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What does "Pre-Alpha" means to you?

post #1 of 19
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Hi, I am a gamer for over 20 years now, and I also make gaming videos on my YT channel. I use a nickname perafilozof as filozof is the nickname I go in elementary school for acting like a philosopher in conversations. So I ran with it.

But enough about me, what I want to ask you as part of my research for a new video is: What does "Pre-Alpha" means to you? And by Pre-Alpha I mean the version of upcoming games that are shown to gamers. You have seen this many times by now, it's been a rising trend since 2003. Videos of new games have Pre-Alpha watermarks on them on trailers, on E3 presentations and so on. Games that are previewed have Pre-Alpha on screenshots that you see on gaming websites.

What interests me is what do you think when you watch a video with Pre-Alpha watermark or read a preview with Pre-Alpha watermark on screenshots or watch a E3 presentation with Pre-Alpha. What are you expectations, what are your thoughts, what does seeing Pre-Alpha means to you.

Try to keep it short, 3-5 sentences, with maybe an example. You can write more to express your full opinion but I won't be able to carry everything over to a video.

Thank you!

EDIT after creating the video:

Thank you all for your opinions and posts. I have gathered all the information I found in this, and other forums and after collecting my thoughts created this video on the subject.

I welcome all criticism and discussions.

STOP THAT! Episode #1 - Pre-Alpha
Edited by perablenta - 6/24/16 at 4:24pm
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post #2 of 19
Pre-Alpha, only the developers have tried it/seen it.
Alpha, first testing/trying by other people.

It might be wrong, but that's what I think when I read it.
post #3 of 19
Like all things related to anything gaming devs say about their games, it's marketing BS.

Like how Betas are now too close to release dates to change or fix anything of consequence. Basically, they're demos.

Pre-Alpha is just another term for a pre-rendered concept video, or a demo running on a PC with better-than-what-will-ship assets. Like how they now add the tag line "in-engine footage." That means nothing, it could have been rendered at 4K on four GTX 1080s, or on Amazon Cloud.
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post #4 of 19
Pre-alpha is any stage of game development before alpha launches tongue.gif. I think Star Citizen has a pretty good example that people were able to play. They released a pre-alpha "hanger module." The game is a space sim where you fly ships to systems and go to planets, etc... but all you could do in the pre alpha build was get inside and outside of a ship, and walk around it while it was parked in a "hangar" level.

So I would say an Alpha is where at least a basic outline of what the game is supposed to be, is playable. Any work to reach that point is pre-alpha.

Beta is where a majority of the game assets are done and in place. The developer then moves on to bugfixes, game balance, and performance optimizations.
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post #5 of 19
well... this maybe abit old school, but "alpha" back in the day means the game has a realistic chance and will likely crash not only the game itself but your OS (hard crash requiring a cold boot) within an hour or 2 of playing it smile.gif

so... asking what "pre"-alpha means well... it means you are lucky if the game even boots up before BSOD hits you biggrin.gif

these days, all these alpha/beta/etc... means nothing. there are games that are in beta (star citizen for example) that plays better and have less bugs then games that have been released for 2 years and have numerous of patch fixes already biggrin.gif i blame Microsoft for making brokeware the industry standard... i still remember the good'o'days of buying games that actually worked out of the box biggrin.gif

TLDR. "pre-alpha" means nothing in today's game development cycle. it's just an advertising term now.
post #6 of 19
As a developer, I call pre-alpha anything that has only 1 level of prototyping developed. Meaning either horizontal or vertical.
In layman's terms, if you're developing and RPG, you've either made 1 quest for 4 different characters, or 4 quests only 1 character.
And prototype means no art, no fancy graphics, placeholder content.
When we get to alpha, we have 2 levels of prototyping - 1 quest for 3 characters and 4 quests for the last one. That roughly tests the whole extend, or "width" of the game.
When we get to closed beta, we have all most quests for most characters, and some proposed art and graphics.
When we get to open beta, we have nearly everything, and all proposed art and graphics, and we're testing for approval and load.

2cents.gif
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post #7 of 19
Pre-alpha, to me, means it's little more than proof of concept. Very little of the actual "game" exists beyond the tools that will be used to create content. Pre-alphas typically have only enough content created to support a demo video.
post #8 of 19
Pre alpha is what you paid for premium edition, waited a year to fix bugs, patches and more downloads. And when the game is finally fixed, they released a new pre alpha.

There are so many, pre, alpha, beta, release games being sent out amd pre-ordered, just to be btoken, plagued by bugs, and patched months later, and a few ecamples forgotten. Gone are the days when developers made sure every aspect of the game is complete.

Honestly, it feels the same with cars. Constant pcm reprograms and re flashes to fix stuff that should have worked properly from day one... across all manufacturers.
post #9 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Clos View Post


Gone are the days when developers made sure every aspect of the game is complete.

Those days never existed... reviewers used to bash them for it though, and people listened to the bad reviews a little more it seemed. If you look at an issue of "PC Gamer" from the 90's, there's a decent number of under 50% reviews for buggy games.
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post #10 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crazy9000 View Post

Those days never existed... reviewers used to bash them for it though, and people listened to the bad reviews a little more it seemed. If you look at an issue of "PC Gamer" from the 90's, there's a decent number of under 50% reviews for buggy games.

On the console side, they were more complete. And it was good that reviews back then hammered games more for bugs... but at least it's easy to distribute patches now... But that also means there is less of a financial incentive for developers to ship complete games.
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