An interesting chat with Magnus Lorvik

CEO of Threshold, one of the most known developers of xEnviro and… a friend!
That’s the quickest way I found to describe Magnus, that kindly conceded us an interview about almost every theme we were able to cover.

What is your position in xEnviro? 

I joined the project last year right before the transition from 1.07 to 1.09. Back then a lot happened that made me want to help a friend through a rough time. Among other things there was the fire incident Andrey and his family went through which was a huge part of why I decided to involve myself as closely as I did. And I just continued also after everything had calmed down since I saw the potential of the addon and that my partaking would leave much more time for the dev team to actually develop instead of working on PR. My involvement increased vastly over time and I joined the dev team as development manager in addition to PR manager when development on 1.10 started.


The development of xEnviro 1.10 has been a long one, did you expect a warmer welcome by the community?

It has been a very long time indeed. As we went from the traditional 2d sprites and introduced the noise rendering in 1.09 (1.08) we quickly realized that we either had to turn back and return to textures or go for volumetric rendering which we have wanted from the very beginning.. It was a very tough decision. Noise rendering works poorly on the old 2d tech and 1.09 showed challenges that were just as hard as the ones we have gone through with 1.10. Getting 1.09 to work right would make our path forward delayed anyways – so we went all in. We thought at the 1.10 would take 5-6 months. So I was prepared for a long haul. Obviously it took a lot longer and I tried to explain all along why it took so long and what we were facing. I think that helped.
 
So, to answer your question: No. I expected much worse. I expected to be slaughtered and to drown in complaints. Thing is, we are our own worst critics. We want performance, visuals, functionality and compatibility. We hate bugs and compromises. And we had to deliver a product with subpar performance for users with high screen resolution, compromised visuals and with limited functionality and compatibility.

But at the same time I am incredibly proud of what we have achieved. And I am glad we released now. If we had we waited for the performance path we are aiming for, which will also (increase cloud definition), we would have to postpone the update for a considerable time. I also wanted to get the update out before the summer vacations and pressed for a release before FSExpo 2019 which I attended. We managed that. 

The response has been overwhelmingly positive compared to the expectations. While one can get grey hairs of people not reading or plainly ignoring what you say and repeat known issues endlessly, at the same time the majority actually do read and acknowledge the work that this is a starting point for noise rendered volumetrics in X-Plane. 

You and your team brought to X-Plane a new concept of cloud that Laminar seemed to appreciate, can we expect any sort of co-operation soon?

There has always been dialogue between us and Laminar. Laminar has dialogue with most developers and I am sure with all who make contact. We are in talks with them voicing our concerns regarding some elements of the Vulcan update where we face some challenges. I won’t go in to details on this but how much they will be able to do to help xEnviro evolve in X-Plane is uncertain. We’ll manage though. It’s just a matter of time and how fast we can get to where we want. The  most important thing is that Austin and Laminar know of xEnviro and see what it is capable of.


What are the interests of the private Magnus, not necessarily aviation related?

Alongside my day job as an IT consultant in Oslo, Threshold and xEnviro there is generally way too little time for my family and even less for my hobbies and interests which are way too many. Among much else: I dive in the fjord outside my house and other places, travel, game when I have the chance (way to much spent on Steam over the years), screw around with my car and/or my computer hardware, draw art with my daughter, I have made digital art (muugart in deviantart . The picture you see as cover is one of his own creations) and as many might have noticed from the xEnviro videos I produce amateur music. I am trying to make one of my favorite hobbies in to a living though but I am still far from it and won’t quit my day job yet. 😉

What do you think about crowdfunding in X-Plane? The case of the MilViz’s ATR72 created a lot of discussions…

My issue with the MilViz situation you refer to has very little to do with the crowd funding itself, but rather the way it was presented and handled after initial reactions. As far as I know they corrected that in the aftermath but lost out on the funding. It’s sad. We have missed out on a very good plane. 

Crowd funding it self is something I really like. As long as it is done right and that the money is returned if the project gets canceled. Asking for crowd funding has to be done in the right way and with full transparency from the start. Present what you want to do and perhaps ask if people would support it if this were the only way you could bring something to market. Explain why and ask what tiers people would be willing to fund. When established make a “perk” or a return for anyone who donates over a certain amount (depending on surplus income). 

Our community is a complex one to relate to as a PR manager for a “controversial” addon. You have to ignore the loud ones who have nothing good to say and filter out the ones who give constructive criticism. Not always easy if you have had a bad day.

Is there anything that you wish to come in order to improve X-Plane in the next few years, especially with the new MSFS coming in 2020?

Several of the things I want are already in production or exist in somewhat less accessible or cumbersome versions. On the list of stuff to look forward to I see HotStart and TorqueSim/AFM. Shortfinal Design SFD Global will be great. Sceneries are being made constantly and that is fantastic. Other than that:
 
-Full global live AI
-Native optional “career mode” where you can add your fleet (We’ll see what Skypark from Paralell 42 can whip up though) 
Native multiplayer with options for unlimited custom servers with full user control
-More study level aircraft. Also GA and helos
-And, of course, xEnviro at its fullest potential.

I believe X-Plane would be unbeatable with xEnviro alone if it gets to breathe.

And, just to not create much hype… that’s what he said…

I am working on two other projects that I won’t disclose here. I hope to finish those before MSFS launches. We’ll see. In any case – exciting times.

I can’t even imagine what are those projects, but I must say that I’m really excited about them!

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