Beta beta bo beta banana fana fo feta me mi mo meta, beeeeta

Over the years, I’ve become less and less a fan of participating in betas, for the reasons that you often hear: You experience buggier early versions that ruin your perception of the game, your characters get wiped, it robs you of the first-day experience, etc.  And while it’s not a hard rule that I refuse to join one, I generally just… don’t.  There’s more than enough to play right now to keep my attention until the new game can release.

But sometimes temptation is too great and there arises those hot-hot-HOT betas that everyone’s dying to get in.  I mean, if someone came up to me right now and offered me a TOR or GW2 beta pass, I’d have to think long and hard about saying no.  So I’m trekking into the Rift beta this weekend with a lot of other folks (and I’m sorry if you wanted in but didn’t get called this time around — I hope it swings your way next time!), which has made me re-evaluate my stance on betas.

One thing that a beta offers is the chance to become part of the development team.  I think this concept isn’t as obvious to most players — testers — but it’s there.  While most beta gamers are there for a sneak peek and to satisfy their curiosity (as well as get some free play time), the ones that do take the time to test systems and report bugs essentially join the dev team as unpaid QA testers.  Post-launch, you can still give feedback, but there’s the sense that the dev team doesn’t take your input as seriously because you are now a customer — on the other side of the line.

Maybe it’s a matter of semantics, but I see passionate beta testers as being proud of this chance to team up with the creators and (hopefully) do some good that will give this game the best possible chance come release.

Speaking of sneak peeks and curiosity, while it’s not fair to judge an MMO by its beta, betas do serve to give a quick answer to a long-boiling question: Is it worth it, or should I just move on?  We’ve all seen betas that dash hopes and crush anticipation in the community almost overnight — and when that happens, the company thanks its lucky stars for the NDA and a brief slice of time to try to make wrong things right.  I’ve been in plenty of betas, both good and bad, for a single day only, just to answer that question.  If there are severe red flags and my gut is saying that the game isn’t going to pull itself together, then I know to pull up roots and relocate my interest elsewhere.  If I see a smash hit in the making, I’ll feel a bit better about the long wait to release.  Betas don’t provide certainty either way, but we can’t be blind to the fact that they do provide indications for failure or success.

In any case, Rift’s beta’s under the usual NDA lockdown, so unfortunately you’re not going to be hearing me or anyone else chat about it until they lift it.  However, anything publicly released is fair game, like this video that we posted at Massively.

Nothing radically new, but I do like the presentation.  A few thoughts:

  • Interesting choice bringing gamers/testers into it for their testimonies.  Whether they’re pressured/encouraged/edited to say nice things or not is up to your opinion, but I like the angle of them saying it vs. the devs.  Word of mouth is key for an MMO’s success, and the sooner we hear it from people who aren’t working for the company, the better.
  • The dude was riding a gorilla mount, right?  I wasn’t just making that up in my mind?
  • Trion is putting it out there: “We’re going to be complete at launch, polished at launch, and there’s enough here to back up our claim that we are next-gen.”
  • “Or play as a teleporting sniper” *BAMPF!*
  • They’re really selling the dynamic rift events as the single biggest point of the game.  It really is going to live or die on them.
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10 thoughts on “Beta beta bo beta banana fana fo feta me mi mo meta, beeeeta

  1. IGN posted a review on Rift’s sneak peak they got. I can’t wait to see what the beta has in store, but the review on IGN kind of made it seem like a “prettier” MMO with class play similar to the others out there. I want to like this game so much. I want it to be a really good game. I am keeping my expectations low so I don’t get disappointed, because I don’t want this game to disappoint me.

  2. It does look interesting, but not as far as PvP goes. Rifts didn’t work so well in Aion… and scenarios are scenarios. I’ll be interested to see what it can bring as far as PvE. The rifts just sound like random spawns to me.

  3. I agree with Werit, and couldn’t help thinking of Aion’s rifts. As far as PvE, I think the interesting part is “if unchecked.” What exactly do the invasions do? Do they take over a zone and then despawn eventually if there’s nobody around to fight them? They sound a little like the pre-Wrath events in WoW, where a necropolis would suddenly appear overheard and spawn a bunch of guys and a boss to kill.

  4. I’m surprised to find myself seeming a bit of a curmugeon and not terribly won over by the news coming out about Rift. This is surprising particularly because while I still feared GW2 would be vaporware and Rift was known as “Heroes of Telara”, it was absolutely my go-to title to watch. I think in the interim I realized that strong story combined with newer casual mechanics a la GW2 and DCUO was my drawing point to MMOs, and therefore, while Rift still looks lovely graphically, I get the distinct feeling it’s not “for” me. Which is great for the people it’s “for”, of course! If we all enjoyed the exact same things, Jersey Shore would be the only thing on TV.

