a bigger software platform. For a honest task is better to use free honest software.
I supposed that one of the reasons for not moving to FG is because they are maintaining that museum program. Well, for me the only way is using freesoftware.

In other side, I wrote more than 25 articles in spanish on the vatspa.net web site (spain vatsim ATC group) forum. At fisrt time the were against FG inclusion on their forum.
I had to call to the common sense, I had to mention that, why not? if there were fs9 fsx and x-plane forum sections. I had to negotiate hardly because they had privatives minds.

I had to show that is possible to connect FG with VATSIM, however they didn't receive the new as a good point, there are an strange sensation, they allways try to defend his status range, So I had to explain that FG is not against anybodys bussinness, not against VATSIM. So they decided to create a poll that I did't admit, why a poll to include FG? when no poll needed for x-plane. Finally I won the battle after two years, because they move their web page to JOOMLA. GPL. They were pretty happy with the results, an old webmaster come back to the group installing Joomla. It was my opportunity to explain that their new web page was only possible because use freesoftware. So they had to leave entry to FG. \O/

After 5 years writting articles of FG, I'm proud to say that the most visited section in the forum is mine. After me, are fs9 and fs10, where the amount of toppics is huge, but always refering to replicant problems.

Nowadays there are some shy boys that are requesting me how to FG, they are seeing the light at last. They specially like the short of actions that FG can do and now.
6 years later I have the key, Action is the key, they ussually are bored and angry. We are allways happy and colaborating, living the dream of Fly.

I had to spreed the message or die. However the mayority still using fs9 because is the standard for Vatsim. But they well know that FG is a simulator not a game.

We should to show all those of our atractive capabilities in fg web page.

Don't search the X, just try the F.

X means Slavery. F means Freedom.
I'm not kidding.
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Re: Help needed - market research for FG

Postby EigerSA » Wed Dec 12, 2012 7:10 am

Since this thread is about gaining NEW users, I'm going to add my few cents worth...

1. The average new user (and I include myself in this) is interested in flying an aircraft in a simulated environment. That's it. Finished. So the very first impression of FlightGear counts most in whether new users (and potential developers) stay or go is going to be once the download is finished. The questions that really to be asked is...

- is it easy to get FlightGear running on most systems?
I would say no. If you consider the average user does not want to mess about with the command line, or deal with tweaking systems etc, then FlightGear is bound to fail against other simulators that are easy to install and start.

- Is FlightGear easy to understand?
Again, no it's not. It takes a little time to actually get into it. I've played both the oppositions offerings and honestly FlightGear lags behind when it comes to ease of use.

- Is it easy to get help?
No it's not. First off, the wiki tries, but it's not clear, up to date or easy to navigate, and remember I speak from the eyes of a NEW user! The forums aren't much better, and I notice most new users questions can go unanswered (ignored) by seasoned veterans. If you're looking to entice new users, this is not the way to go about it.

So how to improve/convert a new users experience... make it simple. Documentation goes a long way in this. And if you're going to tell a user to "use the forums", then for goodness sake keep an eye out for posts from new guys and answer them, even if it's to point them in the right direction... and in a friendly manner!

*****

For users that want to contribute, FlightGear is a nightmare of contradicting ideas and directions. And again, understand I am talking from a new users perspective. If I want to develop scenery I either look through the wiki, or I ask on the forums. Neither is satisfactory since the wiki can be out of date, and of course the forums can go unanswered. There's no comprehensive instruction set and that is important, since not only does it guide new users, but it would also serve to guide developers.

FlightGear is going to fade at some point, or at the very least become the domain is coders while paid simulators become more popular. And yes it is partly because of money, but far more important than that, it because companies work to ONE goal, they work to ONE set guideline and NOT have everyone just do what they want.

For FlightGear to survive, I believe you need a document outlining in which direction FlightGear is going, with emphasis on what systems/tools are going to be supported in the long term. Much like a commercial product would have.

Just remember, purchasing a paid product is no big deal these days, whether you have to save for it, whether it's a Christmas present, it's just a click away... and there's no messing about with code for the most part, it all just works. And that is what FlightGear should be aiming for.
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Re: Help needed - market research for FG

Postby Thorsten » Wed Dec 12, 2012 7:50 am

FlightGear is going to fade at some point, or at the very least become the domain is coders while paid simulators become more popular. And yes it is partly because of money, but far more important than that, it because companies work to ONE goal, they work to ONE set guideline and NOT have everyone just do what they want.


