I can relate to your frustrations Kayoz, but let me respond.
Understand that it must be a VERY tough position that Elliot takes to listen to the myriad
of FANTASTIC ideas and comments about the game and its gameplay. Especially those mirrored
in the two wishlists and from us testers. Remember the saying that "the needs of the many
outweigh the needs of the few....or the one"? It applies here.
I disagree that Elliot has to weigh a myriad of "fantastic" ideas. Most are total rubbish - they're poorly thought through and create more problems than they fix. Sorting through the dross for the gems is Elliot's job - it's time consuming, thankless and tedious - but it's his job. I don't b*tch about my job - if I don't like it, I'm at liberty to quit and move on.
Game design is a juggling act - that's the joy and pain of the art. It's inevitable that attempting to balance one thing will upset another. I haven't seen any games free of this problem.
My problem with CodeForce, is the fact that they're implementing changes without any ability to turn them on or off. A simple registry key for example, to turn the adjusted happiness rates on or off - would allow people to test the change in isolation. That's how I usually implemented changes which I didn't have sufficient time to test, but clients asked for - that way, if they're happy with it, they leave it on and continue using it. And if not, they turn it off and still benefit from the other code fixes. But here we're dealing with 1.502 which addresses critical flaws - and it's an "all or nothing" deal - you get ALL the changes, or you roll back to an earlier version - which may or may not be playable.
Put simply - if you don't have time to QA a change - then make sure you have a switch so people can disable the change. That's how MOST companies work.
As for the beta testing team - well, CodeForce is not following industry standards. Beta testers aren't "elected" anywhere I've seen. It's not a popularity contest - it's a question of whether or not the applicants have the necessary skill sets. This is the first time I've ever seen the online popularity of an individual being a factor in their presence or absence from a test team. I'm mystified why testers are elected. I've never ever seen it done this way.
Unfortunately though, there are times that when adding a new, requested
nuance to the game code, it unknowingly tweaks or breaks something else. Usually, the thing
that breaks or tweaks has been well tested and found to function correctly beforehand. But when
it's overlooked and found by hundreds or more of players, then something (or someone) gets flamed
instead of understanding.
If I'm flaming something, it's their QA process and lack of flexibility in implementing changes. How hard would it be to recompile and repackage - one with bug-fixes and another which has balance changes? Hrm - change the DLLs in the Orca database - five minutes?
It's not what they've DONE that I'm annoyed with. It's HOW it's done. Their PROCESS is flawed.
I'm TOTALLY happy with this game. Whether I was elected to be a tester or not has nothing to
do with it either. I've been involved with space games since the original StarFlight! Been though
the whole space 4x Hall of Fame. StarFlight II, STARS, Ascendancy, Star Wars: Rebellion, BOTF,
Master Of Orion series, Space Empires, Imperium Galactica II, GalCiv 2 and others.
I think you have to exclude MOO3 from the "Master of Orion series" - #3 wasn't a game. It was just Excel with a spiffy GUI.
You're misunderstanding me - DW is quite well done. Compared to other indie games, it's marvellously well done. Kudos to them. But a mistake is still a mistake. Cheering is well and good, but when they've made a mistake, it's all the more important to call it to their attention. What I see right now, is a problem with their QA process and hotfix release/implementation methodology. Fixing it will ease their workload in the long run and improve future development.