"It's deja vu all over again!"
Now that we've made the "official" annoucement about Train Simulator the online forums are alive with comment and speculation. For me it's an eerie feeling, like I've been through this before. Oh, wait. I have--with Flight Simulator X!
First is the consternation over the OS platform--Vista. We expected the reaction of some, knowing that many folks haven't yet upgraded their systems. But we also know that system upgrades are periodic events and that there is a long way to go until the game is available. Plus, that time includes an ever-so-important holiday buying period. While it might be a bit early yet, I'm sure the papers will be filled with new PC deals in time for <insert appropriate year-end holiday here>. True, there are some that simply won't be able to afford a new system in the next couple of years. That's always a tough judgement to make for us. But in the end the data we have predicts enough people will to make the game a success. And, as many people on the forums have pointed out, we need to keep focussed on the future, not the past (or even the present!). Keep in the mind that TS2 will likely still be store shelves 7 years from now!
Another similar wrinkle in the TS2/FSX story is the confusion over DirectX. What I told journalists in Leipzig is that we're targeting both DX9 and DX10. Vista supports both and what you get depends on the hardware you have. Admittedly this can be confusing but as I found out with FSX, trying to explain it in simple terms isn't completely effective. I just hope folks will eventually get it sorted out in their own minds.
One other parallel is the group of folks who have declared, based on a few screenshots and blog posts conerning a game still over a year from shipping, that, "I'm not buying it!" I commend their resolve but, if FSX is any indication, a few of those folks will be converted before all is said and done. My thoery is that in any hobby where people invest a lot of time and passion the first reactions are the strongest and if those reactions are negative the impulse of many is to cry out. But we have a long road yet to travel with time for more revelations and discussions.
Lastly, one thing that has no analog with FSX is the hot debate over which routes will be "included" and how that will dictate someone's buying decision. We predicted that reaction and believe it represents the first step in a mental shift that will take place as people wrap their heads around the "World of Rails" concept. WoR forces you to ask, "What is a route?" Is it the terrain and scenery? The track and signals? Rolling stock? Signifcant landmarks? We are striving to supply many of these attributes through our data-based WoR. What else is required before you believe we've "included a route"? The question is only partially rhetorical. I look forward to seeing who we--collectively--answer that in the months to come.