So the final bit about the design process is a few things that I try to keep in mind while hammering out design details with the rest of the Y!PP team:
1) My focus is on one of many parts of the game, and things that I think are obvious are not necessarily as clear or important to other people.
I am a shopkeeper in the game, and the things that come up in discussion that I find the most interesting are those pertaining to the economy, foraging, commodities, and businesses. I want colonization changes, new clothes, and I really want a little fix that will allow me to place furniture in the bugged right half of my shoppe and something that will separate my personal money from my shoppe's money, so I don't have to go to my house every. single. time. I log in to deposit my wages.
Now, just because that last thing has been bothering me since the implementation of the global purse and wages being automatically deposited there for you, I can't assume that the global purse is a bad idea, or that it bothers everybody in the same way, or that developer time would be best spent fixing the bug that seems the most apparent to me, because I see it every day when I log on and go into my place of business.
It's a complex and varied game, and even though I do not relate to or understand some aspects or some playstyles, I should not ignore or invalidate them.
2) I have to keep memories of what I felt about game features separate from how effective or good a feature is. Nostalgia is not good game design.
I remember the excitement of building our flag after Midnight launched. I remember how fun and crazy the 24 hour blockades were, when we would coordinate with our flagmates overseas to each take a certain number of rounds, logging off and sleeping for a few hours, then logging back on to fight again. I remember all of the money I'd make from foraging minerals in far-off islands and sailing them back to my shop in the dead of night while I was supposed to be studying for finals.
I don't find blockades nearly as exciting now, but it's because they are not new to me, and because as an established player with a lot of what I first wanted out of the game, the stakes are not the same for me. Making blockades 24 hours again would not bring that excitement back for me, and I should realize that the enjoyment I got out of blockades at that time came from novelty, game goals, and my flagmates, not from the grueling length of them.
While I may not get as worked up about new features in blockades personally, I still get excited seeing them and anticipating the improvements they will (hopefully) make in existing game mechanics, the additional depth and variety they can provide, and how blockade and sea battle enthusiasts will pillage, conquer, and make those game mechanics their domain.
3) If I didn't get heard or get a chance to get my words in this week, there's always next week. And the week after that. Timing has a lot to do with it.
Poking Greenbones until he bleeds about impementing a slipper option for men while he's working on designing the dhow, the baghlah, the brigand king portraits, the new trinkets, and new carpets is bad timing.
The time that we have to work on tweaks or what are considered optional additions is pretty small, and trying to get a word in edgewise is an art in a crowded and busy release schedule like this game's. If no one comments on what I've brought up, it's not personal, and I'll bring it up again. I bring up the bugs, problems, and requested new features from you guys on the forums, too. I promise I do. I promise the developers are really cool about listening too, except that things can get forgotten pretty easily when there's a ton of things in Arcturus' (and my!) notebooks that need to make it in before our next release. That's why we have the forums though, and why they hired me. I know that this company wouldn't have done that if they didn't want to keep a finger on the pulse of things and hear what all of our awesome players (and yes, even the not so awesome) have to say.
Besides, I am not above subtly turning the screws in lunch conversation with Greenbones, either. Anthropology and historical conversations can be steered into fashions of the times very easily. Oh yes.