How soon is too soon to open an in development game?

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How soon is too soon to open an in development game?

Postby Kesstryl » Tue Sep 05, 2017 8:17 pm

Should an Alpha version be released so players can give feedback while a game is developing (assuming you have something that is playable, stable, and secure), or is it better to wait until something is more polished? I've seen so many gamers complain and give bad reviews about games in an alpha or beta state as if they are expecting it to be finished and polished, but I can also see the benefit of having community feedback to give development direction. I'm wondering what all your thoughts are on this.
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Re: How soon is too soon to open an in development game?

Postby 62896dude » Tue Sep 05, 2017 9:18 pm

For me personally, an Alpha for a game I'm working on means all of the core mechanics are there and the game is visually pleasing, but none of those visuals are finalized and more mechanics are still to come. But I definitely get what you're saying, it's tough to leave things out of an Alpha for the sake of getting focused feedback and then get knocked for it. It's a bit unfair, but I guess it's just something to plan for.
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Re: How soon is too soon to open an in development game?

Postby hallsofvallhalla » Wed Sep 06, 2017 10:26 am

I am fine with Alpha games but tired of these games on steam going into Alpha, making some money then just dropping off the face of the earth.
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Re: How soon is too soon to open an in development game?

Postby Jackolantern » Wed Sep 06, 2017 9:06 pm

I would say a game needs to be 90% complete or higher. Like you alluded to, players don't really care if a game is early access/demo/alpha/beta, etc. They are going to judge your game based on it being a complete product because you opened the doors. The last 10% of a game, by the old saying, is about 90% of the development so you definitely will still have a long way to go.

But I would say all of the mechanics need to be in place. This is because games are odd. What number of elements will make it fun is difficult to say. If you look at an FPS, it is difficult to say how much you could take out before it stops being fun. Weapon pick-ups? Power-ups? Scoring? Multiplayer? Cover? You can really only tell what will be fun by having non-devs play it, but that is often done in-house at most development studios, or by friends and family of indie devs. It would be a big problem if you put out a game at 75% complete that is missing that one extra element that would turn the experience fun and all of the players leave with a bad impression of your game. Most other things aren't like this. You could sit in a car being made that doesn't have mirrors or a stereo and could leave with a good impression of the car that will likely reflect the end-product once it is complete. But games are like music or movies, where it is hard to tell what could be missing while still leaving a satisfying experience.

As far as feedback goes, I would not worry too much about initial development feedback. Your game will be way too far along to take feedback on the core of the game by the time you get to a point where the public could play it. The time for that kind of feedback would be in the design stages before any code has even been written. And then you can easily get feedback from players for any potential updates or expansions later, after the game has initially been released.
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