Thursday, January 29, 2009

Who Am I?

This week we've seen an increase in questions from new users, potential customers (both in the consumer and professional spaces) and third party developers.  So before I start blogging about the guts of 930 and all of the new features and changes, here is some background.

I am the lead scenery developer for X-Plane; my main work area is the default scenery, the scenery tools and file formats, and the rendering engine.  I also work on modeling issues because the same rendering code draws airplane models and scenery models.  I don't work on the flight model or physics - that and about a billion other things are all Austin - heck, I don't even know what makes an airplane fly.*

My professional background is programming; I came very close to becoming an Air Traffic Controller - I went through a CTI program in California, but by the time the FAA called me for the next step of the process, over a year had gone by; I was deep in X-Plane already and the FAA was experiencing personnel turbulence.  I think I really would have really enjoyed being an ATC, but my personality is definitely better suited for a small company like Laminar Research than for a big government agency.

This blog is primarily targeted at authors who create scenery and airplanes for X-Plane, and also for users who want to know more about the "guts" of the sim.  It is not tech support; I will not answer tech support questions posted in the comments sectio -- sorry.  Please contact X-Plane tech support - they are there to help!

There are a few website resources for third parties that provide reference:
  • The X-Plane scenery website - contains all the file format specs and LR's tools and code.
  • The X-Plane Wiki - contains information on authoring planes, scenery and modeling.
  • The X-Plane Plugin System has its own wiki.
  • Robin manages our airport data - see his web page for downloads and file format specs.
  • The X-Plane user's manual is available on the contact page, just in case the version you have from your DVDs is not as recent, or you are trying to use Plane-Maker in the demo.
There are also a number of mailing lists - the scenery and plugin pages list the appropriate mailing lists for those audiences.  I definitely recommend the mailing lists for developers and authors - traffic isn't too bad and there are a lot of knowledgeable users!

I can be reached by email via bsupnik at xsquawkbox dot net, but I must warn you: my in-box is on the verge of complete structural failure!  I try to answer everybody, but if your message gets lost, you may need to try again.

* This is actually not true - when I was in ground school, our instructor told us the real force that keeps an airplane in the air: money!


sothis said...

> my in-box is on the verge
> of complete structural failure!
> I try to answer everybody, but
> if your message gets lost, you
> may need to try again.

that's actually a bad excuse :P maybe all the try-agains are the reason for your messed inbox :)

Paploo said...

So how long should I wait before trying again Ben? I have a couple messages I posted to the scenery forum earlier this week and I haven't heard a response yet. Maybe I should resend them? ;)

Seriously though, good luck with keeping up with the influx of questions, and while I'd like a reply sooner than later, you work your ass off trying to keep-up and I appreciate that, so I'll try to be patient. :)

Anonymous said...

Who Am I?

I ask myself this question every morning...

RD said...


I would be great if X-Plane would generate some kind of default scenery for airports. Even just a tower would be great. It gets boring landing at airports with nothing but a runway.

I know I can find buildings for some airports that users have made, but these are sparse, and a hassle. I would love to see a company offer a comprehensive package of buildings laid out for airports.

It would even be great if Laminar Research offered this as a separate purchase! I would buy it for sure, and I think others would as well.

Another option would be to cooperate with on a standard way of storing and retrieving airport scenery from their site, then provide an in-simulator method of downloading them directly. Like airports from your flight plan, or any arbitrary airport for that matter.

While the first option is preferable, I think option 2 would be good also.

Any ideas or plans along these lines? Airport buildings are something definitely lacking in X-Plane.


Murmur said...

I second RD. Since (I think) every airport in X-Plane already has a "tower view" location, I think placing a standard control tower should not be too much difficult.

Similarly, there are other things "easy" (maybe?) to add but capable of improving a lot airport look and immersion, e.g. adding fences at airport boundaries, or using very hi-res textures for the airport grass: the area would be very limited (hence no big performance hit) but that is where one spends most time closest to the ground.

Daveduck said...

Man, with a headline like that, you had me worried. The last thing anyone needs now is for 33% of Laminar's full-time time to lose the plot. :>

Looking forward to the jaw-dropping promised by Austin...

Anonymous said...

'Who Am I' should be pinned somewhere on your blog. I mean, of course, who are 'you,' not me.

Glad you didn't take the controller job. Doesn't this give you more freedom and less stress? (Rhetorical question.)