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John Venema

announcement Orbx 10th Anniversary - The History of Orbx Series - Parts 1-7

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The History Of Orbx – Part 5/7 – Regions Are Born

 

So with AU BLUE out of the door we followed it up with AU GOLD two months later in May, GREEN in September and finally the RED outback region in November. It was an incredibly busy period for us and the learning curve was relentless as we unlocked more land classes and created new autogen for buildings in different climates. 

 

The team was growing, and I have to pause now give credit to the amazing guys who worked so hard to bring the ambitious Australia project to fruition. I've taken a snapshot of the Orbx website around this time so you can read some of the bio's of the staff (click on the image to enlarge it for clearer text).

 

FTX Roster.jpg

 

Some of the standout performers was Ross Casey, who singlehandedly created the *entire* Australian coastline of thousands of kilometres BY HAND! He began to complain of RSI in his hands, the poor fella. Around the same time we began planning airports designed to compliment the Australian landscape so new blood came into the team, like a young Jarrad Marshall who already had acclaim creating some iconic Western Australian airports through his company Westsim. He released Jandakot in November 2008 and the rest is history. Martin also worked tirelessly with me through 2008 to get YMML finished. I spent quite a few days at the airport taking photos from every place I could, and I almost got arrested by the Australian Federal Police one day! I was determined to have as many unique textures in the project and even by today's standards YMML feels very true to life with almost no synthetic textures in place.

 

A shout out too, to the beta team at the time, some of which are are still with Orbx today. Their scrutiny of the beta builds made the developers refine their work until we were happy with the quality we could offer to customers.

 

So Orbx had to make a splash in the flight sim community. We began to place bold and brash adverts in various printed magazines, announcing our presence to the world and setting the bar very high for other companies to follow. I'm sure this must have raised some eyebrows around the place, but as a marketing exec I'd learned a long time ago that when entering a market you had to show no fear and be a leader, always. But I also knew if you were going to make bold claims your product had to survive scrutiny and deliver on the promises made. So Orbx has always been about quality over quantity and we never caved in to deadlines, only ever releasing stuff  'when it was done'.

 

Orbx early advert.jpg

 

During this phase of Orbx I was spending most of my time developing, working on autogen annotation, texturing, photoreal ground terrain - any tasks that needed doing. I am not a modeller so I am always impressed by any developer who can turn photos into 3D objects and Orbx attracted some of the best in the business.

 

So with all these regions finally getting out of the door, we needed lots of airports to add even more life to our terrain...

 

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Great intro in to your history in flightsim John.  It's always amazing to look back at where you came from.

 

I remember the viewing deck at YMML well.  Every time I visited the airport I would head up there.  I'm pretty disappointed it's no longer there really, although there are plenty of other good plane spotting areas dotted around the surrounds of the airport.

 

Cheers,

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Funny thing is this really doesn't seem very long ago at all to me ^_^

 

I got into flightsim with FS2002 but things really took off for me with the scenery and textures for FS9. I used Koorbygen, BEV and GEX and liked all of them. The lineage of the BEV and Koorbygen textures is what got me into FTX in the first place, along with the work of Holger which I loved in Misty and Tongass Fjords and Glacier Bay and some of which made their way into the FTX regions.

 

Coming right up to date it's great to see Allen Kriesman doing some work for you. I've always liked UTX and mix and match certain elements with FTX where possible but it wouldn't have been so easy with XpressSim so the new cityscapes are very welcome.

 

Looking forward to the next part...

 

Rob

Edited by robmw

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On 02/03/2018 at 10:54 AM, John Venema said:

Of course, a bit later I decided to begin my PPL and began lessons. The problem was, FS9's depiction of my local area in Australia looked like the Gobi Desert so trying to practice my navs and circuits was a joke.

 

Nice story and it's so true. I can relate when I was also doing my PPL, but I think It was when FS 95.

 

The funny thing is I was aware of ORBX around 2008 but was not convince ;) Australia???????????? ha ha. then I bought AU Blue in 2010

 

Ben

Edited by Benny

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I still have BEV for FS9. It was a wonderful addon that transformed the fs9 textures. I had no idea that you were connected to the addon.

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How great to read, your father was involved in the - also today still very alive - work of Mission Aviation Fellowship !
I do use my homebuild flightsim cockpit and the scenery of FTX Global, Tapini and Jacksons International, to make people experience the work of MAF.
As hobby and for fun and to promote the work of MAF.
And the Orbx scenery of PNG is of an amazing beauty ! 

