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Reader Comments (12)

Posted: Apr 26th 2009 8:50AM (Unverified) said

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I love the fact that betas have very little information available about them. When you log into a new beta, the whole world is fresh and exciting. You take your time and explore. There's not usually a lot of help along the way which makes your triumphs even sweeter. In a mature game, it's easy to get into the habit of going out to the available databases for information or to use mods to improve your game play. We're often in a hurry to move through levels and reach the end point. But with a beta, it's more leisurely. And often more fun. Everyone is in the same boat. Without outside resources you depend on each other for help. People seem more friendly and cooperative. They'll take the time to talk or to help. All in all, I love the beta experience. And a huge thanks to Massively for the Free Realms beta key. I'm having a blast!

Posted: Apr 26th 2009 9:05AM (Unverified) said

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I think betas are more fun for the same reason that fresh servers are more fun. Things just feel different when you know you're among the first people in a community to do or experience something.

Posted: Apr 26th 2009 9:10AM (Unverified) said

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I get reminded all the time in Free Realms that I don't have a premium account. Not so much free is it?

Posted: Apr 26th 2009 10:15AM Minofan said

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Actually I don't like participating in betas at all any more.

I used to be really keen on getting in to them, but bitter experience (and particularly WAR) has taught me I'm just not suited.

1st] I am a big fan of MMO RPGs, but apparently not a big fan of undiluted MMO gameplay - when I have no investment in character development, story progression or loot acquisition I get bored very quickly.
Simply wandering around maps s-l-o-w-l-y pummeling anemic wildlife with no context or motivation gets old fast, and has pretty much soured me on Stargate and Free Realms already.

2nd] Beta testing end-game content - though exciting at first - is pretty much the kiss of death for my enthusiasm.
It takes the anticipation, imagination and carrot-on-a-stick factors to keep me excited about progressing all the way through epic games of a genre that are - by their very nature - extremely repetitive.
If I've already skipped to the end, it just isn't the same playing through for real: don't feel like I'm trailblazing, merely catching-up.

WAR pretty much got the double-whammy of beta knobbling, since the shallow nature of PvE and barely-there linear character progression was exposed to me for weeks prior to launch.
If I'd simply started fresh at launch at I'd have been able to imbue PvE with some significance for longer and at the very least I'd have been curious or zealous enough to power a character through to rank 40 - in reality the sheen was gone by the time early access concluded.

*sigh*

I'm limiting myself to open betas from now on, and treating them strictly like playable demos - a few hours game time to check I enjoy the gameplay, and gratuitous ogling of character creation options to draw up my launch characters.

Posted: Apr 26th 2009 10:24AM (Unverified) said

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The problem is that now players play a beta and treat them as though they are the final product.

Take any MMO and look at how many changes it goes through even within a few months after release. The betas are judged and played as though they ARE release, which is a mistake.

In the age of players getting bored within literally minutes, developers should be careful about their betas. They need to understand that players aren't that open to testing or experiments. It's hard enough for players to have an open mind let alone consider that a beta is literally a test.

So, are betas more fun? Only maybe because of that shiny new game smell. Of course players like them more, they haven't become bored yet.

Beau

Posted: Apr 26th 2009 11:21AM Greeen said

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I have a hate love for betas:
The good part is, that the serious people make a great community and really try to do the best. Especially in cases of games that will have separate US/EU servers, beta is usually [not always :( ] mixed. This type of community is gone after the launch and that gives sort of a depressing feeling. Also, so many things can go wrong at a launch with many whiners, griefers and haters doing their "see i told you so thing", destroying the beta community at once in the worst case, not to mention the US/EU separation.

Also during beta, as mentioned, more and more just see it as free playing and whine and complain at the instability, the rerolling, etc.

It takes a lot of time to be in a beta and to really make a meaningful contribution other than help with server load and that is why I don't have the nerv and energy anymore. Especially if you have the feeling that your effort is not appreciated.
Some games at least give you a badge/title or so after launch, DDO has some of the main beta testers in the credit list on the intro page. Some don't give you smack and say "thanks for your free testing, you know it is honor to be in beta" bla bla bla. What a bunch of bull considering the way keys are distributed and even via lotteries, etc where anyone can join due to the advertisement factor.
The worst part though is if you end up in the EU beta with separate boards where you don't know if and how and when the EU input really is forwarded, because often the US side is larger and more dominant. Gives the impression hat EU is only for translation errors.
Some companies handle it better than others, but it is not always transparent.

