Game Development Reference
called the Heads-Up Display, or HUD) should be functional, if not yet
finalized and visually polished. Preliminary documentation in this context
means any explanation of new functionality, changed controller maps, and
cheat codes (if any).
5. The game is compatible with most specified hardware and software
configurations. For a cross-platform console game, this means that the
game will run on every targeted platform (PlayStation 2 and Xbox, for
example). For a PC game, this criterion dictates that the game must run
on a variety of systems with varying specifications (a range of CPU speeds,
a range of RAM caches, and so on).
6. Level scripting is implemented. This pertains primarily to single-player
story mode. An Alpha candidate that required the tester to load each level
manually would fail this criterion.
7. First-party controllers and memory cards work. Each platform manufac-
turer (SCEA, Microsoft, Nintendo, and so on) either manufactures or
licenses for manufacture its own line of peripherals. Since support of these
first-party peripherals is required by the platform TRCs, and because the
majority of testing will be done using first-party peripherals, they need to
be supported by Alpha.
8. Final or placeholder art is in for all areas of the game. All the levels and
characters must be textured and animated, though these textures, anima-
tions, and even the level geometry, may be subject to refinement as the
game approaches Beta.
9. Online multiplayer can be tested. Enough network code must be implemented
so that at least two consoles can connect over a LAN and play a game.
10. Placeholder audio is implemented. It is entirely possible that the voice
recording sessions with the final talent have not yet taken place at Alpha.
In this case, members of the development team should record “stub�? audio
and integrate it where needed.
Over the course of Alpha testing, all modules of the game should be tested at least
once, and performance baselines should be established (for example, frame rate, load
times, and so on). These baselines will help the development team determine how far
they have to go to get each performance standard up to the target for release. For
example, a frame rate of 30 (or even 15) frames of video per second (fps) may be
acceptable in the early stages of developing a 3D action game, but the release target
should be a solid 60 fps with no prolonged dips during scenes when there are greater-
than-usual numbers of characters and special effects on-screen.