Yet Microsoft FSX and Flight! are no longer developed, FG is. This sort of spoils your case, doesn't it? 8)

This comes up every now and then, the upshot is: People donating their spare time on a voluntary basis can not be organized like a commercial project. Everyone doing what he wants has not only disadvantages against the commercial 'ONE goal' but also pronounced advantages, one of them being that the overarching commercial goal usually is making profit rather than making the best flightsim, whereas a volunteer project can pursue ideas which are never commercially viable with ease.

Working analogues of the FG development model exist, for instance in the case of large-scale scientific collaborations in which the spokesperson has no particular power over the collaborators. Such collaborations are frequently at the fore-front of technological development, so there can't be anything seriously wrong with a non-commercial model. Fur further reference, just... please use the search function in the forum and on the devel list, I type this every six months or so :D

I would say no. If you consider the average user does not want to mess about with the command line, or deal with tweaking systems etc, then FlightGear is bound to fail against other simulators that are easy to install and start.


I've just had to install FG on Windows. I was on the runway 30 seconds after the download, with a nice graphical launcher. I have almost zero experience with Windows as such, no prior experience with Windows 7. I'd say that was easy. Linux is (dependent on your distribution and on what version you'd like) may be a different story.

- Is FlightGear easy to understand?
Again, no it's not. It takes a little time to actually get into it. I've played both the oppositions offerings and honestly FlightGear lags behind when it comes to ease of use.


*shrugs* Is flying an airplane easy to understand? No, I think usually people take lessons. So if a real P-51D is difficult to fly and needs a complicated startup procedure, why should the simulated be different? This'd be turning a simulation into a game...
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Re: Help needed - market research for FG

Postby Thorsten » Wed Dec 12, 2012 8:10 am

Thinking about this, what about completely switching to .dds textures (to ease development and file organization) and just convert all textures into a compatible format?


I suspect the main thing you like about the dds texture set is that it has different textures with different resolution, not that it is in a different format.

dds has two real advantages I know of: It loads much faster into GPU memory than png, and it allows to pre-generate custom mipmaps, which would be useful under some conditions (personally I don't like too pronounced changes in texturing as you get closer to an object, but pre-generated mipmaps could suppress some artefacts in automatic cloud mipmapping). dds has one real disadvantage I know of - it needs much more harddisk space than png.
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Re: Help needed - market research for FG

Postby EigerSA » Wed Dec 12, 2012 11:47 am

Thorsten, I'm replying to this thread as a new user. The OP wants to know what needs to be done in order to convince other flight sim users to convert to FlightGear...

I'm currently looking at how we can market FG better, and in particular how we can "sell" it to FS-X users.


It's pointless getting all defensive with me, I'm only trying to answer the OP's question.

Yet Microsoft FSX and Flight! are no longer developed, FG is. This sort of spoils your case, doesn't it?


I don't see how. Even when development ended, FSX still looked miles ahead of FlightGear. The real question we should be asking, is how does FlightGear capture those users? Like or not, new users want to experience flight, and being that us human beings are turned on visually so to speak, if FlightGear doesn't look as impressive as the other sims, then FlightGear is NOT going convert users; and will remain tagged as a flight sim for flight sim developers and not flyers!

This comes up every now and then, the upshot is: People donating their spare time on a voluntary basis can not be organized like a commercial project. Everyone doing what he wants has not only disadvantages against the commercial 'ONE goal' but also pronounced advantages, one of them being that the overarching commercial goal usually is making profit rather than making the best flightsim, whereas a volunteer project can pursue ideas which are never commercially viable with ease.


I both disagree and agree here. In a commercial world, a document is created that road-maps a specific goal. This ensures everyone is working to a common goal. The motivating force in a commercial sense is monetary gain. In the open source world, the motivation is very different, but it's still all the same. If a document is produced and published specifying the direction FG is going in and the areas in which help is needed, you would have plenty of people offering their time and abilities to help. This is exactly what's happened before and could happen again.

