FlightSimExpo 2018, PMDG’s “Secret” Project Announcement and More Ramblings from a sleepless night is the topic of this article from GrizzlyBearSims. Ladies, Gentlemen and children of all ages….as I’ve often mentioned during my YouTube videos…I occasionally suffer from bouts of insomnia. I generally fall asleep quite easily, then wake up a few hours later with thoughts and ramblings knocking around in my head. Tonight I went to bed around my normal time feeling exhausted from work to only wake up in the middle of the night with the desire to write.
This coming weekend 9-10 June, Flight Simulation enthusiasts and AvGeeks from around the world will gather at the Flamingo in beautiful Las Vegas, Nevada for North America’s newest flight simulation and aviation conference, FlightSimExpo 2018. Created by simmers and developers, FlightSimExpo is being advertised as “the only community-created and driven flight simulation conference in North America”.
This thing is going to be huge and I can certainly understand why they picked Sin City to host the first event of its kind. The sponsor list reads like a who’s who of all the major players from the world of flight simulation. With Orbx being listed at the top of the pyramid and just about everyone else I’ve ever heard of in my long history with this hobby is involved. All the big name YouTube/Twitch personalities will also be in attendance. I certainly wish my travel schedule would have permitted me the opportunity to attend. But there’s always next year!
Unfortunately, all available tickets have been sold for the event so we’ll just have to sit back and wait for others attending the event to begin spreading all the news and joy with the rest of us on the interwebz. I’ll be tuned into all the regular FS news channels and will share any major news along with my opinion right here on GrizzlyBearSims.com.
PMDG’s “Secret” Project
At some point over the weekend, we’ll finally know what PMDG’s “Secret” Project is all about. Speculation has pretty much run amuck the past few weeks as to what this “secret” project could be. Some are saying it’s a new aircraft model and others seem to think it could actually be a brand new sim platform. It appears whatever this “Secret” Project is, it’s been in the works since 2008. I have some thoughts and ideas on what this “secret” project could be and most likely what it will not be which I’ll discuss in the next few paragraphs.
First, this isn’t the first time PMDG has identified a new upcoming project using the term “Secret”. So just because the hype leading up to FSExpo2018 is convincing everyone this could be the next best thing since the old pocket on a shirt, it may not be that big. But as I said, speculation is running wild and before I run through the potential list, let’s talk about the history of PMDG first.
Firstly, PMDG is an acronym of Precision Manuals Design Group and was founded by Robert S. Randazzo. PMDG got its start by producing detailed flight manuals (hence the name) for the Microsoft Flight Simulator Boeing 747 and 757 , but soon moved into the development of freeware and later quality payware aircraft models. Today PMDG develops some of the finest study level aircraft for the Microsoft FSX, FSX Steam Edition, Lockheed Martin’s Prepar3D and X-Plane simulation platforms.
Their current list of supported aircraft models include Boeing 737-800/900 (-600/-700 expansion pack), Boeing 777-200LR/F (-300ER expansion pack), Boeing 747-400 Queen of The Skies II and the Douglas DC-6. It should be noted the Douglas DC-6 was the first aircraft developed by PMDG for the X-Plane platform. Also of note, the Jetstream 4100 is available for FSX only and their MD-11 (FSX only) was officially retired. According to public information, PMDG is currently developing the Jetstream 4100 for P3D and the Boeing 747-8i/F expansion for both FSX and Prepar3D.
As I mentioned, speculation as to exactly what the “Secret” project for 2018 has been discussed in all corners of the internet. Also, let’s keep in mind that we have been told this “Secret” project has been in the works since 2008. 10 Years, a decade. Of course, just because something has been in development for 10 years, doesn’t mean it’s been actively worked on all this time. After all, PMDG only has 8 employees according to Wikipedia. A quick Google search has uncovered many of the possible scenarios which I’ll list below with a few comments/opinions from yours truly…this list will start with the most bizarre and eventually work our way into perhaps the most likely scenario. At least from my viewpoint…here goes.
