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Can we please come to a clear conclusion on game status?


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This is more a general topic and not just "Grounded". It is also a "gripe"  or "complaint" so feel free to skip it if you want - EXCEPT if you work with Obsidian, or any other major game. Then, PLEASE read, because the structure of game release.. really needs some attention to details.

Many games are in "Early Access" I get it, you have a lot of work done, and your trying to get it to the consumer so they can have a taste, see if they like it, get feedback, etc. That is fine.

My issue is calling things "Beta" when they are not.  I am an old gamer, and when you say "Beta" I think  of the definition "nearly done product released for general use, server testing, population use to test how well each system handles a sudden amount of players/demand" and the like.  Basically the game is 'near done' but might have some final touches done, or some behind-the-scenes changes to help optimize loading times or effects. The final touches, you could say. A lot of times it is used to test multiplayer - because no one can get literally millions of user log ins like just releasing it and letting millions of players create accounts and sign in.   This is slightly different than post-release tweaks to things like weapons and damage, and new additions to keep things fresher in live service games.

 

Alpha - on the other hand, is a earlier release of the game, with many unfinished works in progress.  This can be things that change the core game (and usually do.) not, for example, polishing effects and things. When I think of alpha changes I think of adding base game elements, enemies, AI, items for functional use (ax to chop trees instead of just any blade, etc)  Adding a hunger system, setting day/night cycles, etc. These are more Core Mechanic Elements being added, changed, tweaked, or removed. Google and look at Starcraft Alpha footage. The pictures may not be familiar to you at all - and that's the point. Alpha 'worked' completely differently than release. Even the UI was changed.

 

Grounded, by the definitions known to me and mentioned above - is in Alpha. An Early Release, graphically intense Alpha. The map isn't done, things are still being worked on that are 'base game mechanics'. It is still fleshing out all the mechanics currently in place, to get them to work properly - meaning the 'final game' might play drastically differently than it does now, and it probably will.

 

I gripe about all this in some slim sliver of hope that people will start using more clear terminology. If the definitions of Alpha and Beta change, that is fine, time moves forward after all, but companies need to really start being clear. Stating "early access" as a band aid and everything being referred to as 'beta' now makes the terms less useful to identifying a product. When every single title is Early Access and Beta - why have both?   If your only options are Early Access Beta and Released product, why have both of the tags 'early access' and 'beta' ?  Are you trying to use "early access" to replace "beta stage"  of development?

 

While it may seem picky, the proper terms are important. You wouldn't go up to your boss and say "ok the game is ready for release to test" when you really meant wide-use beta testing, or ready for release. Combining terms makes things every more confusing for everyone, that is why the games had stages in the first place, to give those that needed it a general idea of 'how on schedule' or 'how complete' the game was. "we are in late alpha"  meant a whole lot different than "we are ready for beta testing" still meaning something different than "the game is ready for release".

 

alright to anyone that actually read this nightmare , even if you disagree completely, thank you for your time.

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7 hours ago, Kissker said:

This is more a general topic and not just "Grounded". It is also a "gripe"  or "complaint" so feel free to skip it if you want - EXCEPT if you work with Obsidian, or any other major game. Then, PLEASE read, because the structure of game release.. really needs some attention to details.

Many games are in "Early Access" I get it, you have a lot of work done, and your trying to get it to the consumer so they can have a taste, see if they like it, get feedback, etc. That is fine.

My issue is calling things "Beta" when they are not.  I am an old gamer, and when you say "Beta" I think  of the definition "nearly done product released for general use, server testing, population use to test how well each system handles a sudden amount of players/demand" and the like.  Basically the game is 'near done' but might have some final touches done, or some behind-the-scenes changes to help optimize loading times or effects. The final touches, you could say. A lot of times it is used to test multiplayer - because no one can get literally millions of user log ins like just releasing it and letting millions of players create accounts and sign in.   This is slightly different than post-release tweaks to things like weapons and damage, and new additions to keep things fresher in live service games.

