We're getting further and further along with Valley 2, but there's lots of final things that we're straightening out. The good news is that multiplayer seems to be in a much better state than we'd thought. The slightly bad news is that there's hundreds of other smaller things that we're still cleaning up and getting ready for prime-time. I'm very wary about showing this publicly before it's baked to a certain point, given how the reactions were last time we did that.
So, with that in mind, we're going to do a limited-run private alpha for Valley 2. We actually did this with AVWW1 as well, but I'm not sure how public that knowledge was. Essentially, if you're interested in helping us iron out the kinks in a still-somewhat-buggy-and-unbalanced-with-some-missing-art version of Valley 2 starting perhaps on Friday of this week or into next week, then send a PM to tigersfan
(Josh) here on the forums. Or if you'd rather wait for a smoother and nicer version that will be our initial beta offering, you'll probably only have to wait until late next week instead.
In terms of the alpha, a few notes:
1. We're really only going to be taking a handful of people at a time, for two reasons. Firstly, because there's only so much feedback we can parse at once. And secondly, because we only get one chance to make our first impression on each alpha tester. If everyone starts at the same time, then we fix some things, we can't get first impressions on how the fixed stuff works. Instead we do it in small groups so that we collect first impressions at several stages of the process.
2. A huge amount of familiarity with AVWW1 is not a must by any stretch of the imagination. These are extremely different games. However, you will need a license key for the first game, as this is how you also activate the sequel.
3. There's a very good chance that not remotely everyone who notes interest in the alpha will get to be a part of it. It's nothing personal, but here again we don't want to burn through all our testers so fast in case we need more waves of them; mixed with the fact that we can only take so much feedback at once. If we get to the point where we feel this is beta-ready before we get through all of the potential testers (which is actually what happens in an ideal world, or else we're skirting the edge of running out of alpha testers, which is bad), then we'll go ahead to public beta and you can start playing with it along with everyone else who is interested. Past a certain point we're ready to open the floodgates.
4. Going along with #3, I also want to note that there is
actually a bit of personal bias in how we are selecting people for the alpha. But not in the way you might think. If you've been a really useful tester for us in the past, this is not a guarantee you'll get in an early batch or even at all; and if you've never tested for us before, that's not to say you won't get chosen. Rather, we try to put a couple of both kinds of person in each batch, for what I imagine are hopefully obvious reasons. Having both some veteran testers and some neophytes in each batch of alpha testers helps us get both kinds of feedback as we proceed -- those all-important first impressions can only be collected once, and if we put all our veteran testers into the very first version that's really a waste of their expertise. If any veteran testers get left to the beta rather than being a part of the alpha, that doesn't mean we don't like you or don't want to hear from you; that's just how the process happened to shake out prior to when we were ready for beta. We'll be just as interested in hearing from you during beta as we would have been during alpha.
And lastly a couple of notes about testing Valley 2 in general:
5. Valley 2 is very much more of a mature game than AVWW1 ever was; it's more like AI War 2.0 was compared to AI War 1.0. Therefore, I think that the expectation that some people might have that we're going to be doing major design shifts is something that needs to be tempered. This is a much tighter, more cohesive design than in AVWW1, and we're not going to be looking to add more content prior to this getting out of beta (aside from what is already on our to-do list anyway), and nor are we going to be looking to reinvent the game mechanics wildly and repeatedly.
6. So what's the point of testing? We're looking for things that are unclear, unbalanced, un-fun, or similar. In other words, we're not looking to reinvent
the game we've labored to create, we're looking to refine
it. With AVWW1 we were constantly reinventing and refining side-by-side, and ultimately that was unhealthy for the project (or a sign of an underlying disease, depending on how you look at it). That's a big part of why Valley 2 was born in the first place, and why it had so much up-front design work done to it. We did the exploratory bit with AVWW1, and Valley 2 is a product of what we learned before.
Anywho! I think that's all the potential caveats; there will always be a potential for misunderstandings and hurt feelings, but hopefully by knowing our intentions as stated above the chance for them will be minimized. Thanks all for your enthusiasm, and we look forward to sharing this with you soon!