Development Builds allude to varying builds of the the game that are used by the developers or a limited number of members for testing and quality assurance. There are three major distinctions between various versions or "builds" of the game during any given development cycle if and when actively in progress: alpha (0.0.X), beta (0.X.X) and final (X.X.X).
Alpha and Beta builds are unavailable to the public, only being distributed to specific and closed groups of people.
These are extremely early versions of the game that will only ever be played and tested by the developers themselves. These tend to be unpolished and generally unplayable; these exist to test things like landscapes and environments, as well as some under-the-hood things that normally can't be observed as thoroughly by the player: graphical interface tests that ensure code/script behaves correctly when a button is clicked, virtual terrain/texture checks and animation checks, etc.
Naturally, this makes it a bit of a slow process as the team implements code or script, then play the game in the Unity developer kit and observe how that code or script works; if it does not do what is intended, further work will likely be dealt to ensure that the desired behavior is both met and functioning correctly before moving on to the next script or code or whatever else is to be implemented/focused on next.
It should be noted that there are many more alpha versions than there are beta versions as each feature will affect one aspect of the game or another, which can render code/script broken or make the game unplayable. When the developers have reached a point where the game is both playable and has desired aspects implemented, such as missions, hunting, etc, it is officially dubbed as being a beta build.
Once the development team are content with having a playable variant of the game running, it's the beta testers' turn along with some (if not most or all) of the developers to check that features, scripts/code are all functioning and working correctly through solid play-testing by way of thorough gameplay, from start to finish, before the game is publicly released.
At this point, most playable aspects of the game are at least partially, if not fully implemented.
The role of a Beta Tester is to find anything that isn't working correctly: AI, NPCs and all other game-related behaviors such as scripts/code and more in the technical perspective. Findings will then be forwarded to the developers in addition to reporting any major and minor bugs and glitches observed during gameplay and testing. These are fixed and a new version is made available for further testing, which repeats the same cycle as new things are reported and corrected. Communication with the developers is vital during this process!
This cycle is ongoing and will continue until no further issues are found, development time expires or until funding resources have run out. Whichever scenario occurs first logically determines the conclusion of the beta builds, leading up to the public release... but this should be taken as a grain of salt unless otherwise confirmed by a member of the team.
By the time a final build is released, all features will have been fully implemented if they were not already available during the later beta phases, with most if not all beta elements finalized and ready for public viewing. Any available cheats or exploits that benefit the testers will also have been removed by this point. Once the team is content, this build will be packaged into an installer along with its documentation before finally being announced and launched to the public audience.
Most, if not all things relating to the user interface, the heads-up display and other such elements that may appear differently during alpha or beta stage or use default assets that may not be desired by the developer by the time the game is nearing release will have been replaced and polished. Though this version name implies a complete build, this is not strictly true as the team may opt to push out an update if there are any major or game-breaking issues found and reported.
- Not all issues are resolved when a public build goes live, either due to technical conflicts that did not surface on the developers' or testers' devices, or simply because an issue could not be reproduced reliably enough for the developers to fix.
- Not all planned features make it into the game; a popular example of this would be a sheep ranch to provide prey, though this plan was changed to be more consistent with the area - the concept was reused in the form of a cattle ranch.
- In the past, new updates were uploaded to the WolfQuest website and an announcement would be made; since there was no auto-update function, users running older versions of the game would have to check the website for updates and manually download the new installer. For version 2.7 and newer, provided the team have funding to support it, the game will automatically update once a new version has been detected.
- ↑ wolfquest.org • Slough Creek Questions and Answers, by WQ Coordinator/Cana
- ↑ wolfquest.org • Slough Creek Questions and Answers by WQ Coordinator/Cana
- ↑ wolfquest.org • [WolfQuest FAQ] How are WolfQuest episodes tested before they're released?
- ↑ Cattle Ranch#References
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