Second: I agree with an0n. Ironically I was just thinking about this tonight.
When I go to download a new program, or game, or anything, here's what I do -
I don't have time to read all of the latest changes in the changelog, 90% of which will most likely be for bugfixes. I don't really care about a massive list of features, and I don't care about a small list of features, because the former is boring and obscures the important things, and the latter leaves out the little things that could make all the difference.
So what I do is look at the screenshots and see what you can do and decide based on that. I get an idea of the features and how they're used. I get an idea of how easy they are to use. And more importantly, I learn whether the person designing the program knows what they're doing and cares about the person using the program, or if they're just packing a load of bull**** on their site and can't design/code for crap. Very often, the crappy programs have flimsy UI and it shows. Or, they have overly fancy UI that lags the whole thing down and causes crashes.
What pisses me off is when there are no
screenshots. Then I usually google the thing to find out. But what no screenshots tells me is that the person who maintains the website or does the program doesn't care about how people perceive the program and they don't care about the time of the people who are about to use the program. And it's very easy to get caught up in this mentality, that I don't have to post pics, as a programmer, even if I do care about how much time people are going to spend to figure things out. But that's not what a lack of pictures conveys to an outside observer.
But most importantly, it's a lot easier to get passionate about a picture than it is to get passionate about a list of features. Especially for a game. And one of my major gripes about the SCP is that, even though the community *****es about Interplay not doing marketing, the community is pretty crap about it ourselves. BtRL gets a lot of mention because they hit the BSG fad and the 'official' game was crap. Also, they have very very pretty models. Also, they have somebody who goes out and contacts news sites and people involved with BSG and uses those contacts to publicize. The Freespace community as a whole does not have that person. Nor does it even have a decent website. (Whoever gets offended by that statement, tell me, that way I know who cares enough to direct my criticism at. Last time I made this complaint, I was told that HLP was working on something, and that was six months ago...)
I'm going to toss this idea out there of first-line and second-line development, where first-line is the people who make the stuff and second-line are the people who refine the stuff in order for general consumption by "everyone else". Freespace as a whole has a lot of first-line people. It does lack some kind of big, creative, project that isn't based on any other universe and does anything extremely different from what's been released so far (In other words, has its own identity), but that is still a possibility.
What the community really lacks are second-line people. PR people, people who make the website, people who write the documentation, people who write favorable reviews of the game, people who contact websites and magazines and celebrities and get the word out there about new stuff. HLP has no marketing, no PR department, but frequently there are promises made that are never lived up to. It takes maybe an hour to make a decent website from scratch, and there's nothing stopping you from adding on or improving to that website once it's up - unless you start investing in an ungainly content-management system that costs more time than it saves. There are also many, many different options...Googlepages is somewhat unprofessional, and the interface has a few quirks, but you can build webpages with it with all of the technical finesse required to write an essay with Microsoft Word.
Also somewhat missing are the more technical types, who test things out, package the stuff and get it ready to go, fix bugs, and so on. These are the grunt jobs that usually end up getting filled up by coders. Unfortunately, people with programming experience are the best people to fill those jobs, even though they also comprise first-line personnel along with modelers, interface artists, FREDders, sound artists, and so on.
Overall there are a lot of spots waiting to be filled, but someone has to really step in and take charge and organize things and get the ball rolling. But it's also true that there has to be some real fuel running to power that movement, and it can't all be used at once.