- (thesis) "This is a great game and a lot of fun."
- (antithesis) "We’ve been in 100% ‘make the game’ mode, giving us no time to enjoy our creation (I’ve snuck in a few hours, but always feel guilty about it). Now that we have time to play [...]" (BoogieBac August 28)
This first contradiction makes the most sense to me, because it demonstrates (I hope) merely poor judgement on the part of Stardock and not delusion or worse. The thesis appears to many people, myself included, to be false, and by some, Stardock included, to be true. Yet unlike many other people, the members of Stardock -- if Boogie's statement can be taken to be both representative and true -- cannot have had the opportunity to validate the thesis. It was not only the Beta-testers who did not test the game for fun before its release: it was the dev team itself. But it frightens me: No one played the game for a significant amount of time before release.
- (thesis) "this game is a lot of fun; it is, as listed in the gamers' bill of rights, as near to being complete as it can be upon release" (Stardock implicit and explicit claim)
- (antithesis) "You should stop playing Beta 3c now, because it is still pretty awful” (Brad, July 27)
Even in July, we heard the mantra repeated yet again: “do not worry that you are not a part of beta, since beta testing is NOT FUN,” in fact, the beta testers suffer from painful haemorrhages etc. due to the horribleness of the game, etc. That was more than being coquette, that was true.
This contradiction confuses me the most. What are we missing? This cannot be merely poor judgement. If there was some form of miraculous transformation in August, one to a product to which the beta testers were given no access, then something has gone dreadfully wrong, since I (along with many others) missed it. Just before going gold, the captain calls whatever it is we can test “awful”, and then a miracle occurs?
- (thesis) "the quality of this game is in large part due to the feedback of the beta team"
- (antithesis) the beta team was not given the opportunity to test "the game", but rather only segments of it.
- (thesis) "this doesn't feel fun / good / complete to me" (many beta testers in August)
- (antithesis) "it's a beta, not a demo!" or "the final version will be great -- trust us" (answer to above beta testers)
While doubts regarding the fun-factor of the game were voiced a few weeks prior to release, we were repeatedly told "It's a beta, you fool, not a demo!" Granted, this was voiced most vociferously and often by other members of the beta team with the largest ostensible loyalties, but it was also voiced by the development team as well.
Sadly, nobody actually tested the game. Now, people are. It appears that while there is a much higher percentage of people here on these forums who thoroughly enjoy the product / find it ready (not suprising, since this is the home of a vociferous fan base who put a lot of effort into this game in the last months), there does not seem to be an overwhelmingly large amount of positive feedback on this game so far. In fact, most reviewers have courageously and politely decided to wait, because they appear not to be able to get the game running well enough to test it.
I still do not understand why Brad did not want beta testers to test "the game" until after its release. I will not believe it was “market pressure”, for by Brad’s own admission, he need not fear the contingencies of capitalism (“One of the benefits of being a small, privately owned company is that we can focus on things for reasons besides quarterly earnings”). I still fail to understand how a game can go gold without anyone having tested it.
If these bizarre circumstances could be made transparent – what happened, during beta time-scheduling and planning? and why? – I believe a lot of the disappointment, confusion, anger, and sadness might be avoided. I am kind of in need of catharsis.