Grumpy Tales

francois3My good friend Miguel often calls me grumpy, a name that until recently I myself attached to quite a few people older than me. Since I am rapidly growing older myself, or so it seems of late, I guess I’m as grumpy as the next old guy. That is if you think 57 is old.
I do, especially on those days that all the old — and new — little pains get out of bed together with me. Hurting back from 40-years old volleybal injury, a hurting toe from god-knows-what, stiff shoulder.
Heck, I can’t even brush my teeth sometimes in the morning, my back hurts when bending over to the wash basin.

So in my mind this gives me all the rights I need to write a ‘Grumpy Column’ every once in awhile, and this one is the first in a series. Maybe now I don’t have to spill it all out on Skype and Miguel can go his business walking his dogs in his holiday resort, without having to worry about his one and only managing editor. Mind you, not all of it is to do with flight simulators. There are many more things in my life, fortunately. And quite a few little annoyances, UNfortunately. But hey, maybe you recognize some of your own and my rants and musings give you a chuckle. If not, just discard and move on.

So what got me grumpy recently? How about the seemingly unending stream of Useless Software currently hitting the market? I mean, I don’t mind if people want to sell crap, make a quick buck, maybe even believing their ‘products’ are the best thing since sliced bread. And I don’t mind buyers believing it, or maybe even being happy with it. You’d be surprised at what some consumers think is a great product! But it does bother me that I cannot always air my doubts and try and prevent unwary customers from believing everything that’s written in the PR, articles, product pages and news clippings… OR on some of the forums. Even by me. Hey, I’m trying to make a living, one way or the other, or both.

Now this is a free world and everybody has every right to sell and buy whatever his/her heart — and wallet — desires and allows, but gimme a break, people. Who needs yet another 737 engine SOUND? I mean, I know I am deaf, comes with the grumpy age, but do you honestly believe there is ANYONE out there that can actually hear a difference — on a flippin’ PC, mind you !! — between version 1.3.04.b of a Rolls Royce jet engine and the next version???? More so because probably ALL of them are made from the very same sound recording of the neighbor’s lawn mower, amplified and doctored to sound ‘just like the real thing’. I mean, we all ‘Photoshop’ these days, why would sound be any different?

Or how about pasting yet another version of the same SRTM mesh data on a spot of the earth after all the major mesh builders/producers have covered the virtual earth already 10 times over? Or yet another ugly-looking bit of satellite photos pasted onto what WAS a perfectly fine bit of simulator earth? Sure, you can, you can even like it, but don’t expect me to roll out flags and start frantically jumping up and down with joy.
Yet another new ‘exciting mission’?? I am slowly starting to get convinced that adding the Missions in FSX was the WORST thing that MS could have done, except for closing their business on us. Oh not because it doesn’t work fine, or because it wouldn’t have endless possibilities. It has. But making a really GOOD mission, with professional voice-overs, a ‘plot’ and including something NEW is still as far away from reality as crocodiles are from the melting north pole.

Folks, believe you me, there must be a good reason for the fact that the German Farming Simulator is — and has been for many months — by far the best selling product of all flight simulator titles.

Maybe I’m right, uh?

Now, nobody will be able to accuse me of not being honest. Fact is that I indirectly make money from anything simMarket sells. So please folks, bring on the crappy products and continue buying them. Thank you !

0 Responses

  1. There’s a new branch of PC World opened up near me this week, and they had a few sim titles on their shelves, including FSX Gold at a very good price, the RealAir Duke, and…… Farming Simulator!

    Nearly… very nearly…! LOL!


  2. I like it. Put the responsibility on the buyer to do some thinking for themselves. Yup…that is the way it should be.

    But hey Francois, I thought you were getting old. 57!?! That isn’t old. At least not as old as you are going to get. 😉 Says me who is about 5 years ahead of you. What the hell…keep riding. I am!

  3. Can we all join in, Francois? I think I put you to shame on the grumpy front, but I’m only 36ish… 😉

    I’ve read some exceptionally good reviews of Farming Simulator, which initially made me laugh and continually send sarcastic comments to Miguel but it actually seems to be something different, but a pretty fun thing to do in its own right.

    On the other hand, we agree entirely on marketing gumph. Particularly the marketing gumph that insists a product is “For MS FSX!” when the product is actually a barely-bothered-to-port FS9 that sort of works, but nowhere near as well as it did in its native FS9.

    I can understand people wanting to increase their sales and thus income, but I can’t help but feel that much of the damage done to the payware market with FSX is caused by the fact that half the time no-one believes the product description, so doesn’t buy because of that!

  4. All great points. There seems to be no level of accountability in the market when it comes to bad products. Yes, anything can be sold to anyone by using the right words, but that means the buyer is distracted from something that may actually make them happy.

    From a developer perspective, it can get very frustrating because people love a product whether it’s good or bad. Or so it seems.

    When putting a ton of effort into a great product, having decent sales, and then finding out the other ‘crappy’ product is doing just as well is a real heart breaker.

    Really love this post, as I think it speaks to an issue that has been growing over the past several years. Seems to be getting worse.

