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Reader Comments (59)

Posted: Dec 9th 2011 8:15AM DarkWalker said

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There is one case where Beta characters really should not be kept: if they were given big leveling bonuses (or started at a higher level), or granted other big permanent benefits, in order to test higher level content. This would be quite unfair to players that didn't get the chance to participate in the Beta.

Otherwise - and more so for F2P games - I don't see any problem with keeping characters used in the *open* beta.

Posted: Dec 9th 2011 9:11AM fallwind said

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@DarkWalker hows this for a reason: Big honkin' bugs in the beta.... ya know, the things you are supposed to be looking for?

Beta's are not demos, they are not "early access", they are not a head start. They are for testing the game to find the "if I stand here I can kill the boss without it ever being able to hit me" and the "I can jump outside the level from this crate".
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Posted: Dec 9th 2011 9:28AM DarkWalker said

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@fallwind

Unless the bugs allow characters to achieve undeserved power, I don't see any problem in keeping Beta characters.

As the article itself said, Beta is being used, in increasing amounts, as another form of "early access", or even a way to generate hype. If it's an open beta, with a mostly done game - to the point there is no left-over content shortcut or power grant from earlier testing phases - for the most part it's not too different from an early access program.
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Posted: Dec 9th 2011 10:08AM Scuffles said

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@fallwind

In fairness most F2P games wipe everything up to Open Beta. Because in most cases that is where the general betatesting has actually stopped. Yes they have a few buggs left so squash so people will still be reporting this or that..... but the majority is taken care of.

In most cases Open Beta is for all intents and purposes their launch, with the appended caveat that you (the players) can't bitch if anything goes horribly horribly wrong......... and they will drag that carte blanche to hell and back before they give it up.

Open Beta has been turned, like it or not, into a marketing maneuver and early access to games.
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Posted: Dec 9th 2011 10:23AM fallwind said

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@DarkWalker "Unless the bugs allow characters to achieve undeserved power, I don't see any problem in keeping Beta characters."

Problem is... if you know your char is getting the DEL key, you are more likely to report that power-giving bug early. If you can keep your toon then you will milk that bug day and night until they patch it out.
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Posted: Dec 9th 2011 11:08AM DarkWalker said

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@fallwind

And then, if someone is exploiting Beta bugs, the developer has every right to delete all character data, in order to prevent undeserved power from being brought into the final game.

It's one of the usual caveats of "Beta" status: everything can change at any time, including characters being wiped out, should the devs feel the need. If some players found a power-giving bug and started using it with the intent of keeping the now illegitimate characters after the game launches, the best course of action is to either strip the undeserved gains from them - if it's actually possible and not too much work - or to delete those characters (or wipe all characters, if the exploitation was widespread).

BTW, for things that grant enough power to be unbalancing, the devs often don't even need a report. They can (and should) add "probes" to their servers during beta testing to capture anything suspicious, since the likelihood of it being a bug is high.
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Posted: Dec 9th 2011 1:19PM fallwind said

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@DarkWalker "And then, if someone is exploiting Beta bugs, the developer has every right to delete all character data, in order to prevent undeserved power from being brought into the final game."

IF they know about it, and a player who wants to keep their beta toon for launch is far less likely to report an exploit then a player who knows that there is no point abusing that bug now because none of that ill-gotten progress will matter on launch day.
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Posted: Dec 9th 2011 3:19PM DarkWalker said

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@fallwind

- If the devs are not completely incompetent, they are quite closely watching (or setting automated data collection and analysis on) the players in order to detect any abnormal behavior from the game - such as players being rewarded more than they should, players being able to beat enemies they are not supposed to beat, etc. If it's a bug whose exploitation can give enough power to be a concern, it's being triggered intentionally by players, and the devs are not able to detect it during Beta - a period where there are less players to be watched, and (supposedly) more developers to evaluate/debug the game - I'm not sure I would be confident, at all, about the devs ability to find and fix exploits after the game launches.

