Post by aerofoto - HJG Admin on May 17, 2022 16:05:48 GMT
"THE HISTORY OF HJG / DEE PERSPECTIVE"
Part 1: HJG: How It All Started.
I have been a flight sim hobbyist since the early 1990s, first using FS4. At first, I was interested in creating new scenery areas for the sim. To that end, I came across a software utility for FS4 at the PC shop called Aircraft Factory. This utility became known as AF4 within the flight sim community. I started to build my own models with AF4, but it was not an easy program to use. It was also very limited in the detail of models you could build. Models were limited to a couple a hundred polygons and there were no textures. All the polys had to be assigned a simple color. Managing the size of the model was more of a challenge than building one! The simple stick models that I made at that time were never released.
The first online flight sim community AFAIK started on Compuserve and was known as FS Forum. In no time at all, there was quite a huge library of free scenery and aircraft model files available for members to download. The first freeware design group that I am aware of started there was Project Freeware. Within that group were two guys that were really great designers, Kim Simmelink and Brian Quail.
FS4 faded away quickly when Flight Simulator V5 was released. Later, Aircraft Factory was updated to AF5. Still difficult to use, but we now had a little over 500 polygons for the model, and we could apply up to 10 texture files to the model with a fixed 256 color palette. We were in heaven! New models flooded the various online libraries of the internet. I started seriously working on my DC-8 model around this time. But the Project Freeware DC-8 model overshadowed my model (it was so much better), so mine never left my HD. But sometime around 1995 Brian released an online tutorial on how to build in AF5 using their DC-8-50 model as an example. Thanks to that, I made a lot of progress. Around 1998, Project Freeware released a lot of the AF5 source files for their models, among them the DC-8's. With the actual source file, I started to make more versions of the DC-8 family. This was around the time of FS98 which, back in those days, was a real breakthrough version of FS.
A new aircraft design program came from Abacus Publications in 1999. It was known as AF99 and was the last upgrade of the Aircraft Factory utility. Also about this time, Abacus released another utility called Aircraft Animator. With these two utilities, I made a major jump in my modeling. My DC-8s now had an almost round 12 sided fuselage, engine nacelles, and animated landing gear, flaps and control surfaces. I felt confident enough to post some screen shots on various forums and started to release some of my models within the Virtual Airline community. They were a big sensation at the time. So, I put together a DC-8-61 in the Eastern hockey stick scheme and released it to Avsim.com and Flightsim.com. The download counters popped a circuit breaker! I never got so much email in my life!
Part 2: The DC-8 Project Group.
In the latter half of 1999 I was approached by a number of people that were interested in painting my DC-8 models, Brian Jensen, Yannick Charland, and Michael Verlin. I had completed the full series of DC-8s and they started uploading finished repaints of all the popular airlines that flew the Eight. Brian first came up with the idea of painting various people heads in the windows. Yannick modified Brian's window design to what it is today. Michael was an airline history buff and had access to a crazy amount of picture data! Michael was also a wizard at FS flight dynamics and creating instrument panels. In those final days of FS98 it was agreed that we would form a freeware group to support the DC-8 models, and thus we became The DC-8 Project Group.
The MS Flight sim software was hugely popular around this time and downloads of our various models were setting records. However, we all felt a need to expand our group to other jetliners of the period. A few new people joined the group in different support positions and Brian left the group. FS98 faded into history as FS2000 took over. The AF99 models of the DC-8 ported over to the new sim very nicely. I also started learning how to further develop MDL files so more new features could be added, such as rolling wheels, etc. Yes, these small things all started like that! Then, there were rumors that a new design utility was being beta tested. This was an exciting time! Over at the Free Flight Design website, the forum was abuzz over this news. Abacus Publications soon announced the release of Flight Simulator Design Studio(FSDS v1). When I got my copy finally, I was amazed! So easy to use, so many features built in. The sky was the limit! I worked in two phases. Phase 1 was the quick porting of the AF99 model into FSDS and just using some of the new features so we could have a native FS2K model right away. Phase 2 was the complete rebuilding of the DC-8 into basically what it is today. The 12 sided structures were all remade into 32 sided features. Internal as was well as external modeling was now the norm too. So many new models started to be uploaded to the various flight sim websites by new modelers. One name that I noticed right away from these new modelers was Gary Carlson. His KC-135 models sparked a lot of interest within the flightsim community and also within our group. The other members urged me to contact Gary and invite him to join our group. I did, and I believe to this day, it was the best decision ever made in the history of PC flight simming!
Part 3: The Historic Jetliners Group.
