There seems to be a common habit among developers of terrain modelling tools. The longer they work alone, the less they’re interested in communication with their existing customer base. It’s the same with competing app developers. I can only guess, I’m not in the habit of interpreting “silence” generally, hard to form opinions with absence of useful information.
That said, here’s my take overall.
Q: Is World Machine development winding down?
Ans: No, I don’t think so. The last time we talked, Stephen was taking feedback for “Sculpting features”. There was a bugfix update next month, and since then there has been zero communication. I would assume he’s working on that, it’s proving to be tricky given that he’s just one guy. He also had some ideas he discussed among the Alpha Testing group members, for the near and far future of World Machine, and it was good stuff. Given that information, I’d say that World Machine is NOT WINDING DOWN. On the contrary, I’d say I’m somewhat optimistic about the future.
Q: Is there a place for official updates besides the usual places like Website/Dev Blog?
Ans: Well, there’s this forum, and a new documentation hub under construction. And there’s a feature request and upvote site. Other than that, no. This is a thing with Indie developers developing niche apps, communication is patchy, and mostly driven by the USER BASE. I’ve been trying to keep up the momentum, but seems the user base has dried up significantly.
Q: Is there a cause for concern?
Ans: Well, yes and no. Yes there need to be an update per year, if a single user paid for maintenance that year. I have no idea about the financial realities of an indie company like WMLLC. But yes, there’s a cause for concern. But given that World Machine development has been this way since 2010, I’m personally not that concerned. The rule is simple, pay for maintenance only if there’s an update available that you need. Otherwise keep your copy of wm, it still works.
Q: Do you need to switch to a newer program that offers more innovation?
Ans: Again, it depends. Does the copy of World Machine you already have explode if you’re using a competing app? If not, you can use both both on any single project. I’ve using Gaea and WM together since the beginning, and I know artists who’re using World Creator and WM to create some incredible professional works. If you still want to switch completely, well, do it. It’s your money. You can vote with your wallet!
Hope that answers all questions, for now at least. Hope the next posts be about something interesting related to terrain modelling, that’s more our area of expertise here…