Working analogues of the FG development model exist, for instance in the case of large-scale scientific collaborations in which the spokesperson has no particular power over the collaborators. Such collaborations are frequently at the fore-front of technological development, so there can't be anything seriously wrong with a non-commercial model. Fur further reference, just... please use the search function in the forum and on the devel list, I type this every six months or so


and yet with all the development that takes place, with all the talented coders, FlightGear still lags behind? So clearly this isn't working out too well. And to be clear here, my argument isn't development within a non-profit/commercial sense, but rather a lack of definitive (published) goals or mile-posts. And if the analogues exist, where are they published? And telling me to search the wiki is ridiculous, a clearly defined set of goals should have a page on the main site!

I've just had to install FG on Windows. I was on the runway 30 seconds after the download, with a nice graphical launcher. I have almost zero experience with Windows as such, no prior experience with Windows 7. I'd say that was easy. Linux is (dependent on your distribution and on what version you'd like) may be a different story.


FG 2.4 worked right out the box for me, GF 2.6 I still can't get to work, and FG2.8, well I don't want to try because FG 2.4 still works on my laptop. So whilst your experience might be relatively painless, it certainly isn't always so, and just a look at the forums enforces that. And the general consensus, whether true or not, is that GF is for coders, not flight sim enthusiasts (that was mentioned earlier in this thread).

*shrugs* Is flying an airplane easy to understand? No, I think usually people take lessons. So if a real P-51D is difficult to fly and needs a complicated startup procedure, why should the simulated be different? This'd be turning a simulation into a game...


I honestly think that this statement more than anything else typifies FG at the moment... it's pretty arrogant and elitist. What about those who are just getting into flight sims? I can start the cessna 172, but I can't start the P-51D, so in your opinion, tough luck for me? I cannot think of a quicker way to kill a project than with that sought of attitude. How about those that are just getting into flying with no previous experience of anything, should they be turned off the entire experience because of a lack of documentation? Or a lack of enthusiasm?

With very limited resources, I am busy trying to re-create the scenery around my local airport and city. I'm actually beginning to enjoy this, and would like to carry it on to other areas. This in the long term can only improve the users experience of FG, and if I, with no coding ability and limited 3d experience can manage this, all be it very slowly, it means others can do it as well, but because of this attitude, I'm hovering on the point of just giving up and moving over to another sim. I don't want to, I'll probably keep at it in spite of the difficulties, but it makes it very difficult to convince others to make the move.

And again, I'm answering the OP's original question, NOT criticizing the developers. If you wanna convince prospective users to move over to your system, then you better make sure it at least offers the bare essentials of other systems.
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Re: Help needed - market research for FG

Postby Thorsten » Wed Dec 12, 2012 12:41 pm

Even when development ended, FSX still looked miles ahead of FlightGear. The real question we should be asking, is how does FlightGear capture those users?


I think my point above was that these users are a different audience asking for different things, and there's no point in capturing them because it would turn FG into something we could no longer enjoy. That still represents my opinion.

Like or not, new users want to experience flight, and being that us human beings are turned on visually so to speak


Pray tell :D Most of my devel time goes into visuals these days. Arguably (see other's feeback) with clouds and sky we already beat FSX - I can't comment from first hand experience, I never bothered to buy FSX. So, it's not that this wouldn't be recognized as important.

In the open source world, the motivation is very different, but it's still all the same. If a document is produced and published specifying the direction FG is going in and the areas in which help is needed, you would have plenty of people offering their time and abilities to help. This is exactly what's happened before and could happen again.


And you know that because...? Because I used to think so as well - when I started to work on weather, I devoted about 1/3 of my time to documentation, goals, defining subprojects, ... and asked for help. It largely turned out a waste of time. I did as a rule *not* recruit any people who were previously not active in FG to help with even simple things such as donating photographs of the sky, people did as a rule *not* read the documentation but just asked me if there were any problems or questions. My main support came from long-time active users who answered questions and from core developers who helped out on the C++ side as a result of discussions.

So, based on my very own first-hand experience there are *not* plenty of people offering their time and abilities to help if I define a project structure - the only thing that happens is that I lose time which I could use better otherwise.

