Will there be game testing?


#1

Just out of curiosity, will there be testing for the game? Like an Alpha or a Beta? :smiley: Im really looking forward to this game, it looks very fun and something that i would seriously enjoy!

Thanks!


#2

We definitely want to get people testing the game when there’s still time to take their feedback into account. We’ll release a beta version of the game sometime this year to everyone who backs the Kickstarter at the $30 level and above. Thanks!!


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#3

Honestly I think most people will forget you if they have to wait such an extensive amount of time before they get to play. Me for one hope for a Minecraftesque release system(buy alpha for reduced amount, beta for less reduced amount and finished product for full amount). Well thats just my two cents, really want to play this game, looks like it could be pretty succesfull if you play your cards right.


#4

I second that.

Wolfire is a great example of this. They released an alpha version extremely early in development. Even without a “pretty” UI (and still without a pretty UI, tutorial, or missions).

As a result they continuously get funding and awareness of their game (and keep their backers happy).

With a very rough alpha version in hand I can show the game to my friends, and build hype which leads to more buyers. I can also provide you (the developers) with fearless feedback to make this game superb.


To the developers, Alpha testing
#5

This is good feedback, thanks. In you opinion, how much of the game has to be there before you would consider it “game” enough to be worth going to alpha?


#6

The construction part would be a fun and ‘constructive’ start.

In your latest Dev Video you showcase the building aspects of your game. I would love to tool around with building homes in a small region (even without enemies or fleshed out specialists). Watching those citizens build my (or pre-made) designs is enough to entertain me (and allow me to improve my house making skills).

Your brother (I think) said himself that it was buggy in the video. But feedback at this (or a little bit later) stage would help you find the ‘routine’ that causes citizens to ‘take a smoke break.’ You could even restrict the game world population to 15 if needed.


#7

I would pay $30 to play this game now, heck, I would probably pay more to play around with anything remotely playable. As Ben has said, even with massive limitations people would be entertained. It could be a taste of what is to come. In my experience playing Betas and Alphas, I find getting on to see whole new aspects added “seemingly overnight” is thoroughly enjoyable, and something you don’t get a lot of in full releases. I would not mind bugs, that is expected, and a whole swarm of alpha players could (no offense) find bugs in the GamePlay a lot quicker than you guys. Reporting bugs and finding them fixed makes me feel like I am contributing to the creation of the game!


#8

If we have the ability to make houses and assign jobs, then i think its good enough to test. Even if it just a little. Those two aspects I think will get a lot of feedback.


#9

I found this game on the Greenlight list for Steam just a few minutes ago and came immediately to this site to find information on this specific topic. Honestly I think it must have been posted on Steam today while I was at work. I like Greenlight. I’d rather spend my money, in reasonable quantities to help test and get the joy of seeing a good idea and its development. If it is okay I’d like to add a little or a lot:

Be careful about charging too much for early alpha and beta access. It can be discouraging to the average player who’s heard enough horror stories about uncertainty in a completed game, or very poor final product, or far too many years in development with little progress and poor results. Or even possibly finding out there may be a micro-transaction set-up they’ll also have to pay for.

However as the previous poster said, it can very easily open up a wealth of willing testers and perhaps a more steady stream of funding. It’s worth being open with your players/testers as to your plans and what’s upcoming in development and implementation. When done well and in a timely manner, even if minimal progress has been made due to unforeseen programming or redesign issues, it can help let the play-testers know what to focus on. Instead of ending up in a situation where you become flooded with demands and/or suggestions simply because it’s unclear where things are currently headed or what happening at the moment.

