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Cloud Surf Team Update – Piracy and Fraudulent Development Practices

Update 14th August 2017

We have received a statement from the developer regarding this situation. You can read it here.

We have removed some of the content posted before regarding our suspicion as we now have more context into what this situation is.

As always, we are keen to work with the community (both consumer and development sides) and to look out for both.

We may have jumped the gun slightly, but we felt it was important to bring this topic back to light considering their past.

What happens in the future for this project and development group is now down to them. We’ve offered our support to them should they require it in the future.

— Original article posted Feb 8th 2017 —

I recently posted an in-depth look at Cloud Surf Team and their announcement of the A380 they claim to be developing. If you’re read the article, you will know I have valid reasons to believe they will turn out to be another vapor-ware developer with no substance.

What made matters worse is the fact they’re asking people if they would help “donate” up to 20,000 euros for a dumped A380 project from NLS. The 20,000 euros would go towards the modelling, flight dynamics and more. Again, a developer with no proven record asking for money so soon is a massive red flag in my books.

With that article spread among the community, someone who was previously involved with Cloud Surf Team contacted FSElite team. This person will remain anonymous. Proof has been provided to FSElite regarding the legitimacy of their involvement, as well as a detailed account of the mishaps of Cloud Surf Team. Keep Reading

Setting our Expectations for the Upcoming Prepar3D V4

Update: Changed the title a little to better reflect the article.

Without delving into speculation too much, we’re fairly confident official information from Lockheed Martin is just days away. We’re reported on rumours, facts, insider knowledge and even some accidental leaks over the past few months – giving as much information as we can to you from Lockheed Martin’s worst kept secret. But what should simmers expect when the announcement is made? I’m hoping to set some expectations here based on my knowledge, some fact-finding and other key pieces of information from various developers and resources around the web.

I would also like to point out, this article is based purely on the speculation of a 64-bit platform. If you don’t believe this will be the case for the next sim, I suggest you close the article now.

There, with that out of the way, let’s continue.

So 64-bit is certainly a bit of a marketing buzz-word for the flight sim community right now. X-Plane has been in the 64-bit era for some time now, and Dovetail have released their full-fledged sim, Flight Sim World, with a heavy emphasis on the fact it’s using 64-bit architecture. But what is 64-bit and why does the flight sim community care so much?

In the simplest of terms, a 64-bit application can use much more memory allocation than a 32-bit program can. In fact, 64-bit applications can in theory use 16 exabytes, which completely destroys the 4gb limit of a 32-bit piece of software. Of course, this is also limited by physical memory available. So if you have 16gb of RAM, your application won’t be able to exceed this limit. So yes, you would have “unlimited” memory space available, you’ll all always be limited by your hardware. Additionally, if a developer doesn’t optimise their software or has bugs which leads to memory leakage, then you’ll still eventually hit your “OOM” limit.

64-bit won’t fix all OOM issues, but it will certainly give a LOT more breathing space than a 32-bit program will.

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Cloud Surf Team Update – Post-Article, Developer Stories and Official Statement

Well, that escalated quickly!

We knew that publishing an article shedding light on dodgy practices from developers would see us getting a lot of attention, but we certainly didn’t expect the level we have received. So firstly, thank you to everyone who supports us, and also those that offer criticisms to help us better ourselves. Of course, regardless of article, we also keep our Community Charter in mind and have massive respect in ensuring we deliver for the community. The community isn’t just us the consumer, but also the developers and publishers who work tirelessly to bring us great content.

And this is why I conducted the investigation into Cloud Surf Team. Something was dodgy from the start, and before I knew it, I was down a rabbit hole that needed more and more exploration. Of course, this exposed Cloud Surf Team for what they were.

We’ve heard from multiple people since then about their experience with the “CEO” of Cloud Surf Team, James Douglas. Of course, they all point to the same thing: he knowingly and willingly was using models from Thomas Ruth and other developers for his own personal gain.

