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Alpha-1 testing

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Hail and well met glorious Ashes of Creation testers. My name is Sean Farrens. I am the manager of quality assurance on Ashes of Creation and on behalf of the Ashes QA team I would like to extend a deep and heartfelt thank you to everyone who participated in testing Ashes of Creation during the weekend of May 14 through May 16th for our Alpha 1 build. In spite of instability and uncertainty you have all proven to be invaluable in regards to your feedback and bug reports; and for that I cannot express my gratitude enough. As many of you know, developing an MMORPG is an epic endeavor that is filled with trials and tribulations that no other kind of game will ever encounter; and your illustrated dedication has proven to our team that we are on a high road to the best MMORPG gaming experience to date. During this most recent testing period we received over 2,600 bug reports, which have been an absolute boon to our testing process. We review each report individually and I continue to be impressed with how detailed and helpful each of these reports has been. Like seriously you guys give repro steps and everything. Super duper handy. I greatly look forward to your feedback in the future and hope you enjoy our content so far, so thank you so much everybody.[1]Sean Farrens

While we will have specific spot tests for certain systems as we develop them post the Alpha one month, it should be expected and understood that after this Alpha one month there will be probably a significant amount of downtime where there won't be spot testing as we kind of break apart a lot of systems, take what we learned from alpha one month and implement and iterate upon those learnings. So there's gonna be several months probably worth of significant downtime where there will not be access to spot testing, where we are going to go in and really rejigger a lot of systems[2]Steven Sharif

Phase Release Estimated/Actual date
Alpha-1 Alpha-1 early preview livestream.[3] March 27, 2020.[4]
Alpha-1 limited QA testing (NDA).[5][6] May 28, 2020.[7][8]
Alpha-1 preview pre-test 1 (NDA).[9] Dec 18 - Dec 21 2020.[9]
Alpha-1 preview pre-test 2 (NDA).[9] Feb 19 - Feb 22 2021.[10][11]
Alpha-1 preview intermittent spot testing (NDA).[12][13] Mar 19 - Jul 9 2021.[12][13]
Alpha-1 preview weekend (no NDA).[12] July 9 - July 11 2021.[14][15][12]
Alpha-1 (no NDA).[12] July 14 - August 15 2021.[16][17]
Alpha-1 intermittent spot testing.[2][18] After August 15 2021.[2][17]

Read more...

The term "alpha" is a tricky one, and it typically has 2 meanings in gaming. The development meaning for alpha is a point in the process where we are ready to test the fundamental systems in their core form, without polish and without much of the content. Then, there is the external or "marketing" term for alpha. This is typically applied to Eastern-ported MMORPGs, when in fact that is a completed game being localized for a region, and not really indicative of a true development alpha. As you may know by now, game development has many stages - from the initial tech demos to the pre-production and pre-alpha states, then on to the alphas and betas and eventually launch.[9]Steven Sharif

I want to make emphatically clear, our alphas and betas are true development alphas and betas, and some have said I am crazy to allow these phases to be seen without an NDA…maybe I am crazy? lol… But I am trusting the community of gamers out there to get a glimpse into the process, and understand the long road ahead for what will eventually be worth the wait. Given time and talent, amazing things can happen, so make sure you help us in communicating that we are in open development which means people get to see the bare bones before the meat. And look, I know people see our 4K footage and say, "This looks better than most released games!", but trust me when I say, you ain't seen nothin’ yet.[9]Steven Sharif

Alpha-1 testing goals

Server deployment and performance testing
  • Stress-test our server deployments and player concurrency numbers with high volumes of player activity and interactions.[12]
  • Stand up multiple world server deployments across different geographical regions.[12]
  • Soak test server grid health over a continuous period of production use.[12]
  • Evaluate current networking architecture, and identify non-performant code and areas for additional optimizations or refactoring.[12]
  • Test our build strategy and hot-fix deployment procedures, account services, web-based systems, launcher and patcher stability, and cloud-based infrastructure.[12]
System functionalities and behavior testing (in their core state)
Player character systems (in their core state)
Ancillary systems (in their core state)

