New alpha opening

Hey everyone!

With the new network layer working, the time has finally come for another opening in the current alpha. It’s been one and a half years now since the start of the alpha, and a lot of things have changed since then:

  • The alpha provided some useful real-world experience of how the server responds to a number of players being connected at the same time. I initially only scheduled the server to run on weekends, but as the server ran better than expected, I switched the server to run 24/7.
  • The alpha testers have found and reported more than 100 issues, and a lot of them have been fixed already. There are still a bunch of issues remaining, but with the network layer rewrite functionally complete and other rewrites planned, the project is moving closer to fixing them.
  • The work on the MLN server has helped to both get a revival of a related game going, and to get some insight in how to design the rewrites needed to address the most problematic bugs found during the alpha.
  • The first of the rewrites has now completed the minimum viable implementation, and work is under way to make the new network layer work entirely under the hood.

The rewrite of the network layer has at the same time removed a large blocker for a new alpha opening, and introduced a new component that would benefit a lot from real-world testing. Testers have previously experienced connection issues that would result in their connection getting dropped, especially during world loads. The network layer rewrite attempts to fix that, but connection issues are notorious for only happening to some specific users in specific situations, so having more testers would help in making sure the issue is resolved.

A new opening in the alpha is also a good opportunity to keep testing active, as the activity naturally slows down a bit over time.

With these factors coming together, it’s time for a new opening up the alpha to new testers. The server development is still very much focused on bug fixing and getting the parts that are implemented to work like in the original. This is my top priority because there’s not much point to features if they don’t work right. That’s why this new stage doesn’t mark the introduction of new features to the server. However, there has been progress in server development since the initial alpha release, which is why we’ve decided to launch a new stage. To avoid misunderstandings, we’ve chosen to call it “opening in the current alpha”, as opposed to “new alpha”, and we’ll be using the latter only for releases with new features.

With all that out of the way, it’s time for the specifics of the new opening. We’ve chosen to keep much of the process we used for the initial alpha, as it’s worked quite well.

  • The new alpha opening will start on April 26th. On this day the new testers will be able to join the server and play.
  • There will be 20 tester slots available for this opening. Twenty new people will double the count of testers with access to the server.
  • People wishing to be testers will need to apply to the alpha with a short description of why they want to be a tester. This system will help to ensure that the selected are dedicated, and will discourage duplicate/spam submissions.
  • If you had applied to the initial alpha, you will be counted automatically, without having to resubmit an application. Don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten about you.
  • Those eligible to be selected (having written a valid application for any alpha opening) will be selected randomly by a computer. This will ensure that everyone has equal chances of getting in.
  • The period in which you can submit an application starts now, and ends two weeks from now, on April 9th.
  • We’ll be looking through the applications the week after that, and announce the results on April 16th. The selected testers will receive a mail with instructions and will be able to access the alpha tester channel on the project discord.
  • Finally, on April 26th, the selected testers will be able to join the server and play.

We’ve written up some more detailed explanations in our Alpha FAQ. If you want to apply for this alpha opening, click the link below.

Apply for Alpha

It’s been one and a half years now since the initial alpha opening, and I’m glad we’re now finally at the point where we can let more people play. The server still has ways to go until it will be complete, but it’s slowly and steadily progressing, and I’m confident we’ll get there one day. With the new alpha opening, we’re a step further along.

See you all in-game!

– lcdr

Written on March 26, 2019