Similarly, I am entirely willing to offer 10.000 $ worth of my time doing what interests me in FG. I'm willing to offer maybe 100 $ to work on what someone else wants but I don't consider interesting. Call me an egoist, but it's my hobby, and in my spare time I do what I'm interested in, end of story.

and yet with all the development that takes place, with all the talented coders, FlightGear still lags behind?


First, it apparently doesn't lag everywhere (see above), second, just do the numbers: FG has about 20 core developers judging from the number of people who have commit rights on the FG repository. About half of them are actively participating at any given time. If their schedule is anywhere like mine, they can squeeze a few hours of coding a week between coming from work, dinner and sleep. I get perhaps 4 hours a week. A full-time programmer in a commercial project get to do ~40 hours per week. So the 40 people employed by MS Flight do 1600 manhours per week, our 10 active core developers do 40 manhours in the same time. We're beaten by sheer numbers - if I could devote 40 hours per week to coding FG because I would not have to do anything else and if I had 1-2 graphic artists at my disposal, FG would look amazing by next year.

And to be clear here, my argument isn't development within a non-profit/commercial sense, but rather a lack of definitive (published) goals or mile-posts. And if the analogues exist, where are they published?


I understand your argument. There are no definitive published or unpublished goals, FG is run as you quite correctly grasped by the principle 'Everyone does what he's interested in' and the developers (including myself) have repeatedly expressed that we want it that way. As outlined above, I see zero evidence that clear published and definite goals would change the manpower situation, so as far as I'm concerned, you're just kidding yourself here.

So whilst your experience might be relatively painless, it certainly isn't always so, and just a look at the forums enforces that.


We can't know that by looking at the forums, because a user having a problem has a strong incentive to post in a forum in the first place whereas a trouble-free user would be less likely to do so just to write that everything runs fine. It's called a sampling bias.

I honestly think that this statement more than anything else typifies FG at the moment... it's pretty arrogant and elitist.


*shrugs* FG aims to be a realistic flight simulation (there's a 'professional' somewhere in the mission statement). In order to be realistic, it should reproduce real-life difficulties. If a real P-51D is difficult to get into the air, then so should the FG version be. For a commercial project, it would matter a lot if most end users can get the plane off the runway or not, so a company is likely to tone down realism if this makes problems for the users. An OpenSource project doesn't need to do that, it can actually afford to be a realistic simulation to the point that most end users won't be able to fly a particular aircraft.

There's a big misunderstanding from your part. You're answering the question 'How can we convince people who expect a game that FG is good?' That's simple - we can't. Anyone who expects a game has acquired the wrong software if he installed FG, because FG is s simulation. The idea of marketing FG isn't the same as turning FG into something else.

With very limited resources, I am busy trying to re-create the scenery around my local airport and city. I'm actually beginning to enjoy this, and would like to carry it on to other areas. This in the long term can only improve the users experience of FG, and if I, with no coding ability and limited 3d experience can manage this, all be it very slowly, it means others can do it as well,


We already did the numbers on that one I believe. :D

Let me ask a simple question - what would *you personally* do when there is a clearly defined project goal, but it's contrary to what you would like to see? Would you then work on something I tell you to, because there has been taken a vote and I represent the project?
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Re: Help needed - market research for FG

Postby Hooray » Wed Dec 12, 2012 12:50 pm

Well, I think you do have a point. Even though it's kinda pointless talking to Thorsten about the merits of "eye candy" and visuals, because he's obviously the single person/developer who's changed FG significantly in this regard during the last 18-24 months with all his weather and shader work.

Thorsten doesn't really get defensive at all. He may even agree with you to a certain extent. In fact, he has made similar postings here 2 years ago ;-)


That said, I completely agree with your statement regarding roadmaps, todo lists and milestones - we don't have any.

That's something that FG has never really had/implemented. Even though there were various attempts, and they didn't really work out all that well:

Here's the original FG mission statement for example: http://www.flightgear.org/proposal-3.0.1
Here's a heavily outdated "Immediate Goals" page: http://www.flightgear.org/goals.html
Here's a "long term goals" article: http://wiki.flightgear.org/Long_Term_Goals
And here's the list of feature requests accepted by core developers: https://code.google.com/p/flightgear-bu ... 3Aaccepted

Funnily, the original proposal and the immediate goals pages are obviously the most "official" ones.
The "Long Term Goals" page is obviously contributed by non core developers on the other hand.
And then there are a handful of "feature request" pages to be found in the wiki.
Obviously, the issue tracker contains feature requests that actually got accepted by people developing the sim.
Then again, the issue tracker is not used by all core developers, and not all core developers using it do have the corresponding privileges to accept issues and tag them accordingly.

