Last Thursday and Friday were fun and very interesting for me. On Thursday we hosted visiting domestic press to show them FSX and the studio overall and on Friday we hosted the international press for the same.
The night previous to the day's activities we went out for dinner together for some informal chatting, then followed that the next day starting at 8:30 am and ran all day until about 4:00 pm. We covered a lot of ground and the attendees had hands-on play time in our play test lab three or four times throughout the day (separated by various presentations).
Although there were a few questions we couldn't answer (such as the exact launch date), there was nothing about FSX that was hidden or held back from view. Also we just took a daily build "off the production line" with no tuning, tweaking, or other manipulation for the event. So the attendees did their hands on playing with bugs and all.
My part in the whole thing was not surprizingly to present and answer questions regarding missions. I did a very quick presentation, demoed the Red Bull course and the Jet Truck Drag Race missions, then we went to the lab where they could fly any missions they wanted. Some flew only one and others flew several. Although I won't know what they really thought until I read their reviews, we had a lot of positive feedback during the lunch session afterwards.
Following the missions piece we covered multi-player, then thrid party support and community and ended with open play. In the third party support segment we installed several FS2004 aircraft to show that backward compatibility will be supported and also showed some aircraft from Eaglesoft that are already FSX exclusively updated. It seems some of the press coverage has cited we will be including some third party aircraft in the box, so maybe showing these aircraft installed in the play test lab gave that impression. If we are shipping third party aircraft in FSX it's news to me (I don't know everything though, so maybe I'm in for a surprize tomorrow).
On the second day (after I crashed miserably flying the Red Bull course) I was invited to fly some formation aerobatics with an Italian journalist named Stefano Caporelli. He was the founder of the first virtual aerobatics team and used IL-2 as their platform because the multiplayer system in previous versions of FS wasn't good enough to do it. We each flew an Extra 300 in formation around Salzburg Austria for about 30 minutes with airshow smoke trailing. He is an excellent pilot and he was giving me some aerobatics tips along the way. I was flying lead most of the time so he could form up and evaluate if the system was going to be good enough to do this. Considering I wanted to watch what he was doing, I used the locked spot view looking backwards and he had to yell at me to "watch out for the mountains." With his accent he had to yell it about three times before I figured out what he was saying and I turned just in time to avoid an untimely crash! The system was stable and fast and we had a great time flying together. It was probably the highlight of the 2 days for me and he was certainly beaming about it as well.
I found it very interesting that the mood over the two days was very different. I came away from it feeling like the international press were more serious and "press like." What I mean by that is that the international press was prepared with way more cameras, digital recording devices, and generally tougher questions all around. When it was my time to present, about 5-6 audio recorders suddenly appeared in front of me. I didn't think about it too much, but I realized later when I was talking with Stefano that I was probably being recorded all the time, even when having casual conversations. I can only hope that I didn't say anything I shouldn't have (I doubt I did...).
I really look forward to reading the reviews and seeing what people really think.