So the alpha is coming out soon, and that's a good thing. I'm almost trembling with anticipation honestly, but there is one problem.
Presumably, Stardock is releasing the alpha to the public so the really dedicated/gullible Galactic Civilizations fans such as myself can tear the game to shreds and point out its every flaw in minute detail and suggest improvements. This will produce, ultimately, a damn fine game if I have anything to say about it (which I do, and I'll be complaining loudly, believe-you me!). This is a great idea, and I'm glad Stardock is pursuing this avenue.
The problem creeps in here; the alpha, strictly speaking, isn't being released for the alpha tester's sake, and it's not supposed to be "good" or "fun" in the traditional sense. It should be a soul-crushing and harrowing experience for everyone involved, and it should be considered a "job" in the sense that we are loosely obligated to help the developers with feedback. To this end, the alpha testers need to be given the tools to examine and properly investigate various mechanics without fiddling around and playing the game to get a convoluted situation in order to test.
I would propose that the alpha release have an integrated development console for inputting various commands and executions. This could do many things;
- Enable you to spawn stars, planets, anomalies and other stellar objects.
- Spawn ships, and assign them to the desired teams.
- Build planetary improvements instantly and in unlimited numbers.
- Research specific technologies or all of them simultaneously.
And there would also more technical things you could do for those slightly more knowledgeable;
- Display FPS
- Display file paths for selected items or sequences of items
- Read code lines applicable to whatever you have selected
- Other things a tech illiterate such as myself couldn't hope to understand
I feel having this dev console available would allow us to give us better feedback and enable us who are testing the game early to make really good recommendations beyond what we could do before without more extraordinary effort. Any thoughts on this idea?