I really do agree that it would be great to work out a way to update this, but it will definitely be difficult


Some core developers have their own roadmaps/todo lists: http://wiki.flightgear.org/Plan-zakalawe
http://wiki.flightgear.org/User:Stuart

my argument isn't development within a non-profit/commercial sense, but rather a lack of definitive (published) goals or mile-posts. And if the analogues exist, where are they published? And telling me to search the wiki is ridiculous, a clearly defined set of goals should have a page on the main site!


I don't know, in comparison with other OSS projects, the website has never been that well maintained or really updated regularly. Things got better when a CMS (WordPress) got adopted, but still there are better resources than the official website to learn more about FG. While there's now a CMS being used, I do think that there's still only a single person maintaining it. So updating the website does take time, energy and other resources and you need to understand that.

How about those that are just getting into flying with no previous experience of anything, should they be turned off the entire experience because of a lack of documentation? Or a lack of enthusiasm?

We don't necessarily have a lack of documentation for new sim users. It just isn't as accessible as it is in FSX or XP, because it isn't direclty integrated.
Please don't send support requests by PM, instead post your questions on the forum so that all users can contribute and benefit
Thanks & all the best,
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Re: Help needed - market research for FG

Postby EigerSA » Wed Dec 12, 2012 2:31 pm

Let me ask a simple question - what would *you personally* do when there is a clearly defined project goal, but it's contrary to what you would like to see? Would you then work on something I tell you to, because there has been taken a vote and I represent the project?


I do understand what you're saying Thorsten, but I do think that if a list is created, or a document created, it would at the very least give newcomers and the curious a clearer idea of what FG is about, where it came from and more importantly, where it's going. In answer to your question, yes; simply because by joining the project, one agrees to further the project as a whole.

I will say this, that FlightGear is my personal favorite simply because I can alter the scenery and at a later stage, maybe even learn to code and assist in developing FG more.

And you know that because...? Because I used to think so as well - when I started to work on weather, I devoted about 1/3 of my time to documentation, goals, defining subprojects, ... and asked for help. It largely turned out a waste of time. I did as a rule *not* recruit any people who were previously not active in FG to help with even simple things such as donating photographs of the sky, people did as a rule *not* read the documentation but just asked me if there were any problems or questions. My main support came from long-time active users who answered questions and from core developers who helped out on the C++ side as a result of discussions.


As a new comer, I wasn't aware of this. Again I can only reiterate that I was replying to the OP question. If you're going to try capture a market that is already used to a higher level of graphical quality, then that's one area FG will have to work on.

For me it's the lack of clear documentation. Reading post after post of the apt.data thread and trying to figure out how it all works only to accidentally stumble on a thread mentioning WED is frustrating! The home page of the wiki should clearly define what FlightGear is and what it is not, what it's built on, who maintains what and where it's maintained, and how to get involved. And written for someone who is new to the project!

Everyone does what he's interested in' and the developers (including myself) have repeatedly expressed that we want it that way


Then the OP has an answer to his question. After this statement, I certainly feel like I'm wasting my time with FlightGear. It's a pity.

I don't know, in comparison with other OSS projects, the website has never been that well maintained or really updated regularly. Things got better when a CMS (WordPress) got adopted, but still there are better resources than the official website to learn more about FG. While there's now a CMS being used, I do think that there's still only a single person maintaining it. So updating the website does take time, energy and other resources and you need to understand that.


I absolutely do understand that. But again in view of the OP's question, do you think a new user will accept that argument? Again, the OP wanted to know what needs to be done in order to convince the users of other flight sims to convert to FG... quite frankly it's not something that's going to happen in a hurry.

