And here’s Part II of the interview we had with John Venema.
Thank you for passing by or coming back to read his ideas and thoughts. Feel free to leave a comment when you think you miss something.
We at ASN collect these comments and will try to ask John.
Is Orbx “StaticFlow” different compared to static airplanes or general objects?
They have been modelled by Jarrad Marshall to be both efficient in performance but also look very realistic when placed at our airports. We really want to increase the realism at our airports so creating a high quality static aircraft library is the way in which we add more of that.
Why did Orbx update PeopleFlow?
Simple. The first version was cool, but it was mainly a tech concept and our customers loved it. But I wasn’t happy with the limited number of poses and model variations, and I also wanted to have higher detailed faces and much more variation in movements.
So we hired Jorge Amegol to work on PF2 full-time through 2012 and he’s set up our motion capture studio and is currently working on 300-400 different high resolution PF2 characters. By 2013 we will literally be able to populate a whole village with unique characters.
Of course this is not “The Sims”, so that’s not the plan, but the idea is to give our developers as much choice as possible to place unique looking people at every new airport so you don’t just see the same old man drinking a beer at each location.
Is PeopleFlow 2 downwards compatible and is it free?
As with all our new tech, we path it into our older airports whenever there is a new version released as a patch or service pack. So PF2 is not a stand-alone product but just a part of our airport and regions products as they are released.
We never charge for our upgrades so yes it will be free when patches are made for older airports. However it is up to each airport developer to decide if they feel it needs a PF2 upgrade. Remember, a lot of the charm of the older airports could be lost if we change too much details in them.
People like to remember the mood of a product as it was when they purchased it the first time.
What’s the big “visual” difference between FSX and Prepar3D?
There is none. They are the same fundamental engine so everything looks identical. The only difference is the P3D has no stuttering and jerkiness and handles textures much more efficiently so there are hardly any blurries (of course your mileage varies according to your PC).
There is one slight difference in the shaders which gives P3D a much warmer “pink” tone to it which I quite like. They just need to reduce the pink tone on the snow and it will be perfect. The cool thing about P3D is that there is actually an active development team working on the code which we can liaise with and raise issues like that.
We prefer to work with living breathing developers rather than frozen dead 2006 FSX code which will never be improved.
Why did Orbx decide to go for “xxxxFlow” products?
We did not decide to develop “Flow” products specifically, we just added new tech and because I have a marketing background I like to create sub-brands and the Flow series is a good way to show customers the value-added features of a new airport for instance.
Why did you start/reason with Orbx?
Well Orbx was not the beginning. Back in 2004 I began a freeware project to replace textures for Australia so I could use FS9 for my pilot training, which then became the Vista Australis (VOZ) project.
That was the most popular FS9 freeware of all time, over half a million downloads. In 2006 the FSX beta showed me the potential of 1m terrain textures so I registered Orbx as a company and began to plan a new higher definition product, originally called VOZ Pro.
Some of the key VOZ team joined me in the new company and after raising capital from investors we spent a year on R&D and released FTX AU Blue in March 2008.
Is “Orbx” an abbreviation and if so, what does it mean?
Orbx means the world (Orb) at ten times the detail as before (x).
What as the idea to create FS “Bob”?
Because we have created such detailed airports and now with people walking around and so many objects around the place, we thought it would be cool to allow our customers to walk around and take it all in. So we made an “aircraft” that simulates a person walking around to allow that to happen.
What can you do with FS Bob?
You can “walk” around using your joystick or yolk and throttle control, and also choose an ambient soundtrack such as heavy airport, rural airport or just footsteps.
Is “AI AU Traffic” constantly updated and will Orbx make an US or NA version?
Yes we are constantly updating AU Traffic as new schedules and airlines come into service in Australia and NZ. Our AI guru Graham Eccleston does a fantastic job of keeping paints updated and now we are revamping all the models with more efficient ones thanks to the great AI freeware community’s support.
At this stage we don’t have plans for an NA pack because it is such a huge task to attempt airline GA for that continent really. Since it’s not our core focus and Graham is doing it voluntarily we will likely continue to focus on AU and NZ only.
Could you please help us out what the difference is between Orbx and FTX?
Orbx is the company and FTX is the product brand.
Which interesting sceneries, airports or even airplanes can we expect in 2012?
Well we have a lot of projects underway right now, I think about 20+ new addons coming this year including 4+ new regions, two GA aircraft and maybe 20 airports.
We are turning our focus to the newer NA regions such as NRM, PFJ and CRM and we have exciting new airports coming for those such as KJAC Jackson Hole and CSZT Stewart, plus many more. We’ll be launching EU regions and airports this year, beginning with England and then Wales, Scotland and then across the North Sea to … (watch this space!).
In 2012 we decided to not reveal our product roadmap too far in advance because sometimes plans change and we prefer to only talk about products that are actually in beta testing, rather than stuff which is still in alpha or planning stages.
However, we will continue to preview all our products before they are completed and always check the FTX forums preview section to see what is coming up. I can tell you thought, there is some incredible new products coming in 2012/13 which will really get people excited.
We’re also really excited to be working with Lockheed Martin on P3D projects and we now are a dual platform developer with FSX being the core on which we build, and P3D the target to which we port.
As more and more of the FS community move to P3D we can see that becoming our core platform but we of course will never abandon FSX as long as people continue to use it and want product for it.