• PMDG Updates Status Of 737 For MSFS

    PMDG Updates Status Of 737 For MSFS

    PMDG Updates Status Of 737 For MSFS

    Good morning and happy Patriot's Day to my fellow Americans. (For those from elsewhere, Patriot's Day is primarily celebrated in the Northeast of the country, in the towns surrounding Boston, Lexington and (my home town) Concord. It commemorates a small squabble back in 1776 during which our American ancestors made some tea for our British friends and then politely escorted them to the exit... )

    Commencing with the release of the PMDG 737-700 for Microsoft Flight Simulator, you are going to hear us referring to the 737 being its "Early Adopter" period. I wanted to take a few moments to describe for you what this means, and what you can expect from this description that we have never used on previous product releases.

    In the past, we have tended to hold products in development until they are completed, then release them to you and shift development to the next product on our agenda. The PMDG 737 for MSFS development effort has been far different, primarily because this new platform offers us the ability to model so much more than we have traditionally felt was reasonable in the past. This has not been an easy process, as it has required that we learn entirely new ways doing things from us developmentally, forcing upon the team a very heavy load of learning. This learning involves not only just the mechanical process of adapting our code work and methodologies to the new platform, but it also involves learning new tools, development of in house tools, and figuring out what sorts of things we can now do that we have never felt we were able to do previously.

    As we near the end of the closed development period, there are a number of features that will remain in development on the 737 product line for a few months, at least. Specifically I'm talking about items that we likely haven't felt we could provide in the past, such as vivid cabin renditions, better integration between the cockpit and cabin models, highly detailed gear bays, and a few other items that have long been asked for but haven't been reasonable to provide in the Prepar3D environment. Suddenly we have a platform that can handle all of these things with aplomb and we are in the midst of a considerable effort to capitalize as such.

    Early Adopter Period:

    Commencing with the release of the PMDG 737-700 for Microsoft Flight Simulator, we will consider the PMDG 737 for MSFS product line to to be in it's Early Adopter period. Not just the 700, but all four of the Next Generation airplanes will be under nearly continual development, with new features, bug fixes, model and texture improvements, performance optimizations and increasing MSFS integration rolled out in update intervals spaced approximately two weeks apart. During this phase, all released PMDG 737 products for MSFS will get improvements in such things as gear bay modeling, cabin detailing, code improvements and the like, rolled out to you as part of a process to constantly improve the product throughout the Early Adopter period.

    Another example of things that we will be able to undertake during the Early Adopter phase, is a continued improvement program on such things as code optimization, texture work, additional options and the like.

    The Early Adopter period will run approximately 24 weeks (shorter if needed, longer if needed) and will also see the release of the 737-600, 800 and 900 airplane types. With those releases as well, new functionality will be introduced to the 737s and rolled out to all released models simultaneously.

    We anticipate the Early adopter period running six weeks after the release of the PMDG 737-900 for MSFS, at which point the PMDG 737 Next Generation for Microsoft Flight Simulator product line will shift to it's Continued Maintenance phase.

    Continued Maintenance:

    During the Continued Maintenance phase, the PMDG 737 Next Generation for MSFS product line will receive occasional, as-needed updates that are primarily focused on ensuring product compatibility with the platform and new platform features. During the Continued Maintenance period, our primary development focus will be on the next product development cycle (anticipated to be the 777) and the process will repeat for the 777 series of airplanes.

    The goal is to give you a clear understanding that we anticipate continuing to grow and adapt the 737 for a set period of time, with clearly defined objectives, so that you can see new items being added and delivered as planned, while also knowing what our goal looks like and what will cause us to shift primary development focus onward.

    Keeping Things Defined:

    For your sake, and for our sanity, we are going to borrow an idea from the DCS playbook by clearly defining the deliverables that are anticipated to be part of the Early Adopter process. DCS does this with their Early Access products so that customers can clearly see what deliverables must be expected before a product is considered completed in the eyes of the developer. This list will be updated as items are accomplished and if all goes well, we should reach the end of the list approximately six weeks after release of the PMDG 737-900 for MSFS.