It would also be wise to allow permanent access from the early stage to the full version if it becomes purchasable. But that can be tricky to find what you may feel is the right price for this early access. Basically it’s trying not to make people feel they are getting ripped off. By ensuring your customer/players access all the way through as you implement new features to be tested, your players, and hopefully testers, can commit more fully to testing, supporting and when possible funding. I’m generally poor, I’m sure, but I would be more likely to purchase early access directly from your site which would greatly increase the chances of making smaller donations through development later. Instead of possibly spending 30-50 as a donation now then wait an uncertain amount of time for a game I can really only hope will come out. Or simply forgetting or waiting to long to care for the final product. It’s more likely we’ll generate support if we have something we can play and show; also stated earlier by another.

You may find that honesty and loyalty to the players will help build the “hype” you need. Not to suggest it’s simply an act of pandering to them, but respecting them. I think that’s why there are more gamers out there like myself, others here, and even yourselves as indie developers; because we’re looking for something new, interesting and made with true dedication. You may be surprised how patient a community of test-players can be as long as your are open with the progress and what’s next.

I understand finding the right price can be tricky, but it may be worth considering a very reasonable price for your early alpha access, simply due to the amount of actual game implemented and yet to be implemented. As your game progresses it’s not unreasonable to increase to early access price to match the current state of completeness so new people to the early access simply pay more than it was previously priced at. It does feel that the early testing/user feed back would help off-set a lower early alpha access price. And simply remove the option to buy early access once you get within the final stages of full release while still implementing those final features that need testing to your by now loyal testing community.

I know it’s possible to have early beta access supported on Steam which can also help build your support too. It’s one of the main reasons I tend to vote often on GreenLight to hopefully accelerate this process. However, PLEASE support a direct download of your game from you site. It instills a strong sense of ownership and possible stronger commitment if your community feels like they actually own on their pc a real version of the game. Not hosted by a 3rd party client.

I’d would pay to: help test, get the chance to see new features implemented, the game grow, the community grow and the actual joy of knowing that I may have in some small way helped. Because: Take that “the system and/or the man”.

As for features to have in this hypothetical earliest of versions:
Basic building plus the needed crafting to accommodate this.
The basic resources to supply these early building features.
The simplest of pop-up tutorial/description messages where needed, ie items, resources, actions,
Some way to possibly sustain your very small test population. Or simply no threat to worry about. But honestly I think if you just had the basic building features, needed resources to supply, a small population. It would be a good place to start.

I would think the best idea is to make this early access alpha focus on the very basic foundation of your game. The core ideas. Enough to play with. As long as you inform the buyers of what the game currently is, and inform the game community that it is in a game developing/testing phase I think you’ll find the support your looking for, faster stronger testing, and a lot of good real time feed back plus much greater chances of ongoing funding. I mean we’re gamers, we like to play with things now. .

Sorry for being longwinded. Sorry for being poor. I’d take a chance of I had spare cash to throw. I watched a few of your videos and want to totally see this game.This is my form of encouragement. I would pay for early access. I would help test. And also, make sure you supply a steam key to your early buyers. I think that’s pretty standard? Good luck. You got my vote.


#10

There is nothing worse than a rushed game, please take ur time with ur baby guys cuz this has too much potential to be missed out on =] cant wait


#11

As an example of early release on Steam look at Gnomoria a similar genre of game.
Gnomoria is built by a single Dev but he releases weekly patches for his game and listens to his players. There is a very active community forum and is where I first found out about Stonehearth.


#12

I’d second Gnomoria’s model - it’s a community that accepts and works really well with it, which I think is key. If the developer is unable to get a patch out for whatever reason he is always certain to communicate the reasons why.

Another example would be Project Zomboid - remove all the negativity, issues, and complications that have surrounded them and their time-keeping and they have provided a good example of regular releases (something I think they are going to get back into now they’re finally where they want to be).

As long as the community is made aware of what to expect, and the core of the game is in a good place then an early Alpha release with regular updates might be beneficial for Stonehearth - I mean the biggest issue I can see arising (excluding performance issues) is player mod functionality etc. By this I mean, say with an early build people start going off and creating their own mods, only to find 4/5 months down the line that due to whatever changes they are no longer compatible - then that could possibly be an issue?


