Codex Worlds has hit a major milestone with our alpha playable complete. What does this mean? Like many definitions in the game biz, the term "alpha" may mean different things to different people. In addition, over time, this term has generally changed as the needs of the industry have changed.
In the early '90s, when I was working on DOS and monochrome Mac products, alpha was really an early state of development. Games were broken, art was often placeholders, and lots of machines had compatibility problems. It was the worst of times. Sometimes, consumers had to install custom graphics drivers and even memory profiles just for one game.
Over the years, alpha has become much more of a complete game with more quality. Here is a snapshot from our milestone list:
So why has the game industry moved to a much more complete and strict definition for builds? Here is my guess:
- As teams get bigger, more money is spent on development. More money means more risk. More risk means more management. Management always wants more accurate data.
- Publishers, especially platform publishers, really drive the standards we all adopt -- even indies. Indies can create their own definitions all they want, and if they self publish, great; they can call their latest build the Unicorn build -- if the team is OK with it, then who cares? However, Sony cares, Microsoft cares, and publishers care!
- The press adopts the industry language so they can communicate with their audience and also remain true to the teams about whom they are reporting. If an editor has to install a custom driver to run the game ... I would hate to hear the wrath from that editor!
- At the end of the day, I believe all development teams want to ship and be proud of their title. It is common sense to try to clearly communicate to your team what the goals are. Upping those standards mean team members need to up their game to stay on the dev team.
So, Hitting Alpha for Infinium Strike is huge for us. We've shot high for our development team, but that makes us that much more satisfied when we hit it. Team, let's all take a break, and pat ourselves on the back ... hey, what is this file?... video driver update.exe. I have have to get back to work!