In all reality, that is really what I see the current version for. Granted, it would likely help to have a dedicated group of people who are voluntarily committing time to bug hunt and provide critical feedback. Doing something like that removes the guessing of whether or not your general user base is doing that or if they just bought into the EA to simply play the game.
I agree. The product has to be self-sustaining when it comes to playability and replayability once released. If it isn't, i doubt any amount of post-release patches and free/paid DLC in the world could save it from public condemnation.
I'm with Viper on this. Seeing you as active as you are really shows that you're genuinely invested in making a game that pleases the community as much as it does yourself. That mentality, in a day where most game devs couldn't care less about the community (a la war thunder, WoT, AW, etc, etc), is very reassuring when it comes to player concerns regarding the game.
The only thing I don't care for with the forum is the way the boards work, the actual thread mechanics are great though.
That said, I didn't vote yet and here's why. As I've said above, your activity and care for this community and game go a very long way to fostering good will for you and the game, Mawhrin. The thing that is lacking for me, at least when it comes to this poll, is that there aren't any hard goals set that allow us to gauge how complete the game actually is (unless I missed them lol).
Not that you would, but you could finish the open world aspect, get a bare minimum of story/missions dropped in and release the game as finished. Then you could turn around and make a ton of DLC offering more ships, weapons, missions, etc. While offering this stuff is fine, it really has to be balanced in regard to how much content was in the base game. If the bulk of the official content comes via DLC, the game wasn't actually release ready. Going off your posts, this example isn't likely to be an issue as you seem to understand that.
Not only that, but because of the paradigm shift in direction, hard goals are not really feasible at the moment due to development fluidity. After the open world release, this should definitely be revisited, in my opinion, so the community has some idea of what the release goals are and how far SS is from meeting them.
Pricing is another thing. At $14 USD, the new game, with the open world overhaul, seems like it will be heavily under priced. I'd be perfectly fine paying $30 or even $60 for the full title given what I know of the effort and care put into the game as well as knowing the scope of the game itself. For those coming in later, who weren't around for these changes, a small demo would help show them how worth the money the game actually is, along with helping them see if the game is actually something they'll even like to begin with (give the hybrid nature of what the game actually is). Something like a 3 or 4 planet system where people could get a decent sense of what's going on would, in my opinion, do a fair job of allowing that.
Lastly is modding, which is somewhat unrelated the the above but loosely ties into DLC and add-on content. I think I recall you saying that you want the game to be modifiable by the player base after release. With that in mind, and hopefully not shooting the community in the foot lol, do you have an idea of how you'll manage to get DLC and community provided content to coexist without one over-taking the other? Optimistically you wouldn't choose to lock certain aspects of the game in order to create marketable DLC, but if all the workings of the game (i.e. ships, weapons, effects, and the world itself) can be modified by the community, would you still be able to offer content worth the cost?
I ask more out of curiosity than anything else at the moment simply because thinking of games like SoaSE; entrenchment and diplomacy would have never been worth the money if the mechanics they added would have been accessible to the modding community. And games like HW2 and EaW/FoC could have never managed to produce marketable DLC since the entirety of the game workings were accessible to the modding community, with the only limitations being the engine itself.