I loved GC2. I loved the graphics, and the ship designer, and most of the game play. Mostly, I loved Stardock: the support for modding (heck, you hired Kryo!), the responsiveness to player input, and the speed with which bugs where handled all made me feel like the designers cared as much as I did about having the best 4X space game ever. Unlike many other games, GC encourages and rewards creativity. I spent hours that I should have been working modding the game to suit me, and I enjoyed every minute of it. And, as a bonus, the basic game got regular improvements even as supplements came out!
I bought into GC3 early, because I wanted more. I'd be a founder if I hadn't been dirt-poor at the time it was available, but I did buy in as soon as I could. When I finally got a computer that could play it, I was disappointed. Why has been documented elsewhere, and is immaterial, but the disappointment continued with much of the DLC and up until recently. Don't get me wrong, it was a good game. As Frogboy might say, not good enough. I wasn't quite GC2 caliber.
I voiced my concerns, as did many others. Stardock answered. Slowly at first, the game improved, and it was clear the team was trying. Then you brought FrogBoy and brought back CariElf, the pace of improvements accelerated. Then I saw the most Stardock thing I've seen in a while: Frogboy took a complaint (slow giant games), and simply fixed it. I know for a fact Frogboy was up very late some nights to get that done. THAT is the Stardock I remember. It is that commitment to the product, to the experience, that I was hoping for.* **
I had been hesitant about this game, but not any more. I expect to go back through and change my Steam reviews after Crusade (I updated the main one already). I don't want to get my hopes up too much, and I plan to be patient because I know that sometimes features don't come out until later. But I will wait and see, and I will give you more than a week after Crusade. Stardock has earned that patience from me.
Do I think GC3 is as advanced over GC2 as I'd like? Not yet. Not "no," just "not yet." My trust in you guys is back in spades, and I am looking forward to where the game goes. I hope we can win new players and win back old ones, one player at a time, as the game improves. And I hope we can move past some of the (undeserved) beta griping and negativity (some of which I am responsible for... sorry), and make the GC series a gamer standard like Civ and the Total War series.
In the meantime, I know I'm not alone: folks like Gauntlet and Seilore and Horevmore among many others are pumping out quality mods, and Steam is full of gorgeous ships (and not-always-so-gorgeous factions) because they care about the game, and they enjoy the creative outlet. I have a half-dozen mods waiting for Crusade. So please keep up the good work, and please give the team a round applause for their efforts.
Again, thank you Stardock, for turning my money into hours upon hours of fun,
General Pants (Jon)
* I do not normally encourage obsessive, late-night work, but I understand Frogboy essentially has a day-job too, and some people just work better that way. Says the person who was up late and noticed who else was up late...
** I do NOT mean to imply that the team was not doing their jobs before. They apparently needed help. We all need help, that isn't a failing on their part. They obviously needed a few more resources. I'm glad they got them.