5 Things I Learned From My First Alpha Test

Alpha Test One

Alpha Test One for Lands of Oneiro just wrapped up. It was four days of fun, excitement, and nerve-wracking anxiety. I had set the deadline for the first alpha test at only 2 months into the project with the hopes that having a hard date would keep me motivated. I believe it worked, that I achieved much more than if I hadn’t announced the Alpha Test was coming up. The biggest benefit from the test was the feedback that I got from the players who came to the test. Here’s what I learned.

1 – Hours of Building = Minutes of Content

Players will zoom through any well-built area. If there are no bugs or issues to slow them down, they can be FAST. The first player who logged into the game had killed her first bat 5 minutes and 4 seconds after connecting. After 26 minutes and 56 seconds, they finished the tutorial and ran out of content. That put me in the panic while I tried to build quests faster than the players could complete them. That’s not possible, by the way. You’ll be tempted to speed build areas to give the players more content…

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Class Specific Passive Tutorials

Designing Notes

I have been through more than my fair share of tutorials in MUDs lately as I have been scoping out the competition.  I have been to muds with tutorials that take hours to complete.  One took me over 12 hours the other day.  That is INSANE!

I am not putting the players through a generic newbie school that takes hours of frustration to complete. I want my players to be killing mobs within 20 minutes of connecting to the game and earning their first sweet, sweet quest reward.

To get the player into the game as soon as possible I am taking a Passive Tutorial approach.  The player will receive hints and information about the game but they’re free to do as they wish as soon as they get into the game.

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The Minimum Viable Product Approach

Northwest Akir

One of the greatest hopes that I have for Lands of Oneiro is that the world that will be one worth exploring and the stories will be fun to experience.  With the date for the first alpha test approaching, I want to create the smallest game possible that would be:

  • at least nominally fun to play – a test of the game design concept overall.
  • provides useful testing feedback – from both the game engine and the play-testers.

So far one of the greatest challenges I have had while working on Lands of Oneiro is the loss of focus on creating a fully functional albeit tiny game.

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Lands of Oneiro – Creation Myth

The Dreamer

Back in the ’90s, I built Athens the MUD using the real-life geography of Greece and maps of mythological locations based on their story details.  While I built everything from the depths of Tartarus, to the almost exact layout of Athen’s ancient city streets, to the fiery lava tubes of Hephaestus’s volcano workshop and many places between, it was all very inspired by mythological and historical sources.

This time around I am building a high-fantasy world from scratch.  Where to start?  The creation of the universe, of course!

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