I like the journal pathing, sounds like a good idea to me.
In terms of the bringing the community closer to the Development piece, having worked in Software for well over 20 years, I can tell you it works both ways. You definately want community feedback to understand if your ideas will hit the spot, but you also have a direction that you as the business owner have in mind to take the game.
Lets be honest, when new community ideas are posted on here there is almost always a split of opinion with some very much in favour of a certain feature and some dead against it, its not like the community will ever be in total agreement, so the Dev team then have to make sense of that dilemma also.
What is also clear is that you have to balance all of that with the amount of Development and Test/QA cycles you have available to you as a business, whilst also providing a sensible mix of bug fixing and short term and long term features. Add to this the work that has been done to move us over to a new host and the fact that Java isn't exactly a modern language and then you start to see a more complex picture than perhaps is apparant to those who have not had the pleasure of working in a software business.