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Beta's are not Demo's

CopelandCopeland Member Posts: 1,955

Ok i'm making this post after seeing several games bashed over their beta.

My general concern is that you kids see beta's as some sort of demo. This is not the case. I understand that larger companies such as Blizzard and SOE used open beta stress tests as a Demo of their game but do you kids understand that most game developers actually use beta to iron out bugs and continue development? If you sign up for beta's with the idea that your doing a demo for your own self interest your letting every other gamer down and robbing the developers of a valuable source of feedback.

I heard so many complaints about EQ2 and WoW at release about how all these bugs were reported yet they did nothing to fix them then i hear about other games how this game sucks because its using alpha graphics and has yet to implement its finished graphics. Do you even understand why they use less cumbersome graphics at the start of beta?

I can understand if you get in a game and don't like aspects of it. Thats fine but then you quit? You're there to give the devs your feedback. If you just quit how do the devs know what they need to change to make it appealing? Sure there are some companies such as Blizzard and SOE who really wouldnt care what you suggested but let me assure most smaller companies care alot about what its community thinks. The very life of their game depends on such interaction.

Real beta's are not demo's they are tests. Developers tend to start with a very small portion of content just to make sure the servers all work properly. They'll deal with any patching and login issues first. After they get that sorted out they'll start adding features and content slowly over a period of time to insure that they're all tested adequately. This is a pretty simplistic breakdown of how beta's work but you should get the general idea.

Beta is the next step after alpha. At the start of Beta expect to see the end of Alpha. This means you wont see anywhere near the finished product at the start of beta.

Also i'd like to ask MMORPG.COM to stop posting made up release dates just to make themselves look in the know. It should be apparent to every gamer that MMORPG.COM has no more of an idea when games are due to be released than anyone else that can go to the games forum and read it for themselves. When you guys post a made up a release date your giving these kids the idea that the game is about to be released and then they jump into beta to get a demo. This can have a negative result for the games community who then has to suffer through 100's of posts about how "teh game is teh suxxor" because they dont grasp the concept that MMORPG.COM doesnt decide the release date the devs do and theres still months of testing ahead. These kids then quit, go bash the game and the dev's lose out by having their NDA's broken and being pulled away from their real job to deal with it.

Anyway i could go on but with attention spans being what they are i'll end it here.

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Comments

  • EvilCEvilC Member UncommonPosts: 148

    Agreed.  Even an open-right-before-launch beta is still that, a beta, and is not the same as a downloadable demo that you see for a single player game.  That's what during-retail 14-day free trials are for.

    You've also forgotten something else though... the freeloader.  These are the people who just go beta-to-beta because it lets them play for free.

    Both the demoer and the freeloader are bad for the games, but sadly I don't think there's any way to ever get rid of them.

    "Paper is fine... nerf Rock!" --Scissors

  • TheWarcTheWarc Member Posts: 1,199
    Superb post, you are so right.
    But I don't think you'll ever stop those people who flame beta's
  • DekronDekron Member UncommonPosts: 7,358

    I agree to an extent. I do view beta as a job of finding bugs and problems and reporting them, however, if I do not find the game remotely enjoyable, I will quit the beta. To me it's both. Beta is bug searching and demo testing. There is nothing that can be reported to fix the game if you think it just plain sucks. A good example is Rubies of Eventide. I beta tested that piece of crap for about one month until I couldn't stand it anymore. I reported usually 1-2 bugs when I played, but the gameplay was just horrible and the combat retarded, so I quit.

    edit: And I believe the release dates are provided by the devs/publishers as a projected date, but that date can always be pushed back. I honesty don't think that mmorpg.com pulls numbers out of their asses and says "Well, that sounds about right for a release date!" ::::28:: An example is Pirates of the Burning Sea. Their release date on their own website said Q4 2004. Well, it is pushing Q3 2005. MMORPG.com had that original date listed, but the devs pushed the date back so mmorpg.com updated their listing.

  • cyphorcyphor Member UncommonPosts: 131

    Good post and i agree that it would be difficult for devs to prevent these types of players, but one possibility would be to age lock betas to 18+ requiring credit card authentication for proof of age. Possibly an unfair generalization that its the younger players that don’t participate in betas for the right reasons, but it does seem to be the case and unfortunately sacrificing a few good under 18 beta testers would be worth it to minimize the time wasters.
    Yes many people will get their mummy to sign up for them but again hopefully some parents will be a bit more responsible and read the terms and conditions.

