RAZBAM’s project roadmap is an interesting one

With three big surprises coming out of RAZBAM today for DCS fans, I thought now would also be a good chance to talk about their project plan as presented to us today and try and answer some of the questions around if RAZBAM can sustain this many projects at once.

Can RAZBAM handle this many modules?

M2000C-wide-scenery2
The M2000C will get enhancements sometime during 2018.

The great concern I and many other commenters out there on the forums and Facebook have is if RAZBAM’s resources are being stretched by all of the projects they have on the go. Many are very interested to know what are they doing with their already released modules (namely the M2000C and the AV-8B NA). Some concerns are legitimate while others appear to be very much unfounded.

I want to quote RAZBAM from their Facebook page today:

RAZBAM Simulations currently embodies a team of
8 (eight) 3d developers working in different projects
2 software engineers (coders) with more about to come aboard
A mission/campaign developer
A texture artist for each livery.

Many different supporters (being these beta testers, information, etc).
95% of ALL our references comes directly from the real aircraft, some directly from the manufacturer, some directly from current (and very active) users, there is absolutely no guess work involved, and it reflects on the aircraft we choose to develop.

Say no pics? well, this is absolutely no child’s play and in many if not all cases, discretion is enforced (at the end of the day, you’ll fly the simulated replica)

Our stuff unfinished? well, i call it on constant improvement, DCS is constantly evolving, and so our products.

So..are we up to the task? yes we are, and with gold wings!

Here I see RAZBAM is responding directly to the concerns (and more than a few trolls/haters) with this statement.

With eight 3D artists and a couple of software engineers, RAZBAM does have some capacity to tackle multiple projects in my estimation. The DCS: South Atlantic terrain and assets have their own development group too which helps keep things at least somewhat segmented.

There are definitely quite a few projects going on at a time but if their team and developer model can support this development, then all of the power to them.

Future planning

I also want to quote an update from DCS World RAZBAM sub-forums giving us an idea of their ambitious project plan for the rest of the year and into next.

As most if not all 3d work in the Harrier is done (Tarawa needs more detailing) and M2000C is being updated/enhanced, this is what’s on the table as for right now:
MiG-19, it’s coming at a good pace, this module will be released as a full product, no beta or early access on this one, but it’s coming THIS YEAR.

F-15E Strike Eagle work re-started, new 3d mesh in most parts, can’t comment much on this one, but it’s at full steam currently.

A-29 Supertucano [sic], it’s still under development, we hit a bump in the road with this one (3d dev had some personal issues) and we are a bit late on it, but work has been reinstated.

MiG-23, while you see some renders, it was decided that most will be made all over again, BUT development on this one will start once the MiG-19 is released.

As for the terrain development team/AI assets, they are working at full steam, this is a complete different team with different workflows and time frames, development is under way and expect news in a regular basis.

So what should be expected to be released this year from us?
MiG-19 for certain, but no MiG23
Finished Harrier
Enhanced/updated M2000C
probably an early access in either of the other modules.

One particular surprise is the MiG-19 being released, not into early access, but straight into final and hopefully finished development. That doesn’t mean that we won’t see patches from RAZBAM later but it does sound like they intend to finish this module off with full functionality right away.

MiG-19external-WIP
A development screenshot from RAZBAM’s MiG-19P project. It is expected to release by the end of the year in a completed state.

It helps that the MiG-19, like the MiG-15bis, F-86 Sabre, and the WWII modules are fairly limited in the kinds of weapons and systems that need to be developed for a full and finished product.

Finishing the MiG-19 will free that team to work on the MiG-23 while other elements of the aircraft team work on the enhanced Mirage, F-15E and Super Turcano.

RAZBAM has been very open about their efforts to continue to develop the M2000C module and their recent visit to a French squadron that still flies the Mirage 2000C really helps drive home the point that they intend to really go the extra mile here. Arguably, the Mirage 2000C is already a quality product and although it has a few missing features, it’s also a popular contender in multiplayer matches and just a whole lot of fun to fly.

One bit of sad news is that the Turcano has apparently been pushed to 2019. There is no word on the Mirage III either which leads me to suspect that RAZBAM has pushed that one further down the pipe.

Understanding developers

razbam-av8b-soh (2)
The AV-8B continues to be developed by RAZAM. I should be full featured by end of the year.

Not everyone has software development experience out there or has been on large scale IT projects but I can tell you with some experience that they tend to be challenging efforts for even the best prepared teams. Building a module for a flight sim is definitely going to be at a similar level of complexity and it requires a lot of specialized skills to pull off.

People on the outside in, myself included, need to realize that we don’t always have the full understanding of the project team and how they are arranged. Good developers have project plans but they also have to adapt to changing circumstances, staff disruptions, and snags.

A developer like RAZBAM or Eagle Dynamics has different specialists that do different things as well. A 3D modeller is not the same person who does textures (although sometimes they are) and these are rarely ever the same person who does the software programming and flight modeling. If the programmers are busy but the 3D modellers are otherwise idle, you can’t put the 3D modeller onto the programming task to “speed it up.” A lot of developers work on projects concurrently because they have an idle team somewhere in the process and no amount of project management is going to work around something like that in a small company like RAZBAM.

TL;DR: Give the developers a bit of a break. Concern is certainly warranted, especially when stuff doesn’t work months after early access began, but when a developer like RAZBAM steps up and is very transparent about everything they are doing. They deserve at least an open mind.

I think they will pull through just fine.

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. schurem says:

    Quote: “I think they will pull through just fine.”

    Yes they will. Having a pipeline of products allows everyone to stay busy. It also enables the guys to work on different projects in different states so they don’t burn out on a single task. Being laser focussed on sussing out bugs in a single module must get frustrating so its great to take some time off from that to do some ground-work on another module.

    I think this is great news.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Mischiew Rithe says:

    I’m surprised at the ratio between 3D and code developers, and in the absolute, only 2 people for such a variety of airplanes must be hard work. They did say “more to come” and I’m sure it’ll be welcome.
    I’m not a fan of the MiG-23 but I know many will be over the moon with the news! Personally I’m curious about the -19 and very much looking forward to it, as well as the A-29 which will be the first turboprop module.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. tugais says:

    Finding – competent – coders must be the real deal for all the dev teams. I do hope they’ll find some help on this side of the development to tackle all the upcoming modules.

    Liked by 1 person

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