Prison Architect to have 'paid alpha'

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Prison Architect to have 'paid alpha'

Postby mibias » Tue Feb 07, 2012 9:35 pm

Stumbled upon this article on PC gamer

Seems like we'll be playing Prison Architect before the world ends. :wink:
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Postby shinygerbil » Tue Feb 07, 2012 10:29 pm

So, that'll be most of the forum regulars then ;)
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Postby jelco » Wed Feb 08, 2012 12:42 am

I'll be honest, I'm not a fan of the idea. Asking money for an incomplete version isn't really "getting it out there early", it's more "charging you money without having to give any guarantees". If you're looking for an early release in order to see what users think of it, what bugs people stumble upon and what features people would like to see, call it a test like it is and keep it to a closed group that joins for the testing and not the bragging rights.

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Postby Feud » Wed Feb 08, 2012 12:54 am

On a similar note, for as much as I love IV's games they have a horrible track record for updates, news, and releases. I'm a bit hesitant to put down money on an alpha because of that. If it seems fairly complete then I might, but it makes me nervous.
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Postby Xarlaxas » Wed Feb 08, 2012 12:58 am

Well, Minecraft did something similar and look how that ended up. . . . ;)

It depends on how much is being charged, in my opinion. If it's a matter of "we need money to stay afloat" then I'd probably be more willing to do it too.
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Postby Xocrates » Wed Feb 08, 2012 1:05 am

jelco wrote:it's more "charging you money without having to give any guarantees".

How is this any different from a regular purchase? Buying a game on release doesn't guarantee that a game works, depending on the game and where you got it, you won't even have a guarantee of your money back if it doesn't.

While I admit that I am not hugely fond of the concept of "paying to test your game" I freely admit that in practice it tends to be a good idea. It gives the public the ability to try the game early, usually at a lower price point, and you get WAY more feedback than with a small group of dedicated testers (million monkeys at keyboard, etc...)

Besides, you should be well aware that even in the previous IV betas, only a fraction of the testers was actually active. Unless you're suggesting that IV actually hire someone to do QA, this is likely a better option than the previous method.

BTW, the bragging rights people were the ones that joined the old betas and proceeded to do nothing, there is nothing to brag about when everyone can get in.
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Postby jelco » Wed Feb 08, 2012 1:27 am

Xarlaxas wrote:Well, Minecraft did something similar and look how that ended up. . . . ;)

It depends on how much is being charged, in my opinion. If it's a matter of "we need money to stay afloat" then I'd probably be more willing to do it too.

Minecraft in the beginning didn't really look like they would ever ask money for it. Just because it turned out succesful enough to warrant proper development and an actual price doesn't make this a proper comparison. (Also, with its horrific Java code and insane memory leakage I'd still argue it's hardly worth its current price, considering they currently develop it full-time.)

If IV needs money, just make it a pre-order and leave it at that. Testing and pre-ordering shouldn't go together - the only combination that's worse is the formula of a paid demo (which, especially considering most demos these days are complete garbage on the actual demonstration front, is money-grabbing at its finest). I'd be fine paying for a pre-order, especially if I knew that would keep IV running, but I'd really prefer it if they dropped the access-to-an-alpha part of that deal.

Xocrates wrote:Besides, you should be well aware that even in the previous IV betas, only a fraction of the testers was actually active. Unless you're suggesting that IV actually hire someone to do QA, this is likely a better option than the previous method.

BTW, the bragging rights people were the ones that joined the old betas and proceeded to do nothing, there is nothing to brag about when everyone can get in.

All good points, and all true. I do want to point out though that the small portion of people who contribute actually make up a pretty decent testing group.

Xocrates wrote:How is this any different from a regular purchase? Buying a game on release doesn't guarantee that a game works, depending on the game and where you got it, you won't even have a guarantee of your money back if it doesn't.

It's like how Google slapped a giant beta-label on Gmail for the first years of its existence. Anyone complaining about problems with it was basically told "you're expecting too much, it's a beta". Once it hits stable it's much more accepted to complain and people are much more inclined to listen to you. If something's in a testing phase, however public it is, no-one will really be interested in complaints about malfunction - for a released game however, it's important enough that a dysfunctional game be made out as broken all around forums, website headlines etc. I know what you want to say, but in practice it just doesn't work that way.

