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Purchase "Alpha" Version

Posted: Tue Jan 04, 2011 1:29 am
by kiberkiller
I watched the Bank Heist Gameplay video and I thought that it's absolutely amazing. The game mixes 2 concepts I love most, Infrastructure and Tactics.
Then in the following conversation with my friend about it, we agreed that we'd absolutely LOVE to buy the game in it's current status.
I'm pretty sure there are many people out there who'll want to pay to play it (really, I can make a big list if needed).

I would be really glad to either pre-purchase the game right now for it's full price to test the development build or just pay something like 15 bucks to test it (and then buy the full game when it comes out).
What do you think folks?

Posted: Tue Jan 04, 2011 5:35 pm
by Yrael
Not happening but would be interesting. :)

The "pay for alpha" (15 or so) would be interesting because it's a bit of money for Introversion and would help them see what works and what doesn't on different configurations.

Posted: Wed Jan 05, 2011 12:40 am
by jelco
First off, alphas are almost by definition non-playable. Although I guess this doesn't make them lose all their interesting value, you should realize that you're not going to get much more out of it than watching random video's of it. Oh wait you are: the video's will have considerably less bugs. ;)

Second, I've developed a passionate hate for this business' method of releasing things under false premises. Since I feel like ranting, here goes:

Demoes these days are absolutely crap. They are random excerpts from a game that offer no introduction and hence are hell to get your head around, usually just annoy the people that end up buying the full game afterwards since halfway they suddenly find they've already played that part and all the surprise is gone, and generally offer nothing whatsoever that actually makes you want to buy the game. Most demoes these days serve only one purpose, and that is to hold off the whining of fanboys who have already decided they will buy the game when it comes out, by throwing a half-assed bone at them. People who want to find out what the game is about to actually decide are greeted with what I've come to interpret as a giant "Fuck you.". Especially since the coming of the consoletard generation I generally find demoes downright insulting.

Recent attempts to keep people interested (or perhaps to stop the bitching from folks like me) have been to basically take what they previously called a demo (which is already an inappropriate term) and label it to up the interest - "open beta" is very popular in this respect, for example. It's a smart move from the company's point of view but beyond a business strategy it's tasteless. To further fuel my personal flames of discontent, gaming companies have reached a new low point by releasing 'demoes' which aren't even free anymore. In other words, to put it bluntly, you get a half-assed product, hardly worth any form of consideration at all since usually it's nowhere near a finished product (under the pretense of it being a 'beta') and instead of using it as a method to win you over to play the game, they actually make you pay for it - and then continue to ask the full price for the actual game!

The most horrific example in this respect is Gran Turismo 5: Prologue. Hardly anything more than a demonstration of what the full GT5 might someday perhaps be capable of, it was sold as an actual game to hold off the die-hard fanboys for another couple of years since Polyphony absolutely sucks at teaching their personnel how the concept of a fucking deadline works. It's effectively one of the most strategically brilliant but PR-wise almost criminal acts of misleading consumers in order to make everyone forget that in actuality the entire business is just too lazy to put a little work in an actual demo.

Today's output is so horrifyingly bad that I might even be tempted pay to see a proper demo. It's almost ironic.

So, based on that wall of text (modestly small compared to my track record) I can honestly say that I'm fully against the idea of any form of preview to a game that you have to pay for. Doesn't matter if it's a demo, beta or even an alpha. If the industry can't even put out something that can decently please anyone in the form of a free release, it has no right to ask people to pay for products that are worth even less attention. Shame on all the companies that have taken this route, how dare they.

Closing comments: although this is in no way a direct attack at Introversion, I do believe that indie companies should know better than any other kind what they need to give the audience to please them. Money troubles don't count as an excuse to me. Selling other random 'merchandise' like releasing source code is a great move, one I have no problem with and in fact even encourage - but releasing an alpha for payment will feel to me like I'm being spurn as a gamer.

Third: IV won't do this anyway so don't get your hopes up. Instead you might just want to be around for the beta sign-ups and you may be able to not only get your hands on a preview version without even having to pay for it - you can even contribute to its development. :)


Posted: Wed Jan 05, 2011 1:03 am
by Seitaro
Damn jelco! Demos are pretty much pointless to me now too but only because GameFly exists. If it sucks I just send that bih back. I don't own any games for my 360 besides what I've downloaded. I get bored with a game after about a month. Unless it's from IV. ;)

I think an Alpha release would just distract the team from actually finishing the game. I'm eager to play it too but giving out a buggy compile would probably cause more harm than good.

Re: Purchase "Alpha" Version

Posted: Wed Jan 05, 2011 1:08 am
by Montyphy
kiberkiller wrote:we agreed that we'd absolutely LOVE to buy the game in it's current status.

