Alpha Clear?


Pathfinder Online

Goblin Squad Member

I am considering upping my pledge to alpha, but did not see any were if the server would be cleared after the alpha testing is over.

Scarab Sages Goblinworks Executive Founder

They haven't specified that as of yet. Being an Alpha from the tech I would also like to see some more details about timeline and their goals/expectations of alpha.

Scarab Sages Goblin Squad Member

Either way, you'll still have an advantage in knowing where to go and what to do, if leading the pack is what you're looking for. You'll also have more interaction with GW in shaping the game at an earlier stage, and there's apparently a free subscription throughout Early Enrollment, and participation in 'monster casting' (getting to play as a monster in some special events).

Pledge Rewards Summary


Keovar wrote:

Either way, you'll still have an advantage in knowing where to go and what to do, if leading the pack is what you're looking for. You'll also have more interaction with GW in shaping the game at an earlier stage, and there's apparently a free subscription throughout Early Enrollment, and participation in 'monster casting' (getting to play as a monster in some special events).

Pledge Rewards Summary

Playing a monster would be wicked! Imagine a parties surprise at a mob that turns out to be a player, lol. Gotta have video of that encounter!

Goblin Squad Member

They never said that alpha wouldn't clear. Alpha testing probably won't involve the entire game, you probably participated in highly directed tests that either place you in a certian scenario, or you are given tools to rapidly advance.

Don't expect to keep alpha characters. You shouldn't be developing a serious character anyway, you should be messing with lots of things and rooting out bugs.

Goblin Squad Member

Valkenr wrote:
... messing with lots of things and rooting out bugs.

Alpha-pledgers should not be bughunters, but will give feedback on the design (mechanics, ui, encounters). Bascially GW will give you something to play with and then ask "is this fun? is this too simple or too hard? which of these designs is better?"

The reasons to go alpha should not be to become a more powerful player (although that will happen to some degree), but
a) seeing from the inside how a game like this is made (a rare opportunity!), and
b) having a direct influence on the game design - aka tuning PFO to be more like you want it.

Goblinworks Executive Founder

randomwalker wrote:
Valkenr wrote:
... messing with lots of things and rooting out bugs.

Alpha-pledgers should not be bughunters, but will give feedback on the design (mechanics, ui, encounters). Bascially GW will give you something to play with and then ask "is this fun? is this too simple or too hard? which of these designs is better?"

The reasons to go alpha should not be to become a more powerful player (although that will happen to some degree), but
a) seeing from the inside how a game like this is made (a rare opportunity!), and
b) having a direct influence on the game design - aka tuning PFO to be more like you want it.

From my understanding of what GW is trying to do, the Alpha testers are very much bug hunters. Once the game leaves Alpha it will enter the EE phase (Limited Launch). This phase is Live, as in minimal bugs and no character wipes. That can only happen if the majority of the bugs have already been hashed out by the alpha testers/ Devs. The EE phase is also the phase where the community will assist in creating the systems that the OE folks (full launch) will use. While the Alpha folks will also help in creating those base systems we will be doing the bulk of the actual mechanical testing. Think more foundation building instead of structures and interior decorating.

Alpha backers should expect at least one character wipe before EE (if not many more). They should expect to spend the lions share of their time testing specific builds, bug hunting, mechanics, locations, ect as per the direction of the Devs. they should not expect full time access to the servers, nor full access to even base mechanics at times (class trees, gear, ect) They should also expect not to really be "playing the game".

Goblin Squad Member

Alpha access is not going to be "yey, play the game even earlier". Proper alpha testing can be a lot like work. Odds are good the devs will be putting up assignments and directions "Hey, we need to test X and Y today." followed up by players trying it out, and filling out detailed bug reports, as well as opinions on whether the system was functional/fun/confusing/etc. You will probably not play the same character for long, with frequent wipes, only to later be dev advanced to whatever skill/gear level you need to be to test what they're working on at the moment. I'm both a software developer and an alpha, I expect to come home from work, and then continue working, because I honestly enjoy that, and I look forward to getting to shape the game directly.

Goblin Squad Member

Whether or not bug-hunting is part of the job description it would be irresponsible to fail to report any problem issues we encounter, especially exploits.

Goblin Squad Member

Well thanks every one for clearing up what would be involved in alpha

Goblin Squad Member

Oh. Perhaps you were being sarcastic? Despite being able to predict some of what will be involved, we cannot know that what we can predict will cover all that it will entail.

