TRI is a first-person 3D game with environmental puzzles and an immersive atmosphere. Experimentation is the key, thus players can create their own geometry to solve puzzles and reach hidden places in weird constructions. Features: * freeform 3D platformer * build triangles to overcome abysses, reach unknown places, and walk on the walls and the ceiling * control light rays and destroy obstacles with dangerous lasers * explore the dungeons of TRI, collect treasures and solve puzzles
In this article I want to share my opinion about alphas. And the (dis)advantage players and developers have.
Posted by rottenhedgehog on Jul 25th, 2012
Although games, websites or software in beta state always have the touch of banana software ("ripens at the customer's"), testing and using a feature-complete, but buggy version is popular these days. You don't even recognize the "beta"-button anymore.
In contrast to the beta, the alpha version of a game lacks the implementation of most features, levels or functions. The game is just a skeleton that needs to be fleshed out and wrapped into a nice skin, before anyone can estimate where this new thing will walk to. Some developers go even so far to present just a grid you can walk on as a first gameplay demo.
How did game development come this far, to sell even the slightest appearance of gameplay? Are we that desperate? And why do so many of these pre-pre-alphas pop-up these days?
Coincidentally I'm one of them, selling my game in an early development phase. Although we fuel a culture of incompleteness with this approach, that - above all when it comes to indie games - creates a certain reputation, I try to give you some insights on my opinion about alphas.
First of all - why should a player be bothered with this early versions? This is a question you should ask yourself when you sell an unfinished product. Your argumentation should be clear, more so if you want money for your game-to-be-made. If you have fans that really wait for your game, this will make some things easier:
- "Try it before it's finished!"
- "Fund your developer <3"
- "Participate in game our development!"
- "Watch the evolution of a game!"
Although I am a game designer, I am a player myself, too. I have stabs at many alphas and love to play upcoming and promising games in this early state. Playing games before even the press got an eye on these games!
One argument that really kills all the above enumerated pros is one contra though: Players will never have the certainty that a game they bought will get finished! The more alphas are out there, the more developers will occur that abort their projects or never show up again.
We hope to eliminate this impression by updates and postings. Even if there will be a bigger pause of development because of different engagements or other circumstances, you should communicate this to your players.
But to be honest: The one that benefits most from an alpha is the developer, of course. There are many arguments to sell your game before it's finished:
- Fund your game!
- Marketing is easier step-by-step
- Feedback and play-test
- Get rid of mistakes in an early phase of development!
Why you should not publish your game at (pre-)alpha state:
This arguments sound like alpha release is totally convenient for everybody. We all should push our games on the market unfinished!? Needless to say, there are many reasons to NOT do so.
- Losing your reputation.
- "This game is finished?"
- "Can you change this now?"
Although we recommend using your own website for alpha sale, we also use Desura to sell our unfinished game. Indievania allows alpha and beta release (and even prototypes), too, but be aware: the more platforms you choose to publish, the bigger the hassle is to make sure every player is up to date.
While 15-30% of your price stays at Desura, you might gain more attention thanks to them, especially because they got a useful direct connection to IndieDB.
Alpha funding doesn't work for us at the moment, even though we try achieve this with future updates. But our game highly benefits from the feedback we gained in the first weeks, especially after evaluating the survey. Through web analysis and conversion rates we know that the game itself works fine, but we need to have better graphics and gameplay videos. The current ones look a bit underwhelming or don't show enough gameplay features for most people.
Without the closed alpha and its demo we wouldn't get that many honest criticism and attention. Like I mentioned above, all these alpha versions floating around might create a certain reputation of incompleteness for indies, but on the other hand it's our independence to use everything to make OUR game if it wouldn't be possible otherwise.
Hopefully I introduced alphas to you well, or changed your mind about them (in which way whatsoever).
More alphas I recommend
- Against the Wall (3D Platformer)
- Under the Ocean (Sand-box-survival-building game)
- Survivors of Ragnarök (Sand-box-survival-building game)
- Gnomoria (Dwarf-Fortress inspired)
- Towns (Real-Time Strategy)
- Gnoblins (RPG)
- Lemma (Action-Adventure, Mirror's Edge inspired)
- Kairo (Adventure, Exploration)
- Bientôt l'été (Tale of Tales game)