I think some people underestimate what we mean when we talk about launching games "before they're done". The thing is, if you want to learn as much as you can in the shortest amount of time, you don't launch a game when you've put all the spit & polish on it, you launch it as soon as you think you have something that might be fun enough that it's worth playing.
This is obviously not finished. The UI is pretty workmanlike (though functionally quite serviceable), and the art isn't going to sell you on the next great transmedia entertainment franchise.
But here's the thing - we've been playing this game for weeks. And there's a point where it goes from "Oh, well, I've gotta play the game to test some stuff, but it sucks," to, "I guess I'll play the game, I've got nothing better to do," to, "SOMEONE TAKE A TURN I WANT TO PLAY NOW DAMMIT GO GO NOW NOW NOW!"
And the problem is that if you've been working on the game, you see how it's getting progressively better. The things you hated about the earlier versions get whittled away, and you start to see the potential of the thing you're working on. You see it get better and better and better. And that's hugely satisfying, and really fun.
But the problem is that it almost makes it very hard to tell if the game is actually fun, or if the process of seeing the game develop is fun. Just because something's getting better doesn't mean it's actually good.
And it may be surprising, but a lot of game studios spend years on games without knowing for sure whether what they have is "better" or "fun" before releasing it and finding out that their perspective on the game doesn't match up with how players feel about it.
So starting tomorrow, we're going to be bringing in other people to start playing the game. It's going to start with an extremely limited release to "Friends & Family" that's going to roll out over the next few weeks to a larger audience. The game is so rough right now that it's not even what we'd call an alpha or beta launch, and it's definitely not ready for public consumption. Yet.
But what we're trying to find out is whether people will hit that rematch button. Even if it looks like that. If people want to keep playing then it shows that the core mechanics of the game are where we think they are. If people don't want to keep playing, we need to do our best to understand what's not working the way we hope it is.
If you want to be part of our beta release, after the Friends & Family let us get some of the kinks worked out, go here and scroll all the way to the bottom of the page. We'd love for you to help us playtest the game, give us feedback, and help improve the experience. Our games will be constantly evolving. What we're hoping to release at the start isn't even remotely the "complete" game. It's the nucleus - there are other major things that will be built around it, but if we don't get this part right, and we don't make sure this is fun, there's no point in doing the rest. For us, we can't wait to get this out to you - both because we're really excited to see what you think, and because we can't afford to wait until it's "perfect" before we start learning about how to make it better.