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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

co_martsu

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Last week we released a small patch to fix a couple of bugs and I see people were very pleased to get rid of those repeating thunderstorm warnings. While we always do our best to release updates that are of great quality, it's not unheard of that some bugs slip through to the live version of the game. I have asked our programmers to write bugfree code but for some reason they don't look amused when hearing that.

All of our team members test their implementations to a certain degree. However as you might imagine they really don't have the time to do it thoroughly themselves. That's why Igor, our hawkeyed QA dude, is on the watch. He tests the game, reports issues and verifies fixes. He has thousands of hours on Cities: Skylines so we can really call him an expert on the game. Igor is also following issues reported by the community and works closely with co_emmi and I on community support and collecting feedback to our wishlist.

So where as Igor does the testing inhouse we are also supported by the QA department at Paradox. They check every delivery making sure the quality and content are as expected and report any appearing issues back to us. Paradox also has better resources and facilities arranging playtests for multiple testers simultaneously. They provide us with videos and detailed reports that are very helpful for us devs. QA is definitely one good example on how the workload can be divided between a developer and a publisher to achieving better results.

I'm a firm believer in constantly improving the quality of our games and processes so we are not settling with the current status of our QA. Quality of a game is something we can always improve and the plan is to double or triple our internal QA resources this year to achieving faster turnaround time. The better the deliveries to Paradox are the better quality the live version is.

Concrete plan for Colossal to expand starts with us finding a new bigger office space. Hopefully by the end of our summer vacation we'll have room to welcome new members to the team :)

Cheers,
Mariina
 
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JimmiG

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Yep, bugs are pretty much a fact of life when developing software. There's no such thing as bug free software, only software with bugs that haven't been discovered yet :p

However it's good the QA team is getting expanded so future updates ship with fewer "undocumented features" :D
 
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I would love to hear from CO about a tentative (bolded for emphasis) plan for the next expansion to CSL. I think most of us will understand that nothing is set in stone. Anyone who doesn't know or acknowledge this caveat doesn't count in this, to put it bluntly. But I think perhaps it would be good for CO to hear a general feedback on a proposal outlining the next expansion before it goes into development.

I was thinking about this possible way to go about with future DLCs because it seem to be my impression that most people thought that natural disasters should not be the next expansion's focus back then when ND was announced.

I am not calling for a vote on every facet of a future expansion in a draft proposal but I think it would a good idea for CO to consult with the community for a general feedback on a draft outlining a future expansion before finalizing it and going ahead with its development. Perhaps this would avoid the ill-feeling that people had about ND that focused on disasters rather than things they wanted most like transportation and such.

Personally, I don't think keeping it under wraps until an announcement is a good way to go about it, because I think consultations would be a valuable tool to assess what kind of reception an expansion is likely to get when announced officially.

Alternatively, I would propose a closed consultation with a number of de-facto community leaders in CSL community for feedback on a draft proposal for an expansion. I am not sure how to define community leaders but it would be those who stand out prominently in the community and who contributed constructively to it. A number of popular modders would probably fit in this definition. In a closed consultation, I would recommend that all parties invited to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) before being admitted into them.

This alternative proposal is intended for if CO is more comfortable with keeping it under wraps before announcing it. I realize that this would be perceived as unfair for it would seem to be a special treatment for an "elite" but it is better to have some consultations from a part of the community than no consultations at all with community when planning an expansion.

One another possible tool to gauge the feedback on a planned feature of an expansion, before it is actually announced, is to anonymously post under an alias (pretending to be a lowly regular user) a poll on a number of community sites (this forum, Simtropolis, etc.) asking if this feature would interest them, without any hints at all that this feature is planned as a part of an upcoming expansion and that the poll is posted on behalf of CO. In this way, a planned feature is "leaked" without anyone even knowing it. Anonymity can do wonders, sometimes. (Note: because the Paradox forums, oddly enough, does not support polls directly, the best bet is to simply create a poll on a third-party website and post link to it in a thread)

This is not intended as a replacement for suggestions subforum because I am talking about consultations on a draft proposal for an expansion from CO before it is actually announced.

