Early Access Discussion


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Hey there

With the current trend of more and more games releasing with early access I was interested to see what the Hinterlands community's thoughts on it where.

The dudes over at Extra Credits just did a video on the subject that mirrors a lot of my own opinions.

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Would love to hear peoples thoughts

Cheers

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This video does make a lot of good points, and Early Access really can be a slippery slope for some games and developers. I think there's a right way and a wrong way to go about doing it, and a Kickstarter often nets the best results in this department. When you fund a Kickstarter to get a game developed, you really get a better sense of contributing to the new community and development of a new world the game presents. I think Hinterland is going about this the right way with the Early Access being in the Kickstarter, and I'm sort of hoping they won't do any kind of Early Access on Steam to the general public towards the end...But I don't think that's in their agenda. It also helps to clearly define what to expect in an alpha/beta (calling it a "sandbox alpha" gives you a pretty good idea of what you're getting into) and control the release to a crowd you know will be interested to try it. I have only purchased a few games Early Access, the latest being The Forest, and I really wish I hadn't gone in on some of them. The Forest is slowly starting to feel like one of those games I won't come back to for a long time once it's finished...It's almost like you don't even need the storyline to get into the meat of the gameplay, so why come back for more?

On the other hand, you have the money aspect of Early Access, and that's another thing that sometimes gets to me. Kickstarters are also really great in this department as well, since you (mostly) have a really strong sense of exactly where your money is going, and exactly what the money you've donated will get you. I went in on Day Z fairly early into the alpha stages, and while I know how hard that team has been working, I really don't think the best approach for that build was to just turn it loose on Steam and charge people $30 a pop to step into an alpha, not really understanding how bare bones or broken it was at the time. I haven't played in quite a while because my friends and I decided to wait until the game was developed a bit further. They've gotten a lot better about presenting "road maps" for the future of development now, but I think the only reason this game has thrived under this model is because so many people enjoyed the Arma II mod, and had a decent idea of what the game hoped to be when it was all said and done.

I liked the video though. The market really does feel like it's becoming a bit overly saturated with Early Access games, but it is good to remember there's a lot of truth to what he says about smaller games and studios using this to their advantage. They just really need to be careful to monitor that advantage, not get ahead of themselves, and maybe be a little more selective about when and how they release access. I'm just really, really glad TLD is doing it the way they've done it so far, and not followed suit with a Forest-style release (I hate to keep using that as an example, but it's hard not to draw comparisons). When a game is really story- or character-driven, or exists in a universe where you want to feel totally immersed, I think it's best to hold off on a general public release until the finished product is ready to ship.

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Thanks for sharing this -- some great thoughts in this video and in this thread.

I'll be sending out a backer update later this week that outlines our roadmap for the next few months, but the short answer is YES we will participate in Early Access but in such a way that we (hopefully) avoid most of the perceived negatives mentioned in this video.

On a quick note -- our game is extremely stable for an Alpha, not very buggy at all, features and content in place are quite progressed, and we are dedicated to delivering a quality experience above all.

And for the record -- I agree that a lot of the games on EA are buggy messes and I personally would not be proud to put a game that broken out into the world.

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@RevisedReality Awesome read. I personally am a bit of a grouch when it comes to early access a lot of the time when I look at a game from the outside it just looks like we are paying a studio to play test it for them, but maybe i am just be cynical.

@Raph Looking forward to see what the road map looks like. Are you getting tired of letting us know thing are in the wings :P Such a impatient bunch, us fans. :)

Cheers

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My only anxiety concerning EA with this game is that expectations from the outside community (as in non-Kickstarter backers) seem to have grown so much in the past couple of months...I know most people understand the general purpose of allowing EA for games, but I really, really hate to see an alpha or beta just get absolutely trashed because of small things they should expect from a game that's still technically in development. That being said, Hinterland does already seem like the kind of studio that wouldn't put out a product they couldn't be proud to stamp their name on. It's really exciting to hear that the alpha that's been released so far isn't very buggy, and I can definitely foresee a largely positive response from the gaming community as a whole once it's out there in the open.

It just occurred to me that a sandbox alpha will introduce people to a gaming environment I've been waiting for since I started playing games, only to add a freaking superb voice cast on top of that once the game is completed. Talk about being excited for a game! And the only thing that's just as awesome as an excited community is a group of excited and engaged developers. I really appreciate you guys being so active with your backers and players! I really look forward to seeing this community grow as more people discover and become excited for The Long Dark.

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