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Behind the Screen : June 2022


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Behind the Screen : June 2022

 

This edition of "Behind the Screen" notes that we are already halfway through the year of 2022, yes six months are already gone and we are hurtling already towards another year gone. The last six months could be divided into two quarters, the first three months of the usual X-Plane activity and solid releases (including the immense Rotate MD-11) and the last quarter in being a long drawn out waiting period...  for guess what, well X-Plane12.

 

As noted in the last few editions of Behind the Screen I took the opportunity to upgrade my "Whole" as it turned out Computer hardware to be ready...  for guess what, well X-Plane12.

 

I don't regret the timing, as prices now (In Australia) have increased, not that much but I did save quite a few dollars in context. There is never ever a good time to do this, but 2022 is one of the most unnerving years I can ever remember (and I don't even have any Crypto Currency). So timing in reflection is all about using your superpower, or simply good luck. And for that I still used my superpower cautiously and is still thankfully on the right side of good. But also sitting on this side of the upgrades it is a satisfying feeling, not perfect yet as I still need an upgraded Graphic Card, but still good to welcome into my world...   well X-Plane12.

 

Before I move on from the upgrades, I found the Hardware side changes very enjoyable, even fun...  but resetting and reinstalling all the required software (actually not including X-Plane itself) but everything to support the simulator was a nightmare. Resetting things back to normal took an immense amount of time to do, worse was the recalibrating required to get things to behave correctly again, worse was the monitors in finding their ideal matching settings again, and I am still not happy with the results, but is finally getting there. The point is on how really time-consuming it all is, if also on how frustrating, change is really good, but also seriously hard work.

 

Laminar Research have been pumping out all sorts of X-Plane12 tit-bits and the extensive Dev Deep-Dives series with FSElite, which is a long series of videos including the important developers behind the new X-Plane12's development (noted to be a series of 10). There is a lot in there, but there is also really nothing new being revealed either that we haven't already seen since the original X-Plane12 reveal back in September 2021 at the San Diego Expo. Even the Development blogs have petered out, so it is all feeling a bit-long-in-the-tooth. 

 

The aim was for an X-Plane12 release around the last weeks of July, that is in just three weeks now folks, but rumors are circulating the beta release could now be as late as September. No matter which way you look at it, it is still a long wait of maybe still months not weeks. The point is, is that pushing the boat out too far, and far too long.

 

The simulation world is not waiting around for Laminar to perfect it's next generation of X-Plane simulation, the worry creeping in is that with the long, long wait, and the extended hype, you may get a let down of massive proportions. As noted last month, I have realistic expectations of the new simulator version upgrade, but many users don't of the coming version. Fears of the Rotate MD-11 hype could come back to haunt us all over again the longer this story goes on (and on), that aspect may happen anyway.

 

Everything in June was heightened by the story of iniBuilds. Back last year on the 1st of October 2021 iniBuilds announced the iniSimulations A310-300 for Microsoft Flight Simulator. No big deal there as you expect a lot of cross-platform aircraft transitions. 

 

But on 12th June, Microsoft announced a partnership with inibuilds to release the Airbus A310-300 as part of their 40th anniversary celebrations in November, and that the Airbus A310-300 would also be part of the MIcrosoft Flight Simulator default fleet, or free to users that currently use the MSFS Simulator platform, still nothing of a deal there either. But it is a bit of pain in that if you had spent £69.99 on the aircraft, and you could soon get it for free if you move to MSFS. Then came the BIG news, all current X-Plane11 iniBuild aircraft would not be updated to X-Plane12.

 

That is the A300-600R(F), A300 BelugaST and the A310-300 will be X-Plane11 only, odd was the strange fire-sale of all the aircraft early June at a heavily discounted price of £9.99, or 20 bucks $US, the sale gave X-Plane users no indication of the coming bad news, but took your money.

 

Let us be straight. iniBuild's were always a rogue company to deal with from the start, very hard to deal with commercially and X-PlaneReviews was refused early on for any review aircraft point blank. Although extremely successful in X-Plane, I really didn't see the what all the fuss was about. Their aircraft are good, and have a lot of features (if some are quite quirky). But there are far better simulations out there for the same money, and the products were quite to very expensive. And this is the point.

 

If you have spent that much money investing in an aircraft or aircraft's, you do to a point expect a fair amount of service and support from the developer. But basically, with the cancellation of any (even paid) upgrades to X-Plane12, it will leave you with a very bitter taste in your mouth, and certainly if you are currently getting a happy experience from your iniBuild's simulations.

 

These aircraft have only been on the market for a few years from August 2020 starting with the A300-600R. that is not even a third of an X-Plane version (11) development run, and now already if X-Plane12 is released soon, the aircraft is already outdated, did I mention expensive at US$85 an aircraft (yes you did get a discount deal if you bought another iniBuilds aircraft). If you had bought the fire-sale aircraft, you would get maybe a few months of simulation before parking it in the old X-Plane11 hangar, at even $20 bucks that is still expensive.