    I still look forward to the opportunity to check it out, and reserve the right to be pleasantly surprised (it has happened before).

  5. From what I’ve heard and read, invasions are out to take over territory and dominate towns. They don’t have a quick respawn/reset timer, meaning that if they’re undealt with, they’ll be hanging around for a long time. They also butt heads with other rift invasions, kill vendor/quest NPCs, and so on.

    Although I’ve never seen Aion’s rifts, what seems interesting here is that you can push them back and then jump into the rift itself as a mini-dungeon to kill and loot before sealing it up. I kind of think of it like Ghostbusters.

  6. I’m Malcolm/Maeloda on the video. Love your blog and been reading/commenting for a couple months :)

    Pressured – No, not at all. We were asked if we could, to talk about the game, but we were totally able to decline.
    Encouraged- Yes we were, but not really. Most of the encouragement was watching us play the game, and asking for real feedback :) (also devs noting things about the game that I can’t discuss, but the point is that they were just friendly about the whole thing and excited about people playing in front of them IRL not in a convention setting or not in person)
    Edited – Yes, I was. Especially in the second part. But I don’t blame them, and I said said the same sort of thing anyway. I rambled a bit, so I expected editing.

    Word of mouth – It is VERY clear they are running on that, and it may be succeeding so far… it does depend on how the beta events go though, for sure.

    Gorilla Mount – Kinda. Pretty much. Also that mechanical horse :)

    Complete and Polished – They mean that it will include all things you should expect on launch, and without major problems. So they’ve already said there will be a whole bunch of dungeons, some raids, Warfronts, PvP zones, etc etc, and the next-gen may be in regards to polish, graphics (HD..), mechanics overall, server structure…

    Teleporting Sniper – I think the souls for it are public, so I THINK that might be a Riftstalker-Marksman combo in the Rogue Calling. Sounds neat.

    Rifts as biggest point – Yes it is, since it seems that TOR is based on more interactive questing and character development, and GW2 is based on high quality dynamic events in themselves, RIFT will focus more on widespread changes in the game world. Now, the rifts/invasions are the focus point for launch, and they’re trying to get that as polished as possible, but I don’t doubt we may see different forms of this dynamic system in the future of this game. (and we will already see it in minor ways)

    At this point, I’m not going to be a big fanboy hype machine (whoops too late), but I WILL be in beta (see you there!), and I VERY LIKELY will buy this game, as I really do like what I see.

  7. Pingback: On the Eve of the First Beta Event, I Return. « Horriftic Intentions

  8. The value of being a beta tester to a tester varies with the value the developers place on the input of their testers. I’ve been in betas where tester feedback was encouraged, listened to, and acted upon. An example of this was the City of Heroes beta, way back when. I distinctly recall, for example, that the resale price of enhancements was 10% of purchase price in beta. I and many others argued for a higher percentage, and the developers listened and implemented it (whatever the value is on live now). There were countless other examples all through that beta, large and small. Those few of us in the closed beta (and it was a fairly small group by modern standards) really felt like we had an impact on the game. Sure, the developers didn’t always listen, and made unpopular choices, but that’s as it should be.

    Then you have betas like WAR or Champions, where tester feedback seemed to be all but ignored, there were more “testers” than you could shake a stick at, and the whole “beta” ended up being nothing more than an early demo of the final game.

    In the case of CoH, beta testing felt like a priveledge. In the case of WAR or Champions, it felt pointless. It’s sad to realize that CoH and Champions were both by the same company too . . . oh how times change. I keep trying to get into betas though, even as they turn more and more into a marketing tool and less and less something that influences the development of the game.

    I like to think that the Rift beta will be more like CoH and less like Champions as the developers have seemed active and helpful on the forums. At this point, I don’t know, as I’m merely a “hopeful”. So, good luck!

  9. I used to love betas but I avoid them now completely. I’d rather wait and enjoy the final product and judge it at that moment instead of a non-finished version. Still, like yourself Syp, it’s always tempting especially when it’s a game I’ve been waiting years to play. I’d feel guilty though because I know I wouldn’t be playing the beta to truly test it but rather just as a way of getting to satisfy myself sooner. Hmm, that sounded strange…

  10. “We’re going to be complete at launch, polished at launch, and there’s enough here to back up our claim that we are next-gen.”

    Take notes Cryptic! I mean after the launch of course, after they have actually proven they can back their words.

    Regarding the Rifts themselves, I think they are quite cool, but I do feel that it is a terrible idea to bank the entire title on this one seemingly novel feature.

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