The minimum that I would like to see in beta from the developer side:
* A rough road map, what will be tested/implemented when.
* Have a joint board for US/EU, so to easier gather all the feedback.
* Give feedback to the testers once in a while, out over the "thanks for your participation in region A-B, we now move on to C-D".
* Give long-term (active) beta tester some reward in the end, something like a badge (won't cost them much) or even an extra free month of game-play. Good publicity.
* A private board/blog that only devs will read and perhaps even answer once in while, with no other players seeing your post and trolling around in (AoC had this, I thought it was great).

I have encountered all of theses things, but so far never in one single beta. Too bad.

So I don't even sign up for betas anymore. The negative side outweighs the positive, even if you are a big fan of the product.

Posted: Apr 26th 2009 12:38PM Keen and Graev said

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The answer to the topic question is: Sometimes yes, sometimes no.

Posted: Apr 26th 2009 1:54PM Graill440 said

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If betas were actually used to fix the game and improve it before launch (alphas included) betas might indeed be fun and worthwhile.

As it stands the majority of betas are nothing more than prequels to a launch patch as the game is likely gold and packaged, just waiting shipment. I have been in a fair amount of betas, if the devs fail to listen to the community or state something asnine, such as AOC did in closed beta, then i leave and spread the word, after all, an nda is only good until the devs commit fraud (dont get ate up on that statement btw) To date i have not been in a beta i could really say i enjoyed. Though some have some memorable moments.

Sure the startout is always promising but the devs somehow always manage to screw things up with actions or the slip of info that makes everyone go "then why are we here?" *cough* AOC *cough* That game was gold and in packaging awaiting shipment in the alpha stage (grin)

Betas are not fun, nor have i been in one that was. One day maybe i will see a game with honest devs in an actual beta where they havent pressed anything yet and have the skill and knowledge to fix their presentation to the beta community before launch, ensuring it is fun for others. Currently the generation of devs out there are either so impressed with themselves or lost in the "thats neat mode" they forget what is going on around them, and beta testers pay for it.

Posted: Apr 27th 2009 5:44AM (Unverified) said

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I used to enjoy betas, until I tried my 45th Korean MMO that was a copy-paste of the last game.

Posted: Apr 27th 2009 7:57AM (Unverified) said

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Some times early in beta it can be alot of fun, I have had the good fortune of managing to get into early betas of several games. When there is only a handful of people in the beta there is a real feeling of community. People are willing to help out, answer questions, group with you etc. As more and more people join the beta the atmosphere becomes a lot more hostile as there always seems to be people who seem to join betas just to compain about everything. You just start hearing about how the game sucks, so and so class is broken, the lag, the server has gone down three times today etc. It only takes a few of these people going on nonstop in public channels to ruin the game for everyone else. They become down right hostile toward new people asking the same questions they asked when they started playing.

In the betas I have been in I found myself playing less and less as more people join the beta. The forums, where initially developers were very responsive to questions and comments become much more negative and real problems become ignored, lost in the mass of posts about how everything sucks. Even as the game becomes much more playable, I am barely playing at all.

It is tough to do, but the developers really need to communicate with what problems they know of and what they are working on. Unfortunately as the game gets closer too release the information that comes out becomes much rarer, leaving many people to think their input and concerns are being ignored.

Probably the best strategy for betas is to keep them fairly small for most of them and when the game is close to being finished, start allowing more people in.

Posted: Apr 27th 2009 8:01AM UnSub said

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Betas might be more fun, if you are willing to ignore bugs, unfinished systems, technical issues, the absence of certain systems and that everything you know about a game might change tomorrow. And that's still a 'might' even assuming all of those things weren't a problem.

However, I guess this is just another mark in the column of "players treat betas as free game time, not testing time".

Posted: Apr 27th 2009 10:41AM (Unverified) said

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No, betas are not more fun. If you are the impatient sort, they can sometimes pacify your desire for information, but that is all.

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