    Lastly i don’t see a problem with quitting a beta if its really so bad that you don’t enjoy anything about it, but i think the point was that where this is the case you should inform the devs of your reason for leaving so they may in some way correct these problems.

  • boeskyleboeskyle Member Posts: 114

    Nice post and replies.

    With a good screening system - beta application and maturity of posting in the forums - many problems could be prevented before the prospective beta tester reads the NDA to sign.

    The next step is to require some testing and suggestion feedback from testers on a regular basis - say after after 20 hours of gameplay.  This would be constructive and meeting some quality standards.  The flipside of this are tasking players to test certain systems - such as crafting, adventuring, quest, death, etc.  So yes some players may be approaching the game in a traditional manner, but others will have their avatars powered to the higher levels to check on the advancement system and high level content.  Perhaps the structure is lacking of how the developers and players test certain features.

    Beta testing is a privilege, so it comes with some responsibilities.  I saw the lack of that on the Mourning boards prior to the forum wipe.  Players not testing per the intent of beta testing should just be asked to leave, be reminded about the NDA they signed, then have their log-in code disabled.  As posted above, players that quit or leave the beta should be allowed to leave their reasoning.

    A structured beta testing system will go far in weeding-out the "I wanna play for free" crowd.

  • mandaymanday Member Posts: 291

    Finally someone I agree with on this topic.

    Open betas are not just "free" games. You pay by reporting bugs and giving feedback on the game, so that when it goes gold, it's a better product for those who pay. It's not really right to judge a game while it's in beta either, games usually get refined as they grow a bit older, better UI, easier hotkeys, that kind of thing.

    The only thing that I really judge in open betas is the community. If GMs don't take care of certain problems during the beta stages, it can give a bad impression, and make people not want to see the finished product (or maybe it's just me).

  • jonsnow13jonsnow13 Member Posts: 67

    Lets get the facts straight...  open beta has always been a tool to demo your product, and those that use it to find bugs are just being foolish since they know that 75% of the people that log in (estimate) are there to simply demo the game and play a free game.  The people that actually care about the products are the people in the forums already helping the game get better and have been for quite some time.  By opening it to the public, you're saying hey my product is playable, hey my product is pretty fun, and we're releasing very soon so come in try it out and possibly help find some issues.  This has been the MMORPG way.   Everyone wants to play a game for free.  As a company, this is a horrible mistake because honestly if they fix the problems I wouldn't care because frankly some games were so horrible why would I go off a hunch that they completely revamped the game before launch, and pay the 50 dollar initial purcasing fee + 10-12 dollars a month?  Seems rather silly when you're not very rich.  Also, open beta means floods of people are going to try it, which takes AWAY from production time due to all the new answers you have to give for questions on the forums, or responses in terms of development (like updates) you have to give to try to entice people to just simply come back and test your game.  It is a nightmare to open a game before it's anywhere near done.

    Open beta is also for stress testing, to see how many people you can get in and if the server can handle it.  I've close beta'd a TON of games and I respect them when I do so.  There's a difference however, Close is closed usually only to those who like the concept of the game, are in the forums helping out, and tend to give positive feedback. Don't be blind, just because open beta should be a testing period doesn't mean people aren't going to just jump in and give the game a bad rep, that's why you don't do it until you're ready.

    How many MMO's have released unfinished products?  TO name a few:  Shadowbane anyone?  SWG?  MXO?  Just about majority of them is all.... and how many of these games that released unfinished products and you bought, would you have rather got your money back for?

  • herculeshercules Member UncommonPosts: 4,919

    It been said numerous times.

    Takes for example EQ2 i joined as one of the early testers on friends& family part.

    Antontica was so laggy you could have 5 mins delay easy.This was due to fact it was an important transition point for the queynos folks and really meant it had to hold a few thousand ppl at same time espically early ingame.

    Now ,many instead of waitig to see the final outcome saw it as a usual "bash SoE" time and spammed forums including this one about it.

    I posted the idea of instancing it ,which i actually got a lead dev answer which said something like "them bringing dell folks over to see if they could improve the server and if that fails they will consider instances".

    Eventually at launch this happened and antontica was basically lag free .But the beta testers already spread false information(yes its false because that was beta and the live version was totally different).