 

So if Microsoft are doing a promotional deal, by throwing a shit load of money at a X-Plane developer, then saying "Hey folks, if you still want your iniBuilds A310, you can and for free!...  if you come to Microsoft Flight Simulator", stinks of poaching of the worse order.

 

The problem with all this is that Simulation is still basically a very niche form of entertainment, many who fly in X-Plane, also fly in MSFS, and even a lot of the other aircraft simulators available, there are really no boundaries except financial.

 

So here is the bite. If you have spent a lot of your hard earned cash in supporting iniBuilds for the X-Plane Simulator, then your getting a very shitty deal. Even if you smile and note that the A310 will be free over in MSFS, then it is not going to have the features and the flying performance of X-Plane and neither either will the coming A300-600R and A300 BelugaST MSFS versions of which you will have to pay for (again). But seriously besides a worse performing aircraft could you or should you actually trust iniBuilds again with you cash and their extremely poor service. If they have bunged you here, then they won't care about bunging you again over there. The word here is trust, and that aspect has been seriously broken.

 

You could say I'm being platform defendant (X-Plane). But I'm not, it is the overall aspect of trust in Simulation that is accountable here. Purchasers in X-Plane also purchase in MSFS (or any other simulator). Being royally screwed in one is not going to help you gain monetary on another platform, as you are talking to the same customers. Core simmers are the ones that pay for expensive addons, not the fly in, fly out gamer crowd.

 

Personally there is no way I would buy another iniBuilds product, if they treat their customers with such indifference for their loyalty. The really odd thing about all this saga, is that to update their (only) three aircraft to X-Plane12 is to a large development house like iniBuilds here is a very minimum aspect of keeping everyone (including future customers) happy (or the MSFS deal doesn't allow them to do that).

Plus then is the monetary loss of future aircraft sales in X-Plane12, and the upgraded aircraft would also deliver upgrade fees (or money) to the coffers. In the business case sense it is a disastrous outcome for everyone involved...  but the worse outcome is still that loss of customer trust and cash by not "doing the right thing, by everyone" and upgrading to X-Plane12, that just leaves a sour taste in everyone's mouth, and a lot of very disappointed customers. It certainly won't attract customers to MSFS, if the opposite in this saga...  most won't care, but they should, it's your precious money going to the wall here.

 

If iniBuilds were poached, then with Laminar dragging out their own slowly, slowly release saga for X-Plane12, then could other developers be targets for easy MSFS money. Most would say absolutely not. But in this world of stretched resources and bills to pay, then even the most stoic of developers could waver if enough cash was thrown at them, every Simulator is built on it's unique developers of products for the platform, lose too many and the platform is in trouble.

 

A year ago Laminar had a unique situation as MSFS failed and faltered in it's early first year development, certainly in the performance and dynamics areas, but has that advantage situation now been seriously squandered in being too far to under resourced and with poor public relations from Laminar Research, and with just expecting the faithful to just keep on accepting the same as, time and time again.

 

As times people have moved on, and Laminar needs to move on along with them and even use or need it's own superpower, the next few months until the end of this unnerving year could be quite significant for the X-Plane simulator in more ways than one, and one way or the other.

 

See you all next Month

 

Stephen Dutton

4th July 2022

Copyright©2022 X-Plane Reviews

 

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As always an interesting article. On Inibuilds they always managed the message well. If you give vloggers exclusive access for reviews what do you get in return - good reviews. Make your forums only open to customers and then close threads before they get difficult and you start the magic of people believing that your products are without fault. Have a friendly discord and you get your fan base out telling the world that the A310 is the gold standard. Its not hard. Its planned, but its not difficult.

On the other side we have Laminar who manage this side of the business incredibly badly. Strange whirling light presentations, long winded interviews talking about the philosophy of XP12 rather than pumping up the new features. Personally I am not looking forward to the release of XP12 because with it will come a tidal wave of sewage, online posts complaining about everything from the known (that it will not be a free upgrade) to the unknown - that it now runs like a slide show on a ten year old laptop. XP11 to XP12 - an incremental update. Manage the expectations.

Now Inibuilds are on the other side and not every developer can be happy. Why did MS choose Inibuilds, with no track record on this or any preceding MS platform to be included as a default aircraft? Why did an A310 get chosen, hardly an iconic aircraft? If the MSFS A310 is study level (which I doubt) what does that say to the MSFS community about the cost of complex addons? PMDGs $70 or Inibuilds $0? Did Inibuilds get paid by MS for the inclusion or is it the other way around, a developer paying (or offering for free) an aircraft to get a lot of publicity and exposure with the community? In effect product placement.

Half way through the year and the one group of people to feel sorry for is Xplane developers. With the wait for XP12 sales can’t be great. If I can pick up a big discount on a recent Thandra release on the org store it may be good for me, but it is also telling me life is not good for developers at the moment.

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