We Tweeted earlier:
Getting closer every day. Doing alpha testing in August. Possibly beta testing by Oct. Patience, more info coming soon!
This led to us to receive several messages asking what’s the difference between Alpha and Beta testing? Well, each developer may answer this question differently, but for our own internal usage, we define these two stages as:
ALPHA stage: The main quest is completable start to finish, but several side quests are missing. Many maps are still missing details. Some secondary NPCs are not in place yet. Testing at this stage allows us to gain feedback on things like estimated play-through time and how the testers feel about the progression of the storyline. Major bugs are often uncovered which will need patched before Beta. Some early balancing takes place during Alpha testing. Not all developers actually test the Alpha version like this, but we have found that the feedback we get in this early stage is very, very helpful and can shorten the length of time we stay in beta.
BETA stage: The game is complete and not much will change before the release date. Testing at this stage is more about catching all the last minute bugs and spelling errors. We will focus more on balancing now, making sure the game is neither too difficult nor too easy for the testers. We can usually put a solid release date in place at this time, based on the response from the beta testers.