1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Pre-Alpha versions: good or bad?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Lionitow, Aug 28, 2015.

  1. Lionitow

    Lionitow Reinvented The Wheel

    • Member
    Hey guys,
    in the last years a lot games are released in alpha or pre-alpha versions: but is it a good thing or a counterproductive one?
    In the past, games had to be recorded on CDs, this means once they were put on the market they had to be fully completed, optimized and bug free. Then came digital download, Steam, which contributed to the decay of that system and enhanced the number of games that are updated more or less constantly, adding features and bugs and fixing the new bugs in the previous patches.
    As this way of making games spread, many developers started releasing their games in more or less early stages.
    And here comes the question:

    "Why should a developer work hard to offer you a good game when he already has your money?"

    In the past you had to make from the start to the end a great game if you wanted to sell it; now you can start a project, throw in huge expectations, big potential, take the money from the early access copies and then...
    Take for example The Forest: it was a BOOM, awesome graphics, original effects and crafting system... but lack of objectives, lack of a consolidated gameplay, lack of an end. But hey, it's an early access! Things will just improve as time passes! Well, no. Throughout over a year were added some things, many bugs, no objectives or real gameplay implementation.
    And like The Forest many other games made and will make BOOM (YouTube plz) and then vanish, died before being officially released.
    This also opens the way to scammers who promise you lots of things and then leave you a game unupdated and unplayable, with huge disappointment of who followed the development.
    Surely there are many positive aspects too. Some developers who don't have the money to finish a game can find a good give-and-take to give birth to projects that they could not work on otherwise. You can create an active community since the start that contributes to the game's success and see their game grow up day by day...
    In my opinion the Early access has sense only for sandbox games such as Minecraft (and SoA).
    What do you think m80s?
    Lionitow, Aug 28, 2015
    Last edited by Lionitow; at Aug 28, 2015
    Michael-CM and FruitGish like this.
  2. MichaelH

    MichaelH Writer

    • Dev Member
    I think that early access, pre-ordering and the like are tools like a lot of others. They can be used responsibly, or really badly. Unfortunately, a lot of major game studios are doing the latter--using them as an excuse to release inferior products. Done right, however, you can essentially crowdsource some of your QA while getting community feedback and giving them a sneak peek at your finished product--all things that should lead to both a more interested audience and a better game. Of course, when you're driven completely by the bottom line, it's easy to think short term and just keep the money you've got and move on to the next thing. I'd like to think that eventually the studios that keep doing this will lose credibility and be forced to either remedy their ways or go out of business, but that would require people to actually stop buying their games.
    PsychoticLeprechaun likes this.
  3. Danarkivus-2

    Danarkivus-2 Back Into Space

    • Member
    but consumers are just mindless zombies now a days and just buy what ever has pretty graphic unlike the good old days. "sarcasm"
    but in all in all i agree with Michael.
  4. Snipecoolbunny

    Snipecoolbunny Back Into Space

    • Member
    i tend to agree. BUT, i dont buy a game for what it CAN be. i buy a game for what it is right now. like rocket league, i bought the game for what it is. not what it can be. sadly, this also applies for seed of andromeda. if this game is close to impossible to make, i wont spend a single cent if its not getting there. ok, so lets say SOA is in beta and has no story or sense of scale, it will hold no interest. yea i can build spaceships and the like but what happens if its totally pointless? just wiz around the universe at a bazillion times the speed of light? no. if it was free maybe i would play it with friends, but it has no point, no ultimate goal. some people would say yea, its ultimate goal is to get the highest tech tier. no, thats not a goal, thats a checkpoint(or a milestone if you would like). some would say the ultimate goal is to get back to earth, no, what happens when you get back to earth? nothing! absolutly nothing will happen. go to the edge of the universe? theres nothing there, not even light has reached there. it will be just a more futuristic version of minecraft. it has no point. so devs, please make an ultimate goal that is close to impossible. something that only the hardcore few of the game can do. something that everyone who plays SOA will essentially bow down to you because of the epic scale. THATS why i am helping SOA. to make an ultimate goal that will make you the MVP of SOA.
    Snipecoolbunny, Aug 28, 2015
    Last edited by Snipecoolbunny; at Aug 28, 2015
  5. MichaelH

    MichaelH Writer

    • Dev Member
    I can assure you that the final product of SOA will indeed have a story (which will by definition include some goals)--otherwise I'm not sure what I'd be doing here.

