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.
Marcus Nyberg, the developer behind the upcoming Orbx Bilbao took some time to talk about how he developers, what we can expect from the new scenery and much more!
Tell us a little about yourselves and how you got started?
I was born & raised in a small town called Falun 3 hours northwest of Stockholm, in Sweden. I’ve always been interested in aviation, my grandad was an engineer that, among other things, was designing military planes. Since I can remember I wanted to become a pilot. Don’t really know why it was so attractive to me. My parents took me to a festival that existed back in the days in Stockholm, called the Water Festival where we watched the air force having a show. The main attraction of the show was Jas 39 Gripen, the flagship of Swedish aviation at the time (and maybe still I guess?). It lost control in low altitude and crashed in the middle of Stockholm with thousands of people watching. It was so lucky nobody got hurt. My dad asked me as we watched the flames across the bay if I still wanted to become a pilot. I can’t have been more than 8 years old or something at the time, I just replied ” When I’ve grown up they will have fixed that problem”.
However, I never became a pilot. I started with Flight Simulator 2000 I think as my new neighbour also was into aviation. We were young teenagers, running across the backyard to each other’s houses and checking different planes and downloaded different freewares that we tried out together. Sometimes we convinced a store in the town to import some boxed paywares for us, can’t remember why we simply didn’t ask our parents. However, we have since then shared this hobby.
I studied 3D during a year at University and really enjoyed it. One of the reasons I started studying 3D was to be able to make my own airports and I released a quite mediocre version of Dala Airport for fs2004 at this time. At this time I was still set on becoming a pilot so I did my medical exams and started a PPL. Quite soon ( 5 hours flight time to be exact), I realized I found the whole flying-thing a bit boring. Surprisingly.
I became a photographer instead which is still my main profession.
What made you decide you wanted to develop for Flight Simulator and why?
The reason I started developing was simply because I wanted some airports in the sim. I’ve always enjoyed being creative. Pierre (the neighbour I mentioned) & I gathered all information we needed to do Dala Airport (our local airport). He was amazing in getting access and talking to people and I was more the dude who then built the 3D models and did the creative part of the work.
We gathered all the information and references we needed to make Stockholm-Arlanda but it was just such a big project. It never took off. But it was a dream project as well. It is the biggest airport in Sweden and I’ve flown from there a million times. We often went there to plane spot during a period as well. Anyway, A few years later I decided to have a look at it again and Philip Schall joined the team and it really made some great progress. Then we joined ORBX.
The main reason why I still develop is just because I love the creative part of it and to see airports I would like to have nicely rendered in the sim, being developed. I would never take on a project I would not love to fly to myself in the sim. I’m just a simple flight simulator dude that has been privileged enough to be able to make the airports I feel is missing in the sim.
How many of there in your team and what are your backgrounds before becoming developers?
Our team is basically Philip Schall & I. He is really the genius of the two of us. Nowadays Pierre Engblom (actually that neighbour I told you about earlier), has joined as well doing autogen work etc and helping speeding up some projects.
What inspired you to create Bilbao? Was it the rising increase in popularity from European carriers or due to its interesting approaches and terrain?
I stayed in San Sebastian for a few months back in, uh, it’s been ten years ago now when I think about it. The whole region is such an amazing place and I simply just fell in love with the Basque country. I tend to go back quite often ever since. Most people go to southern Spain, or the east coast when traveling but the north coast is such a different place with the amazing terrain and fantastic nature, not to mention the food. So, I’ve been to Bilbao quite a few times, always tries to add a day at least there to go to Guggenheim and an old venue/bar that I went to first time I was in Bilbao. My wife tells me it’s time we go to new places.
So basically, Bilbao and the whole region is very special to me. Bilbao also has, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful terminal buildings in the world. It’s beautiful from the outside and as interesting on the inside. Airports has a way of pretty much always having the same structure but there is a design element to Bilbao that dictates the rest. I find it very interesting.
The other main reason to make Bilbao is the weather. It’s very shifting and often rainy and windy. Combined with the terrain it makes for very interesting approaches.
It also has connections from all over Europe which is quite amazing considering the size of the airport.
What interests do you have outside of Flight Simulation?
