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Is time running out for FSX Scenery Developers?

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Having spoken to quite a few around the trade it is obvious that choosing the right airport or region to create for FSX is getting harder and harder, especially as it needs to be profitable, otherwise there is no point in doing it.

If we look at what is currently available in the UK , virtually every major airport has been reproduced as well as most of the small ones, Ok some are not as well detailed as perhaps the latest technology permits but would it be financially viable to do them again?

There is a new Heathrow due very shortly, not by UK2000 , I wonder if those that have the latest uk2000 version will buy it? yes we may want a slightly better portrayal but it may not be as frame friendly, do we take the risk and put our hands in our pocket ? or are we reasonably happy with what we have?


Take UK scenery, 2 companies have already made photoscenery 1 better than the other , is there room for a higher detailed scenery, I suggest those of us with uk photoscenery are reasonably pleased with it , would we like higher definition? I think we would , but would we be prepared to put our hands in our pockets??? well that is a more difficult question.


If we look at Orbx ,  it is reasonably obvious that they caught a cold in the UK despite producing very good airports, rumour has it the only profitable airport was Southampton, that being the case why didnt we buy it let alone the foreigners.?


Population wise the US seems to have more disposable income than we do, and it would appear that whoever produces an american airport/scenery it seems to do well, hence many UK developers are busy making US scenery, but there is only so much you can make before it reaches saturation. OK there are a few fanatics who will buy anything that orbx makes  and some have an impressive list of purchases on their signature, but I wonder how many they actually use on a regular basis?


There are also US companies making scenery so it will not be long before all the major US airports are covered by someone.


Where do the developers go then? where is there a big market place that will buy enough to make it worthwhile?


France is covered by France VFR their airports are not top notch , they are not intended to be, as their MD has said to me , it simply isnt financially worth while, yes make something better than the stock FSX issue but that is all, when they did make highly detailed airports a few years ago, they never sold enough to make a profit.


Germany (another big market) is also quite well covered with most major airports available through Aerosoft or someone similar


Austria already is partially covered and will be finished this year, likwise Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands , Spain, Portugal,

again some of the airfileds could be better in these countiries but how many would buy?


Scandinavia has been partially done and orbx is supposed to be doing Norway, but isnt Norway a double of the PNW ? the names are different but the scenery very similar.


So where to? South America????, well I suppose there must be quite a few simmers there after all carenado and alabeo are from Peru but there is virtually nothing been made for there in the way of scenery, is that region the last Eldorado? It would be a brave person to put his toe in the water there I fancy, I could be wrong though.

Africa?????   Whilst I see people flying there in Vatsim I wonder how many would buy a highly detailed Sailor Malan airport.

 so where is left? eastern Europe? well even the russians are not making anything there and their costs are lower than ours, Greece? well most of the interesting airports have been done, but no photoscenery! why? perhaps it is a deeply guarded secret , remember you can still be thrown in jail there if you photograph an airport, so what chance getting hold of aerial photography??

like wise the Balkans.


There are a few small devs making reasonable efforts with the Balkan airports , they are not top drawer stuff ,but adequate and at 8 euros a throw they dont break the bank.


Perhaps the far east, they have big populations , but enough simmers? Does China turn you on? huge area , amazing scenery lots of big airports -------

, Aerofly is looking for devs to make new scenery and airports, graphicly their stuff is excellent but again are there enough people using it to make it worthwhile?


is XP10 going to be the saviour?? or P3D?? I have just learnt that version 2.3 has broken many of the backward looking code so now it is virtually impossible to make an FSX airport compatible with P3D, it is one or the other are sales good enough in P3D to warrant devs make the plunge, or would it be best to wait for the 64 bit prog which will no doubt be different again.



However you look at it time is running short for our dev's if they cant make a living, and that is bad for our hobby.


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you raise a lot of points, here are some of my thoughts for what they are worth.


California, in the US has a population approaching that of England and US scenery designers do seem to have concentrated their early efforts on that State, especially around L.A. & San Francisco, just as developers here in the UK initially concentrated on SE England & its main airports.


In general Americans tend to be insular (& more patrionic), I met a lot who had never travelled out of their State - a comparison of US & British tv news possibly proves my point - US news is US news with items from the rest of the World squeezed in at the end, wheras here in the UK it's the opposite, usually we are lucky to get 5-7 minutes of local news at the end of the broadcast.