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Re: Help needed - market research for FG

Postby Bjoern » Wed Dec 12, 2012 2:39 pm

i4dnf wrote in Tue Dec 11, 2012 5:20 pm:That won't happen, as the .dds "codec" is the IP sensitive stuff (s3tc patents, etc), so that code can't be distributed with Flightgear.


Surely a tool like NConvert can be fetched during installation and run during startup, right?



Thorsten wrote in Wed Dec 12, 2012 7:50 am:Yet Microsoft FSX and Flight! are no longer developed, FG is. This sort of spoils your case, doesn't it? 8)


Not quite true for FSX/ESP...
http://www.prepar3d.com/

(It's just not heading into a 100% average-joe direction.)



Thorsten wrote in Wed Dec 12, 2012 8:10 am:I suspect the main thing you like about the dds texture set is that it has different textures with different resolution, not that it is in a different format.

dds has two real advantages I know of: It loads much faster into GPU memory than png, and it allows to pre-generate custom mipmaps, which would be useful under some conditions (personally I don't like too pronounced changes in texturing as you get closer to an object, but pre-generated mipmaps could suppress some artefacts in automatic cloud mipmapping). dds has one real disadvantage I know of - it needs much more harddisk space than png.


Well, to be honest, I couldn't care less what FG's preferred texture format is (if any), but:
a) I got the impression that things are heading into a DDS direction anyway
b) I like to keep it simple and FG's DDS-non-DDS scheme and folder structure gives the "K.I.S.S." and the "cleanliness OCD" part of my mind a slightly traumatic experience every time I see it

As I've said, the open source driver users are in a minority anyway, so why not just give 'em a tool to work around a pure DDS environment and that's that?


FSX uses (DXTn compressed) DDS textures. There's no difference in file size compared to (similarly compressed) BMP textures, but as you've said, they're loaded a wee bit faster.



Hooray wrote in Wed Dec 12, 2012 12:50 pm:That said, I completely agree with your statement regarding roadmaps, todo lists and milestones - we don't have any.

That's something that FG has never really had/implemented. Even though there were various attempts, and they didn't really work out all that well:

[...]

Funnily, the original proposal and the immediate goals pages are obviously the most "official" ones.
The "Long Term Goals" page is obviously contributed by non core developers on the other hand.
And then there are a handful of "feature request" pages to be found in the wiki.
Obviously, the issue tracker contains feature requests that actually got accepted by people developing the sim.
Then again, the issue tracker is not used by all core developers, and not all core developers using it do have the corresponding privileges to accept issues and tag them accordingly.

I really do agree that it would be great to work out a way to update this, but it will definitely be difficult


I say ditch the "goals" page and focus on the "FG features" page instead to promote the spirit and mission.

- Formulating long term goals apart from "make the best flight simulator in history" is difficult (as you've pointed out)
- The items listed in such long-term oriented lists are generally formulated too fuzzily to be of any help ("Realistic flight dynamics", "Easy installation")
- Situations change over time and you generally don't stick to plans anyway

It would be more helpful to keep updated short-to-mid-term to-do-lists for each area, i.e. "Unify shaders", "improve water rendering" in the "graphics" section, "support SID/STAR approaches" in the "ATC/AI" section, "pink liveries for all default aircraft" in "aircraft" etc...
These (quite) specific goals can also help involving people willing to contribute as they formulate a very specific task that needs to be tackled instead of throwing about very fancy and very general terms.
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Re: Help needed - market research for FG

Postby EigerSA » Wed Dec 12, 2012 2:52 pm

To both Thorsten and Hooray, my apologies, I only came across this now... if I had seen it earlier I probably would have reacted differently.

http://www.flightgear.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=42&t=15267

http://wiki.flightgear.org/How_to_the_FlightGear_project_works

The two posts above have done more to clarify FlightGear for me personally than anything else.
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Re: Help needed - market research for FG

Postby Hooray » Wed Dec 12, 2012 2:56 pm

Well, I don't know for sure - but I find personal todo lists maintained by people who are actively involved in the project much more representative than a "global" todo list that once got assembled by people who are no longer involved. Personally, I think the trend to have contributor-specific todo lists (roadmaps/milestones) is a good thing. But for the project as a whole, a good compromise might be to make better use of the issue tracker for such things - so that new users (and contributors) can more easily find such roadmaps.
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