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awera
11-28-2011, 04:59 AM
Here's some suggestions that I hope the game's designer(s) will consider. (Note that I've used underlining for emphasis at a couple of points, so those are not clickable links :).)

-Treat races and factions seperately:

Usually in space games, "one faction equals one race". However, consider separating these two concepts so that members of a specific race can exist in other factions too. In practice:

-Ship crews (and maybe even planets) could have members from multiple races. Each included race would add their own racial bonus to the mix, and the more members of the same race, the more powerful their specific racial bonus would be. For example, a single member of the "builder" race in a ship's crew gives +1 to ship repair speed, and two members would increase that bonus to +4.

-At the beginning, races and factions would pretty much "equal one to one" (unless the game could start with multi-race coalitions like Star Trek's United Federation of Planets :) ), but later in the game, members of a specific race could end up from one faction to another via hiring, voluntary migration, conquest etc.

-The player could choose his own race, and receive its racial bonuses.

-Roles:

Before starting the game, the player could choose his "role" that would determine the victory conditions for the game. These could include (and it's easy for anyone to think more of these):

-The Mercenary: The role that the game's designer(s) originally thought up, so the player makes profit and sides with whomever he wants. The question here is how does the player actually win or lose, especially if he's constantly allowed to switch sides to the most powerful faction? Possible suggestions would be:

-You're competing with other AI-controlled mercenaries, earning victory points (that are combination of your lifetime wealth, equipment, kills etc.) and when the game ends, these will be compared with other mercenaries' lifetime victory points and the one with most wins. AI-mercs couldn't die permanently, unless a "hardcore" mode is active, where everybody (including the player) who dies stays dead.

-Your ability to switch sides is somehow limited with rules. For example, that you can only join a weaker faction that you are currently in. Or that there's a monetary cost to join that increases with the faction's "powerfulness". Or a time limit after which switching sides isn't allowed anymore.

-The Chosen Of Your Faction: This role would be the "natural" choice for these kinds of games. In short, you first choose what faction you want to belong to for the rest of the game, and then you do whatever it takes to ensure victory for your faction. If your faction is eliminated, you lose. (And you can't switch sides after the initial choice.)

-Peacekeeper: In this role, you don't belong to a faction. Instead, you have to prevent the other factions from eliminating each other, thus safeguarding the balance of the galaxy. You win automatically after a predetermined amount of game time (years) has passed, but lose if a certain number of factions are eliminated (in harder difficulty levels, that might be just one or two). In practice, the player's activities might be something like: broker peace treaties, alleviate tensions and when a war breaks out, fight for the weaker side, so that no faction can gain upper hand.

-Alternative victory condition might be to get all the factions, one after another, to sign a "tranquility"-treaty which says: "This faction will never declare war on another" (so such a faction can still fight defensive wars, but doesn't start new ones). This would enable a kind of a "peaceful" victory alternative that are popular in space strategy games.



-Ships:

-Computer-controlled ships should be equipped with crew and components just like the player's ship, so they shoot with whatever weapons they have equipped. When they're destroyed, they drop (randomly) only stuff that they had equipped or in storage. (This way we'd get past the illogical mentality of RPGs, where a killed rat can drop a 2-handed-sword etc.)

-Consider dividing ships into front, sides and aft-sections, so that each has its independent slots and shield/armor/internal "integrity", and damage is applied to whatever section is actually fired on with a weapon. To damage engines, shoot at the "backside" of enemies, shoot weapon-containing section to damage/destroy that weapon etc.

-Consider semi-real-physics mode, so that a ship can travel into one direction and face the other (the old game "Asteroids" is an example of this), and shots fired hit whatever they happen to collide with instead of letting "accuracy" and "evasion"-stats determine hits and misses. That would steer the game away from what I call stat-vs-stat combat (where victory is just a matter of better stats and the occasional use of activated abilities), more into the realm where the player's own skills of maneuvering and aiming makes a difference.

-An example of a spaceship RPG using a total stat-vs-stat combat system is Warpfire (the link is http://www.warpfire.com). (Drox sounds a lot like it in several aspects, minus the Master Of Orion part.) Check out the game, and pay attention to how battles play out just like in your typical run-of-the-mill RPG: stats and activations determine everything, and the projectiles will home in on you no matter how much you try to move around to avoid them. I consider Warpfire's combat system a very ominous example of what Drox's combat might become if the designer(s) go down the "keep it simple"-path. It's my belief that moving your ship around to avoid getting shot, having to aim towards the enemy to shoot at them, and having ships (at least large ones) with "damageable" sections is a lot more fun than simple click'n'kill mechanics.

