There's enough negativity on these forums and I'm sure you guys are pretty burnt out on reading posts by entitled 12 yr old punks, but hopefully you can use the following toward future updates or future games.
Demigod right now is a fairly polished, nicely-cut jewel which has been set in a hastily-produced, silver-plated ring that doesn't quite fit and turns your finger green if you wear it for too long.
First - It really is a testament to GPG's team that Demigod is as good as it is. You tapped into an emerging genre and made it your own. Character balance is pretty good on the main game mode, map balance isn't terrible, and item balance will hopefully get better - more importantly, the gestalt experience is quite refined. (To whatever extent Stardock and GPG coordinated on this aspect congratulations to Stardock)
If the user experience stopped at core gameplay then you would be sitting on a pile of unicorns and rainbows.
But it doesn't stop there, particularly when you are looking at a game which has slim single-player experience to speak of.
Multiplayer games are about other people, and a majority of the experience relies on how easily you can connect to those other people. I don't just mean "connect" as in netcode, though that's a big part of it. I mean form social and competitive connections, form a community, form bonds of friendship and emnity. Frankly you need these things in a game like this because teamplay is vitally important - I don't care how strong a player you are you can still be crippled by a poor ally.
The simplest of all possible games (something like MyBrute) will be wildly successful if it makes connection accessible. Something engaging and complex like Demigod will falter if it makes connection hard.
What I'm a bit confused about are the design choices made *around* the game that actually keep me as a player from making connections.
A. We have a startgame lobby you can get into when you join a game. You see the other player's names and choice of DGs. You see their pings. You don't see their records, experience, rank, location, sim speed, or karma. You have no way to whisper to your team before the game starts. After a game is over you are popped back out into the game selection screen.
Where is the postgame lobby? Oh right, I guess we can use the ingame IRC, if we are all on it and have the same nicknames and feel like parsing the conversation out of the hundreds of people in the general IRC or manually creating a new channel which we all know to join.
How do I friend the people I just played with? Oh right, I have to retype their name in the friendslist interface. Heaven forbid I mis-spell it, because there's no search function. You need to get the nick in all it's l33t glory correct if you want to be friends with xXTaMbouRin3Xx.
B. Where is the replay system? We know it existed in Beta. We know it works on the Supreme Commander Engine. Why would you strip something so useful out of the game? Why are you dragging your heels on putting it back in?
C. We have a friendslist - I can use it to see who is online and chat with them. I can't autojoin their games using the list. I can't use it to see their ingame profile (even something as simple as win/loss). I can't use it to make auto-invitations. I haven't had the inclination, but if I wanted to I couldn't deny a friend request. I can't even see the name of the game they are playing.
Generally all I'm using it for right now is figuring out which of us was dc'd. It's the beginning of a good feature, but it's incomplete.
D. Pantheon/Skirmish will let me join a game against "comparable" players. It won't let me filter maps or gametypes. It won't let me pick allies (unless I boot teammates or opponents til I get the ones I want - c'mon). It won't show me map or type settings until I'm in the game. I don't play Pantheon/Skirmish right now because
1. The Demigods are mostly balanced - for Conquest. I'm not going to play Rook if the gametype is Slaughter and I don't know my allies. I will lose to any other well-played DG except maybe a 1v1 Sedna or QoT. Conversely a Tower Rook is going to own any map with bottlenecks (Exile, Crucible). Certain DGs are going to have advantages on a given map or in any gametype other than Conquest and maybe Domination. Why allow us to even pick our DGs? It's not like that choice does anything but frustrate us if we pick "wrong." Until you balance the DGs for each mode (which could take years - I imagine the reason you didn't bring CTF into release is because the disparities were just too great) you should stop forcing us into random modes we didn't pick for.
2. I can't pick teams. Right now there are maybe 50 players (I know by name) who I can pick up a game with and be confident that win or lose it's a Good Game, no nubcake feeding, etc. Of those maybe 15 are in the top 100 of your ELO ratings (which we'll get to). I will never get a game with them. Why not? Because you would rather put me up against 2 newbies. Which brings me to a pet peeve.
3. Please abandon the idea that 2v1 will ever be fair. If the 2 have played more than two games they will win. A good team of two players can beat any number of lesser players. It doesn't scale down from there. Please stop trying to make it work. Show me twenty games of Domination where one player beats two and I'll
4. Skirmish and Pantheon are currently the only game modes that are ranked. I'm not going to exploitkick, and I'm not going to gamble that the map and gametype and allies DG and skill and opponents DG and skill all line up to give me a chance of winning or at least playing a good game *when it counts for something*
Stripping out options and filters makes sense for casual players who just want a quick game. Tying casual mechanics to ranked play (without another option for ranked play that allows team, demigod, mode, and map choice) really, really doesn't. Don't make us gamble if we want to play competitively.
5. The ELO system you are using might be great, but I can't tell because the netcode is so glitchy. Someone is always getting disconnected by the system. I get losses when the other player DCs. I get losses when I DC. I get losses when no one DCs but I won the game. I get losses for games I never played, that I might have tried to join but didn't even make it into the lobby on. I get wins I never earned too. Some games just disappear like they were never played. And that is what you are basing who you match me up with?
On top of that, your allies are really important on a deeper level than just rank. There are some players who you click with and some who you just don't, and it doesn't always come down to skill. I've lost games with incredibly strong allies that I know I would have won with a team I was in synch with. Pairing me with someone who wins consistently but has a tragically difficult playstyle for me to adapt to is an exercise in frustration for both of us.
Pantheon, again could be a good feature down the road, but it's incomplete.
I could go on without ever touching the netcode issues, but I think you get the point - I'm looking at multiple mechanics and implementations that were either never polished at the design level or simply left incomplete. The capabilities that do exist are seperated from the core game by one or two clunky mechanics (Alt-Tab to website? It's a beautiful website, Bara, but why do I need to *leave* the game to balance the teams I'm trying to make *in* the game?)
On top of that I'm seeing the wheel that has been so carefully invented from scratch by these same companies on other games thrown out the window. Let's not even talk about other developers - why in the world would you abandon many of the lessons you learned with Sins and Supcom?
I know both companies have committed to ongoing updates, some of which will address these issues. I appreciate that, and I certainly know you have put your blood, sweat, and tears into this game. I've been playing as often as possible for nine months now and I'm not going to stop any time soon.
But I think it's also clear that at some point money/time began running out and compromises were made in areas around the core game. At the time these areas might have seemed non-essential, but just like when you set a diamond in a shoddily manufactured ring - they really aren't.
Thanks for reading,