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This thread is privately moderated by Ben-M, who may elect to delete unwanted replies.
Jul 15, 2010, 08:12 PM
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To simulate or not to simulate.

So, I have another plane in the stable. And with it comes the question: Should I model this plane for my flight simulator?

The flight simulator I'm using is ClearView - it seemed priced at the right price point and seemed very capable when I bought it, offering photo fields and (importantly for me) the capability to model my own planes. I modelled my last plane because the 'closest' plane to it that someone had contributed was a very boxy underrepresentation generated from a photo 3-view (the problem with 3-views being, of course, that compound curves are often then poorly interpreted).

Unfortunately, I came across a number of issues, mostly to do with documentation of the simulator and unexplained bugs (plane explodes randomly, simulation engine 'freaks out' and plane squirrels everywhere and then the simulator crashes, simulator just gives up and displays a black screen, parts not defined as 'breakable' break off, parts that are 'breakable' don't keep their child objects attached, etc). So the question I ask myself is whether I should even bother to model another plane.

I probably will, but then, should I share it? Having to waste hours trying to guess what the programmer is doing with the configuration, or to ask how to do something a bit more complicated and get the answer in an email "You will have to start from simpler models that do not use [advanced features] ... [These] are complex, take a lot of time to set and are doable, but require a lot of patience and experimentation" makes me not want to share my efforts. Why am I so selfish? Because the whole process seems undeterministic: I'm supposed to just keep experimenting with different settings until the simulator doesn't crash any more, and chalk that up to 'if I don't like it, too bad'. And then, the resulting model is released to the public domain to add value to the product that frustrated me, and to effectively condone the developer's approach to documentation (from the same email): "Very few people read the documentation. ClearView has HUGE number of features that if documented properly will produce document 1000 pages long. No one will ever read it."

In fact, the more I think about it the less I want to do it, in the face of that kind of support.

Nevertheless, I did release my Ego Cessna model publicly. Interested parties can download it here. I had intended to update it with the factory wheel spats and the more recognisable Art-tech graphics, but for the reasons above I really, really can't be bothered.

So in the end, I don't know. I probably will model the plane, keep it for my own use, but post some screenshots and video here. Perhaps if the simulator starts to better support its modelling community I'll release it then, or perhaps in the meantime I'll move to a simulator which is a better fit. Or perhaps, more likely, I'll find something else to do.
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