When I talk to prospective clients, I always try to KIJF (keep it jargon free). That being said, there are a few terms that are just helpful to know. In this post, we’ll look at each of the three release phases that make up a typical game development project with us: Alpha, Beta, and Gold (I’m not sure why we skip Charlie to get right to Gold, but let’s just go with it!).
Software development is a complex process that requires a vision, close collaboration, and execution. At Filament Games, we use an Agile methodology to develop our games and align that to a three release development plan.
This plan allows us to monitor the game’s progress, have defined goals for our team to strive for, while still allowing us to be iterative and agile. Let’s take a look at what this could look like:
The purpose of Alpha is to create a usable, efficacious, and engaging experience. At the end of Alpha, a game will meet the following exit criteria.
- This release is roughly feature-complete
- A new player in the target audience with minimal external guidance can play the game
- The art and UI are sufficient for players to be motivated to play through the core loop (not all placeholder)
- Game performance is minimally viable on the primary target platform
- A player in the target audience indicates a desire to continue playing on their own
- Key sound effects are implemented
- The core gameplay loop obviously demonstrates learning integration into play mechanics
The Purpose of Beta is to create a beautiful, feature- and content-complete experience. Games that have gone through Beta will meet the following conditions.
- This release is feature-complete with polish
- The target playtime is fully realized
- All written content has voiceovers with professional talent
- There are no placeholder art assets
- The title screen has a real title and logo
- The title is finalized based on Filament’s rubric
- All art assets match the style guide
- A majority of new players can play without external guidance
- Many players in the target audience play through the majority of the primary game content of their own volition
- All sound effects and music are implemented and match the main theme
- All interactions have sound effects
- The game runs at the target framerate in a majority of tested scenarios. The game remains playable in all tested scenarios
- All features and content are complete
- The UI is complete and matches the style guide except for splash and credits
When a game reaches Gold it’s considered a shippable experience. Games at this level will be ready to release and pass all of the following exit criteria.
- This release is feature complete with high polish
- All UIs are complete
- All voiceovers match the script
- All new players can play without external guidance
- No A, B, C and very few D and E defects
- All sound effects and voice overs are levelled
- There is a sufficient variety of sound effects and music to prevent noticeable/distracting repetition for the target playtime
- The game runs at the target framerate in all tested scenarios
Alpha, Beta, and Gold phases have different criteria in order to provide signposts on the way to a high-quality finished product while still allowing for an iterative development process. Interested in seeing what we could do for you? Drop us a line – we’d love to hear your ideas!