Welcome to Developer Month 2019. Between April 8th and May 8th 2019, we will feature a variety of developers, publishers, community personalities and more who will tell us their story. From written interviews and blog posts to video interviews and more, we have curated a range of interesting content to maybe even inspire you to be one of these developers in future years. Please enjoy Developer Month 2019 as much as we enjoyed putting it together for you.
We couldn’t have put together Developer Month without the support of all the developers & publishers involved. Also, huge thanks to Thrustmaster for their assistance in sponsoring Developer Month.
April 13th: SIMBITWORLD
SIMBITWORLD are the developers behind the tool A Pilot’s Life. It is a simulation of a commercial pilot career, taking you from the first steps of a junior first officer employed at a local small company, to a senior captain at a world-renowned airline. In the beginning, you will be offered a job at an airline and you will generate your schedule. We spoke to CEO of SIMBITWORLD Ovidiu to discuss how he has found his way into the market and the challenges he has faced.
Tell us who you are and what you do?
Hello everyone! My name is Ovidiu Ocnaru and I am the CEO & Lead developer of SIMBITWORLD software company.
How would you describe SIMBITWORLD to someone who’s never heard of it before?
SIMBITWORLD is a startup software company based in Romania in which I combine some of my passions (application development, database administration and flight simming). The most important product we sell right now is “A Pilot’s Life” (APL) which has the aim of giving purpose to flight simulation enthusiasts. It is a simulation of a commercial pilot career, from the first steps as a junior first officer employed at a local small airline to a senior captain at a world-renowned airline.
What inspired you to want to create SIMBITWORLD when there are other similar products available?
I think when I came up with the idea of APL, I was out of inspiration of where and what to fly. I was probably landing at LROP and did not know where to go next. I kind of wanted someone to tell me where to go. Of course, I could have inserted all my payware sceneries in a random generator but that would not have any continuity in a way. Then I thought what if I were to create a generator of flights based on real data. That should be simple, right? Heh … not so much apparently. But after some research, trial and error I came up with a 0.1.0 version of APL where you could generate 5 flights based on what company you wanted to fly for. From there on, other complementary ideas started to pour in.
What is your development process and cycle? What steps do you go through from planning to release?
I am a very organized person and a bit of a control freak, so I do things in an organized manner. First, I write down all the ideas and the user requests, I prioritize them and afterwards include them in a version. Once the development phase ends and the alpha tests that I do myself on the DEV server are completed, I usually have a meeting with the beta testers (thank you guys for all the hard work). They share the opinions on the new or modified features and if we see it fit, we go back to the development part. After this step, I send them a beta version of the application which they test thoroughly. After one week or so, depending on how big the update is, we release the new version to everyone. Regarding the cycle, the initial plan was to release a new version with new features every month but my schedule was off the hook the last couple of months so I pushed it a little. Nevertheless, I hope to start with April 2019, I can go back to the original plan.
How has community feedback shaped your priorities with the product?
The community feedback had a very important role in the development of the software product. From the beginning, we said that we wanted to listen to the community and develop the application together with our users. That is why we implemented the request feature from inside the app so users can express their needs. For example, restarting the career was not possible in the first public version (1.0.0). After the first few days and a lot of requests for this, version 1.0.1 came and implemented this option. Also was the case with real airline fleets, ability to choose short/medium/long-haul when generating a schedule and the most important one yet, X-Plane compatibility.
What is your earliest simming or aviation-related memory?
Hmm, I think the earliest simming related memory is back in college, around 10 years ago when I saw my cousin pushing a slider on a joystick and trying to land a plane on his PC. After this, I bought a copy of FSX and tried to take-off with the mouse and the keyboard. It didn’t go well. Then I discovered that if you press the F4 button multiple times as you are lined up with the runway and then quickly arm the autopilot, the aircraft takes off by itself. Yes, I know… Back then I didn’t know what any of the V’s represent :)). I was just happy that I could take off with a plane in a remotely realistic way. Landing was another issue, but I am not going to embarrass myself more than I already did.
How have real-world projects/jobs helped you with simulation development?
Real-world projects and my job have a big influence on my software development abilities. I am still employed in the IT industry, so every day I discover and learn stuff that I try to implement in my own company.
Is there a product/project currently not available or you think needs vastly improved upon for the flight simulation market?
There are a lot of things that could be developed or improved in the flight simulation area. I think the most important and pressing issue is the optimization of the flight simulator itself. I may sound ungrateful of the developers, which I am not. I thank them for delivering us the products that we love so much. But we live in 2019 and we have powerful computers with multi-processor CPU’s, tens of GB of RAM, very capable GPU’s and fast transfer SSD’s and we cannot take advantage of all these, unfortunately.
What advice would you give yourself if you could go back in time to when you did your first stage of planning of SIMBITWORLD?
Tough one. The thing that comes to mind is that the initial planning itself was not as good as I would have liked. Back then, when I had an idea, I just started to work on it. That was OK for that stage because I actually did not know where I was going with this. I first wanted to create a flight generator kind of application for personal use. But then when I came up with the idea of creating a progression kind of logic and also getting “hired” at real airlines, things started to get out of hand because I needed to change a lot of things in the database and in the code. Being the control freak that I am, this did not go well. Then I came up with the list of things to do, and version organization, status allocation and so on. I still have some lines of code and some tables in the database that I am not that proud of, but that was a lesson learned which I can apply from now on. Who knows, maybe even on the second version of APL. Time will tell.
Thank you once again to SIMBITWORLD for taking part.
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Stay tuned as Developer Month continues tomorrow with a brief recap of this week.