If you haven’t seen, throughout the month of July, Orbx has been putting together a range of sales, offers and community engagement through their #FlyJuly event. We’ve teamed up with Orbx to offer the community some original content. If you didn’t know, Orbx is a huge team of people and whilst they employ numerous people, they also have a range of independent developers who work exclusively and publish content through Orbx. Some of your favourite airports (Dubrovnik, San Diego, Stockholm) are from these independent developers and we want to shine the spotlight on some of them as part of the FlyJuly celebrations.
Earlier this week we spoke to Rasha, but today we add a spotlight to another developer at Orbx; Matteo Veneziani. You may know his work from his San Diego project, but most recently, he released Hollywood Burbank for Prepar3D.
Without further ado, here is the conversation we had with Matteo about his work, challenges and if COVID-19 has had an impact on his development work.
Tell us who you are and what it is you do within Orbx? How did you get into flight simulation and then also flight sim development?
My name is Matteo Veneziani and I am 26 years old. For about 5 years I have been developing sceneries for FSX/P3D. I have always had a passion for aviation since I was a child and so since the age of 10, I started using my first flight simulator. Starting with Microsoft Flight Simulator ’98, then move on to FS2004, FSX and finally P3D. Scenery development began when I finished high school. I had decided to try to improve the airports I knew, and so I did my first free scenery which was Florence Airport. From there I started to get more and more passionate and so I started studying a lot, above all I learned a lot by watching video tutorials on youtube. One day I proposed to Orbx and I was taken to make San Diego ( KSAN ), so my career within Orbx started. Within Orbx I am an indie, i.e. independent developer.
One of your first releases, San Diego, has seen numerous significant development updates. What lessons in scenery development have you learned over the course of the past few years? Following on from that, how did you choose which airport to develop next since you have such a range of releases (Olbia, Gold Coast, San Diego)?
San Diego had unexpected success from me, it’s a big airport so it was pretty obvious that it was very interesting to people, but it was also my first airport with Orbx so I didn’t know how people would react. Given the success and since in the meantime I was improving and learning new techniques I decided to release updates for free to improve it, based above all on customer requests. I can say that even today, I am thinking of releasing a new version totally made using the new techniques that I have learned in this last period.
As for which airport I do next, airports are chosen based on several factors, mainly I like to make those with short runways that are fun to use or have a spectacular approach to reproduce. So I prefer them to large, but boring airports. Another thing that I still take into account are people’s requests; I often do research to understand what the market wants so as to understand what I could do as a next project and if then the mix between spectacular approach / short runway / great demand from the public is in common that is the perfect mix.
How does being part of the Orbx team help you with your scenery development?
Inside Orbx I have met wonderful, and very helpful people who helped me to grow a lot (thanks to their experience). Furthermore, by having many customers, Orbx always (or almost always) guarantees that your product can obtain a good to excellent success. This at least to me, gives me a lot of determination and desire to always develop new projects. Also available to developers Orbx has a very large library of 3D objects (such as vehicles, animated people, planes, etc) to be used within your project for free. Finally, a very important thing not to underestimate is the cost of the photorealistic image of the terrain to be used for your project is not borne by the developer, in this way the development costs for the developer are significantly reduced.
Your latest release, Hollywood Burbank includes a lot of details outside of the airport itself. Why did you go to such lengths to include that amount of detail?
My latest Burbank project is the one that made me grow the most. For me, it has been a great training ship, in the sense that in this last year, during its development I have learned new techniques and advanced programs that have allowed me to raise the quality bar. As I said before, Burbank is the perfect combo of determining factors for the choice of a project (spectacular approach / short runway / great demand from the public). So I wanted to recreate something unique, which faithfully reproduced every detail, then you know that geographical area is full of interesting things to recreate that I certainly could not leave out
Tell us about why you decided to make Hollywood Burbank? What was one of the biggest challenges in making that airport?
One of the most difficult things to recreate in that project was not so much the structure of the airport, but the Universal Studios Park. Often this type of POI is recreated in an approximate way, but I wanted to create something as faithfully as possible. So I started to study the park well and tried to do my best. Of the whole park there was a really difficult part to reproduce without going crazy; “Universal City Walk” is an area of the park with many signs, shapes, structures that initially I didn’t think I could faithfully achieve without going crazy or taking years. But fortunately, by combining a mix of images and 3D modelling, I managed to complete them and I must say that I am very satisfied with the result. Another part that was more than difficult long and boring to make were the models of the buildings that cover the entire valley. Normally houses and buildings are positioned as we know using the autogen, which are models of generic buildings / houses with a rectangular or square shape, but often, in reality, the structures have different shapes and so the autogen models can be ugly or out of place. Since this airport is surrounded by buildings and houses, I could not overlook this detail; so I decided through the use of advanced programs to recreate in 3D the exact shape of all structures and buildings that were not simple terraced houses. It was a very long job but I couldn’t be more satisfied with the result.
How do you get through the tough times in development? How do you keep motivated?
As I said before, one of the things that give me more strength is the response of the public. I like creating projects that people have been asking for for a long time and make them in the best way I can. However, if you do not put passion in what you do sooner or later you can get tired, especially in this sector.
With times being strange and tough for many, have you had to adapt your workflow to accommodate the world we’re living in right now?
No, nothing has changed for me. I have my office and my private station where I work every day without problems.
Where do you see flight simulation in the next 12-months?
In the next 12 months I see big changes. Surely with the release of Microsoft Flight Simulator, people will gradually move to this platform. It will probably be a gradual transition, so in my opinion, it will take more than 12 months before most of us mainly use the new simulator. Another thing that I think will happen with the new sim is that flight simulation will become less niche, there will be a lot more people who will use Microsoft Flight Simulator than FSX/P3D and this will probably also affect developers positively. However, in my opinion, the “old” sim will still survive and will not be completely abandoned since, however, people have so far invested heavily in them.
A huge thank you to Matteo for taking the time to talk to us and share his insight into development.
You can find out more about Matteo’s latest airport, Hollywood Burbank. here.
Stay tuned as we have something very special planned before the end of July as part of #FlyJuly.