This is primarily a friendly note to the developers, but is something that’s probably worth a thought from everyone.
If all goes well, then come December there will be a whole lot of people getting their hands on a preview release of Stonehearth. And, of course, that’s a really good thing. For my own part, I’m totally pumped and can’t wait to have a play around with it.
But with that relatively large and heterogenous group of users will also come an influx of feedback, much of which will not be even remotely constructive. This is an unavoidable problem as any audience grows to include more of the general population. I guess it’s kind of an obvious reality, too, but I suspect that most people who end up in the position that the Stonehearth development team is about to be in are nevertheless still not fully prepared for how unpleasant that experience can be.
There will be people that just don’t get it. They will ask “is that it?” or complain about limitations that exist because (duh) the game isn’t finished. There will be people who hyped the game up into something impossible in their heads, and will be disappointed no matter what you produce. There will be people who say flat-out “this is s***”. There will be people who would say “this is s***” even if the game made adorable ponies appear in their back yard, turned their recyclables into gold bullion, and made triple rainbows explode across the sky every time they stepped outside.
And even though the volume of such destructive feedback will be dwarfed by the overwhelming positive and constructive response, it will stand out because of what it is. It’s seldom as easy as we think to just ignore the destructive voices. And the destructive voices can sometimes come in strange forms we don’t expect at all. For example, there’s widespread speculation that one prominent indie developer simply cancelled development of a game because it got hyped to the point that anything he released would disappoint, and he didn’t want to deal with the aftermath of that. Yes, you guys have the benefit of being a team working together on this game, rather than a solo developer, but even big teams in big name game studios can and have gotten really down from nasty feedback.
So my hope is that you’ll remember that the vast majority of the community is in your corner. We believe in the game you’re building here, and think you guys are totally awesome people. Don’t forget that when the users arrive!
TL;DR: Chin up. Nasty stuff will be said—that can’t be avoided; haters go’n’ hate. Just don’t take it to heart. Accentuate the positive.