I believe most of us willing to pay for fs scenery will go for areas we are familiar with first, such as where we live or some exotic place we visited on holiday or would wish to visit. Possible examples of more exotic scenery are ES Channel Islands, Isle of Man & in the US much scenery for Hawaii.


The fs freeware sites which post the number of downloads can be very revealing - the number of downloads for airports are vastly greater than for non-airport scenery, although strangely, in my opinion scenery downloads are nowhere near those for aircraft re-paints.


Recently, Darren at ES touched on the hidden financial costs of developing scenery - scenery developers are a bit like film/movie producers, they have to gamble that the fickle public will go for their product months or even years later, & for all their fancy marketing, at the end of the day its word of mouth or these days, forums like this which will make or break a project.


Sadly, you may be correct, many commercial developers will disappear, particularly when fsx has hit a brick-wall & for all its defects is still possibly the best out there. I do have X-Plane 10 but whilst it has the potential to become a great sim I feel it has a long way to go.


Probably you hit the nail on the head - Americans in general do have more disposable income & products are cheaper there. Can you imagine the outcry if the State tax on purchases was 20%!



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its funny to hear these things

don’t give up hope just yet; there are so many new technologies out there

tools are being developed and many new features will be added

some of us are waiting for the 64bit platform to fully express their aspirations

there are many new ways to enhance our sims

from 3D models, to accurate Lidar mesh and much much more



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You come across as a 'pint glass half full' guy not a 'half empty guy', optimists are required to keep the Earth moving, the human race has a knack of coming up with solutions to problems that weren't there yesterday.


It's a pity that the political world of today is run by ex-lawyers, bankers & accountants, not a mixture of ex-engineers, scientists or even historians, here in the UK & the US who I'm sure would create a far better world if they had more say.


Almost every USA President or UK Prime Minister has a legal background.


Probably not nice to say this, but of all the obnoxious kids I was at school with, 50 years ago, most of them wanted to pursue a law or banking career.




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I think there will be a gradual change, some will adapt and survive, some will fall by the wayside.

But the opportunities will be there. At some point P3D will hopefully go 64bit, massively widening the scope for add ons, and you only have to look at the development of scenery tools over the past few years to see how they have enabled new products that were unviable not so long ago.

The greatest danger I think is that we as individual hobbyists won't be able to afford to keep up with the technology needed to run it!

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Thank you guys,

Our developers “think tank” explored some of these technologies I’ve mentioned above

The potential is staggering; many of you seen the 3D modeling google earth is using more and more recently

The ground level view option, that’s what im talking about


Through it takes a massive computing power to render the city the way they do it in google earth

Be sure we are working very hard to get us all there; that’s where we are going with our Sim future

Imagine you flying through this fully 3D real world textures; the mind boggles with possibilities


Allot of this is hinged now on computing power which is certain to come in the next two three years

Just lookat the leaps made in technology in the past 10 years, then focus on the leaps made just in the last three

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as I mentioned in another forum topic, graphic cards are still advancing considerably each year or so, which is great for X-Plane, but not so good for the cpu bound FSX.


A question for Prepar3D users, is it like FSX, being so cpu reliant or is it capable of making more use of the graphic card's resources?


What we need is someone or a company to design a basic 64-bit flight sim programme which is compatible with the FSX scenery, aircraft, effects, terrain mesh & its development tools; whether this would hit legal/copyright problems I don't know, but not having to include the vast amount of real World scenery which FSX had by default would surely reduce the development time & cost.


Probably a tall order, without the FSX source code this would be a mammoth task, otherwise someone would have done it already.


The downside of such a programme would mean that to get the most out of it, a copy of FSX would also be needed on the PC, but how many copies of FSX have been sold around the World? Probably enough to make doing this cost effective.





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its just the proc manufactures making the most from the current technology before they come out with new set

they are at least two generations ahead in development; it’s not economical for these large corporations

to release new technology when there allot more money to be made with the current one

its been like this since the cave man bonged  his Miss. on the head


yes sometimes they have a roadblock in technology

but once that wall is down; its always a huge leap




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I sort of agree with Chris, however with P3D now breaking backward compatibility with every new version a lot of devs are going to get to the point where they simply wont produce  a"fix" until P3D reaches some sort of definitive state.

