LatinVFR has been in the industry developing airports for many years. Known for recent releases such as Miami V5, New Orleans and Madrid, the developer has proven to be able to create a range of products in a variety of locations around the world. LatinVFR’s next airport will be Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (KFLL) and will come complete with new features such as sloped runways (with working AI traffic).
In preparation for release, Ricardo, founder of LatinVFR, sat down with us to discuss some of the current challenges in the community, why he chose Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and also what the future of LatinVFR will look like.
Tell us a little about yourself and what you do.
I am from Florida, and after graduating from college 12 years ago, decided to try and become involved in actively developing airports for FS. 40 airports later, here we are still at it and expanding our catalogue, we have now 6 people directly collaborating with us from many continents and make part of LatinVFR.
You have a rich history of airport developments. How do you pick which airports to tackle next?
Initially, I chose airports that were ignored by most developers, located in Latin America, as we did most of the importance we elected to do some in North America. The demand for airports in North America was higher and we decided to look at airports that weren’t done and if they were as in the case of KFLL, they had more than 10 years from the last version. When we decided to do KMIA there wasn’t a version for FSX but for FS2004, and we decided to jump in. We pick airports initially on those that are not done, however, we have encountered situations where in the middle of development other developers announce or release. Its frustrating but there is not much we can do but continue with the release, as it happened with LEBL and LEMD.
Your latest airport, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, is due to release soon. Why did you decide to work on that one next?
I lived in South Florida for many years, was amazed by the engineering and innovation doing the sloped runway and how interesting it was. That made me want to try it, knowing that the developer who did KFLL 11 years ago won’t redo it, we decided to jump in. We like challenging projects and if the airport is ‘lame’ or ‘uninteresting’ I am sure some uniqueness would be there for us to exploit, as it is in this case.
Tell us a little about the process you went through to research the airport and start the development?
I used the airport as a passenger many times, before development I went and took some images and had a feel of the airport. Some airport employees were nice enough to send us pictures, local pilots sent us airside images, and we even had a pilot doing fan overfly send us a few images. So it was great to get help.
Which part of the development of FLL stood out to you? Were there any challenges? What was your favourite moment of development?
There are always challenges, the sloped runway had the challenge of not working with AI traffic, thankfully we found out during development that a group of people worked on a system that allowed AI traffic to use the sloped runway, under certain airport elevation conditions. These conditions were met with KFLL, and thanks to Sean Isom and Federico Sucari of FSSI this was possible.
Favorite moment was when I tried the sloped runway on the sim, we had done sloped runways before (SLSU, SVMI) but this time I think we did this precisely and exactly with the elevation fluctuations as in real life.
How do you manage your time when it comes to airport development?
Thankfully with our other team members helping, and their help has made things smoother. I take a big chunk of development putting together most of the pieces, I try to do the terminals and other small details, at the same time I take care of the forums and the support requests. Whilst other members of the teamwork on other areas as SODE jetway animations, airport buildings etc. Its a team effort and it’s a big difference from the early days of LatinVFR when we only had 2 people most of the time. Now we are 6.
If a new developer was looking for a way to get into development, what tips would you share with them to get started?
Tips would be to ask as many questions, FSdeveloper.com has been our main source since the early days. Arno or any of us developers might respond to questions and its the best source for help. Usually, an SDK can be an intimidating piece of documentation, but don’t let that scare you away. Another tip is to start by a small airport and work your way up to bigger ones. Don’t quit your day job till you are confident in the income, it’s a competitive market, but a growing one!
With Microsoft Flight Simulator looking to release later this year, what’s your perspective as an airport developer?
I think this is a huge opportunity to expand our reach our customer base. We are overly excited for what’s to come, and we plan to cater to any platform that has a huge following, be that P3d or FS2020.
No doubt you’ve watched the airport video. Does this make you worried or do you still see huge potential?
Not at all, in fact, I am more encouraged that what we can accomplish will be something not seen before, the potential with this sim is amazing, just imagine what we have accomplished with the FSX/P3d code and what we would with this new sim. It’s very encouraging to see. And we are looking forward to it.
Tell us 3 things about your new FLL scenery that you really encourage people to see for themselves in the simulator?
1- Sloped runway with AI traffic support
2- City atmosphere
3- Extremely detailed airport
What does the future hold for LatinVFR?
For our future roadmap, this year we are already working on KBDL (Hartford Ct) and PHNL (Honolulu HI), we are also studying the next new sims coming up and planning on porting our most recent and most popular airports to the sims that are to be released soon.
Thank you, Ricardo, for your time. Be sure to check out LatinVFR’s other products. As always, we’ll let you know once Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (KFLL) is out.