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@Rawr - looks good; I threw in a condensed timeline from the other doc. It might even look better with that at the beginning, with the TL;DR note of "busy year; version 2 to be released in December; details below," for those who just want to know what's going on without reading a few pages of drama details. (I like drama details, but many would probably just like a quick update.)2
@arshan272 Thanks, but I don't think everyone else here is being unreasonable. We've got different levels of trust and different priorities.
My biggest worry, actually, is that Nerd Kingdom is basing their design and business decisions off the conversations here, rather than the market as a whole - the people who are still posting here are the ones who are hopeful, who still believe TUG can be a viable and enjoyable game. The thousands who walked away are more representative of the actual market that NK will need to convince to buy the new version of TUG.3
@Rawr, yes, that's possible. I watch the official blog on tumblr and the official NK forum site; I don't try to keep up with TUG discussions on Steam, Reddit, GameFAQs, or any other site where TUG may have a presence.
Why should I bother watching discussions in other places? I notice that Ino has specifically said that there'll be no official feedback from the team on Steam, and he thanks the people who haven't criticized the team and gives the wag o' the finger to the ones who are vocal about their disappointments.
I see they've officially announced "no paid mods;" I expect that to change when the new owners realize that a single-purchase game that's already burnt out its most enthusiastic supporters has few ways of bringing in regular income.
Other than that, I stand by what I've said: constantly changing planned feature list, no timeline or roadmap to Release Version; no discussion with players/customers about any of the features or monetization plans - there's an occasional announcement of "we're thinking of doing X," but no explanations why, and no answers to questions like, "did you think that would get Y results?"
And, as I said, they seem to have scrapped the idea of releasing the game they advertised on Kickstarter. They insist the game they intend to release is "better" - but don't have a complete list of features or schedule for implementing them.
Or, if they do, they haven't bothered to share them with their customers.
If they want this game to have a chance in hell of starting to make money from customers again, they need to start a PR campaign now: post regular "here's what we're working on, and it's awesome!" snippets to tumblr and twitter and video clips to YouTube; engage in dialogue (not announcements) about how some new features will work and what they're changing about existing features; explain why some features had to go and what they're offering instead; go over the plans for the "survival" and "adventure" servers and how they'll be different; get the physical rewards sent out to K'start backers and give a game-dev timeline for the in-game rewards ("you'll get your thaumcraft wisp when...").
Otherwise, if they get the engine fixed in December and launch a complete, ready-to-sell game in January... all their current players who haven't written off the game entirely will download the new version, notice every feature they expected but didn't get, and complain loudly about how NK has provided half a game four years late.
Right now, they can work toward mitigating that. Every month that slips by increases their reputation as a failed game company. And right now is as good as it gets... they're getting griped at for past failures, but not for current errors because there are no current errors to discuss.
If they're so busy developing that nobody can maintain an online presence, and they can't afford to hire an intern to spend 5 hours a week doing cheerful, informative public interactions, they have no business trying to create a game with a huge social player base.1
Start with, "commit to sharing information and updates." Any schedule, any plan, is better than none.
Pick a central spot for information to flow from, ideally here or the official blog. Post regular updates - at least monthly, ideally weekly - even if they're short "still working on things; here, have a screencap from one of the dev test runs" posts.
Crosspost from there - a twitter post saying "new update; have a link;" a Steam post saying "we're working on X this month" followed by a link, and so on.
Appoint someone to do this - and to answer replies, politely and cheerfully. If nobody is available to do this, hire someone. (Not: scam some college student into working for free under the label "intern." Pay someone, even if it's minimum wage. This company doesn't need a bigger rep for pinching pennies.)
If there's no budget for a social media rep, this company is dead; Houston's min wage is $7.25/hour, and if there's not a couple-hundred dollars a month available for PR now, there won't be resources to deal with the flamewars that'll happen when development starts up again, and the game will never get past the initial flurry of "oh, it's available again" sales.
Don't just say, "here's what we're thinking of doing;" post why--and, in the case of things that any marginally-competent game company knows are controversial (f2p, removing voxel manip), explain why this won't ruin the game for people who enjoy what they've already got.
Expect that every change or announcement will be met with hostility - there's several years of broken promises here, and a whole bunch of pulling the rug out from under people. NK needs its userbase - current customers and potential future ones - to trust them, and that can't be earned quickly.
Give the rep the authority to actually answer questions about development: where's the game on physics; what's up with the golems; how about fixing the crafting system so you don't accidentally make the wrong thing. What are the plans for the adventure & survival servers, and why. How many people are working on aspect X right now. Are there going to be caves; if so, where are those on the work schedule.
At this point, the only reason *not* to answer direct questions, is if there's a scam going on and no game is ever going to get past the current early-alpha stage. NK can't lose supporters by saying, "well, it's gonna be another four months before we revamp the seed growth system;" all the people that could be lost with honesty, are already long-gone from "please wait another few months and then see what we've got!"
Most recent of those was mid-June. Oh hey; it's been a few months, and we've got... nothing.
The current system of announcing every five months, "we're still here, and someday we will have an awesome game!" is a plan for instant crash-and-burn when it gets past alpha and into beta.
TL;DR short version: Pick a place and POST UPDATES. Regularly. Publicly; don't try to funnel all criticism into personal emails. Engage with customers as potential fans, not as "haters."2