Thanks so much for the feedback, nutritionalzero. Not too many folks take the time to write out long-form thoughts, so it’s really helpful when someone like you does. Before I respond at all, I want to make sure I say that up front.
Instead of going point by point, I’ll reply in a more general style. The jnet devs are entirely hobbyists, folks who spend their free-time working on this. We don’t have any dedicated designers or QA folks or even a consistent development group. Because of the nature of the project, devs come and go as they please, so it’s left to whoever is currently active and interested to implement the new things - for example, Nisei’s new formats. I don’t say this to get out of our responsibility to you specifically and to the greater jnet user base, but to ask for some patience as we work through the issues that arise when a big release happens. I personally spent over 16 hours this past weekend and about 20 hours spread out over the rest of last week working on this, because I had hoped to deploy it alongside the announcement. My goal is the same as yours: the best possible experience for everyone playing.
As we don’t have a blog or a twitter or something else, I’ve relied on talking with the folks on slack (#jinteki_net primarily) to get feedback and to test ideas. I’ve teased a couple images, opened some polls, and the reaction has been good. My level of involvement with the greater jnet community could be higher, that’s true; I’ll look to ways I (and the team as a whole) can improve as we move forward. I understand that it can be frustrating to get into a rhythm and then feel taken aback when it changes without warning, and I apologize for not warning folks more.
I agree that the UX of the “formats” label in the game lobby could be better, but I also think that some of the issues you’ve experienced stem from the newness of the label. As people get used to looking for it, behaviors will change. I’m currently in talks with some folks from Nisei about adding icons or coloring to the formats so as to make them “pop” a little in the game lobby, which will hopefully alleviate some of these pains.
The issues of a deck not correctly showing legality by default is unfortunate. We have a fix in the works and it should appear along with fixes for the Alt-Art selector in the card browser.
Regarding your two requests, I’ll reiterate what I said above about us being hobbyists. I work a full-time development job and am preparing for a wedding in January, another dev just had a kid, another is in grad school. Hosting a public beta would be excellent and maybe some day that could happen, but right now it’s impractical for us to do something like that. We used to use the dev server more frequently, but interest in playing tester died down in the greater community and so we gifted the server to Nisei to be their private design and development test server.
However, we can do more to reach out and communicate our goals and our ideas before we implement or even just before we deploy them live to gauge how y’all might feel about them. None of us are really interested in hosting a blog (Programmers, amirite?), but you’re welcome to join us on stimslack where I’ll try to do more to reach out as things develop.
I hope this doesn’t come across as defensive, because I am really grateful for your feedback. It’s good to know y’all care as much as we do, cuz it’s only fun when folks are using it.
EDIT: To help ease the pain of not knowing what’s going on, I started a discussion thread in #Jinteki to highlight and feature development ideas and questions for the public, as Slack is a nebulous and difficult place to use traditionally: Jnet Development Thread