here is my 5 cents.
I love Maxwell. It gives me that beautiful time to tinker around.
But let's be honest - in order for Maxwell to climb back to top of the industry - it has to do a few very important things.
1. First of all - Priorities
. Maxwell can't afford itself to be a generic render engine that is "good for everything". Nope, it never was and will probably never be - but that is more of a benefit than a problem. Maxwell should have a very clear vector to where it wants to grow. Say, Object Visualization
(product / automotive / arch).
If that is the main priority then development should be tunnelled to that. Meaning stripping down everything that slowdown the the development of the best tools for that target.
2. Licensing burrito
. It is vital for Next Limit to make money in order to produce great products - but it is as equally important for consumers to feel that they are supported. And if for next limit 500 euros is not a big thing - for independent freelancers it is. Big studios can easily swallow those sometimes irrational licensing policy but every software's core community is freelancers. Especially these days. So if someone want to swap one license on another - what's the big deal - tell him you'll make an exception for him and make him feel special. In return you'll get a boost of loyalty!
3. Integration. And Mathew is absolutely right here. Maxwell can't afford itself to ignore what is going on in the industry these days. Maxwell studio SHOULD NOT compete with proper DCC packages (read Maya, 3D Max ... even Cinema4D). Like it or not but Maxwell at it's best when used as a plugin. So deep integration is extremely important here. Ideally NODE based system (as the main app use that in their core) will make Maxwell a kick-ass blockbuster with unmatched image quality.
4. Yep - accessibility. You guys have a very extensive documentation and that was enough ... back in the days - not anymore. Do you know why other's software grow rate is higher ? they record videos
(sometimes you feel like reading - but in most cases you don't .. kids these days .. right ?
) and if your users are not recording at least a few video tutorials every couple of weeks - you're vanishing from the web. So what other (relatively new developers) do, who don't have a huge fan base - they appoint community managers and (even engineers / technicians) to record video tutorials, with explanation on how things works and what cool thing you could do and so on.
Check out what allegorithmic does they have massive video playlist with various video tutorials, conferences, tips, tricks, project based stuff and so on. Basically everything for people to jump right in and start making cool stuff from the day one. Look what autodesk does ( Autodesk! Karl! ) beside the "experts" and some community managers you can easily find videos recorded by an autodesk technician who describes some new technique or a feature. And - if you think that Autodesk is a massive company and can afford themselves to sit back and not do this - well Autodesk thinks differently here.
But .. I love Maxwell. I do.
And I believe in it.
To me ... Maxwell render gives something very unique. That other render engines use don't. Something very organic and there is a character in pretty much every render. That separates it from other engines.
And if there is anything I can help with - I'm always open to participate in everything that will bring Maxwell back to the top.
To sum it up, I think that Maxwell have to define it's place, it's core industry and work it's way to the top.
If the primary focus is arch viz (beside the secondary ones) - them push into it. Develop tools that Architects can't live without. Same goes for object viz - give us something we so desperately need - and, I'll surprise you - this is not speed
. It's not even in top 3. Everyone who uses Maxwell is fine with waiting extra time for an outstanding result - we just need specific tools that will simplify our process before we push that render button.
Partner with studios (and with individuals) - record video tutorials / organise conferences / do more case studies
Sorry for a long one .. I just take it personally. I'm with Maxwell since 2012 ... not since like beta or anything ..but I'm with you guys and want to stay with you guys and I want you to succeed.