I am an early buyer of a GB LE and still have it despite ghosting, playfield swap and unfinished code. I am desperatly waiting for the code update since purchase now for years. i like the game a lot, but think regurlarly what the problem might be....
My perspective is that a new game development and sale has certain stages (time perspective) and team members (employee perspective). Which team members do you need? Lead programmer: responsible for the main code structure and code design based on the game design coming from from the game designer, creative department: ideally being players, no need for software coding skills at all, responsible for bringing fun, balancing, unique rule details into the game, coding department: coders without need for creativity, just code the software as agreed. In very simple words I would expect that matrix as follows:
1. Development until launch
Extreme involvment of lead programmer and coders. Time pressure to push software on a level that alllows the game to be played on a basic level. Additionally with GB was certainly that it was the last game with a DMD before the lauch of the LCD display, which created time pressure as well. Therefore I fully understand the basic code level at this stage.
2. code update after launch
Limited involvement of lead designer. Main duty of the creative department = players (not outside players). They have plenty of time, may colllect lots of ideas from social networks like pinside etc. See special Threads on software here on pinside. Based on these proposals alone I and 2 other pinheads could improve the code substantially within 4 weeks full time. Not including coding itself obviously.
After collecting ideas and creating proposals the creative team sits together with lead programmer and decide on what should be realized.
3. Coding team after launch
Responsible for bug fixes and progamming the result of step 2. No involvment of lead programmer and player team necessary.
Following such kind of process, the availabilty of the lead programmer is not so necessary as explained in the previous threads and the official announcements. My concern is that Stern does not follow such kind of process. The lead programmers seem to be responsible for everything, which creates the time problems. If so the missing separation of duties is the main problem. Stern seems to be old,fashioned from the perspective of an internal organization. Possibly the recognized this and reacted by hiring additional coders. And this reaction is part of the growing competition in the pinball producer market.
But then, please put the new staff on GB. This ismore than overdue.