Edited by bstikkel
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Its great to see what can become of an entrepreneur who is driven by their passion for something! Great things do come from it! Thank you for sharing your story with us John!

 

Jon

Las Vegas, NV

 

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Man, I remember waiting for VOZ to be released; damn, I'm old. At the time, I considered it the best set of textures around for a whole continent. That wasn't too long after I had returned to flightsim. I had played it once in the late 80's or early 90's on a friends PC and wasn't impressed by the green pyramid mountains. I remember thinking, get back to me when the planes look like planes and at least the windows are transparent!

 

Then I was playing a lot of online aerial combat sims from the mid 90's to the early 2000's (MS Fighter Ace (Devil Dogs Squadron), some Air Warrior (Merc-Sheep) and Warbirds, the WW2 plane sim from Janes (Anyone remember the deer that ran across the runway that you could actually shoot?),  then to Aces High (VMF-111 Devil Dogs/MAG-33) and IL-2. My wingman through all of that, Jimbear, stopped by my house a couple of times when he was in Chicago and he gave me his copy of FS9, because he thought I might like it and he wasn't using it. I was like, "FS, really?" But I tried it and was amazed at how much it had progressed. Once I found all of the add on forums and websites with free downloads, every week was like Christmas with new releases. I also enjoyed it, because I found Combat Sims were stressing me out, as I was a terrain team creator and leader for one of them and the training officer for our squadron and it had become a whole 'nother job for me.

 

But FS9 and the VOZ releases were just alot of fun to fly around and explore. It's at the point now, where Orbx is my flightsim, and if another add-on isn't compatible with Orbx, it isn't compatible with my FS installation. Thanks for the stories, so far, John, it's great to see how far you guys have progressed and how much further you're still pushing the terrain envelope in flightsims. I'm really glad I don't have to switch regions anymore and FTX Central has made managing everything so much easier. Keep up the great work. :)

 

Ken

Edited by Sundog
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Can't wait to read rest of the story, I discovered orbx few years ago, now during this current sale I have 3 more airports to buy, I love the Australian scenery and airports and enjoy flying to my local airport with ORBX, thanks so much for making this happen.

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Fascinating story and I look forward to each coming part. I came to flight simulation late in the game with FS9 but it all really got exciting when FSX and FTX came along. I always wondered about the name Orbx and was never quick enough to make the connection on my own. So glad that you are giving the detail that you are John in this description. 

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Having just invested a load of money on Orbx products - I am finding these stories extremely fascinating and are making me engage with my purchases on an even greater level.

 

For someone who is relatively new to flight simming, but not new to pc gaming and often free modding communities, this is quite important in breaking down, what was on my part, an initial scepticism about commercial 3rd party developers.

 

Great work guys and gals.

Edited by riverreveal

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Thank you for this series John! It has been amazing watching this company grow since I first got into flight simming and discovered the AU regions in 2008.

 

As someone with the four core sim platforms, I look forward to what more Orbx will bring to the different platforms along with other companies. I think you're very right to say that support for third-party developers in a flight simulator is important. Truthfully, it's Orbx that got me into AFS2 and the original Project X announcement that convinced me to give XP11 a go. I'm really hoping there will be some development with third party addons for FSW this year. I desire for FSW to become a strong replacement for P3D; having the same ESP engine but tweaked in more forward-thinking ways. I say this mainly as I still believe in the importance of landclass-based scenery, as good-quality photoreal scenery for all parts of the world still seems to be superbly difficult to achieve for many different reasons.

 

Some of your future predictions are quite interesting, especially the "streaming" prediction, which is becoming a norm across media. I'm hoping we will have far better internet in Australia by then though. Even loading up Google Earth 3D scenery can take quite some time.

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That was pretty cool to read! My first memory of Flight Sim was probably in 1995 and the graphics weren't too great. But it was super fun to control a plane with the keyboard! LOL. I have been in and out of Flight Simming since and still wrestle with committing the time that's necessary to have an enjoyable experience and be fluid in the cockpit. Always love coming back to certain sights and seeing what is new in this world though. Congrats on the success and the awesome products.

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It's interesting what you say about the future. Back when FSX was just a rumor, I was telling my friends that FSX shouldn't be a flight simulator, it should be a world simulator; or more precisely, based in one. To me, that's the next step, which I think is what you were saying. Some company will make a world simulator that you can fly planes in if you want to, drive cars, etc. But I think it should also have the possibility of having a history slider to change it as far back as we can go. Fly over Pangaea if you want to,  or let a school teacher use it to teach geography or show an AI simulation of migration, a specific battle from history, etc.