-Of course, the safest bet would be to implement both "simplified" and "realistic" combat setting and let the player choose before staring the game, which one he wants to use. Otherwise, the game designer(s) will have to decide between the two, or something in between. Click'n'kill has been done a million times before, so I for one would favor a different, more intellectually and tactically engaging approach.


-Rewarding the player:

-Quests (or "missions") should have a scaled rewarding system, meaning that the better the player performs it, the larger reward he gets. For example, the faster the player scouts an unknown system, the larger the reward. Or when protecting a cargo ship, the less damage the cargo ship takes, the bigger the reward.

-Harder difficulty levels should give increasingly better rewards, and difficulty perks like "hardcore mode" should have some kind of practical, tangible bonus attached to them. Nobody wants to handicap his game or play against 10 levels more stronger enemies if it's worth nothing more than "worthless" score modifiers. It's a lot more motivating to play on harder settings if the player is rewarded accordingly for his trouble. (Of course, rewarding too much can make it "too" easy, so it has to be a careful balance...)

-One way of giving rewards might be "reward points". These points could be earned, and then converted into money, XP, stat/skill-points, crew/equipment upgrades, etc.


-Other ideas:

-Player could donate money to speed up construction/research projects.

-Tradeable goods should always have some practical in-game use for either the player or the planets or both (for example, medicine could "heal" crew members and increase growth rates on planets, so there'd be no "useless" trade goods like "exotic pets" etc.).

-Make the game "resolution independent", so that people with high-res 2560x1600 monitors don't get an advantage by seeing more of their surroundings than people with 800x600. This can probably be achieved easily with a zoomable playfield.


-System requirements:

-Keep the requirements (mhz, ram, 3d card, screen resolutions etc.) at the level of your previous games. They work well even on older computers (even with my 256MB ram & Nvidia Geforce 2!), so it means that much more potential players and customers and $ale$ for the game!


-Keep it in the oven:

-Good games take time to create, even if enthusiastic gamers want to play them "right now" :). The last thing I'd want to see would be Drox thrown to the public half-baked just because some "deadline had to be met". I hope that you wouldn't make the game simplistic because of time restraints. Instead, keep it in the oven and let it fulfill those big ambitions that you and other people have about it. If you release alphas or betas, don't let them act as a restriction for big changes in the future releases (in the vein of "since the gameplay was like this in the beta, then it has to be like that for the rest of the time").

-If you are able to, let the players themselves decide by giving them different options: for example, let them try "mouse-click" movement, and let them try "arrow-keys" movement with up=thrust and left-right=turn. If you can't include both in the final game (as a choosable option, though the game Starfleet Command even managed to include both at the same time), then ask players to test them and give their opinion about which one they think is better. Making several different options takes more time, but at the same time it makes the "maximum" amount of players happy.

DeathKnight1728
11-28-2011, 12:20 PM
Those are some great ideas friend, Welcome to the forums. Quite a few of those things you listed are already in the game i believe, which is good.

gornova
11-29-2011, 04:20 AM
Great suggestions! I like this kind of discussions!

-Treat races and factions seperately:

I love this idea, in particular AI as factions and not only as races. However, I think this options could be for intermediate and advanced players only, because new players can be confused from this.
Think about creating a factions with Borg, Humans and Aliens.. strange, no ? So better at first 3 factions, one for races, so player can meet all of them and then.. go for "strange" factions!

-Roles:

I like the idea! In particular pacekeeper, really good (and difficult!).

-Ships:

Simplified and realistic approach can change way player play game... I don't know what I prefer. If a game can go for hours, Simplified is best approach, but for fast-limited-boss-battle, I like realistic approach.

