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Thread: How HiRez Makes Games & Expectations for Alpha & Beta

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    How HiRez Makes Games & Expectations for Alpha & Beta

    HiRez Studios has always been focused on building fun and engaging games for players since it first started more than 10 years ago by our CEO Erez Goren. Our goal was always to build "games as a service" -- meaning games that were built from their core around the idea of being frequently updated and shaped by vibrant communities.

    Hand of the Gods will be our sixth game we are working on, coming after our push for Paladins and the long updated and still growing SMITE. We have learned a lot through developing these games and part of the success of these titles stems from how we handle our Alpha and Beta releases.

    In order to really understand what you are testing and how to help us shape the best game we can, I think it is important for our players to understand some of the principles that underly our game development. We want players who participate in the Closed Alpha understand that we are looking to grow and expand the game, and through the Alpha and Beta stages and all the way to release Hand of the Gods will be growing and changing shaped on your feedback.

    So here are some things we want you to know about how we build games:

    Principle #1: Start public testing as early as you can, and let the community help shape the game's development.

    Our goal is always to start public testing as soon as we feel we have basic core gameplay and systems in place. We know a lot of things aren't finished or fully polished. But we want your feedback to help us shape where we take the game.

    Principle #2: No game is ever done. Labels such as "Closed Beta", "Open Beta", "Released" are mostly artificial marketing milestones.

    We will, of course, have big milestones around Closed Alpha & Beta (maybe even with multiple "phases"), as well as an Open Beta and a Launch. But really these are just partly artificial marketing milestones. Games are never done. We believe in frequently patching and improving.

    Principle #3: Be open.

    Streaming and video content creation is allowed from Day One. In some ways, this is dangerous for us, since it means that, years from now, when the game has evolved well beyond the point it is now -- this content will still be out there and may give people a false impression of the current state of the game. But, overall, the benefits of being open and transparent outweigh the risks.

    [NOTE: One reason we LOVE for people to stream our game during beta is that we watch the streams religiously. Watching other people play our games gives us insight into what is and isn't working well that is hard to get any other way.]

    Principle #4: Don't be afraid to try lots of crazy shit while you in early testing.

    We'll do some stuff and try some experiments in beta that will seem very stupid and crazy. And they just may be. Old-time testers of SMITE can probably relay some of the insane stuff we did during that beta.

    But sometimes these experiments help us learn things about our game that are really important and inform future design. When we run a bad experiment, we will work hard to fix it up as quickly as we can!

    Principle #5: Initially worry most about gameplay and fun. We can improve the art quality and general polish later on.

    There may be times when we introduce new features or cards or maps before their art quality is at a level that is ideal for us. That's because we want to make sure the gameplay is right before we apply tons of art resources in a direction that isn't working. As gameplay and fun solidify, we will come back around and make the art great.

    Principle #6: Patch frequently, add new content constantly, learn from each patch.

    I think this one is self-explanatory.

    Principle #7: When you are doing #6, bugs and balance issues will happen.

    We will move fast and patch frequently. It's hard to do that in a way that is bug free and perfectly balanced. We prefer to move quick and fix quick -- versus delaying the learning experiences that we know we will get when people try the new things we are testing.

    Principle #8: Use data and stats religiously to mine insights on player behavior.

    We will read the forums and the Reddit and the user surveys religiously and shape a lot of the game around the feedback we see. But, sometimes, people have issues or experiences in the game that they can't really verbalize correctly. Being very focused on mining the right data to see what is and isn't working is very important.

    Principle #9: Let people play with their friends.

    If you are in our testing program and playing regularly, we will setup systems to make sure you can get your friends into the game.

    Principle #10: Make money, but do so in a fair way that respects your community.

    We are extremely strong believers that Free to Play is a fantastic business model for gaming. But it needs to be done in a fair way that isn't "Pay to Win." That's harder to achieve than you may think, and bear with us as we balance the game around that philosophy. But I think people that have been with us for a while know that we work hard to build fair systems for our players and hugely respect the experience of players that never pay us a dime.

    - HiRez Studios
    Last edited by HirezAdanas; 06-30-2017 at 12:49 PM.

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