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When to do EA, and your experiences?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by N1warhead, May 23, 2018.

  1. N1warhead

    N1warhead

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    I've been wondering for some time, when is the right time to do an Early Access release, if I decided to do one?
    No I'm not interested in why I should or shouldn't do it, only want to hear your experiences on the matter.

    I know every game is different, I'm just generally curious as to how releasing with Early Access effected the development path of your game(s) (and when I should aim to do so if I decided too). E.G. - Your experiences.

    But yeah, no I'm not interested in opinions, only personal experiences you've been through with your game(s).
    Doesn't matter the platform, (EA) is (EA) Regardless of platform.

    I'm hoping this will not only teach me, but others who are interested in this subject.


    Because for me, I've always been on a pure borderline of fear with doing an Early Access release.
    For all sorts of various reasons I'm sure we all have with releasing a new game to the public. But Early Access release is a bit different than a regular release as EA releases tend to always have problems in some way shape or form. Which can lead to a bad first impression and ruin the game's chances before ever having a chance to start off.
     
  2. ShilohGames

    ShilohGames

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    I have mixed feelings about Early Access. I put Disputed Space on Steam Early Access in June 2017 and then released the full (non EA) release in December 2017. The main reason I put my space game there was to get feedback. My local play testers had played my game so much that they could no longer provide any new feedback about what needed to be improved. Steam Early Access resulted in a lot of feedback that I was able to use to make lots of improvements to Disputed Space. In my case, I released 59 different builds of my game based on the feedback, and my final release version is massively improved compared to my initial EA build.

    There is a flip side as well. A lot of people dislike Early Access. I received some negative feedback from users who simply hate EA and feel every game in EA is probably a scam. In addition to that, the full release does get some buzz, but not nearly as much as the initial EA launch. So some users will see the EA launch and decide to pass on a game, and then completely ignore the final release.

    I doubt I will do an EA launch for future games. For future titles, I will probably do a final release right away and completely skip the Early Access step.

    BTW, here is a direct link to my "Full Release" news that I posted when I moved from EA to Full Release:
    https://steamcommunity.com/games/637410/announcements/detail/1465223726782138736
     
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  3. N1warhead

    N1warhead

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    @ShilohGames
    Thanks for your feedback:

    You are right man, EA is a double sided sword. It can really do a lot of good with feedback, but at the same time, destroy the game from ever existing outside of EA.

    Honestly though, I despise EA as well, simply because I have been ripped off by it before.
    But I don't mind getting an EA Title if the creators are trying their best to make something awesome.

    Read your release news, and read the comments of your game as well.
    It sounds like a lot of people were expecting something different than what you made. E.G. - Lack of understanding your vision you were trying to make.

    That's the crazy thing about EA Titles man, it will either work in your favor, or it won't.
    And that's the part that scares the crap out of me. It's totally different than releasing the full game.
    But the problem with releasing the full game, is lack of real user feedback before official release, unless we can afford to hire testers. But, then again, people who buy it in EA, may not like it and crush your ratings simply because they thought they were getting something different than what they got. And god forbid they know your game is made with Unity, bad reviews I've seen people get simply from Unity logo popping up lol.
     
  4. Deleted User

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    Personally I'd do EA about the time I've pretty much finished the game, had feedback and then start adding additional content..Too many down rep's for an alpha (rep affecting), I mean if you have an alpha just ask round the forums to test we are if nothing else a helpful bunch and most of us gamers.

    Plus we have the actual knowledge for pointers as opposed to, huhuhuh this sucks.!
     
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  5. N1warhead

    N1warhead

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    @ShadowK : I hear ya mate. I'm still debating it. But I'll have more options later. Might go through a publisher if I can.
    But yeah, definitely will ask for testers when the time comes. Still very early in development of game.

    It's a Dinosaur Hunting game. However, unlike the crap Carnivores games they make today, my game isn't gonna just be some random dino eating a plant and shoot it. No no, mine is going to go off the at least current research on how Dinosaurs may have lived.. I'll have herds roaming the lands, Carnivores that will react to what's going on in the game. Such as if the TRex is starving, does it risk going after the Triceratops and dying or does it go after the more simple but much smaller herbivore, but now lets switch it up, what if the Trex has a baby it has to take care of? Does it take the more risky action to provide enough food for it and it's babies, or does it say screw it and feed its self.

    I want my game to be really full of life, not just some boring walk, shoot, walk shoot lol... Like for example, lets say a TRex Smells your scent, you shoot it and startle it and it runs away. If that Same TRex smells your scent later, whether you know it's there or not, it will begin trying to track you down and stalk you and yeah you know the rest lol.