-Rewarding the player:

System you propose remind me Thief series one, here a post-mortem about this part:

"We were particularly struck by the manner in which levels of difficulty were handled. Each level of difficulty had a different overlapping set of objectives for success, and missions were subtly changed at each level in terms of object placement and density. Relatively late in the development of Thief, we decided such a system would work well in our game. Extending the concept, we added a notion that as difficulty increased, the level of toleration of murder of human beings decreased. We also allowed players to change their difficulty level at the beginning of each mission. The system was a success in two ways. First, it made clear to the player exactly what "difficulty" meant. Second, it allowed the designers to create a very different experience at each level of difficulty, without changing the overall geometry and structure of a mission. This gave the game a high degree of replayability at a minimum development cost. "
Reference (http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/3355/postmortem_thief_the_dark_project.php?print=1)

This is a genius approach, but require so much time to balance it :( Something that Drox-like (there is something like Drox out there?) can do is, when player choose a mission, see benefits of doing it at different difficulties (fast, more kills, no kills, and so on), so player can be aware of consequences?

-Other ideas:

- Speed up research/build project of a race/faction? Like in Master of Orion 2 ?
- Tradeable goods: this is a point I'm not understanding right now about Drox (Shadow, can you explain it?): player must do economic like in Elite or X series, or not?

-Keep it in the oven:

I agree on all you have written :D

Shadow
11-29-2011, 11:46 AM
You can always switch to working for a different race, however the win conditions are related to how much they like you. So you can try to switch to the new most powerful race but that doesn't mean they don't hate you still.

Right now tradable goods are not like Elite. In Elite you trade goods to simply make a profit. In Drox goods are used in quests (ex. they need a certain good to quell a firestorm).

Bluddy
11-29-2011, 12:58 PM
As of right now (ie. not having seen the game of course) I'm really glad Shadow has avoided going down the traded goods path. It's very tedious and I think was adopted by many space games just because it was easy to do.

Regarding the more 'realistic' fighting method mentioned by the OP, I'd rather just call that the action-oriented approach. SPAZ uses that, and I think it's very limiting. ARPGs aren't exactly the most thought-intensive games, but by relying on stats for attack and defense rather than quick reflexes, they offload some of the action and allow you to think a little deeper about what strategy/items you want to use.

awera
12-01-2011, 04:27 AM
Thanks for the answers, everybody :)!

To issue the simplistic vs realistic battles affair, combat with more complex mechanics would indeed probably slow down the pace of the battles, since defeating your enemies would be a more challenging affair than just clicking'n'holding :). I believe it would move the game away from "quantity"-based battles (lot of "easy" enemies and not much thinking required) more towards "quality"-based battles (fewer enemies but more tactical thinking required). The "realism"-part in itself can be seperated into 3 parts, which in their most "realistic" form could be:

-Movement: With turning and acceleration speeds, inertia and perhaps keyboard-controlled thrusting&turning (though it's possible to make it work with the mouse as well)
-Projectiles: Shots fly where they're aimed, with missiles and such having some homing capability.
-Ship detail: Shield arcs, separate sections with their components, even weapon arcs.

Ideally, these all could be toggled separately before starting the game, so all could be turned "on", "off", or some on and some off. ("Off" meaning that simple mechanics would be used in that part, so all three off would mean click'n'go movement with purely stat-based shooting with "one-piece" ships.) The beauty with such a system is that it fulfills "every" player's wishes, though it does add extra game development work.

Gornova mentioned Thief-like quest system. With the scaled rewarding system I proposed, I didn't mean it to change the quest objectives according to difficulty level, but to simply change the amount of rewards given based on how "well" the player succeeded in the quest. So that a quest could say: "Escort 10 cargo ships to planet X. You'll get 50$ reward per arrived cargo ship. And If you get them all there in perfect health, you'll get a 1000$ bonus." (Of course, higher difficulty level should increase the reward amounts, but not (necessarily) introduce new quest objectives.)

I agree with the opinion that trading shouldn't be forced on the player the way many space games do. Though I'm for the idea of transporting goods "to make something happen" in the game world.

One thing that I'd like to ask Shadow is how much does all this discussion and "suggestioning" actually affect the end-result? The forums are full of people voicing their ideas, so are you building any kind of "wishlist" of what people want? What are the chances of a single idea making it into the game? Do they increase if a lot of people agree with it?

The ultimate way, of course, would be to make a list of all the suggestions, and let people vote them, and give priority to the top ones. Not a small task, of course, but to my understanding, the creator of the Space Empires-series has this kind of system. Also, another approach might be to make an expansion pack (or "expansion-patches") after the initial release that would include player-suggested features. But, back to the point, I'm just wondering, after spending a lot of time writing this stuff, whether it actually makes a real difference?