Gary Carlson turned out to be one of the nicest guys I have ever met. Working with him was as easy as enjoying a warm spring day! He agreed to develop a new Boeing 707 model based on his earlier KC-135 models. Michael Verlin and Yannick Charland helped out. Michael found all the photos necessary to deal with the technical 3D model details and Yannick worked with engineering the textures. This whole project was started behind the scene at first, but sometime during late 2000 we let it leak out that a major new model was coming. We introduced Gary on our forum and he started posting some screen grabs of the model. The response from our fan base was crazy! Around this time we also announced that we were changing the name of our group to The Historic Jetliners Group, or just HJG for short. Our new scope was to develop models of all the 1st generation jetliners and I personally targeted the Lockheed Jetstar and the Convair 880 as models I particularly wanted to pursue.
If I remember correctly, the first release of the 707-320 model was just before Christmas 2000. It was a huge deal! The HJG forum was flooded with comments for the first weeks after the release.
"THE HISTORY OF HJG / MY MOZAIC"
I'll now take up this history from where Dee's left off .... having (myself) been invited to join HJG during late 2000 when I became a research assistant for Michael VERLIN, then remaining with the group since 2006 .... and for the foreseeable future.
HJG was well established by the end of 2000.
Although the group was founded on DC-8's (as Dee mentioned above) it was also, by this time, offering both B707's and B720's .... along with their relatives in the form of military C-135 SERIES simulations too.
Multiple versions of each of these simulations were offered by the group .... and such continues being the case today in regard to all aircraft types represented by HJG. One of this groups strengths, from the very beginning, has been its desire and ability to fully (if not well) represent each aircraft type it offers and which are also then supported by appropriate FDE variations.
Whilst other FS freeware groups and developers have produced, or host, some of the same simulations offered by HJG .... they've typically represented single versions only of each aircraft type whereas HJG's mission has always been focused upon "entire lines within aircraft type families" (since there's no point in everyone doing precisely the same thing) .... in so far as such is possible/practical. This groups attitude having always been .... "if it's worth doing at all then try'n do it properly if not differently too".
Doing things in such a manner does make for a much more complex and extensive FS inventory .... but .... representing everything properly, then supporting it all with well functioning and different variations of aircraft type Models, Panels, FDE's, aircraft/engine type Sound Packs, and Texture options does also make for a much more complete and authentic inventory .... and one that's usually better received by the more serious among FS enthusiasts whom have always been HJG's primary market.
Variation and quality has for these reasons always been an integral part of all HJG production and developmental work .... the group having remained true to this intent since 2000. As a result one "might" be hard pressed to find more thorough inventories of aircraft types (for those simulations represented by HJG at least), and supporting files for these, than is currently offered "HERE".
By 2003 HJG was further advancing at pace .... this time in regard to its CV880 and CV990 simulations. These projects, along with the original versions of its current DC-8 panels, plus its original CV880/CV990 panel too, were all released between 2002 and late 2003. During this period the HJG DC-8 flight line of 3D Models also rapidly evolved from their early V2 to current V5 format .... just as its B707/B720 and C-135 3D Models similarly progressed to their V5 format .... whilst at the same time then available Textures for each of these Models were converted from their original DXT1 to DXT3 type format (these days an "EXT 32.888 NO MIPS" format is almost universally applied). All of this development and upgrading work transpired within a 2 year period between 2001 and 2003 (a time during which FS technology was advancing almost as quickly as HJG was progressing and which accounted for so much editing being undertaken within such a short period of time .... as some veteran community members of this web site may well recall). In fact whilst the current HJG has always been a hive of activity "behind the scenes" (never make judgement/s based upon an apparently quiet forum from time to time) it's never, to me at least, seemed quite as busy as it was between 2000 and 2005 .... but .... such perception may simply be a reflection of the fact that, since 2006, HJG now has a greater number of "FS technical specialists" delegated to attend to different aspects of each simulation than was the case prior to 2006, and the workload among these representatives has ultimately been spread more evenly, rather than being imposed upon just 1 or 2 individuals only as was originally the case.
Then suddenly everything seemed about to come "unstuck". As the result of a European business collapse, during late 2005, and the consequential loss of a server, the future existence of HJG was, by early 2006, "seriously in jeopardy". In fact at one stage it seemed likely this group would disappear into the same abyss which has claimed any number of other fine FS freeware development groups both previously and since. During this crisis a few team members believed sufficiently in the groups purpose, and future, in order to prevent such befalling HJG. Negotiations were therefore commenced with SIMVIATION.COM in regard to the possibility of their hosting HJG. SIMVIATION then became HJG's salvation .... and HJG "a subsidiary of SIMVIATION" ever since. This's what's allowed this group to remain in existence today and is something that shouldn't ever be overlooked or ignored by those whom enjoy everything HJG represents.
