So while I anticipated some push back surrounding What new systems exist in Diablo 3?, I was surprised that the push back seemed to be about the timing rather than the fact that is was a "list" question. So I'm curious to get people's thoughts on this policy. At what point is it OK to start asking questions about a new game?

  • When an official answer is released?
  • When a beta starts?
  • When an open beta starts?
  • Not until the game is released?
  • Are certain topics allowed earlier than others?

Oak stated in his comment that officially announced decisions could still change in the future, but we deal with questions whose answers change all the time. Provided that we don't try to go too much into specifics, I don't see why answers to my question are any more likely to change than, say, a feature in Minecraft.

As an aside, some might wonder why do I care about asking this question now. The answer is because this is big news in gaming right now, and if we show that we can do a good job of answering questions like this, people are more likely to find the site and also come back to it when they have other questions about the game (or other games).

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2 Answers

I agree the divide between confirmed data and speculation can sometimes be fuzzy, and thus I think bwarner raise an important question. I decided to make my opinion an independent answer, so it could be voted on.

I wholly agree with Mark's guideline:

The baseline is that a member of the public has be able to play the game, not speculate about it or rehash announcements about it.

To both issues, Stack Exchange is expected to solve problems people actually face, not provide a launching point for discussion about a topic, especially on a game that nobody can actually play yet.

But I think that comparing sequels to their prequels is entirely a valid form of question. In fact I think we already have a few of those, for example What upgrade changes have been made to Civilization 5?

To quote myself:

Sequels are usually about expanding the gameplay rather than revolutionizing it, so they are great candidates for comparison.

So to answer bwarner's question:

So you're saying that if a beta started next week, you would vote to reopen the question at that time?

Yes, it should probably be re-opened when the beta starts.

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There are actually two issues with respect to this question, and I think it's important both are addressed if we're going to set precedent:

  1. Why this specific question was closed, and
  2. Oak's comment about it being premature to talk about Diablo III

To the first issue, I voted to close this question not because it's too early to be talking about Diablo III (although I agree that it is), but because open-ended comparison posts tend to have dubious quality:

  • New compared to what, Diablo II?
  • Why is that a valid comparison? Isn't it a sequel, not an updated version?
  • What constitutes something worthy to be added to the list?
  • Are we adding any value to the internet by essentially quoting the Diablo III marketing site?
  • Where does this list end? Do we update it even after launch with patches?
  • If we don't, what value does this list have after Diablo III launches?

Other sites on the network field this type of question on occasion, and it very rarely winds up being a constructive use of the engine: people have different expectations, it invites one-line answers, the answer never becomes canonical, and we're just left with a mediocre question and answer "pair".

And we've shown for other high profile sequels like Portal 2 and Witcher 2 we can avoid these "soft" questions and do well with just questions people are actually facing in-game.

Which leads to the second issue, and more to the specific point you're asking about: when is it okay to start asking questions about a game? I think the answer is pretty simple: when people are reasonably expected to have questions about playing the game. That would include launch as well as any beta, or even alpha (c.f. Minecraft before December 2010). The baseline is that a member of the public has be able to play the game, not speculate about it or rehash announcements about it.

To both issues, Stack Exchange is expected to solve problems people actually face, not provide a launching point for discussion about a topic, especially on a game that nobody can actually play yet.

The problem gamers actually face is having trouble playing a game, and without being able to have first-hand knowledge of the game, nobody on this site is in a position to provide expert answers about the topic. Let Blizzard and the rumor sites own pre-release information: we'll rule the post-release help and answers arena.

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+1 for "The baseline is that a member of the public has to be able to play the game", I think that's a great guideline - enforceable and makes sense. –  Oak Aug 1 '11 at 15:55
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Regarding the rest of your post, though, I actually think it does make a lot of sense to compare a sequel to the old game. Sequels are usually about expanding the gameplay rather than revolutionizing it, so they are great candidates for comparison. –  Oak Aug 1 '11 at 15:58
    
@Mark I agree that the "list" nature of it is the part I was more uncomfortable with. I figured if it was going to be closed for anything, it would be that, and I would've been fine if that was what the community decided. I'm not sure I'm entirely in agreement about not rehashing announcements. Announcements are often hard to find, and people often are searching for information that has been announced in some obscure location. Here's an example gaming.stackexchange.com/questions/3704/… –  bwarner Aug 1 '11 at 16:00
    
@Oak I'm not going to categorically pooh-pooh comparison lists, but the questions I listed should be used to guide how to make the question more constructive. I think use just listing everything that's different about X and Y is a recipe for destruction: there's some good guidance about that on SciFi.SE when they tried to do it for Game of Thrones. –  user3389 Aug 1 '11 at 16:01
    
@Oak So you're saying that if a beta started next week, you would vote to reopen the question at that time? –  bwarner Aug 1 '11 at 16:06
    
@bwarner I can concede that in certain cases, we add value by compiling official information about an obscure/unknown/potential facet of a game: a good example of that are our questions about whether X is going to be addressed in Y patch are of the same ilk. But as you said in your question, Diablo III doesn't meet this criteria: it's all over the gaming news. Latching onto that by repeating what every other gaming news site is posting right now gives me the content farm vibe. –  user3389 Aug 1 '11 at 16:06
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@bwarner yes; see my answer. –  Oak Aug 1 '11 at 16:11
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