Originally Posted by Ssnake
Steel Beasts isn't yet The Perfect Combat Simulation. I doubt it ever will be. But I think it is also important not only to look at the current state of things, but to consider the trends, and I think that most trends in SB Pro development go in the directions that our customers want - both military and civilian. It is somewhat permissible to extrapolate those trends to imagine what future versions of SB Pro may look like. I won't join those speculations, mind you. But it's pretty safe to assume that we will continue to make the infantry parts better, probably also artillery and other combat support elements.
Also, I'd like to point out that I have free reign to direct our software development since mid 2012. I have certainly influenced it pretty heavily before, don't want to imply otherwise. But since that time I have ramped up our personnel from "2.5 programmers and 1.5 artists" to five programmers and about four artists. I have tried to adjust the fundamental team organization. We haven't fully made up the rising personnel expense in earnings; I'm considering it an investment in the future of eSim Games as a company, and SB Pro as our primary product.
So, there's a "pre SB Pro 2.6 era" and a "post 2.6 era", and I think the difference is by now clearly visible.
Some truths haven't changed however. A significant part of our software development is still project driven. Customers approach us for modifications/expansions in functionality. Whenever I am at liberty to choose between more than one development contract for a given time period, I try to pick the one that advances SB Pro as a product better, that will on average deliver the biggest increase in training value to all our customers. Higher costs in personnel however also means that I can't be too picky. That's the price to pay for an acceleration of the overall development pace.
The relevant metric is whether we can accomplish what we possibly can, with the means at our disposal - time, budget, and talent. And I think that we score very well in that respect.
Of course, everybody would love to see things moving forward at a higher speed. It's just that great ideas can be had at a dime per dozen. Actually implementing them in a non-destructive manner (that is, keeping the software both functional and with a reasonable performance) - transforming the legacy code is a major effort.
For a year and a half we've been working on a new terrain engine. (No, I won't show you anything of it until it's ready). It will probably keep us occupied for another year, to work in all the implications and work out the complications and bugs that may be coming from this change. We're working on substantial expansions in the infantry field, and have made good progress. Unfortunately this is all done in a development branch that isn't compatible with 3.0, so we can't roll out these changes just yet (and they still need to mature). But, we are essentially on track with the schedule that we presented at last ITEC, so that's a good sign.
We're also branching out into the appended trainer/containerized full mission simulator business, mainly for financial reasons. It won't help the average user much, but it helps us to stay in business, so in the end that's a good thing for every single one of our customers, including you. Besides, when complete, the installation in Austria will be awesome. I wish I could show it in full detail to everybody. Unfortunately that's just not possible.
Please keep a positive attitude. It is very easy to lose oneself in all the things that aren't there, that aren't perfect. God knows, we're our own hardest critics. We use it as a motivation to get better. But it's not enough to whip oneself. We also have to look back occasionally to see how much progress we've made. I'm not saying that you should treat everything that we deliver with unquestioning gratitude. But you can rest assured that the Personal Edition is receiving more development time than the profits that it makes justify. (We do this, because work on the PE also helps all our other customers with code consolidation and maintaining a somewhat straightforward user interface rather than piling one fire control system on another in a constant effort to deliver "more of the same".)
We don't want to always do "more of the same". One can make short term profit with it, but in the long run we have to advance the software itself. And I think that the transition from 2.6 to version 3.0 clearly shows how much transition is happening. That, I think, justifies staying optimistic about the future of Steel Beasts.
That's all. Thanks for listening.