I haven't been able to come on at all this past month due to work and was not a regular all the time MP player before.
I also don't think the majority of MP players are "the 12 guys". The 12 guys are probably just that...12 guys.
They're the griefers, the ones who sit by the comp waiting for new blood or hop on when they see some easy scores and do it for the self-congratulatory laughs with one another or the guy who used to play a lot but just comes on now and then for a mean giggle.
They aren't "the community" or the "MP community" but they are the asshats who spoil it for those who are. When you have lower player counts, it doesn't take a lot of these guys to have a big impact.
I'm not gonna argue all the points but you can look at some of the troll posts in the forums and a few of those guys are on MP with the same attitudes they have on the forums.
Throw in a few vets who are married with jobs and time constraints, etc. (like me) and on a bad day they boot a new player out of a start with no warning because they suddenly realize he's raw as uncooked meat. It doesn't matter then that it was only a slip on a bad night, it leaves the booted player feeling he's been snarked.
I have like Sins from day one because its the closest thing to chess or a board game that I have ever seen in a PC game. I think it's really unique in that respect and I completely understand good players wanting challenging games.
I think the forums could easily handle 80% of the problems--if they were policed more as a "purist game forum". I understand why Stardock doesn't pull the billy club out--not good for first impressions to potential customers.
I think Rebellion was as much a tribute to the fanatical fans of the game as it was an attempt to "make big bucks". They could easily have developed something brand new.
I hope things clear up tpo draw more new players in and am glad they are still working on fixes. There are very few game publishers who listen and reply to their players directly--love 'em or leave 'em, at least Stardock does.
Err..and Sel, I know you contribute to helping people--so have I--but the stuff that isn't helpful is way to easy to run into at the same time or first. Rule of thumb in business is it takes six positive experiences after a bad one to "win" a customer back. It's human nature.