Author Topic: Freefalcon is dead  (Read 5160 times)

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Offline Toonces

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Freefalcon is dead
« on: January 16, 2013, 03:52:46 PM »
http://www.benchmarksims.org/forum/showthread.php?13464-FreeFalcon-s-Remarkable-History

I consider several of these guys my friends.  This is very sad.  I'll have more to say later, but I have to go back to work now.

 :(
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Offline LongBlade

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Re: Freefalcon is dead
« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2013, 04:43:45 PM »
Looks like I need an account to access.

Offline jomni

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Re: Freefalcon is dead
« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2013, 07:13:51 PM »
But there's BMS.

Offline Toonces

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Re: Freefalcon is dead
« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2013, 07:53:11 PM »
One of the greatest things about this community is the fact that so many of its membership can trace their history to the sim as far back as 1998. Even better, everyone has a great story to tell about their first experiences, almost as a testament to their love of Falcon.
 
There are even a great number of members in this community that can go back to even earlier versions of Falcon, and many of those people are still here today.
 
So, whenever a group of like minded people get together to achieve something greater than they could achieve individually, I believe it is always the hope of that group to create a product that they can be proud of, and that in particular this Falcon group will receive warmly, and have countless hours of fun using.
 
Like many of you, I have many stories that I could tell about the vaunted history of Falcon. Both many high and low moments could be told. While I won't do that (much) in this thread, I wanted to at least share one story with you so that you could understand a little better.
 
The story of FreeFalcon goes way back to a couple guys, Steve "Hustler" Wooters and Ron "Red" Nair, and Fred "Baldeagle". Back in the day, these guys were doing some crazy stuff with skins. I mean, this stuff was off the hook. Baldeagle was always behind the scenes, never really taking credit for his time and effort, producing lodeditor. I don't recall ever once over the past ten or so years hearing him complain about people using his software for their purposes. In fact, it was the opposite. He would adapt the program to fit whatever needs those people had, and do it gladly.
 
Later on, they were asked, along with myself and a bunch of others, to join SuperPak, the Unified Team. This was a program designed to bring together the absolute best in the community for one simple idea: to stretch what had been done in Falcon, and to what could be done, under one banner.
 
After the group dissolved (and a number of great releases provided to the community), there was a void that was eventually filled with the promise of g2interactive, and Operation Infinite Resolve. So, a group of us got together that included many current members of BMS, Hustler, Red, Baldeagle, plus many others, to try and do something special. While we were able to get a couple fairly minor releases out (big at the time of course, but minor compared to where we are now), we never quite achieved the dream we were hoping for.
 
Due to some basic philosophical differences between groups, FreeFalcon was created, and BMS disappeared for a while. However, the relationships between many of us, outside of Falcon, remained strong and vibrant. The strength of those relationships allowed us to coexist together, and the nastiness of community postings had for the most part, long since dwindled.
 
It was during this time that FreeFalcon truly flourished. They had a strong fan base, strong development, and strong leadership, with their vision of what Falcon could become. Indeed, people will be talking about FreeFalcon for many years, and how they provided truly astoning artwork, and the ability to fly as many aircraft as possible with as great detail as could be allowed.
 
I have always admired those developers, and have always wondered why they would commit so much time to their love of Falcon, despite the community at times, despite the challenges, and despite the overwhelming learning curve. I'm telling you, these guys are good.
 
So, it is with a great sadness, after all these years, that I was informed about the closing of FreeFalcon. I asked Steve if I could write this on behalf of FreeFalcon, and he was happy to let me do this. FreeFalcon will be missed. There will be lots of questions asked, and probably never really answered as good as they could be. Such is the life of a development stream sometimes. However, mark this day on your calendar as one of the low days of Falcon. To FreeFalcon, you guys are remembered, and honored, and welcome to our boards.
 
And I would personally like to Thank You for your service to the promise of a dream.
 