PMDG will make us pay for all our aircraft one more time. This one ranks highest on the most bizarre, but if you are unfamiliar with flight sim and especially PMDG, allow me to bring up up to speed. As I’ve discussed a few times, the one factor in my decision to embrace P3D is the fact that a large majority of the add-ons I purchased during the time of FSX have been re-developed to function in P3D. Most importantly, many of these have been re-developed to work in P3D v4 (64 bit). Of all the add-ons I own (and I own a lot), most have been made available at no additional cost. Meaning, some sceneries I purchased to use with FSX (sometime after 2006) have been redeveloped to work in P3D v4, with installers made available some 12 years later and at no additional cost. While this list consists mainly of scenery add-ons, a few of my favorite aircraft have also been made available for P3D v4 at no extra cost. But when P3D came onto the scene, PMDG made the decision any aircraft you had previously purchased for FSX would need to be re-purchased for P3D. While we were all down on our knees after that punch to the gut, PMDG then kicked us again and said, AT FULL PRICE! Yes, it was a hard pill to swallow especially knowing that PMDG didn’t really have to completely rewrite every line of code with these aircraft. But considering they provide the very best study level Boeing models available for P3D, we all opened out wallets, whipped out the credit cards and said…”Take Our Money”. But fear not….I don’t believe PMDG will be announcing we must all re-purchase our favorite aircraft AGAIN for P3D (at least not at this time).
PMDG will develop an Airbus aircraft, specifically the Airbus A380. As PMDG have established themselves primarily as a Boeing shop, I’m not sure I see this as an option. Another small piece of information I’ve found on the internet, it appears Randazzo very much dislikes Airbus. He’s often used the line “If it ain’t Boeing, I ain’t going”. Of course, a study level Airbus A380 would certainly be a money maker and I’ve known folks who would sell their soul just to make a buck. The other factor that I believe doesn’t make sense for the A380 to be the “Secret” project is there is already a study level Airbus A380 currently in development. But of course, this really doesn’t matter. In the grand scheme of things, the only thing that matters is who brings their version to market first. PMDG most certainly could have been working off and on over the past 10 years on the A380 and we would have never known it. In addition, IF they are working on an A380 it most likely release long before any other possible developers version.
PMDG will develop a new flight simulation platform. If you know a little history, this doesn’t sound too far fetched. We’ve known for a year or two that PMDG was involved in a conglomeration of well known flight sim developers who negotiated with Microsoft to acquire the rights to continue developing FSX as a flight sim platform. However, during the negotiation process, Dovetail Games flew in with a better plan and obviously deeper pockets and walked away with the rights. This of course led to the FSX Steam Edition, Dovetail Games Flight School and Dovetail Games Flight Sim World. Only FSX Steam Edition has survived and you can read my article titled “And then there were two…” for more info on the demise of FSW. To continue with this thought, we need to look at the facts. We’ve been told by PMDG that this “Secret” project has been in the making since 2008. Microsoft had been releasing versions of their popular flight simulator every 2-3 years with FS2000 releasing in 1999, FS2002 in 2001, FS2004 (FS9) in 2003 and FSX in 2006. After the release of FSX in 2006, the flight sim community (best I can remember) just believed that FS11 would be the next in the franchise and life was good. Even in 2008, I doubt anyone felt any turbulence approaching. In 2009, it was reported that development behind the MSFS product was being heavily affected by Microsoft’s ongoing job cuts and there were rumors the entire dev team would be laid off. Soon after, we learned the news about the ACES team being laid off and speculation began to build on exactly what the future was for the Microsoft Flight Simulator franchise. The point I’m getting at here is in 2008, PMDG was still a relatively small company. I’m really not sure they would have had the need or desire to think one day they would build their own flight simulator platform. The whole Dovetail scenario didn’t occur until 2014. As far as this scenario goes, I feel it’s more likely that PMDG (and that conglomeration previously mentioned) have some how negotiated with Dovetail Games to take over where they left off with FSW. Or perhaps negotiated with Lockheed Martin to distribute Prepar3D for entertainment purposes. Or none of these scenarios at all.
Here are my own ideas as to what the “secret” project actually is….Once again, let’s open our history books to the year 2008. After all, this seems to be some key date in PMDG’s history.
PMDG will release the McDonnell Douglas MD-11 for P3D v4. Now this would certainly be a crowd pleaser and many, many credit cards would gladly be whipped out to pay for this. PMDG actually released the MD-11 in 2008 for both FS9 and FSX. At that time, the only other wide body aircraft available from PMDG was the 747-400 (version 2) for FSX. The MD-11 was loved by many and for those still running the boxed version of FSX, it’s still flying the virtual skies hauling passengers and freight all around the world. As of two years ago, the worldwide fleet of MD-11s totaled 123 with Fedex operating 57. With PMDG’s decision to retire the MD-11, it’s left a big void in the virtual aviation hobby.
