** F-14 Development Update: December 2018 ** - ED Forums
 


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Old 12-14-2018, 06:42 AM   #1
Cobra847
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Default ** F-14 Development Update: December 2018 **




DCS: F-14 Development Update - Mom’s Spaghetti

Dear All,

Welcome to what is likely the final major text-based development update prior to the launch of our F-14!

It’s been a long road; and we’re somewhat relieved that we’re finally here. We’re very excited to launch the F-14, and can’t wait to get it in your hands.
The entire team is working extremely hard on building our first release candidate build.

In this update; I’d like to delve a little bit into where we stand currently, release date expectations, what remains to be done, and what we consider critical items for a releasable F-14.
I’d like to also clarify what we consider Early Access for the F-14 and how that relates to our release planning.

Check out a preview of the Pilot's cockpit Night Lighting! Click to enlarge.




Release Date & Heatblur Early Access
One of the core tenets that we’re adhering to with the F-14 is to put quality ahead of specific release dates.
I’ve repeated this plenty (ad nauseum for you all, no doubt) - but quality comes first. It’s the main reason why we’ve left the specific date ambiguous thus far.
Again, I’d like to reiterate our official guarantee:
DCS: F-14 Tomcat launches into a major feature complete early access this Winter.
We’ve given ourselves a relatively wide release window of this winter, stretching from 21st of December to 20th of March to ensure that we can be somewhat flexible and make sure to achieve the desired level of quality that we strive for. Ultimately, the quality of the module determines when (or, more accurately: if we want to) release.

Our December window has started to rapidly close and currently, release is not immediately imminent.
Once we’re satisfied with the quality of our module, we’ll consider that build our first release candidate, and set the wheels in motion with our ED partners to launch.
December is now unlikely, but we will keep you updated on a weekly basis from now on and as we steam towards release candidate 1. It’s all hands on deck to get there - we promise.

For the release candidate build to actually happen, we need to achieve a few core goals that serve as the foundational basis for Heatblur early access.
While early access has in recent times meant less and less complete products, we’re looking to buck that trend and repeat what we achieved with the Viggen: a rich, mostly complete experience that is generally unhampered in any major way by its Early Access tag. In detail, that means:
  • Completion (or availability) of all core major features of the F-14B aircraft. Major systems include things like FM, weapons, radar, core subsystems, multicrew, JESTER, etc. You will be getting a gigantic, complex and mostly complete product on day one.

  • Stability and (hopefully) a lack of major bugs - the F-14 represents a technical challenge in terms of aircraft complexity and the experience has to be pleasant out of the box. Issues will undoubtedly happen, but we will not knowingly launch a broken product. No matter how much revenue we lose by e.g. missing the Christmas release window.

  • Relatively polished and a fun, rich experience. We only get one chance to make a first impression-- and the first time you fire up the F-14- whether it’s alone or with a friend; you should have a fun, engaging and relatively polished experience.

We hope the above makes sense, and more importantly, we hope you’ll consider them worthy reasons for not launching in December.. Or January.. Or February.. If that were to be the case.
Set your expectations on receiving a relatively polished, quality, Heatblur product this Winter. That is our guarantee to you, and we will not disappoint.
Hold us to it. Jump into pre-ordering at the point you feel most comfortable. We’d rather you be happy and pleased with your support to us than feeling that you’re being left out in the cold. We will launch this winter. Full stop.



With that said, let’s jump into some details on what are still considered open ticket items to achieve the above.
The team is currently working hard on a number of areas. Primarily:
  • RIO Cockpit: We’re still working finishing integration of the new RIO cockpit into the main branch of the F-14. Art production on this level is unfortunately a time-intensive and arduous task. Of course, we’ve developed all of the functions of the RIO cockpit by using our old Chromecat placeholders, so this is almost entirely a visual and art production item.

  • JESTER Improvements: JESTER is probably one of the most complex and difficult things we’ve ever had to create across all of the industries we’ve been involved in.

    Current focus on JESTER has been to improve edge-cases where things really fall apart and bring you out of the experience, as well as filling out the remaining functionality for, primarily, A2A combat. JESTER will not launch in a complete state with the F-14 - but we want to get it to a level where it’s suitably usable and immersive.

  • Optimization: With the F-14; we’ll be introducing some novel ways to improve DCS performance with many Tomcats on screen.
    This should help alleviate some of the performance impact of decks full of Tomcats. We’re also introducing new ways to try and reduce performance overhead in a complex dual cockpit through the use of lod proxies. Generally, the F-14 will be heavier in a 1:1 comparison to other aircraft due to its complexity, but it will win in other key areas- which we think will balance the scale.
    We will be doing detailed benchmarks on DCS performance with the Tomcat and presenting our results soon.

  • LANTIRN: We’ve been working hard on fleshing out LANTIRN, all the way from writing new custom display shaders to implementing an incredibly deep and complex simulation of this targeting and observation pod. Information in this area is scarce; but we’re now confident in the fact that our recreation of the LANTIRN will be at the level of the rest of the aircraft. Our initial EA plan included only basic LANTIRN support, but with an increase in staff we’ve managed to flesh this feature out significantly and we’ll be proud to ship a more complete LANTIRN system on day one.


    We’ve created entirely new ways to render the LANTIRN image, including automatic gain adjustment, explosion interference, and much more.