 

Alpha - on the other hand, is a earlier release of the game, with many unfinished works in progress.  This can be things that change the core game (and usually do.) not, for example, polishing effects and things. When I think of alpha changes I think of adding base game elements, enemies, AI, items for functional use (ax to chop trees instead of just any blade, etc)  Adding a hunger system, setting day/night cycles, etc. These are more Core Mechanic Elements being added, changed, tweaked, or removed. Google and look at Starcraft Alpha footage. The pictures may not be familiar to you at all - and that's the point. Alpha 'worked' completely differently than release. Even the UI was changed.

 

Grounded, by the definitions known to me and mentioned above - is in Alpha. An Early Release, graphically intense Alpha. The map isn't done, things are still being worked on that are 'base game mechanics'. It is still fleshing out all the mechanics currently in place, to get them to work properly - meaning the 'final game' might play drastically differently than it does now, and it probably will.

 

I gripe about all this in some slim sliver of hope that people will start using more clear terminology. If the definitions of Alpha and Beta change, that is fine, time moves forward after all, but companies need to really start being clear. Stating "early access" as a band aid and everything being referred to as 'beta' now makes the terms less useful to identifying a product. When every single title is Early Access and Beta - why have both?   If your only options are Early Access Beta and Released product, why have both of the tags 'early access' and 'beta' ?  Are you trying to use "early access" to replace "beta stage"  of development?

 

While it may seem picky, the proper terms are important. You wouldn't go up to your boss and say "ok the game is ready for release to test" when you really meant wide-use beta testing, or ready for release. Combining terms makes things every more confusing for everyone, that is why the games had stages in the first place, to give those that needed it a general idea of 'how on schedule' or 'how complete' the game was. "we are in late alpha"  meant a whole lot different than "we are ready for beta testing" still meaning something different than "the game is ready for release".

 

alright to anyone that actually read this nightmare , even if you disagree completely, thank you for your time.

Totally agree, this has always been the way games are developed.

However, the issue becomes blurred with Early Access/Game Preview, because the two actually blend together.

It is clear that this game still has a lot of content to be added, which is by definition the stages of Alpha, where as Beta is when they focus on just the bugs. This has been the way software has been developed for 30+ years. But like I said, it becomes blurred, because Early Access/Game Preview doesn't have the distinction between the two to identify at what stage it actually is.

But why are you ranting about this? Is it because of the players or the Developers?

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I dont know ,we all know its Early Access , I have had so much fun with Grounded more them 30 hrs , thats more then some full games that you paid £50 or £70 for

so I'm happy with the game and to know that there is more to come ,I can't wait for the updates  , as it is I'm building big base that is more fun so as it is there is more time left in game

AS IT IS , now I have  ladybug  armour and lvl 3 wep I can kill 3 orbs and 2 stinkbugs AT the same time in a head to head and 6 heal pots

so I happy with the game and Obsidian

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On 8/5/2020 at 4:41 PM, CyberAngel said:

It is clear that this game still has a lot of content to be added, which is by definition the stages of Alpha, where as Beta is when they focus on just the bugs. This has been the way software has been developed for 30+ years. But like I said, it becomes blurred, because Early Access/Game Preview doesn't have the distinction between the two to identify at what stage it actually is.

Alpha is actually when all the content and features of a game have been added.  The game is essentially done...apart from bugs.  So, not really done, because there may still be A LOT of work that needs to be done to get the game running smoothly, without crashing and without weird glitching.  A game in Alpha may still have massive, obvious, game destroying problems that need to be fixed, but everything the developers intent to include in the game has been added to the game.  No new features, or content will be added...unless it's to fix a problem.

Beta is the next milestone, when the developers say "As near as we can tell, this game is now running smoothly and bug free."  It's at this point that it gets opened up to a larger pool of testers, who might (and will) find bugs that the developers never saw or thought possible in their internal testing, which can then be fixed before the final release.

Early Access is basically a totally different way of developing a game, where the public is actively playing a pre-Alpha version of the game.  For developers, this likely means changing HOW they develop the game, because they want each update to be as playable as possible.  It likely means breaking the content up into sections and then doing a sort of mini Alpha and Beta for each section as they release the sections as content patches.

tl;dr: The terms Alpha and Beta don't really apply to Early Access games.

