After a fairly long drive in a taxi to Lelystad airport I entered the Aviodrome. The venue is wonderful with vendor displays and end user setups intermixed with vintage aircraft. Mishca and Susan made me feel right at home, and everyone was very friendly and helpful. Once the laptop was setup and working in the theater, I did a presentation to about 250 people (guessing at the number) with some folks standing in the stairwell. After introducing myself and talking a little about the team and FSX, we watched the E3 video then did some flying at Schipol International in the ultralight.
The laptop has a stock installation with no tuning or tweaks and I had most of the settings midrange or high. Once I opened the floor for questions, the first one I heard was "why does it look so bad?" with a tone of voice that wasn't particularly friendly. So of course I addressed his concerns but needed a little more information before I could really answer his question. It turns out he really wanted to know why there weren't more objects in the scene and then he asked if I would be willing to max out the sliders. I'm sure they expected me to say no, but I am there with an honest and open approach, so I said "sure" and proceded to do exactly that. Of course this laptop doesn't have the power to max out autogen and scenery complexity with the default installation, so the perf issues were visible on a huge screen for all to see.
But this is where it gets better. I addressed all of the questions we had time for and we talked about performance, comparisons with FS2004, why we made decisions to support shader technology, why we design for the future, and basically all of the big questions posted on forums and e-mailed to us. I'm not going to rehash everything that was said in this presentation (and the second presentation later in the day) as most of the info is available already.
Was everyone satisfied with all the answers? No, certainly not, but I do think having personal and direct interaction does allow for an honest and transparent discussion and far fewer assumptions and misunderstandings than when solely communicating with blogs and forum posts. One of the attendees asked why we are forcing him to buy a new computer just to continue with his hobby, and of course the answer is that we aren't forcing him to do it. I encouraged people that are happy with FS2004 to continue using it. What is most important overall is that people enjoy FS in whatever flavor they like.
In addition to the two presentations, I did two TV interviews and a couple of print interviews as well. Unfortunately I didn't get much time to walk around and check out the displays, but I hope to work that in today when I'm not doing two more presentations and a few more interviews.
So that's it, I'm off to travel to Lelystad...