And I think talking about the press/developer relationship before a game launches (which is really the only time there should be a relationship), naturally leads to a discussion about the point of previews.
Previews are generally positive and have always been generally positive (or neutral). There was buzz some time back surrounding an interview between EGM's Shoe and Peter Moore, where he had been particularly aggressive about the 360's problems, and for a brief period of time it seemed like everyone had latched onto the idea that the developer vs. press knockdown dragout fight should begin before games even come out.
I didn't agree then, and I certainly don't now, because I think it's unfair to judge a game before the developers are ready to say it's final. I think you can tell as a game progresses, whether it's moving in the right direction or not. And I think it's fair to mention when a game has very little in it that you find enjoyable, but how do you know what's being worked on and when? Or what changes might suddenly push everything over the edge? I certainly wouldn't ever want reporters to feel like they have to lie about a game, but I also think that it's hard for people unfamiliar with game development to cast any kind of projection on what the game will be when it comes out, and ultimately that's all that matters for the fans.
Previews of WAR have been largely positive. And more than that, previews of the developers, as well as the game, have been positive as well. We recently had to do our self-evaluations and I referenced an MMO Gamer interview in my own review:
The next time Carrie Gouskos is up for a promotion, "lack of passion" will most decidedly not be an issue at her review.
I know that might not matter to any of the fans, but it makes me feel really happy to have that come across. I do love working on games, and this game, and I am really passionate about the work that I do. Sometimes it's exhausting to give interviews, when an interview or demo comes up on the calendar (and there are periods where we're giving several a week), sometimes I feel like I'm not going to be capable of talking about the game the way I want to talk about. Because I do care, but being enthusiastic is exhausting, even for someone as extroverted as I am.
I have to say this week I gave probably my favorite interview ever to Mike from Massively. Instead of asking me to rehash the features in the Tome (he had done his homework), he wanted me to talk about passion and emotion in game development. He wanted me to talk about Xbox 360 achievement points. I think his concept for that article serves the fans in a lot more ways than simply a bullet point of feature items we're working on and whether or not *I* think they're going to be cool. To me, it feels like that's the kind of conversation you should be having at preview time, what are the developers working on and what are their objectives? Who are they trying to attract and how have they accomplished it? Even using in-game examples to show off how they're achieving those goals. Leave the excessive use of adjectives and the KILLING MY SOUL for the reviews.