Hi all, this is a new player here that has fallen in love with the game. I'm completely stricken by the level of anger and defensiveness between players and developers and I think most would agree that it demoralizes everyone.
I have been thinking a lot about the defensiveness and snappiness of developers and my impression is that it largely stems from how even their smallest effort to make the game better is often faced with anger. And I understand that, you pour your time, effort, love, and energy into something and people don't seem to appreciate your efforts.
I have been also thinking a lot about the most angry responses I have seen from players and my impression is that they largely stem from loss. I also understand that. They spent countless hours striving and playing, largely to get bigger and better ships, only for them to be destroyed in an instant by players abusing the system or unforeseen consequences of innovative ideas.
The unfortunate consequences of these dynamics is that they kill innovation and drain players from the game. Developers are probably agonizing all the time over every little change they want to introduce to the game and how to communicate them to players from vastly different cultures. And players simply give up on the game after yet another catastrophic loss.
My suggestion is to allow players to retain their ships after a loss related to a new feature (maybe for two weeks after it has been introduced), by maybe paying a penalty cost on its recovery. I think this would do wonders to smooth the introduction of new features, let developers have fun coming with new ideas and players to test them, and help everyone keep their head cool when discussing the merits and weaknesses. No loss to innovation will be catastrophic and the mood will significantly lighten.
Naval action is quite unique among other MMOs in which loss is catastrophic, you loose your ship and you are done. This I believe is one of the issues that keeps everyone on edge all the time. I think it would do wonders for everyone if experiments don't cause catastrophic loss.
Think for example the privateer fleets. They seem to be quite overpowered at the moment and several players, taken completely by surprise, have lost their beloved ships to them. Now, the idea of the fleets is cool and has the potential of bringing more dynamism to the game, but maybe all they need is tweaks, not simply removing them from the game. A test time in which people loose battles, but not their ships will help people be proactive.