Owing to recent life events costing me my career, a big part of me is wanting to get into DCS module development and starting with something like the Grob G115E/D2, to give us a western equivalent (ish) to the Yak-52 and balance out a lead-in flight training pathway for the sim (no turboprops but we've got L-39 and C-101...RIP Hawk...). It's either that or map/terrain development, which would suit my skillset more, but a part of me wants to learn something new at the same time.
The thing is, I know √FA about how any of this stuff works, so I guess I'm fishing for expectations to confirm/deny my observations and get some insight into what it really takes other than the blood, sweat, and tears to make a module. Brain dump inbound:
To an outsider, even 'simple' modules take multiple years to complete
A 3D model is comparatively the easy bit...the systems coding takes the longest
However, I understand the longest wait is down to 'licensing'...what does that even mean? Immediate, thoughtless impression is it's paying for the OEM to send you their actual CAD files for the airframe as the 3D model...but that can't be true because otherwise why would devs be laser scanning etc? I presume instead it's the legalese BS around copyright, so that if you 3D scan and sell a module, the OEM doesn't come back and sue you for copying their aircraft's design (even though it's free marketing etc...)
Said licensing above, if you can get it, presumably costs millions? And the OEM takes a cut of the already marginal profits etc.
How essential is it really when we're sat here with our handful of modules, whilst there may or may not be other platforms out there, potentially with initials like WT or maybe something like that, with tens of fully laser scanned aircraft like Phantoms, Jags, and Buccaneers we could only dream of within this decade. Are they just a lawsuit waiting to happen and ED/RB/HB are chuckling away at them over the fence? Or is the model for DCS platform maybe 'too' safe, at the cost of being dynamic and making progress?
The SDK is basically non-existent - seems like to get your hands on it you presumably buy it off ED? Most community mods are AI only, and the few that aren't complain about what potential they would have if only they had proper access to development tools. Why are the cards are held so close to their chest?
The only reason I can make sense of is preserving the perception of the sim/platform, and sort of forcing a base-level quality. Anyone familiar with a recently released civilian-oriented whole-Earth platform will be familiar with the copious amounts of dreck that have come from a so-called 'hYpE tRaIn' combined with having an open SDK...devs doing a model-flip to make a quick buck and exploit new naive players. None of us want 10x different, 50-polygon Eurofighters for $4.99-$9.99 clogging up the store and riding on the F15's flight model/avionics etc. The current system, I presume, requires approval to even start production, so that there's a good guarantee that you'll end up with a study-level product at the end. But surely there's a balance to be struck which still requires approval for formal modules but gives more support to the outstanding capabilities surrounding us in the community, and makes module production more dynamic to help the entirety of DCS grow?
Numerous promising startups have been made...but fail into obscurity without much word (Coretex? IRIS? IRIS even have a G115E floating around but I guess that'll never make it over here now...). VEAO seemed like slightly different circumstances, but still feeds the scepticism about working with ED to make things official and makes me wonder what potential is being lost behind the scenes. What isn't drawing people into making content for DCS? Or at least, what's drawing them in and then pushing them away before completion?
Lots of companies have excellent models for other sims that would be fantastic additions to the DCS ecosystem (some are also DCS developers...). The other train of thought is that model aside, the DCS platform for systems coding etc is so radically different that it's not worth anyone's while to change their workflows to what would be basically redoing the same aircraft from the ground up. What would obvs sound like a straight drag-and-drop conversion, plus a bit of tidying-up, actually becomes years of work redoing what you've already done, just a different way. I totally understand that, and it would get me making the same decisions if I had to continue development and support for the other platform...as well as getting wound up by the constant "is it done yet?" and "pfft it's just a simple drag and drop what's taking you so long"
The other similar thought here is the fact that most of us live in OpenBeta as that's where the features are - as a developer, particularly a small one, I can imagine there will be frustrations of constantly falling behind the curve of the base platform's development? Every time you get 95% complete whoops another x.y update which entirely changes the way a significant portion of the game works and you have to start again from scratch...you get 95% of the way there then...you get the picture. As a small developer the constant moving of goalposts would make it near impossible to get anywhere...leading to community frustration from those who don't understand, and probably the termination of the module
In a similar vein to the above, MB-339 was a fantastic community module that got green lit, but I'm sure I read that it's had to be started again from the ground up. T-45C would be a perfect integration/addition given we have Supercarrier getting loads of love and attention - leaves me wondering again how the green-lighting/onboarding process goes (what the prerequisites are etc) and what would make people say yes/no.
This is NOT to become a bashing session - about ED or indeed any other developer or platform. I'm genuinely after proper discussion and honest insight about the major hurdles to full DCS module development, what it takes to overcome them, and I guess to develop an answer the question is it worth even starting? Especially when it's quoted that a full-fidelity module costs ~£1m+ per year to produce I guess I'm just trying to take some ownership of actually starting something, rather than just adding yet another gimme G115E & G120TP plz to the condemned ranks of unanswered wishlist posts...'if you want it that badly, do it yourself' etc. etc.
Thanks for taking the time to read - hopefully there will be some 2p's to throw in