I will make this a sticky for a couple weeks to ensure people will have a good chance to read this. I will leave posts open so that others may comment. But please, to the extent possible, keep your comments positive, and in the spirt this letter is written.
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Offline Toonces

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Re: Freefalcon is dead
« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2013, 08:29:32 PM »
I worked on the FF team for about 4 years or so, maybe a bit longer.  I took a really long break from Falcon and picked it up again in 2007.  I started installing 3rd party theaters and testing them out, which led to me being invited to beta test FF5.  Once on the team I started getting into dev'ing on campaigns and theaters which led me being invited onto the team as a developer after FF5 was released.

The lead member of the team, Steve, is a Vietnam vet and former Cobra pilot.  He was wounded in combat in Vietnam.  I grew quite close to him as I got into developing.  Especially when I was in Tampa I went through a period of depression and we would talk quite a bit on the phone, not just about Falcon but about real life stuff.  I think it's safe to say that I grew very fond of him and I consider him a friend. 

I don't want to get too much into the bloody details because you never know who might find their way over here and read this.  But what I think happened is this:

For about 2 years we worked on the Israel Theater of Operations 2 mod for Falcon.  It would be hard to describe just how much work was invested in that- thousands of hours at least of folks working in their spare time.  The problem is that, 1. it took a really long time to get to a beta state and 2. there were differences in opinion on how to proceed with it.  I think that this created a lot of internal friction in the team.  I went on deployment and missed out on a lot of the really bad time, but when I came back the nature of the team had changed.  Things stopped being friendly and got very adversarial very quickly.  It always surprised me that people could get honestly angry with one another over a video game, but I never invested the kind of hours they did in developing, either.

Steve and some of the core members of the team had been developing on Falcon for 10 years by this point.  There was a huge split in the team right before I joined between the Red Viper guys and Freefalcon guys.  (you may recall that FF4 was called Red Viper).  This split led FF without much code support and the coder we had discovered a new hobby...and so by the time we were heavy into ITO2 the team was approaching 2 years of work and a lot of single point failures in critical parts of the team.  There was definitely an incentive to get something released while we still could.

So, Steve finally put his foot down and said good enough is good enough and we got locked and loaded for a big release.  In any other world this would have been front page SimHQ news....except....something like a day after ITO2 was released BMS came out of hiding and went public with their version of Falcon.  Was it a coincidence?  Did some disgruntled dev on FF leak to BMS that we were about to release ITO2?  I don't know.  What I do know is that what should have been the most significant thing to happen in Falcon was completely overshadowed by BMS's release. 

And, from that moment you could hear the sucking of our fans migrating to BMS and its shiny new water and stable multiplayer.

What a bitch.  Can you imagine investing years of your life on this project in your spare time (and actually, the lead on ITO2 had worked for years on it before he had to start over to port it to FF5 so we're really talking about 4-5 years of work) and then nobody gives a shit when you release it?  That's what it felt like.  And now that it was released, the friction led to a split in the team again, with several folks moving over to BMS.  What was left was a shell of a team at FF.  Right around this time I got orders to Hawaii and asked for a leave of absence from the team to focus on family stuff.  I guess a lot of us suddenly had "issues" that caused us to leave FF.  It was like we spent so much energy to get ITO2 out the door that there was nothing left afterwards for the next thing. 

And that's it.  Freefalcon has been limping along the last year since BMS came out the the community had moved almost entirely to BMS.  I don't completely understand why because FF actually is a very good version of Falcon and not nearly as complex as BMS...and consider that FF was compared very complex next to Allied Force.  So it's not like it was a survey sim.  And, I've always thought Falcon in all its derivatives was best as a single player experience.  So I don't know what BMS offers that is just so much better...but the community disagrees with me. 

There was not much activity on the FF forums anymore so I only checked in there once a month or so (adding to the problem I suppose).  I hardly see the point of spending real money to keep the website running when it generated no revenue from advertising to support its use and besides, nobody really visited there anymore anyway.  So finally Steve probably had enough of spending money out of pocket and pulled the plug.

After the dust settles I'm going to give Steve a call and make sure he's doing ok.  He's a good guy.  I'm sad that this has happened but I'm not surprised.  Well, that's it I guess. 
"If you had a chance, right now, to go back in time and stop Hitler, wouldn't you do it?  I mean, I personally wouldn't stop him because I think he's awesome." - Eric Cartman

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Offline jomni

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Re: Freefalcon is dead
« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2013, 10:56:56 PM »
Sad to hear about your "wasted" effort.  Being an outsider, I feel AF is good enough. Never tried FF. And having spent some time on BMS, I decided to concentrate on AF first.

