Preparing a What The Headcrab! episode, I noticed that Above The Catacombs had 3 Alphas available at the time of writing: Alpha 0.73 – Jul 18 2016 (Called the seventh), Alpha 0.4 – Jun 27 2015 and Alpha 0.3 – Jun 2 2015.
Putting aside the time difference between 0.73 and 0.4 of almost a year, I feel that schedules for public release should be fairly limited.
In general, Alpha are internal milestones and beta are external. Of course, it doesn’t have to be that way with mods but I can’t help feeling that if you need feedback this early in development then you don’t have much confidence in your concept.
Now, I am not trying to criticise Above The Catacombs. I haven’t played the Alphas and there may be very good reasons for that schedule of release.
This question is more on the idea of releasing too many pre-release versions.
Somebody once said “Release early and release often”. Which sounds like great advice and is often thrown around as a reason for doing that, but it’s better suited to MP releases than SP. Valve doesn’t do it with their SP games.
Unlike MP release, you often only get one chance to impress players with SP releases. Sure, you can fix bugs and the like but the percentage of players who replay games is very low. Only the die-hard fans do that. That’s why I generally don’t like it when modders revamp releases and try to update them. Unless you are going to add new sections, I’m probably not going to replay it.
If it was fantastic to begin with, then maybe, but if it was fantastic to begin with, why are you updating it?
Let’s look at two examples.
Example 1: Prospekt was recently updated. It seems to address minor issues, at least that’s what I got from reading the updated list, and doesn’t address the core issues I and most people had with it. Will I replay it? Highly unlikely and if I do it will only be for a video comparison. I would prefer that Richard listened to the community and built something new. Something better. Richard says he has listened to the community, but I don’t think he really has. He has listened to the things that he wants to hear. Sorry Richard, but as you can probably guess I feel pretty strongly about this.
Example 2: Transmissions: Element 120 (Steam Version) was highly praised on its initial release as a mod and offer fantastic new gameplay as well as new style of setting. This was also recently updated, partly to work on Steam but also to add new story tidbits and polish. Now you could argue that that’s all Prospekt got in its update but it was loved when it was released.
So, does it come down to this: Update great mods because people will play them but forget bad mods as people won’t want to bother?
Back to the main poll question though.
Getting feedback is HUGELY important but releasing too many small iterations can backfire. The people who actually play all of these can’t keep providing new insights. You need new people for that and as we quickly learnt with The Beta Testers Collective (A small dedicated group of SP mod testers) too many versions of a release only confuse players.
What are your thoughts.
Is it possible for SP mods to release too many Alpha/Beta versions?
- No. (16%, 9 Votes)
- Yes. (84%, 48 Votes)
Total Voters: 57