Last days were quiet here, because of Preview weekend (PW) in the US and i catched a cold. “Catching” up some reviews about beta and PW i started to think about the purpose of beta towards the players and the dev’s.
Question: What can we learn from beta?
Answer: Not much, if anything..
That’s a harsh and too general statement..but let me explain it a bit.
For Dev’s beta is a test for the game to polish it, so that it’s in a playable and stable state. “No design survives first player contact” sort of thing ;) There are things that look good on paper, but turn out to be horrible in a real game.
Furthermore it’s a test for the scripts and code in live condition. You don’t want to test if the login screen can manage X k players login in simultaneously in the live game.
It’s all about statistics. Many players in the game show most likely many possible failures of code..
On the other hand there are the beta players. Beta is for some of them more or less “free playing time”. It’s ok, if the there is constructive feedback. There should be no “Nerf class X because they killed me several times. They have to be OP!”. Looking around at some forums, that sort of players are represented with a “loud voice” after the NDA has been dropped. This is no feedback someone can build a game on. Mythic doesn’t count on them, but it’s some sort of “dead weight” in numbers of beta testers.
But that is not the only problem. There are several players out there who don’t want to spoil their fun later on at the live game when exploring the world and getting tome unlocks, etc. This is a point i can really understand, but it defeats also a bit the purpose of the beta. If you combine it with the players who don’t want to read quest text it leads roughly to no one reading the Tome of Knowledge. Even the forum discussions rarely go about the Tome, more about career choice, population issues and such. It’s a little bit exaggerated, but i think you get my point here.
So what can we learn from beta? Raw numbers i would say. The skeleton of the game. The flesh is more or less untouched.
One could argue that Keep sieges, PQ’s and such also belong to the flesh.. I admit that they do. They may be the heart of the game. To me the Tome of Knowledge is the soul to it and i’m not sure how well it’s been tested in beta.
Don’t get me wrong. Raw numbers are important. No game will be fun with unbalanced careers/population, client crashes, etc.. I’m just not sure how good the results of a beta are. OB and PW are, as i stated before, only good for stress test. CB should be a test of everything.