November was supposed to be a relatively calm month. Some releases to be expected, some updates here and there, and the big Black Friday sale. However, that should have been about it. It almost sounded too good to be true. And if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
In all fairness, I might be slightly exaggerating. November started out quite calm with relatively few big news items. Halfway through the month, we saw QualityWings’ surprise release of the Ultimate 146. This was pretty big news and some members of the community got into rather heated arguments in our comment section. Is the price worth it? Should it have been free for previous owners? What’s happening on the Ultimate 787 front? In the end, nobody seemed to be able to find a consensus on these topics.
After the Ultimate 146 news we had a rather calm Black Friday. Nobody rushed to be first in line at any of the digital stores because, well, they are digital. And nobody rushed to even get in line to begin with at FlightSimStore. We probably could have suspected this and see it coming for a bit, but because they were so uncommunicative and keeping up the appearance that everything was “fine”, it still came as a bit of a surprise. It’s sad to see them go. I have been a customer there for quite a few years, and I’m losing access to a fair amount of products. However, there is no excuse for the things they have done. Not paying developers and running off with money is never a good idea. Let’s hope justice catches up with them sooner or later.
But, by far, the biggest news was the Prepar3D v4.4 surprise announcement. With PBR. It is our most popular article of all time, and it’s only three days old at the time of writing. We had over 20,000 people view the news during that short time period. Insane! As per usual, whenever there’s a Prepar3D announcement around the corner it kind of creates this debate of ‘Prepar3D vs. X-Plane’. This time, that debate seemed even more fierce because P3D would release with a feature that has been available in X-Plane for a long time now: PBR textures. I’m not a big fan of the entire debate, so I try and avoid it where I can. Unfortunately, some people will always feel a need to comment somewhere. In the end, some of the feedback we received regarding the comments caused us to make the switch to an entirely new comment system.
The release of P3D v4.4 comes with another dilemma: addon compatibility. When v4 was released, and the simulator was finally 64 bit and featured dynamic lighting, almost all of our addons broke. It would take over a year to rebuilt almost my entire addon library. Some of them never even got an update. It was an unpleasant and an expensive time. Some developers (I salute you) provided compatibility at absolutely no extra cost. Say and think what you want about them, but that is some excellent support. Other developers started asking a $5 upgrade fee, citing that some of their storefronts would not allow them to distribute updates for free. It seems reasonable, though there was plenty of reason to suspect it could’ve been done differently. After all, some of these developers had been delivering free “updates” before in the form of files you had to manually paste into your addon folders for years.
But there was one publisher that really figured something new: simply export your current scenery through the P3Dv4 SDK, slap on a ‘Professional’ title and not only ask huge upgrade fees, but often just sell the product as ‘new’ at a higher price than was previously the case.
So when P3D v4.4 came around, this publisher made sure to rush to the comment section of their product to let people know that adding in PBR textures was going to be a lot of work that surely could not be done for free. In comparison, we’ve had developers already announce how PBR textures and P3Dv4.4 compatibility updates are going to be free. I’d recommend you take a good look at all these developers and publishers that rush to defend their reasoning to ask more money. I’ve been told they “don’t owe us anything”, which is true, but it’s a poor excuse for some unreasonable behaviour.
In the end, November turned out to be an unexpectedly busy month. For now it doesn’t seem like anything is going to slow down anytime soon, but one can hope.