  5. I am with you on several issues. However, there are actually some really good products out there, and I most definitely agree that the consumer MUST do some research. I am so passionate about that fact that I now write reviews for yours truly and Miguel. However, I do not have any vested interest in any products. I don’t make a penny either way. I get to try products and tell the truth as I see it. If the product is terrible, I waste my time finding out so the average consumer doesn’t have to. And believe me I have fallen victim to the Publicity machine many times, but with age, and learning from experience, I feel there are still several companies that make the effort to go the extra step to make sure the product is good. Because lets face it. A quick buck is easy. Trick me into buying what looks and sounds awesome once, I might give you a second chance. Usually not though. So you get my money once. Never again. That company that goes the extra mile, has a customer for life, which of course means more money in the long run, and they would even earn forgiveness if one product didn’t quite blow me away, because I know they try. I guess my point is I love the mission based programs, I love developers who try to take an existing product and make it better, or fresh, or even seem new. I am glad you make money whether it’s crap or not, but really, we need the consumer to stand up and educate themselves. Once educated we can then demand quality and ingenuity. In this economy, our money and hard work for that money deserves nothing less.
    By the way, Grumpy, LOL…you can’t complain about having difficulty brushing your teeth. I am younger than you, however I am also an ex semipro hockey player….and I don’t have any teeth to brush, so no teeth complaints. LOL. I do have all the aches and pains though so shine the light bright for those healthy folks who have no clue what they are in for LOL 🙂 dontcha wish you could see their faces when they start getting hair in places unimaginable…..and body parts that had muscles that we used to want to show off in public make us cringe when we look in The mirror now….LOL Whoever inveted the lightswitch…..gosh your awesome LOL.
    Doug Zabizewski

  6. Hey right up there and one year behind. Yep getting old the usual pain og the day. The colonoscopy prior to a Saturn V launch on the commode. The Omeprazole for the acid reflux, the fish oil so that the stating can work together with the fish oil. The pills to keep the pressure down. Put hey still no Viagra. The joys of the annual physical no 2x a year. Damm at least simulation is fun until Colonoscopy simulator comes out.

  7. And as you can see the damm spellchecking from the brain ain’t working no more either!

  8. The point is, (being grumpy from a different angle, but grumpy nonetheless…), these products show us that there are never-ending streams of stupid consumers willing to put their money down on some old/new crap based on nothing more than marketing BS.

    I gave up trying to understand why people like to be professionally dumb, (dumb to the point of revelling in it – is there a kwollificashun?). Only an educated consumer makes educated and informed decisions. The rest, frankly, should be left to walk out into traffic where Darwin sorts them out. And these crap products certainly let us know who should be left playing on the motorway…

    This mountain of crap is due entirely to the fact that, corporately rather than corporeally-speaking, we don’t take these purveyors of excrement out into the nearest field and put them out of our misery. On top of `moronic consumer` there’s also far too much pussy-footing on the journalistic front, made worse by the seemingly unbreakable ties between sites that report on products, and sites that sell them. Nearly always one and the same in fact… and boy, does that affect the way these products are (mis)reported.

    Beauty of it though is that through all this mediocrity, quality will shine through ever brighter: Certain developers have been sidelined by their inability to offer support, or fix broken or poor releases. But the quality outfits genuinely receive deserved plaudits, so the choice is simple:

    ONLY buy the products that have received wide and far-ranging praise from the public.
    DO NOT believe what you read on websites or in magazines.
    DISTRUST EVERY CLAIM made by a developer or distributor unless/until it has been independently verified.
    EDUCATE YOURSELF to avoid buying crap in the first place.

    There is only one person responsible for the distribution of the folding in your wallet, so bloody well wise up…

    AND lets not forget to mercilessly take the p*ss out of the dumbest elements in our hobby whether developer, distributor or simmer.

    It may not be fashionable in the ludicrous politically-correct world but the truth is: Ridicule is a worthy educational tool.

  9. Oh, and @ Rob: maybe you missed the entire point I was making? This was NOT meant as advertising 😉

    Now, back to our regular program…. simMarket news, as we have it.

  10. The only comment I’d make on your comments, Simon, is that if everyone followed them, no-one would ever buy anything… (“ONLY buy the products that have received wide and far-ranging praise from the public.”) 😉

    Other than that, for once, we agree on the major points as well. I’m sick of people complaining that a product doesn’t meet their expectations when a tiny amount of research would have shown that every product prior to that was utter junk as well.

    Personally, I’m quite happy to write reviews that are critical of products, whether it be for simFlight or for anywhere else. I have done in the past and website owners/publishers have stood up for me when I have done so. All they have ever asked is that the review is factually accurate. simMarket allows negative reviews as well – look at the number of 1* ratings that pop up when you look, there are a number. But if a store enters into a legal agreement to sell something with a developer, no matter how rubbish it is, the store is legally obliged to sell it. An online shop doesn’t get to test everything no more than a high street store does and different things appeal to different people who are prepared to pay different amounts for what they want.

