I've been enjoying strategy gaming for more than 25 years.
I have a keen eye of what I consider to be stupid design decisions, and over the course of a quarter of a century I've seen some decisions that defy belief, whether it was Traffic Giant, Civ 4, RRT3, MTW2, EU3, ask me about it it and I will probably rant about incredibly stupid design decisions. The best way to avoid annoyed customers is to avoid making a stupid design decision in the first place.
If you look at ACW, it's a great overall game, but it falls down on 1 major point:
1) You have a restriction on what you can buy. (WHY?) I want a Parrot gun or a Sharpshooter regiment, it's my choice.You blokes create a point system and then dictate how these credits can be spent? Where are the recruitment centres? Never dictate what the player should do: it's their free time, always make as many options as possible to suit the customer within their free time. That is when they use your product afterall! The system was good, the restrictions you placed were not.
I was just replaying "Traffic Giant" by JoWood from Austria, and as an older experienced player, I noticed, after a 10+ year break how much my patience has decreased whilst my skill level hasn't it seems, I challenge all of you to get gold in the town called Brownsville in the alternative mission pack, it's not possible (If any of you achieve it, a Magnum of Champagne will be brought for you in South London- It just isn't possible. Anyway, this game seems to have an inbuilt system(by the programmers) to ensure that each route will be screwed in fairly short order, so I was pondering in it. (It's late so I'm tired not alert). Essrentially each route you carefully craft to AVOID the traffic jams is then nulled by the AI watching monitoring what you do, but not in a gamer (customer) way.
I also looked at Railroad (Railway) Tycoon 3 again recently and saw how they managed to fail at every single level on the entire point of a railway/economic game. Did they really think PC gamers are thickies? If any single developer manages to utterly miss the point then RRT3 does it in this sim, it just fails on so many levels. (The first one would be: Why build a railway if it just runs itself once built???). RRT was restrictive, but as a Sid Meiyer game, ground breaking. RRT2 addressed most of the customer concerns. then RRT3 came along and broke the game.
I could discuss or criticise many games I still consider great games: And provide a detailed analysis to the faults within each game: I have kept 30 games over the years but still have my Punk Jacket from my London town aged 13, but at my age I prefer to criticise stupid progammer choices
You guys make or break our fun when we are free and we buy your product. I recently (over the past year played many old games from when I was early 30's) but also got so annoyed with stupid design decisions, I've yet to understand how so many programmers can take great moments in history (EU) and then screw it up so badly in EU3. Did they detach themselves from Europe and our common history to create this in nonsense one day in Stockholm after a beer too many???? Work is work.
One word of advice: The original Civilisation by the great Sid: This programmer makes the customer repeat each task over and over again, yet it manages to be be rewarding to the player even though it is repetitive. It works as each time the player/customer gets a sense of reward for building a temple/barracks etc, each time it happens, until the player has reached a point of dominance within their game, but the early- in game thirst is quenched, by the player saying "excellent" for those early cities where it really mattered. He also did with Railroad (Railway) Tycoon and Pirates! I Thank this man so much for setting a benchmark many programmers have paralleled, but some of which seem to have a holier-than-thou attitude. That doesn't make a sale and nor do I. My first gaming experience was the Mega Drive, then the Atari ST, finally a 486 series PC. Still to this day day I see developers making the same overall mistake of repition, the lesson has never be learnt within the context of each game they make. Patrician 2 and P4. Nothing got learnt at all, yet the solutions were so simple, instead they busted the game in order to "make their mark" and thought it would go down well, It didn't as Ascaron didn't listen to the customers, like Jo Wood, Ascaron are now dufunct. Two potentially great companies down the pan.
"Whether it's the best of times or the worst of times, it's the only time you've got" Art Buchwald, U.S. Journalist and humourist