Posts Tagged ‘Game Testing’

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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.

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SWTOR: Hammer Comes Down, NDA Goes Up

November 18, 2011

The Old Republic opens up.

There was an interesting tweet from Star Wars: The Old Republic community manager Stephen Reid yesterday, teasing an “interesting” Friday update. So when the “News and Announcements” forum was graced today with a preview of the Flashpoint “Bringing Down the Hammer“, I was a bit confused. Sure, a feature on a new FP is always nice, but this type of update isn’t exactly out of the ordinary.

But then 3pm came around and BOOM, we got this little doozy from Dr. Greg Zeschuk himself:

As of now, the non disclosure portion of our Game Testing Agreement is officially lifted.

Not sure if Mr. Reid was sort of hinting at this, but yeah, I guess it’s pretty big. Apparently, the NDA lift applies to anyone and everyone, including general testers. So for the next few days, I guess I’ll be preparing a bunch of posts. There’s…a lot I’d like to talk about.

Just some info on my time with the SWTOR beta:

  • Currently still testing, and have been in testing since June
  • Classes I had time to test extensively: Trooper and Smuggler
  • Classes I only dabbled in: Sith Inquisitor, Sith Warrior, Imperial Agent
  • Classes I didn’t touch at all: Either Jedi and the Bounty Hunter — the classes I did not want to spoil as I am most likely rolling them at launch
  • Farthest I’ve gotten: Level 50 (cap) with the Smuggler
  • All 17 planets minus Tython the Jedi starting area

I’ve had a blast testing, and it’s been almost half a year and I’m still not tired of it, so I guess that’s got to count for something!

Anyway, more info and updates coming to this blog soon. I’m sure lots of people will be talking about the game from now until launch, and yes, I’ll be doing my part adding to the deluge! If anyone has any questions about the game, especially the higher level content, I’ll be happy to answer or offer up commentary in a future post. More info and updates to the blog coming soon.

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Never Tell Me The Odds

February 25, 2011

Another Friday, another Star Wars: The Old Republic weekly update. And it’s a dev blog. Blaine Christine is one of my favorite guys over at BioWare Austin, however, so I was only slightly disappointed that it wasn’t the Bounty Hunter class video I was hoping for. But at this point, I don’t expect to see any more exciting announcements until PAX East in two weeks, anyway.

It was nice to see Mr. Christine’s good humor come through along with his insights as he gives us an inside look at Game Testing. I feel Developer Blogs are often some of the more informative sources — straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. Though, now it’s going to be kinda hard to look at him again and not picture him in Queen Amidala’s make-up and red dress. Pass the eye bleach, please!

It was interesting to read about his work as a Live Producer, but I’m not sure how I feel about some of the Game Tester thoughts they included, to tell the truth. Don’t get me wrong, I’m pleased to see game testing is going well, and yeah I want to know how testing is going. But I can’t help it, reading exaggerated praise and quotes like “I’ve been waiting years and years and years for an MMORPG experience like this” still makes me cringe a little inside. Exaggerated hype, but very little substance. Whenever I read feedback, whether it’s positive or negative, I always find myself asking “Why?” Thoughts from testers that read more like typical quotes you’ll find on the back of a book jacket don’t tell me much and just leave me feeling empty. Obviously, this is why I prefer reading the more detailed hands-on reviews.

I do get how the marketing machine works though, and also too that they have to keep certain details about testing hush-hush. And it is quite possible that maybe I’m just being a grump. Heck, I’m certainly not above admitting a little bit of bitterness over not beta testing 😛

Oh why oh why oh why do I never get lucky with these things?

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This Does Not Bode Well For The Federation…

July 26, 2010

"We must acknowledge, once and for all, that the purpose of diplomacy is to prolong a crisis." -- Spock. Smart man.

On the quest for the elusive “surprise” Tribble reward, my adventures continued this past weekend on the Star Trek Online test server. On Sunday, I delved into the mystifying and bureaucratic world of the Federation Diplomatic Corps.