I live in Berlin with my wife and dog. The reason why we live here is simply because our main hobby is to eat & drink. I love trying out restaurants and getting a nice glas of wine at one of the million nice spots we have in our city. Photography is my main passion in life and I really enjoy traveling. I play some guitar as well.
Tell us what your typical day is usually like.
I have a studio spot where I try to spend most of my day. As a freelancer you are always at work in some way, a bit like when you study at university. There is always spare time but you are never off work in the same time. Well, anyway, me and Pluto (our dog) usally goes to the studio, spend the day here, maybe go to the gym. When my wife comes home from work we often go out and get something to eat, sometimes stops for a drink at some nice bar. We try to watch some tv-series but watching tv has always been a struggle to me, but I’m slowly learning to just sit there and watch.
When scenery development gets tough, how do you continue to motivate yourselves?
I hit those situations all the time. I tend to do something else for a while until I get my motivation back. Development issues can sometimes take forever to solve. We had one issue that I spent almost 1 month full time on. It can break the spirit. I go out for a run sometimes when I’m too frustrated.
It’s important to find a way to keep developing fun, and sometimes it can really be hard to move forward. I think it might be hard to understand how many hours are put in to the projects of most developers and how much a single issue that the end customer never see, can take weeks to find a solution to.
What makes Bilbao special compared to your other projects?
First of all, Bilbao & Basque is a love of mine. So, it’s very special to me personally. Philip also seemed fascinated about the place, we agreed very quickly to do this project. From a production point-a-view the terrain has been a huge challenge and Philip has really put in tons of hours getting it to work properly. We haven’t done such a big complex place before. Valdez was big but it was mainly mountain areas, Bilbao is a city with a huge harbour and complex terrain that we have spent very much time on getting right. It’s rare with such a fascinating airport, located in such an interesting region. I have no clue what to do after Bilbao that is equally fascinating. You get both a crowded international airport, fascinating architecture and a whole city plus interesting approaches and terrain. It’s one of a kind.
Who’s your biggest inspiration in the Flight Sim community?
I’m a big fan of several developers. Some people at ORBX are really pushing the limits of what is possible and they are a huge inspiration. Also, developers like FlightBeam, Flytampa, FSDG, 29 Palms, Dreamflight and Jetstream are really big inspiration. People like Arno at Fsdeveloper deserves a lot of credit as well, without him I doubt there would even be a flight simming community or industry.
Favourite add-on (that’s not your own!)?
I don’t spend that much time flying these days but my absolute favourite of all time is Quality Wings Avro.
How do you balance your work life and home life?
I try to spend as much time with my family as possible. I have the luck to work with my two passions in life, photography and 3D. Still, it is essential to give your mind some rest at times.
Any hints on what’s to come after your next project?
I have a list of stuff I would like to do but nothing is decided. It is actually one of my main hobbies! I sit at Google Earth and try to find airports that seems nice and start looking up departures and other information, reference work, etc, and if some criteria are met I put them on my list. I tell my wife I wish for satellite imagery for some projects for my next birthday. She is wise enough to ignore that. Anyway, I really like to work with these small/mid-sized airports so it will probably be something in that range. It will not be Heathrow-sized or a GA-field, that’s all I know.
Where do you see Flight Simulation in 10 years time?
There seems to be a lot going on in the industry now. Hopefully the interest for flight simulation will be strong in 10 years time. Seems like it can take many different routes, there are many different companies releasing different platforms these days. Maybe the future is a bigger selection of niche simulator instead of how it used to be basically one that everyone used. I have no clue really.
Are there any interesting features in Bilbao you can share with us and the community?
Maybe a cheesy answer but the most interesting feature about this project is probably the project itself. Bilbao is simply a damn cool place.
Anything else you want to add?
I hope we all can be happy about that we have this hobby in common. It’s amazing how much joy it brings. I can still spend hours reading up on new projects and put stuff on my wishlist, searching through freeware libraries or reading reviews on the flight simulator stores. It’s a business always in progress. If someone would have told me when I started out 16 years ago, that I would still spend hours every day on this hobby doing basically the same thing I was doing back then, I would have probably found it hard to believe.
Thank you to Marcus for taking the time to answer our questions.
Check back tomorrow we share a quick story on why Aerosoft are one of our favourite developers.