Back in the dark days (which I call them even though I consider them more enlightening than the last several years of MMO development) day one, launch, the big bang, someone turning the lights on was a pretty epic event shared by thousands of fans that had been waiting FOREVER (ok a few years)! And now that once in a game cycle epic playerbase wide even is dead...don’t fret, it’s not really good, nor bad, just...different.
Back then testing was done on a smaller scale. Beta invites were coveted. On launch the vast majority of the player base knew very little of the actual game. Day one was like a traditional wedding night! So much mystery, so much excitement, sometimes disappointment...the sense of discovering the unknown but not just for you, for almost every player!
Ever since the invention of pay to test things have changed. By the time a game launches just about every fan of said game will have seen what was under the sheets to some degree. They either did alpha, or beta, or both or knew someone that did, or got it from the company themselves. Now more than ever developers are pulling back the big green curtain early and allowing the players and game sites to peek under the hood.
At first it was used for hype, but now I’m slowly seeing more and more companies expose the nasty stuff. The ugly unexciting broken stuff...and it’s beautiful! Nothing will educate and increase appreciation like showing people the bloody knuckles (ok calloused fingertips). It will make the players (the smart considerate ones) appreciate the process more than they would have otherwise.
There was a time when the relationship between dev and player was almost war like, and in many games it still is, but if you do it right, if you forge it right, I think the players become more like an old friend that comes to town to visit once in a while. As long as we don’t overstay our welcome it maintains a beautiful friendship.
Back to launch. Day one for me might have been two years ago, for you it was a month ago, for the fence sitters it was actually launch day. That is a helluva knowledge gap to overcome on official launch. The conservative in my says “tough, step up, buy bootstraps, fashion them, then pull yourself up by them, dive into what knowledge you have available and catch up as much as you can newby!” As much as I like to sound gruff that isn’t the best model for retaining the darned indecisive folks.
“What’s your point you masked fiend!”My point is launch day is different now and developers need to be aware of it and create a strategy for it. The best solution I have is the most obvious, don’t hide it-pride it. Put out as much information as you can about your game, be as transparent as you can, and push out as much as you can before launch, then leave it to the player to seek out and utilize that info. Best of all that leaves them with no excuses when they call for a wambulance!