At any rate, I must again emphasize that CO is not bound to take any of these suggestions under consideration or to actually implement them. They are well within their rights to not consider them, for they are a private company and they have no obligations to do so. These are merely suggestions, nothing more.

Just a thought.
 
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BadPeanut

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I would love to hear from CO about a tentative (bolded for emphasis) plan for the next expansion to CSL. I think most of us will understand that nothing is set in stone. Anyone who doesn't know or acknowledge this caveat doesn't count in this, to put it bluntly. But I think perhaps it would be good for CO to hear a general feedback on a proposal outlining the next expansion before it goes into development.

I was thinking about this possible way to go about with future DLCs because it seem to be my impression that most people thought that natural disasters should not be the next expansion's focus back then when ND was announced.

I am not calling for a vote on every facet of a future expansion in a draft proposal but I think it would a good idea for CO to consult with the community for a general feedback on a draft outlining a future expansion before finalizing it and going ahead with its development. Perhaps this would avoid the ill-feeling that people had about ND that focused on disasters rather than things they wanted most like transportation and such.

Personally, I don't think keeping it under wraps until an announcement is a good way to go about it, because I think consultations would be a valuable tool to assess what kind of reception an expansion is likely to get when announced officially.

Alternatively, I would propose a closed consultation with a number of de-facto community leaders in CSL community for feedback on a draft proposal for an expansion. I am not sure how to define community leaders but it would be those who stand out prominently in the community and who contributed constructively to it. A number of popular modders would probably fit in this definition. In a closed consultation, I would recommend that all parties invited to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) before being admitted into them.

This alternative proposal is intended for if CO is more comfortable with keeping it under wraps before announcing it. I realize that this would be perceived as unfair for it would seem to be a special treatment for an "elite" but it is better to have some consultations from a part of the community than no consultations at all with community when planning an expansion.

One another possible tool to gauge the feedback on a planned feature of an expansion, before it is actually announced, is to anonymously post under an alias (pretending to be a lowly regular user) a poll on a number of community sites (this forum, Simtropolis, etc.) asking if this feature would interest them, without any hints at all that this feature is planned as a part of an upcoming expansion and that the poll is posted on behalf of CO. In this way, a planned feature is "leaked" without anyone even knowing it. Anonymity can do wonders, sometimes. (Note: because the Paradox forums, oddly enough, does not support polls directly, the best bet is to simply create a poll on a third-party website and post link to it in a thread)

This is not intended as a replacement for suggestions subforum because I am talking about consultations on a draft proposal for an expansion from CO before it is actually announced.

At any rate, I must again emphasize that CO is not bound to take any of these suggestions under consideration or to actually implement them. They are well within their rights to not consider them, for they are a private company and they have no obligations to do so. These are merely suggestions, nothing more.

Just a thought.
Dude they're probably already consulting under NDA you just wouldn't know because of the NDA. A while back they asked for modders to put their names down so I'm sure some got picked.
 

Anttonilla

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Dude they're probably already consulting under NDA you just wouldn't know because of the NDA. A while back they asked for modders to put their names down so I'm sure some got picked.
Well even if that was true still a huge part of the community can currently really only voice their opinion when it's already too late. I would be a big fan of a more flexible development system were our feedback would be in a bigger role. :)
 

BadPeanut

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Well even if that was true still a huge part of the community can currently really only voice their opinion when it's already too late. I would be a big fan of a more flexible development system were our feedback would be in a bigger role. :)
But that's the company's decision - they and they alone know what's feasible. can you imagine how out of hand the "input" or a better term would be "demands" would get? it would be astronomically poisonous for the community to have that culture. As we've seen in the past, modders have been crucified if they decide to go against popular opinion, even though they are the ones who know best about their own mods.
I think we should just trust in CO and their ability to improve, both in reaching players expectations and maintaining the balance of the game. If they do have a beta for modders then I think that's enough community input as the modders are the ones who have more of an intimate knowledge of the game's code and they also have many (presumably) hours of the game played too.
Trust in CO and Mariina's CEO ability :)
 
