Dirty Bomb In Closed Alpha, Which Is Apparently A Thing

By John Walker on January 30th, 2013 at 7:00 pm.

Splash Damage’s Dirty Bomb has entered the mystic realms of “closed alpha”. Is that a thing? Surely that’s just “development”? Oh, players are getting in. Then that’s beta, isn’t it? Anyway, whatever it might be, it means those who spent $120 on the game before they knew anything about the game are being sent keys to get in (other price tiers will get in this alpha as time goes on). You could too, if you wanted to pay for a game that will be free to play before you’ve read a review when the game’s nowhere near finished. Everything is weird now. Or you could buy it for $320! Wait, is this a Kickstarter thing then? I DON’T UNDERSTAND HOW TO BUY GAMES ANY MORE.

This all means that the day is heralded with a new trailer, and I bloody dare you to watch it.

This is accompanied by something called “Echo”. This tracks every match played by the pre-alpha-post-beta-under-zeta players, letting them spot issues, learn how players are encountering the level, and hopefully ensuring it’s all lovely and good. It does seem a very smart thing to do, in that “Oh good grief, why wasn’t everyone already doing that?” sort of way.

That’s Ed Stern narrating that video. I went to see the Mountain Goats with him once. Corruption.

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70 Comments »

  1. james.hancox says:

    Mountain Goats high five!

    • stupid_mcgee says:

      That’s some pretty good indie cred. One of my best buds got to meet John Hodgman (made infamous from his appearances on The Daily Show) backstage at a Mountain Goats show. He said that Hodgman was a really nice guy and tipped the backstage bartender $20 for making him “the best martini ever.”

      As for me, I’l be seeing Jeff Mangum, of Neutral Milk Hotel fame, this upcoming Monday.

      Yeah, Jeff Mangum. How’s that for some indie cred!? Sorry, I’m a bit excited. :p

  2. Luringen says:

    Still looks like CS with better graphics, super-high accuracy and loads of health.

    • Snargelfargen says:

      Sounds about right. Splash Damage also did Brink and some of the staff worked on Enemy Territory.

      I hope the f2p model doesn’t wreck the gameplay, it’s a fun sub-genre of fps games.

  3. DrAmateurScience says:

    Sounds like Nick Clegg. I are confused.

    • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      Ed Stern is a much nicer person than Nick Clegg. That’s how you can tell them apart.

  4. Koozer says:

    Looks like it plays like a classic FPS, but uses dull as dishwater CoD guns. Where are the laser rifles and exploding plasma launchers? Why would I play this over BF3/Planetside 2 (or even CoD)?

    • tangoliber says:

      Well, those games have boring guns too, but I know what you mean. I would prefer Unreal Tournament weapons or Resistance 3 weapons personally.
      You would play this over the games you mentioned, because it will probably have more satisfying gunplay and class mechanics. BF3 and Planetside are based more around having an immersive and memorable experience…whereas a game like this is meant to feel more like a sport. Or maybe you wouldn’t play this game over those, because it just doesn’t appeal to you.

      • SkittleDiddler says:

        Pardon me, but my PKP Pecheneg is not a boring gun.

        • elmo.dudd says:

          Ah the Pecheneg, I preferred the L86 LSW with either suppressor, or a Thermal Scope and Fore Grip. Such a good feeling gun after the LMG patch.

      • Koozer says:

        The difference is that in something like BF3, sure the guns are all metal sticks that fire smaller bits of metal, but they each have subtle differences in recoil, spread, clip size etc. to account for. In a faster-paced game like this, especially one without ironsights, that stuff is less obvious or important, so everything feels the same without big obvious differences like blue lasers and exploding death-blobs. This is just my opinion anyway after playing the likes of UT, TF2 and Brink compared to the Battlefields and ARMAs.

        • elmo.dudd says:

          Recoil, visible kick, flash profile, damage profile, penetration profile, falloff profile where applicable, tracer presence, equip speed, dequip speed, reload times, mid magazine reload times, ammo feed system, ADS in time, ADS out time, ADS accuracy center speed, sprint recovery time, hip fire recoil, hip fire radius spray, hip movement speed, ADS movement speed, hip fire drift, ADS drift, fire rate, firing profile (does it increase in rate, decrease?), auto burst semi or bolt action – and then how much can you customize the various components.

          Yeah at a glance “projectile propeller 3000″ all look alike, but that is because most combat in games is either striking someone, or launching an object to strike some one. Whether those objects being launched are bullets, lasers, screaming souls of the dead, or clown cars that explode in ketchup and mustard.

