Wow, a lot of action while I sleep, this is great.
OK, my thoughts.
First, There is a lot of critical work to do before I add sub component connections. Sampler, Arpeggiator, Analog Emulator, and in 2019 the ABSOLUTE highest priority is CPU which will probably be crushed by my GPU plan (in progress as we speak).
It seems like we are all basically in agreement that pointless graphics are simply distracting. The best word I've heard yet this year is "Skeuomorphic" since it highlights the real question here. Fundamentally does a UI imitate something else or simply connect the brain to the bits? The trend now for new cutting edge UI's, in pretty much in every field of software, is to utterly abandon the idea that a UI should imitate something else or a physical object, in this case the juicy knobs and dials of a hardware synth. And instead, to simply present a flat interface that follows function completely with no skeuomorphicnostalgiaphrenia.
Beauty is still be maintained by making the function itself beautiful, in most cases this is achieved with color schemes. This is ultimately the direction which I want to head in.
However, I personally prefer an interface that gives a slight feeling of being able to reach out and touch it. Some of you may have noticed a while back I redid the Fathom graphics to make them flatter but still with a slight tactile hint. I kept the big round dials since they need to be big enough to provide value and modulation range data on the same control. Generally I tried to maintain some physical feel with thin edges and subtle material texture. Otherwise, at some point one must ask, if all physical aspects of a UI are eliminated why not just have a big excel spreadsheet of parameters?
Obviously this would be a horrible idea. So I think some connection to physical reality is appropriate but without making it distracting. My ultimate plan is as follows. At some point the model for Fathom's GUI will be a holographic screen in the cockpit of a spaceship approximately the year 2245. Because of the amount of information and safety issues such a UI would be incredibly clear and well designed, showing the relationship of very complex components such as engine function and potentially weapon systems. And yet with brilliant lighting effects to make things readable at night, in zero gravity and in emergency situations. This sounds like I'm joking but I'm not, since it would produce the ultimate interface. Simple and clear but with a extremely futuristic look.
Now for some interesting news regarding all this which I've been sort of keeping a secret. Fathom's GUI is completely data driven. Meaning that the development version consists of a collection of all the images with an external definition of all spacial relationships. The ability to get to this is currently locked inside the executable. However, my plan is later this year to create an "Elite" version of Fathom which provides full access to the interface. This would enable any user to completely re-skin Fathom. Not only the images but the placement of all of them. Ultimately this would lead to far better interfaces than I myself could ever produce, even with the visions listed above. User skins could then be sold on the web site with profit share, as well as under license to release them independently.
I warn you, this is not going to be cheap since it is my ace for getting Fathom's business model to the point where the project is truly self sustaining. Fathom "Elite" will be at the very least $125 and perhaps as much as $250. This is because it will really be geared toward users that actually want to make money selling Fathom skins. Also for obvious reasons this can't be done until the CPU issue is completely crushed. I can't charge this amount until Fathom is at least as efficient as any other synth on the market, and this will require finishing the GPU design, currently in progress.
I've also been considering having a pro UI designer redo Fathom's GUI. But real UI designers (like Satyatunes) are not cheap therefore this will need to be later this year so I can afford someone of his caliber. Also, I'm going to be trying to stay away from synth UI designers who are just really good at making rusty metal in favor of someone with the rare talents necessary to create a holographic look.
SM, Really looking forward to "Purple Mist"!
Trojak, Which version were you using when the CPU seemed better? I'm doing CPU right now and would like to take a look at that based on your input. It should not have gotten worse! Also take a screen shot of your settings page for me.
One more small item. In couple weeks I will be releasing the actual presets used to create the new 2019 demo song "Sorcerer", Like Mountain Climber this will include the original Ableton project with a Remixer's License, and this time I will be creating equivalent projects in Reaper, Cubase, Bitwig, and FL Studio.