The above is not a comprehensive list of everything being tested in Alpha One, but it hits the primary points. There are many other data metrics being collected for our approach to the content production pipelines, system definitions, and refactoring as well. Not to mention a plethora of technical art implications and optimizations, but you get the gist. This is a very fundamental test that will impact the direction of development post-Alpha One, so you can understand the importance of testing and its need for player participation, attention, and feedback.[12]Steven Sharif

Alpha-1 combat revamp

Alpha-1 split-body melee weapon combat sneak peek.[19]

I can move while swinging on this guy. I can back up then continue to attack him. Just have complete control over my character while attacking.[19]Steven Sharif

A revamped combat system will be rolled out during and post Alpha-1 testing based on player feedback.[20][21][22]

  • The goal is to give more agency to the player and achieve a more fluid flow of combat with greater mobility when using abilities.[23][24]
  • The current hybrid tab and action combat system will remain after the revamp.[23]
  • This revamp will not represent the final form of combat, but will set the general direction that combat will be taking.[25]
  • The revamp will be iterative and will be rolled out to testers in different phases.[24]

The revamped combat system will feature split-body animations, where the character's upper body can be locked by weapon attack animations while the lower body is free to continue moving.[19][26][27]

You'll be able to move forward while swinging your weapon; and this will allow you complete control over your weapon attacks for melee.[19]Steven Sharif

Alpha-1 testing is initially focused on core functionality rather than combat balance.[27]

Q: Based on recent feedback, what direction are you leaning towards in regards to split-body versus root-motion?
A: We are leaning towards split body.[28]Steven Sharif

Alpha-1 availability

Pre-order pack upgrades are possible for current pack holders for the difference in price.[29][30][31] Upgrades to Kickstarter and Summer crowdfunding packs are also available in the store for the difference in package price.[32]

Alpha-1 participation

Alpha-1 testing is available to the following participants:

There were approximately 9,600 participants in Alpha-1 testing as of August, 2018.[36][37]

  • As of May 31, 2021, just under 5k additional participants have been added since Alpha-1 sales resumed. Less refunds and unclaimed codes, leaves a total of slightly over 13k testers.[36]
  • The weekend test of May 27, 2021 saw 5,300 unique logins over the 3 day period.[36]

There were roughly 9600 if I recall A1 participants prior to my closing the preorder packs in 2018. Since opening them up again there have been just under 5k additional participants added. And prolly around 300 refunds give or take. Of the roughly 14,000 a1 testers, there are still about 1k unredeemed ks codes which leaves a little over 13k testers? The weekend test saw 5300 unique logins over the 3-day period. And I think discord flags stand around 4k roughly?[36]Steven Sharif

Alpha-1 castle sieges

Trebuchets in the Alpha-1 preview castle siege attackers headquarter camp.[39]

Alpha-1 castle sieges are based on Ashes of Creation Apocalypse castle sieges.[41][35]

  • Players will be able to join guilds. These guilds can register for the siege events.[39]
  • Castle siege events will be 100v100 battles that occur daily and will last for three hours.[39]
  • Attackers will start on the opposite end of the map (from the defenders).[39]
  • Attackers will be able to use trebuchets to drive to and assault the castle.[39]
    • Trebuchets have a single primary fire that does a small amount of damage to players and heavy damage to buildings.[39]
    • Trebuchets will be fully physical when they are being driven.[39]
  • When the attackers have breached the castle they will be able to channel a cast on the relic in the throne room to try to capture the castle from the defenders.[39]
  • The victors of castle sieges will receive benefits, such as cloaks, flying mounts for guild leaders and potentially also for guild officers.[39]
  • Alpha-1 castle sieges are in a separate zone that is accessible via a NPC teleporter.[42][43][44]
    Currently the siege zone is actually in the open world, but separated by mountains and off in the sea a bit. There is actually no instancing in A1, although the siege zone will only be accessible in A1 through a registration NPC teleporter.[42]Steven Sharif
  • The opposing team is notified when these raid bosses are being attacked.[41]
  • Teams who get the last hit on these bosses will receive buffs that will help them in the siege battle.[41]

