Game Development Reference
The good news about Alpha is that it is the beginning of the end. The bad news is that
reaching the end is seldom easy.
At Beta, all assets are integrated, all development stops, and the only thing that happens
thereafter is bug fixing. Stray bits of art can be upgraded, or bits of text rewritten, but
the goal at this point is to stabilize the project and eliminate as many bugs as is necessary
If yours is a console game that is subject to the approval of the console manufacturer,
the final weeks of Beta will include submissions to that company so its testers can ver-
ify that the game meets their own quality standards.
A PC game can be sent to an outside testing firm for compatibility testing. This should
uncover any pieces of hardware, or combinations of hardware, that keep the game
from working properly.
A mobile game may need approval from handset manufacturers and/or the wireless
carriers that will be hosting the game and making it available to their subscribers for
downloading. The handset manufacturers are mostly concerned about interoperation
with the phone's built-in features, while the carriers want to be confident that the
game will not disrupt service on their network.
The last portion of Beta testing has come to be called crunch time . During these weeks,
people have been known to stay in the office for days at a time, sleep under their desks,
eat nothing but carryout, ingest massive amounts of caffeine, and become strangers to
their families. All in all, it's a weird twilight world where the only important thing is
finishing the game.
When this goes well, you end up with a team of dedicated people who believe they're
working on something special and are willing to make sacrifices in other areas of their
lives to see this creation come out right. The people work hard because they want to,
because it's important to them, and because it's fun. Their motivation comes from an
internal desire rather than an external mandate. If you've ever worked hard with a
group of people to achieve a cherished goal, you know how exhilarating and rewarding
it can be.