How suggested features die 'miserable deaths'
One of my recurrent question in my interviews with Wesnoth developers, contributors and users relates to negotiations between users (and their wishes for game improvement) and developers (and their efforts to improve the game).
Being a quite mature project, Wesnoth already developed its own governance mechanisms to deal with users' feature requests. I consider the Why doesn't Wesnoth have my favorite feature FAQ as an artefact of this maturity, however the way in which this disclaimer plays out in practice, in the daily life of the project, is of interest for my research and it does not show in the FAQ.
As of now, the account quoted below is one of the best description, I received during my interviews, of how ideas get suggested, discussed, implemented/rejected in the Wesnoth project.
So I would say there is no concious attempt to go towards satisfying user requests to create a better game. There is, however, a concious attempt by developers to satisfy themselves in creating a better game. This means that ideas that developers think are good will likely be adopted. Those that they don't, won't. Let me see if I can break it down a little bit more with a walkthrough of a stereotypical idea posted on the forum:
1) Idea gets posted
2) Forum members (FM) read it. If it is an idea in the frequently proposed list, people jump all over it. It dies a miserable death...otherwise...
3) FM debate the pros/cons of the idea. Usually any given FM will be either strongly for it or against it. Variations on the idea may be suggested.
4) Developers (who are also forum members, but usually aren't able to respond as fast as the undead horde of forum members) get around to reading it. At this point several things can happen:
4a) It can be rejected out of hand. This usually means it dies a miserable death.
4b) Different developers (like the FMs) start debating the pros and cons. This generally means that the idea is going to effect existing functionality or would be complicated to implement. Usually means a miserable, if lingering death.
4c) The idea is liked, but viewed as too complicated. probably dies a miserable death, usually preceded by someone posting a "we look forward to seeing your patch that implements this"
4d) The originator of the idea decides to implement it himself...may die a miserable death or actually get submitted as a patch.
4e) The idea is liked enough by some Developer and is fairly simple to do, so it gets implemented pretty quickly.
4f) Same as above but it gets added to the list of "simple coding tasks" for people who want to contribute but don't know where to start.
4g) Everybody 'loves' the idea. Nobody 'loves' it enough to implement it. It dies a miserable death.
So, in summary, there are many ways for ideas to die a miserable death. The only way this is avoided is if someone likes it enough to implement it. If it is a developer that likes it, it will likely get included in the game fairly quickly. If it is not a developer that likes it enough to implement it, then the implementer may find himself becoming a developer. I would say that the measure of how good an idea really is, is the willingness of someone to implement it, not how well it is received by posts on the forum...
It certainly is a stereotyped account of the process, but certainly one that provides a reasonable description of it without trivializing it too much.