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Reader Comments (80)

Posted: Oct 18th 2011 9:08AM real65rcncom said

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I've stopped doing betas anymore.

Years ago betas used to be about testing the game. Now it's about getting a sneak preview of the game, which doesn't help the game at all because usually people have this attitude about the games going in. I can't stand seeing those types of people in there.1

Lots of times people will hear about a game first and say "I doubt they'll be able to do this, that, that, etc" and only use betas to try and prove that right; never to try and improve the game. Or you see people running around forums saying "I'm not really interested in Game X, but I put $5 down on a preorder that I'll cancel later so I could get into the beta and look around." Again, I consider those people trash because they are taking spots someone who really wanted to play the game and help along could have used.

Nowadays people spend their whole beta just playing the game looking for tricks on what to play (OP) at launch and never once filling out a ticket for bugs, but will be the first to run to a forum and say "this game will suck because...", when they didn't even report that to get fixed.

Posted: Oct 18th 2011 9:17AM Lenn said

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@real65rcncom I think developers are aware of this as well. Which is why BioWare, for instance, doesn't get most of their testing info directly from the testers, but by monitoring what they do. And I believe they weren't the first to do this either.
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Posted: Oct 18th 2011 11:05AM Sean D said

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@real65rcncom

Beta testing is still about testing. Players can be incredibly outspoken and fickle, though, so beta testing like that which Star Wars is going through doesn't occur until a game is largely finished. In other words, the intention behind a beta test is to evaluate certain functions of a game, like stability, while minimizing bugs or other problems that might cause testers dissatisfaction with the game as a whole.

As a beta tester there is very little about a game that you'll be able to affect, but you still have an impact. You can report bugs and that's helpful. Information can be collected while you play and that information may cause a developer change something in the game later, which is also helpful. However, you're not going to be able to convince a developer to change things like how combat works, or artistic design, or zone topography.

It's possible that a beta tester would decide not to purchase the game he/she is testing after experiencing it. I don't believe it's in the best interest of an MMO company to view beta tests strictly as previews, especially when you consider how quickly gamers tend to burn out.
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Posted: Oct 18th 2011 11:37AM real65rcncom said

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@Sean D
I'm not sure that's entirely true. Beta testers do have a say in how things turn out. Remember when Mythic was going to launch WAR without keeps after the playerbase told them this game needed something to fight over? They hurried up and put that in the game less than a month before launch I think. If they didn't that game would have never made it to December with 300k subs.

Rift listened to beta testers when they told them about invasions so they changed that. They listened when people told them the racial bonuses for the Kelari were crazy (+ crit) compared to everyone else and took battle enchancements for races out of the game.

But you see most people commenting on forums to get into betas not to help the game out, but more as an extended trial preview which they'll make up their minds to buy or don't buy.


Companies are better off paying in-house testers and then letting the unwashed mobs come into betas much later to stress test imo.

Either way, I'm done with betas because they don't work for me.

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Posted: Oct 18th 2011 7:23PM tbeaz161 said

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Whats the picture with the ship and the huge monster over it from?
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Posted: Oct 19th 2011 9:11AM Riseyra said

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@tbeaz161 The Limsa Lominsa Final Fantasy XIV opening quest cutscene
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Posted: Oct 18th 2011 9:16AM Celtar said

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I stopped doing beta's for anything back in the mid 1990's, the last one I did was for Simutronics and that was Dragonrealms beta on GEnie.. Basically for all the reasons that you stated Eliot I have no desire to do any further beta testing for companies. I want to enjoy their game when it comes out, not be their trouble shooter and deal with bugs and frustrations.

Id not do it if they paid me actually, gaming is my hobby, not my profession.

Posted: Oct 18th 2011 9:17AM KvanCetre said

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Its always disappointing to log into a beta and find players who have no clue about the game they've signed up to test. "We can be Jedi from the start?!" "There's no free space flight?!"
I see the same thing every beta I play... Players Who are only interested in previews.

And worse, the "someone else will do it" attitude about leaving feedback.
I always try to come up with ten constructive pieces of feedback. A large portion of testers refuse to post anything.

Posted: Oct 18th 2011 9:36AM Lucidus said

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@KvanCetre But if the commentary like that is monitored, that is still very valuable information.

Surprise at being a Jedi from the start can be seen as a positive player reaction.

It's no surprise that the rail shooter is going to be a longstanding negative with the game -- an unnecessarily boneheaded design decision.
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Posted: Oct 18th 2011 9:39AM Dezyne said

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@KvanCetre

I would think the "Doesn't know anything about the game" tester could be an asset to the devs as long as they give good feedback. A person who has studied and loved the game for 2 years prior to beta is important, but the complete noob is useful too in different ways. They help provide a broader spectrum of feedback.
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Posted: Oct 18th 2011 9:49AM KvanCetre said

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@Lucidus
I know I'm the small minority, but I actually don't mind the decision on space combat and actually disliked what SWG offered.

I think it was due to the fact that I grew up with Xwing, Tie Fighter, Xwing vs Tie Fighter, and Xwing Alliance. I was stoked to get Jump to Lightspeed, and even did beta on it. It was so disappointing to hop into my first TIE Interceptor and travel at the speed of a Y-wing :/

Its too late to fix before the first expansion, but I'd love to see space have an open system where we still feel "heroic". I dont want to start out with "level 1 engines" that make my ship feel like a toy, if you get my meaning.
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Posted: Oct 18th 2011 9:51AM Sephirah said

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@KvanCetre

The problem isn't the "someone else will do it" attitude.
The problem is devs "we don't care about your bug reports, what do you think this beta is, a beta?":
As a player:
- you report a bug
- next build, bug is not fixed
- report the same bug again
- next build, bug is still not fixed
- do that again and again
- game is released, the bug is still there. It could (or could not) be fixed in a couple of years.
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Posted: Oct 18th 2011 1:09PM dndhatcher said

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@KvanCetre "Its always disappointing to log into a beta and find players who have no clue about the game they've signed up to test."