  • “Minor” Features: There are obviously too many items to really list in this category; but we’ve been working on everything from night lighting, exterior lighting, damage modeling - to every other little bit and bob that needs to be wrapped up for release. These types of items tend to be huge timesinks despite their small size.

Early Access
A good rule of thumb for us is that if we don’t get cold clammy hands and break out into a flop sweat upon the thought of releasing, we’re just about there.
Yet, still, it’s important to note that the F-14 will absolutely not launch in a perfect state. It will have things missing and it will have bugs. It will still be very much Early Access.

Some of the things that we do not consider blocking issues for release include;
  • Some missing minor features or specific functionality in major systems. Something like circuit breakers are a good example here.
    Some of these types of features have little core value to the simulation experience itself and we consider these to be releasable omissions.

  • JESTER features: JESTER will be continually developed throughout the F-14’s lifetime. In particular, on launch, much of the LANTIRN capability may be missing.

  • Minor (and hopefully limited to annoying, at worst) bugs. These are absolutely inevitable. Sorry in advance!
    Our QA team is flying the F-14 for hours each and every day. We’re trying to catch as many of the bugs and issues that crop up as possible.

  • Incomplete content - Training missions, quick missions, single missions, manual, etc.
    Most of these items will be work in progress on launch - but we’re doing our utmost to complete as much of the F-14’s content as possible.

  • AI Content: Forrestal Class carriers, A-6, et al.

  • Dynamic cockpit system: this system represents a significant layer of complexity (though it may not seem like it) - and may be disabled on day 1 to avoid any unfortunate issues.

We will be clear with what exactly is missing on release date as we approach the release itself for absolute and full clarity.

We hope that gives you some insight into our process and what currently remains to be done and what to expect on Day 1 of the Tomcat.
We’re working truly hard on building our first release candidate. No one wants the Tomcat to launch more than we do.

Videos!
In more exciting news; this week we’ll be distributing the first outside PR builds to some of our community’s content creators!
We’re super excited to get a first look into what outsiders think of our F-14 and hope that you’ll enjoy some of the content that will be produced too.
We’re also working on providing detailed, in-depth content on the aircraft and it’s systems.
Unfortunately development pressures make it more difficult than ever to produce our desired level of promotional content, but do expect an uptick on this ASAP.

We also hope to do more livestreams, and in particular in-depth looks with less complex scenarios than last time. Overall-- expect more content.
Even if small snippets of various features. We know that’s what you’ve been waiting for - and it’s coming.



Thank you all, as usual, for your support. We really don’t say this enough; but you all rock.
Our ultimate goal is to reward your support and patience with a product of appropriate quality.

I wish I had put this update together earlier. We do try to keep you as informed as we possibly can; but transparency has its risks and not all of the variables are known to even ourselves.
That’s how you get us promising 2017 before ripping apart the entire aircraft and rebuilding it from scratch.

We don’t knowingly deceive, rather our intentions are pure and are always based around quality rather than a maximization of revenue at the cost of just that quality.
We hope that becomes clear in time.

We hope you’ll stick with us and agree that we managed to do just that once we get there.

Sincerely,
The Heatblur F-14 Team.



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Last edited by Cobra847; 12-14-2018 at 07:06 AM.
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Old 12-14-2018, 06:59 AM   #2
Cap'n kamikaze
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I feel the need.....
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Old 12-14-2018, 07:00 AM   #3
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Mad props, team.
LANTIRN looks spectacular.
Also:
The need-for speed!
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Old 12-14-2018, 07:05 AM   #4
beppe_goodoldrebel
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Quote:
We’ve given ourselves a relatively wide release window of this winter, stretching from 21st of December to 20th of March to ensure that we can be somewhat flexible and make sure to achieve the desired level of quality that we strive for. Ultimately, the quality of the module determines when (or, more accurately: if we want to) release.
Which can be reassumed in: ANYTIME , BABY!

Jokes apart kudos on you guys to al least try to release something complete and stable.
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Old 12-14-2018, 07:08 AM   #5
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+1

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Old 12-14-2018, 07:09 AM   #6
Cap'n kamikaze
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Quote:
but you all rock.
No, you rock.
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Old 12-14-2018, 07:14 AM   #7
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Only thing I can say is....

SINNSYKT JÆVLA BRA!!!!

To say that I'm looking forward to this is a gross understatement. I've been waiting for about 24 years for a proper Tomcat-sim, and this looks to be it.

Hmm...that reminds me that I need to travel to Helsingborg, get Cobra hilariously drunk and get him to promise that the next module out will be the Viper
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Old 12-14-2018, 07:14 AM   #8
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Thanks for the update Cobra, and the rest of the HB team.

Rest assured that the moaning and whinging about release dates comes from a vocal minority of the user base. The majority of us are more than happy to wait a few more months if it means us getting a better product on release. Spend as much time as you need to get it to a level where you're proud to release it, this is your guys' baby after all.

And to be honest, it's probably better being released after Christmas anyway. You don't want to be spending your Christmas break dealing with bug reports and missing features. You all deserve a break just like everyone else.

Keep up the good work.

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Last edited by BritTorrent; 12-14-2018 at 07:20 AM.
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Old 12-14-2018, 07:19 AM   #9
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Amazing work.

- I was here.
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Old 12-14-2018, 07:20 AM   #10
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Thanks guys. Looking forward to this so much.
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