For example it may be that when we play goblins in a dungeon or bunnies in a field our behaviors may be recorded as supplemental scripts for any AI routines they intend, just as one possible example. Some things we cannot yet predict. If I am a goblin I might be fascinated by the use of shoelaces for tying things together. So if I wonder 'aloud' in goblinese text whether the layer might have 'strings' my text might be included among the randomized actions of that goblin in the future.

CEO, Goblinworks

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Alpha testing implies lots of server resets and restarts. The game begins with Early Enrollment.

Goblin Squad Member

^ Alpha is never considered game in any game. Its how you find problems before the game and get a rare chance to participate in the development of a game you love.

Scarab Sages Goblinworks Executive Founder

Ryan Dancey wrote:
Alpha testing implies lots of server resets and restarts. The game begins with Early Enrollment.

I assumed as much, would still love to see what kind of timeline you are envisioning for when alpha *might* start as compared to early enrollment.

Goblin Squad Member

It will be work, no questions there. A complex system should be tested in exhaustive detail such as players seldom see.

There is a reason why most games kept alpha with only their own employees beyond security issues. Yet for us that work will be balanced by having lines of input as we try and get systems right.

My objective is to see a fantasy MMO RPG done right. It is the reason I went alpha despite the expense.

My eyes are wide open on this.

Goblin Squad Member

I'm sort of curious what sort of NDA (if any) we'll get tied up with for the Alpha testing.

Goblinworks Executive Founder

So far nothing Dario, Valkenr, or Void Ronin have said or Ryan has implied surprises me in the slightest. That's kind of what I expected from an alpha test, and I know as much about software development as I do about the core of Mercury.

I'm going to ask Ryan to clarify a thorny topic, one which obviously will need to be very clear before the alpha begins. I plan to share as much information about the alpha and my experiences as I can do within whatever framework the company needs to set up. I do not know how tight-lipped GW expects alpha testers to be throughout the project given the new crowd-forging process. Obligatory CYA comment: Obviously I will comply with their policy and any legal agreements I sign, and if something looks doubtful I'll request guidance, but to the extent possible I plan to share information.

Obviously expecting a full answer right now on the forums is absurd, but a heads-up would be nice.

Goblin Squad Member

Yep, Doc, that's what I was talking about with the NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement).

Goblinworks Executive Founder

Dario wrote:
I'm sort of curious what sort of NDA (if any) we'll get tied up with for the Alpha testing.

Or, yeah, that.

Goblin Squad Member

We're circling each other, Doc. =P

Goblin Squad Member

Void Ronin wrote:
randomwalker wrote:


Alpha-pledgers should not be bughunters...
From my understanding of what GW is trying to do, the Alpha testers are very much bug hunters.

This is obviously fully up to GW!

My thought is that there will be other (professional) alpha testers than the KS pledgers, and those others should get the boring tasks like bug testing and reporting (which I fully agree is a major part of alpha testing). The KS alpha pledgers I imagine are better used to evaluate "is it fun? is it good?" (ie not whether the coding does as intended but whether that intention meets the goals of the design). Since they are actually players rather than GW employees they are a very different type of resource and I expect Ryan/GW to take advantage of that.

but indeed, alpha testing is not playing the game with a head start.

Goblinworks Executive Founder

@ Dario: Yes, yes we are. Great minds and all that.

Though I would definitely add there's a big difference between Ryan saying, "I hope to let you guys talk as much as I can without putting my company at risk," him saying "I'm afraid that we will have to restrict information flow," and him saying, "Sorry, I can't answer that question right now." Those are all perfectly fine, but they do create a different expectation and will adjust quite a few plans. All bets are off once the lawyers actually do get involved.

Goblin Squad Member

Being wrote:

Oh. Perhaps you were being sarcastic? Despite being able to predict some of what will be involved, we cannot know that what we can predict will cover all that it will entail.

For example it may be that when we play goblins in a dungeon or bunnies in a field our behaviors may be recorded as supplemental scripts for any AI routines they intend, just as one possible example. Some things we cannot yet predict. If I am a goblin I might be fascinated by the use of shoelaces for tying things together. So if I wonder 'aloud' in goblinese text whether the layer might have 'strings' my text might be included among the randomized actions of that goblin in the future.

As someone who loves tabletop Pathfinder, I am very interested in the online game (plus it looks awesome), however I have no experience with the video game creation process. Add in the fact that there has been alot of discussion as to what beta/early enrollment would be, I figured it would be a good idea to clarify what would be involved in a alpha pledge.