    Sadly,it is impossible to tell who is behind a keyboard and truth be jobless ,disgruntled folks have more time to make nice beta applications with loads of nice lies and spam it and thus this kind of folks usually get in.

    Heck,when i am in any beta many freely admit to be below 18 despite the beta applications mostly asking you be 18+.

  • ste2000ste2000 Member EpicPosts: 6,194
    Jonsnow13, Open beta means Beta open to everyone that wants to take part, never than less is still a Beta, as opposed to closed beta, where the devs select people to participate.

    Irth online Open Beta is exactly this, a Beta open to everyone.
    That doesn't mean that their Beta is at the final stage, in fact it is still early stages.

    If we are used to consider open Beta as trials, we need to thank the big companies that abuse this term calling the game Open Beta when in fact is a trial period, but technically open beta doesn't mean "free trial".

    Also Stress test is a thing on itself, it is not part of Beta, it usually happens at the end of Beta to stress the servers, it is not used to find other bugs.

    If you don't like incomplete games or games in development, just don't play Betas (closed or open), wait for the free trial after release, and stop complaining.

  • anarchyartanarchyart Member Posts: 5,378
    Cope that SO needed to be said and I'm gonna bump this thread ruthlessly. Freakin kids demoing game through beta and not reporting any bugs and then just bashing the game on some bloody fan site taking food out of the programmers mouths who work 22 hour days. ARGHimage Doesn't do a thing for our beloved genre either.

    image
  • jonsnow13jonsnow13 Member Posts: 67
    Perhaps you are all right and I am wrong.  I wasn't really complaining merely stating what I thought to be the truth, and the only time I've ever complained about a beta game was Irth... because I thought it was just "that" bad.  It was never intended to start such flame wars... I am sorry I messed up big time on this one.
  • supraman01supraman01 Member Posts: 80

    lol.. nice effort but its not like any one would listen and there for this post is worthless

  • RazorbackRazorback Member Posts: 5,253



    Originally posted by TheWarc
    Superb post, you are so right.
    But I don't think you'll ever stop those people who flame beta's



    /agreed

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    "MMOs, for people that like think chatting is like a skill or something, rotflol"
    http://purepwnage.com
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    "Far away across the field, the tolling of the iron bell, calls the faithful to their knees. To hear the softly spoken magic spell" Pink Floyd-Dark Side of the Moon

  • daveospicedaveospice Member UncommonPosts: 357

    did you not just read the guy aboves post supraman01?  He said sorry...  doesn't that mean he listened?  Man the human race is doomed...

     

  • Darkelf107Darkelf107 Member Posts: 6

    I agree, too many people make that mistake. I am probably, in your eyes, a "kid" however I actually know something about MMORPG's. I mean really, this is an MMORPG website, it's even in the URL and still most people that come here have minimal education about MMORPG's. People, if you are unsure about something, ask! Don't be shy, we are all human, except maybe this guy ---> image

    As for the release date thing, I am not really sure however you have a very good point if it is true.

    .:Dakelf107:.
    Guild Wars is Awesome!

  • protorocprotoroc Member Posts: 1,042


    Originally posted by manday

    It's not really right to judge a game while it's in beta either, games usually get refined as they grow a bit older, better UI, easier hotkeys, that kind of thing.

    in that line of thinking you might as well say its not fair to judge a game until a year after release

  • amappalaamappala Member UncommonPosts: 159

    A crappy MMO is mostlike still a crappy MMO after a month....

    A crappy MMO may possibly become a good MMO after 6 months...

    A crappy MMO scheduled to be release a month mostlikely be a crappy MMO after a month...

    A crappy MMO in open beta is mostlikely still a crappy MMO after a month...

    An MMO in open beta scheduled to be release in a month is mostlikely to be a crappy MMO after month...

    BUT a crappy MMO may possibly become a good MMO after sometime even after its release...

     

     

  • AntMMOAntMMO Member Posts: 33

    After reading this thread i realize there is at least a few good MORE people left in my gaming world :-)

    I agree with mostly everything said, however developers dont exactly make it easy to report bugs.

    After beta testing a few games, I have to go out of my way to report a bug when you said the developers "value" my feedback, why not make an automated bug reporting form/system for when i logout.

    After all, i did sign up for the beta test, i would appreciate having all the information thrown in my face to make it easier to report things.