          Those numerous factors are why I can pick up an M27 in a game and frown, and then pick up a SCAR-H and be happy with it.

    • Muzman says:

      Bros don’t like sci-fi (unless its Halo or Gears, but their manliness quotient helps them out there)

  5. Putts says:

    Wasn’t Minecraft technically a closed alpha for a year and a half?

  6. maninahat says:

    “It does seem a very smart thing to do, in that “Oh good grief, why wasn’t everyone already doing that?” sort of way.”

    I always assumed that this is what multiplayer game devs all already do. Didn’t Team Fortress 2 spend 8 years doing just that?

  7. Dowr says:

    Echo seems interesting but besides that, the game looks as generic as 90% of Free-to-play and retail shooters; I see no reason to play Dirty Bomb over Counter-Strike or Battlefield or even Tribes.

    • SockDog says:

      Looks only go so far with a shooter unless you’re some victim of marketing budgets, hype a celebrity endorsements. Isn’t the point of the video to say they’re making this game and using player feedback to tune it. How many other developers tune their games over picking a nice generic formula that will appeal to a big market.

    • MasterDex says:

      or even Tribes? I resent that! Tribes is a great game!

      But I know what you’re saying.

  8. DanielBrauer says:

    As much as developers and their employers have muddied the language of software release cycles, alpha and beta testing aren’t required to be public, private, closed or whatever:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Software_release_life_cycle

    • sweetjer says:

      This. I’ve always understood the difference between alpha and beta to be that alpha is not feature complete, regardless of who is allowed into the testing pool. More and more games these days are seeing alphas certified as gold and shipping prior to completion under guise of “soft-release” or founder’s betas.

      • Mark says:

        Alpha and beta are totally arbitrary terms, i’ve gone though alphas that are more complete than betas, betas where the game has changed enormously in the time before gold master and betas that are basically finished versions of the game with 2 weeks of polish left to do. Every company, studio, project has different goals for alpha and beta depending on timescales / how many sociopathic / insane managers you have.

        That being said from an art point of view most alphas tend to be no placeholder or grey box artwork left in but not feature complete – betas often aim for feature complete but not polished. Half the alpha/betas i’ve done don’t meet their goals anyway but still move onto the next stagegate, go figure.

  9. sockpuppetclock says:

    Ahh yes, another military FPS

    • MrLebanon says:

      I know, we need to have a Wal-mart employee FPS… tired of these damned military shooters

  10. Brun says:

    Alphas are the new betas. Betas are the new demos.

    • x1501 says:

      Bugged demos are the new games. Patched demos bundled with $300 worth of DLC skins and season passes—also known as Game of the Year Gold Deluxe Editions—are the new full games. Welcome to the future.

      • DrAmateurScience says:

        It’s an almost tacit acknowledgement that most games could do with another 6-12 months to iron out the wrinkles after they release on whatever date the marketing department tells them to.

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  11. Gap Gen says:

    In alpha, this should more accurately be called Smoky Bomb.

  12. SuperNashwanPower says:

    Hang on. So 5 years ago, this would have been called ‘playtesting’ and companies might have paid you to do it.

    I actually hate games companies at this present moment. Maybe I shouldn’t have read the EA article before coming here.

  13. Scissors says:

    “People didnt like reloading so often, so we increased the clip sizes”

    LOL

    • SuperNashwanPower says:

      Why didnt they just make the damage per bullet higher?

      This has a very Up To 11 feel about it.

      • tangoliber says:

        Because that would lower the time to kill. Enemy Territory games are meant to be able strafe dueling and the player’s ability to track a movement target. It’s not supposed to be a quick kill game.

      • YM says:

        I don’t really understand your logic… to fix the abundance of reloading you can either increase the damage or the clip size, both are correct solutions and it depends only on the game’s playstyle.
        Since this game is kinda going back to original roots of ET which was heavily aim based game (3 headshots or 10 bodyshots to kill an enemy) then increasing damage would make DB more like those CoD shooters where you need just three shots to the knee to kill an opponent. In that way I’m really glad that they increased the clip capacity rather than inclining to another spray&pray kind of a shooter.

    • x1501 says:

      Technological progress! Remember the Dark Ages of FPS gaming when you would lose any remaining bullets in a discarded clip or magazine, so you had to keep track of the shots fired, the HUD and whatnot? The horror…

      • Shooop says:

        Pah, you didn’t live back in my day! Back then there weren’t even magazines for weapons! A number in the HUD just counted down how many bullets we had left in our chainguns!

