It's been a very busy week around the office. Most of the team have been engaged in getting ready for a program review with senior management. These periodic meetings are a normal part of the development process. The folks writing the big checks want to know how the product is coming along and what changes we're making in order to meet our shipping criteria. Part of the homework for us is to look closely once again at our schedule and available resources to see what's hanging over the edge. And, yes, it means we'll decide not to do some of the things we'd origninally intended to do. We're committed to doing "fewer things well" with this release. While it means some people will be disappointed that we didn't get to a particular feature, it should deliver and more robust experience and provide a better foundation for future versions.

Part of the presentation will be a demo of the current build and we'll been meeting daily to view progress. If you've ever been through an efffort like this you know that people often get a bit silly after they've seen basically the same thing a dozen times in a row. One unplanned result came during a part of the demo where we had to uncouple the locos from a consist in order to pick up some other cars. Once, just by accident, the person doing the demo uncoupled while the train was still moving (although apparaently this does happen in real life--it's called a "Dutch drop"--though it's frowned on by most railroads for safety reasons). With the mass of the consist no longer there the locos accelerated and the person continued to the switch and stopped in preparation to pick up some more cars from another yard track. It was then we noticed that the consist was fast approaching from behind, driven on by the momentum of several dozen freight cars! It then became a race to see if the person could throw the switch, reverse the locos, and get out of the way before colliding with the consist. Everyone had a good laugh and now this is a requested action during our group demo reviews.

And intermixed with all of this is the occasional update on Kuju's Rail Simulator from the online forums. I don't have time to read every post but there's lots of buzz. Reminiscent of past releases of Flight Sim, the community is being pretty harsh on Kuju as they get their first looks at the product. Everyone was their own idea of will and won't be included and it's only when they get their hands on it that they're either amazed, disappointment or a mix of both. We're hoping to get our copies pretty soon so we can start playing with it. It's hard to draw many conclusions from forum postings. In the end, though, I'm sure everyone who bought it will find something they like and feel that the price was well worth it. I hope the same holds for TS, too.