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Anttonilla

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But that's the company's decision - they and they alone know what's feasible. can you imagine how out of hand the "input" or a better term would be "demands" would get? it would be astronomically poisonous for the community to have that culture. As we've seen in the past, modders have been crucified if they decide to go against popular opinion, even though they are the ones who know best about their own mods.
I think we should just trust in CO and their ability to improve, both in reaching players expectations and maintaining the balance of the game. If they do have a beta for modders then I think that's enough community input as the modders are the ones who have more of an intimate knowledge of the game's code and they also have many (presumably) hours of the game played too.
Trust in CO and Mariina's CEO ability :)
Yeah of course, wise words right there. I'm certainly not demanding change here. :) The current system is mostly fine, even though our feedback usually gets heard only months and months later if at all. What if Colossal Order did more polls about the content people want?
 

gzt

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Imagine a long stretch of six lanes road (three lane going one direction, the other three going the other direction). Imagine bus stops placed on either side of the road. Then imagine that a disembarked pedestrian who have just gotten off the bus. This pedestrian lives in an apartment just on the other side of the street from where the bus stop is. Unfortunately, though, this pedestrian needs to walk all the way to the closest intersection, cross the street, then walk all the way back in order to get to his house. This happens a lot, and not just for bus stops, but also for trams, and subway.

I highly recommend the inclusion of underpass as a new traffic option in the next expansion. This will allow pedestrian to cross the street without having to go all the way to the closest intersection, which can be VERY far away. Another function of underpass is that it can connect subway station to tram stops, bus stops, airport, and seaports to help integrate various types of public transportation.

Also, please make zonable pedestrian path an official part of the game instead of relying on mod. Thanks!
 
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Imagine a long stretch of six lanes road (three lane going one direction, the other three going the other direction). Imagine bus stops placed on either side of the road. Then imagine that a disembarked pedestrian who have just gotten off the bus. This pedestrian lives in an apartment just on the other side of the street from where the bus stop is. Unfortunately, though, this pedestrian needs to walk all the way to the closest intersection, cross the street, then walk all the way back in order to get to his house. This happens a lot, and not just for bus stops, but also for trams, and subway.

I highly recommend the inclusion of underpass as a new traffic option in the next expansion. This will allow pedestrian to cross the street without having to go all the way to the closest intersection, which can be VERY far away. Another function of underpass is that it can connect subway station to tram stops, bus stops, airport, and seaports to help integrate various types of public transportation.

Also, please make zonable pedestrian path an official part of the game instead of relying on mod. Thanks!
Why don't you just put stops at intersections? and if you say you're intersections are very far apart so there would be less stops then that's just bad planning :p
 

co_martsu

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Mariina, can we with Alex visit you again later this year so we can see your new office? :D

Haha, let's see! We'll have to find a good space first and get settled, but there's definitely going to be a party at the new office when it's ready :)

Yep, bugs are pretty much a fact of life when developing software. There's no such thing as bug free software, only software with bugs that haven't been discovered yet :p

However it's good the QA team is getting expanded so future updates ship with fewer "undocumented features" :D

Indeed!

I want to be a QA-Tester for your game, too!

We'll open the positions when we have the new space so please feel free to apply for a job then :)

I would love to hear from CO about a tentative (bolded for emphasis) plan for the next expansion to CSL. I think most of us will understand that nothing is set in stone. Anyone who doesn't know or acknowledge this caveat doesn't count in this, to put it bluntly. But I think perhaps it would be good for CO to hear a general feedback on a proposal outlining the next expansion before it goes into development.

I was thinking about this possible way to go about with future DLCs because it seem to be my impression that most people thought that natural disasters should not be the next expansion's focus back then when ND was announced.

I am not calling for a vote on every facet of a future expansion in a draft proposal but I think it would a good idea for CO to consult with the community for a general feedback on a draft outlining a future expansion before finalizing it and going ahead with its development. Perhaps this would avoid the ill-feeling that people had about ND that focused on disasters rather than things they wanted most like transportation and such.

Personally, I don't think keeping it under wraps until an announcement is a good way to go about it, because I think consultations would be a valuable tool to assess what kind of reception an expansion is likely to get when announced officially.