PMDG will release either a Boeing 757 or 767 for P3D v4. Another absolutely WIDE void in the virtual aviation hobby was created when the wonderful Level-D Boeing 767 was officially retired. I owned the Level-D 767 for FSX and just before PMDG released the 777, the 767 was my favorite aircraft to fly. In the real world, the Boeing 767 continues to fly the skies in vast numbers with over 700 still in service as both passenger and cargo operations. Even after the 767 is retired from passenger service, it will still proudly fly the skies as cargo aircraft. As for the 757, rumors about rumors have long existed that Level-D would eventually make a 757. The excitement was quite high for this news as the community had been wanting a study level version of the Boeing 757 for a long time. Even today, with both QualityWings having a 757 for FSX (and P3D v2/v3) and CaptainSim offering a 757 for P3D v4, the community still lacks that study level quality version. In the real world, 738 Boeing 757’s are still in service with Delta, Fedex and United Airlines having the largest fleet still flying today.
Something YUGE? Again, I have been using Google to parse as much info as I possibly can regarding this “Secret” project PMDG is announcing this weekend. In Jan. 2017, Robert S. Randazzo posted a lengthy discussion topic regarding status updates on somethings PMDG had been working on. This posting discusses many things including PMDG RainMaker, 747-8, 777, NG3 (not to be confused with NGX) and the Jetstream 4100 (J41). Down many paragraphs he mentions “We originally thought the J41 would release in late summer and showcase this new effect (PMDG RainMaker), but product development hit some snags and is still in holding since we moved development resources over to a major (massive…YUGE, even!) project that we haven’t announced yet”. He further mentions that we won’t see the “PMDG RainMaker” effects until the 747-8 expansion. So….something YUGE! Is this code for something? I’m not sure, but elsewhere on the interwebz I found a discussion regarding speculation that PMDG might have been working on the Boeing 747-200. How do I connect “YUGE” to the B742? G-HUGE is a registration number for a British Caledonian Airways Boeing 747-200. Yes, I agree…this is a stretch of the old imagination. But I’m starting to become delirious from lack of sleep now.
If I were a betting man and of course this announcement will take place on Saturday, 9 June in Sin City (Las Vegas), so place those bets now….I would say the most likely scenario will be either the MD-11 or 767/757 option. Either (or all) would be a really big deal in the flight sim community. Either (or all) would fill a really “YUGE” void in the flight sim community and would just strengthen the Boeing offerings PMDG already has in their portfolio. But we’ll just have to wait until Saturday to learn what new thing we can expect from PMDG.
A Few More Ramblings
I’m starting to drift off to sleep now and need to jot down a few more thoughts as I can’t be guaranteed to remember them when I wake up later. A few years ago I wrote about a similar flight simulation conference called FlightSimCon. While FlightSimExpo (which is what the majority of this blog posting is about) claims to be “the only community-created and driven flight simulation conference in North America”, I suppose there has been a lot of confusion in recent weeks about these two conferences. Anyway, in the past…FlightSimCon was held in the New England Air Museum in Windsor Locks, CT (Bradley International Airport KBDL). While I believe attendance was always good, it was a difficult location to get to for the majority of the attendees. The organizers of FlightSimCon for the 2018 event have since changed the location to the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Dallas, Texas. However, this event falls two weeks AFTER FlightSimExpo and appears not to have as many sponsors/exhibitors. While I understand these are two different conferences, operated by two different groups…the planning could have been better. The flight simulation community is rather small in comparison to other gaming communities and I personally don’t believe two events of this kind can survive especially when the are scheduled two weeks apart. The majority of the excitement certainly seems to be around the FlightSimExpo Vegas event as the list of sponsors/exhibitors consists of all the major players.
Finally, I really hope you enjoyed the first installment or Leg 1 of my “around the world” WorldFlight 2018 tour which released here on my blog site on Wednesday. Look for Leg 2 on Saturday morning and my hope is to be able to deliver at least one leg each week and occasionally some weeks could have two legs.
I’m sorry this has been a lengthy/wordy article. Yes, there’s a lot of info to digest and some of it, or perhaps none of it will come to fruition. That’s OK with me, it’s been a fun walk down memory lane. If by some freak chance something I’ve listed here does happen, then I can only thank the Flight Sim gods for waking me and placing the thoughts in my tiny brain.
Until next time….As Wesley Snipes would say…..
P.S. Yea…I also enjoy aviation movies.
For legal disclosure, the Wesley Snipes (Passenger 57) GIF is copyright of whomever created it and to the producers/directors and Mr. Wesley (tax man) Snipes himself.