My one comment for this thread, directed at the OP: the idea that AVWW wasn't ready for primetime is ludicrous and frankly insulting.
1. It's a massive game. If you make a game of sufficient complexity, no amount of preparation is going to ever solve every issue. If you want to get right down to it, after three years you could say that AI War still isn't "ready for prime time" because of this or that issue. Heck, you could say the same about Starcraft I since they still don't have the balance perfect yet after... 14 years is it? Games of sufficient complexity are never "done." They're only abandoned.
2. We had hundreds of beta testers (including you), and pretty much had the thumbs-up from all of them that bothered to comment aside from some minor issues. We did big threads on "tell us what your one biggest complaint is," and the stuff that people were posting were really trivial sort of things for the most part (happily), and which we resolved anyhow. The fact that we have a new crop of complaints largely reflects the fact that we have a new demographic entering the forum with different needs and expectations. Most (but certainly not all) of the players who were here previously were fans of AI War first, and that certainly skews things in terms of genre tastes, etc.
3. "Distributors not waiting forever" my rear end. I will have you know that I worked F-ing every day, weekends included, for at least 5 hours and usually more like 14-16 hours from February 16th up until the Friday before we went gold. We put our everything into this game, and in the end it was not distributors it was the fact that we ran out of money that set the timeline. Now, some jerk elsewhere on the Internet is going to post that out of context and say "haha they rushed this out because of running out of money," but that's not true either. We ran ourselves ragged to make sure that this thing was going to be as clean as humanly possible for 1.0, and we ran ourselves down to our last dime to do it. I'm literally having to borrow money to cover the next two payrolls while we wait for our big check to arrive with our first earnings from AVWW 1.0.
4. Generally speaking, press reactions have been things along the lines of "incredibly polished" and "highly polished" and "unusually polished." Look at the sorry state of most games that come out these days, for the love of... gah. I just did an interview today (will go live sometime later this week) where the interviewer was asking me what I thought about the general lack of quality in initial releases of games given the incredibly high quality control on this game in his opinion.
5. Sure there are issues. Point me to a game without any bugs, please. Any game, ever made, on any system, will do. I think that largely our issues are pretty slight, to be frank. A few missions are too easy or too hard. There are a few multiplayer hiccups here or there. More variety would be nice in some areas. But for the love of all that is holy, when you have players in beta playing multiple hundreds of hours, and dozens of people playing dozens of hours, you're doing something right.
6. Beyond that, this game, like any game, isn't for everyone. Starcraft is a great game. There's no denying it. I think it's an amazing accomplishment on so many levels. I can't stand to play it. I don't begrudge anyone else who wants to, though, and quite admire the ones who are really good at it. Some people seem incapable of holding the same sentiment, however, and there is no amount of "we're working on it" for that. I'm not aware of saying "we're working on it" to anyone complaining about some ginormous fundamental flaw in the game; those people are complaining that the game isn't to their tastes, and there's no amount of "we're working on it" that is going to turn it to their tastes without making it a completely different game. You can't make me like Starcraft without making it no longer Starcraft. I like to boom as my strategy in an RTS player, and that's just not something that's frankly much allowed in Starcraft from what I can tell. Not at any serious level of play. It doesn't make Starcraft broken, it just makes it not for me.
7. Yes, as always, we are listening. Whenever you get a lot of new players, there are inevitably a lot of minor and very legitimate gripes that start coming about. People have different control scheme expectations, people have different tastes when it comes to small things that we can do something about without changing the fundamental nature of the game, and people have all sorts of awesome ideas for ways that we can make the game better that neither we nor any of the beta players ever thought of. Perhaps you're suggesting that Keith and I -- and perhaps the hundred or so beta testers -- should have psychically foretold the good suggestions from players who are just now even aware of the game.
TLDR: The idea of shutting down the forums is incredibly out of left field to me. We have some people who seem bent on complaining about this or that aspect of the game. I don't think there's any way to please those folks, but we're at least listening and willing to give it a go as long as it doesn't compromise the rest of the game. They are, however, in the minority. Overall the system is working swimmingly, the game continues to sell better than any title we've ever put out, the game is getting better all the time (as AI War did in post-release content for the last three years), and I'm not sure what the sudden alarm in the OP of this thread is.
