So if I may give my opinion on streamers and YouTubers: the average "popular" YouTuber/Streamer generally does not devote the time to become even proficient at the basics of Steel Beasts. I have watched plenty of videos of guys (or gals) who have clearly never played even one tutorial mission, yet they are trying to "teach" their audience all about the intricacies of the fire control system of whatever vehicle (almost always a tank) they happen to be demonstrating. Generally, this is very cringy to anyone who has even a basic knowledge of tank gunnery ("Ya put this here circle on the thing your shooting at, and then ya fire, and then ya just adjust based on where the round lands!"), and is generally followed by the person in question firing multiple SABOT rounds into the dirt.
Sure, there is the "excuse" that they are just getting started and don't know a lot about it, but I propose that it is more based on laziness. Not playing the tutorials is lazy. Not at least skimming the manual is lazy. I'm not saying you have to be a modern day incarnation of Mars, the God of War to showcase Steel Beasts properly, but at least have a clue about what you are doing. Playing through the complete set of tutorials for a single vehicle, hitting the tank range, and playing an instant action game or two is generally enough to where I would consider a brand new player to be "familiarized" with fighting their tank.
Ok, rant complete.
To address the original questions asked by Ssnake:
1. Who of you can claim with confidence to having mastered more than three different fire control system families? How long did it take you?
A - I think that "mastered" needs to be defined before I can give an accurate assessment. If "mastered" means that you are able to effectively fight a vehicle while both fully mission capable, and in various degraded modes, then I can definitely say that I have "mastered" at least three different fire control system families. As far as the time, I trained using a gunnery scenario where your vehicle is gradually degraded as the time passes in the scenario (losing your LRF, losing stability, etc before having to end with engaging targets with hand-cranks and the "master blaster".) This took me about a week per FCS of solid practice (running the scenario four times each day to help get muscle memory.)
2. Do you know the difference between a Retreat route and a Retreat condition?
A - Yes. Both are covered very well in the manual. Which everyone should read.
3. Is Steel Beasts a computer game among many for you, or is it a hobby of its own?
A - For me, Steel Beasts itself is a video game; it is the community that make this a hobby. I wouldn't be as active if it weren't for Multiplayer. Having to organize and control actual humans is significantly more difficult (and fun) than simply giving the AI a bunch of route tactics.
4. What are the things that you personally are struggling with?
A - This'll be a more atypical answer, but honestly getting the right balance between detail with operational graphics, while leaving enough space for subordinates to draw their own. I would personally love to see an option added to the planning phase to create multiple overlays, and to allow other plays to enable/disable them as required. The enemy SITTEMP is vital for an effective plan, but probably doesn't belong on the map during the execution phase as it can cause confusion between templated and actual enemy positions.
5. - I would like you to observe yourself for a while playing Steel Beasts, trying to identify the "blind spots" you have developed over time towards things that you don't know exactly how to make work, so you "fudge around" them, and to report them here.
A - I will admit that occasionally I will be in control of a random vehicle that has an FCS that I am not comfortable with. Rather than devoting the sufficient time to train on it, I'll just let the AI manage the gunnery portion. I think that the fact that this is an option at all is a credit to Steel Beasts in not making it ridiculously hard for people to start playing.
Steel Beasts does not follow the trend of "hand-holding" that seems to be prevalent in many modern games. The fact is that some gamers are used to that; they have legitimately played games that held their hands their entire lives. I remember growing up and being considered a nerd because I played video games. Now, it is so mainstream that NOT playing video games is a social oddity. Many people want a game that is stupidly easy to learn, and that gives an immediate feeling of accomplishment. Steel Beasts isn't that, and it isn't going to appeal to the "average" gamer. Simulations have always been more of a niche market in the wider video-game industry, and they draw people to them based on the complexity offered. Don't dumb-down Steel Beasts to cater to the wrong audience.
Finally, here is a humorous video showcasing what Doom would be like if it was "made today." While quite ridiculous, it does seem eerily familiar to many FPS games on the market...