A new HJG team was assembled during early 2006 (Dee, Gary, and myself being the only original/foundation members). The reformed groups new/current website then went live on "April 6th 2006" .... still only offering extensive representation of its B707/B720, C-135 SERIES, CV880, CV990, and DC-8 simulations though .... along with original versions of their supporting Panels, Sounds, and Textures. Given each of the simulations then offered by HJG represented 4-engine jetliners only there was an erroneous perception, within some corners of the FS community, that HJG was an exclusively 4-engine virtual jetliner affair. Talented new members joined HJG at this time also .... each immediately setting to work in order to customize and further improve some 3D Models, FDE files, Panels/Gauges/Modules, and Audio for the HJG simulations. A major benefit of these developments was HJG, for the first time, was then able to offer B707/B720/C-135 TYPE panels (a private project by George CARTY) .... and which the original group had previously lacked.
All of this advancement and expansion, though never planned or anticipated (at least not to the extent that's now apparent), continued at pace beyond 2006.
During 2006/7 HJG's B707/B720 Models were all upgraded to their current V6 format (its C-135 SERIES Models remained V5 productions though) .... and were complemented by additional versions of these Models. HJG was then authorized to introduce Erik CANTU's B727 Models during 2008 (some of which were edited with other features by us during 2015) .... supported by our own customized versions of Richard PROBST's original B727 Panel. Authorization to host Jon MURCHION's BAe 146/ARJ Models was forthcoming later during 2008 (a project that, although it contradicted HJG's "noise and smoke" acclaim, was edited and extensively expanded during 2014/15) .... each of which were supported by Mathias LIEIBERECHT's BAe 146 and ARJ specific Panels. Thanks to Nicholas BOTAMER, HJG then introduced his DC-9 Models during 2009 .... supported by our own customized versions of Stellan HILMERBY's original DC-9 Panels .... a project which was also accompanied by Nick's MD-80/-90 and B717-200 Models during 2011 (I well remember negotiating our DC-9 family representation with Nick at the CROWN PLAZA LAX HOTEL during 2008 .... each of these projects being HJG specific outgrowths of Nick's earlier JET CITY productions). It was also noted that AFG was about to disappear forever during 2009 .... and at which point HJG extended a rescue line in order to save, and try to further develop, their CARAVELLE simulations (HJG had provided both audio and FDE assistance for this project in support of its original AFG release, and other CARAVELLE Models were later supplied directly to us following the demise of AFG) .... all of which were supported by Benoit GAURANT's panels. Then during 2010 HJG was authorized to host Erik CANTU's L-1011 TRISTAR Model (this becoming its first representation of a wide-body jetliner) .... supported by our more advanced and extensively re-engineered versions of Ken MITCHELL's original L-1011 panels. This sort of expansion has since continued and at equal pace. HJG was next authorized to host the FSFT CONCORDE simulation during 2011 (the groups only supersonic offering to date) .... following the demise of that once highly respected FS group. Then during 2014 our edited versions of Erik CANTU's DC-10 models were introduced at HJG .... supported by our advanced and extensively re-engineered upgrades of the original SGA DC-10 panel. Late 2017 then saw Mario NORIEGA offer his AMD MERCURE 100 simulation to HJG .... and Erik CANTU's B737 CLASSIC Models also imported .... both products being introduced at the same time. Throughout the entire period during which all of this additional product introduction has been undertaken a number of HJG's original simulations have also undergone significant FDE enhancement/s .... whilst others are being further enhanced at the moment.
Most HJG offered simulations have never remained idle since first being produced or introduced. The likes of Panel/Gauge/Module, FDE, Sound, and Texture enhancement/s having been frequented upon most of its projects as part of the groups ongoing development work and commitment to product improvement over the years. HJG also continues providing assistance in regard to the development of FS projects undertaken by other groups and individuals too .... as co-operative arrangements in accordance with "appropriate requests" being advanced to it.
During May 2021 the DMFS website was suddenly noted to have expired. David MALTBY's extensive and historic classic British jetliner inventory was considered (by us) "far too precious" a resource to be lost or dismembered, so, HJG sought, and obtained, authorization to introduce this entire new flight line "HERE" .... a rescue that's also since resulted in a number of aspects associated with these simulations being "fixed" and/or otherwise further improved.