    So definitely has a lot of work to do. But no, not a survival game, just hunting.

    So my game really could use a lot of testers later down the road, so I may or may not take the Early Access route, because getting believable AI, and tons of AI Testing is going to be the hardest part.

    EDIT: If you'd be interested in testing at a later point let me know.
     
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  6. Deleted User

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    Always up for it and if you'd do the same for me I'd be most happy..
     
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  7. N1warhead

    N1warhead

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    Sounds good too me.
     
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  8. ShilohGames

    ShilohGames

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    As a game designer, I get really excited about the idea of a procedural world with layers and layers of cool AI running to simulate the world. A lot of gamers won't see or understand all of those cool behind the scenes systems, though. That creates a huge challenge. You need to figure out how to really connect users with those systems. Otherwise those systems may as well not exist.

    For example, lets consider the scent tracking idea. How will the player know how much scent they are giving off in the game? How will they visualize their scent level and their scent trail? How will they know if a predator is on their scene trail? What things will the player be able to do to break up their scent trail?

    If you decide to go super deep into simulating every aspect in the game, be sure to find a way to connect users with those systems. Maybe even explain to players that your reason for Early Access is to get feedback on improving those things specifically. A lot of Steam players will instantly fall in love with a serious simulator, so it could be an incredible opportunity.
     
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  9. Ryiah

    Ryiah

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  10. N1warhead

    N1warhead

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    @ShilohGames : Thanks for the feedback again :)

    Definitely get excited about that stuff too. You don't really see much of it in games these days. Even games that claim to be simulation (as in Sim) games. Don't really do anything more than the basic AI's. Which - there's nothing wrong with that at all. Just personally I believe it's the little details that most devs miss (even AAA) devs.

    My scent system I was thinking of utilizing quite a few systems to do that. For example, the main scent the player will have is sweat, the more you run around the map, the more you'll sweat. The more you stay in the shade the faster you'll cool off. But not just that, lets say your scent was picked up. Perhaps jump in the mud to mask your scent, or have an item you can unlock later (through doing various missions), such as Steal TRex Eggs so you can research the TRex, and use specialized scent masking technologies by studying the creature contained and trying various things to to give the player an upper hand. Sort of how Hunters today do things to hunt the kill, such as using deer pee to mask their scent, etc.....

    So give the player little side quests they can do, to unlock researches for each dinosaur specifically.
    But aside from that, wind direction would be how the scent would travel. And perhaps an occasional trigger marker where the player has walked so if I dino walks by it can trigger to follow your scent path.

    Yeah it could be an incredible opportunity, but it would be to be done perfectly (in the sense) of making sure people understand what the EA is for, and why it would be important. The biggest problem is though, people have opinions, and they will feel entitled to how things 'must' be designed.

    For example, TRex vs Spinosaurus.
    Well reality is, current research shows the Spino walked on 4's and mainly lived in the water and in fact had a very weak jaw (at least compared to the TRex). Fact of the matter is, in real life, TRex would have slaughtered the Spino on Jurassic Park movies. But, a lot of people don't know about this, and if you're a JP Fan, you'll know that people will get into heated fights over who's superior. Well reality is, unless the TRex is walking along the shore in the water, he would have killed the Spino in one bite (Literally, research suggests) TRex bite was so strong (12,800 pounds) it would have literally bit the Spino head off in one bite compared to the Spino bite force of (2 tons). Also the Spino, the big Spine - was part of it's back, would break a Spine, break the back.

    But ya see, it's stuff like the example above, that would cause outcry, because ya know, spino fan boi's lol.
    Don't take me wrong, the Spino statistically has a 20% chance of winning depending on the right circumstances of course. And yeah definitely 2 tons is still a strong bite. But it's not 12,800 pounds either lol.

    EDIT:
    The reason scientist suggest the Spino didn't have such a strong bite force was simply because it was a semi-aquatic animal, mainly ate on fish and other sharks of the time. And the long jaw bones didn't allow for such muscle build up.

    Well also, reality is, TRex and Spino never would have fought anyways, they lived in two different time periods and on two different continents lol.
     
  11. AndersMalmgren

    AndersMalmgren

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    We went way too early to EA, we hardly had a alpha back then, we did it because we hoped to be able to cut down on dayjobs so the game could progress faster. We got some bad reviews that we now are stuck with.

    So my tip is dont go too early. But EA is a great way to get feedback from the community, our game would have looked completely different without our EA player base. Our discord have been busy with people giving feedack and tips. Lot of changes and new features have sprung to life because of that
     
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  12. Player7

    Player7

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    Do early access through your own game website, skip out steam until its actually good enough to go on steam. I know that is kinda backwards considering 70% of the stuff on steam, but yknow that stuff could go missing and no one would really care.. and maybe 90% of the S*** on google store could drop off the planet aswel.
     
