This is my optimistic counterpart to a few forum posts which I felt were pessimistic and offered no solution. So, here are proactive, and quite lofty ideas on how to create an exciting and fun future for our members:
- Find out if, after learning all the details and options, CaptainYS would consider an open-source or even a copyleft licence. I know that some of the forum staff have already asked Soji about this, but I don't know how thoroughly he understands open-source licensing. I have been a pure GNU/Linux user for 9 years, and I am a member of the Free Software Foundation (FSF) which is the creator and defender of the GNU General Public Licence. I believe I may be able to provide more details to Soji on the benefits of the GPL or other licences that would allow more people to put time into maintaining the software. But if he already knows all about open-source licensing and refuses to use them, then there isn't anything we can do. If it is true that he no longer makes time to do maintenance and bug-fixing, then the fate of that game is irreversible. But our fate as an aviation simulation community does not have to be shared with the fate of the YSFlight software.
- Work to have an open-source flight simulator of the same calibre as YSFlight. If I already was a skilled programmer, you bet I'd have started such a project by now. Even if I can't write code, I sure would be willing to help get something started. A team of people could make it happen collectively if they wanted it badly enough.
- Create a client-agnostic multiplayer aviation server. Some people may not want to use a simulator like YSFlight because it is too simple for their simulation needs. And people who don't have high-end computers and graphics hardware won't be able to use high-detail, high-demand software. For these reasons, you can see that there is a divide. If somebody you play with changes to a different flight simulator (or just a different version of a simulator in the case of YSFlight) you can't play together online ever again. But this is a divide that doesn't have to exist. What you would need is a multiplayer server application that allowed players using sophisticated flight simulators with high-end equipment to fly with players using a simpler flight simulator in the same virtual airspace. Such a server could be an expansion of Flake's OpenYS which could accept plugins for every actively-maintained flight simulator, so that no matter which one somebody is using, whether it has high-resolution graphics or 1995-style graphics, they are always able to join a multiplayer session.
Some Brain Storming
Based on searching the software repository that is part of Linux Mint, the most popular distribution of Linux, the application "FlightGear" clearly is the dominant one. I've tried it once before, and it is really heavy on graphics, similar to MSFS. It is not just a Linux game. Being open-source, it can be compiled to run on Windows, Mac OS and any OS with an available compiler... Android even. I'm sure that it already has a Windows version, I just haven't looked into it while writing this post.
In both the effort to revise the OpenYS server and to create a new flight simulator, FlightGear could be the starting point. Perhaps one could create a very stripped-down application by removing all the cockpits and 3D models from it, and even replacing the scenery with less complex texture maps and minimal shading and weather effects. I have no idea how long it would take to get something that is about as light-weight on computer resources as YSflight is.
Even if stripping down FlightGear would be more work than starting a flight simulator from scratch, the network protocol could be used as a standard to write the first plugin for the agnostic server. That would mean that once it is stable, both FlightGear and the new low-res Flight simulator will be able to join the same multiplayer sessions.
I know that the greedy people at Microsoft would never willingly release a plugin to allow MSFS players to interact with anything that isn't owned by them, but hey, I can dream big! I envision that one day in the future, this open-source multiplayer server becomes so popular by players of all other flight simulators that they have no choice but to release a plugin to let their customers get in on the multiplayer action!
How I Can Help
As far as resources to maintain software go, I am in a unique situation. I am on disability for major depression, so I am not employed. Theoretically I have tons and tons of time on my hands. But of course, if I was always in good shape, I would have a job instead of being on disability. But even if we deduct the bad days or the days in the mental health unit of a hospital, I still have time to do fun things. And I kind of need to, doctor's orders. If I keep busy, I am fighting depression. If I do fun stuff, I keep busy. So this could be one of my projects that not only would challenge me to learn programing and 3D graphics technology, it would also be a nice boost for my mental health on my long journey of recovery.