Alternatively, I would propose a closed consultation with a number of de-facto community leaders in CSL community for feedback on a draft proposal for an expansion. I am not sure how to define community leaders but it would be those who stand out prominently in the community and who contributed constructively to it. A number of popular modders would probably fit in this definition. In a closed consultation, I would recommend that all parties invited to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) before being admitted into them.

This alternative proposal is intended for if CO is more comfortable with keeping it under wraps before announcing it. I realize that this would be perceived as unfair for it would seem to be a special treatment for an "elite" but it is better to have some consultations from a part of the community than no consultations at all with community when planning an expansion.

One another possible tool to gauge the feedback on a planned feature of an expansion, before it is actually announced, is to anonymously post under an alias (pretending to be a lowly regular user) a poll on a number of community sites (this forum, Simtropolis, etc.) asking if this feature would interest them, without any hints at all that this feature is planned as a part of an upcoming expansion and that the poll is posted on behalf of CO. In this way, a planned feature is "leaked" without anyone even knowing it. Anonymity can do wonders, sometimes. (Note: because the Paradox forums, oddly enough, does not support polls directly, the best bet is to simply create a poll on a third-party website and post link to it in a thread)

This is not intended as a replacement for suggestions subforum because I am talking about consultations on a draft proposal for an expansion from CO before it is actually announced.

At any rate, I must again emphasize that CO is not bound to take any of these suggestions under consideration or to actually implement them. They are well within their rights to not consider them, for they are a private company and they have no obligations to do so. These are merely suggestions, nothing more.

Just a thought.

I understand this would be nice for the community to get involved already in the planning phase, but it's not a feasible way of getting an expansion started. You might not know that we already negotiate with our publisher before we can lock the content down and having a third party joining at this point would probably result in endless conversation on what to do next :)

We focus on collecting suggestions and gathering feedback so we can see if the direction set for the game is going the right way. We also do have a closed modding beta where we show early builds and ask for feedback. However the general theme and content has been planned already at that point because we need to have the contracts in place before we start the work. Also the main point of the modding beta is to mitigate the amount of broken mods when updating the game and I think it has worked very nicely. The modders are amazingly active and hardworking to ensuring their mods are compatible with the latest version of the game!

Yeah of course, wise words right there. I'm certainly not demanding change here. :) The current system is mostly fine, even though our feedback usually gets heard only months and months later if at all. What if Colossal Order did more polls about the content people want?

This conversation is actually really interesting and brings forth a deeper question. How should the developer's opinion be valued compared to the community's? As a community member I'm sure you would like to affect the development as much as possible and to the direction you personally like. However Cities: Skylines has hundreds if not thousands of active fans who all have their own personal view on what they want to see next. How do we value the different opinions?

Disasters was very much a requested feature but right after announcement some said they don't want it and that we should have worked on something else. How about the people that wanted disasters in the game? I think they must have been happy to see their wish become true. The development times are quite long from an idea or suggestion to it making in the game, but rest assured we do listen and try to make different kind of content to cater different types of players. Next up is something that differs from Natural Disasters a lot :)

And then back to the developers themselves. They need to be excited about an idea and the direction the game is headed for them to do their best. They need to feel an ownership of the content, have a vision and a long term plan. If we only executed the publisher's or the community's wishes we would simply be nothing more than an outsourcing company and I'm sure that would eat our soul and passion away quicker than I could bring cake to the office to recover it.
 

mntoes

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Have to agree here. I was one of those who thought he didn't want disasters, but did I buy it - of course I did. And I love it!. Just goes to show (I also guess the dev diaries influence my purchase a lot).
 

Anttonilla

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Haha, let's see! We'll have to find a good space first and get settled, but there's definitely going to be a party at the new office when it's ready :)
Maybe make a new video tour when you have found the perfect office? :)

This conversation is actually really interesting and brings forth a deeper question. How should the developer's opinion be valued compared to the community's? As a community member I'm sure you would like to affect the development as much as possible and to the direction you personally like. However Cities: Skylines has hundreds if not thousands of active fans who all have their own personal view on what they want to see next. How do we value the different opinions?

