Well, we had our MVP artwalk. I think it went well.
We had two stop by this year: Nick Whittome and Dr. Geoff Cohen. Nick has a blog here (also on the blogroll). There are other MVPs who cover the products ACES makes (FS,CFS,and TS), and they can be found here, and here. I call them out to thank them for the work they do (gratis) for both MSFT and for our customers. Thanks.
To learn more about the MVP program see this.
My build was buggy, but other artists had great stuff to show. It was a treat being able to show them what we've been working on. CENSORED showed pretty well, judging from Geoff and Nick's reactions. Nick wanted to know more about CENSOREDand seemed pleased when we told him CENSORED and CENSORED. Both MVPs had their jaws on the floor when they got to see CENSORED. Especially when they learned that Aaron paints them by hand, not just by retouching photos. I thought the CENSOREDS also showed well. The work Adrian and John did on the CENSORED was super cool. Of course I'm looking forward to Rick's work on CENSORED and am excited for Darren and Dave's version of CENSORED Pete and Kevin and Chris do great work with all of the CENSOREDs.
I hate to not mention Marvin's CENSOREDs E-man, Derek, and John have been CENSORING CENSOREDS really well.
If the CENSORED and CENSORED, then CENSORED CENSORED CENSORED CENSORED, (I hope!)
Nick did make sure to hammer home the need for MSFT to work more closely with our modding community. He's a part of scenerydesign.org a user community dedicated to modding Flight Sim. A lot of good work has come out of that site, and I'm sure we can expect to see more in the future. Maybe I can convince our Technical Art Lead Adrian to stop by and lend a hand...
While crusing the scenerydesign.org's forums I did come across a fellow whose work I've seen before. He seems to be a really nice guy. He's built what looks to be an impressive Autogen Annotation tool, and is giving it away for free.
There's just one problem, and really, it just drives Nick's point home. This really nice guy, who's spent a fair bit of effort making free addons for FS, this guy, he hates us:
"It also became obvious to me, looking at autogen tiles provided with the FS2004 package, that the Microsoft scenery designers had other tools at their disposal besides their own Annotator program as they clearly define neat and symmetrical rows of houses that would be impossible without additional functionality as I've included in this program. Microsoft should be ashamed of itself for not recognizing that after-market scenery designers are what keeps this wonderful product going so strong and their own corporate greed and paranoia is against their own best interests. It is because of this animosity I've garnered for MS that there is only one limitation to this package being completely free for use. Under no circumstances is anyone employed by Microsoft allowed to use this program without contacting me and negotiating usage fees. "
The problem is, of course, is that what Art wrote up above, it just isn't true.The tool available here, is pretty much exactly what we used to annotate the terrain textures for Flight Simulator 2004. The only difference is the tool that we released as part of the SDK was actually improved over what we used for producing FS 2004.
Functionality was enhanced based on user feedback from our Beta program.
Our history of silence and lack of engagement fuels some real (and in this case I believe totally undeserved) anger with the very users we're happiest to have. Hopefully our more recent attempts at foster community (like these here blogs) will help our future prospects.
On a side note, I did contact Art a few months ago, explained the real deal to him (as I was one of the four people who had the task of using our version of the Autogen Annotator on an almost daily basis), and hooked him up with our Beta guy.
Hopefully he'll contribute his skills and insights to our future projects. (and maybe then he'll soften his stance [:)] )
I came across Art's new site simulatingart.com today, and the anger and animosty he showed above is gone. The site I referenced still has the quotes above though.
Lesson? Open and honest communication can work to change minds.
Once something gets out into the web, it might as well be in stone. Which makes doing it right the first time extra important...