What level of detail and completion qualifies a map to be released as alpha/beta?

Discussion in 'Mapping Questions & Discussion' started by Armadillo of Doom, Aug 17, 2008.

  1. Armadillo of Doom

    aa Armadillo of Doom Group Founder, Lover of Pie

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    My single greatest mapping problem, even when I did it for HL2DM. What exactly makes a map release-worthy in various stages? Should I ever release an alpha? The only 'must have' things I'm sure about are the spawns and gameplay mechanics (flag, capture points, etc). Those need to be working properly prior to a map release. But everything else, not as certain. So what do you all think?
     
  2. luxatile

    aa luxatile deer

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    Well, I guess there are many different opinions on this subject, but I follow these "rules":

    Alpha - all vital gameplay elements must be functional and not game-ruiningly buggy. Most brushwork should be done (but not necessarily finalized), but there's no need for final textures or overlays.

    Beta - Must be textured, all brushwork must be done (with the exclusion of detail that you want to add in later, I guess), most if not all issues with bugs and balancing should be fixed. Basically the "playable and nice-looking, but not quite there" version.
     
  3. YM

    aa YM LVL100 YM

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    Alpha testing means you've released it to a small group of people to test, keeping tests private because of the unfinished nature of the product, beta tests are spread much wider, sometimes open and sometimes closed (in mapping cases almost always open) so that as many people can test your product as posible and get as much feedback as possible

    basicly its up to you what you leave out of an alpha but for a public beta you should have a reasonably finished map.
     
  4. terrorist_hell

    terrorist_hell L1: Registered

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    Alpha and bèta mean that there is lack of polish, both in visual (textures, shadows, lightning, etc.) and functional (spawnrooms, cappoints, working doors, etc.) aspect. Unknown bugs simply cannot be filled under one of those two, as the player is responsable for doing crazy stuff, like going to places where he shouldn't go. Valve fixed a ton of these bugs, but they don't qualify as a bug in my opinion. A map never reaches final as weird things can always be found if looked after.

    But in terms of releasing, I don't see the point in releasing an unfinished map. But then again, there a lot of good maps that call themselves alpha, where they could easily be called final. It's not because a mapper adds of fixes things that his map was in alpha or béta stage. It's should be seen as version 1, 2, 3, ... all the way up to the last one.
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2008
  5. Shmitz

    aa Shmitz Old Hat

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    I think it's common practice that alpha is for very basic layout and gameplay testing, and beta is for ironing out bugs and polishing up the visuals. However, there's also the element of publicity. Alphas are usually more private, while betas are more public. When those conflict, I usually put more priority on private/public, which is why a4 of tc_meridian was almost fully detailed. I wanted to see if it crashed servers before spreading it more publicly.


    It should be noted that the reasons for having a mostly detailed map for beta is almost entirely due to the player base. The average player on a public server doesn't really understand the testing process, and if you give them something that's ugly, they'll give you feedback on the appearance and nothing else. It can make bug finding and identifying gameplay issues a bit difficult.
     
  6. Armadillo of Doom

    aa Armadillo of Doom Group Founder, Lover of Pie

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    Interesting. Thanks for the feedback guys :)
     
  7. The Asylum

    aa The Asylum

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    I've always thought of alpha as "here's some basic stuff, everything's there except the eye candy," and beta as "Okay here's what the final product is going to look like."
     
  8. Armadillo of Doom

    aa Armadillo of Doom Group Founder, Lover of Pie

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    That's the impression that I'm getting as well. Alpha is for testing of balance and such, while beta is the final product save a few details, just to make sure you're not missing anything major.
     
  9. woodbulb

    woodbulb L1: Registered

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    For my map cp_aqua, the alpha stages were used to gauge peoples' general idea about the map. In the first few alpha's I did not even have the 2nd round made. I started testing it as beta when I knew most things would function and the map was "playable". I also pretty it up before beta because no matter what, it leaves an impression, and a good one.
     
  10. Laz

    Laz L7: Fancy Member

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    normally, when you can play your entire level from start to end, and everything works, that means you are in alpha. When you are approaching final design, you go beta.
     
  11. Arhurt

    Arhurt L6: Sharp Member

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    For my map the level of detail is not much of a concern to go to Beta, but more as to when I belive the map can be played by the general public without attracting too many unpositive/bad comments.

    If all goes well on this gameday, the next version of my map will most likely be a Beta. With the FPS issues and most of the map detailed, the general public - the ones that usually cannot "oversee" past some elements - will be less likely to provide useless feedback.
     
  12. FaTony

    FaTony Banned

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    Simple:
    30% - alpha
    60% - beta
     
  13. grazr

    aa grazr Old Man Mutant Ninja Turtle

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    I don't think it's as simple as percentages. If i were to estimate my cp_avanti's completion, i'd say 90% and i havn't even released screen shots, let alone an alpha release.

    I have to agree with the likes of
    Though beta is normally where you discover and fix bugs, rather than you should have them fixed before beta release.
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2008
  14. luxatile

    aa luxatile deer

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    Yeah, I don't think percentages work well either. My map is probably 15-20% done and I've released two alphas (not counting three re-releases of the second alpha :p).