Welcome to the FSElite Developer Month. Our theme this year is about delivering for the community and part of that is delivering great content to you all. As part of our commitment to you all, we’re pleased to announced Developer Month – a month themed solely around celebrating our great development community. Over the course of March, you’ll be treated to some behind the scene looks at some of our favourite developers, stories from the FSElite team, exclusive interviews and more.
As we continue our Developer Month, we’re joined by Ben from Airline2Sim. As he’s wrapping up on his PMDG 777 Cadet Program, Ben talks us though the development process and what he does in his spare time. Want to know how Ben finds his pilots to take you on the journey? Then read below.
Before I leave you with Ben, make sure you read our review on Airline2Sim’s PMDG 777 Cadet Program.
Tell us a little about yourselves and how you got started?
My regular job is radio broadcasting and a few years back I found myself ‘between’ jobs. Worried about how long this ‘holiday’ was going to last, I looked at what else I could do. Whilst spending some time playing around with the simulator one day, I was struggling to fly the Majestic Q400. The eureka moment of creating tutorials was born, but I knew if we were going to do it properly we’d need a real life Q400 pilot. We found Josh who was flying at the time for a large Q400 operator in the U.K. and the rest is history!
What made you decide you wanted to develop for Flight Simulator and why?
It was clear to me that add-on aircraft were becoming so complex, the only way to really learn them was with some kind of formal instruction. The challenge was to invent a method of instruction that wasn’t too heavy going and was at the same time a little bit humorous.
Think of your favourite teacher at school, where you learn and have some fun at the same time.
How many of there in your team and what are your backgrounds before becoming developers?
We have a team of around 5 who move in and out of the projects as required. I’m the only one who works on a full-ish time basis on our projects. Our team have an extensive background in web design, e-commerce, motion graphics and film and TV production.
What interests do you have outside of Flight Simulation?
I’m a car nut and take a freakish delight in keeping my car looking shiny. I can usually be found outside on a nice day with a bucket and sponge!
Tell us what your typical day is usually like.
It depends whether I’m working on Airline2Sim or doing work for my other career as a radio broadcaster. I may end up meeting a 747 Captain for lunch to discuss how we’re going to an engine failure at V1 tutorial or I may end up in Manchester on the radio, playing songs for half a million people. It’s a funny old world!
How do you find your pilots to join you on your videos?
Various places, friends of friends, we’ve used LINKEDIN before now but more usually now we actually get pilots approaching us which is nice.
Do they get to join you in some kind of studio in the UK?
Yes, the attic of my house is a kind of studio/office and fully kitted out.
How much content gets cut from the final product?
Oh hours! We usually do a couple of takes before the real thing. Also we sometimes chop up different takes and use some of each. It can get pretty complicated.
Favourite power drink and why?
Red wine. Usually in copious amounts at the end of a project!
Favourite snack and why?
Pringles. In copious amounts during a project!
When development gets tough, how do you continue to motivate yourselves?
You just have to find solutions. An old boss of mine said that working for yourself was simply just solving problems each day and he was right. The hardest part is at the beginning where it looks like you’ve got a mountain to climb. It gets easier towards the end!
When did the process for the 777-cadet program begin?
I was approached by a friend who works in the airline industry who knew that we were looking for a 777 guy and happened to know Myron, who’d retired from a US Major only a short time before. This was the autumn of 2015. It was early 2016 before we got the recordings in the can and then the end of 2016 before release. It’s not a quick process.
How many times did you have a “I never knew that” when learning about the 777?
Around every 5 minutes! It’s only when you sit with someone who flies it for a job do you realise that you actually know nothing!
Who’s your biggest inspiration in the Flight Sim community?
Too many to list really but Majestic have been fantastically supportive of our efforts, as have various scenery developers. PMDG have changed the face of the hobby with the quality of their output.
If there was one thing you wanted to see developer for Flight Sim, what would it be?
An ATR and an Embraer 195!
Favourite add-on (that’s not your own!)?
The PMDG 777 is (still) a work of art, and the FlyTampa Dubai scenery is one I never tire of flying to.
How do you balance your work life and home life?
It’s very difficult with a big project and a deadline. I tend to just work longer and longer hours at the end and by the final few weeks my family don’t see me! My New Year’s resolution is to organise my time better.
Any hints on what’s to come after your next project?
We’ve been pretty upfront about our plans – 777 Cadet+, 717 and then 747-400 and FSL A320.
Where do you see Flight Simulation in 10 years time?
Hopefully VR will come of age and we’ll finally get a platform that can run at high frame rates with a lot of detail. Also I’d love to see a really good ATC engine as none of the current offerings really cut it.
Anything else you want to add?
Please buy our stuff 🙂
Thanks Ben for taking the time to talk to us. Come back tomorrow when we’ll have Matt Davies from projectFly come and join us.