Thank you for your very kind words (yes, I am one of the CMANO devs). There was absolutely no misunderstanding and no offense taken.
What I meant was that what you mentioned, that at first glance the game looked hard to get into, is something we’ve often heard from other newcomers as well. Sometimes the player overcomes the initial impression and enjoys the game, as you did. Other times that negative/puzzling first impression is enough to drive people away. This is not just a lost customer for us but, more importantly, a loss to the CMANO community as a whole (many of our community stars had the same initial impression as you).
This is why we are constantly trying to understand what may (for lack of a better term) “rub people off the wrong way” when they are first exposed to CMANO, and improve what we can. We realize we’re unlikely to ever have the “wow” polish of triple-A productions, but every little thing helps.
(Joel Spolski had written a classic piece on removing barriers for new users, and we are big believers of that philosophy)
On your NI question, being familiar with Command’s overall UI and mechanics is most certainly helpful when going into the DLC campaigns. NI has a nice “start small/easy, end up massive” curve which helps things in this respect (Chains Of War, as a counter-example, tends to throw you right off at the deep end). There are various walkthroughs & LPs on it out there (both video and text), one of my favorites is this: https://forums.spacebattles.com/threads/lets-play-command-northern-inferno.362211/
EDIT: Another one in this very forum: CMANO Northern Inferno AAR