Chris at Game By Night thinks that Aventurine's PR team need help. It isn't just their PR team that needs help. In fact, I bet their PR people are throwing their hands up with horror at what's going on. Their whole project management is rubbish:
- The very idea that they could have launched without a beta test was madness in the extreme.
- They gave out a launch date, and then missed it. Missing dates isn't great. It shouldn't happen on a project where the project management team knows what they are doing. Better to give out no dates than to give out dates that you aren't sure to hit.
- That the November 20 release date was put back only a few days before the release was due tells you that they didn't really know the state of their product even a month before the due date (or they were just burying their heads in the sand). What was going on? The product should have been with the test team for a few months before that, and by one month before release, the initial testing should have been completed and bugs fixed, leaving at most only re-testing of fixes. It is a sign of blind, blundering management that they were still finding show-stopping problems in the last month.
- Having failed to hit the November release date, how did they decide on the December date? Did anyone actually have a plan that showed the product could be released on December 12? Given that they showed (see previous bullet point) that they didn't have a good handle on the state of the product, I doubt it. It seems to have been a date plucked from the air.
- Having failed to meet their first date, it beggars belief that management would put themselves in the position of repeating that failure three weeks later, by failing to meet the second release date. To miss one release date may be regarded as a misfortune. To miss both looks like carelessness.
- It is only after these previous failures that the management team realize they need a beta-testing program. Better late than never.
But instead, I'll bet you that Aventurine is responding to new requirements, as if it were still 2009 and they were near the start of the project instead of at the end. You know how that's going to pan out. We see it time and again in the forums of various games where forum warriors cry "nerf this! buff that!". Here's how this goes: feature X is a feature that most beta-testers are happy with. For instance, arrows fly in an arc, lets say. Most people are happy with this. These people say nothing. Just like I don't bother mentioning that my toast wasn't burnt at breakfast. I take it for granted, I don't praise the toaster for not burning my toast, I only talk about my toast when something unusual happens, such as the toaster burning it.
Some testers, though, are unhappy with feature X (for instance, arrows flying in an arc) because it makes aiming difficult (without stereoscopic vision, it's hard to judge distance, so how can they know just how much above the target they have to aim to allow for the arrow's fall?). They make a noise. They want it changed. So the feature that most people were happy with (or at least, not unhappy with) gets changed. Some people are delighted. But now a different group are annoyed enough with the new design that they complain (no arc? Unrealistic. Stop pandering to unskilled players and cater to the group you said was your target, hardcore PvP players. Players who relish overcoming difficulty). So it goes. No game-play can delight everybody. And once people realize that the product team is not convinced by the game-play they designed, everyone will want their own changes. Imagine if you could tell God that you don't think the gravitational constant should be so large, or that water shouldn't expand on freezing, and he would listen to you instead of turning you into a pillar of salt? You'd never stop redesigning the universe!
This project is an unmitigated disaster.