Xocrates wrote:While I admit that I am not hugely fond of the concept of "paying to test your game" I freely admit that in practice it tends to be a good idea. It gives the public the ability to try the game early, usually at a lower price point, and you get WAY more feedback than with a small group of dedicated testers (million monkeys at keyboard, etc...)

More people? Certainly. More feedback? I don't buy it. (Harhar.) The fact that you pay for it makes people not care enough to report bugs, with the mindset that by paying they've done their part of the deal. Most comments will lack constructivity ("it's broken", "the game doesn't work", "you suck") and the small portion that actually helps you is not significantly bigger than it would be with a closed beta. (Emphasis on significance - duplicate bug reports are rampant with large groups of people.)

I'll be honest, this is in part a matter of principle to me that I might not be able to fully justify (in the sense of "it just doesn't feel right"). I guess it displays that it's more business than gaming (let alone indie gaming) and I'm not sure I really like going down that particular road.

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Postby Xocrates » Wed Feb 08, 2012 1:41 am

jelco wrote:Anyone complaining about problems with it was basically told "you're expecting too much, it's a beta". Once it hits stable it's much more accepted to complain and people are much more inclined to listen to you.

That's the case with people outside the developing company. I don't care if random forums or websites listen to the complaints, so long as the ones doing the actual development do.

jelco wrote:More people? Certainly. More feedback? I don't buy it. (Harhar.) The fact that you pay for it makes people not care enough to report bugs, with the mindset that by paying they've done their part of the deal. Most comments will lack constructivity ("it's broken", "the game doesn't work", "you suck") and the small portion that actually helps you is not significantly bigger than it would be with a closed beta.

You're assuming that only the constructive criticisms are useful, that's not actually true. If you have a lot of uneducated trolls complaining about something, then it's probably worth checking if there's something wrong with it.

Also, you're working on the basis where the proportion of helpful people in a closed beta is significantly larger than in a open one. Personally I seriously doubt it, I recall about a dozen active people in the Multiwinia beta and by the end of it probably about 100 people were in.
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Postby xander » Thu Feb 09, 2012 1:24 am

jelco wrote:If IV needs money, just make it a pre-order and leave it at that.

So... for the cost of the game you can pre-order it, or you can pre-order it and choose to download the alpha. I don't see how pre-order+alpha access is worse than just pre-order.

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Postby frenchfrog » Thu Feb 09, 2012 5:51 am

PC Gamer - Prison Architect “paid alpha” planned for later this year wrote:The paid alpha will give players the opportunity to pay for a pre-order to get immediate access to the build that Introversion are currently working on.


Looks like the article's title is misleading (Ah! Always trying to catch people into reading the article).


I think this move by IV is not about money but more about building up momentum for the game.
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Postby tllotpfkamvpe » Thu Feb 09, 2012 7:21 am

2013 seems very far away to me. I just hope they spend the time building in network code for multiplayer.
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Postby zach » Thu Feb 09, 2012 7:48 am

Multiplayer? Do you know something about the game that we don't?

Personally, I would much rather they spend what little resources they have developing the game they have in mind, rather than adhering to the (frankly) silly fad that every gamer expects at least some form of multiplayer in pretty much every game.

Either way, they will definitely get my money :D
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Postby jelco » Thu Feb 09, 2012 7:16 pm

xander wrote:So... for the cost of the game you can pre-order it, or you can pre-order it and choose to download the alpha. I don't see how pre-order+alpha access is worse than just pre-order.

To me it just gives the wrong impression. The impression that they need money desperately. Whether that's true or whether that impression is even justified is obviously up to interpretation, but this is mine.

And yes, multiplayer be damned if it's detrimental for the single player.

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Postby shinygerbil » Thu Feb 09, 2012 7:48 pm

I kinda always assumed that it would be multiplayer-based. I thought everyone else did too?

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Postby mibias » Thu Feb 09, 2012 8:04 pm

I can't imagine how the multiplayer would work. How do you envision it?

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