    The world isn’t black and white. There are infinite shades of grey (or is it gray?) inbetween.

  11. @Francois – I’ll admit it was relatively late when I read and posted, and I may’ve enjoyed a couple of Deuchars IPA but I cannot help think that it was odd to read such a diatribe on the same page as adverts for simmarket.

    For someone from the UK, I can only liken your comments to those of Gerald Ratner

  12. Actually Rob, I think it is YOU who has missed the point… 🙂

    And to be absolutely clear, Simmarket is not the target of my grumpiness. They sell tat alongside the jewels – just like Ratners used to – but it doesn’t take long for the consumer reviews to appear. I am not aware that Simflight/Simmarket have ever altered reviews submitted by contributors, whereas I am that, say, Avsim have.

    And to Ian I would say, not being an `early adopter` has stood me in good stead with just about every product I haven’t been a beta tester.

    Examples are legion, and continue to mount. Even trusted developers cannot be trusted every time (Fokker VC? Patched 707? Almost everything by FSD on first release? The impossible frame rate of the Aerosoft Bush Hawk XP?) so it is a profoundly reliable recommendation that means I have more funds available for the ones who demonstrate better skills and consistent levels of service.

  13. I agree entirely Simon – all I was saying that if everyone refused to buy it because they were waiting for someone else to, then no-one ever would… because they’re all waiting for someone else to! 😉

    Of course in reality, someone will always rush out and buy it and their reaction is normally a good indication of whether those less excitable should or not. I think we can agree on that? Plus if a package is good enough, the beta testers will normally be raving about it from the moment any NDA is lifted. Many of those people will often be well known and trusted as members of the community so their advice can be taken as part of the community rather than an attempt to sell the product.

    What would be really nice would be to get independent reviews done very quickly after release of a wide range of products. The reality, unfortunately, is that with most reviews written by unpaid(*) volunteers with limited time available, that is impractical.

    * – reviewers normally receive a copy of the product to review. Even for a comparatively expensive package at, say, GB£40, that is less than four hours at minimum wage (currently £5.80 in the UK). Given that a half decent review will take a good number of hours of research before you even start writing, no-one is ever going to make a living doing reviews!

  14. I am not even sure anyone is going to make a decent living producing add-ons. 😉

    And @Rob again: just goes to show we are independent to a very high degree and as honest as we can possibly be, short of destroying simMarket entirely.

    Fact is, it is not simMarket that is to blame for crap products, but rather the (would-be) developers who are putting just about anything out to the market these days.
    The Internet, availability of more tools, some internals of FSX itself have all accommodated the ability for ‘just about anyone’ to develop ‘products’ nowadays.

    Much of what is for sales now, even through reputed publishers sometimes, is what would have been considered Bad Freeware in the ‘old days’. Because of the sheer volume of the offerings and the decline of ‘communities’ nobody seems to care much anymore to warn others about it either.

    The world changes…….. all the time.

  15. In continuation about getting old. They put you in a sleeplab to study you sleep patterns of course the live camera is on and you have 14 wires attached to you head with about another 14 at other parts and a mike for snoring recording, yes seeing your sleep patterns. Crap no one in their right mind can sleep comfortably. Next product Sleep Slimulator. When taking part remember to not too much scratching, you are on live camera. Francois you done this one already?

  16. LOL, no, I don’t have TIME to sleep, I usually sit here in my little office and type messages to Facebook, our support forums, simFlight news, design websites and write books….. if I’m not on the road riding or flying. I’ll sleep at the end 🙂

  17. Yeah but you know the doctors put you in a sleep lab at our ages too to see if we have any issues or to make the extra buck! I tried to explain to them that my wife always says I look like a wide mouth bass
    on the couch when I pass out after a long day teaching, not good enough, they want to run tests. More foolish tests!

  18. I just wish there was a little less “add-on” bashing going on. I have tried two in the last month that deserve very high praise, and several others that deserve high praise. I just don’t like when anything gets “clumped” into a category and then labeled crap. Each product has to be judged on it’s own merits. I think that is the fair way to go about it anyhow. And i can definitely say that my experience with both simflight and simmarket has been nothing but top notch. I have never been edited. My words have never been changed. And i feel from what i have read on many different subjects that people are treated with the respect they deserve. On a completely different subject, talkign about sleep testing, do you know that a doctor once told me as he unhooked me from all of those unholy sensors etc, because it had been 2 1/2 hours and i still had not fallen asleep, this chap looked me in the eye, and actually said, “if you really had sleep problems, you should have fallen asleep within the first fifteen minutes”. Can you believe that garbage. If i could have been falling asleep in 15 minutes on a regular basis i sure as heck would not have been having some quack hook me up to a bunch of uncomfortable gadgets, so he can sit back and study my breathing etc as i sleep. we are all in the wrong market LOL. those folks charge a fortune for information that i think is much less worthy of my money than many of the “add-ons” available at simmarket. 🙂 and by the way, i want to be informed of when the colonoscopy simulator comes out please…I’ve managed to avoid that lovely experience so far, and a simulator sounds pretty darn good to me 🙂

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