Hmmm, what's coming up this November? That's certainly looking like the earliest we'd be likely to hit 1.0.
Granted, since people can preorder, that means that in September folks who want to can go on and get it and then have the beta version and not worry about it from then on. And if it's super popular in beta, well, then that's some incentive for us to delay 1.0 longer and really throw everything and the kitchen sink into there. If it's only middling popularity during beta, then there's a lot more incentive to do 1.0 so that it's on Steam and other platforms in time for the holidays. Either way it works out the same in the end because we plan to continue developing this post-1.0 anyhow; you know how we are with free DLC.
And another option if we're hurting financially in the fall is an AI War micro-expansion slotted in there. With Keith coming on fulltime September 1, that gets a lot more feasible in terms of doing both at once.
My ideal scenario:
1) AVWW does quite well even in beta, letting us release "whenever" in the Minecraft sense where nobody particularly cares because the game is already awesome pre-1.0 and is growing all the time anyway.
2) Then do a full AI War expansion in Q1 of next year, probably after releasing 1.0 of AVWW and then continuing on with a ton of AVWW free DLC.
3) Then hit the first expansion for AVWW sometime next year, along with a heaping pile of free DLC alongside that, like we've done with each AI War expansion also.
So... we'll see what happens. Once AVWW is out in the hands of the public, hopefully in about 6 weeks, then the question of when 1.0 hits is mostly about whether a lot of people are waiting for 1.0, Steam release, etc, before buying it. If too many people hold out for that, then that forces us to release earlier, and probably hit that November period that you're seeming worried about. In the past, our betas have tended to only sell in the three figures of numbers of units moved, but then we're into the six figures of units moved in total. So it's really a small percentage that get into the beta that early. Hopefully this game follows a different pattern, but only time will tell.
That's another reason we're really trying to cram the kitchen sink into even the first beta, though, because if people are really wowed from the start then that makes things easier on us all around.