Duplication of Effort – Is it a bad thing?

While I’ve been thinking about this subject for a few weeks, I really was prompted to actually sit down at the computer and pour my thoughts into WordPress for you all to read.  The subject of this writing has to do with add-on developers duplicating each others efforts.  Understand, I’m not referring to stealing, copying or anything underhanded. 

Earlier today the flight simulation community learned a brand new Las Vegas, KLAS airport scenery had been released by scenery developer FlyTampa.  I’m familiar with FlyTampa and own two of their add-on airports including TNCM (St. Maarten) and KTPA (Tampa).  On my wish list I have Amsterdam (EHAM), Chicago Midway (KMDW), Boston (KBOS) and with the word MAYBE beside it I now have Las Vegas (KLAS). 

For the past 8+ years I’ve owned the add-on scenery for Las Vegas from FSDreamTeam.  For the most part, I’ve been very pleased with their scenery.  As a matter of fact, I’ve been so pleased with FSDreamTeam that I own a total of 16 of their add-on airport sceneries.  The only developer which tops them in the number of products I own would be Orbx.  Anyway…

Back to the Question at Hand

Generally speaking, as consumers, we see duplication of effort everywhere we look.  Go to the grocery store and you’ll find multiple brands of products that essentially do the exact same thing.  Out on the highway, you’ll see different types of automobiles which all do the exact same thing.  Even in the very industry we simulate through flight simulation we have Boeing versus Airbus and American versus United.  Let’s also not forget we have Prepar3D versus XPlane.  I think the saying, “Variety is the Spice of Life” comes to mind here.  Also, competition is always a good thing. 

But is competition such a good thing in our hobby?  I’d say YES and NO! 

In the example of FSDreamTeam’s Las Vegas, it’s been out for about 10 years.  Originally developed for both FSX and FS9 (Flight Simulator 2004) and made compatible for Prepar3D (including v4) it is starting to show its age.  Having said that, much of the other FSDT scenery I own (with exception of KMEM and KSDF) were all purchased for FSX and FSDT has updated them for P3Dv4 at no out of pocket cost.  Said in another way, the vast majority of the 16 products I own from FSDreamTeam were purchased 7-10 years ago and the developer has worked to make them compatible with P3Dv4 and I didn’t have to spend any money.  This is one reason why FSDT has remained one of my favorite developers and why I try to support them every chance I get. 

Back to the competition question and why I say it’s both a good thing and a bad thing.  First let’s get the bad out of the way.  When I hear of an add-on developer creating airport scenery for an airport which already exists via another developer, I think to myself just how many other airports in the world which we don’t have represented with accurately detailed add-on scenery?  In other words, instead of recreating an airport that already exists by an established developer…why not select another airport? 

As for the reasons why it can be a good thing, well in the case of FSDT’s KLAS which was developed for FS9/FSX, FlyTampa’s KLAS is 100% P3Dv4 including PBR textures which of course is the brand new buzz word around the P3D community.  LOL  No, PBR doesn’t stand for Pabst Blue Ribbon…it stands for Physical Based Rendering and in simple terms PBR offers lighting techniques that treats light the way it really behaves in the real world.  When applied to an aircraft (as an example), the materials which make up the aircraft look more realistic. 

As I said…

Competition is a good thing.  Not only can it help to keep the cost to the consumer low, it also can assist in keeping everyone on their toes.  But if you blink….then bad things can happen.  In the case of FSDreamTeam and their KLAS scenery…THEY BLINKED and FlyTampa pounced. 

Like any other piece of software, FlyTampa didn’t decide last week or last month to develop their version of KLAS.  Most likely it’s been in the works for some time.  As I’ve stated before in other writings, compared to other gaming communities…the flight simulation community is rather small.  These 3rd party development teams are also small in size.  The PMDG wiki page states there are 8 employees.  So these things take time.  But in the case of FSDT, I see no signs they were planning to make any major updates to KLAS and with the recent hype around FlyTampa’s version, I’m most certain FSDT won’t bother.

Bottom Line

There’s very little brand loyalty in the flight sim community.  If my wife sends me into the store to purchase a cold soda, I better come out with a red can in my hand.  In other words, she drinks coca-cola or she’ll go without and I’ll get one of those looks if I even think otherwise.  You know the look I’m talking about.  Right?

On a related note, FSDreamTeam has been in the process of developing a version 2 for Chicago O Hare KORD.  I believe it’s been in the works for almost two years.  As is the case with most projects like this, no release date is known at this time.  FSDT’s KORD will be amazing and it’s badly needed.  However, another relatively new developer called Skyline Sim announced they were working on their own KORD (and other airports as well).  Time will only tell…

For now, I plan to pull the trigger on FlyTampa’s version of Las Vegas.  I’ll uninstall FSDT’s version and continue moving forward. 

Until next time…

Viva Las Vegas!


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