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Cloud Surf Team Update – Piracy and Fraudulent Development Practices

CLOUDSUFTEAM

Update 14th August 2017

We have received a statement from the developer regarding this situation. You can read it here.

We have removed some of the content posted before regarding our suspicion as we now have more context into what this situation is.

As always, we are keen to work with the community (both consumer and development sides) and to look out for both.

We may have jumped the gun slightly, but we felt it was important to bring this topic back to light considering their past.

What happens in the future for this project and development group is now down to them. We’ve offered our support to them should they require it in the future.

— Original article posted Feb 8th 2017 —

I recently posted an in-depth look at Cloud Surf Team and their announcement of the A380 they claim to be developing. If you’re read the article, you will know I have valid reasons to believe they will turn out to be another vapor-ware developer with no substance.

What made matters worse is the fact they’re asking people if they would help “donate” up to 20,000 euros for a dumped A380 project from NLS. The 20,000 euros would go towards the modelling, flight dynamics and more. Again, a developer with no proven record asking for money so soon is a massive red flag in my books.

With that article spread among the community, someone who was previously involved with Cloud Surf Team contacted FSElite team. This person will remain anonymous. Proof has been provided to FSElite regarding the legitimacy of their involvement, as well as a detailed account of the mishaps of Cloud Surf Team.

From this point forward, we shall refer to this developer as Charlie.

As a result, we are branding Cloud Surf Team as a fraudulent developer, and one who steals other people’s works to sell off as their own.

Whilst it is true that have yet to make any money from the practice, they were still very much going to go ahead with selling the product via SimMarket in an attempt to make money off of someone else’s work.

Charlie is no longer involved with Cloud Surf Team, and as such has no knowledge of the current status of the A380 in ‘development’. However, they did provide detail into the process of the A340-500 they stated was in development.

From the get go, the team were completely out of their depth. Charlie’s task in the development of this product was to create the virtual cockpit for the A340. We showed you “previews” of virtual cockpit yesterday. This was in fact simply a conversion of the default FSX Airbus into a A340 model. Not piracy, but still not the “custom cockpit” the development team was promising. In fact, this is the same practice that JustFlight use for some of their aircraft. This is not the fault of Charlie, but the development practice that was approved by Cloud Surf Team’s owner James Douglas.

Like us, Charlie was told that the development team was 6 members strong, yet despite this, Charlie had no contact with anyone else from the development team. Charlie was simply there to do some modelling work, nothing to do with animators or texture artists. He was told multiple times that his “trustworthy” friend would do texturing, animation, coding and modelling in 3D. Of course, none of this happened and it’s believed these people simply do not exist.

At the same time these conversations were going on, James had been emailed Charlie asking if it was a good idea to copy someone else’s modelling and change a few things to make it “legal”.

The idea was to use Thomas Ruth’s model and change some values within the CFG and .air files. James then said that this “isn’t classified as being copied”. He went onto say that Cloud Surf Team can simply say they used Thomas’ one as a “basis.”

I hope you can understand that I won’t be able to share the exact conversation without breaching my sources trust. I have seen evidence of this conversation.

Outraged by his comments, Charlie decided to go through some of the previews the team shown off from the A340-500 and tried to dig up any information about what had been said.

Charlie broke it down for me to fully understand.

Issue #1 – The program used to show previews

I’m not a developer, but according to Charlie this preview is a big hint at someone who has copied work. The program shown above is called MDLConverter, which is used to primarily to extract models from FSX. According to Charlie, this would be illogical as you would simply show your original modelling data as opposed to an export of a model. Of course, this points to the fact that they had been using Thomas Ruth’s model. Thomas Ruth did in fact create a freeware A340.

Issue #2 – Pre-Model Animations

Charlie assures me that when developing an aircraft, developers create the model first, animate second.

In this “preview”, you can see that the rudder is full right. In this software, it will automatically show the animation at the end of the cycle. Now what is strange is the fact that despite the fact they said they have an animator on the team, Charlie was told the work was on-going. So in which case, how did they suddenly have animation on the aircraft. Again, the answer would point to Thomas Ruth’s A340 model.

Issue #3 – It looks just like Thomas Ruth’s A340!

So not an issue, and clearly subjective. However, here’s a shot provided to us for comparison.

Despite not being from the same angle, it’s very comparable. Of course, there’s no definitive proof that this is the same model, but the similarities are distinct.

For example, look at the landing gear. It looks exactly the same. Also, remember that Cloud Surf Team have no ANIMATORS so how were they able to recreate the flaps and landing gear? The conclusion would be, as we keep saying, a stolen model.

At this point, Charlie took it upon themselves to provide absolute proof that the models were one of the same. Whilst sadly he wasn’t able to provide evidence, he said that when pulling the models into some software, the 2 matched up completely.

What does this have to do with the A380 announcement?

Well if Cloud Surf Team intend to continue development, they’re going to have to prove to the community that their work is in fact, THEIR work. I honestly believe it will be the same situation using a different model and trying to get away with it.

Now following on from our A340 discovery, myself and Charlie agreed that this A380 was probably the work of Thomas Ruth again. Now a quick Google will show he helped contribute with the Project Airbus team on the virtual cockpit. So we took a chance, downloaded Project Airbus’ A380 and loaded up the model into both ModelConverterX and Blender.

