Elite Dangerous launches Odyssey alpha phase 4, affirms improvements to its final build in livestream

    
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Today is the last day for PC-playing Commanders in Elite: Dangerous to kick the tires of the Odyssey expansion as the fourth and final phase of the alpha test is now officially live, bringing over player characters from the live game into the alpha build as well as all of their ships and credits instead of just the one they were riding in as previously announced.

This latest build also brings other components of the base game to Odyssey alpha such as wing missions, Powerplay, tech brokers, search and rescue contacts, and research station service contacts. There are a number of fixes in place for this phase of alpha, as well as a rather lengthy list of known issues. This round of alpha testing will wrap up on Wednesday, May 5th, leading in to the Odyssey expansion’s launch on PC two weeks later.

On the subject of known issues with the alpha build, Frontier Developments held a livestream to discuss matters with the Odyssey alpha, confirming that the alpha build is an older version that was branched from the main development version roughly two weeks before alpha’s launch. To that point, a small subset of the content in Odyssey is being tested, primarily to test things like the game’s servers, the expansion’s new mechanics, and overall stability and interfaces.

With that all said, the full expansion will introduce a number of adjustments such as better occlusion to stop on-foot enemies from seeing players through walls, a balancing of enemies swarming players on bases, more intelligent use of grenades by on-foot enemies, and overall improvements to planetary tech like better rock and flora scatter, more diverse atmosphere visuals depending on atmospheric composition, more diverse biomes on certain planets, and new tech that will let players identify planetary terrain features from orbit. The livestream even shared a number of images of the new planetary tech.

The full livestream can be found embedded below or you can read this helpful synopsis from MOP reader StuartGT, while our own impressions of Odyssey’s past three phases can be found in our Stick and Rudder column below as well.


sources: official forums, Reddit, thanks to StuartGT for the tip!
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Ok_Chip261

No Chris it doesn’t bring over all ships. If all your ships are in your fleet carrier, you’re stuffed.

confirming that the alpha build is an older version that was branched from the main development version
a small subset of the content in Odyssey is being tested

Funny that Frontier forgot to mention that when selling this “Deluxe” Alpha access, forgot to mention it when the Alpha started and are mentioning it now only on the last day of the advertised Alpha schedule. This is beginning to sound like the month before the original ED launch. Remember what happened then when the truth got out.

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PhoenixDfire

Yeah, that was a transfer bug which is why the alpha is there, to find these things. There’ll be a patch along soon enough to fix it. I’m relieved that the branch for the alpha was taken so long ago. It means they will have had almost three months of extra Dev time between Alpha and Release because that Alpha is not release quality.

Although there has been graphical glitches, low frame rates, problems with the on foot AI and don’t get me started on the genetic sampler; I haven’t had one single Crash to Desktop. All the other things are being addressed so we’ll have to wait and see.

The whole reason for the alpha is to test things they wouldn’t be able to in a small ‘office’ environment. In return, the alpha players get hands on experience with the new mechanics which means when the the game launches, they’ll have a running start with the Odyssey when it releases..

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Ok_Chip261

The whole reason for the alpha is to test things

Oh really.

“Notably, the company will release an Alpha version of the game on 29th March, which will help create further engagement and anticipation around the title in the run up to May’s release. This should also help to de-risk the game launch through allowing Frontier to refine and pre-market the title with reviewers and bloggers, ultimately ensuring a higher quality experience for players. By all early indications there should be a strong take-up on the Alpha, with enthusiasm and anticipation across player communities already high.”
FDEV investor report 08 March 2021

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PhoenixDfire

It has de-risked the launch. There have been some huge bugs found and fixed in the alpha test that would have killed Elite: Dangerous at launch and those wouldn’t have been found by a small testing department.

Those fixes are going to be rolled into the main development source which is already six to eight weeks in advance of the code we’ve been testing in alpha. If they were releasing the Odyssey in the same state as the alpha, yes I’d be worried but knowing that there’s at least two months of dev time on top of what we’ve been playing is reassuring me that it will be OK at launch.

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Ok_Chip261

You’ve misunderstood the word de-risk. If it was about finding bugs, the game would be going to game testers, not reviewers and bloggers.

knowing that there’s at least two months of dev time on top of what we’ve been playing is reassuring me that it will be OK at launch.

Two months of code that hasn’t been tested. On top of the 5,000 and rising bugs reported in the code that has been tested. Which at current rate of bug fixing shown on the official bug tracker will take approximately 20 years to clear. And you’re sure Frontier can make that OK for launch in two weeks. Dream on.

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Andy McAdams

Funny that Frontier forgot to mention that when selling this “Deluxe” Alpha access, forgot to mention it when the Alpha started and are mentioning it now only on the last day of the advertised Alpha schedule. This is beginning to sound like the month before the original ED launch. Remember what happened then when the truth got out.

This isn’t something they are really trying to hide. Developers *rarely* if ever deliver latest code in alphas like this. They’ll pick the a stable point in time, and branch to see what happens while the latest continues to plod along.

They didn’t forget to mention anything – it’s just standard development practice. If you bought into Alpha, you bought into whatever alpha quality code Frontier decides to give you. Whether that’s out of latest or not really isn’t something you get a say in.

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Ok_Chip261

They didn’t forget to mention anything – it’s just standard development practice. If you bought into Alpha, you bought into whatever alpha quality code Frontier decides to give you.

Again, in case you missed it. “a small subset of the content in Odyssey is being tested”.

They didn’t mention that. It’s not standard practice. And it is not about code quality.

It is about feature set. If Alpha is testing only a small subset of Odyssey features and found over 5,000 bugs, when do you seriously think the remaining large subset is going to get tested? And when its likely 10,000+ bugs are going get fixed? Release is 2 weeks away.

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PhoenixDfire

They needed to test ;-

  1. Footfall and the Taxi service (Job Done, although they chose a system which was too big for the Taxi service).
  2. They needed to test the combat zones (Really enjoyed those) with big groups – It was shaky to begin with but after a couple of patches it worked quite well
  3. Does the Foot-fall side of the game mesh with the ship side of the game? So far the general consensus is yes.
  4. They needed to test the exploration mechanics – They’ve found two major issues with it. Finding the plants when you’re close to the planet and the awful scanning mini game. Both of which are being revised before main launch. Can you imagine the salt if that had gone live?
  5. Migration – The copying of existing players from Horizons to Odyessy. This is often overlooked as part of the development process and thanks to the alpha test, they found a major issue

You don’t need the full build to test these things and that’s the point of the Alpha. Besides they’ve said they’re holding some surprises back for release and didn’t want them spoiled. There are some excellent Data Miners who would spoil the secrets as soon as the build was released (In fact, some already have).

And again, the alpha code is six to eight weeks old. The release code will be (lets be generous) ten weeks in advance of that. There’s a lot that can be done in ten weeks.

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Ok_Chip261

Wrong. What they need to test is the game that will be released in 18 days time. And again, since obviously you missed it “a small subset of the content in Odyssey is being tested”.

release code will be (lets be generous) ten weeks in advance

Wrong again. In testing, the release code will be seven weeks behind.