They will only produce for FSX , now you get to another problem, a certain amount of people out there may not buy something for FSX as they are planning to jump platform, especially if it wont work in P3D.

So The sooner LM come out with a road plan and anticipated dates the better off everyone will be, because if P3D is going 64bit (which common sense dictates, it has to) this will mean a re-write of everything  (well nearly) and so the devs can earn their keep again. But there is no doubt that some companies will fall along the wayside, and once they are gone (to work in other areas) they may not want to come back.

IMHO  FSX has at least 2-3 years to run, probably much longer taking in mind those still using FS9


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you’re on the money there Nigel; that’s very true in all aspects;

i know Dev’s who simply refuse to consider P3D atm as a stable platform for development

even those mentioned above and the rest of us all looking to LM to open the floodgates with 64bit support

when thats out; it is the kiss of death to FSX platform; everyone will migrate!


i foresee two parallel platforms working side by side a 32 and 64 bit; both P3D, but no FSX support.



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I found reading this thread very interesting, and although i'm far from being a pro, I can't resist to adding ( at least ) a couple of cents, although I'm conscious I'm way out of the majority of users.


My first love has been for military sims, jets and props, and I've been going through the whole Microprose era, discovered Lan meetings before the internet when we drove hours with all the stuff in the car to build a network for the week end in the hall of some remote village. I kind of miss that time because we were meeting "in real", and had good times through the night with Coca Cola and chips ( and sometimes a nice restaurant...). Then came online multiplayer and I've been in some squadrons, and even for a couple of years Squadron leader of a Falcon 4.0 team. I also felt I had to give back something to the community which offered me such great times and I participated in a few modding projects ( mostly on the historical research and promotion as I'm not good enough at programming things )


It was taking a lot of my time and although I had a look at FS in the early times, I always thought it was awfully complicated with pages of weird keyboard commands. Moreover, in most of the military sim communities, FS is considered as a boring activity consisting of flying from a point A to a point B with nothing to do in between ( means no other plane to shoot at, no mission to fullfill or bombs to drop on some enemy pixels ) Then slowly I went from pushing buttons in modern jets to the essence of flight when I switched completely to WW1 airplanes. To my surprise, it happened that I would fly a whole mission of more than an hour without meeting opposition (mostly recon missions in two seaters) and I was still happy only with the flying, keeping formation with the other guys and watching the landscape around (which is rather good looking in Rise of Flight) and/or navigating to find my way. In parallel, as I always had some interest in soaring (been doing some real paragliding in the 80s / 90s around Nice) I jumped into Condor soaring, where the flying is stimulated by competition, trying to find strategies to go around a fixed flight plan in the shortest possible time, alone offline or with others online. ( another nice and friendly community...) There again I was surprised I could sometimes fly only for the pleasure of flying.


It was when I came across an Air Hauler video on You Tube ( Iirc it was with X Plane ) and having been professionally in logistics a good part of my life, it rang a bell ! From then (it was in 2011) I started a lot of reading and research to decide which flight sim was the best to run with AH. After some thinking, I settled for FSX because it was cheap and had tons of freeware addons, so it allowed me to take a step in the world of civilian flight with a little investment. I was conscious at the time FSX was already getting old ! After installing FSX Gold and AH, I soon realized I had to make it look a little better, so I decided to invest a little more and installed GEX/UTX for the places I was flying (Europe, Canada and Alaska, plus Tropical and Central America) Then I wanted a better looking sky and water and I installed FEX. Then I started to want better looking planes and I bought a couple of Carenados and the Flight 1 Islander (besides spending quite some time looking for good freeware airplanes) This is when I discovered this nice place !


Then I said stop and I started thinking that no matter how much money I would put into this, it will remain a PC game and will never reach the level of professional rendering software. Plus I always wanted to spend more time flying than downloading and installing stuff, and after that spend hours figuring out why it doesn't work.

Do I need to have it exactly replicate the real world ? No.  As long as the towns, rivers, roads and airfields are in the right place, I can navigate and the "plausible world" is enough. I don't expect to see my house when I fly around my virtual place.

