So, right now our plan is to release a public beta in the end of February on Steam as a free download. There's still some things I need to figure out and check out before that, but hopefully I can stick to that date. It might still change if there's a lot of problems or completely game breaking bugs that I find. I also need to go through the process of making the store page public with Steam.
Why public beta?
One of the reasons is the problem finding play testers. I desperately need a lot more info on the gameplay and I don't have enough active play testers currently to get the game out in a realistic time. I also need to get something published and get a lot more feedback.
I will be looking for your feedback on everything including gameplay, story, and the aesthetics. Of course there’s some things that I might not be able to change at this point anymore, but don’t shy away from giving any feedback.
What will the beta include?
It includes all of the gameplay features and all of the story stuff in place. There's a lot of placeholder models, materials, sounds, and a lot of stuff that will be replaced and improved. Gameplay will be tuned according to feedback. I will change enemy placements, puzzles, and might even remove entire features if they end up having too many problems. The game might change a lot during the beta, and not just visually.
Some features included will only be available through console commands.
Should I wait until the beta is over before playing?
I will probably need all the help I can get to test the game and would appreciate any feedback I can get as early as possible. While it might not be the optimal experience I hope you will check it out and help create some buzz about the game.
Save files may get broken during the beta.
One of the problems with play testing is that I might do small changes to code or the levels that might create problems with your save files. In the code I have tried to make it backwards compatible as possible, but with level design this is a bigger problem. For example, I might need to change the layout of a level to fix problems with gameplay. In your save file you might be standing in a spot where a wall or static prop would appear and you would get stuck. If you do changes to the entities these changes will not be affecting your save files. You will need to restart the level to have gameplay changes take affect.
I will of course try to avoid doing changes that might break save files. During the public beta I will try to restrict updates to specific dates. If I only update on Friday’s for example, you can start playing on Friday hoping to finish the run before the next update comes and not have your save files affected. I will also include a warning to updates that might do that. Still, some updates might be completely necessary to fix big problems.
PC only for now
I don’t own a Mac or Linux computer nor have I ever used them so I am not really familiar with how those operating systems work or what goes into converting the files for them to use. Because of that it might take a bit of time and help from the community to get Mac or Linux versions working.
English and Finnish translations only
At the start I will only have English and Finnish UI (though the basic Valve gameui stuff will be in all the same languages as in HL2). If you are interested in translating the subtitles and HUD for From Earth into another language I will be setting up some kind of page with info on that.