Tentative Elemental Development Schedule

By on April 4, 2009 8:04:56 PM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

Frogboy

Join Date 03/2001
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For those of you who have been through the development of a Stardock developed or published game, much of this will be familiar.  For those of you aren’t, welcome!

Early next year we plan to release a new turn-based PC strategy game called Elemental.  Our games typically have 3 betas and then a private “gamma” and then release.  We use the beta to mean truly unfinished, not feature complete but playable (we also use the term “alpha” for truly unfinished but not playable before we move into beta).

Beta 1 is typically the engine test. Beta 2 is the connectivity/multiplayer test. And beta 3 is the balance/fun test. Gamma is where it’s done but we’re doing final bug testing on it.

For Elemental, we want to add a 4th beta that’s earlier than we normally start betas. The reason for this is because we plan to do some pretty radical stuff with Elemental from a game mechanics point of view. Some of these ideas may look good on paper but not be remotely practical.  So for Elemental, we’re going to add a beta 0.

Here is the tentative schedule:

Beta 0: June 2009.  This won’t be fun and will only play on the cloth map.

Empire_Cloth_City_Wide

The idea being, if the game is fun, it should still be fun without fancy graphics. Finishing Spring and over the Summer, we’ll be trying out all kinds of game mechanics, listening to people in the beta (anyone who pre-orders has the option to participate in the beta) to see what ideas they might have, etc.  It’s a lot cheaper to implement an idea or concept when we only have to represent it with icons on a cloth map.

Beta 1: August 2009. This is the engine test where we insert the actual graphics engine. The cloth map will still be there for zooming out but now you’ll be able to really play in the world and we’ll start to build onto this.  The game still won’t be fun at this stage but you’ll be able to give feedback on the look, UI, and other game engine stuff.


Beta 2: October 2009. This is the multiplayer test. It still won’t likely be very fun but you’ll be able to suffer with friends on-line. Elemental’s multiplayer model is client-server (which is the opposite of Demigod which is peer-to-peer). In Elemental’s case, Impulse will host the actual games which means that (in theory) there should be no such thing as “connection issues”. If you can connect to a web page, you should be able to play people on-line in Elemental. 

It will be at this stage when we decide whether Elemental will make its ship date.  We have February 2010 or August 2010 set aside for Elemental based on player feedback (we prefer February but we don’t want to feel rushed).  Right now, we’re running slightly ahead of schedule.

One nice thing about Beta 2 is that the multiplayer features we’re adding into Elemental will also be made available in updates to Demigod for multiplayer users and anything else that uses Impulse Reactor (our development platform).

 

Beta 3: December 2009. This is when the game better start getting to be fun. This is where we balance things, etc.

 

Gamma: January 2010. This is often called a “release candidate” by other developers but these are private builds where we think everything works but expect there to be some last minute bugs that need to be fixed.

 

Release: Mid-February 2010.

 

If you have any questions, let us know. We’re always around.

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April 4, 2009 8:16:37 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

Beta 0... interesting. I'd like to see what gets in from that test.

 

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April 4, 2009 8:18:46 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Weeha, sound like fun!

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April 4, 2009 8:25:46 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I better get around to pre-ordering... Perhaps I should do that now!

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April 4, 2009 8:29:03 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Will multiplayer that doesn't require an outside server be available?  I've never really moved past my fondness for typing in the ip of the host and ignoring any bullshit that arises from a central server glitching the shit out of me.

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April 4, 2009 8:35:30 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

Looking forward to Beta 0. I have some ideas... possibly not practical ones, but they're ideas nonetheless.

Is it June yet?

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April 4, 2009 8:50:45 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

Quoting Mythor,
Is it June yet?
Yes.

 

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April 4, 2009 8:57:14 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

That's great Frogboy, thanks for the details. Looking forward to it.

A winter Olympic release! 

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April 4, 2009 9:40:57 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Very nice to have a rough idea of how and when events are going to occur. 

