Sprinting Towards Alpha Testing
"Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!" - The Red Queen in "Through the Looking Glass" by Lewis Carroll
Twice as Fast
We’re going through the “final” push towards outside alpha testing of Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption. I put “final” in quotes because this will be the first of several sprints towards releasing the game we’ve been working on for almost five years.
It’s hard to convey the thousands of things that go into a game. Small details make the game feel alive. Here are some of the non-game things we need to get in before we can start outside testing:
- “Branding” the game as pre-release so people know it isn’t the final version
- Choosing “first test” players out of our 750 qualified alpha testers
- Adding bug & feature request reporting to the game
- Setting up a QA/test database for tracking reports
- “Triage” on reports to eliminate duplicates, already-fixed, and low priority items
- Regression testing system to avoid breaking features while fixing bugs
- Internal testing to make sure we don’t ship a broken alpha test
Once we have all of those elements in place (soon!), I will send a survey to backers who chose a reward that includes Alpha Testing. We will accept a small number to do the first outside tests and help us shake down the reporting system. The second alpha will go out to a larger number, and the full alpha version will be made available to everyone at that level. (Don’t worry - if you want to wait for the complete, polished game, just don’t download any Alpha or Beta version.)
The first tests will be solely in the Hero-U castle. Once we have some feedback and improvements to the castle, we will expand the test to include combat areas - the wine cellar, sea caves, catacombs, and finally the dungeon. These areas combine elements of adventure and role-playing gaming as in our Quest for Glory games.
With Hero-U coming down to the wire. Here’s what we’ve all been working on:
- Al - new animation for Shawn and certain monsters
- Charles - improving room behavior, fixing scripting issues Cidney - Helping us with UI issues and testing
- Corey - administration, achievements, and Shawn’s “task list”
- Graham - cleaning up some rooms
- Ian - improving the character sheet, journal and inventory screens
- John Paul - showing Shawn’s status visually
- Josh M. - text for examining and using things Shawn finds
- Joshua S. - throwing items in combat, general problem-solving
- Judy - Composer improvements, helping find errors
- Lori - final dialogue, such as dealing with the Dire Rat Queen
(Apparently, our team lacks diversity - everyone has a first name in the first half of the alphabet.)
A Torturous Process
Recently heard in a Hero-U team meeting, “I’m currently working in the torture chamber and having fun with it.” And Josh wasn’t even joshing. Yes, there is a “dungeon”, complete with torture chamber, left over from some former residents of the castle. This plays an important part in the “meta story”, the background behind game events, that makes it possible for us to plan a multi-game Hero-U series.
I’ve been in touch with Geekify about creating physical goods for backers. These will ship after the downloadable game release so that boxes can include a solid version of the game that incorporates early player feedback.
There is good news for “Game in a DVD case” backers. Once upon a time, we had three levels of physical boxed game packaging - DVD case, small retail box, large “big box” for collectors. Because of the way quantity discounts work, and to simplify fulfillment, I’ve decided to upgrade everyone to the “big box”. It’s going to be really nice and unique to our patient backers - no torture involved.
Look for another update by the end of June with detailed Alpha Test news and instructions. Thank you so much for being patient as we continue to solve the thousands of issues that come up in the development of every significant game. I remember one supposedly-finished game at Sierra that had a 4-foot tall stack of bug reports waiting to be addressed, many trivial, but some real show-stoppers. That’s why we have to take the time to get this game right before sending it out to you. We think you’ll find the result an experience worth the wait.
Please keep your information (particularly email and physical address) up to date on BackerKit: https://hero-u-adventure-role-playing-game.backerkit.com.