That’s not quite what a “BETA” test is, and the “BETA” we’ve been provided is not a “BETA.”
Given that this game is slated for release in FOUR months, and that the “Beta” hasn’t been updated in over a year, I’m getting a little bit scared of what Warhorse will be putting out without any real Beta testing.
The simple guide for testing release candidates is this:
Demo / Proof of Concept
The first step in development, build a minimal, working, example to give people an idea of what you’re trying to create, and to prove that the idea could work. Most of the code that goes into a POC cannot be used for the actual development. This essentially acts as stand alone game, without any polish or in-depth content.
In-Dev / Pre-Alpha
While in development, the developers themselves will be running the program, and experimenting with additions and changes. When a larger milestone is reached, the team will take a little bit of time to repackage the software with all the changes and new components, fix a bunch of bugs, and make a new working base for the whole team. This packaged up, unfinished but mostly runnable, game is a PreAlpha.
The core functionality of the game is complete, but there are still bugs and secondary components to be completed. At this stage, the game could be released after a month or so of bug-smashing. However, such a game would likely be a little shallow (missing secondary components, like trading or mini-games), and it is very difficult to track down every possible bug on every possible machine configuration. The alpha version of a game should be one intended to be close to release, but for internal testing to identify and fix what bugs the team can find.
Once the team has fixed what bugs it can find, and the Devs think the game is ready to go, they don’t just LAUNCH. Instead, the open up the game to a select group for BETA testing. A BETA is essentially the completed game, and a BETA test is intended to get a larger number of people/machine-configs finding the bugs the team didn’t even think to look for in the Alpha.
Now that these categories are a little bit more clear, I think it becomes much more apparent why people felt slighted by Warhorse not updating their “Beta.” These people knew it felt wrong, but didn’t know why. Here’s why.
We backed for BETA access. We backed so we could contribute to creating and refining a game we believed in. What we got was something between a Demo/POC and Alpha. Carefully packaged up, as early as possible, so WH could say that they filled their end of the deal, and put the “Beta” behind them, and get on with development. After all, it takes a lot of extra work to package up a real BETA for public release, let alone the management and triage of the feedback that is the whole point of a BETA.
A real BETA would have HAD to be updated. It also would have had to come much later in development.
Now here we are four months from release, a year since any new release, and not an Alpha nor Beta in sight. Now here we are, a community of people passionate about the game, who paid to be a part of it, who paid for BETA access, waiting for a release of a game we haven’t seen in a year. This. Is. Not. A. Beta.
All of this is completely at WH’s discretion, and I would be totally fine with it, were it not for two glaring truths:
- Without Alpha testing, the game will be riddled with bugs.
- Without Beta testing (which you NEED a large community for), the game will be riddled with performance issues, crashes, and graphical glitches.
- Unless, of course, you’re lucky enough to be running the same hardware as what WH was using for their internal dev and testing.
THAT’s why people felt slighted, and why this “Beta” is not OK.