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April 5, 2009 12:02:00 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

June?  noooo, that's way too long to wait!

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April 5, 2009 12:43:09 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

So does this mean before June no people (who aren't on your payroll) at all get in, or will there be a "hardware/software compatability testing beta" before June where you let select people download it, run it, crash, and send you the log?

 

(EDIT) Also, did I read correctly in Beta 0 being intended as a fully/almost fully playable version without any fancy graphics?

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April 5, 2009 1:12:55 AM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

Quoting Leonon,
So does this mean before June no people (who aren't on your payroll) at all get in, or will there be a "hardware/software compatability testing beta" before June where you let select people download it, run it, crash, and send you the log?
I think that's Beta 1.

 

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April 5, 2009 1:53:25 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

The waaaa-aaaaiting is the hardest part...

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April 5, 2009 6:43:49 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Me wants Beta 0. Now. So many free hours during july and august's afternoons/evenings... And still 22 vacation days to use for this year... Damn Stardock, forcing me to choose my vacations according to a Beta.

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April 5, 2009 7:51:29 AM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

Beta this summer, you say?  Pre-ordering... aand... there!

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April 5, 2009 8:01:31 AM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

Looking forward to it

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April 5, 2009 9:03:24 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Well good thing I preodered already.

Now all i have to do is sit here and wait for Beta 0.

 

Is it ready yet?

How about now?

Now?

ps:    Beware Kitkun is everywhere 

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April 5, 2009 9:34:47 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Best of luck to all the betafolk hashing the game out proper!

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April 5, 2009 10:03:32 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Looks like a good roadmap. Is there going to be a window when beta 0 comes out that we can pre-order and still get in?  (I don't want to do it now because due to foreign exchange fluctuations, I don't know how much I'll actually be paying until the day I'm getting charged.)

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April 5, 2009 10:14:05 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting ,

Right now, we’re running slightly ahead of schedule.

You do know this is a completely unnatural state for a software developer, right?

In other news: Good thing I was planning on staying home this summer vacation.

 

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April 5, 2009 11:02:24 AM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

Quoting Matthew the Mage,
Beware Kitkun is everywhere 
You got that right. I'm posting from Demigod.

 

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April 5, 2009 12:06:31 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

I'm not sure whether i'll be moving or not so i'll wait and see about that first. Don't wanna pre-order it and get delivered at my previous place.

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April 5, 2009 12:54:21 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Tridus,
Looks like a good roadmap. Is there going to be a window when beta 0 comes out that we can pre-order and still get in?  (I don't want to do it now because due to foreign exchange fluctuations, I don't know how much I'll actually be paying until the day I'm getting charged.)

From my reading around the forums and participation in the GC2 DA and TA betas, I think it's safe to assume that there will be at least a small window after each beta is released when folks can pre-order to get into the volunteer testing crowd. I'm not sure how long a window, but it should be at least a few business days.

Quoting Zeneroth,
I'm not sure whether i'll be moving or not so i'll wait and see about that first. Don't wanna pre-order it and get delivered at my previous place.

That sort of thing is why you should fill out a change of address with the Post Office when you move. You can even do it online these days. (Beg pardon if you're not in the U.S. The same service should be available in most richer nations.)

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April 5, 2009 1:06:56 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Remember guys, Early betas are work.  Don't expect things to be fun.  That said..

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April 5, 2009 1:39:09 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

So? Playing a game that isn't fun is also work. But work with a purpose can be fun, you never know.

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April 5, 2009 1:48:48 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Hoping to get in the beta 0, but don't expect to.

 

Generally, from my experience with DA and TA, Brad's really underestimating the amount of fun the early betas, the addition of new content from time to time really does help the fun factor over receiving it all at once.

 

That said: You gotta love SD's betas- most places, a six-month delay would be moaning and gnashing of teeth, whereas the ones who would be can at least preorder and play what's ready now.  It's a good business strategy.

 

The MP test will be important, and I'll have a good test as I have a crappy net connect at work.

 

 

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