Shadow
12-01-2011, 09:38 AM
One thing that I'd like to ask Shadow is how much does all this discussion and "suggestioning" actually affect the end-result? The forums are full of people voicing their ideas, so are you building any kind of "wishlist" of what people want? What are the chances of a single idea making it into the game? Do they increase if a lot of people agree with it?

I implement suggestions from the forums pretty often but it really depends on the specific suggestion. There are a lot of things I need to take into account: is the idea good in the first place, what are the side effects of the change, how long will it take to implement, does it enhance, compete, or mess up the core gameplay, and how does it change the UI?

awera
12-06-2011, 02:33 AM
Hmm, it sounds like adding features is the more easier the earlier they're done in the development cycle. People like myself who are excited about the game obviously want it to have tons of great features, but I suppose that in the end, reality does set some limits to what can be feasibly done.

In any case, I believe that Drox will be an enjoyable experience and sell well even if a lot of player-suggested content couldn't make it into the game. "Action-RPG meets MOO" is something that pretty much hasn't been done before, so that alone makes the game a significant "player" in the field.

Roswitha
12-06-2011, 02:08 PM
Regarding the more 'realistic' fighting method mentioned by the OP, I'd rather just call that the action-oriented approach. SPAZ uses that, and I think it's very limiting. ARPGs aren't exactly the most thought-intensive games, but by relying on stats for attack and defense rather than quick reflexes, they offload some of the action and allow you to think a little deeper about what strategy/items you want to use.

I would also note that the more 'realistic' fighting method limits the customer base somewhat. Not everybody HAS quick reflexes.
The old DOS-based Star Wars: Rebel Assault game did rely on quick reflexes and actual accuracy; and while it did help you feel like a pilot, it took intense concentration and lot of repetition to make it through each section. Not really something you could kick back with after work. (At least, I couldn't. :) )

Bluddy
12-06-2011, 02:28 PM
I would also note that the more 'realistic' fighting method limits the customer base somewhat. Not everybody HAS quick reflexes.
The old DOS-based Star Wars: Rebel Assault game did rely on quick reflexes and actual accuracy; and while it did help you feel like a pilot, it took intense concentration and lot of repetition to make it through each section. Not really something you could kick back with after work. (At least, I couldn't. :) )

Right. Additionally, reflex based systems have a big problem when it comes to giving a sense of progression. Someone with really good reflexes can beat the entire game with the most basic of attacks, so he/she never needs to upgrade. After upgrading, a good reflex based player becomes too powerful for the game. To balance this out, upgrades have to be toned down. The result is often a game with very few actual upgrades, or a huge disparity based only on reflexes.

Amberjoy
12-06-2011, 04:53 PM
I would also note that the more 'realistic' fighting method limits the customer base somewhat. Not everybody HAS quick reflexes.
The old DOS-based Star Wars: Rebel Assault game did rely on quick reflexes and actual accuracy; and while it did help you feel like a pilot, it took intense concentration and lot of repetition to make it through each section. Not really something you could kick back with after work. (At least, I couldn't. :) )

I, too, don't have quick reflexes anymore. Mind or body! :) ..or should that be :( ? Intense concentration also raises my blood pressure which my doctor has said is a no no. I can only play Din's Curse a half hour at a time even though I want to play more. It's hard keeping track of incoming messages, baddies and other stuff going on at the same time, I don't know what to look at first!

Bluddy
12-06-2011, 05:00 PM
I, too, don't have quick reflexes anymore. Mind or body! :) ..or should that be :( ? Intense concentration also raises my blood pressure which my doctor has said is a no no. I can only play Din's Curse a half hour at a time even though I want to play more. It's hard keeping track of incoming messages, baddies and other stuff going on at the same time, I don't know what to look at first!

How did the no-starvation mod work out? I can make another mod to allow a much more relaxed game if you want. Currently the game allows quests to pile up. I can make it slow down new quest generation as the quest list fills up. The result should be much closer to DoP in terms of pace, but without the other covenants to compete with.

awera
12-07-2011, 08:21 AM
I totally agree that the action-reflex-approach shouldn't be forced on anyone. The separation of the combat's "detail" level into 3 parts, like I suggested before, would be one way to satisfy both action-reflex-fans and "non-fans", since it would leave the choice to the player. That idea probably would need to be worked out more before it would actually be feasible, but it's one way to make everyone happy. Of course, the AI-controlled ships would also have to change their behaviour according to those settings, so this would have bigger effects on the whole game.