Last year, I spoke of attempting to incorporate sieges into the Alpha One experience. This has obviously been a goal of mine because it provides considerable data and a consistent event within the world that players can participate in to help stress test the deployment. Well, I am happy to say that it is appearing more and more likely by the day! Initial implementation of the Apocalypse siege code has been migrated into the Alpha One client, and we should begin internal testing next month. I will caveat this expectation with the fact that we are cutting it a bit close from an internal QA standpoint, but I have some confidence that the system will be online and capable of inclusion for the Alpha One test in the month of June. The siege component will obviously not be representative of what the siege system will be at launch, or even in Alpha Two.[35]Steven Sharif

Alpha-1 PvE content

PvE content in Alpha-1:

There's over 200 quests in the game right now. There's a bunch of dungeons. We've retooled all of the boss fights. Those dragons that you see in the siege are also in the world- part of the open-world too. There will be a slightly different- there are some extra mechanics in the siege versions versus the ones that are in the world, but there's plenty of cool things to get on both of them, so make sure you check them out and hunt them down.[43]Jeffrey Bard

Artisan classes in Alpha-1

Artisan classes (Gathering, Processing, Crafting) will come online fully in Alpha-2 and the Betas.[46][47]

In Alpha One the core basics of what crafting represents as a gameplay loop that is represented. So that means that there are gatherables out there. You will have to have tools in order to service those gatherables. There will be processing that's necessary; and then there's crafting stations that are available and can be constructed by the players. This is in Alpha One. You have to collect the recipes, you have to collect the materials, and you have to refine the materials; and then you have to create the reagents and then use those to kind of create the final crafting component of that you're trying to create. So that in and of itself is present, but it is a very very small piece of really what will be the larger crafting puzzle for Alpha 2 and betas.[46]Steven Sharif

Crafting honestly will not come online in any sense of its true form until Alpha-2. Alpha-1 has essentially what are intended to be the core gameplay loop of crafting, meaning the collection of materials, the translation of those materials into processed goods, and the use of those processed goods into item acquisition. That's the core gameplay loop that is currently present in Alpha-1. But those are mostly facilitated kind of piggy backing the merchant systems right now and not actually using the real crafting system; and that's because crafting hasn't been completed in a form that can be implemented in Alpha-1, but will be for Alpha-2. What's present in Alpha-1 doesn't even really scratch the surface for crafting.[47]Steven Sharif

Alpha-1 servers

Alpha-1 servers are provisioned in the following regions.[49]

info-orange.pngSome of the following information has not been recently confirmed by the developers and may not be on the current development roadmap.

Alpha-1 servers will support 1,500 concurrently connected users per server.[51][52][53]

Server wipes

Alpha and Beta servers will be wiped prior to launch.[54]

  • Alpha-1 testing phases will include full wipes.[55]
  • Servers may also be wiped between individual tests, unless the developers require progression to be saved for certain spot tests.[56]

As a general rule, if the testing phase contains the word Alpha, it is safe to assume there will likely be wipes.[57]Steven Sharif

Alpha-1 NDA

Alpha-1, Alpha-2, Beta-1, Beta-2 releases are not covered by NDA (non-disclosure agreement).[58]

  • Alpha-1 testing prior to the full release of Alpha-1 was covered by NDA.[59][6]
    • NDA review and acceptance is done via the game client.[60]
    • The text and voice NDA was lifted from the PI QA testing phase on May 28, 2020.[59]
    • The verbal NDA was lifted from Alpha-1 preview testing, and future testing, on May 17, 2021.[61]
    • The NDA was lifted on July 9, 2021 for the three day Alpha-1 preview weekend test.[15][12]
    • The NDA was lifted on July 14, 2021 for Alpha-1.[62]

