So, anyone who's been paying attention for the last year or so has probably noticed that for 1.0, 1.1, 1.2 and now 1.3, we've done open betas before release, where basically anyone could get and test the beta (with the occasional caveat of a small post count requirement).
The reason for this has always been to open the beta to a wider audience and catch as many bugs as possible, and we always tried to make it clear that this was a beta, meant for testing and not for anyone who wanted to just "check out the mod." We really do appreciate the interest in the mod, but these betas aren't like the beta for a Triple-A title where you're looking for connectivity issues in an MMO or something tiny which slipped through the cracks after extensive in-house testing. There's only a small number of us, and the extent to which we have to change the mod as we go makes our own saves unusable and means we don't get as far into the game as others, on average, so the beta is for all intents and purposes untested, and really isn't meant for wide consumption. So, naturally, what the betas end up as is about 100 downloads but only 5-10 people who post bugs (huge thanks to everyone who's been doing so). There's also some people who see the post requirement as a challenge to see how fast they can get 5 (usually spammy) posts, which really isn't the point. Not everyone does this, but enough that it gets kind of annoying as moderators who then have to delete the posts. We're not trying to cover up the mod or something, we're trying to make sure that it's as good as it can be when it gets its final release.
As a result of this, we're going to switch to the more conventional methods of mod beta-testing in the future; we'll handpick a bunch of people (preferably 10-20) from the community for each release. So, if you want to test future betas, make your presence known to us. We tend to engage with the community quite a bit, so if you're contributing, we'll remember you, but can't pick you if we don't know who you are. And if we don't pick you, don't be offended. We can't pick everyone for everything.
The feedback we get, positive or negative, is crucial to the mod being good. 1.3 wouldn't be half of what it is without the ideas we've received from the community. If there's something you think should be changed, then tell us. If you want to disagree with something we've said, please do, we're not absolutist. There's nothing we like more than a large review telling us what should be changed. We're weird like that. As long as you don't say it like we have to do it, we won't hold it against you, and whether an idea or criticism is acted upon or not, it can still generate discussion about something new.
Keep the feedback coming,
PS- We've just surpassed 150,000 downloads, so thanks for that too. (70,000 for 1.0, 60,000 for 1.2, 20,000 for FotR2)