Also, there are other approaches that actually combine features from both action and non-action style combat into one "package". These "pausable real-time" mechanics can be found in the following games (and to my understanding, they all have demos available, so people can try them out):

-Star Trek: Starfleet Command 1,2 & 3
-Space empires: Starfury
-Space Rangers 2
-Starships Unlimited

In Starfleet Command, the combat is real-time and the flow of time can be adjusted (sped up or slowed down) or paused. The player controls the speed and heading of the ship. The ships move like "cars", and hitting and missing is stat-based, though the outcome is affected by variables like how close to the enemy you are. (I think the accuracy wasn't affected by how "dead center" the player was actually aiming). Starfury works in a similar way.

Space Ranges 2 and Starships Unlimited use a "tick-based" combat system: The game is paused, you set movement and firing orders for your ship, and then the action proceeds for a couple of seconds, and the process starts over again.

I think the beauty of these approaches is that they capture the "actionesqueness" of action-based combat without actually being reflex-intensive. In fact, they're probably less demanding for your reflexes that what Drox at its present course is set out to be. Also, these systems can easily incorporate more complex game features and mechanics (practically everything that combat has in MOO2, for example).

I recommend anyone interested in starship games to try out the mentioned games. Of course, in the end, it all comes down to the question "what kind of system or systems will Drox incorporate"? I'm not sure if Shadow has made any final decisions about that yet, but these pausable/adjustable real-time approaches would probably be worth some consideration, especially if we get some MOO2-type complexity into the ships and battles as well.

Amberjoy
12-07-2011, 05:03 PM
How did the no-starvation mod work out? I can make another mod to allow a much more relaxed game if you want. Currently the game allows quests to pile up. I can make it slow down new quest generation as the quest list fills up. The result should be much closer to DoP in terms of pace, but without the other covenants to compete with.

I'm not sure it real helps, the starvation mod that is. It does some. But, I still get starving messages and have to race back upstairs. I noticed that when I first click on an npc it says they have no cash and then a second later it says I've donated xx amount. If I go away a few steps, on some of them, and come back I get the same thing, ie. no cash and I donate using the mod. If I then donate 'for real' I get a boost in ..dang! having a senior moment here..'goodie vibes' but not with the mod. It's not too bad so I'm dealing with it. :) I also click on "low stress" level so I don't have to try and get to 14th level when I first walk into town! :) Thanks for the mod. I'm enjoying what playing time I have more now.

Blood pressure readings have been decent for the last month so my doc said I could increase playing time a bit...forgetting that it's holiday time which creates stress of its own! :D

Bluddy
12-07-2011, 05:15 PM
I'm not sure it real helps, the starvation mod that is. It does some. But, I still get starving messages and have to race back upstairs. I noticed that when I first click on an npc it says they have no cash and then a second later it says I've donated xx amount. If I go away a few steps, on some of them, and come back I get the same thing, ie. no cash and I donate using the mod. If I then donate 'for real' I get a boost in ..dang! having a senior moment here..'goodie vibes' but not with the mod. It's not too bad so I'm dealing with it. :) I also click on "low stress" level so I don't have to try and get to 14th level when I first walk into town! :) Thanks for the mod. I'm enjoying what playing time I have more now.


Interesting. Well all I changed in the mod is I made NPCs grow hungry more slowly and have more cash to start with. You would need to start a new town with the mod installed for them to have more cash... I forgot to mention that.

It's possible that the food prices are really too expensive for them -- I haven't worked it out yet. If you start a new town and you still see many of them starving, I might need to make food really cheap for NPCs as well.

I'm not sure what the Low Stress option does, but I'm glad it's helping. :)

TNoyce
12-07-2011, 09:15 PM
As an older gamer, I would also like to see a less chaotic/frenetic game pace as a possibility.

Amberjoy
12-08-2011, 04:39 PM
Interesting. Well all I changed in the mod is I made NPCs grow hungry more slowly and have more cash to start with. You would need to start a new town with the mod installed for them to have more cash... I forgot to mention that.