Disasters was very much a requested feature but right after announcement some said they don't want it and that we should have worked on something else. How about the people that wanted disasters in the game? I think they must have been happy to see their wish become true. The development times are quite long from an idea or suggestion to it making in the game, but rest assured we do listen and try to make different kind of content to cater different types of players. Next up is something that differs from Natural Disasters a lot :)

And then back to the developers themselves. They need to be excited about an idea and the direction the game is headed for them to do their best. They need to feel an ownership of the content, have a vision and a long term plan. If we only executed the publisher's or the community's wishes we would simply be nothing more than an outsourcing company and I'm sure that would eat our soul and passion away quicker than I could bring cake to the office to recover it.
Of course you as an game developer should have your own ideas on developing the game of your dreams. Two years ago you said that Colossal Order has a pretty clear vision for the Skylines base game, and I must congratulate you on delivering an excellent game :) Sometimes the developers come up with excellent ideas that perhaps haven't even been suggested by the fans. Every time I'm leave feedback for you I secretly hope that some day you come up with something even cooler that I just wrote about. It's you after all who do this for a living. :p

I think that you have mastered the listening part of the feedback so far. I see that Natural Disasters were asked a lot, and it's completely fine that you made it happen. I would have probably decided to add them too if I were in charge. The majority of Skylines players probably have never visited this forum, or even the subreddit, so I see where your concerns regarding feedback value are coming from. You probably receive tons of little comments on Facebook, Twitter etc. and you of course shouldn't ignore those. I would still rate the feedback coming from "active" fans a little higher, and by active fans I mainly mean the users of Paradoxplaza forum and the Cities: Skylines subreddit. I mean like, I play a ton of other games too, but I still don't contribute to those games development at all. I know that there are a lot of dedicated fans who really know what those games need. I believe that you have somewhat prioritized the feedback that way already since you are so active here and on Reddit. Keep it up, it's really meaningful :)

As for how to prioritize our feedback as the more active community, I have not really seen anybody change the course of this game alone. We tend to agree on a lot of things and such things could be pretty safely assumed as being good and worth looking into.

I have been somewhat dissatisfied with how all the feedback actually turns into action. Of course development takes time, but it's even the littlest things seem to take forever to change.
  • It took nine and a half months before the solar power was rebalanced after After Dark. I don't think anyone even expected it to be changed anymore.
  • Trees were moved to the landscaping menu on 22th of March 2016 and still the park menu has a tree as it's icon. It's confusing as **** :D
Of course some stuff never gets implemented but the examples above can be literally done in 10 minutes.

Damn these posts are getting longer and longer, I can't help myself.

Also, keep those cake deliveries going, your strategy seems to be working.
 

MarkJohnson

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I would love to hear from CO about a tentative (bolded for emphasis) plan for the next expansion to CSL. I think most of us will understand that nothing is set in stone. Anyone who doesn't know or acknowledge this caveat doesn't count in this, to put it bluntly. But I think perhaps it would be good for CO to hear a general feedback on a proposal outlining the next expansion before it goes into development.

I was thinking about this possible way to go about with future DLCs because it seem to be my impression that most people thought that natural disasters should not be the next expansion's focus back then when ND was announced.

I am not calling for a vote on every facet of a future expansion in a draft proposal but I think it would a good idea for CO to consult with the community for a general feedback on a draft outlining a future expansion before finalizing it and going ahead with its development. Perhaps this would avoid the ill-feeling that people had about ND that focused on disasters rather than things they wanted most like transportation and such.

Personally, I don't think keeping it under wraps until an announcement is a good way to go about it, because I think consultations would be a valuable tool to assess what kind of reception an expansion is likely to get when announced officially.

Alternatively, I would propose a closed consultation with a number of de-facto community leaders in CSL community for feedback on a draft proposal for an expansion. I am not sure how to define community leaders but it would be those who stand out prominently in the community and who contributed constructively to it. A number of popular modders would probably fit in this definition. In a closed consultation, I would recommend that all parties invited to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) before being admitted into them.

