Hey folks! As mentioned in another thread
, we're going to be doing multiple rounds (as usual) for the alpha. Here is a brief description of each round.Round 0 - Least PolishedStarting: Either the week of January 20th or the week of January 27th.
This round is going to have a GUI that is functional, but not fully prettied-up yet. Some subscreens won't be in yet, a number of planetary background graphics and ship animations won't be in place yet, and so forth. Mostly these are cosmetic things, and we will be asking people in this round not to give us feedback on those yet since they are still in progress and you'll likely be telling us things we already know. The focus here will instead be on gameplay mechanics -- figuring out if there is anything broken/exploitable there, where things are confusing, how the learning curve is, etc, etc. Since this round of people are first to play the game outside of the company, they're going to have the highest rate of confusion and broken stuff, simply by nature. So if you're looking for a smooth first experience, this is not the round for you.Round 1 - GUI More In PlaceStarting: Either the week of January 27th or the week of February 3rd.
This round is going to have the bulk of the GUI fully in place and as polished as we think it needs to be. There will still be a variety of visual details that are yet to come on here, but nothing that is a major deal or that would affect functionality. There will likely still be subscreens missing that are of very secondary importance, but it shouldn't be anything that should affect you in a major way at all. The new user experience should be substantially better than round 0 in all respects, as we'll have the feedback from the first round, and a week's worth of refinement in design and coding and art based on our own plans and based on that feedback. This is still going to be comparably rough in terms of balance and details compared to later rounds, though.Round 2 - Getting More PolishedStarting: Either the week of February 3rd or the week of February 10th.
This round is going to be substantially more polished, and it should give players a very good idea of what the game is really going to be like at launch. There will still be nits and bits and bobs all over the place that we'll be dealing with, but it's little details much moreso than major stuff.Round 3 - Final PolishStarting: Either the week of February 10th or the week of February 17th.
This round is going to be very close to final. We'll basically be pulling in a last round of testers to do checks on how all the other feedback prior to this point has culminated, and to get an idea of how new people will react to the game on launch (in terms of ease of learning, etc). This will also be a chance for us to get yet more eyes on the game and thus have yet more clever people finding exploits or whatever else that we and the other testers might have missed prior to this point.Other/Intermediate Rounds
Depending on timing and other factors, we might do "multiple round 2s" on a shorter time schedule, or have a round 4 that is basically yet even more final polish, or some things like that. The above 4 rounds are basically an estimate of what we are going to do, and either way they definitely map to the general life stages of the process of getting from alpha to 1.0, regardless of how many batches of players are actually let in at a given time. Just as an FYI, if we wind up letting in 3 groups of people and you were in round 2 and wonder why you aren't in yet -- we might be doing two groups in round 1, still.So -- Please Tell Us Where You Want To Be
We have gotten a lot of PMs from folks who are interested in the alpha, and that is awesome. We have them all, don't worry! What were going to have to do from here, however, is to sort people into which rounds we want to have them testing in. We need both expert and comparably-casual players in each round, ideally. Just having all of our most-expert players in the first two rounds would not be very smart, if you see what I mean.
So! We've had folks in past alphas who were a little bit offended that they didn't get into whatever round, because they have been such fixtures in the Arcen alphas for so many years, etc. To avoid that this time around, we ask that folks please give us your first, second, and third choices of what rounds you would like to enter the alpha at. Or if you only have one or two rounds that you want to be entered at, then let us know that as well (for instance, maybe you really don't want to be in prior to round 2 -- that's actually awesome, because too many people tend to want to get in as soon as possible, and so having some people hang back is good).
We will then try to balance out everyone's desires as much as possible, while at the same time having a good mix of people in every round. Feel free to comment in this thread or PM Chris (x4000), either way. If you previously expressed interest in the alpha and he doesn't hear from you, he'll be PMing you back. If he still doesn't hear from you, then he'll be assigning you to whichever rounds are most in need of people.
Thanks for reading!