Pre-Alpha, March 2017
The pre-alpha will all about nailing down the core gameplay and will include mostly people I personally know. The map editor as well as games vs. AI (easy, medium and hard) will be complete. This is the first stage of allowing other people to playtest the game, so a lot depends on it.
Alpha, late April 2017 (feature complete)
Anyone who pre-ordered will be invited to the alpha. You'll be able to test different game modes (free for all, standard), play against AI and play multiplayer against other alpha testers.
Beta, late May 2017
After taking lots of feedback from the alpha, I'll have a more refined version of the game and will begin letting more people play. The process will be gradual as I use dedicated servers and therefore need to build everything to scale. The best way to test scalability is to have lots of sample traffic and lots of data. By the end of the beta, I'll have a plan in place for scaling and will be improving gameplay at every step of the way.
Public release, July 2017
The big shebang. There will some sort of free version of the game anyone can access without registering. And if they like what they see, they can purchase the full version to access all game content. I was thinking about creating some kind of game mode that was RTS-lite, which would be free. Basically, a game mode that had all the combat and unit control mechanics, without the resource management. Something like nexus wars in SC2 or CBA in aoe2. RTS-lite gameplay serves as a good introduction to RTS mechanics for people who aren't familiar with the genre.
By the time of public release, I'm hoping to have all the major bugs worked out, cross-browser compatibility, AWS instance scaling and a highly polished version of the game. I will continue to work on the game indefinitely but I'm making a big effort to assure the public release is relatively bug-free and complete, by consumer standards.