The Mech Touch Chapter 1111
1109 When To Qui
Some time went by when the Barracuda returned to Cloudy Curtain. The excursion to NORA Consolidated's space testing facility located in the Green Nebula region provided Ves and Professor Ventag with a lot of practical data.
The tests exposed a considerable amount of deviations from predicted results. What this meant to Ves was he would have to make so many changes that the Aurora Titan design needed to undergo at least two more iterations of realspace tests.
"You've seen from the results that simulations and realspace testing can diverge significantly." The professor said over a comm call. "The unexpected problems we've uncovered need to be addressed, but this will change the design in such a way that we won't be able to judge if it will perform as predicted. The simulations performed on the changed design will only deliver more skewed results that will certainly deviate from the realspace testing of our second prototype."
Ves smiled grimly. "Testing the second prototype will reveal new flaws and inconsistencies that we've introduced by trying to solve the old flaws and inconsistencies. This will force us to go back to the drawing board yet a third time to address the new issues. Yet that in turn causes the mech design to change so much that a third round of realspace testing is required."
"This process can indeed become a vicious cycle in which a mech designer would be endlessly stuck in a constant process of adjustments and improvements. However, it will only become a detrimental process so long as the mech designer doesn't know when to quit."
"When should a mech designer quit, professor?"
"When your time is better spent elsewhere. You have to realize that the more iterations a mech design goes through, the more its overall parameters improve. At some point, however, the improvements become so marginal that it is frankly a waste of time to continue iterating on the design. A good mech designer with sound judgement will be able to recognize when enough is enough and go through with publishing the design despite its remaining flaws."
Designing a mech without flaws was impossible. No mech design could ever be perfect or free from flaws. The best a mech designer could do in this situation was to do the best they could until the improvements they could achieve became too marginal to bother with. Who cared about spending several months on developing a solution that elevated the effective performance of a mech by only 0.00001 percent?
Such a compromising approach likely wouldn't result in designing award-winning mechs. That said, spending years to design a single mech was not a good use of time! An efficient mech designer would be able to design three or four mechs at the same time as a perfectionist mech designer finally became satisfied with designing a single mech!
In short, unless a mech designer was certain that they'd be able to design a mech that sold as well as four imperfect mech designs, they shouldn't be getting hung up on trying to perfect a single product.
The professor did offer a caveat. "Mind you, trying to pursue perfection isn't always detrimental to a mech designer. Some mech designers have completely devoted themselves to designing trendsetting mech designs that everyone wants to own. However, it is always a gamble whether a particular mech design can achieve mass market appeal. All the marketing research in the galaxy can't predict market response with even a moderate degree of accuracy. Too many factors are in play that can skew results in one direction or another. Trying to model the mech market is thousands of times more difficult than trying to model the Aurora Titan design."
One had to do with human behavior and the other had to do with purely technical matters sprinkled with some metaphysics. No matter how much magic a mech design made use of, it was still far less complicated to predict than the mech market!
The two ended the call shortly afterwards. Both of them had some design work to do in light of the data they gathered.
Before Ves resumed his work, he took the time to check in with various people. One of the people he paid a lot of attention to lately was Jannzi Larkinson. At this point in time, the Avatars of Myth would soon be setting up the nucleus of its first spaceborn mech company. Two of the three new Larkinsons would finally get to pilot a real mech instead of virtual ones.
"You called, sir?" Jannzi asked after stopping by his office.
"Yes. I wanted to talk to you about your upcoming role in my new mech design. As you are already aware, the Aurora Titan will be the LMC's first spaceborn mech design. It is imperative that the Aurora Titan will be able to showcase its capabilities in practice."
"You want me to demonstrate your new mech?" She frowned. "I don't know, sir. I'm barely out of the mech academy, you know."
"You don't have to sell yourself short. Your Larkinson training as given you an excellent foundation that puts you ahead of mech pilots who are older and possess a lot more experience. There is no one else nearby who I can entrust this responsibility except for you. As a Larkinson, I know you will be able to do right by the Aurora Titan."
While Jannzi still looked a little floored, the gleam in her eyes showed she was definitely interested. "I'll do it if you are confident in my skills."
"I know you can. The only thought you have to keep in mind is that the Aurora Titan is different from other space knights. It's a lot heavier and therefore a lot more sluggish. You'll need to get used to its lack of mobility and cope with it the best you can. You also have to become proficient in operating its polarizing module. It makes a huge difference to the mech's operating time if you master its use in the most efficient way possible."
Ves arranged Jannzi to train with a special simulator pod which held the virtual version of the first iteration of the Aurora Titan design. While the mech she would eventually get to pilot would deviate substantially from the older version, they shared enough in common that piloting one version was still very similar to piloting another version.
