Releasing early-access style

Hi all. A question on a theme that has been talked a lot over the years.

Would it be possible for me to release my work in the style many developers are doing nowadays? Meaning, label it early access/in development/open beta, and keep developing with the people who play it?

From my point of view, if such a thing is possible, it has one huge pro and a huge con.

  • A really big campaign can never be tested enough before release. So developing while listening to people who play it and implementing their ideas/fixing bugs they report is a good thing since the campaign will get bug free and more enjoyable patch after patch.
  • The community is small, and having people play an incomplete campaign might drive them off trying it again once it is fully complete.

Say that this is possible. I have the iterative-agile processes in mind. Where I deliver a patch/content every so on.
Would one do it with hak patches?
If so, which files can be affected by such a patch? i.e be updated in order to fix a bug.
What are your thoughts on the matter?
To my knowledge the Wolfenstein author did something similar. Does anyone know how he managed it if that is the case?

In any case, I am asking for some constructive discussion in order to figure out if this is the right way to go.



I don’t see an issue with it, so long as you’re very clear on what you’re releasing so that people know what they’re getting.

You are right about the problem of a small community, but that could also have the opposite impact, too - most of our few players holding off through all your early access iterations because they want to wait for the final thing.

It can be disspiriting to release version after version without getting feedback, so you’d just have to take care that this is a motivating way of work for you, and not an offputting one!

As a frequent playtester, I can say helping out where I can with works in progress does not impact my willingness or even eagerness to play finished products.

There is no chance such could drive me awa… Hmm… Actually I was in the middle of helping PJ156 playtest his work in progress when I left the game for a few years entirely. I promise that was due to computer and financial issues though. And I think I have played his since completed campaign a good three times since my return to the community.

I was recently playtesting Kamal’s overhaul of his PoE campaign and will play again at least once, probably many times once complete. Or complete again. I kinda need to actually since I haven’t voted on it in the new site and want that vote to be for the fully fixed version.

Right. Longwinded way of saying I think you will find people happy to play your work in progress. Altruism and self-interest intersect in wanting your work to be the best it can be, after all. Just be clear with people.

The only down side I can see is you might get some negative votes from people who don’t bother to read. Even so, if those votes are accompanied by an angry rant, you might glean something useful from that.


I’d probably start the project name with a ‘Beta’ to indicate the quality level, then release the final game with a different project title and expunge the beta.


As you say, it partly depends on your development process and working preferences. I prefer to work with people who specifically volunteer to test and provide useful notes and feedback. That’s just me.


I would work in private with play testers and use that time to promote your work for the final release. Chances are it will be the same people testing in either case but one has your dirty washing on the line for all to see and the other allows you to fix the worst of the play bugs and get people excited about the release at the same time.

It is my view that, if people see bug reports in the project comments, they will either put off playing or they may go into the game expecting bugs and lose the essence of the story and play experience you want to project.

I have found some very good play testers in my time, Quixal being one of those. I think closed beta is my choice.