    That does raise interesting questions, though--on sandbox nature in general. By your logic, Minecraft doesn't really have a goal--at least, before the Enderdragon, if you want to call that the endgame now. But plenty of people pay for Minecraft and make their own goals. Assuming SOA remained a sci-fi sandbox game with a good engine and options, wouldn't that be a product worth something in itself, just like Minecraft is? I can understand if you say you wouldn't buy it because Minecraft already fills that niche for you, but a game doesn't have to have a plot and narrative to be a game. Sandbox games can let players define their own goals.

    Personally, one of my goals as a writer is to give you a plot that has conflict and therefore goals for how to resolve it, but gives you freedom to choose how you resolve the conflict--while at the same time, the sandbox nature of the game lets you set personal goals in addition to the ones put forward by the plot.
  6. VolgarTheMighty

    VolgarTheMighty Crash Landed

    • Member
    I'd say it depends on what kind of game we want. Some of us want a story to follow and goals to reach for, while others are fine with making their own goals or even having no goals and just screwing around. All are legitimate playstyles that different games cater to. I know for some (me included), it can be hard to come up with and/or stick to goals and stay engaged with a game because of that. That's why, despite being a big fan of Minecraft and Kerbal Space Program, following their development and watching videos of them, I play very little of the games themselves. I don't consider it a fault with the games themselves, it's something inherent with sandboxes. That said, I really hope SOA succeeds, because it'll be the first sandbox game to have an engaging story/goals to keep me hooked and playing. :p
  7. NeonSturm

    NeonSturm Back Into Space

    • Member
    If a game -nowadays- has not support for at least Windows+Linux+Mac, you shouldn't pay it, especially if it is incompatible with Wine and other Crossover tools.

    It's discriminating anybody who doesn't want to support Microsoft and gives an unfair advantage to the monopol-holding company (=support for opponents to the fair market).

    Edit: You should not be required to purchase product A to use product B if A does not participate in a fair market environment (which means the biggest company has less than 1/4 market share)
    I think it should not be supported by anybody at all if the crowd adds plugins, models, ... and the game is not free-to-play at least (example: Space Engineers).

    Its THEFT of working-time, but many peoples don't see that (mostly young peoples which are born into this world with few guidance in that part)
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2015
    NeonSturm, Aug 29, 2015
    Last edited by NeonSturm; at Aug 30, 2015
  8. PsychoticLeprechaun

    PsychoticLeprechaun Designer & Web Developer

    • Dev Member
    @NeonSturm I don't agree; if a game only supports Windows, that could be because of constraints put on the developer, usually for financial reasons - either artificially set by a publisher or naturally by the financial support the developer and fans can provide. It requires additional work to support other operating systems, and given Windows is, as you say, the dominant gaming platform on PC, why should that developer's product be considered worse for only supporting the platform that allows most people to play it? If a consumer owns only an OS X or Linux machine then fair enough - they have no reason to buy it - but if the game is good and can only be put on Windows, I would still buy it. In fact, I'd rather a game have greater polish and quality as a consumer than it support other platforms than the one I expect to own to play games (Linux being to me a development OS first and foremost right now - though quickly becoming better for gaming - and OS X being more media oriented than both other OS's just not the specific media of video games). Though, ideally I'd prefer a game to do both - not all developers can afford to put in the work hours to do that though, and I believe we ought to respect that more so than our own particular allegiances to OS manufacturers.
    joppiesaus and Dysche like this.
  9. Arctic

    Arctic Giant Robot Advocate

    • Tester
    In a recent Steam hardware survey, Linux represented roughly 0.5% of Steam users, with Macs being too weak to support graphics-heavy games ($2000 FOR A FACEBOOK MACHINE GRRRRR) and simply making up only around 2% of the Steam market. One could argue that non-steam users might have a greater preference for Linux, but regardless, that would still seem to imply that Linux is unpopular on Steam; so it isn't worth developers' time to port to Linux.