I did not stop pushing tons of buttons in jet sims to start pushing other buttons in airliners. I am luckily interested in "bush flying", in small and middle size props - also why not turbo props or even small business jets. I take off and land from small or middle size airfields so I don't need to invest in huge airports, what is available as freeware for most of the airfields I use does the trick, and I only install those where AH sends me (my AI pilots don't really care...) It is a flight sim so I spend 95% of the time between 3000 and 10.000 feet so what matters is how the landscape looks from there. I can live without very detailed airfields with people having a BBQ party and all kind of stuff lying around as I usually taxi to the GA parking, lock the parking brake, cut off engine, and switch to Air Hauler window. If I want some real feeling, I give phone calls to a couple of friends flying from my local airfield and often interested in having some company during their flights. 


In the end (sorry if it was a little long and kudos for reading until here...) I'm happy with how my FSX runs on the PC I built last November ( 30 fps most of the time and never had a game crash or freeze - touch wood !) and therefore my long experience with PC games tells me it's time to stop tinkering. I guess adding a few freeware airfields will not hurt the install. I'm happy I am not crazy about photorealistic scenery so I'm not frustrated by not having one. Windows 7 will have security updates until 2020, so if I'm happy with my FSX today I will probably still be happy in two or three years from now.  :)


Now I can't refrain from looking into new stuff, and having made a survey lately on the state of freeware sceneries and freeware/payware airplanes, I might be tempted by exploring X-plane for the 64 bits side, probably by installing only Europe region which is on sale for around 30 Euros. It might wait until Air Hauler 2 comes out, because I understand AH only works with the 32 bits X Plane. 





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Interesting to know the route you took to get here.

As you have discovered, Flight sim is so diverse , it means different things for different people, I think one could presume that no two people use it the same way,

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I have just learned that version 2.3 has broken many of the backward looking code so now it is virtually impossible to make an FSX airport compatible with P3D


I am not sure that I understand this. If version 2.3 has broken a lot of the back compatible code, then shouldn't that mean that existing FSX airports will struggle to run in P3D? I haven't noted any major problems so far with my UK2000 airports, although there are minor issues (like odd looking PAPI lights).

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they stopped supporting/fixing asm code


with that there are other ways to achieve the same result

people are used to do things in a certain way (old habits die hard)

there is no point in enhancing an old technology instead of developing a new one

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I have just learned that version 2.3 has broken many of the backward looking code so now it is virtually impossible to make an FSX airport compatible with P3D


I am not sure that I understand this. If version 2.3 has broken a lot of the back compatible code, then shouldn't that mean that existing FSX airports will struggle to run in P3D? I haven't noted any major problems so far with my UK2000 airports, although there are minor issues (like odd looking PAPI lights).



in short Chris slowly but surely fsx airports will have some features that will not work in P3D because they are updating old code this particular time it is some runway markings and lighting that has been affected no doubt as they mess with the remains of fsx other stuff will cease to work as well. the problem will start to become serious later on this year , so far the likes of ftx and other devs have swallowed as they have had to recode their installation programs , free of charge but if LM go effing about much more , it is not beyond being possible that we shall have to shell out sooner or later for an update to each of our add-ons to be installed and work in P3D.

This is why it is so important that they stop messing with the 32 bit program and get stuck into the 64 bit version, because that will again require new installers etc etc

what everyone deserves , us and the devs, is a clear road map from LM and the longer they keep their agenda hidden the more clients they will lose. if they intend to bring out a version 3 where we all again have to buy it, like 2 , because there are significant internal changes , and it isnt 64bit , then LM might as well close up shop, because joe public will be tired of paying and getting nothing. substantial.

I may be in the minority here but my FSX in dx10 mode is far faster and far more solid than P3D,  when one compares the few minor graphic improvements they have made with p3d one has to ask Why? because none of the scenery or planes that we have installed are written to take advantage of that new dx11 coding, they have put the cart in front of the horse.

I would love to interview someone at LM because I bet you would not get a straight answer to any pointed questions.

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I do feel that this topic is going slightly astray.


If Nigel's topic heading had been "Is time running out for commercial scenery developers?" I would have to say that those developers have mortgages & family mouths to fill, meaning that they have to go to the popular sim of the day to get a return on their hours developing scenery.


For amateur scenery freeware designers it's a different story, I'm sure that they will be around for many years, improving their skills along the way.


Such a pity that Microsoft disbanded the Aces team before they could develop a 64-bit version of FSX, if that was on the agenda, but we should be thankful that FSX was so far ahead of the hardware at the time it was released, it has survived the 7-years or so when affordable hardware has grown into it.



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