A friend of mine at a big game studio once told me to be wary of giving users the impression that your design is open to heavy modification by user feedback.
Because in the end, you'll never satisfy everyone and it'll put people in the mode of thinking about game flaws that they might not have given much thought of otherwise -- and then suddenly those flaws bug them.
It akin to peer reviews in offices. For awhile, it was popular to have peers review each other. But then it was discovered that this was not such a good idea because it required people to start thinking critically of people in ways they may never had to otherwise. And then, when they were done, they were much more aware of the flaws of their coworker. Today, peer reviews are much more rare.
So I talked previously about putting in player suggestions. And what it boils down to is that each of us has our own idea on how games should be done.
For instance, I traditionally come from the camp who play games intuitively. I don't like having every number spelled out. I was, for instance, against letting users see the tech tree. Not even in a manual.
But as a game deveoper -- someone making games for other people -- I have to take other people's requests and wants seriously. And so over time I've slowly changed to having mechanics more ane more transparent. Tech tree posters, tech tree in the game, morale info displayed, and so forth.
That doesn't mean that I think I was wrong though. I know I'm not alone. I may be in the minority to be sure but I'm not alone. What gets me is when people try to argue that their preference is the "correct" preference.
As someone form the intuitive camp, I want my game mechanics to work intuitively and feel like they make sense. But as I get older, I'm becoming more engrossed in the board game style of game design where every number has backing and is easily understood.
Galactic Civilizations II is kind of a half-way point between the two. It still has underlying complexity in things like how tax revenue is calculated and how civilization bonuses are applied but it's much more straight forward than the original was. And during the course of doing updates, I'll try to implement changes that bug others and admittedly bug me.
But I don't agree that game mechanics should be necessarily transparent. But I do understand that many people want all the numbers laid out before them and can respect that. All I can do as a game developer is try to make all camps as satisifed as we can.
To summarize what I've read:
There's 4 camps:
1) The board gamers (grognards). They want every number, every detail spelled out. There should be a way to click on anything and find out precisely how it came from. The cleaner and simpler the mechanics, the better.
Ex: 1 unit of populatoin should produce 1 unit of wealth. If I mouse over my income, it would display this information.
2) The intuists. These are the people who want the game to be more like a simulator. The more complex, the more realistic. They don't want the numbers spelled out because they want to use their intuition to lead the way. They considering learning how the relations work as part of the fun.
Ex: 10 billion people are made up of many different socio-economic classes of people, as the population increases, the wealth collected should increase at a sub-exponential rate.
3) The Realists. These are the people who simply want a tweak here or there or a tooltip here or there or maybe just a clarification.
4) The armchair game developers. These are the people who really could make a much better game if only they had the money and developers to convey their genius onto the screen. To prove their genius, they'll use terms like "broken" or "unusable" to describe anything that they consider non-idea.
Group #4 won't ever be satisfied. It's not like there's a scenario where we'd put out some update that totally guts the economic system.
Group #3 will likely be largely satisfied by v1.1 since social production won't be "Wasted" and we'll likely put in additional tooltips.
Group #2 is going to be unhappy that social production is going to transferred to military production which is totally unrealistic. Shouldn't the economy have waste? After all, in the real world it's a fact of life. A business, like Stardock, has to plan its resources accordingly. If we bring in too many employees, then we don't have enough for them to do and waste money on salaries. If we don't bring in enough, we don't spend enough and the government gets that money in taxes.
But things like social spending drives some people nuts and so it's a matter of guessing whether changing a feature akes more people happy than unhappy.
Group #1 would consider the change to remove social waste as "obvious" because such micro management wouldn't be in a board game.
That group also was probably driven nuts by Warcraft 3 which had all kinds of fuzzy math in how battles were handled.
This group could can probably be generally satisfied with simply more tooltips or some sort of analysis on how money is done.
For instance, tax income is non-linear. It's your population taken to something like the .80 power. There's a lot of exponential relations in the game. What other games will often do is cap it or take out any mechanics that get near a race condition.
v1.1 will probably be the point where we start to reach diminishing returns.