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  13. derf

    derf

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    I will bottom line it for ya, only after all the main game play features are in place and working properly. Main story can be non existent at this point. Cinematic scenes can be left out. Specific in game events can be omitted (but make sure the system for triggered events is in place and working properly).

    So if your game is going EA and it has...

    1) A dialog system; make sure it is implemented and working properly. Players can converse with npcs, even if they are all simply replying with lorem ipsum text with simple response that are also lorem ipsum.

    2) A inventory system; make sure players can manage it. Stuff can go into their inventory and stuff can come out (buy/sell/use/drop/lose/etc.). If they can use it make sure they works as well.

    3) A death system, than the player character should die and get the game over screen. If they can die from falling, falling damage must be implemented. If they can die from combat, than combat damage must be implemented. If it can kill them or they can die from it than it better be implemented at the EA level.

    4) A combat system; players can fight npcs and die if they pick a fight with something they cannot defeat. This also means only put things in the EA you want them to see and fight (assuming it is hostile). Nothing hurts more than seeing a dragon that aggros you but it cannot harm you, you cannot harm it and it becomes a joke on youtube.

    5) An improvement system; make sure the player can improve the character. Want to let down players, have them be unable to improve their character with the 50 XP they earned simply because you do not implement skill improvement yet.

    6) Finally, do not incorporate areas that you do not want players too see until the final release by stacking crap in the way so they cannot get through, climb stairs, pass the gate, etc. However locked doors are acceptable to players (again as long as the feature of locking and unlocking doors is correctly implemented at EA). However having stairs leading up to the second floor of the spooky mansion being blocked by couches, chairs, dressers, foot stools, etc. gives it a poor quality and makes it feel like the developer was incredibly lazy or is unimaginative in how they limit access at the EA time.

    I can go over a list of games (mostly Indie but a couple Triple A studios) that had so called features or game play elements that were not implemented in the game at EA (just talked about). This does hurt the image of the game because some of those features were not working properly or were greatly limited in scope compared to the talked about version because they simply released to early.

    Usually Triple A studios will release a DEMO with only what features they want players to see and experience and rarely do they release an unpolished game to the masses in the EA format.

    Most Independent EA releases are simply money grabs and in the cases where the consumers dump buckets of money on them; some times this also has a negative impact on the final polish and implementation of the game play features.

    Finally, too many times some of these features either never make it to the game or they finally get released long after the fervor has died down for the game. Once the wind goes out of the sails it can be difficult getting it back; or worse when they are released they are just a shadow of the version talked about or described.

    So only go EA if the game is about 75% to 80% done with all base game play features implemented and working properly. Going the EA route with the game at about 40% done can spell its doom before you even realize it. EA at 50% can give too much away or invite copy cats. EA at 60%+ can go either way depending on the studio in question. EA at 70% or more could be the sweet spot for some studios.

    Going EA at say 20%-30%, is simply a money grab or just plain ole desperation with an idea or team (or an individual) that have no hope in ever reaching a full release.
     
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  14. N1warhead

    N1warhead

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    Thanks for the extra tips everyone, very informative information.
     
  15. Joe-Censored

    Joe-Censored

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    A lot of games have done well on early access. You need a fairly feature complete game, because people who play it or watch videos of it will assume that the current state, while not complete, is a fair representation of the final game. Also note that a lot of the community information about the game will be based on the early access version, and people won't necessarily revisit the game when it comes out of early access. So when someone searches youtube for a review on it, even after it comes out of early access, they are more than likely to find gameplay and review videos of it how it originally launched in EA.
     
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  16. N1warhead

    N1warhead

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    though's are are fairly good points. It may not seem like it, but I've gained quite a bit of knowledge from this little thread going on here... The part that just has confused me about the whole EA thing.

    Games such as 'Hellion' and 'Empyrion', despite being in EA, and playable, despite the bugs. They've been in EA for (years), but - they do keep developing the game. So it just makes me alway wondered when the proper time to do it is. Because years is quite awhile, but they do appear to be making even enough to hire people from doing EA.
    So it must work if you do it right.
     
  17. Joe-Censored

    Joe-Censored

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    If a game languishes in EA for years, it is very important that people see it is getting regular updates. The EA label by itself tells people there is a reason to stay away, so I would think staying with it for a long time would hurt the game rather than help. But success stories speak for themselves though.