    If the process takes longer? Then we keep the development assets focused on the 737 until those items are accomplished, and simply remain in the Early Adopter phase for longer if necessary.

    For example (this is an incomplete sample list) we anticipate having the following items at least:

    • High detail cabin for all passenger variants.
    • High detail cabin for freighter variants.
    • High detail cabin for BBJ variants.
    • High detail gear bays for all models. (have you seen what a mess the gear bays are in the 737?)
    • New flight tablet, to include performance computation process, control of aircraft options/simulation setup currently controlled through FMS menus, among other features.

    Additionally, there are a few deliverable items on our agenda that will require updates to the platform or SDK by Asobo in order for us to complete these items. Many of these are either known to us to be pending from Asobo in a future update, or have been promised to us in specific discussions:

    • Conversion to modern navigraph navdata format (requires C++ debugging capability in the SDK/platform)
    • Integration of new PMDG LNAV 2.0 lateral control model (requires C++ debugging capability in the SDK/platform)
    • Navigraph charts displayed on tablet (requires C++/WASM have access to outside communications in manner allowed for JavaScript products, but possibly unblocked by new technology independently)
    • SimBrief integration via tablet (requires C++/WASM hae access to outside communications, but possibly unblocked by new technology independently)
    • Windshield wiper sweep (advised by Asobo this will be native to platform)
    • Weather radar (requires Asobo to provide access to weather/precip data)

    These lists are not fully inclusive and we may add or remove items as may become necessary from time-to-time, but by clearly defining what we anticipate providing, it gives us all a framework against which to compare or base discussions about changes we may make.

    One thing that is important to note is that we are always looking for un-blockers so if we can unlock something through invented technology, and it makes sense to make such an investment, we will do so. It is also worth noting that if we deliver all of the items we control, we may at our discretion end the Early Adopter period because it makes sense to do so rather than sitting the entire team in place waiting on an un-blocker that isn't imminent. When it happens, it will be clearly communicated that a product has shifted from Early Adopter to Continued Maintenance, which will make it clear to everyone where a product is in it's lifecycle.

    We also have some interesting new ideas pending for the 737 product line that will be added as new features once they are through development and tested by our testing team to ensure they work as anticipated.

    Being Careful With Terminology:

    I want to be careful here that nobody confuses this discussion with "Early Access." Early Access generally is given to products that are not feature complete, or still considered to be early enough in development that users usually expect some level of limitation and inconvenience when attempting to use them. We don't anticipate that being the case with the 737, as it is already fully featured and suited to accomplish it's main goals well and with polish. We are using this period to expand it beyond the initial capabilities delivered, simply because we know that all of our development resources will be dedicated to the product during this particular period.

    "Early Access" periods also tend to be offered at steep discounts, reflecting the incomplete nature of the product. That is also not the case here- and I want to be very clear about that. Development, Early Adopter, Continued Maintenance, End of Life and Removed will be the descriptors used to define how much development attention an product at PMDG is getting at any given time.

    So To Recap:

    One of the well earned criticisms we receive is that there are things we talk about adding to products (777-200ER, for example?) that wind up taking far longer than planned, or simply have failed to be delivered yet at all. This tends to happen because it eventually becomes necessary to move developers to the next product in order to maintain forward progress. While we would love to sit in one place and continue to grant every wish that is wished upon a product, doing so would mean locking us into being a single-product developer, which none of us want for PMDG.

    With this new, more clearly defined and transparent development process we think it gives a much more clearly defined expectation period for deliverables that may necessarily need to come after a product goes into use with customers. More importantly, it clearly communicates what the objectives are for specific products so that you can tell what to expect from us before we shift our primary development focus to the next product in line.

    Of course, we may adapt and improve this program as we put it into place- but I like the clear definitions that this gives us, and also gives to all of you!

    Our goal is to serve you better by more clearly defining what we expect to accomplish, and making clear what the start and stop limits of those expectations will be. This eliminates ambiguity, and we hope reduces potential distrust, thus improving your confidence in our ability not just to deliver a high quality simulation, but also all of the things we promise along the way.


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