Stardock does backflips to accomodate our requests and is constatntly tweaking and attempting to make it bettter. This is unparalled in this industry.
i agree here. while a week to test 3 new tech trees and attempt to achieve 'balance' probably won't happen, it should be time to catch glaring problems. despite the excitement, the beta-testing group will not be able to provide enough feedback no matter what. every best tester needn't try out every tech tree for SD to benefit from the public test - a few players responding to the terran tree, while a few others to the drengin, etc, might actually be better
for them, rather than sifting through dozens upon dozens of game accounts per civ.
keep in mind balance isn't simply something you can figure out by testing each civ's tech tree on a game or two. it'll only occur after months of playing across (or many) all the permutations offered by the new tech trees. we might find, for example, that trading a certain tech is harmelss except to another particular player.
the issue of balance is also somewhat subjective. no matter how much tweaking is done, i think it's obvious that some people will desire different changes at some times.
finally, getting this thing released sooner rather than later will help provide SD more funding to continue working on it, balancing it and improving it. getting it out there sooner, rather than later, will help provide some of the resources they need to continue improving it for everyone.
i don't personally view beta testing for a new game simply as a chance to 'take months to play through a game.' i'm actively looking for holes and problems, not trying to win and achieve a great score (not as a first goal, anyway).
well, just my two cents anyway.