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Offline wilso845

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Heatblur F14 Final major Dev update announcement
« on: December 14, 2018, 03:42:38 PM »

DCS: F-14 Development Update - Moms Spaghetti

Dear All,

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

Its been a long road; and were somewhat relieved that were finally here. Were very excited to launch the F-14, and cant wait to get it in your hands.
The entire team is working extremely hard on building our first release candidate build.

In this update; Id 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.
Id like to also clarify what we consider Early Access for the F-14 and how that relates to our release .

Pilot's cockpit Night Lighting!

Release Date & Heatblur Early Access

One of the core tenets that were adhering to with the F-14 is to put quality ahead of specific release dates.
Ive repeated this plenty (ad nauseum for you all, no doubt) - but quality comes first. Its the main reason why weve left the specific date ambiguous thus far.
Again, Id like to reiterate our official guarantee:

DCS: F-14 Tomcat launches into a major feature complete early access this Winter.

Weve 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 were satisfied with the quality of our module, well 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. Its 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, were 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 its 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 youll 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. Wed rather you be happy and pleased with your support to us than feeling that youre being left out in the cold. We will launch this winter. Full stop.

With that said, lets 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: Were 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, weve 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 weve ever had to create across all of the industries weve 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 its suitably usable and immersive.

Optimization: With the F-14; well 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. Were 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: Weve 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 were 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 weve managed to flesh this feature out significantly and well be proud to ship a more complete LANTIRN system on day one.


Weve 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 weve 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 dont get cold clammy hands and break out into a flop sweat upon the thought of releasing, were just about there.
Yet, still, its 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-14s 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. Were 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 were doing our utmost to complete as much of the F-14s 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.
Were working truly hard on building our first release candidate. No one wants the Tomcat to launch more than we do.


In more exciting news; this week well be distributing the first outside PR builds to some of our communitys content creators!
Were super excited to get a first look into what outsiders think of our F-14 and hope that youll enjoy some of the content that will be produced too.
Were also working on providing detailed, in-depth content on the aircraft and its 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 thats what youve been waiting for - and its coming.


Thank you all, as usual, for your support. We really dont 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.
Thats how you get us promising 2017 before ripping apart the entire aircraft and rebuilding it from scratch.

We dont 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 youll stick with us and agree that we managed to do just that once we get there.

The Heatblur F-14 Team.

Nicholas Dackard

Founder & Lead Artist
« Last Edit: December 14, 2018, 10:17:55 PM by wilso845 »
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Offline Asid

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Re: Heatblur F14 Final major Dev update announcement
« Reply #1 on: December 14, 2018, 11:15:06 PM »
Thanks for the post Wilso  :thumbsup

Heatblur are good devs  :thumbsup

However, I have uninstalled DCS
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