From: Vermont, USA
Well, this is disappointing. As Dave and I e-mailed you over the last couple of days, your take on things does not match ours. Instead of discussing that in private, you threatened and then decided to take it public. Posting excerpts from private e-mails in public and out of context is a transparent attempt to further some agenda that is in your interests, but not the game's. It's clear that the only reason you are doing this is that you felt in some way personally slighted by my statement, which in fact was not directed at you at all as I told you in private.
Here's the latest e-mail response I sent you this morning. Since you're taking things public, we may as well follow, at least for a short while.
I don't know what other communications you and Dave had, but the one you forwarded, while it raised some serious concerns did not list any specific game-breaking issues. It was also in September, whereas the final decision to release was made at the end of November, _after_ ADG had reviewed it for two weeks and chimed in that they felt it was ready. As I said earlier, I did not have a lot of visibility into this process because of the unusual structure and reporting. When the time came to determine if it would release, as usual that decision was also up to me. After hearing that Marshall and the testers felt it was ready and that ADG had tested it and given a very positive approval (and if the original board game designer thinks it's ready, that's usually a good sign), I thought that any issues would be relatively minor.
I think that perhaps your understanding of how severe some of these issues were exceeded the understanding that Dave or I had. Again, perhaps you communicated that to Dave in specifics but by the time I got involved in the release decision the impression I had was that by the end of November the testing and development team felt that there were no critical issues left. In fact, you may recall that we agreed to an additional delay as requested by Marshall to make sure the final build was as solid as possible.
Here's an exchange from the end of November that you were copied on:
"I am uploading the golden image candidate (eianw-2007-1125-v840-golden_image.zip) to the dev server as we speak.
This version has not been tested as much as I would like and I would like another 24 hours for Richard to put this version through some tests. I realize we're printing soon but would really like the extra day if possible. Let me know, Dave."
You can certainly have the extra day. If need be, we can release EIA next week instead of this week, but we don't want to push it back any farther than that as the manuals are on the way. However, we also want to make sure that the gold build is solid. How many testers have looked over this final build to date? Was anything potentially high risk changed that we should double-check here as well?"
And Marshall's reply:
"There was nothing in particular that was very high risk but we made several changes and this version hasn’t been through systems test yet to make sure that everything plays together well. I could certainly use the extra week if possible. I don’t want to delay but most testers were out for the holidays away from their PCs so they haven’t had much of a chance to review this image. If we could give a release gold image deadline of next Sunday, I would feel better. This release is stable BUT I want it to be tested."
"Done, new planned release date for EIA will be Tuesday, December 4th. Please give it as thorough a test as you can in the remaining time. We will not be pushing the release date back again unless a critical issue is found."
Keep in mind, at this point I had been told there were no critical issues left and that the game was stable.
Although you were copied on all of these e-mails, at no point did I receive an objection from you that what was being communicated here was false in any way. In fact, as the lead tester if you had told me "we can't release in this state", I can assure you we would have pushed back the release and investigated further, irrespective of any earlier conversations you had with Dave in September.
Here in fact is a quote from an e-mail I received from Marshall in June, way before September. We kept it in further testing after this e-mail to make sure it was ready.
"Play testing is ongoing and we will continue to do so FOREVER but the testers are comfortable with the stability. I cannot tell you what we’ve might have missed but that’s what updates are for! I cannot see a problem with delivering the Golden Image by the middle of July pending graphic and sounds."
As soon as it was released, the sudden rush of tech support posts made it clear that there were quite a few issues that neither you, Marshall, or we knew existed. Support has been ongoing since then. My reply on the forum was the facts as I knew them and as I still see them. I was not trying to push anything off on anyone, but to make it clear to the customers that I did not know that so many issues would be found after release, period. If you choose to take that personally and forget the pre-release discussions we had, that is obviously your choice but I don't think it is supported by the facts and I know that I would not have signed off on the EIA release had I known then what I know now.
Instead, I would have started yet another new testing cycle with more visibility to us and with a larger pool of testers and some better bug-tracking software, such as we've used on some other complex projects. Dave's concerns about the contract notwithstanding, I would not have allowed it to go out with critical issues such as some of those reported since release had I know they were there.