James Niven, who goes by the Gateway artist name “AileronsNeutral,” lives in Australia and enjoys creating and flying out of provincial Thai airports in X-Plane.
Question: Why did you choose X-Plane as your flight simulator?
Answer: I took a break from flight simulators in 2009 as I had lots going on RW, my previous sim was FS2004 and I never got into FSX as my computer at the time couldn’t run it well. A couple of years ago I decided to get back into it and found the world had moved on significantly! I did a bit of research and found the current generation of sims was X-Plane 11 or Prepare3d. Being a Mac user, X-Plane 11 was the obvious choice but when I downloaded the demo I was blown away! The out of the box visuals, interface and the flight model are far superior in my opinion, I was also impressed by how far the payware add-ons had come in the intervening 6 years.
Q: What motivates you to develop X-Plane scenery?
A: I’ve always been impressed with the community aspect of X-Plane and I see Gateway scenery development as being a way for me to contribute. In all the flight sims I’ve used I have wanted to recreate more accurate airports – I played with AFCAD for FS2004 but always struggled with the interface and models so never got any where! Last year I was on holiday in Koh Samui (VTSM) and thought the default X-Plane model could do with a spruce-up. I watched Jan’s YouTube tutorials and thought “Hey, I can do this!” WED is a brilliant tool and makes using the various art tools so easy. I’ve concentrated on provincial Thai airports since then as they are poorly represented by WEDBot 2D models for the most part and I enjoy flying into them.
Q: Do you have a favorite airport that you have submitted to the Gateway?
A: Probably Ranong (VTSR), when I did it initially I had got to grips with WED and how to make the various art assets work with recreating the look and feel of a provincial Thai airport. It’s also in a really nice location which makes flying in and out visually rewarding.
Q: Do you have any advice for newbie Gateway artists?
A: Jan’s Youtube tutorials are a must as are the developer guides for things like the terminal kit. The Scenery Gateway forum on the .org is a very helpful source of information on why things might not be happening the way you think they should. I would suggest starting with a small airport that you can get information from various maps, YouTube videos and pictures for, to help you visualise things in WED and when trying to develop an airfield try not to get frustrated recreating exact details–a mistake I keep trying to stop making myself, as you can spend hours modelling a car park no-one is really going to see! It’s a flight simulator after all.
Also press save, a lot!