You should probably try re-watching the video but this time looking carefully at what is actually happening rather than just listening to what Chris is saying is happening. You'll soon realise the game isn't as playable or functional as he makes out and that a lot of it is carefully scripted theatrics, as such, you and your friend would probably get more enjoyment from playing Sleep is Death together.

Re: Purchase "Alpha" Version

Posted: Wed Jan 05, 2011 5:15 am
by zach
Montyphy wrote:Sleep is Death

No no no!

Why was I not informed of a new game by Jason Rohrer? :(

This was nearly a year ago?!

Re: Purchase "Alpha" Version

Posted: Wed Jan 05, 2011 12:00 pm
by Montyphy
zach wrote:
Montyphy wrote:Sleep is Death

No no no!

Why was I not informed of a new game by Jason Rohrer? :(

This was nearly a year ago?!

I only know of it from posts by allen in the Games for 2009... And BEYOND! thread. I've never played it myself but I've been intrigued and tempted. Who knows, there could be a challenge in the near future involving creating/playing-out a story that includes a strange combination of characters, items, and/or plot points. ;) Not sure how active the community is though.

Posted: Wed Jan 05, 2011 1:12 pm
by Onslow
It worked for Minecraft!

I'd pay for access to alpha builds of subversion. I also think it'd be a great opportunity to re-establish some dialogue between the Introversion staff and the community. Unfortunately it's unlikely to be as easy to make this remotely playable in alpha as with a game like Minecraft.

Posted: Wed Jan 05, 2011 2:31 pm
by jelco
Minecraft is an extremely rare exception, and mostly because despite its many bugs it's still incredibly playable and the core gameplay hardly suffers from any of its problems. It's basically a game that has been finished in its basic form but requires a little bugfixing and several feature updates. Most games, including Subversion, are nowhere near finished when in alpha or even beta. The development cycle works completely different and as such this hardly compares.

The main reason I don't like paid demoes or betas is because they're hardly worth any time if they'd been released free. Minecraft's alpha, however, is an incredibly good game in its own right and is entirely justified to use this system - it takes the 'false' out of 'false premises'. I'm certain that Subversion's alpha is absolute rubbish if you were to look at it like a game. That's not a problem - it's an alpha for a reason - but it does make releasing it for payment a stupid move.


Posted: Wed Jan 05, 2011 9:34 pm
by Seitaro
And besides Minecraft already being fun, you were pretty much pre-ordering it anyway when you bought it in Alpha.

Posted: Thu Jan 06, 2011 2:13 am
by monkeyman23555
This is like the business strategy that Frozen Synapse is going for... you pre order the product and get a view of the final product via the alpha/beta versions. (They dont ruin the story... just skirmish type games...)

Posted: Thu Jan 06, 2011 7:33 am
by Snall
I would pay a bit extra to play the alpha, and the rest of the versions, as well as get the full of course. Say normal price plus 5-10. Sad isn't it?

Posted: Thu Jan 06, 2011 7:29 pm
by kiberkiller
monkeyman23555 wrote:This is like the business strategy that Frozen Synapse is going for... you pre order the product and get a view of the final product via the alpha/beta versions. (They dont ruin the story... just skirmish type games...)

Exactly what I'm talking about. I own Frozen Synapse and even when it's was bugged, ugly and unfinished I had lots of fun with it.

Posted: Thu Jan 06, 2011 8:43 pm
by xander
Generally speaking, the point of an alpha or beta release is to get enough dedicated people playing the game to find problems on a wide range of hardware and software configurations. As a developer, you want people that are going to play the game and report errors consistently and clearly. Testers that simply want early access to the game are useless from the standpoint of a developer---in fact, they may be less than useless because they (a) don't report bugs and (b) get a poor impression of the game from a buggy release. In the past, IV have generally looked for people who have shown that they can spend the time testing and writing bug reports. They have gone outside of that group a little in order to test odd hardware configurations, but they still limit things to a relatively small group. In terms of getting games tested, it seems to work relatively well.

There are a couple of good reasons to sell alpha or beta access, but I don't think that any of them apply to IV at the moment. First, it can be a quick money making scheme to pay off bills in the short term. Granted, IV have had money management problems in the past, but they appear to be relatively solvent right now, and don't seem to need the cash injection. Second, releasing pre-production versions is a way of generating buzz---this works really well for the AAA studios, whose beta versions have probably already been tested pretty thoroughly in house, and I can see it working well for games that are not strongly story-oriented (i.e. the sandbox style games like Minecraft, or arcade games), but I'm not sure that applies to Subversion.

Basically (and of course it goes without saying that this is only my opinion), I don't see what the advantage is for IV. Why should they sell an alpha or beta version to the public? What's in it for them?

Oh, and this seems relevant.


Posted: Thu Jan 06, 2011 9:06 pm
by Montyphy
xander wrote:Oh, and this seems relevant.

If there's only one thing that can be learnt from that it will be, "Some of them will not, in fact, have a realistic idea about anything." :D Love it