I strongly disagree with this sentiment. The vast bulk of the players who buy the game are going to start with very little knowledge of the game. Getting those first impressions from people who have not been analyzing trade show screen shots for a year is very valuable information for the developer to have. Probably alot more valuable than someone who has already formed a strong opinion about how the game is and how it should be.

PS. I would be embarrassed to ship a huge budget AAA MMO with space combat as an arcade game. It has no business being integrated into the game like it is.
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Posted: Oct 18th 2011 1:32PM (Unverified) said

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@Sephirah No developer ever has said 'you know what: this annoying bug that users hate, I don't care about it. Screw those users.'

What happens is that there is a finite amount of time, and bugs have different levels of impact and difficulty to fix. A bug that's mildly annoying but a huge pain in the ass is going to be put on a list somewhere, waaay at the bottom, and it's not going to be addressed for a long time. It's important to know it's there and to know the impact; if 100,000 people report a bug then maybe it's time to bite the bullet and fix it, but without people filing reports they won't know that.

Most devs take pride in their work, or even if they're not terribly proud of it, they're ashamed and embarrassed about bugs in it.
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Posted: Oct 18th 2011 5:38PM Ardra Diva said

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@KvanCetre

You're basically saying that TOR is better as an arcade game than an actual, you know, MMO where you start small and gain power and ability as you level up...
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Posted: Oct 18th 2011 6:06PM KvanCetre said

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@Ardra Diva
I would like the small space content to be arcadey, right. As swg demonstrated, as an mmo it was boring. A tie interceptor should never be slow. This isn't a space mmo, it's a land based mmo with a space mini game. Just like KOTOR was a star wars rpg with a pod racing mini game. Star Wars was about exciting space combat, not hanging out on space yachts.

But thats just my opinion..
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Posted: Oct 18th 2011 7:07PM bulldozerftw said

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@Sephirah People are always going to join betas for a free trial or preview. I might even go as far to say I even encourage that type of behavior and find no problem with it.
If a multimillion dollar project releases a product that may be garbage or they don't even know. Most likely because they decided not to fork out money to hire a qualified in house tester or they didn't spend enough time to find the appropriate professional tester.

Then I say if they want to take advantage of us and pay us nothing more then a free preview then it's entirely their own fault. Their dumb enough to take it even a step further and allow 100,000 people for example in and then only have one forum community manager to read through that unsorted chaos or bug reports. It's no mystery why the real beta testers go unheard. It's impossible for any progress to get done with the 2nd layer of a failed quality insurance attempt.

Something has to change. Currently the way they have this setup most beta's have recipes for previews so their serving their purpose quite well. So if that's their intentions I guess their fine with it as long as they don't have to hire a few more people. They have to actually start thinking alot earlier on in house with professional testers so that they can actually work to fix problems such as game play issues that may occur that they didn't think of. Or they have to be alot more picky about their normal beta applications. But in those circumstances it opens up the possibility for people to just lie just to get a better chance at getting picked. Because if they don't have good enough people to pick the appropriate in house guy out of say 100 what makes them think they will be able to do it with 100,000 people that don't have any proof of certifications.

I just read some crap about battlefield 3. They were attempting to brainwash the public into accepting that betas are to be expected to be horrible. Sometimes to the point that a month before launch they have major issues like people falling in quicksand all the time and going under the map. They went on to make up an excuse in my mind that they had to use the alpha build to help them better test the networking end of the game. When in reality it could just be that they were giving them reasons to want to buy the full thing. There's a bunch of multiplayer demos out there for example that you can just play forever if you wanted to.
I've never once come across any good game that had major issues in the beta. No one works that fast in a month. In that last month their suppose to be doing other things like printing 2-3 million copies of a disk that hopefully arn't an alpha build like dead rising by accident.
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Posted: Oct 19th 2011 10:05PM ShivanSwordsman said

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@Sephirah

You were in the Warhammer Online beta toom huh? Yeah, I had a massive problem with memory leaks in their game. I took logs as to what I did, took screenshots, posted my specs... and not a damn thing was done about it. Same with Hellgate London. The betas were there just to get pre-orders, nothing more nothing less.
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Posted: Oct 18th 2011 9:31AM Skyydragonn said

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good article though I would disagree with your statement that information learned during beta is obsolete as time passes. Unless there are serious changes to the core mechanics of the game there are things learned that do not become outdated with the games aging process. Not to mention that as things do change during the lifespan of the game, your having been there since Beta gives you a more in depth or unique perspective on how those changes effect things. Who here remembers the 1.3 WoW changes and how people decried them as ruining some classes. Which they in fact did for almost 8 months. DPS warriors were unheard of post weapon normalization. Rogues went Combat or they didn't get raid slots. No Dagger rogues existed in PvE for almost a year. In short everything that the long term player base (many of us from beta) said would happen did happen. unfortunately Blizzard didn't listen until the playerbase at alrge grew to the point that people could not help but notice the issues before they fixed them.

Posted: Oct 19th 2011 10:44AM reathorn2010 said

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@Skyydragonn

Yes but how does that help you better help players? If anything, I remember vanilla, bc, wrath, and cata and all I get out of it is the ability to say to people "Oh the good ole days"
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