Archive for July 16th, 2012

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Quote Of The Day: Judge Not “The Secret World” By Its Beta

July 16, 2012

While first glances make TSW appear to be just another MMO with a horror theme, the reality is the game is much deeper and varied than most of what we have been playing over the last several years.  It was then that I realized I had made a huge error in beta.  I had judged TSW far too early.  I had done a disservice to Funcom as a tester, and almost bypassed what was looking to be one of the best gaming experiences I had had in years.

Paganrites

For the sake of full disclosure, I would first like to say I did not play The Secret World beta. TSW was the first MMO in a long, long time where I consciously and explicitly made the decision to forgo beta, opting to plunge in blind at launch and play with fresh eyes instead. Of course, those paying attention will remember that I caved during the last beta weekend and played for a couple of hours (dammit, I’m so weak). Still, as it was for such a short time and only barely a week before early access, I’m thinking it hardly counts.

Regardless, lately I’ve been reading up on the game a lot. My research around the net has brought me to many a gaming blog or community forum where I often see a reason commonly repeated by people who have decided not to play TSW, usually something along the lines of “I tried the beta, and I didn’t like it.” This is why this blog post by Paganrites caught my attention today (and also because I noticed that several of my Twitter messages make cameo appearances).

In a nutshell, it’s basically an earnest declaration of love for the game from someone who had originally been bitterly let down by beta. The title pretty much says it all.

You could say that I too judged TSW a tad too early, specifically the combat which I initially described from my brief beta experience as clunky and unintuitive. In live, however, it felt smoother and more fluid, and this was only five days later. At first I thought I’d gotten used to the combat; it didn’t occur to me that vast improvements might have been made to the final build, which appears to be the case. I say most of the time, what we see in beta is pretty close to what we see in live, but according to Pagan, those judging TSW by its beta could be doing the game and themselves a disservice, as apparently the difference between the final product and even the later test builds is like night and day.

Just some food for thought, especially regarding what he also says at the end of the article regarding not participating in any more beta tests. Understandably, most people I know prefer to “test drive” an MMO before making the decision to buy, and lately, so-called beta tests have become the way to do so. Still, there is something to be said about waiting to do quests and instance encounters in a new game for the first time during launch — there’s that wonderful shared experience of learning the fights together with others (even if it does mean dying over and over), and allowing yourself to discover the game as a blank slate and be surprised by things you never knew.

It’s the whole reason why I decided to stay away from TSW beta in the first place; even from the beginning it felt to me like the less I knew about it, the better. Ultimately I think it was the right call, as not knowing what to expect — especially in this game — definitely has its advantages. However, as difficult as it might be to resist, going forward I too will probably try holding off on any more beta tests on general principle. No telling if I will succeed, but I just have a feeling it might bring me more enjoyment in the long run.