In terms of some of the negative threads that are cropping up here, we could do one of a couple of things:
a) We could ban anyone with a dissenting opinion to ours. That would be sure helpful for maintaining a free flow of ideas and speech)
b) We could let them get insulting to everyone else and really turn this into a Project Zomboid type of forum (no chance of that either -- if you're not respectful of others we will take appropriate measures to protect the positive atmosphere that generally has been held here).
c) We could let them have their say, discuss things with them as we can, and generally try to make them happy without sacrificing everything to do so -- and without letting them trample others.
My stance has been to take option C. If people feel the need to disagree with us, they shouldn't have to leave these forums to do so. We aren't Big Brother. However, if you're going to do so, we ask that you do so in as non-rude a manner as possible. There are many ways to get one's point across. Ultimately there will either be some reasonable changes that we can make to help appease the people who are being rude and angry, or it will come to light that they simply don't like the game and presumably they'll leave. No amount of caterwauling is going to get us to change the fundamental nature of the game and alienate all those players who already love it and are writing us lots of fan mail (did I mention we're kind of fond of it ourselves?) just on the off chance that somebody who seems to hate us might change their mind.
But rather than brushing off someone who seems to hate us, we give them a fair hearing and try to distill what it is that is actually bugging them. If it's something that we can do something about, then great -- let's address it. But if it's "I wanted Mario Kart but this is F1 Racing" (or vice versa), that's not something we can really do something about. That's what I mean about not changing the fundamental nature of the game. No amount of telling Notch "you know, let's just ditch all this crafting stuff in Minecraft and have the finished products be found through exploration of underground dungeons" is going to succeed. If you're looking for Diablo 3, but you bought Minecraft, I guess you're going to be pretty disappointed. Minecraft is an awesome game, but it's probably the worst dungeon crawler ever... given it's not a dungeon crawler.
We're getting some complaints along those lines, and those have nothing to do with anything we can remotely address. For the record, yes: AVWW is the worst RPG ever made. Also the worst Kart Racer, the worst Fighting Game, the worst Sports Sim, and the worst Space Combat game. It is none of these things, and never was intended to be. If you're mad that this game doesn't conform to genre norms of a genre we never claimed it was a part of, I can't really help you. Probably. If you can boil down what you want to some simple concrete requests, we can at least talk about those things, though.
The game also does a horrible job of looking like the next Crysis title, but it does a heck of a good job in looking like what the SNES could have evolved into had the N64 not happened. People need to get over the art. Either you like it or you don't, but I get equal parts "I love the art!" and "makes my eyes bleed!" Hasn't seemed to affect sales. It's not remotely registering on my radar of things to address anytime soon; there are much more pressing and interesting things that people have brought up that really are a better use of our time.
Some of the longtime Arcen fans seem to be kind of freaking out here because of the perceived negativity. And I will admit that it got me down in a major way last week, too. But this just comes with the territory -- this is the highest-profile game we've ever put out, and it's getting a ton of good things said about it from some very major sources, so naturally the Internet kicks in and there's a tide of people with the opposing view. It's just human nature, none of us agree on everything. I'm clearly in the minority of strategy game players with not really liking Starcraft, but that doesn't make me wrong. The people who don't like AVWW aren't wrong either. There's just... not any real reason to comment. I don't go to Starcraft forums talking about how I don't like the way it emphasizes rushing and short games and PVP. There wouldn't be any point, and the world has enough negativity out there already.
Anyway, longtime forumites: this, too, shall pass. Please just everybody keep a cool head even with some of the difficult new personalities if you at all can. I appreciate your leaping to our defense, but there's no reason to have your blood pressure shoot up over this. There's really quite a bit more work for us to do to bring AVWW to the next level, but that was going to be the case no matter when we released it or how much content or development time it had. What I want to focus on is making the best use of our dev team's time to make the game better and better for as many people as possible. For everyone who is here and helping with that, whether you're brand new or have been around for years: I thank you.