I recently had the pleasure of getting to speak with Graham of BlackBox Simulations. I was able to ask questions about the BlackBox team, their current projects, flight sim development, and where he sees BlackBox going in the future. BlackBox are currently developing an A320/19/18 series of aircraft called the Airbus Prologue, and an A330/A340 series of aircraft called the Airbus Widebody Prologue, both of which are in early access, as well as a BN-2 Islander, Cessna L-19 Birdog, and a Scottish Aviation Bulldog.
FlightSimCentral: Who makes up the BBS development team?
Graham: Myself and Antony. Ant (my son) is responsible for all coding, utilities, installers and also handles the website, checkout and internet stuff. I (Graham) do the modeling, textures, flight dynamics, animation, sounds and effects.
FlightSimCentral: How long have you and your team been developing FS Products?
Graham: As Blackbox, since 2011 but prior to that we operated Phoenix Simulation Software (PSS) for many years with a few other guys.
Before this I was a founder member of Flightsim Developers (FSD) but creating freeware since FS4, I was part of the team that introduced moving parts To flightsim lol!
FlightSimCentral: What is your favorite aircraft?
Graham: Has to be without a doubt the Avro Vulcan B2 (Happy memories of my RAF Days in the 70’s) YES! I am that old.
FlightSimCentral: What got you all started in FS Development?
Graham: I was always interested in flightsim and aviation in general but while working in the games industry after teaching myself 3d studio, Both Ant and myself were working on the original Tomb Raider at the time
But we grew tired of buying the bosses new Ferrari’s while waiting for non-existent bonus payments so having done a few freeware aircraft and watching the downloads counter on Avsim, I decided we could actually get paid for it!
FlightSimCentral: What has been the biggest challenge you and your team have faced with the BlackBox Wideboy/Airbus Prologue?
Graham: TIME! The depth and intricacies of developing an accurate rendition of the Widebody Airbus mean millions of lines of code and months of research.
For two guys I think it was a little too much but we didn’t realize at the time. We are totally committed though and we will complete all the Airbus Add-ons to professional and highly accurate levels.
FlightSimCentral: What sets the BlackBox Airbus/Widebody Prologue apart from other similar offerings?
Graham: Accuracy and attention to detail. Plus the customer is getting over 30 Years of experience in the final product. I KNOW this will show!
FlightSimCentral: How do you feel about the increasing trend of “early release” for FS developers?
Graham: If you mean like our “Prologue” then I think its an absolute necessity. The demands of your average “Simmer” have changed vastly since the early days of development. There was a time when we could produce a complete sim in about 3 months
But these days, the level of systems and requirements of your Desk Pilot means Years of development to get even close to an acceptable product. Developers need to eat 🙂 and if that means we release a very useable “Prologue” and customers are happy to pay for this while we continue development on future updates then we are all winners IMHO
FlightSimCentral: What FS technology most excites you (PBR, 64 bit, VR, shared cockpit etc), and how do you plan to leverage these emerging technologies?
Graham: Seriously? None of it! LOL. At my age, I really hate it when Lockheed Martin releases another Beta with additional features and more learning to do. This is the main reason we are not planning X-plane development as we would have to start from scratch. There are many devs out there skilled enough in XP To allow BBS to step aside.
FlightSimCentral: What are your long term plans after we see a 1.0 release for the BlackBox Airbus/Widebody series?
Graham: The ONLY Long term plans we have after V1.00 of the Airbus Series (After a well-earned break!) are to seriously investigate and research the market before deciding what the next project will be. A Professional A380, or A350 would be nice as most of the coding has been done with our earlier projects but whether or not they would be popular enough is yet to be decided.
Old classic Airliners have been discussed but they have all been done before. This is another problem with being a Dev these days, actually finding something new and interesting to Develop! I am confident we will find the right project though.
You can check out BlackBox Simulation’s website for more information or for purchases.