First, here’s some comparisons in ModelConverterX. The top image is from CST’s Facebook page of a preview and the bottom is a screenshot I took with Project Airbus A380 loaded in ModelConverterX.

I hope you agree, the resemblance is uncanny. Everything from how the model is animated to sizing, etc is EXACTLY the same. Of course, this wasn’t enough and needed some more evidence to show that this A380 was another freeware model that Cloud Surf Team were trying to steal.

They made the mistake of trying to stream their development. So we spent a little time watching their ‘live’ streams, which turned out to be literally the developer talking over some music, whilst he makes a few clicks here and there on the model he has in the Blender.

I contacted Charlie and asked him to take a look at their recent Twitch stream – https://www.twitch.tv/videos/120162592

Whilst he didn’t work on the A380 project itself, he pointed out some things he felt were wrong with what was going on in the stream.

Take a look at the screenshot from the stream:

I specifically want you to look at the file names on the top-right-hand side.

Charlie pointed out that any developer would name these files a little more specifically to ensure they knew exactly what file did what. Not only that, but something so quick in development, there were already an awful lot of files within this object.

So I took the Project Airbus A380 into Blender and guess what, it had exactly the same file name set up. Take a look:

Same file names throughout. That’s right, Cloud Surf Team didn’t even bother to change the file names before a live stream. This is all the evidence I need to declare that Cloud Surf Team are defrauding freeware developers and tricking the community into believing the work is their own.

The fact they have the audacity to even consider donations is simply disgusting and should not be condoned by anyone.

I strongly suggest that people spread the message about the foul practices of Cloud Surf Team and ensure that any posts or articles about the announcement of the A380 is removed. There will be no aircraft, no systems – nothing. It’s simply a con and a trick to earn some quick money.

[EDIT – So CST have said they will not be going down the donation route. Most likely because we called them out on their bullshit. As far as I’m concerned they’re looking for people for no reason as they have no product to offer. This retraction of donation does not change our stance on the matter. They tried to trick people and we won’t let them forget what they tried to do to do the community.]

DO NOT DONATE. DO NOT SUPPORT. AVOID AT ALL COSTS.

If Cloud Surf Team would like to get in contact, please use of contact page and we’ll open communication if you have a rebuttal.

I would like to thank Charlie for the support and for giving us so much insight into Cloud Surf Team’s foul practices.

For now, FSElite consider this case closed.

Tags : Cloud Surf TeamFraudPiracy
Calum Martin

The author Calum Martin

I have been an avid fan of Flight Sim since the release of ‘2000 and have been developing my love for aviation ever since. Currently working for a UK airline, I have the knowledge and experience to really deliver an excellent aviation community. Although no real life flying experience, I have a good understanding and always learning more and more. | View My Specs

7 Comments

  1. Considering the article offers no solid proof of any wrong doing and only gives circumstantial evidence at best, I think it’s extremely harsh. Initially, because of the funding claim, I was suspicious, but to say that they are using someone elses designs because of a few file names being the same and previews showing the same gear position (it’s the same aircraft (so of course they’d be the same), is downright libellous

    1. Sorry you feel that way Mark, but we’ve done our research, got testimony and have no had others from the group contact us. I assure you this is 100% true.

      Like @AndiG said, it wasn’t a few file names, it was ALL of them were exactly the same. Every. Single. One.

  2. Mark Jordan – i am sure he is right. If you are involved in FS for a long time you know how to import a model into blender. Why should they name dozens of files exactly the same as they would come out of an import ? It is sad that we see a lot of good developers disappear caused by piracy. And it is a shame to see that some people are keen to steal others work that was provided to the FS community for free to sell them and get a profit out of it.

  3. I guess as long you not have seriously proofs, you shouldn’t go online with such a storry !
    You could destroy someones reputation It would also make your statement more symphatic to me if I could see really facts ! As long it is “maybe” and “we are not sure” unpfrofessional from your side to do such a statement to the public ! If you can proof what you are posting then it is a completely other story and you should get legal advises or legal action to does concerned individuals ! If not it could be seen as spreading a bad image over to a future competitor !

    Claudio

  4. lol

    fselite is going on a witchunt as of late but they still keep quiet about the scam that is pss/blackbox selling unfinished betas for 3 years now, essentially scamming people for money for a product they will never finish. I guess that’s ok in your book? you have provided no proof (yet again) that this work is in fact stole, used without permission or actually copied off another author.

    I wonder why is that..

  5. Thanks for the comments above.

    Not sure what information we posted here is without proof. Cloud Surf Team admitted back in February that they indeed did steal the content.

    We haven’t posted about black box being a scam as they’re offering a product, one described clearly as a work in progress, so if you choose to buy it then that’s yours to do as you wish. Plus they haven’t stolen other people’s work.

    This is not a witch hunt, one of the original developers from the CST has been posting new shots of this product with very little context or proof, so we wanted to bring the original article back to people’s attention.

    We are in contact with said developer and will update this post accordingly.

    Hope that clarifies stuff.

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