        • x1501 says:

          Ah, yes, the mythical prehistoric time of blue keycards, three lives, and non-regenerating health. I’ve heard about it in legends, but I’m rather doubtful that it ever existed at all.

          • Phantoon says:

            URRRRRRRRRRRGH!

            REGENERATING HEALTH BAD!

            INVINCIBILITY POWERUP GOOD!

            FIRE BAD!

            RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH!

  14. Shooop says:

    Echo is a nice idea if it isn’t abused, but is there a game worth playing because of it?

    And instead of increasing weapon damage they made the magazine sizes bigger?

    I’m not even going to touch the incredibly dumb pre-order/help us fund this nonsense. I need a few drinks first.

    • elmo.dudd says:

      Higher damage ups the time to kill, which decreases the time to react, which increases the significance of positioning and catching someone, which increases the prevalence of camping as well as the impact of connection differences. They want to maintain their time to kill to preserve the balance they have in all of those factors while avoiding the sense of gameplay interruption player’s experience when they reload.

  15. Snargelfargen says:

    Legendary $120
    Elite $60
    Veteran $30

    Ha. This is classic good/better/best. Basically they’re trying to get customers paying standard pre-order price ($60) for a F2P game.

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      And here I thought EA and Activision charging $70-$90 for their Ultradeluxe editions was a travesty. Christ, at least those come with art books and shitty plastic statuettes.

  16. TwwIX says:

    lol I can’t believe that they have the nerve to ask people to pay money to access their games after BRINK.
    If anything, they should be giving priority access to anybody who purchased that buggy and poorly executed piece of shit of a Enemy Territory clone.

    • Nick says:

      Yeah, as someone who bought Brink I’d just like to say: go fuck yourselves Splash Damage.

      • Snargelfargen says:

        I really enjoyed Brink for the first couple of months actually. It’s also the only game for which I’ve intentionally gotten drunk to play though. I’m not sure what that says about Brink or myself.

      • SockDog says:

        It’s this quality feedback that I’m sure they’re looking for.

    • MasterDex says:

      I can’t believe the nerve of some people! A developer asks for money for the game they’re releasing under a F2P model and people complain.

      You’re right. They should be making this game and releasing it to the public and asking for nothing. Hell, you’re totally entitled to it for buying Brink, right?! -_-

  17. Grey_Ghost says:

    Mechwarrior Online may have suckered me in with those prices, because well… it was Mechwarrior. However I don’t know this sh#t from shinola, so no thanks.

  18. Mirqy says:

    Wait, this is a game you say, and not a documentary about my morning commute?

  19. biz says:

    are you all new to gaming or something?

    increased clip sizes = more like quake = less like crap
    more bullets to kill people = less random death = more skill & strategy-baed gameplay

    this doesn’t even sound anything like CS / CoD… if anything it looks like an enemy territory clone in this decade instead of WW2

    the odd thing is that analytics depends on collecting as much data as possible. restricting alpha access with a pricetag won’t help that situation

    • FakeAssName says:

      Hush now, a former ID subcontractor making a game that plays like Quake and is mostly a refinement on their own “ET” formula now that they have cut themselves free form working on someone else’s IP / a publisher biased towards consoles and can do what is right for the mechanics insted of what is required of an IP / scaled to the lowest common denominator (typically xbox).

      … there is too much logic for this thread.

  20. Engonge says:

    When I think of enemy territory,I see a medic jumping around with a needle reviving people.

  21. Spider Jerusalem says:

    i find the first 13 seconds of that video to be completely hilarious given this game is made by the people who “gave” us brink, an unbalanced, bug-ridden game that turned my ati-powered screen into graph paper.

    fuck off.

  22. SockDog says:

    Few points but first let me admit to following SD for years, I’m also in the Alpha so there is your disclosure. For the record I was mightily disappointed with Brink so please don’t label me as some developer fanboy out on a mission. I’m just trying to bring some perspective to points raised in the comments.

    Brink. Was, undeniably, a let down. Thing is did SD learn from it?
    - Brink was multi-platform which led to confused priorities and terrible compromises. DB is PC only.
    - Brink had virtually zero user input, no beta testing. DB is starting early with players testing and giving feedback and data.
    - Brink was published and funded by Bethesda, they influenced the design, goals and shedule. Sure SD still baked the cake but you know what they say about too many cooks. DB is developed, published and supported by SD owned companies.