    In my opinion, the poster child for correctly releasing as Early Access is PUBG. They released in EA in a fully playable state, with various issues and missing content but again still very playable. They released regular updates, communicated what was coming next, and within a reasonable amount of time took the game out of EA.
     
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  18. N1warhead

    N1warhead

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    Good points mate. It's easier to make updates if you have a team in (EA), but by your self, it would probably be better to have closed alpha testing, this way it's a controlled group of people without much backlash during the actual release.

    I think I'll honestly just try to go a publisher route eventually down the road, not really for the money, but to help with the marketing and help me make a strategy. I know there's pros and cons to publishers. I've been studying them for quite some time now, so I know quite a bit on what to look out for and such.

    But then again, I may not take a publisher route.
    I'll just keep developing my game, and when the time comes I'll start to decide my options on what to do next.
    It's like optimizing too early, you'll never finish the game, so I'm not gonna stress over my options at such an early stage in development.
     
  19. ShilohGames

    ShilohGames

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    Well, think of the EA vs Full Release as more of a marketing tool than anything technical. You can post as many or as few updates to your game as you want regardless of EA vs Full Release. Generally speaking, EA should indicate that the core of the game is there and the game is being actively worked on. But every EA game has varied a lot. Some games build a super solid audience during EA, while others get nowhere in EA.

    Two games that did great during EA were Player Unknown's Battleground (PUBG) and ARK: Survival Evolved. Both were multiplayer. Both had their own obvious hook. Both thrived in EA.
     
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  20. N1warhead

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    @ShilohGames yeah, it just seems more proper to have a Multiplayer game under EA, so you can keep retention. Yeah my game might can do it if I have some really good AI from the start, but my game is for now going to be Single Player.

    For years I've been making nothing but Multiplayer games, and never release them simply because if things don't work out, I then owe a potentially unknown (big or small) service bill to Photon or Unet, etc. if my game turns out well, I'll include Multiplayer down the road, I find it easier than single player honestly.

    But with that being said. With what you said before, this could be an incredible opportunity - IF and I stress it (IF) I do it right. At this point, it would all just be the timing of Early Access (if) I did it. In truth, an EA around the new Jurassic World would be perfect timing, people going to be looking at that new JW Game. And would might run into my game, but then again, I could get some really gorgeous art made for game, and advertise the crap out of it to get twitter followers and such to stay on top of game.

    EDIT: But at the same time, my game is still too early for a JW movie EA Launch lol. Was just saying that would be an incredible time lol.
     
  21. Joe-Censored

    Joe-Censored

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    One thing to remember is your Early Access release is your game's actual release. It isn't going to get much additional buzz when it leaves Early Access. No influencers will care, because they consider it a year or whatever old game, not a newly releasing game. So release it on Early Access in a state that you are happy with people forming their impressions of it.
     
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  22. N1warhead

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    That is very valid point. Yeah I might not do an EA release unless game gets popular during development. Taking my time on it. Not rushing. Rather release a solid product. But I may like a month before release give reviewers an early access. If they want at least lol.
     
  23. ShilohGames

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    Another strategy to consider is releasing several smaller games based on the same genre. That way you can slowly build your tech and get feedback along the way. Then you can use that feedback toward your next game. I think this strategy will work better than Early Access for many small indies, especially if you can come up with some natural tech breakpoints within your overall big project.
     
  24. N1warhead

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    I hear what ya mean, but I'm gonna just do a single game.
    In all honesty though I was just really curious to learn about the whole Early Access stuff, as I've never even considered doing it before. I was just really just wondering peoples experiences with it. Chances are I'm just gonna work on my game over time, have closed alpha/beta testing with few people and work on it from there. And just keep marketing the crap out of it over time and hope for the best. If anything - at least I released a game lol.
     
  25. AndersMalmgren

    AndersMalmgren

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    Do short videos often, put them on reddit, you want a solid target group once you release. We had a few thousand on our Steam wishlish before EA release. Too bad we release too early or we could have converted them all :D Good thing is most of them are still on the list :D We hope to convert them when we do our visability run, we havent used any of those free vis runs so next major update with Coop game mode we will use one
     
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  26. frosted

    frosted

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    How did you approach reddit? They're often tough with the anti self promotion rules
     
  27. AndersMalmgren

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    It depends on the subreddit, Vive subreddit is much harder than Occulus in this matter, you cant mention sales or supply store link on Vive while on Occulus both are ok. Before release there was post like these

    https://www.reddit.com/r/Vive/comments/4otr00/when_vr_devs_argue_in_a_meeting/

    After release it was update videos like these

    https://www.reddit.com/r/Vive/comments/6wjysw/virtual_warfighter_update_8_give_me_a_hand/
     
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