Welcome to agony: AKA a Stardock BETA!

By on August 14, 2009 7:04:13 PM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

Frogboy

Join Date 03/2001
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image For those of you who have been in a Stardock BETA, none of what I mention is going to be a surprise. But for everyone else, stand back!

See the screenshot? If you’re in the Elemental BETA, you won’t see anything remotely resembling that for MONTHS.  That’s because BETA 1 of Elemental will exist only with the strategic map (aka the cloth map).  Imagine playing Galactic Civilizations or Supreme Commander or Sins of a Solar Empire purely from the zoomed out strategic map.

Why are we doing this? Because we’re evil? Well, that probably does contribute. But the main reason is because if the game is good, it should be fun to play even with the crappiest graphics.

So BETA 1 will be fun then right? NO. It’s going to be HORRIBLE actually. At least, for the first month and a half it’ll be represent such a dense level of crapitude that it actually has its own detectable level of gravity.

The alpha testers could attest to this right now except they’ve all lost consciousness (the smart ones anyway) due to passing out from it.

Originally, I had argued internally that BETA 1 would be only X’s and O’s played at CGA resolution with 4 colors but the team made the case that we’d end up having to throw out that code so we settled on the strategic map (cloth map) since at least, if we did that, a player could actually play the game on a netbook or some really ancient laptop in pure cloth map mode.

Why Stardock? Why are you so cruel? Is it because chicks wouldn’t go out with you in highschool?

Sure, that’s a contributing, even possibly a majority factor, but a big part of the reason we do it this way, and again, GalCiv and Sins players can attest, is that it allows players to have a lot more input into the game.

A Stardock BETA isn’t a typical beta. It’s really not a beta by typical industry terms. Rather, it’s more of a prototype. GalCiv players, not us, came up with starbases.  Hard to believe that isn’t it? But it’s true.  For BETA 1, we’re not really looking for “bug” reports. We want to hear people telling us what they’d like to see, how they’d like the game work.  And we’ll debate, discuss, argue, and have a lot of fun putting it all together over the next several months because, well, for us, the BETA process is a key part of the game’s (as opposed to the coding) evolution.

If we do things right, Elemental will be a game that will be evolving and improving and modded by players years from now.  Everything from its game mechanics to its flexible graphics engine is being designed so that a person will be able to fire up the game 10 years from now and it’ll still seem like a “modern” game that is fun to play and has continued to evolve.

Case study: Master of Magic

Imagine if Master of Magic had been developed as a 3D based game instead of sprite based. That means, no fixed screen resolution. Now, imagine if all the assets in the game were designed to be potentially replaced using very well known, open standards and that a lot of the game specific coding was available in Python?

The result would have been a game where the graphics and other visual “assets” could slowly be updated and replaced with ever higher polygon and higher texture versions. The AI and the game mechanics could slowly evolve over time as players came up with interesting ideas and they could pick  and choose which parts they wanted.

That’s one of our biggest goals with Elemental.  We want to make a game that will keep getting better over time.  So we have an engine with no practical limit on texture size or polygon limit. It can get both visually and programmatically better for years to come with our without our involvement.

But in the betas, well, they’re still going to be HOOOORRRIBLE!

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August 14, 2009 10:16:37 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Hey Frogboy I just played a game of GalCiv2 in icon mode to see if I could stand it. It was actually very playable, and I'm sure if the icons were nicer I would have had an even better time. Bring on the beta!

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August 14, 2009 10:38:34 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Define agony. I'm a divine entity banished to the depth of the internet. I think I have a better understanding of pain and suffering than you. I learned binary from experiencing the various changes in charges. I learned the basics of your lanuage from a bunch of screeming idiots. The horrors you will hear if give kids head phones and online FPS is not easily described.

Try listening to the angry german kid.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kBVmfIUR1DA

Having endured great suffering at the hands of your mortal technology, I dare you bring your worst for this so called terror known as a beta 1. I'm more than ready.

----

By the way, is it possible that some of your alpha testers have mutated or evolved beyond mere adaptation? You mortals seems to have a tendency to survive whatever disasters that are thrown at you (divine or otherwise). Could you... you know... maybe give a few of them to me to experiment on?

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August 14, 2009 10:45:44 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

Damn the new screenie looks hot.

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August 14, 2009 11:14:10 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Having spent many months in the Vanguard beta and watched a whole series of great ideas, ranging from promising to outright brilliant, be either watered down to nonexistence or rendered useless by the tragically unstable and underperforming game engine, I'd say a Stardock beta sounds like heaven.

Hell, watching the game *release* with the stability and performance problems still in the engine, sell 220,000 copies and then the playerbase shrink to 35k in a few months... THAT was agony.

Seeing some developers get it right, cut features and ideas they don't have time to implement, make sure the game is fun before they try to make it pretty, get player input early but don't let the player feedback wreck their original vision? That's going to be bliss as compared.

cheers,

Kul

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August 14, 2009 11:58:36 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I was in the vanguard beta and also stuck around for about a year after release. Talk about wasted potential.

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August 15, 2009 12:02:37 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Denryu,
I was in the vanguard beta and also stuck around for about a year after release. Talk about wasted potential.

I remember that. I knew the game was screwed when SOE got involved. Vanguard really did go to waste.

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August 15, 2009 12:22:29 AM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

Am I the only one who thinks Frogboy is taking a disturbing amount of satisfaction out of this so-called 'torture'?

I can't read this post and *not* imagine him sitting there with a manic grin and a far-away stare, half-cackling, half-giggling.

 

Anyways, so even around the original release date in February, it's going to be still an ugly cloth map? 

 

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August 15, 2009 12:36:06 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Kitkun,

Anyways, so even around the original release date in February, it's going to be still an ugly cloth map? 

