UPDATE 30/08/10: Things have moved on a bit since this post was written. When you’ve read it, you might want to head here to start catching up.
It’s pointless starting a project without knowing what you want to achieve. A project manager taught me that once. Still, I tend to have a more, um, organic view of things. During the few months I’ve been building already, I have done and re-done several fairly fundamental aspects of the work until I’m happy with it. So clearly I’m not the blueprint-making kind. That said, I’m not slipshod either. Much.
When I set out on the road to cockpit nirvana, the very first question I had to ask myself was – how far was I going to go? Up to that point I had played every version of Flight Simulator, and many of its competitors, obsessively; but solely with a joystick and keyboard combo. Last year I had the bright idea of tarting up my experience by buying a few bits of useful hardware: a CH Products yoke, throttle quadrant and rudder pedals combo; and a Pilot Chair which promised to make the whole thing that much more real. What I can say, after having tried all of them, is that they don’t make it all that real. They do make it easier to fly without having to learn x million keyboard shortcuts, and the throttle quadrant in particular jazzes up that part of the experience, but you’re still sitting in a chair with a yoke and throttles arranged on various metal arms, in front of some kind of screen. It’s just not, well, convincing.
So my starting point was that I wanted the experience to be more convincing, not just better. Read More