Thank you, all, for participating in the conversation! I was worried that people would not take it seriously, but I enjoyed reading a lot of the posts - most were considered and thought-provoking.
As others stated, I am grateful to have connected with any number of people, both in the game and through the forum. There are numerous people in those categories that I care about, even though I literally know nothing about them (not even their names).
I am thankful to SGG for providing a game I enjoy and a conduit for making those connections. The truth is that I wish I cared more about the actual people behind SGG more. It would go a long way with me if they made more of an effort to show their human-side and interact with the enthusiastic portion of the player base.
For example, has any staff member posted about the Alchemy Lab? Do they regard it as a success? How do they feel about it being widely panned here on the forums? I know if it were me I would be absolutely crushed that a feature I spent so much time on and had such a grand vision for was looked at as such a flop by so many.
What are their thoughts about the health of the game (power creep, the overall life cycle, etc.)? What are their thoughts on long time players leaving (most notably Anchor, but there have been others)? Is that troubling to them? What are their thoughts on various attempts to introduce lootbox legislation?
Why does there seem to be such a disconnect between problems that beta players report and whether or not those changes are implemented into the game? Does SGG have some basis for thinking beta players are ‘wrong,’ in which case, what is the point of beta (seriously - I do NOT mean this sarcastically…I really think it’s a fair question)?
SGG seems to deliberately limit its staff presence on the forums (and I understand that staff interaction is not the point of the forums, but I’m also unaware of any prohibition on it and see no real reason why it should be as limited as it is), and often gives extremely terse (“we’re looking into it.”) responses when they do show up. I feel that sets constraints on the sort of relationship a player can have with the staff.
Again, my relationship with SGG is primarily / purely transactional. And that’s fine. But, as I stated at the beginning, I can envision a model that I think would be more mutually satisfying and beneficial.
In contrast, I actually DO care about, for example, @zephyr1. I know (or at least reasonably suspect - if I’m wrong then they did a hell of a job on the Turing Test) they are a real person and I respect that they work tirelessly to merge threads and link relevant information, when I would just laugh at people’s haplessness. One of my in-game highlights was raiding zephyr, simply because it was someone I knew.
Or @Garanwyn (who is missed), who also is relentlessly gracious in explaining odds and randomness, where I would (again) just laugh at people’s haplessness. Really all the mods are incredible - we are fortunate to have them.
Or @Steve9999 - I did genuinely celebrate for them when they pulled Kingston. Or @wineybrit, who went from forum friend to alliance mate. Or @Razor, who has done too much for me to list here. And many others.
Again, to me, the key difference seems to be that I have interacted and have a (pseudo / online) relationship with those people, whereas that can hardly be said for any member of the SGG team.