Cheers guys. Just a few quick notes:
1. I appreciate the bucking up, and I'm glad there's excitement on the next game.
2. I don't take it personally at all when someone doesn't like the game and says so in a respectful way. In other words, I don't take it personally as them being rude or inappropriate or whatever. But for various reasons to do with my past, which I'm working through, I am aware that I can overreact to varying degrees. The longer a project has gone on, the worse it gets. I usually seem to "reset" after a release of another project, so I should just be in a better mental state all around with it after the hiatus.
3. All respect, yes, I'm not doing any updates during the hiatus, because I'm not really expecting anyone to test. It's not something I need from folks during this period, and as it's not support for a released product I don't view it as something that's a priority the way I otherwise would. That feels super harsh for me to say, and I don't mean it that way. But rest assured, the hiatus will end and there will be more updates on the other side.
4. The blacking out and all that stuff is just a matter of accumulated stress more than anything else. It's not any one thing, it's just a matter of too long a period of too much intensity on one thing. I should be back in good form after the hiatus, and people don't need to worry about my health. If there's something amiss, I'll do something to try to address that. I have an anxiety disorder as well as severe PTSD (dating back decades), and some of that gets triggered sometimes around releases. Therapy and medication have been helping over the last years, although some of the medication comes with nasty side effects. I think the blacking out was related partly to one of those that I started taking in March and have stopped taking in the last week. We'll see. Originally I got on that because I was having low-grade panic attacks literally all day every day, and that solved that issue. But lots of other problems went with. EMDR did work pretty well for some of the stuff, but I'm giving neurofeedback a shot now. We shall see. Anyway, the point is a lot of that has absolutely nothing to do with testers or specific feedback, and I try not to be a pansy about how I receive news I don't want to hear. It's important to be able to take criticism, and if I ever hit a point where I'm dissuading people from "giving it to me straight," I'm only doing myself and the games a disservice in the end.
5. Often I find it really useful to get feedback, periodically at least, from people who a game is "not really aimed at." Sometimes they come up with the most useful feedback. With AI War, I was getting my mom, my sister, and other non-gamers to go through the tutorials and I was watching what happened with them. I wanted it to be something that would not bother me to go through, in the sense of "click here to move forward," but at the same time that they could do. That was useful. For someone coming outside the conventions of a genre, that's not like being a non-gamer, but you are still missing some assumptions that might be inherent in the genre, and that might be precluding the game from reaching a wider audience. Plus, there's always the chance that a game that is not aimed at you can be smoothed out subtly enough that it does draw you in, at least some, in the end. I don't get offended when that happens, so long as others are enjoying it, but the closer I can get someone like that to enjoying it, the better the game is for it. Core fans of the genre will overlook all sorts of things that a person like that will not stand for, is another way to put it. So only that sort of person who's not quite in the audience can give that kind of vital feedback.
6. Stellaris looks interesting, though I'm not sure how threatening. Diablo 3 was a kind of once in a lifetime event it felt like. I'm not saying that Stellaris might not be very harmful in a short term, but I don't think it would obliterate the market like Diablo. I could be wrong, though. And anyhow, I'd definitely try to give it a wide berth. Hopefully the interim game does well enough that we're really not beholden to any specific month of release in early 2016, but we'll see.