We hope you're as excited as we are about the upcoming alpha testing phase for PuffPals: Island Skies!
We're happy to announce that the first Island Skies alpha testing phase will begin on October 31st!
This date is later than planned, but we couldn't be more excited (and nervous!) to welcome you into the first test!
Many of you have probably been in our shoes before. Sometimes, what we planned as the final step turned out to be just another chapter in the journey. It's all part of the creative process, and we appreciate your patience and understanding.
Alpha isn't a finished product. It's a crucial phase where you will test features in progress and we'll collect your feedback and use it to improve the game. As we've mentioned, Alpha is a chance to be a part of the game's development journey. It won't be all glitter and party hats; it's about rolling up your sleeves, exploring the unfinished parts, and helping us shape the game into something truly magical.
Why it’s later than we Expected
Typically, we'd be all for getting your feedback as early as possible, even if things are rough around the edges. But here's the twist – the FTUE (First Time User Experience) isn't yet in line with our vision. Because it's such a critical part of the first test (it's the main thing we're hoping to get feedback on), we've decided to do one more revision. The version you test needs to start off in the direction of our overall vision to ensure the feedback we receive is as relevant as possible.
Therefore, we'll use this time to revise how we introduce the world and mechanics to the game.
We initially planned for three major iterations. The first was all about rough content, pushing every button to test systems, and while we learned a lot, it wasn't quite hitting the mark. The second aimed for an open-world experience with some guidance but lacked a compelling narrative thread and didn't introduce the world properly. The third iteration introduced more narrative structure but felt too constrictive and didn't offer the freedom and exploration we aspire to provide.
Here's the plan: we're making one more revision to the FTUE before our first Alpha test. Our goal is to enhance player freedom and the early exploration experience while retaining crucial narrative elements that give context and purpose to your journey.
We estimate that these changes will take about one month. We've been through multiple revisions of this scale on this feature, so we're confident about the steps ahead.
⏰ Revised Timeline:
Our estimated timeline for these changes is as follows:
- 2 weeks for design changes (in progress and going well!)
- 1 week for implementation
- 2 week QA freeze*
- 1 week buffer
We originally planned several rounds of FTUE revisions after the first Alpha test, so from a production perspective, this is consistent with our plan. We're committed to continually refining the FTUE as we add new features. The version of the FTUE in the first Alpha test won't be final, but it will align more closely with our vision for the game.
Looking ahead, we're excited to share more specific game design updates once you've gotten a chance to experience the test. We want you to enter the game with fresh eyes. But once you're in, we want to dive into more details together!
*P.S. A QA freeze is a halt to major content and feature changes to focus on bug fixes and enhancing the user experience. We plan to have QA freezes before significant updates. This will give us more certainty about release dates, especially as we introduce more features and move towards early access. (This also helps reduce the number of floating carrots and unintentional giant PuffPals roaming around our islands…)
Unity Policy Changes
As most of you know, we are building Island Skies with Unity. As game developers, we were disappointed by their recently announced policy changes. However, we don't expect they will significantly impact the project and did not affect the timing of the first alpha testing period.
Together on This Journey
As we've mentioned before, during Alpha you'll be testing a very limited set of features and providing critical feedback that will help us improve the game. While this isn't the final product, it's a vital step in our journey, and your input will help shape the game's development.
We appreciate your understanding and support as we work to deliver an exceptional gaming experience. We're excited to embark on this journey with you and can't wait to share more updates as we get closer to October 31st.
⭐ For more development updates, check out our blog here.
Fluff and Love,