The history of Infantry Online development
  • Pre-Testing - essentially a client-side preview given to staff members.
  • Pre-Alpha Test - around 30 people, close friends of the staff members. Essentially showing their wares.
  • Alpha Test - 200 people. Early bug detection and early game feedback.
  • Beta Test Open Beta to the public. Major bug detection & feedback.
  • Gold Stage - pre release marketing stategy (give previews to game sites to hype etc)
  • Retail Release - commercially backed, fully marketed product.
  • Game additions - modules added after retail requiring online or offline purchase.

    In 1997, the now-defunct development team Virgin Interactive Entertainment (VIE) released the 2D Space Shooter, SubSpace. Members of the SubSpace development team banded together afterwards to form Harmless Games LLC. This new team designed and released Infantry during the late '90s.

    Infantry's creators, Rod Humble and Jeff Petersen began pre-testing in early December, 1997. This phase included the addition of Larry Cordner, Harmless Games' editors programmer and level designer, to the team as of Jan 28, 1998.

    The Pre-Alpha test was primarily made up of close friends of the Harmless crew and squad members from their previous title, Subspace. Possible publishers were also allowed into this private test, including initial publisher, Nick Fisher (Brainscan Interactive who incidentally had provided Harmless with much support before his bid for publishing ).

    The Alpha test saw the inclusion of over 100 randomly selected people, mostly comprised of Subspace players. The test began around April 15th and continued through to mid 1999.

    Many changes occurred after the Alpha test. Firstly, an open Beta test was started in the summer of 1999, which saw new players, new maps, new graphics, new features and new concepts develop and grow.

    The game was developed and was picked up by Brainscan Development Corporation, also known as Brainscan Interactive, as publisher.

    Suddenly, misfortune fell on Infantry: GameFan, Brainscan Interactive's parent company, went bankrupt, and was swallowed up by web giant, Chaos broke into the community, as the new rightsholders of the game had little interest in maintaining it. Jeff Petersen scrambled and as the devotful players held onto a backend server kept up.

    Sony Online Entertainment announced its acquisition of Infantry on October 5, 2000. Rod (Rodvik) Humble, the lead designer of Infantry, was offered a job with Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) and left Harmless Games. Larry J. Cordner (LJC) also found another job, but stayed with the development team until shortly after Harmless Games was bought by SOE. Harmless Games, and its sole game, Infantry, was bought by SOE from Brainscan Interactive for an undisclosed sum. The two remaining developers, Jeff Petersen (programmer) and Jerimy Weeks (artist and zone designer), were hired by SOE to continue development of the game.

    For 3 weeks, Infantry was inaccessible to the world, as the experienced employees of Harmless Games and The Station worked diligantly to get Infantry up and running at The Station. Their hard work paid off, and a Closed Beta test was released for a short period of time.

    Sony then decided to open up the game to the public once more with their Open Beta

    Some time later, SOE had them develop Cosmic Rift (CR), an offshoot of Infantry meant to compete with the still popular SubSpace. Cosmic Rift had gained a small portion of Infantry's and SubSpace's communities, but its population still paled in comparison. In October 2001, Petersen was transferred to EverQuest 2 development and Weeks later was laid off. Game development stagnated.

    In May 2002, SOE rehired Weeks and introduced a monthly $6.95 pay-to-play system, the "Station Pass" for SOE's three small action games: Infantry, Cosmic Rift and Tanarus; however, both Infantry and Cosmic Rift remained free to play with limitations. Infantry itself was restricted to a limited playtime on servers (a player could only stay connected for half an hour before being disconnected), the inability to accumulate money, no statistical tracking and no personalized options.

    Infantry's and Cosmic Rift's populations have since declined drastically from daily highs of thousands at a time to a mere hundred or fewer players.

    In October 2005, Weeks was laid off again and a new developer was put to the task. Hope for the game's future was questionable, as the new developer was Joe Nelson, whose only prior experience with Infantry involved customer service duties, who held the position for only a few months. As of May 2006 there were three SOE employees delegated either full or part time to the game: Bill Corning, Jose Araiza and recently re-hired developer Jerimy Weeks, although Weeks' contract with Sony Online Entertainment expired at the end of April 2007.

    In May 2007, Sony Online Entertainment announced full and free online gaming access to Infantry and the rest of their "Station Pass" games, starting on June 26, 2007.

    In July 2007, Sony Online Entertainment released a Map Editor for Infantry, available for free download via the official website.

    Alternative servers to the official Infantry Online have spawned over the recent years, initially to provide a free option to the game, most notably "Free Infantry". However, with Sony Online Entertainment's announcement that has made Infantry and Cosmic Rift free of charge, the role of these servers transitioned to providing alternative maps and gameplay from the official server. They inevitably slowly faded out of existence as players went back to SOE's version of the game.

    Infantry's versatile game style provided for the expansion of community squad development and implementation of squad vs. squad consisting of players worldwide. The public servers also featured some of the first instances of massively multiplayer online battles, with over a hundred players in each Mechanized Skirmish battle.

    On February 29th, 2012, via mass-email, Sony Online Entertainment announced that the long and proud 13-year battle waged in Infantry Online will come to a close at 12:01 am PT on 03/29/12 when SOE shuts down the Infantry Online servers.

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