In any case, Ves really wanted Jannzi to get as much practice with the polarizing module as possible. Back when the first prototype was being tested, the test pilot constantly found ways to improve her ability to work with the active shielding system.
After sending Jannzi off, Gavin entered the office to report on the company's performance.
"Our market presence is diminishing again now that the effects of publicity has faded." Gavin stated. "The LMC has been able to prolong the good times by sustaining a persistent marketing campaign that builds up on your recent fame, but people's memories are short."
"I know. I never expected the recent uptick in orders to last. Is the LMC at least still getting enough orders?"
Gavin nodded. "Our analysts expect that the company is still good for a year. The only problem is that the Blackbeak and the Crystal Lord are continuing to lose value in the eyes of our consumers now that the new mech generation is very close. We can either reduce the prices of our mechs to match the expectations of the market or we can maintain our current price levels and see our orders fall even further."
The decision to lower the prices was very sensitive to the company. If they lowered the price too soon and too much, then they would be devaluing the two mech designers even further in the eyes of the market. When the next mech generation finally commenced, the LMC would inevitably be forced to drop their prices once again, to the point where the two mech models stopped generating profits.
From a long-term perspective, it was best to hold back on dropping the price and instead maintain the current level to give the market the illusion that the Blackbeak and the Crystal Lord were still valued designs. This course of action would at least insure that the company would be able to generate some profits five or ten years from now.
Yet… was it really important for the LMC to continue selling the Blackbeak and the Crystal Lord after such a long time. While they were only a couple of years old, the onset of the new mech generation made them a lot less relevant in the changing battlefields of tomorrow.
Ves made a judgement call at this time.
"The LMC should prepare to phase out the Blackbeak and the Crystal Lord from its mech catalog. Just like the old Marc Antony Mark I and II's, the two mech models are products from an earlier time. I've improved a lot since I initially designed them. The LMC is not the small company it used to be a few years ago."
One of the biggest turning points that Ves anticipated was his impending advancement to Journeyman. Once that happened, his older work plainly lost a lot of relevance.
There was a big difference in mechs designed by Apprentices and mechs designed by Journeymen.
The former would never be able to capture any meaningful market share and could only be content with filling up the cracks.
The latter on the other hand stood a realistic chance of success in capturing a substantial chunk of market share!
Even though foreign mech models and the mechs designed by Seniors dominated the Bright Republic's mech market, plenty of Journeymen still found ways to become a real presence in the mech market. The old Kadar-Neyvis Group served as a good example.
Even though scandals forced it to shutter its doors, the KNG at its height impressed Ves a lot with its expansive mech catalog. The company had so many mech models on offer that even if most of the models only sold modestly, the accumulated volume of sales built up to a very sizable amount!
Not only that, but due to the KNG's frequent product releases, they gained a lot of opportunities to hit the jackpot. Some of their mech models won so much regard from the mech market that they became overnight successes!
Part of the reason why this model worked so well with the KNG was because it operated flexible production lines that could switch to mass producing a different mech model when needed. The training and logistical flexibility required to run their manufacturing complexes in an efficient manner under these circumstances still provided a lot of inspiration.
Gavin thought over the argument for a moment. "I think you're right that the Blackbeak and the Crystal Lord are getting on in their years. However, as long as we adopt more flexible pricing, we can extend our sales of those two mech models. Are you really sure about phasing them so soon? We will need other mech models to prop up the LMC. You'll have to design a lot of mechs in the coming years in order to fill up the gap."
Ves nodded. "I'm sure. Don't worry about our mech catalog. I'll be adding plenty of new designs that tide us over in the coming years. Even though many customers are waiting for the new mech generation to roll in so that they can buy the latest products, many price-conscious mech buyers won't be able to afford the elevated prices of the latest mechs. The market demand for competitively-priced mechs is still strong as ever."
While the Aurora Titan would not be able to meet market demand as well as Ves would like, the mech design still served a useful role in proving that he could design better mechs than before.
"Are you confident in my abilities, Gavin?"
"Even if you haven't improved, as long as you design mechs like the Blackbeak or the Crystal Lord, I'm sure the LMC will do fine. I'm just afraid that you're overestimating your abilities. Your first two original mech designs happened to become a commercial success. I know enough about the mech market that this doesn't happen very often. What if your latest design flops?"
"It won't flop, or at least not as severely as you think." Ves replied confidently.
He already prepared a backup plan if the Aurora Titan failed to catch on. The market would come to appreciate the Aurora Titan one way or another.