Thursday, August 28, 2014

My two cents on the freeware thing and other topics

I have been recently involved in a couple of interesting discussion on freeware and other topic, and I think it is worth spending five minutes sharing my point of view and clarifying my position on a couple of things.
First thing let me clarify what I mean with freeware (given the definition of this word has changed somewhat over time): I use this word in the meaning commonly accepted within the FSX community, that is you can download it and use it for free - but I still retain the copyright and you are not allowed to make changes to it. This is different from the "Free Software" concept and from the Open Source approach.

- Converting my models in other simulators or for other purposes: this is NOT allowed, and, in general, I am NOT releasing my source models. Reason for this is not, as several people suggested, that I am not willing to share my work. The fact is that some parts of my models are derivative of third party work of which I do not have the rights or permission to share.
This does not mean that I am not willing to cooperate with other designers - on the contrary none of my work could have reached the current quality level without external contibutions! - but I am not in the legal position to authorize other people to use my models.

- Why I do what I do if I am not getting any money? Because it is great fun. I design my planes first and foremost for my own usage and enjoyment - hence they are good enough when they fit to my taste. They are not designed to appeal to customers, or be fit to any other purpose.

- Payware vs. Freeware: I have absolutely nothing against payware, and it would be a great mean to get more "budget" for my projects. Fact is I do not have time to support this activity in a more professional matter - let alone the financial and taxes  and paperwork thing. It is not ruled out in future.

- You made it free so "you get what you get and users cannot complain". I can tell you that users will complain (mostly in a very polite and constructive way, but there are exceptions) regardless if they get them for free or not. I think I always made my best to listen to all the feedback - and implement it. I am sorry but I cannot always grant a timely reply (or a reply at all)...but rest assured I read everything and keep track of what you say.

- Realism: in general I try to make my planes "reasonably" realistic. The rationale is "good enough for me"... there is no guarantee of any kind on realism, nor my planes cannot be considered on par with ones from other designers in that respect. At least I am trying to represent all the peculiar features of the subject.
That being said.... expect further updates for the T-45C and the S-3B soon!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Aermacchi MB.326: announcement and project scope

One thing I am really happy about my new Aermacchi MB.326 project is that it will benefit from the help of members the Sim Skunk Works Group. I think they need no introduction, but in the remote case that you do not know them, you should definitely check out their website and their aircrafts (to name one their F-104 rendition is legendary - and the work they are doing on their new Tornado model is really promising):
They have offered their help in several areas and their help is more than welcome - especially since the quality of their work is guaranteed. As additional "bonus" their team includes a pilot which has hundreds of flight hours in the real MB.326. Here are primary targets of the project:
  • The main scope of the project is to create a realistic rendition of the Aermacchi MB.326
  • The level of realism shall be enough to provide a good training device for people looking to advance to "serious" military simulation 
  • The model will be optimized for minimal frame rate impact
  • Given the dozens of different configurations (I have counted more than 25 variants) the main visual model will be the MB.326E I-RVEG - the reason why I picked this particular variant is that I had the chance to fly on it, and it is the only MB.326 in flying conditions.
  • The backseat cockpit will not be modeled to help with frame rate
  • For flexibility, the cockpit model will be a sort of "average" between the cockpits of the MB.326E, -G and -K - i.e. a generic "mid-70's" configuration.
  • The package should have at least one livery for each major operator (by "major" I mean by number of aicrafts: Italy, South Africa, Brazil and Australia were the largest users).
...and here is a list of "secondary targets" that I would like to achieve (in order of difficulty - easiest to hardest) but it will depend on time and resources:
  • Include basic Tacpack compatibiliy (note: given that different variants had different weapons capabilities, I will stick to a generic configuration)
  • Include at least a livery for EVERY operator (there are dozens!)
  • Include external model variants
  • Extend the project to include the MB.326K (single seater, light attack version)
  • Extend the project to include the MB.339A (there are a lot of commonalities between the 326 and the 339, and I have some draft material on the 339... but that is a lot of work)
That being said, I believe there is no way to complete anything before end of 2014 - beginning of 2015.

...and in reply to your questions: YES I'd like to to an Eurofighter too. Problem is that, as you know, this is just a hobby for me and my "bandwidth" is full. When the MB.326 project will be in a better shape, we will see...

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

S-3B Viking, bug report, suggestions, etc.

I am quite happy to see that, apparently, there are not catastrophic issues with the 0.99 release of the Viking. This is indeed good news - but still there are a couple of things that I'd like to fix.
Here is a list of known bugs / suggestions / requests / FAQs with my comments ("Fixed" means that it is fixed in my own build):

1) [BUG] Wrong entry in the aicraft.cfg makes it impossible to see the NASA livery - Fixed

2) [BUG] Incorrect cruise speed, especially at high altitudes (aicraft is slightly too slow) - I will check the NATOPs and will work on this to find a proper fix.

3) [Request] Torpedoes not working: torpedoes are not currently supported by Tacpack and therefore are not implemented.

4) [Request] Missing SENSO and TACCO stations: unfortunately I have no time and resources to do them, besides they would have little or no function in FSX

5) [Request] Where is the S-3 AI Tanker? It is almost ready. It will be initially released as a separate file, but may be integrated in the base package in the initial release.

6) [BUG] External Light switches are not working - I will fix that.

7) [BUG] Launch bar still having issues on some system - I will investigate that, but cannot guarantee a solution as it is perfectly working on my system...

8) [BUG] Allowed airspeed error on carrier approach is too small - I will investigate that, but I am reclutant to make big changes to the flight model in that department, as the carrier behaviour seems quite good...

9) [BUG] Autothrottle apparently not working as intended on my system (but I have checked the code several times and it seems OK)...

10) [BUG] Reflection of bomb bay doors is slightly different from the rest of the fuselage.

....if you have other things to report, you are welcome to do it here. I will keep the list updated, at least for a while, to track what your feedback.
Also, as usual, I am looking to improve all my aicrafts and any suggestion on the F-35, F-14 and T-45 is welcome.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

S-3B Viking version 0.99 release

Well, given that my vacations are approaching and I ran out of steam on the S-3B Viking, I have put togheter the most complete build I could and so here is version 0.99 for you to download.
There are several minor known bugs, (hence it is not named version 1.00) but there is no way for me fix them in a reasonable time - and given the feeback on the Beta, I believe the current build is good enough for the vast majority of the users.

One of the biggest shortcomings is that this rendition cannot be used, as it is, as a tanker for other aicrafts.... I will release separate file with a suitable model soon.

Anyway, I hope you'll like it - download from the side bar as usual (note: it is a quite large file...aboy 250Mb. This may easily saturate the daily Google Drive bandwith... in case you are unluckly and cannot dowload the file, you can try in a day or two...from my experience, in 2 or 3 days there will be no problems)...