    Buying a F2P game.
    - You’re paying for early access and some goodies (physical and digital). If that sounds a bit much then you’re free to take part in a presumably open beta or the full game when it launches. It’s a choice and one that allows those of you who want to get access, to have it, rather than doing some silly mail sign up and having people trade off and sell keys they’ve won.
    - The money also supports the developer in the same way a Kickstarter has higher tiers. The game may be F2P but it’s not free to make. A gamble on the part of a gamer but is it any more of a gamble than paying $200 for a signed poster and a copy of a $10 game from a Kickstarter?

    Looking Generic. Not sure what the beef is here.
    - On a smaller scale it’s set in London. Aren’t most generic shooters set in US cities, the Middle East or a Jungle?
    - Yes it has people with guns shooting other people with guns. Guess all of you people are playing Dino-D-Day exclusively because it’s original (Dinos only of course).
    - Isn’t gameplay important any more and don’t people reserve judgement based on how things play? You may find the look uninspiring but to extrapolate that into the game isn’t worth a second look is doing yourself a disservice.

    Echo BTW looks awesome. I hope gamers get access to that tool in some form, that’s certainly something you don’t see every day. I can also see streamers loving all those overlays and stats being at their fingertips.

    /end rant

    • Shooop says:

      Comon’ you gotta admit asking that much for a game that’s going to be F2P is almost comical.

      Echo however does look interesting. I’d be nice if megaton publishers like EA used their resources to make something like that instead – something that can improve players’ experiences over time.

      • wild_quinine says:

        Comon’ you gotta admit asking that much for a game that’s going to be F2P is almost comical.

        Not really. I just paid it.

        I wouldn’t pay for just any F2P game, but Splash Damage have got form. Brink never really captured me at all, but Quake Wars remains my single favourite multiplayer game of all time. I’m not even that interested in playing it early. Just wanted to throw some money that direction, do my part to make sure it actually happens.

  23. Cross says:

    Couldn’t they please come up with a different title? I keep seeing this game, which is a spiritual sequel to Brink, which i rather enjoyed, and all i can think is “Dirty Bum, derp.”
    Someone kill me.

  24. SelfEsteemFund says:

    Why do all these modern shooters have weapons that take up a huge portion of the screen & are constantly bobbing? Not only does it make the game look fucking awful but its one of the main causes of simulation sickness.

    • San Pedro says:

      You can always just turn off draw gun, which was possible in both Enemy Territory and Quake Wars. That’s what I’ve done since Quake 2.

  25. SkittleDiddler says:

    At least Bethesda’s not gonna have their dirty greasy little hands all over this one.

  26. Mekhazzio says:

    Say what you will about Brink, at least it had a unique style and tried out some new gameplay bits and bobs. This thing, on the other hand, just looks utterly generic. The PC world is already littered with the corpses of multiplayer shooters that can’t maintain critical mass on their player base, so I don’t see why they’d expect to do any better than their last attempt when this one has no personality at all.

    I should be their ideal customer: I bought Brink on release day and really enjoyed it, and still try to fire it up now and then, even though the multiplayer is deader than dead. Despite that, I have zero interest in Blandy McBland here and it sure doesn’t look like they’re targeting the ET crowd, either. This whole project is a bit confusing.

  27. plugmonkey says:

    “Splash Damage’s Dirty Bomb has entered the mystic realms of “closed alpha”. Is that a thing? Surely that’s just “development”? Oh, players are getting in. Then that’s beta, isn’t it?”

    Do people seriously not know this? Do games journalists seriously not know this?

    The definitions vary from studio to studio, but Alpha, traditionally, is ‘feature complete’. Everything you plan to be in the game is in the game, but you’re still seeing if it all works as you planned, so some of those features may be cut and replaced with something else. It’s a step beyond “First Playable”.

    Beta is your first shippable candidate. From here, the feature set is (or should be!) locked, and you’re only bug fixing, balancing and polishing what’s there.

    You can test at either stage. Players getting in isn’t the definition of Beta, it’s just historically that’s when most testing has been done. These days, gamers are becoming far more tolerant of, and even keen to be, playing heavily bugged early versions of things, so you’re getting more Alpha testing done. This is great for devs. It’s never too early to test.

    An “Open” test means anyone can download it and play it. A “Closed” test means it’s essentially by invitation only. You can apply to be a tester, but you might not get in.

    So, a Closed Alpha is simply an ‘invitation only’ test of an early, feature complete version of the game.

  28. El_MUERkO says:

    I bought Brink so I have no interest in this.

  29. San Pedro says:

    I’m actually looking forward to this. ET and ET:QW are still my favorite games.