An ongoing question in the comments section has been: “when will this beta be released for Steam?” It’s a good question! In the old days, the answer was “it’ll be a few days” because building a beta for Steam was a separate process from building a beta for the Laminar Research installer.
We solved that problem a few months ago; when we create a beta, we create the beta for both installers at the same time in one coordinated symphony of automatic scripts and command line witchcraft. But there is still some delay in making the Steam beta be available to users – we usually wait a few hours to make sure the build isn’t crashing for a big portion of our user base.
Now you don’t have to wait! If you are a Steam customer you can get the very latest beta even if it’s broken and unusable.
What Is an Unstable Beta
An unstable beta is a beta build of X-Plane that has some kind of relatively serious problem, or that might have a problem we don’t know about because it hasn’t been rolled out to the whole community.
Why would you ever want that? Sometimes the unstable beta has a bug fix you really need. Maybe the crashes affect common hardware but not your hardware. Maybe you just like really new things.
How To Get Unstable Betas for Steam
Our application now has two choices for betas – if you go to the betas tab in the X-Plane app properties in Steam, you now have both the choice of:
- “Public Beta” – this is the beta you’ve been using for months – it’s a beta, so it may be buggy, but we don’t release it until we have at least a little bit of evidence that it mostly works.
- “Unstable pre-Release Beta” – this is the very latest beta even if it’s broken.
You can choose which one you want, or even switch between them.
For example, right now if you pick public beta you’ll get beta 9, which, for better or worse, has been the current beta for several weeks. If you pick “unstable pre-release beta”, you get beta 10, even though it crashes in HDR with some third party aircraft (a new crash to beta 10) and people tell us that sometimes it hangs on load.
Should I Use an Unstable Beta?
Probably not? There are two cases I can imagine where the unstable beta would be more useful than the normal beta:
- The current stable beta doesn’t work for you, so you might as well try something new.
- You are waiting on a specific bug fix and the unstable beta has it.
What About Customers Not Using Steam?
We don’t have this multi-beta capability for our home-grown installer, but someday I hope to add it – I think it’s a really useful capability to be able to define multiple tiers of beta quality.
We had a long discussion a few weeks ago about ways to deal with broken betas and a lot of people though that rolling out betas incrementally would be a good idea. Having multiple beta tiers can help this.