I want to lead this post with sincere congratulations to the Hype Performance Group for today’s announcement of a Hot Air Balloon for MSFS. It’s never been heard beyond the walls of Area 42, but //42 has a product fairly close to completion named Balón. You guessed it; it’s a Hot Air Balloon!
Working in the shadows has its perks, but there are drawbacks as well. By not placing a flag in the ground, you risk other great developers thinking along the same lines. But these days with how cutthroat flight sim development is, in our opinion, it’s better to stay in the shadows. Even Microsoft themselves compete with 3rd party devs! Also, can we all agree how much it sucks to have a dev place a flag in the ground and just keep it there without any sign of actual development? And don’t get me started on the infiltration of social media posts with WHAT ABOUT THE XYZ HUH!? the moment you post about the ABC.
Backstory of Balón
To grow as a business, projects need great marketability. Thus, we will always move first with projects that ensure we travel on the correct heading. About a year and a half ago, we began a project at //42 that was a bit of a “break from the norm” for the team. Working on those important and often time-sensitive projects can build unwanted stress in life, and we value your work/life balance.
The team wanted to work on “crazy things” “whatever things” and sometimes “stupid things.” I thought it was a great idea, but we must respect that correct heading I mentioned; that can be tough when you have a small team. And what if those silly things don’t fit the //42 brand? So we came up with a great plan, //42 Labs. Under this title, the team could openly select 1 project on which to spend “fun time” and move forward as a technical trial. There was to be no associated time frame or cutoff to the creativity.
At that time visual FX was basically in an incubation stage in MSFS, so the team thought a Hot Air Balloon would give us a good reason to “create fire.” That fire would force the development and understanding of the effects system that was to come, and Balón was born!
Fire was conquered, and we moved on to other effects, some of which you see today in our Scenes. As far as we know, the gif below was the first sign of flames in MSFS. Over time we moved into texturing, movement of textiles, and more.
Balón most definitely advanced our knowledge, which is the true gain here. Well, that and knowing we could create emotions like the one Keven shared on his first cross-country flight!
So what’s next?
We’re no strangers to responding to the need for a GREAT version of an existing product on the market. Many may think this is a similar scenario, but it’s not. We’re connected enough to know that what HPG built is absolutely gorgeous. They treated their Balloon like a product vs. a project and executed it well. You can see the love poured into the development.
In my call with Steve at HPG today I stated that “Real recognize real,” and I firmly believe that sums up the way we think at //42. There is no need in the market for 2 great Hot Air Balloons, so tonight, we’ll ride our Balón into the sunset one last time and then archive the project.
Steve tells me that the HPG Hot Air Balloon is set for release this coming Friday, exclusively on the HPG website and we invite you all to experience the magic of floating thru time.
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