    It's great when they can, but honestly, people don't use Linux because of its problems and its problems are all because of its unpopularity. It's a vicious cycle.

    What, me, use Linux? I'd actually like to play my games, thanks.

    ... And now you see the problem. Maybe we should port SoA to Linux.
    joppiesaus likes this.
  10. Snipecoolbunny

    Snipecoolbunny Back Into Space

    • Member
    thats the problem.
    minecraft is an excellent game. but it lacks a purpose. i know pretty much everything there is to know about it (with the exception of complex redstone). it holds no interest to me anymore beyond mods. i dont want SOA to end up like that. the possibilities are endless if the game reaches its potential. but a personal request to the developers is to make an ultimate goal so epic that you are given the utmost respect for your feat. considered as the most ultimate badass within a 100 mile radius. as a personal request of course. just make sure it has alot of explosions and masterchief-like badassness. a 1000 enemy spaceships vs your small squad of spartans (sorry, i love the red vs blue freelancers).
  11. Dysche

    Dysche Intern Programmer

    • Dev Member
    Well, actually, the problem with minecraft is that the world is only 256 blocks high... Rip tower builders / diggers. :p
    Dysche, Aug 30, 2015
    Last edited by Dysche; at Aug 30, 2015
    Snipecoolbunny likes this.
  12. Lionitow

    Lionitow Reinvented The Wheel

    • Member
    In my opinion SoA should have an objective, like the dragon boss in Minecraft, that says "ok, you've done it, now do what you want. Play with friends, fight on servers, download mods or replay trying to use less time yo arrive here. Build a city, reach the far lands or defeat the Wither". The same should be for the release: when can we call this a complete game? When we have this, that and those, we'll have a game. Then of course you can still optimize, add stuff, and whatever you want but that is the reference version (also for modders who many times can't follow the quick and big updates).
    Regarding price, it's something the developers must decide basing on their budget and needs, but I laugh so hard when I see worthless alpha games sold on Steam for €20-30. "Hey but you'll have access to all future versions!" What if future versions won't be or will suck? It would be more fair if you could buy alpha access for like €5-10, beta 10-20 and final versions 20+ (of course all price are based on how worth are the different versions and you can upgrade your copies)
    About porting, I have a Mac and I have yo say it is really easy installing win on it with boot camp and you can easily switch from one system to another. By the way yes, mac gaming is very underrated and Win has an unjustified monopoly of the market. For example I attended at school a class teaching you to use the office suite, and at the end of it you had to have an exam to receive an europen certificate of something (ECDL). But Office isn't free open source, it is a paid one... why not to use open office or libreoffice then? It is like if in your school you're taught to cook Macdonald's hamburgers!
    Lionitow, Aug 30, 2015
    Last edited by Lionitow; at Aug 30, 2015
  13. Arctic

    Arctic Giant Robot Advocate

    • Tester
    The problems with Minecraft are many and too many to explain here.
    Snipecoolbunny likes this.
  14. zeroinnocent

    zeroinnocent Tester

    • Tester
    I think its good for small game developers to have pree releases gives them motivaton and exsperience. It seems that bigger game companies just does it to make more money since they are able to give out an un compleated product
  15. Sevio

    Sevio Back Into Space

    • Member
    I think in general early access has done good for PC gaming, it feels like there has never been a better time to be a PC gamer in terms of game selection thanks to all these little innovative projects created by small or one-person teams that do not need a publisher to reach gamers. The early access model does come with the risk of ending up with a game that's unfinished or does not live up to expectations, usually that is not due to the developer being a scam though, and gamers used to pay for the risk of a flopped project anyway through the publishers who took those risks under the traditional model.

