Gaming Massively

Monday, April 7, 2008

beta tests 1

I was thinking about beta tests over the weekend. I've been in quite a number, several big name ones, which is vaguely surprising to me - I hadn't expected to find myself able to get into them, and yet it's worked out fairly well.

Obviously, the beta test is a necessary part of any software development project, and massive games are no different. It's the NDA, and the various aspects of communicating with the community that I find so interesting. I've been in betas where nothing worked, and that is clearly a mistake - if you know it's broken, you don't need a beta tester to tell you (that game closed less than six months after opening). But what's interesting is the betas where things mostly work, because those are the games where the beta testers feel like they have an idea of what the game will be like.

Of course, if you have an NDA, people aren't supposed to say what's happening, though at some point the NDA will be lifted, and you will have people talking about a game they played while it wasn't finished. On the other hand, they will also often be the most enthusiastic gamers.

I will confess - the people who hang out on the public boards before a game is released weird me out a little. The ones who beta test at least have a reason to be there, but the ones who have no idea what's going on, but are there anyway? Yeah. Yikes.

So I guess I have too many thoughts about beta testing, because this post is wandering all over the place, and I haven't even got to the part where the most prodigious posters on the boards will often not help the game in the slightest.

I'll post this, now, and maybe revisit the topic when I can break it into smaller chunks.

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