We are extremely excited to invite folks to this glorious milestone of our development journey with NO NDA as we want everyone to be able to provide feedback unfiltered. During Alpha One testing, we'll be looking for your feedback specifically on the following things: download and installation process, client performance, and server performance.[62]

Alpha testing system requirements

Alpha-1 stress testing, March 17, 2021.[63]

Funny story; So yesterday as we are stress/density testing with our NDA testers, I accidentally summoned 5k bears around our few hundred players. But hey, it didn’t crash! Can you spot Lt. Toast here?[63]Steven Sharif

These are fully operational NPCs. They have behavior trees, they have AI blackboards; you know they are functioning as an NPC would; and to my surprise, to everyone's surprise actually, the server handled it quite well: 5000 entities all within a very dense area.[64]Steven Sharif

Ashes of Creation alpha testing minimum system specification.[65]

  • Operating System: Windows 10 64-Bit
  • Processor: Intel Core i3-2125 3.3GHz / AMD Phenom II X4 3.3GHz
  • Graphics Card: Nvidia GeForce GTX 460 or AMD Radeon 6870 HD with 1GB and DirectX 12
  • Memory: 6 GB RAM
  • Network: Broadband Internet connection
  • Storage: 35 GB of available space
  • Sound Card: DirectX Compatible Sound Card

Recommended specification.[65]

  • Operating System: Windows 10 64-Bit
  • Processor: Intel Core i7-6700K 4.0GHz / AMD FX-9590 4.7GHz
  • Graphics Card: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 or AMD Radeon R9 Fury with 4GB and DirectX 12
  • Memory: 16 GB RAM
  • Network: Broadband Internet connection
  • Storage: 35 GB of available space
  • Sound Card: DirectX Compatible Sound Card

Alpha testing zone

Map of Alpha-1 testing zone.[66][67] Image credit: Axiom: Angelcry

The Alpha One map including nodes, dungeons, quest givers, POI, teleporters, and camps will be explorable! Note that this is only a small portion of the world of Verra.[62]

Alpha-1 testing tropical zone featuring a war beast and a tribe of pigmy goblins.[68]

This is a rather large tropical area; and what we use some of the creatures for is kind of like establishing character for different parts of this tropical place. So that even though it's the same biome, it feels different when you are going from place to place based on what's there and how those things are interacting with the environment.[69]Jeffrey Bard

Alpha-1 testing takes place in a zone to the north west of the world map.[70] This zone has many islands and a mainland area.[71]

