Nick Whittome - The Naked MVP

Microsoft MVP, Superhero, Crocodile Wrestler. Owner of NTES and G7eleven

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OK OK... I'll bite....

I keep getting emails from people asking what I think about the ACES studio closure…   so I am going to give in and write this post to those that want my thoughts and ramblings.

Initially, I was devastated.   I kept thinking about those on the team I now consider friends and how they were going to deal with the whole thing.   Whatever the likes of you and I thought about it, I can guarantee those on the ACES team were in a much worse place that we ever were.

For a good few days after the event I kept finding myself going into daydreams about what this really meant for the community, for the simulator / game, for me personally, for the other MVP’s and for my general thoughts about Microsoft.    

Me personally, I figured…   hey, whilst it is horrible news, the fact of the matter is that my life would not end because there would not be a new version of Flight Simulator in the near future. 

For the other MVP’s, I initially felt quite guilty, because it was I that gave the Game Studios a large nudge to get more MVP’s for the Games for Windows team at Microsoft….  but the fact is that the MVP award is based upon community efforts in the past, not the future. 

The community, well….   that will keep going, I guarantee that!   There is plenty of life left yet in Flight Simulator X and associated pay and free add-ons.

Then came the most important thing….    what cutting the ACES team did for my views on Microsoft as a company…. this part killed me.   For the first time in ages I found myself thinking how can I like a company that essentially killed one of its “flagships” and at the same time support and push products like Zune…     sheeeesh!    Flight Simulator was essentially the reason I started loving what Microsoft do, and what is possible technically as a company.   Killing the product for me, was like Google shelving Google Earth.  

I ended up writing an email to Steve Ballmer on the whole thing…   to which I got a response I wish I could share, but cannot.   Suffice to say, I was not the only person that sent a mail to Steve and others high up the food chain in Microsoft….   in fact they got quite a lot of email, and I now know that the value of the brand is more understood by Microsoft management, which is good news for the future of the product, even if that product is different.

Let me end this with some information I do have and I can share without breaking NDA.   Microsoft Game Studios is hiring and has hired a good few of the ACES members back and is now exploring possibilities for the future.   That said, it is a smaller team…  and that means that whilst there is hope, you cannot assume that a smaller team can just go ahead and build a new version of Flight Simulator!

there is a future…..   it is just unclear right now…

Keep supporting the development team to management, it makes a difference what the community think!

Comments

Steve Appleton, Johannesburg, RSA said:

Hi Nick,

You say that there is still lots of life left in FSX. As a one time active Flight Simmer and VATSIM member, I don't doubt that that is indeed true. The loss of a newer release of FS is not to quote a cliche "a train smash".

However, the loss of the long awaited new release of Train Sim (TS2) is indeed a serious "train smash". As we all know TS1 is long in the tooth. The new generation TS2 was eagerly anticipated by the community. That it will not now appear is a real tragedy. See www.friendsoftherail.com/.../viewforum.php

Best regards, Steve Appleton.

# February 26, 2009 5:06 AM

Francois said:

I hear you Nick. And I have been a Microsoft fan and client for as long as they exist, but hobby and professional, buying many tens of millions of dollars off them.

So FS is just a drop on a hot plate.

Fact is that I made FS my main 'profession' after a 30+-year career in other things, and so it now was and is my LIFE to a large extent.

As I am sure it was to many of the ACES devs.

So in that respect I am still on the fence whether to continue liking MS as a company and use their products, or as to react with in a business-like manner.

I wish I could do both, really. Am not too convinced the 'through-start' of 'something flying' will be able to interest me.

Fortunately I have my own company and can do what 'I' think is in the best interest of our customers, and hopefully we will retain those customers for enough years to see what MS comes up next, and whether or not it will be of any significance to the simming community at large.

Meanwhile, I am wondering what an FS MVP is still 'worth' these days ? *grin*

Kind regards from Europe,

Francois

# March 6, 2009 2:05 AM