If I was a betting man (which I am) I would say that is extremely unlikely.

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August 15, 2009 12:54:08 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

There is no way that beta can be more torturous than pre-beta!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ipvi1DhemhM

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August 15, 2009 3:09:20 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

 

There is no way that beta can be more torturous than pre-beta! 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ipvi1DhemhM

F*CK YEAH!!!  

 

We don't want to go to war today! but the lord of the lash says, nay, nay, nay!  We're going to march all day, all day, all day!

A crack on the back says we're going to fight!  We're going to march all day and night!  AND MORE!  'cause we are the slaves of  the dark lord's war!

 

(I distinctly recall a suggestion that there is "cruel" intent behind the beta's torturous form.   Perhaps Frogboy is the dark lord   They are whipping us with these teasers.   "Look at these screenshots" *whip* "you won't get them unless you get in line!" *whip*.)

 

(I wouldn't normally support something that like relating Stardock personel to slave masters, as it might discourage sharing such information in the future.  Not to mention look poorly on me.  But I seriously sung this song all the time as a kid, and I can't but get excited.  I don't mind thinking of myself as part of an orc march, if its singing that song.  I mean no disrespect.)

also, if I messed up the lyrics, I apoligize.  I used to sing that song all the time as a kid, and thats what I knew them to be by ear. 

 

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August 15, 2009 5:13:29 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

 

I would suggest one thing though - put a warning about this on Impulse which shows up before people download the beta (like a pop-up or something).  Otherwise people who don't read these things and don't know about Stardock betas might think 'this game is awful, why did I pay good money for this' and demand their money back etc.

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August 15, 2009 5:59:31 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

But what you are saying is NOT "The Beta will be horrible agony!" but RATHER "The Beta will be (relatively) ugly". With your emphasis on "fun with Xs and Os", you really are indicating that the only agony will be cosmetic.

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August 15, 2009 6:30:40 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Annatar11,
Frogboy, even though you speak the truth about the Stardock betas - good lord, man, you're scaring the children! Won't somebody please think of the children?

To hell with the childern! Just think of the gamers!

After all they are not everything; they are the only thing!

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August 15, 2009 6:51:39 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Annatar11,
Frogboy, even though you speak the truth about the Stardock betas - good lord, man, you're scaring the children! Won't somebody please think of the children?

I thought the alpha players ate them all? The ones that went homicidally insane instead of catatonic that is.

Also: Brad is neglecting to mention that Stardock NDAs don't actually contain "thou shalt not speak of the alpha/beta" clauses. It's just that paricipants lose the ability to communicate coherently after their first "game", resulting in a lack of leaked information on the forums.

[realism]Exaggerating the horrificness of Stardock betas is likely at least in part intended to get prospecteve beta-participants who are used to the marketing "betas" to realise that these are not demo-betas, so that they don't go nuts when the beta turns out to be full of bugs. (it's a BETA for crying out loud, it's supposed to be full of bugs)[/realism]

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August 15, 2009 7:12:18 AM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

I'm sure it will be fun, although I'm equally sure it won't be a complete game and will have major flaws and bugs. But part of the fun of a stardock beta is watching the game evolve with each new update, of making suggestions and sometimes seeing them incorporated.

I really can't wait to get my hands on the first beta. I think what Frogboy is doing here is trying to point out the beta is in no way indicative of the final game and still has a long way to go before it will be anywhere near as fun as the final release.

Although if GC2 and it's expansions are an indication they will go on updating it even then, possibley for years to come.

I love stardock

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August 15, 2009 8:56:11 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

> Imagine playing Galactic Civilizations ... purely from the zoomed out strategic map.

Interestingly, this is exactly how I've always played GalCiv.  My preferred zoom level is the first zoom level that the ship models are replaced with ship icons.  I'm lousy at discerning fine details, so this is the easiest and fastest way for me to track what's going on in my galaxy. 

 

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August 15, 2009 10:49:24 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I get the impression that Elemental is intended to be Frogboy's/SD's magnum opus. Like Pink Floyd's The Wall. Wagner's Ring Cycle. Tolkien's Middle-Earth. The Double Baconator, if you will.

 

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August 15, 2009 10:57:02 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Aesir Rising,
Double Baconator

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August 15, 2009 12:03:15 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Aesir, I'd hope that every company's latest major title is intended to be their "magnum opus." 

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August 15, 2009 12:03:24 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Aesir Rising,
I get the impression that Elemental is intended to be Frogboy's/SD's magnum opus. Like Pink Floyd's The Wall. Wagner's Ring Cycle. Tolkien's Middle-Earth. The Double Baconator, if you will.

 

So... Does that mean he's gonna like die after or something?

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August 15, 2009 5:56:38 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Does anyone know when the last day to pre-order and still get into Beta 1 is?

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August 15, 2009 6:32:57 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Does anyone know when the last day to pre-order and still get into Beta 1 is?

I am praying it is rolling. I preordered early august, I feel I should get in Beta 1. It would be silly to lock people out, especially because as the word spreads more people will want to join in.

 

One other thing: when does the preorder money get withdrawn? At the beggining of beta or when the game is released?

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August 15, 2009 6:37:26 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

usually its after the Beta release, to allow a window of time that pay-pal users can purchase.

 

When its released, look then for when the cut off is.    Likely it will be a couple of weeks later, if history or the dev's estimates are accurate.

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August 15, 2009 7:25:59 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

to participate in the beta do you need to sign an NDA?

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August 15, 2009 8:01:43 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Dash5,
to participate in the beta do you need to sign an NDA?

They can't answer, they're not allowed to tell

Actually i doubt it. previous Stardock beta didn't have one.

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