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On 8/6/2020 at 10:21 PM, slopesandsam said:

Alpha is actually when all the content and features of a game have been added.  The game is essentially done...apart from bugs.  So, not really done, because there may still be A LOT of work that needs to be done to get the game running smoothly, without crashing and without weird glitching.  A game in Alpha may still have massive, obvious, game destroying problems that need to be fixed, but everything the developers intent to include in the game has been added to the game.  No new features, or content will be added...unless it's to fix a problem.

Alpha is always before beta!

Quote

tl;dr: The terms Alpha and Beta don't really apply to Early Access games.

Again, isn't that what I said?

Edited by CyberAngel
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22 minutes ago, CyberAngel said:

Isn't that what I said?

You said that Alpha was where content was still being added, and that Beta was for bug fixing.  But they both come after all content has been added, and they're both bug fixing phases.  Alpha for the obvious bugs, Beta for the ones that only reveal themselves after extensive testing.

Sorry, I'm coming off as pedantic, but my original intention was just to clarify.

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1 hour ago, slopesandsam said:

You said that Alpha was where content was still being added, and that Beta was for bug fixing.  But they both come after all content has been added, and they're both bug fixing phases.  Alpha for the obvious bugs, Beta for the ones that only reveal themselves after extensive testing.

Sorry, I'm coming off as pedantic, but my original intention was just to clarify.

Then, I suggest you read what I said, before clarifying with someone who has been in the Games Industry for 35 years.

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I am one to believe (being an old timer as well) early access is used in no small part as a marketing barometer for any particular game.

If strong interest is shown it can alter development for the positive just as weak interest can do the opposite.

Personally I think the biggest 'hazard' of early access, and one I have experienced with other games, is that playing pieces of a game as it is developed can diminish some of the 'first time play through' fun that comes with playing a completed game. 

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29 minutes ago, slopesandsam said:

Well now you're just being rude, and I retract my apology,

Rude, really.

You barged into a conversation without fully reading the reply, then proceeded to tell me what I already had stated. You're too funny!

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Does it matter what stage it is in?

It's incomplete. Enough said.

In this new age of games, many have content that has been incomplete for years whether it's called "alpha" or "beta".

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@slopesandsam  I actually disagree with what you think alpha is.  Alpha games don't have all the content added, they have the framework of game.  In Mario, it would be basic colors to represent walk ways and barriers, pits, etc.  but none of them would need to 'function' beyond 'walk on, block movement' it wouldn't have coins or power ups, or even enemies until later.  The point of this stage of testing is to get the basic game working - push forward, jump, platform detects player, etc.  Later textures and the like are added, usually while still in Alpha (sometimes even skipping the main testing if coders know how it functions)  In alpha, there is no real 'end' yet, in fact there isn't even really 'life' or 'points' or 'time limits' - that comes in later stages of alpha at the earliest, sometimes not until Beta.  If Mario was 'supposed' to have a double jump for example, and it was in alpha - it was removed in alpha, as it was deemed 'not needed'. This would be an example of an Alpha stage game change, a core mechanic (double jumping) being added, tested, and removed.  This wouldn't be in a Beta game, as by then it would be an established mechanic with the heavy desire, or need, to keep.   Most alpha games have 'placeholder' items, enemies, and the like, and not until Late Alpha, or Early Beta do they get filled in.  Most "Beta Access" games are not 'early' stages, but Late Beta, doing the more common bug fixes, mass testing and the like.

Have you seen what the Starcraft Alpha footage/game looked like and played like?  Here, provided links are allowed: Early Alpha screenshot: latest?cb=20080113172212

 

Now compare that to the LATE Alpha Screenshot:

latest?cb=20080413225330

 

Notice at the top, the resources, the early alpha has very basic icon and number system to indicate values and type, while the late alpha has that flushed out, and more "user ready" Notice the selected troop - has just a basic square selection in the early Alpha, compared to the Highlighted Green Outline version in the Late Alpha - these are all core changes to improve the game, adding functions and features, even removing some. The minimap has been changed as well, and even the Unit Images/troop image (left on Early alpha, bottom on late) giving more details and an updated UI.   Now, you can easily find screenshots showing 'released' gameplay - as those are the most common, but everything is once again given a touch up and re-look.   The beta footage (if you can find any) would look very similar to the 'release game' footage, and have obvious differences from Either of the Alpha shots.

