I think the current selection of development stages is just messy. There are overlapping categories, poor descriptions and also poor naming. These properties lead to a messy database.
I make a bunch of suggestions to clean up this mess:
I suggest to rename “Alpha funding” to just “Alpha”, because first I thing the “funding” part might narrow things too down or is too confusing. The current description does not even make any mention of money, and there are some games which are marked as “Alpha funding” and they clearly have no money involved.
Also, I suggest to add the development stage “Beta” which is defined as: “The game is in a playable stage and feature-complete but it is not yet tested and might have some serious bugs.”.
The terms “Finished” and “Active development” are not really clear. The description for “Finished” makes it clear that it is still maintained and updated, but the term does not reflect that. The users usually does not see the desciption in the edit box, only the name of the category. I'd suggest to rename this to “Finished and maintained”.
Ther “active development” is not clear if it is for games which are finished but still maintained and updated, or for unfinished games and still bieing developed in order to be finished. IMO this also clashes with “Alpha funding”. It seems users have used this category for both finished and unfinished games. Very, very bad.
Also, why does the desciption say that for commercial games, I'd have to go with “Alpha funding”? I don't think the development stages should in any way reflect whether the game is commercial or not, as this generates redundancy and confusion. There is a seperate field for being commercial anyways.
I suggest to retire the “active development” category (legacy category). Instead, users should choose one of “Finished, maintained”, “Alpha” or “Beta”.
The term “Abandoned” sadly also makes no distinction whether the game was finished but is not longer supported or if the game was never done in the first place. The description clearly says that both are allowed here. This lumps together finished and unfinished games, bad idea. This information is quite important for gamers, an “abandoned” game is still perfectly fine and playable when it has been finished. Too bad all abandoned games have that scary warning above, even the finished ones which are perfectly playable.
Sadly, the data has already been entered, I suggest to retire this category in the long run.
Instead, add two new categories: “Finished, not maintained” and “Aborted”.
“Finished, not maintained” is for games which are finished but not updated (“Abandoned” in the first sense).
“Aborted” is for games which were never finished, the developers are gone and don't maintain it anymore. I am unsure if the LGDB should allow to enter such games in the first place. ONLY the “Aborted” category should have the scary warning like for “Abandoned” right now.
The currently “Abandoned” games should then all be edited to fall either into one of the two new categories. This, obviously, would take quite some time.
Here's how the legacy categories should be handled:
- First, they should be kept so we don't break our database
- Second, it should not be allowed to be selected for new games or when editing games. Users should select one of the new categories instead
- Then comes a long transition period in which the user will slowly edit all games to make sure they fall into one of the new categories. This can take a long time but it does not need to be quick
- Lastly, if the legacy categories are empty, they can be deleted from the database
Long story short:
- Rename “Alpha funding” to “Alpha” and strip it from commercial implications
- Add “Beta”
- Rename “Finished” to “Finished and maintained”
- Retire “Active development”
- Retire “Abandoned”
- Introduce “Finished, not maintained” and “Aborted”
After the change, we should have these categories:
- Alpha (= Alpha funding)
- Finshed and maintained (= Finished)
- Finished, not maintained
And these legacy categories (should be kept for the transition period, but not be selectable for new games):
- Active development
The legacy categories can logically be defined as follows:
- Abandoned = Finished, not maintained OR Aborted
- Active development = Alpha OR Beta OR Finished and maintained