This alternative proposal is intended for if CO is more comfortable with keeping it under wraps before announcing it. I realize that this would be perceived as unfair for it would seem to be a special treatment for an "elite" but it is better to have some consultations from a part of the community than no consultations at all with community when planning an expansion.

One another possible tool to gauge the feedback on a planned feature of an expansion, before it is actually announced, is to anonymously post under an alias (pretending to be a lowly regular user) a poll on a number of community sites (this forum, Simtropolis, etc.) asking if this feature would interest them, without any hints at all that this feature is planned as a part of an upcoming expansion and that the poll is posted on behalf of CO. In this way, a planned feature is "leaked" without anyone even knowing it. Anonymity can do wonders, sometimes. (Note: because the Paradox forums, oddly enough, does not support polls directly, the best bet is to simply create a poll on a third-party website and post link to it in a thread)

This is not intended as a replacement for suggestions subforum because I am talking about consultations on a draft proposal for an expansion from CO before it is actually announced.

At any rate, I must again emphasize that CO is not bound to take any of these suggestions under consideration or to actually implement them. They are well within their rights to not consider them, for they are a private company and they have no obligations to do so. These are merely suggestions, nothing more.

Just a thought.

Dude they're probably already consulting under NDA you just wouldn't know because of the NDA. A while back they asked for modders to put their names down so I'm sure some got picked.

Well even if that was true still a huge part of the community can currently really only voice their opinion when it's already too late. I would be a big fan of a more flexible development system were our feedback would be in a bigger role. :)

There are places for you to voice your opinions out there. Just you, and most of us, only voice it after the fact.

I'm sure CO had plenty of interest in disasters since day 1. But since it was missing, only people who wanted it voiced their opinion. People who didn't want disasters weren't creating threads of please never add disasters. So it ND was created because of positive opinions of disasters being added.

Here are many places you can voice yourself on a regular basis.

Steam's wishlist forum
http://steamcommunity.com/app/255710/discussions/1/

Paradox's own Suggestions & Feedback forums
https://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/index.php?forums/suggestions-feedback.881/

Not to mention reddit in general
 

ma2412

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@Mariina:
as you might know: people who did not like something in a game shout out louder than those people who like something.
very difficult to get a community opinion to some thing, when the community is spread to different platforms (reddit, this board, etc.) and many players even will not look anywhere on this sites.
 

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There are places for you to voice your opinions out there. Just you, and most of us, only voice it after the fact.

I'm sure CO had plenty of interest in disasters since day 1. But since it was missing, only people who wanted it voiced their opinion. People who didn't want disasters weren't creating threads of please never add disasters. So it ND was created because of positive opinions of disasters being added.

Here are many places you can voice yourself on a regular basis.

Steam's wishlist forum
http://steamcommunity.com/app/255710/discussions/1/

Paradox's own Suggestions & Feedback forums
https://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/index.php?forums/suggestions-feedback.881/

Not to mention reddit in general

I just want to make it clear that I do not have any objections to the Natural Disasters expansion. But when I read comments on announcement of the ND expansion, it sounds like a large segment of users on this forum were unhappy with the focus on disasters for the expansion at the time. Of course, I could be mistaken in this perception and there is no question that forum is but only one of many places and do not represent 100% of the players, although they certainly represent a large segment. So I suggested what I thought might prevent a repeat of this situation. However, it seem like most users are now accepting of the expansion so I guess the question is moot.
 

Fox_NS_CAN

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However Cities: Skylines has hundreds if not thousands of active fans who all have their own personal view on what they want to see next. How do we value the different opinions?

I often see posts about things that some people would like to see in CS, and they are often quite passionate about it. Yet all I can think is "this is not the way I want to see CS go". If I don't like it, I rarely say so, as I don't want to seem mean.

Also, I am sure that lots of people don't see things the way I do either.

Sometimes I see things that people want that I would also like, but I know would make the game less accessible to people with lower end computers, or too complicated for many of the more casual gamers that like to play CS.

You can't please everyone! If you can please most of us most of the time, well, that would be good.