Where the boundary lies between Alpha and Beta rules is fuzzy. Neither are expected to be compete drafts of the final product as they are part of the development process. Alpha clearly comes before Beta, so will be less complete. But where to draw that line?
Frankly, I’m not sure I’d draw it in the same place in different projects, so I wouldn’t ask me ;)
However, I was thinking last night that exactly what “Alpha” meant might be similarly opaque to everyone else, and as we’re going to get the Alpha rules up for Dungeon Sagas any day I thought it would be worth talking about what they do and do not include and what I mean by it for DS. Just so you know what to expect.
Firstly though, you’ll want to know when you’ll get them. Well they’re working on neat versions of the scenario maps as I type, so very soon. Sorry I can’t be more specific – these things are a touch unpredictable. I would guess by the end of tomorrow at the latest. Maybe even today :)
Anyway, Alpha. The most important thing I mean by this is that it isn’t complete. Deliberately. What you’re seeing is a working document that will be expanded during the design and playtest process.
The Alpha covers the core rules that act as a foundation for all the myriad bells and whistles we would like to add and which will make the final game more exciting and characterful. However, adding chrome is only worthwhile if the basic structure is solid, so it’s important to focus on getting this right first (even if it’s not always as much fun to play this plain vanilla version). It’s certainly not as exciting or glamorous a process as adding the chrome, but it’s probably more important. This step-by-step, layering approach is what I did with DreadBall, where the game was developed without cards, coaching dice, cheerleaders, and so on. All the fancy stuff was added later, once the groundwork was firmly in place.
This means that none of the Advanced rules are in the Alpha, and the bulk of the scenarios are missing too. There is, after all, not much point in working on fine-tuning the balance of scenario 8 when any changes in the rules will probably make all that work redundant. Instead, what I’ve focussed on is the core mechanics that form the framework on which everything else hangs. I think they’re quite robust. What do you guys think?
What will happen next? Well I’m sure you guys will have some comments and questions, so I’ll try to answer them. I’ll continue to add Design Notes and discussions about other aspects of the game as we go along, and I’d really like to post an early Beta version of the rules before we get to the end of the Kickstarter :)
By that stage the game will be both more complete and more locked down. At present, with the Kickstarter only just begun I don’t even know the final list of what will be in the game. We may add more models, monster types, scenarios, and so on and all of that may change the balance of the game and the scenarios. I’m hoping that we will be able to fund extra play modes and lots more fun stuff in the Advanced rules along with the cards, counters, models or whatever needed to go along with them. You never know though. Part of the planning for a Kickstarter is to ensure that you don’t run out of ideas in the middle, which in turn means that you seldom get to the end of the list of things you would like to do if you could do anything…
So what would I like you to do with these Alpha rules? It’s simple: read them and play them if you can. Feedback is always useful and I read all of it I can find. I’ve already put up an FAQ page for the Alpha rules. If you have any comments it would be very helpful for me if you could post them to that page.