Whenever a new game or expansion is about to be released, fans are always dying with curiosity and anticipation. Will it be as good as we hope or worse than we expect? But one thing people often don't realize is that the Devs are just as excited and anxious, for pretty much the same reasons!
Players complain about being bound by the NDA when they wish they could share what they're testing with their buddies, but imagine designing something for months and having to keep quiet about it? This is when we finally get to show off those (hopefully!) cool features we secretly worked on. It's also when we find out if it was a hit or a miss.
Since we're still frantically working on finishing some of the features, the content is being delivered in stages. I can tell you that there's nothing worse than realizing that one of your features isn't going to make the next publish because of whatever bug. Whether the bug is your fault or someone else's is totally irrelevant. It's just disappointing. You know annoyed you feel when you're waiting for a highly anticipated patch just to be told the Devs delayed by another week? However valid or not the reason for the delay, you still feel cheated. So we're all in the same boat, just for different reasons.
But for our features that do make it, there's a mix of dread and excitement about how it will be received. I won't lie, after the last publish I was all over the forums reading players' comments about their first impression of the latest additions. Did we live up to their expectations? Exceeded or majorly failed?
After that though comes the "time to bang your head on the wall". Silly things such as "we would love to test this but you guys forgot to give us the tool to craft it with". Or better yet, "sure, I'll fight the boss monster if you guys would be so kind to put a doorway in". And we're like: how the heck did we forget that?! Silly stuff that makes you want to kick yourself. We're just as frustrated that you're not able to try some of the stuff. More so even, because our oversight caused it.
I spent the week-end beta testing on my normal player account. There's nothing more enlightening than to be down in the trenches with the rest of the guys, especially when they have no idea who you are. You share their pain on the mobs that are way overpowered or so easy they bore you to death. I've said this before and this week-end reinforced that conviction further: you cannot understand your players' pain unless you experience it first hand. You HAVE to play your own game.
Next week will be crazy. There are a lot of bugs to fix from the previous push. And from my own experience this week-end, a lot of tweaks and balance are needed to get some of the features to go from functional to fun. But there are also more features I want to get in so I better find a way to meet the cut off date somehow! Because I'm a big kid, and I just can't wait to show off the new toys we get to play with! :D