Two diplomacy missions down, failed both on the first attempts. Dammit, my T’Andy’s a Vulcan and a soldier that likes things that go boom, how can you give her something like a Pulse Laser and expect her not to use it?

So far, “leading with the olive branch” hasn’t been working out very well for my captain, but fortunately, if at first you don’t succeed, the missions can be restarted. So don’t panic, that war you accidentally started isn’t going to be permanent, and T’Androma should be sporting that shiny new ambassador suit in no time.

I have to commend Cryptic for their efforts. Making it as a career diplomat is more than I expected. The two missions I managed to complete involved a lot of investigation, research, and running around talking to NPCs. So brush up your MMO reading skills, Federation captains, because if my experience has taught me anything, you have to be pretty thorough and you don’t get much room for error. I’ve heard that these diplomatic missions can get pretty complex, so I’m prepared to be thrown into even hairier situations.

Admittedly, schmoozing some snobby politician is nowhere near as fun as blasting Borg cubes in space…but damn, these new snazzy captain’s quarters make it all worthwhile (that’s right! New ship interiors!)

My place. Tonight. You bring the Chateau Picard, I'll bring my usual Vulcan frigidity. How's that for diplomacy, or did I fail that one too?

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She’s Back

July 24, 2010

T'Androma, back in the captain's chair.

Yesterday, I reactivated my Star Trek Online subscription, as planned. I’d been waiting for a reason to re-sub, and Season 2 is it. The update probably won’t go live until closer to the end of the month, but I wanted a chance to update the client and get myself reacquainted with the game controls before that happens.

I hadn’t planned on logging into the Tribble test server — as much as I was looking forward to the new content, it didn’t make much sense to spoil it for myself before it even has a chance to go live — but the day happened to mark the beginning  of another Tribble Test Weekend, and heaven knows I’m a sucker for free in-game rewards. I plan to test what I can without going overboard, and hope it’ll be enough to obtain the “surprise” Tribble.

On the test server tonight, I had just enough time to start the first couple of Undine missions and fight my way to their native realm. And I have to say, I am absolutely floored by Cryptic’s take on Fluidic space — it’s beautiful, it’s enchanting…and just a little trippy. And just as I’d gotten used to the flight controls again, those sneaky “Trikes” and their new abilities give me a run for my money. I have a feeling the Undine story is going to be the most interesting one yet.

Like someone spilled a little water into sector space.

I am also truly amazed at how much the Season Two: Ancient Enemies update will be bringing to STO. Tomorrow, I plan to pop into Tribble again to try my hand at some diplomacy. There’s more to life than running into a fight guns blazing, and it’s time for Admiral T’Androma to learn something about the delicate art of negotiation.  Subtlety has never been her strong suit, so here’s hoping she doesn’t spark any galactic wars with her Vulcan candor.

Back on the live Holodeck server, I went ahead and bought the Mirror Universe uniforms (evidently, great minds think alike!) which I’d been dying for ever since I found out they were being offered in the C-Store. But oh no, it was never intended for my captain…

Looking sharp there, Sleer.

Finally, the beard and the uniform come together on the U.S.S. Taiga's First Officer.

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SWTOR Testing Begins, And Though It’ll Probably Never Be Me…

July 9, 2010

…This has been the Star Wars: The Old Republic Friday update everyone has been waiting for. Sure, a couple weeks ago there were rumors and news that a closed beta had started already, but today’s announcement makes it official. Confirmation is big news.

Yeah-Hoo!

And yes, I have the worst luck ever when it comes to getting chosen for these things (selection being mostly random and all that), so I’m not holding my breath at all. I’m still overjoyed, however, that things are moving along and the spring 2011 release date now feels somehow so much more palpable. Time flies when you think about it; we’ll all be sitting impatiently in front of our rigs waiting to login in no time, I’m sure.