Goblin Squad Member

Well, there's basically four ways to go about it.

1) Full NDA information blackout.
2) NDA blackout with exceptions.
3) Open air with exceptions.
4) Open air, shout it to the world.

Personally, I think the idea solution is probably 3. That lets us talk about what we're seeing and drum up hype, while still letting GW protect things that are particularly unstable or in early concept testing.

CEO, Goblinworks

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@All - I can't imagine anything we'd try to keep secret about the Alpha. That would not be in the spirit of Crowdforging.

Goblin Squad Member

Raythos wrote:
Being wrote:

Oh. Perhaps you were being sarcastic? Despite being able to predict some of what will be involved, we cannot know that what we can predict will cover all that it will entail.

For example it may be that when we play goblins in a dungeon or bunnies in a field our behaviors may be recorded as supplemental scripts for any AI routines they intend, just as one possible example. Some things we cannot yet predict. If I am a goblin I might be fascinated by the use of shoelaces for tying things together. So if I wonder 'aloud' in goblinese text whether the layer might have 'strings' my text might be included among the randomized actions of that goblin in the future.

As someone who loves tabletop Pathfinder, I am very interested in the online game (plus it looks awesome), however I have no experience with the video game creation process. Add in the fact that there has been alot of discussion as to what beta/early enrollment would be, I figured it would be a good idea to clarify what would be involved in a alpha pledge.

I see. No I had no idea where you might be on the spectrum and so was taken aback, because in themepark development alpha testing is vastly more detailed and rigorous than early beta testing and usually the systems being tested are pretty barebones. If a complex system is simplified it is easier to identify what is wonky because there are only so many things possible. In complex systems which are tested as a whole within a full environment anything that has not be already proven sound can go wrong and it is more complicated to pin down the causes.

So I presumed you knew better and thought you might be rolling your eyes at us is all.

No, you are in good company. I have wide experience beta testing but only my decades old experience testing an alpha build of a PBM game I once brought to beta, way back when people still submitted turns on paper by snail mail.

Neanderthal times, you see.

Goblin Squad Member

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Ryan Dancey wrote:
@All - I can't imagine anything we'd try to keep secret about the Alpha. That would not be in the spirit of Crowdforging.

This makes me happy in ways that aren't appropriate to discuss in public.

Goblin Squad Member

Dario wrote:
Ryan Dancey wrote:
@All - I can't imagine anything we'd try to keep secret about the Alpha. That would not be in the spirit of Crowdforging.
This makes me happy in ways that aren't appropriate to discuss in public.

This actually made me laugh out load. My co-workers where in shock. They think of my as that grumpy IT guy!

Valinar

Goblin Squad Member

Isn't "grumpy" and "IT guy" redundant?

Goblinworks Executive Founder

Well, huzzah!

We shall take as much advantage of that as we can.

Goblin Squad Member

Ryan Dancey wrote:
@All - I can't imagine anything we'd try to keep secret about the Alpha. That would not be in the spirit of Crowdforging.

Good answer. :-)

Daniel.

Goblin Squad Member

I think because of the middleware solution GW has chosen, there will be much fewer bugs to hunt down in a more traditional alpha testing phase.

Goblin Squad Member

Vendis wrote:
I think because of the middleware solution GW has chosen, there will be much fewer bugs to hunt down in a more traditional alpha testing phase.

Except that they're doing a noteworthy overhaul on the server side of the Unity engine.

Goblin Squad Member

Dario wrote:
Vendis wrote:
I think because of the middleware solution GW has chosen, there will be much fewer bugs to hunt down in a more traditional alpha testing phase.
Except that they're doing a noteworthy overhaul on the server side of the Unity engine.

That's very true, but that's only one aspect of getting the game ready for Early Enrollment.

In a common alpha testing phase, it's possible to log in and have a bunch of options greyed out because they could possibly crash the game. Better programming techniques can reduce this chance, but it's almost impossible to eliminate it.

Large scale programs like MMOs are a tangled mess of code, and even with the best designers - and personally, I think GW has a pretty sweet group so far - you will have unforeseen, unavoidable bugs that will need to be worked out. The advantage of using Unity is that in addition to a lot of the base code being written, probably 95-99% of it will be bug-free.

Plus, there's the fact that graphics are better on Unity than they were on the engine GW was looking at previously (BigWorld), though the server side stuff is worse; GW has some veritable experts when it comes to server stuff.

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