I use this old game to give very drastic comparison, as newer engines have more subtle changes, that are more easily swapped out than in older versions.  The differences are still there though, what kind of mechanics existed in Alpha, don't always carry over to Beta, and can even be cut or changed before release from beta.

 

So what's the big deal? I don't care? ETC:  Well it would be nice to know 'just how far alone' the games actually are. You might not want to toss $30 on a game in ALPHA - since it may have YEARS to go before it is finally released.  With that, there are a growing number of games semi-abusing the "Early Access" tag as a way to excuse poor game performance or lacking content. They put the game out anyway, get as much money as they can, and then typically don't bother 'finishing' it.  This rotten practice has been growing exponentially and needs to stop - it has even grown and spread to "well known' game publishers, I won't name any right now but in the last couple of years there have been a number of games that were advertised as one thing, released in an unfinished or unready state- and never got finished due to backlashes.  Some have done well to keep their word on what they promised, like No Man's Sky - but at launch, you cannot deny it was completely advertised falsely. 

With these games relying on "live patching" and 'future content' with 'roadmaps' - you can clearly see the line is being stretched farther and farther - until some of the content we purchase - literally is a sandbox for testing and never gets any further, despite being labeled "early access" or "beta access" to make it sound appealing, like 'it's not done, it will be more amazing when they fix these things and add those things!"

 

With all that said, I do not believe Obsidian is trying to pull the wool over our eyes or anything, which is why I wasn't just talking about Grounded, but 'games in general'.  From what I can tell, the relatively small team working on Grounded were forced to 'release early' due to Microsoft/shareholders and are working their tiny butts off to get everything going as smoothly as they can. So while I support grounded, I have not purchased it yet officially, only game passed it.  My reasons are 'too many times burned by early access'.  I've literally spent hundreds if not thousands on 'early accesses' only to be completely let down almost every single time.  $10 here, $15 there, $30 here -it all adds up.

 

Which brings me back to my question, and finalized statement... If companies would stick to proper labels, instead of just tagging 'early access' onto everything, this would actually help organize games and progress.  This would also allow a tier system of "ok, it's $15 now to help us test, but later it will most likely increase in price, especially when it is ready"  because I get it - you need money to fund the projects, you can't expect talented people to work for free, or on the 'promise of payment' after a game is released.    Knowing going into the game that it is 'early access alpha' would allow those leaving reviews to have more depth as well. "in alpha is was terrible, but now in beta the game is running so much better" type of thing.  When everything is clumped in the same set - we can only review by the same set, it has no  option for separation from 'early alpha' to 'late beta' - it is jut all 'early access' to us - meaning once a negative review hits, there is almost no room to look back on it until it releases. (and vice versa if a game manages to be great early, but released it becomes horrible)

 

 

With the versions of "alpha' and 'beta" I know and posted,  Grounded would be a very polished-late Alpha game title, released in "early access' mode to attempt to get some funding to keep it going smoothly for Obsidian and the team(s) working on it.

The reason I state this is simple: The game is about to change, drastically, permanently, and how we play it to follow.

How do I know this?  Bees will be added.  This is a new insect that flies, will probably be much more dangerous than we expect, and with uknown-currently mechanics. (spawn rate, flight speed, damage resist, does it only go for pollen/plants- does it make a hive, etc) It was planned from a while ago, but hasn't made it in yet, the same with leaches and possibly fish.

How we are playing the game now, may not be the same at all when everything is put into it, especially if the AI is tweaked. This means it is a Major change in mechanics, adding and removing items, enemies, behaviors - all Alpha level testing things.

Edited by Kissker
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