    The best advice I can give if you're not comfortable with taking a gamble is to wait until it leaves early access, or buy when it has reached the point where you would be satisfied with what you got if development stopped. Even with the lack of a demo, you can usually find out whether that is the case by watching some gameplay on youtube for yourself.
  16. MichaelH

    MichaelH Writer

    • Dev Member
    I feel like it's hard to talk about early access games and their effect on the industry without talking about DLC. In a lot of ways, I feel like this innovation has been harmful. We've seen the cost of "complete" games skyrocket--instead of $40 for a console game that is complete, we are paying $60 for games that are often incomplete or very short, and then are expected to pay more in DLC content to get what would formerly have been considered an acceptable game length. Gaming is becoming a very expensive hobby, and quality control isn't what it used to be.

    On the other hand, the ability to provide ongoing support and development and new content for a game without having to wait for a whole sequel is great. It's just that people aren't using this power responsibly. Uncle Ben would be ashamed.
  17. Sevio

    Sevio Back Into Space

    • Member
    @MichaelH Interesting that you wrote about DLC here because I've been mulling over that in regards to Elite: Dangerous just this week, debating on whether to buy it or not. I thought it was rather pricey for an early access alpha when I first heard about the project, but there's been a bit of a storm among existing players of the game now that its first expansion has been announced. Existing players can get it for EUR 37,50, a bit less than a full AAA game title, with nothing more than a press release and a short trailer. If you don't preorder in time, you'll pay EUR 50, the price of a full game, for the expansion.

    New players however can get the base game and expansion together for EUR 50 if they wait until release date to play. The plan is to release an expansion like this every year and it's likely at each stage a new user will be able to join in at the latest expansion for a similar price. If you think about it for a bit, that means their marketing department writes off the full value of their existing players basically every year, and consider all the work done for the first season of the game (including all the engine work) equal in value to that of each subsequent expansion.

    Of course, if you don't buy the expansion you'll be able to continue flying in the same universe along with every other player, but that will probably feel a little bit like continuing to play World of Warcraft classic while everyone else continues on with Burning Crusade, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria and Warlords of Draenor.
    Sevio, Sep 7, 2015
    Last edited by Sevio; at Sep 7, 2015
  18. PsychoticLeprechaun

    PsychoticLeprechaun Designer & Web Developer

    • Dev Member
    I had somehow missed this, @Sevio. That sounds absolutely terrifying, and yet it is not a significant advancement on what some other games have done in the past (Civilization V and The Sims come to mind almost immediately). I just hope people make a stand in the cases where this is truly unjustified - I can't comment on the scale of the expansions for Elite: Dangerous, but I can't believe they believe they can produce a full AAA-game worth of content on a yearly cycle that is up to snuff.

    Game pricing has become worse and worse over the years, and I really don't see the AAA publishers backing down from their strategies at this point. We just have to decide as consumers if we want to be taken for granted and, if not, stop paying for these games. Maybe over time, with less gamers falling prey to these sorts of pricing strategies, we will see the AAA industry at least reach an equilibrium they are satisfied with and that we, as consumers, can acceptably live with.
  19. Sevio

    Sevio Back Into Space

    • Member
    The pricing scheme as I understand it so far with Elite: Dangerous (unless you went for the quite expensive lifetime package at the kickstarter) definitely screams at me that waiting pays off, both in price, risk and in the quality of the experience you'll get when you do buy. Of course charging for significant expansions is justified, but the mistakes they made that makes it look bad in my eyes are:
    • Very little concrete information: Only made a trailer and a press release terse on details
    • Pressuring their existing customers into pre-ordering now or else you'll have to pay the price of a full game.
    • Calling the pre-order discount a "loyalty discount" under these circumstances with very little concrete information available and a time limit makes it look disingenuous, like they're trying to get you to go in blind.
  20. Whoisthatkidd

    Whoisthatkidd Balanced Balancer

    • Member
    I am personally not a Linux user, but Linux support would be great for the sake of SoA servers (since Linux servers are really, really good compared to windows.) Considering how running massive servers that the world scale can support (300+ players!) Also given that the devs of this game are taking their time, this can be a really, really good game by release if the devs don't get greedy.

Share This Page