It's possible that the food prices are really too expensive for them -- I haven't worked it out yet. If you start a new town and you still see many of them starving, I might need to make food really cheap for NPCs as well.

I'm not sure what the Low Stress option does, but I'm glad it's helping. :)

Low stress keeps the dungeon levels to under 10..so far and stops many of the town attacks. Only one so far that's shown up is the thief.

The game is going at my speed now so I won't mess with it anymore for a while. Thanks for the mod.

..and sorry for thread jacking Shadow. :)

interesting
12-11-2011, 03:16 PM
I would like to see the game offering many different rythms.

Suit everyone's styles depending on what they want to do.
If people want to keep to themselfs, they should be able to, by keeping on safer systems, hiring escorts, avoiding areas with pirates and enemies.

If people want fast paced action in combat, they can go seek for it and the game does provide it, because thats what people who seek combat are after and thats what the game coherently gives them.

Some people will want to buy their way, trade their way, socialize their way. And therefore they can minimize the influence of combat in the results of their actions.

This do not need to hinder the ocasional, yet avoidable by indirect ways, FAST PACED TWITCH BASED COMBAT.

gornova
12-12-2011, 06:38 PM
do you mean something like "finish game without combat" aka "diplomatic wins" ? Seems to be really hard to do with games from Soldak's . "Combat" (or better confrontation between to forces) is always central point of his games, what do you think ?

DeathKnight1728
12-16-2011, 01:01 PM
Ive got one big request. In space games there sometimes are tractor beams attached to the outside of the ship, would you be able to possibly use them to ram into other ships causing crazy damage? That would be fun as most combat is based on ranged.

Shadow
01-03-2012, 11:02 AM
Ive got one big request. In space games there sometimes are tractor beams attached to the outside of the ship, would you be able to possibly use them to ram into other ships causing crazy damage? That would be fun as most combat is based on ranged.

There are tractor and repulsor beams. Since there isn't much you can actually crash into you couldn't ram into the ship, but you could probably push ships into asteroids.

DeathKnight1728
01-03-2012, 05:37 PM
Thats cool! I dont know why i was thinking of that as this is a gun-based game. Its probably because looking at those pictures of the big ships and brute force aliens made me think of that. Shadow, will there be a difference between tactics-like for example you have longrange (finesse/sniper) weapons and shortrange (tank/brute force) weapons. Im thinking that that would be cool as you said that some of the aliens are more agressive/bigger/stronger ships whereas other aliens are more smaller ships/finesse. Will that be at all how the fights are planned out? I know it sounds too much like dop/dins but i can see that in a space game as i have.

Shadow
01-04-2012, 09:41 AM
Shadow, will there be a difference between tactics-like for example you have longrange (finesse/sniper) weapons and shortrange (tank/brute force) weapons.

It's not like this right now but I think beam weapons are going to be relatively short range, railgun type of weapons are going to be medium range, and missiles are going to be long range.

There are a lot of components that change your tactics: tractor beams, repulsors, bombs, consumables, decoys, etc.

DeathKnight1728
01-05-2012, 02:36 PM
Not to bug, but how is the progress on this game, at this point? Im only asking as this game sounds interesting and the more i found about it, the better :)

Shadow
01-06-2012, 06:43 PM
Not to bug, but how is the progress on this game, at this point? Im only asking as this game sounds interesting and the more i found about it, the better :)

It's going pretty well, still a lot to do though. I'm hoping that we can get into alpha this month but we'll have to see.

DeathKnight1728
01-07-2012, 12:11 PM
Not to sound stupid but what is the difference between alpha and beta? Isnt beta when other people can play it (still not done) whereas alpha is the opposite?

Roswitha
01-07-2012, 10:42 PM
Alpha is when people inside the company play-test the completed game, and report any bugs they find.
Beta is when people outside the company get to have a turn. :) There are a lot more people outside the company, so it's a more thorough test.

Shadow
01-09-2012, 05:54 PM
Everyone seems to have different definitions of alpha and beta, but Roswitha's is pretty close to ours. We usually aren't complete when we start alpha though.

kerzain
01-10-2012, 01:58 AM
And some companies have even demonstrated an inability to tell the difference between a retail product and a beta (or even an alpha for a couple recent games).