Way to rip me off ;-;
I'm not surprised that things got as bad as they did, and really, things didn't get that
bad in the grand scheme of things. IV is a small business, and could have quickly have gone belly up. Small businesses go belly up all the time, especially if they have such long intervals between the majority of their income. I think it's a credit to IV for keeping themselves together and continuing to do what they do.
Plus remember, how many indie game dev houses ever really go on to make more than even one game?
I'm not sure you can depend on just free, community beta testers any more, and I expect that you've seen this already working with MS to get the game on the 360. It's worth getting "our" opinion, but, many of people who stick around don't seem to be the core of your target audience any more; I imagine that quite a few people signed up to beta multiwinia and got put off by the controls and just went away and never gave you the feedback in those early stages. Really I think there's something to take away from it:
Be creative with the story, with the graphical style, even the gameplay, but always look out to make sure that your interface and controls are as accessible as possible, to the point of being generic.
I'm sure you're already quite aware of that, and that message has really hit home at this point.
The feedback I guess you needed there is the sort of immidiete and bold feedback that you will often not get back from us. Not because we're not trying to be hepful, but because the people who fealt that probably lost interest almost immidietly, and the people who're still around didn't really notice the problem. You probably didn't get a clear message on the gesture system in Darwinia (although that was a design choice), which you later ended up removing to make the game more accessable. The gesture system didn't really improve the game, it was almost needless, but many of your testers could pick it up and work with it; it was pretty transparent to us, but, it was a major barrier to a lot of people. I think you were basically depending on us to tell you something we just couldn't really put our finger on, convey, or really even notice, and those that did probably just left right away - you just couldn't see them leaving.