Letting us help
#13

I really like incremental update towards final product/endless updating like Mincraft and Gnomoria. It keeps engaged in the feed back and development process where I can see the game grow and member’s input is implemented in the game.

IMHO the first release could just include the building section and basic job class for citizen to survive (just Carpenter and Farmer etc…) Also remove the world generation until later release and just give a decent area for testers. It keeps the backer engaged and potentially give extremely useful feedback to strengthen various aspect of the game.

While there are downside to people not understanding these types of release is meant for player to test and give feed back and not a “early” playable version. I do believe we will have a community of very imaginative players and the positive will out weight the negative.


#14

Honestly guys, anything is awesome, even if it is just some of the mini-games you have laid out, or the mob creator, anything, I for one will eat it up, and I imagine everyone else will too.


#15

I think you could start out with alpha with just the basic building and level up mechanics in place.

Even if there weren’t random maps at first, just a flat plane.

I think you could go alpha with all the mini games stripped out too and just play around with the “minimum” production farms, etc.


#16

This is basically my favorite question I have ever seen anyone ask, ever. Honestly though, I don’t think anyone expects completion when they think of alpha. They think of testing something to it’s limits and enjoying it while they are at it. Or maybe that is just me. I think Beta is more when people expect a finished, if vastly unpolished, game. So as to the question of how much has to be there, honestly, not that much. The more that is there, there more that can be put through the motions and tested by the community, but any amount of content is certainly “game enough”.

-$0.02


#17

I’m most likely in the minority here, but even though I have backed the project, I wouldn’t want to play an alpha version. I would much prefer to wait for a beta release that has more substance.

From what I have seen so far, the game is coming along nicely, and to play an alpha release might give me a different impression on the game than a beta release would.

Wouldn’t you prefer to play something that had more to it than building houses? I know we all want to get our grubby hands all over the game, but I would like to wait just a bit longer for something more fun :smile:

Cheers


#18

As an early tester of Timber and Stone I feel that early access can really help find issues with the core gameplay much sooner. Player feedback on things like building rates, mining speed, toughness of enemies, settlement and economic growth, etc. can be quite valuable.

The earliest builds of T&S had the core four elements at their most basic: 1) resource gathering, 2) crafting, 3) construction and 4) basic conflict with enemies. All on a single map (no overworld, at least initially). There was enough crafting to support resource gathering, construction and conflict (ie. crafting the tools required). It’s actually probably reasonable that you can put out a test release not including crafting at all. Or perhaps no conflict. Doesn’t really matter - people are going to play whatever you release and find whatever fun and issues they can while doing so. Things like building issues, path-finding issues, graphical glitches, etc. When you’ve got a bunch of testers paying you for the privilege of testing your builds, you really can’t go wrong :slight_smile:

I should also point out that the T&S dev changed the world save format several times, or altered gameplay , such that existing game saves were broken. And we were OK with that :slight_smile:

Edit: oh, and Timber and Stone early access for testing was only available to certain tiers in the kickstarter: there’s three tiers all told: 1) you get the game when it’s done, 2) you some early prototypes to a certain point and 3) you get all the early prototypes and test builds as well.


#19

From my experience its a lot better to let people try to exploit the game now, than build empires later only to have that one thing that built it on be updated away, it happens less in other games, but more complex games like this are more subject to them. So yeah a small demo of basics and maybe mini-games, and let people do it for free (the people who play free things normally are the most devious when it comes to exploits, well at least i normally am). A cheep and cleaner/ better demo for paid backs, maybe?


#20

It should be in the middle. Obviously bigger pledges should get it first, but too many people seem to want the game instantly, and it just won’t work, People see the trailer, complain that the game isn’t in public testing yet (“it must be almost done, look at the trailer!”), then complain when the alpha version isn’t identical to the scripted trailers.

Too many games have fallen into this trap; Castle Story comes to mind here. I can think of a dozen free games where the same happened too.