- Having a chance to not wipe the characters means a lot more players willing to beta-test - and, besides, each individual player is most likely willing to play more than if they knew the characters would be deleted for sure. Thus, a lot more date to be collected and analyzed about how the game (and players) behave. A development team that is able to tap on this data can potentially get much more out of their beta program. This extra amount of play test might not be needed, though - games like WoW and TOR already draw enough willing beta testers, even without any kind of extra incentive.

- There are other ways to provide incentives. I liked how STO handled it in the revamp before going F2P, for example: players testing each specific sub-system got rewards, depending on how much they advanced during the test. For example, getting a ship officer to a high level would grant them a rare and powerful officer as a reward.
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Posted: Dec 9th 2011 8:16AM KorosAU said

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"But more recently, some studios have been allowing characters to stay from open beta to launch, essentially establishing that beta period as a headstart of its own"

Source and examples of this occurring in major MMO's Shawn?

Posted: Dec 9th 2011 10:14AM ShawnSchuster said

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@KorosAU
APB, most recently, and most F2P games
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Posted: Dec 9th 2011 10:35AM Scuffles said

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@KorosAU

Yeah it has been a F2P staple since they realized they could use "Open Beta" as a "get out of jail free" card.
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Posted: Dec 9th 2011 8:16AM MrSquiggles said

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Yes, it should be wiped. The game operation/rules can change prior to releasing. It makes so much sense to wipe it for a clean start.

It's psychological too. If you didn't, then it blurs the line between what the beta actually is, compared to the main release of the game. If characters were kept, maybe you'd just get people joining a beta for the purposes of getting ahead of other people who joined at launch, thus destroying the concept of what a beta is for.

The idea of an even playing field for everyone is a good thing. *whiskers quiver* In fact, I'd be a little concerned about playing a game where they didn't wipe the beta participant's characters. :[

Posted: Dec 9th 2011 8:20AM Felnor said

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Please don't wipe my Marty McFly character. I worked long and hard to earn reputation with Doc Brown and Jennifer.

Posted: Dec 9th 2011 8:22AM Grumms said

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This question only has one answer: Absolutely.

Posted: Dec 9th 2011 8:30AM Kodiak said

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If it's a beta everyone (and I mean everyone) can have access to I don't see the harm in it. Think of a situation like APB:Reloaded where you could have made there anytime for a long time. This seems to be more of the trend of Free to Play games, but they also let you spend money during the beta so there's that as well. What company would erase your data if you paid money for it?

When you get the closed beta situations where only a number of people got access to the beta I think that's a poor decision all around. Take a look at SWTOR, where you had servers like Cosmic Turbine and had level 50's in there chomping away on nub level 12s in their Warfronts. Our little group had to switch servers to a newer server to get away from being 3 shot from a pair of level 50 Operatives in the Warfronts for an hour. Once we did we had a blast playing against people mostly around our level (max we saw was a 30 but wasn't 3 shotting us). I'd wager a lot of people wouldn't put up with that kind of crap on day one of a game release.

Posted: Dec 9th 2011 8:33AM shmegger said

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In the ancient world, games had demos, and beta testers were studio employees. You played the demo, which seemed infuriatingly short (if the game was good).

Jump to today, when everyone expects an open beta, which they use to demo the game, not help beta test it. Now you are telling me the beta should be like full game access that allows you to keep a test character? So the people that get an early shot at the game get a level and gear advantage and early name choice over paying customers?

Posted: Dec 9th 2011 8:33AM (Unverified) said

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If they did NOT wipe the game before launching I would seriously consider not playing because I would be competing not only against experienced players but experienced characters with better gear. It would not be a "level playing field."

Posted: Dec 9th 2011 7:02PM Graill440 said

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@(Unverified)

You took the time to type that? When is it ever a level playing field in an MMO...answer: Never. (Chuckle, seriously?)
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Posted: Dec 9th 2011 8:36AM Felladin said

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As the game is not complete until after beta (we have to assume there are bugs and imbalances being handled during beta), and the entries to the game is not depending on who wants to join but who is chosen to join.
So a wipe seems like the best idea.

Posted: Dec 9th 2011 8:37AM shmegger said

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If you want to keep your beta character, you should be allowed to and there is a perfect place for it: Test Server.

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