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.
Keven from FSFX Packages was kind enough to stop by and give us some insight into the development process of Chase Plane, how they’re finding the alpha testing and what we can expect in the future. Of course, you can check our all kinds of coverage from their products from us – including, Q400 Immersion Package review and our Chase Plane alpha 1 preview.
There’s loads of great stuff from FSFX Packages below, so I won’t hold you up any longer. Enjoy!
Tell us a little about yourselves and how you got started?
In 2006, we started experimenting with visual effects on FSX, right after the release. The platform offered us new tools and development processes and being a curious person myself, I created the first iteration what would be the foundation of our Immersion Packages today. In 2014 we decided to test the market with PrecipitFX and started teasing for 777 Immersion. It was an instant success, leading us to today. We are now the reference when it comes to visual effects in the Flight Sim Community.
What made you decide you wanted to develop for Flight Simulator and why?
Flight Simulators have always been something that fascinated me. When I started playing around with FS2000, it was clear that my future job would have something to do with aviation. I would’ve never would thought it would be this closely related to flight simulation! Some say you need find something you love and then a way to make a living out of it. I did exactly that and I would never go back to a 9-5 job again.
How many of there in your team and what are your backgrounds before becoming developers?
We are 2 developers + someone responsible for our weekly screenshots on the Facebook Page. We all have our pilot license. One member of the team works for a major airline and the other for a Air Charter service. They both dedicated their lives to aviation from a young age. They have the motivation to work their way up the ladder. I have my PPL and was aiming to become a CPL but stayed at the PPL. It was more logical at that point for me to stay on the Flight Simulation side, developing add-ons.
What interests do you have outside of Flight Simulation?
All members of the team have a growing interest into cars. I own a Subaru BRZ and that got it started for me. It gives me the opportunity to enjoy life outside of my workspace. Photography and the aviation in general are other large interests as well!
Tell us what your typical day is usually like.
Waking up in the morning at times ranging from 9am to 1pm depending on what happened the day before, checking support emails and answering most of them right away. I go in the shower, thinking about possible solutions to the remaining support emails. Get off the shower, answer the remaining emails while eating breakfast. Then the development starts for the day. I try to stop coding at around 5pm but sometimes it’s hard to let go of a brilliant idea. I’m the kind of guy that needs to get something working before I let go of it. I end-up working past 3am in some occasions. It happens more often that you might think! This cycle repeats itself 5-6 days/week and has been that way since the day I left my 9-5 job 2 years ago.
Favourite power drink and why?
Oddly, I don’t drink energy/power drinks. Not good for your health regardless of the situation. In a developments (coding) context, if I’m tired, I go to bed… As simple as that!
Favourite snack and why?
I try to diversify my snacks. I eat a lot during the day and I try to keep them healthy. Things like Veggie chips… stuff like that.
When development gets tough, how do you continue to motivate yourselves?
I think this is where we differentiate ourselves from other most other developers. We designed our products to be easily updatable. We can publish an update and get instant feedback on new features, bugs etc. It all helps to keep us motivated. We maintain that motivating link between us and the community through emails, Facebook posts and forum articles. Everyone in the team is driven by results and the community is enjoying those results with us. Often, we go out for a drive, a walk or to a spa for a day and come back refreshed and ready to work the next day.
What inspired you to create Chase Plane?
The lack of options in this community when it comes to Camera Add-ons. We’re all-or-nothing type of guys so we decided to go all in. People wanted something better that what was offered so we took the opportunity and ran with it. It’s been 2 years now since we started the project and every step of it was incredibly satisfying.
How have you found the “alpha” package experience for Chase Plane?
The Alpha process is an interesting one. Early, we have comments about people disagreeing with the fact that we sold an Alpha but ended up buying it anyway. We have a received a lot of feedback from users that influenced design decisions. At this point we are getting closer to our desired position where most major issues have been resolved. This gives us a chance to focus on upcoming features for the full release of Alpha 2 in the coming weeks.
Who’s your biggest inspiration in the Flight Sim community?
There is a wide range of developers and entertainers in this community. Some very small and some very large. They all have their own ways of doing things but I think we come to appreciate all of them. I tend to gravitate around companies and people involved in the community. I think it’s a key part of working in this business. Our inspiration comes from many places in this community.
If there was one thing you wanted to see developed for Flight Sim, what would it be?
I think a lot of those wishes are in the hands of the 1st party developers (Dovetail Games and Lockheed Martin). We are at an intersection right now and any R&D is a risky move at this point. I think a lot of companies have great ideas but are holding them until Dovetail Games and Lockheed Martin reveal their new platforms. We are overdue for a new default weather engine on both the ESP platform and the X-Plane platform, revamped lighting and 64bit on the ESP side. I hope the future is brighter on those ends. I think there will be a development boom after that. New ideas will emerge and new companies will start working in the business.
Favourite add-on (that’s not your own!)?
There are many good ones out there. At this point, I think ActiveSky 16 does an incredible job at pushing the boundaries of what’s possible for the platform. There are interesting developments on the X-Plane side as well. But right now, the heat of the moment goes to the PMDG 747.
How do you balance your work life and home life?
Home life is very minimal at this point. I spend time with the family when I have the opportunity but when you have a goal in life, you have to do sacrifices. In a few years, things will change toward a better home life.
Any hints on what’s to come after your next project?
ChasePlane takes a lot of our time and will be an ongoing project for a few years. We have so many ideas that we don’t even see the end of it even at this stage. We have a few Immersion Packages in the queue and we will be shifting our focus toward those in the coming months (We can’t only be doing ChasePlane!)
Where do you see Flight Simulation in 10 years time?
Flight Simulation will definitely still be a thing in 10 years. I think the mobile platform is growing strong and that it will bring a lot of people in this community. I don’t think mobile will overtake the immersion and flexibility a desktop simulator brings. I assume we’ll be done with FSX at that point and that all major developers will have made the switch to 64bit. When I see people still using FS2004, nothing surprises me anymore. I imagine FSFX Packages will remain in business to cross the 10 years mark!
Thanks Keven for taking the time to talk to us. Come back tomorrow when we’ll be chatting to Ben from Airline2Sim.