GameSpy has dished up a third designer diary for Ultima Online: Samurai Empire, this time with designer Jennifer Lane discussing the different deadlines that needed to be met during the game's development (say that three times fast!). A snippet, as usual:
The Alpha Milestone was a huge accomplishment for the team, and a bit of a melancholy one for me. Alpha is the beginning of the end of the pre-release development cycle. It means the base components of every system are built and ready for integration; a "design meets code" phase. It also meant we had moved past the creation stage of development. The big-ticket items were all finished in their basic form and no others would be introduced, no matter how much you wanted to sneak them in. Alpha is a mental shift from creation and a move into the polishing phase. Sometimes the boundary between design and polish is quite blurred, but there is a definite shift.