As we draw to a close on the Elemental Beta, I'd like to share my thoughts - not in a way to be slamming StarDock but in the vein of constructive criticism.
First, Kudos on bring us in so early in the process. Yes, it was indeed a sausage factory, but I think it was great, I think it was bold, and I believe it will make Elemental the great game that it has the potential of being. Thanks for the Dev journals, the constant updates, and for being straight with the community. I am so sick of companies that just lie,lie lie to their customers.
That said, I felt like there was not enough beta in the beta. I really think that the community deserved and the game would have benefited from a few months of seeing the game in a more or less complete state. I understand the benefits of the long Beta 1 cycle, and really have no problem with that, but all of the later stages just felt like they were crammed together and rushed to the point of negligible benefit. I am glad the game is coming out in August, and I realise the game is going to continue to evolve, probably significantly, after release. But the blunt truth is, after more than a year of following this games development CLOSELY, and involvement with the beta from day 1, we are a few short weeks from the code needing to go gold and I really have no idea what the final "complete" product is going to look like.
A good game is more than the sum of its parts, and yet all we have seen is parts usually with much and sometimes the majority of the game broken or intentionally disabled. It's impossible to give balance feedback in such an environment, because the very act of balancing implies that you have a known quantity on the other side of the scale. Too much was done in isolation, in my opinion, and the beta testers really never got the chance to give feedback on everything.
I have every confidence that you will release on schedule, I am sure your internal builds are much more finished than anything we have seen. I think the game is going to rock, don't get me wrong. I jsut think for a game coming out in August that we should have been seeing a pretty finished product in June at the latest. This is not a complaint, it is just an opinion of how I think you can improve your process in the future to make a better game.
I have very much appreciated being part of this process, and wish StarDock and the Elemental Team every success, and hope that we the fans get the amazing experience we have been waiting for.