 

I also think modeling tools need to change. As an engineer I worked in AutoCAD for years which is directly related to 3D Studio Max (Just 3DS now?). In engineering, we use solid modelers now (Solidworks and ProE where I work) and they are so much easier to use than the old 3D software and they have all of the physical properties built into them already. My point being, there need to also be new ways of getting content into these new systems as well.

 

Thanks for the seven part series, it was informative and also brought back many memories. :)

Ken

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A great read ..... been there the whole way. 

 

A hobby that gained real life thanks to Orbx. May things just get better and betterer.   Cheers

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On 3/13/2018 at 1:43 AM, Sundog said:

It's interesting what you say about the future. Back when FSX was just a rumor, I was telling my friends that FSX shouldn't be a flight simulator, it should be a world simulator; or more precisely, based in one. To me, that's the next step, which I think is what you were saying. Some company will make a world simulator that you can fly planes in if you want to, drive cars, etc.

 

Those sorts of experiences are almost here now. The Crew 2 will be released this year and covers most of the USA. You can go anywhere you want in cars, motorbikes, aircraft, boats and more:

 

 

If you can imagine this on a global scale, running on VR from a smart phone, I think it will happen well before 2028.

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Battery technology is the one thing I'm not so sure you're going to be right on.  We're running into walls on that, especially with size, and while there will be some breakthroughs, I think the power consumption needs are going to outstrip battery ability to keep up in the short to medium term.

 

It may have to go sideways, sort of like CPU technology did when it more-or-less hit a GHz wall for raw speed.  At some point heat just becomes a thing you can't get rid of fast enough.

 

I read an article on this recently, and I'm trying to find it, but of course I can't.  Either way, thanks for the read!  I've been off the forums for a bit because of life getting in the way so I'm just seeing it today.

 

-stefan

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I am confident that many new techniques will be discovered that will make batteries much better than at present.

Slow recharging should not be a major difficulty for devices that will deplete the charge slowly, for example in computers.

To me, the fundamental problem is the ability to support the demands on electrical supply systems to charge batteries quickly, for example for transports.

Edited by Richard McDonald Woods

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This has been great reading with the 7 sections on the history and future of Orbx and flightsim, and also on how to run a dynamic SME, and growth, in a fast changing environment. It has only been little more than a decade so it is amazing to see how Orbx has grown and renewed repeatedly thanks to JV and the talented team. I only took up P3D little more than 3 years ago after seeing the Orbx PNW demo and now with the latest photoreal series to be launched, I am sure we have exciting times ahead for flightsim and for Orbx. May the next decade be just as creative, visionary and wonderful.

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On 13-3-2018 at 3:25 PM, John Venema said:

The Crew 2 will be released within a week and covers most of the USA.

Seeing this makes me think, what the heck are we doing in our sims? We should throw away all current engines and start using these kind of render engines ASAP now!

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"On the 6th of November 2007 I hopped on a plane across the Pacific to attend DevCon 2017....."

Always knew Australia was a long way from anywhere but this is ridiculous 
:D:D

"Internet download speeds will be multiple Gb/sec ......"

Not in Australia. We have the NBN 
:rolleyes:

Edited by chumley

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I built my first scenery from ORBX on March 8, 2008. It was AU Blue Temperate South under FSS0003878. 10 years has passed and ORBX has become a world-class aerospace scenery company. Thank you JV and the team of developers for great work.
Sincerely
Karoly

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Thank you John,

 

I am proud to say I've been a loyal customer and supporter of your work since the BEV days and VOZ. Return to Misty Moorings is able to create small wonders based inside the ORBX regions and Global areas. I know that our work wouldn't be possible if not for the beautiful areas of the Pacific NW and Alaska we call home. 

 

I look forward to meeting you and the rest of the team at FS Expo 2018 in a couple of months.

 

Brad

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Thanks for all those information.

Seems that what is planned for 2028 is already present at some extent... when I installed your software yesterday, I was surprised that it didn't ask me where my xplane software is.

It surprised me so much that I went into my xplane folder to check if the sceneries I got (freeware for now, to test them) are there... and indeed they are...

 

From years I always wanted orbx to come to xplane, when I still was on XP10, as your sceneries look so stunning, I really want them. I'm a GA pilot student, I love helicopters too, so I love low level flights, and with current sceneries, low level flight is less beautiful than high level ones. This is why I want orbx to come on XP. Sad to me it never happened...

 

And now, now dreams come true, and I thank you deeply for that...

 

Still wonder what will be the first payware scenery I should buy for XP11 for a small GA plane pilot like me, or for helicopters...

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