Can you guys just port it over to BMS?

Offline Toonces

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Re: Freefalcon is dead
« Reply #6 on: January 16, 2013, 11:40:38 PM »
No.  The code between the two versions is completely different.

There is some data that can be shared- I ported over my Panama theater into BMS- but the core of the game, the cockpits, databases, many of the skins, all that stuff is not cross-compatible.
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Offline eyebiter

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Re: Freefalcon is dead
« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2013, 12:02:45 AM »
.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2013, 12:05:10 AM by eyebiter »

Offline Yskonyn

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Re: Freefalcon is dead
« Reply #8 on: January 17, 2013, 02:12:49 AM »
Great writeup, Toonces.

I still can remember my feelings when Falcon 4 was released and the day it was on the shelves I tried to bail out of high school class as quickly as I could to race to the store and pick up that BIG box of goodness.
A few classmates were also into flightsims and a period of heavy practising and bragging about what you had learned and actually pulled off in the sim followed! Good times!
And the manual, oh my, what a joy to read. Hours on end my only reading (school might have even suffered!).
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However, if pilots would need to do daily what they are capable of doing, nobody would dare to fly anymore.

Offline Jarhead0331

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Re: Freefalcon is dead
« Reply #9 on: January 17, 2013, 04:34:06 AM »
Toonces...I'm really sorry about all this.  I know it must feel almost like you've lost a really close friend.  I had no idea all this was going on behind the scenes and I always thought that the FF guys worked in harmony with the BMS crew.  In any event, I don't think you, or Steve, or anyone else that contributed to FF has anything to feel sorrow about.  You guys kept the dream of Falcon alive for many years beyond its shelf life.  You've provided thousands of fans with joy and excitement by improving and updating one of the most beloved sims of all time, and by building it to its full potential.  There is nothing to feel bad about there...all good things come to an end, but the legacy of what you all created and gave to the community will live on.

Semper Fi, bud.
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Offline Shelldrake

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Re: Freefalcon is dead
« Reply #10 on: January 17, 2013, 05:47:27 AM »
@Toonces,

Sorry to hear the news. Freefalcon was one of those games that I always meant to play but never found the time. Is there any chance for the latest iteration of Freefalcon to be made available for download on another site so that those of us who didn't have a chance to play can check it out?
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Offline Nefaro

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Re: Freefalcon is dead
« Reply #11 on: January 17, 2013, 10:09:37 AM »
I have a question about FreeFalcon and the other major versions:

With FreeFalcon, I had to regularly reboot the game due to some menu issue in Win7 (and Vista I suppose?).  It would be real annoying having to fire up a mission, save, then reload every time.  I can't recall the details but the game would become bugged if I didn't reload it regularly.

Is that same issue also present in BMS and AF?

Offline jomni

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Re: Freefalcon is dead
« Reply #12 on: January 17, 2013, 04:18:19 PM »
AF works well with win7 if you make a UI graphics config that takes out Antialiasing in the menus (not in flight).  Details in my blog: http://jomnisgames.blogspot.sg/2011/09/microsoft-flight-simulator-x-experience.html?m=1

Bms On the other hand does not need tweaking.

Offline Nefaro

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Re: Freefalcon is dead
« Reply #13 on: January 17, 2013, 05:31:17 PM »
Thanks Jomni.

I dunno if I'll even bother with AF.  Just need to dig out my old Falcon 4 disk for BMS I suppose. 

On a sad note, I haven't spied my old Falcon 4 binder manual since my last move.  I'd be very disappointed if it vanished along the way.  :(

Offline LongBlade

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Re: Freefalcon is dead
« Reply #14 on: January 17, 2013, 07:27:13 PM »
+1 with JH.

I'm really sorry to hear this. I can see you really put your heart and soul into the game and I'm sad to see that the gaming community is losing something that was so loved by so many.