See also

References

  1. Livestream, 28 May 2021 (1:36:43).
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Livestream, 30 July 2021 (20:30).
  3. March 2020 newsletter.
  4. Video, 23 March 2020 (0:01).
  5. alpha-1-nda-2.png
  6. 6.0 6.1 alpha-1-nda-1.png
  7. steven-a1-testing-start.png
  8. Creative Director's Letter, 1 April 2020.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 Blog: Creative Director's Letter, October 16 2020
  10. Livestream, 26 February 2021 (14:58).
  11. Blog: Creative Director's Letter, January 2021.
  12. 12.00 12.01 12.02 12.03 12.04 12.05 12.06 12.07 12.08 12.09 12.10 12.11 12.12 12.13 12.14 12.15 12.16 Alpha One Schedule Update, May 10 2021.
  13. 13.0 13.1 An Update on Alpha One Schedule, March 12 2021
  14. steven-a1preview-end.png
  15. 15.0 15.1 Ashes of Creation Twitter - Alpha-1 Preview Weekend Begins
  16. alpha-1-end.png
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 release-dates.png
  18. alpha-1-tests.png
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 Livestream, 30 July 2021 (31:22).
  20. Livestream, 28 May 2021 (1:14:50).
  21. steven-combat-revamp-update.png
  22. Video, 26 February 2021 (6:17).
  23. 23.0 23.1 steven-combat-revamp-update-2.png
  24. 24.0 24.1 Livestream, 26 February 2021 (27:41).
  25. Interview, 7 February 2021 (49:18).
  26. Interview, 13 June 2021 (4:12).
  27. 27.0 27.1 Livestream, 28 May 2021 (1:13:05).
  28. Livestream, 27 August 2021 (1:15:39).
  29. 29.0 29.1 29.2 Livestream, 30 April 2021 (4:02).
  30. steven-alpha-1-sales.png
  31. steven-a1-upgrade.png
  32. crowdfunding-packs.png
  33. 33.0 33.1 Newsletter, 7 August 2018
  34. 34.0 34.1 34.2 34.3 34.4 34.5 Ashes of Creation Store: May cosmetics.
  35. 35.0 35.1 35.2 35.3 35.4 Blog: Creative Director's Letter, April 14 2021
  36. 36.0 36.1 36.2 36.3 steven-a1-participation.png
  37. Livestream, 17 August 2018 (24:07).
  38. Video, 28 May 2021 (24:44).
  39. 39.0 39.1 39.2 39.3 39.4 39.5 39.6 39.7 39.8 Video, 30 April 2021 (19:25).
  40. Video, 28 May 2021 (19:04).
  41. 41.0 41.1 41.2 41.3 41.4 Video, 30 April 2021 (13:02).
  42. 42.0 42.1 42.2 42.3 steven-siege-zone.png
  43. 43.0 43.1 43.2 43.3 43.4 43.5 43.6 43.7 43.8 43.9 Livestream, 30 April 2021 (41:18).
  44. 44.0 44.1 Podcast, 11 April 2021 (49:40).
  45. 45.0 45.1 Livestream, 28 May 2021 (1:04:29).
  46. 46.0 46.1 46.2 46.3 46.4 46.5 46.6 46.7 Livestream, 26 March 2021 (42:28).
  47. 47.0 47.1 47.2 47.3 Interview, 7 February 2021 (35:30).
  48. 48.0 48.1 48.2 Livestream, 26 March 2021 (39:08).
  49. 49.00 49.01 49.02 49.03 49.04 49.05 49.06 49.07 49.08 49.09 49.10 49.11 Alpha-1 screenshot.
  50. 50.0 50.1 50.2 50.3 50.4 50.5 50.6 Alpha-1 screenshot.
  51. alpha-1-participation.png
  52. 52.0 52.1 Interview, 19 July 2020 (1:21:49).
  53. alpha-1-phase-2.png
  54. server wipe.jpg
  55. Alpha one test schedule, Mar 12, 2021.
  56. Livestream, 30 November 2020 (7:27).
  57. server-wipes.png
  58. Livestream, 18 January 2018 (49:26).
  59. 59.0 59.1 Livestream, 29 May 2020 (31:37).
  60. toast-nda.png
  61. steven-a1-verbal-nda.png
  62. 62.0 62.1 62.2 Guide to Alpha One.
  63. 63.0 63.1 steven-a1-stress-test.png
  64. Livestream, 26 March 2021 (12:34).
  65. 65.0 65.1 What are the minimum requirements for Alpha?
  66. Alpha-1 screenshot.
  67. toast-a1map.png
  68. 68.0 68.1 Livestream, 30 November 2020 (12:09).
  69. 69.0 69.1 69.2 69.3 69.4 Livestream, 30 November 2020 (22:43).
  70. 70.0 70.1 Livestream, 30 November 2020 (9:51).
  71. 71.0 71.1 alpha-1-map-size.png
  72. Livestream, 26 March 2021 (16:05).
  73. steven-a1-map.png
  74. Podcast, 11 April 2021 (53:01).
  75. Livestream, 30 November 2020 (25:45).
  76. steven-pi-not-alpha-island.png
  77. Livestream, 29 January 2021 (26:38).
  78. Livestream, 16 October 2017 (12:08).
  79. Livestream, 30 November 2020 (24:51).