A fortuitous circumstance that arose and which actually aided the new HJG's post 2006 recovery was MS's 2009 decision to cease producing new versions of FS for many years following FSX .... after the failure of its MS FLIGHT program. For the very first time in MS FS development history it wasn't necessary to recompile 3D Models, FDE, Panels/Gauges/Modules, Sounds, and Textures (at least not to the same extent, or as regularly, as had previously been the case) beyond the dictates of their already long established, and by this time very well understood FS2004 and FSX platforms. This advantage is what really enabled HJG's post 2006 growth. Had everything evolved to the contrary then it's highly unlikely this group could have lasted for the duration it has .... 22 years this year (2022). This's despite being unable to evolve its current flight line to MSFS and other more recent FS platform compatibility though. There's a number of (lesser known/appreciated) "legal/proprietary" as well as "technical" considerations that limit the practicality of what can straight-forwardly be achieved, by HJG, in regard to upgrading the compatibility of its currently offered products .... but .... that's "THE REALITY".
HJG's original mission was simply to try'n preserve memory of the classic 1st generation civil jetliners "through FS" (and which unexpectedly evolved to include both 2nd and 3rd generation jetliners too), then since 2006, to ensure these simulations each remained "FREELY" and "EASILY" accessible to all whom might desire to partake of and enjoy them, improve whatever it has capacity to be able to successfully further enhance in accordance with the limited resources at its disposal, and to also (later) expand it's virtual flight line too, but, "only for as long as end user interest can be justifiably sustained" in relation to compatibility of these long established simulations with the 2 principle MS produced FS platforms preceding its current new MSFS program development .... but once again .... that's the way it "IS".
Whilst nobody in particular (here) may ever seek public recognition there's a number of HJG personalities who's significant effort/s and past contribution/s to this group are either publicly unknown or whom have possibly long since been overlooked .... people in the form of Marco BALZAROTTI, Gary CARLSON, Michael VERLIN (RIP), Dee WALDRON, and Steve WEIHER. These personalities should each be considered founding fathers of the current HJG .... and who's talent, vision, aviation and FS passion, and IT expertise enabled this group to become what it "IS" today.
Since 2006 other yet publicly unheralded former and present HJG representatives are equally worthy of recognition too .... in the form of Nicholas BOTAMER, George CARTY, Harerton DOURADO, Paul HAAK, Dan K.HANSEN, Jordan KLAUS, Mike MONCE, Mario NORIEGA, and Benoit PLAMONDON .... each of whom have labored tirelessly in order to will the various components of each HJG offered simulation into existence and with a quality that often exceeds some payware. Similar effort/s have also been applied too by people such as Jim CAMPISI, Yannick CHARLAND, Ben HARTMANN, Alejandro HURTADO, Erik INGRAM, John KEANE (RIP), Tom LeBLANC, Peter LIDDELL, Camilo LUENGAS, Tony MADGE, Gilles MERCIER, Eduardo ROCHA, Garry RUSSELL (RIP), Michael SCHNEIDER, and Eduardo VILLANUEVA .... each of who's texture toiling talents should never be taken for granted either as its "their work" which ultimately aids popularizing the extensive Model, Panel/Gauge, and Sound work undertaken by HJG's highly talented technical team of FS specialists .... much of which is then FSX supported by Nathan FORD .... HJG's most recently press-ganged team-member.
Last but by no means least of all .... there likely wouldn't be an HJG group today if it weren't for Pete DALY/SIMVIATION.COM whom has continued hosting this web site on his own server since 2006 .... and the commitment of our webmaster/IT representative Peter LIDDELL upon whom we all depend in order to upload and offer everything our team members produce for public consumption. This doesn't overlook considerable and much appreciated support offered by "countless" members of the HJG/FS community also .... many of whom have made valuable contributions over the years (in their own private ways) in respect of what's offered by HJG as well as making much of it all more interesting if not entertaining too.
As for the future .... WELL .... other projects, and imports, "ARE" being contemplated and/or progressed for representation at HJG, but, beyond what's already publicly admitted it'd be premature, in as much as it'd also possibly be irresponsible (of us) to hint at or otherwise allude as to the nature of these other additions. Therefore let's just say .... "all mysteries will be revealed with the adequate passage of time .... and community patience may be well be further rewarded accordingly".
This pretty much summarizes (in a nut shell) not only HJG's past history, but also, the nature of its commitment to the FS community since 2000 too .... all of which has helped transform this group into the FS success story it's so far "BECOME" for "EVERYONE".