This is something I'm scratching my had about for a while now. Over on launchpad I just noticed some disagreement about a feature/bug-merge, which finally got me to the point to write about this topic. As a side note; WorldSavior once asked me how the popularity of Widelands could be increased and more players be attracted. Ironing out bugs and make it easier to play online came to mind, also improving game-play and balancing. Lot's of improvements and bug-fixing has been done, but what is missing is... a release.
Build 19 is out since November 2016, almost 2 years. Between Build 18 and Build 19 almost 2 and a half years have past. This is way to much time IMHO and I see some problems with the current release model.
It simply takes to long to get new versions out, which has several implications: One is that users might think that development is stalled. But more important. bugs are more or less in the game even though they might already have been fixed in the development version. Which might result in players abandoning the game since they don't know when this very bug that bugs them the most will be fixed. Also new and matured features might have two wait for months/years before they are available to the players.
I, myself contributed some minor patches during the last months, and since I came to the party shortly before the not so distant Build 20, I'm quite happy to see my contributions available to the players very soon. But what if I would have participated after the release of Build 20? How long would it take until my contributions are in a "stable" build?
Maybe a fixed release schedule would help. Say for instance major release every 6 months, regardless of the new features, improvements and bugfixes that have been added to this point. If there are bugs discovered in between these major releases then there should be a bugfix release. Splitting development into 2 branches, e.g. bugfix-branch and feature-branch could help.
But this is something that needs to be discussed thoroughly. All I know is: after B20 is out the release model should be adapted, IMHO.