Developers Roundtable: The Future of Simulations – Part 5

After the 2005 E3Expo we ran a series of discussions (linked on our homepage) on The Future of Simulations where we asked the SimHQ Staff for their thoughts on the state of the simulations industry. We’ll now follow-up those discussions from the developers point of view. As a reference, you should also read this SimHQ 2000 two-part interview series available in .pdf here and here to see the PC simulation industry’s leaders point-of-view from five years ago.

Our Panel of Participants

Martin van Balkom
Battlefront.comAl Delaney
Founder, President
and Lead Programmer
eSim Games, LLCSteve Grammont

David Heath
Director of Operations,
Public Relations and Acquisitions
Matrix Games

Nils “Ssnake” Hinrichsen
Marketing & Sales Director
eSim Games, LLCRick “Rjetster” Ladomade
Vice President, Treasury
Xtreme Simulations International, LLCJulian “Buckshot” Leonard
Vice President, Engineering
Xtreme Simulations International, LLC

Chris “C3PO” Partridge
Publicity & Marketing
Lead Pursuit, LLC


Outside the Box – The Developers Point of View

SimHQ: Here are a few questions that somewhat fall outside the box. Since we have you here, some of our readers had questions. While I’m sure that at times you want to rip your hair out at some of the responses you get in general the simulation population appreciates the work you do. Still, What would you, as a developer, like to see from the flight sim community? Support? Understanding? More civility? More money?

Rick (XSI): By catering to your audience and reaching out to them for support and ideas, you tend to bring the community closer together during the tougher times of development. From this method you breed the much needed support, understanding and civility.

David (Matrix Games): Wasn’t this already asked 🙂 I wanted ENTHUSIASM!

Julian (XSI): This is pretty much answered in the earlier question, but to sum it up, I take the good with the bad. Even if some people overreact at times, you try to take the constructive criticism behind the complaint and work with it, of course it’s easier if the person is less aggressive and more constructive, but I think in general you have to try and understand what is ticking them off. That doesn’t mean that you can solve it every time, there definitely are some people out there just looking for trouble, the customer isn’t ALWAYS right, but I find if you try your hardest to deal with any issues, even if they are not presented in the manner you’d like, the wider audience appreciate it, and occasionally you turn someone who started out “bashing” you into a loyal fan. Generally it’s a two-way street, if you treat the public with respect and communicate with them, they’ll do the same in return. You have to take the attitude that without these guys supporting you, you would not be here, we try to interact with our customers as much as possible, and let them see that we are everyday people who they can approach with suggestions, criticisms etc., not stuck up in some ivory tower only speaking to the masses when we feel like it, only answering questions or comments that we feel like answering.

Nils (eSim Games): You gotta educate your community. 😉

We’re very happy with, and thankful for our audience. We have experienced nothing but a supportive fan base.

SimHQ: We all know that you have to eat. What would you consider to be your true motivation behind making simulations? Have you considered (or have you done) other games due to a desire to make money, or do you drive on in simulation games out of pure love for the genre?

Rick (XSI): I am a first time developer, and my passion for flight sims is the driving force behind my motivations.

Chris (Lead Pursuit): It’s all about passion for the product. End of story.

Julian (XSI): At XSI we came together simply because we love flight simulations and realize that there is a distinct lack of development in the type of simulators we want to fly. We certainly could earn a lot more developing games for consoles, and would likely be a lot easier as well, but that isn’t what we came together to do. I believe the business model we have created will allow us to earn a decent living doing something we love to do, as well as deliver a product that satisfies others like us in the community, you can’t really ask for much more than that.

Nils (eSim Games): The love of it is a strong motivation, as is positive feedback from the fans. But nobody is in a position to ignore the business environment. If you don’t operate profitably, you go out of business. It’s that simple.

David (Matrix Games): We do simulations because we feel they are profitable. We do them because we like them. It isn’t a question of one or the other, it’s both.

Martin (Battlefront): If you can keep your greed in check, you can make enough money from simulations or e.g. wargames to continue doing what you love. If you’re in it solely for the money, go and do something else. The main motivation, for us, is to be making the games that we’d like to play ourselves. Since nobody else is doing them…

SimHQ: Do you still play sims and if so, what is your personal favorite? Feel free to mention games made by people not on this panel or even games not part of the simulation genre. What makes these games so great?

Julian (XSI): Absolutely, I don’t get as much time these days as I’d like to, but Falcon 4 would have to rank as my favorite simply because of it’s depth and ability to recreate the workload in a modern fighter cockpit. I also enjoy a bit of Battlefield 2 for a bit of quick tension relieving fun.

Rick (XSI): I currently play MSFS, LOMAC and Battlefield 2, although I do own many more wonderful game titles, however for me presently that’s all that is needed to suppress my desires until Fighter Ops is released.

Battlefield 2 is a wonderful game that does a fantastic job in captivating the immersion factors of modern day combat. MSFS is about the ultimate in pure flight simulation expressions, I could get a bit philosophical in what this title has done for many of us. LOMAC has always been a vision of what can be produced if given the chance; it really is a fun and very enjoyable modern day combat flight simulation, which was developed back in the day by a fantastic group of people headed by Matt Wagner.

Chris (Lead Pursuit): I’m loving Battlefield 2 at the moment and still enjoy TOCA Race Car 2 (can’t wait for version 3).

Nils (eSim Games): I’ve never been a pure simulation player. But I do play, yes — both current blockbuster shooters like Half-life 2, strategy games (Civilization III still is a hit for me, and I really loved Combat Mission). Pirates! was a wonderful title last winter. Still, most hours are logged with Steel Beasts Pro.

Martin (Battlefront): My current favorite and what I play mainly when I have time (as little as that is) currently is our tank sim T72 – Balkans on Fire. And I don’t say that because we’re publishing it, but really mean it. It’s been simply too long without a good tank sim since Panzer Elite and Steel Beasts, so for the moment I really need the fix. Before that, the best sim I’ve played most recently was IL-2 (never bought the expansions though).

David (Matrix Games): While the hardcore simmers will laugh, I still enjoy playing Starshatter. It isn’t my favorite game though, that award goes to the IL-2 and Silent Hunter III at the moment and yes I am horrible at both. <g>

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