As we said yesterday our original source provided us with plenty of information between them and also James himself. It was all related to the use of freeware models which they would “edit” slightly to avoid possible copyright infringement. I am certainly no expert in copyright law, but this is very much a non-ethical practice especially in our small community.

Here are just a few samples provided to us showing that James knew what he was trying to do.

Sadly, all this information came too late for one developer who was the unfortunate person behind the live streaming via Twitch.

As soon as he caught wind of the article and the exposure FSElite delivered, he immediately deleted all the content from his Twitch channel. Now, we admit that due to this, we were quick to point blame at the streamer as he was there with the modelling, making edits as though the model was his own. We have since heard from him, and he had the following to say (cleaned up spelling and grammar):

“Some months ago a guy asked on Facebook to join a team to develop an A380. I told him that I am a modeller and could possibly help. After a while he came up with the Cloud Surf Team. I said well okay give it a go. When I first saw the A340 model in blender I was very surprised why this thing was upside down, and how the old modeller found the right files over the years with these strange names.

Well James wouldn’t tell me by then. I went on modelling my own thing until James came up with the idea to ask Project Airbus for permission to use theirs. After a while I was told “yep you can use it”. We just have to make a few adjustments. So I did and then was told its okay to stream it.

James at that time didn’t do anything at all, except writing these unprofessional posts. Even I, as a German, could have done that better. I always thought why are we all working when James not doing anything?”

This particular developer then showed FSElite some screenshots of the model work he had actually completed for Cloud Surf Team:

As you can see, he had good intentions, but was misinformed by James about the reality of what was going on. Should this guy have known better? One could argue yes, but he was working (and streaming) under false pretences.

The developer hopes to continue working on the model independent of Cloud Surf Team with a possible free release to the public in the future.

It wasn’t only this member of the team that left Cloud Surf Team, but we heard from several others all stating they were no longer a part of the team due to the shoddy business practices of a 17-year-old who tried to rip off the Flight Sim community. Not only was it members of his team, but also other well-known flight sim community members who shared information regarding their exchanges with James.

Of course, they all pointed to the same thing: James willing and knowingly used other files to pretend they were his business’ own.

Soon after we exposed him, he emailed FSElite with this official statement:

Hello FS Elite and the rest of the FS community…

Firstly i want to clear up an confusion,

-We used a freeware PA model, which we did think we could edit and give away

– I will hold myself accountable for this, we had a team of 8 but only one other person knew about it and he doesn’t want me to say his name so i won’t

I’m 17, i’m sure when you were around that age you also made some mistakes, I have made a really, really big mistake and I’m going to have to accept the consequences for that,

We never accepted any donations from anyone and myself and the other person who knew were about to tel the group in the next week or so that we should made it freeware (whether that’s still allowed we  will never know!)

Obviously we have disbanded and everyone has left, I have sut the page down but it will take 14 days to close for good….

If anyone knows how i can personally apologise to PA that would be great, I really feel bad about what I have done and want to make it up to them and the community.

I just want to say that i know that in the short term, I will be disliked even hated but I hope many of you in the long term will be able to forgive me and move on,

Also if any of you were thinking of doing what we have done, PLEASE don’t its stupid and you ill be caught out….

Anyway,

Sorry,

Best Regards,

James

Their official Facebook page has now been shut down.

We will be keeping an eye on James and any involvement he may have in future projects to make sure the lesson has been learnt.

Unless anything else significant is uncovered, FSElite will no longer be posting updates regarding this subject.

Thank you to everyone for the support and we hope we’ve provided you with a great deal of insight into the matter.

Looking Back: The Gimli Glider

Our “Looking Back” feature takes us into the past of Aviation. This could be a famous incident, a milestone for aviation or an educational piece to help Simmers.

On Saturday, July 23rd, 1983, things were about to get a lot more exciting at the racetrack/former Royal Canadian Air Force Station Gimli, Manitoba.  Due to a fuel calculation error, Air Canada flight 143 ran out of fuel at 12 500m (41 000ft) asl about halfway through its flight from Toronto, Ontario to Edmonton, Alberta.

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Image Courtesy of SimBrief

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