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Old 03-24-2012, 08:08 PM
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Last edited by eisprinzessin; 06-22-2013 at 02:56 PM. Reason: updated
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Old 03-24-2012, 08:23 PM
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Default pre-alpha

Since mid-2009 [1] up to now

Crate's original thinking was to release a really early, and naturally very rough, version of the game to Legendary fans - really at a pre-alpha state (since technically all the content is supposed to be completed by alpha) just so people could start playing with it and see the game develop. However, they've grown a little apprehensive about doing that. [2] When they released the first screenshots - despite indicating that the game was early in development Grim Dawn got totally slammed. [3]

The developers decided people had higher expectations and they needed to do something grander than that. Crate thinks everyone will be quite pleased once people experience the results of that extra effort. [4] So, the scope of the project has grown. There has been a little bit of feature creep but the vast majority of the scope increase has been the result of calculated decisions. [2]

Grim Dawn is still in development and is not yet available to download. [5] The biggest reason against a pre-alpha release is that it takes time to package up and push out builds to people and that would slow down actual development. The game is not really at a point where Quality Assurance is even useful. There is too much raw development going on, things are changing, breaking, and being fixed constantly. [6]

If the game is not at a point where feedback or the discovery of bugs would be useful, a release is counter-productive. It would bog down development and the developers would get a lot of useless feedback that people would expect them to respond to. Players would grow impatient waiting for fixes / new content and they'd have to start releasing updates to keep people happy. A lot of time would be spent preparing each new update for release and if an update introduces a serious new bug or breaks the game, players would be very unhappy and demand an immediate fix. That would all take time away from development, sending Crate into a cycle of trying to fix and improve what they have instead of working to finish the remainder of the game.

You can expect changes to take place in alpha and some stuff may not be finished but a certain critical mass of content is necessary before alpha is worthwhile otherwise alpha might as well begin on day-1 of development. [3] There is a lot of magic that happens toward the end of development to get all the components of gameplay working together in a polished way that creates fun. A game that is 90% complete may only feel about 2% as fun as the finished product. The developers are not sure people would understand that and it could create a bad impression and unfairly lower people's expectations for the finished game. [6]
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Crate revealed Grim Dawn very early in development. Most games of this size and complexity are in development for a year or two, or more, before they're announced. [7] The game is playable and fun but there isn't much continuous content ready to play. Some of the important content that does exist, such as skill masteries, are still changing quite a bit and are in varying states of completion.

Part of the reason for this is that the developers haven't been building world-content in a linear fashion. Early on, they tried to lay out the groundwork for as much of the game as possible so that they could better plan development and produce an experience that had more consistent quality from beginning to end. To that end, they've prototyped and built out portions of the different environments. The result though is that instead of having 2-3 areas that are 80% complete, as of October 2011* Grim Dawn has one area that is about 70% complete and 4 that are 20% to 50% complete. A bigger issue is that they haven't all be connected together yet, further limiting the amount of continuously playable area that is available currently.

Crate is in sort of a reverse situation that most developers find themselves in. Usually by the time most of the content is built out, the gameplay is still in a rough state and it takes a lot of polish before the game starts to come together and really be fun. In Grim Dawn's case, the game is already surprisingly fun but [8] creating all of the art and building out a large world filled with quests is what is going to take the vast majority of time. [9] The developers are not trying to release a perfectly polished game that they're going to call an "alpha". medierra guarantees there will be plenty of bugs, balancing issues, and other absurdities remaining by the time they're ready to release the alpha. [8]

* see State of the Game Address for more details and more recent news
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  1. About 2009/10
  2. Buy Now! is back online! Sep 2010
  3. Updates. Oct 2011
  4. when will Oct 2010
  5. I bought a game key but I can't download the game WTF?! 2010
  6. Timeline question Aug 2010
  7. We need more details Jan 2012
  8. Updates. Oct 2011
  9. Music..Music.. Oo? Hello Jan 2011
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Last edited by eisprinzessin; 03-30-2012 at 09:28 AM. Reason: interim update to refer to 'State of the Game Address'
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Old 03-24-2012, 08:27 PM
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eisprinzessin eisprinzessin is offline
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Default alpha

Release date: to be announced [1]

Alpha is typically the phase where widespread testing of a game begins. It may or may not be content / feature complete at this point but usually large / risky changes will be avoided and development work should be winding down during alpha as developers hurry to make whatever final changes need to happen before content / feature lock. [2]

The purpose of an alpha is not just to let you play the game early, it is for the developers to be able to gather early feedback and uncover bugs. Alpha should happen when you're ready to start moving from the "making" to the "improving" phase of development. [3]
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  1. So when is this game going to be done? Mar 2011
  2. Alpha and Beta May 2011
  3. Updates. Oct 2011
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Old 03-24-2012, 08:34 PM
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Default beta | RC → RTM | gold

Release date: to be announced [1]

When the game is content and feature complete, it enters the beta phase where testing becomes more aggressive and the developers will switch from development to bug-fixing and balancing. Beta is all about getting the game into proper shape for final release. During this phase, usually developers are not allowed to make any changes except in the course of fixing bugs. During the end of the beta phase, the developers continue to produce new versions called RC (release candidates) until one finally passes testing and is considered the gold version or RTM (release to manufacturing). [2]
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  1. So when is this game going to be done? Mar 2011
  2. Alpha and Beta May 2011
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Last edited by eisprinzessin; 03-24-2012 at 11:12 PM. Reason: formatting
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