    So many times I've reported bugs and I dont really know if the developers actually read them, ignore them, fix the bug, or just put it in a pile for later reference

    .02

    none

  • sushimeessushimees Member Posts: 489


    Originally posted by Copeland
    Ok i'm making this post after seeing several games bashed over their beta.My general concern is that you kids see beta's as some sort of demo. This is not the case. I understand that larger companies such as Blizzard and SOE used open beta stress tests as a Demo of their game but do you kids understand that most game developers actually use beta to iron out bugs and continue development? If you sign up for beta's with the idea that your doing a demo for your own self interest your letting every other gamer down and robbing the developers of a valuable source of feedback. I heard so many complaints about EQ2 and WoW at release about how all these bugs were reported yet they did nothing to fix them then i hear about other games how this game sucks because its using alpha graphics and has yet to implement its finished graphics. Do you even understand why they use less cumbersome graphics at the start of beta?I can understand if you get in a game and don't like aspects of it. Thats fine but then you quit? You're there to give the devs your feedback. If you just quit how do the devs know what they need to change to make it appealing? Sure there are some companies such as Blizzard and SOE who really wouldnt care what you suggested but let me assure most smaller companies care alot about what its community thinks. The very life of their game depends on such interaction.Real beta's are not demo's they are tests. Developers tend to start with a very small portion of content just to make sure the servers all work properly. They'll deal with any patching and login issues first. After they get that sorted out they'll start adding features and content slowly over a period of time to insure that they're all tested adequately. This is a pretty simplistic breakdown of how beta's work but you should get the general idea. Beta is the next step after alpha. At the start of Beta expect to see the end of Alpha. This means you wont see anywhere near the finished product at the start of beta. Also i'd like to ask MMORPG.COM to stop posting made up release dates just to make themselves look in the know. It should be apparent to every gamer that MMORPG.COM has no more of an idea when games are due to be released than anyone else that can go to the games forum and read it for themselves. When you guys post a made up a release date your giving these kids the idea that the game is about to be released and then they jump into beta to get a demo. This can have a negative result for the games community who then has to suffer through 100's of posts about how "teh game is teh suxxor" because they dont grasp the concept that MMORPG.COM doesnt decide the release date the devs do and theres still months of testing ahead. These kids then quit, go bash the game and the dev's lose out by having their NDA's broken and being pulled away from their real job to deal with it.Anyway i could go on but with attention spans being what they are i'll end it here.

    Kid is in like what age? 7-17?

    Also, "open betas" are kinda meant to be demos, specially, when the open beta lasts for 14 days only and after that is the final launch.

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  • CreollinkCreollink Member Posts: 12



    Originally posted by Copeland

    Ok i'm making this post after seeing several games bashed over their beta.
    My general concern is that you kids see beta's as some sort of demo. This is not the case. I understand that larger companies such as Blizzard and SOE used open beta stress tests as a Demo of their game but do you kids understand that most game developers actually use beta to iron out bugs and continue development? If you sign up for beta's with the idea that your doing a demo for your own self interest your letting every other gamer down and robbing the developers of a valuable source of feedback.
    I heard so many complaints about EQ2 and WoW at release about how all these bugs were reported yet they did nothing to fix them then i hear about other games how this game sucks because its using alpha graphics and has yet to implement its finished graphics. Do you even understand why they use less cumbersome graphics at the start of beta?
    I can understand if you get in a game and don't like aspects of it. Thats fine but then you quit? You're there to give the devs your feedback. If you just quit how do the devs know what they need to change to make it appealing? Sure there are some companies such as Blizzard and SOE who really wouldnt care what you suggested but let me assure most smaller companies care alot about what its community thinks. The very life of their game depends on such interaction.
    Real beta's are not demo's they are tests. Developers tend to start with a very small portion of content just to make sure the servers all work properly. They'll deal with any patching and login issues first. After they get that sorted out they'll start adding features and content slowly over a period of time to insure that they're all tested adequately. This is a pretty simplistic breakdown of how beta's work but you should get the general idea.
    Beta is the next step after alpha. At the start of Beta expect to see the end of Alpha. This means you wont see anywhere near the finished product at the start of beta.
    Also i'd like to ask MMORPG.COM to stop posting made up release dates just to make themselves look in the know. It should be apparent to every gamer that MMORPG.COM has no more of an idea when games are due to be released than anyone else that can go to the games forum and read it for themselves. When you guys post a made up a release date your giving these kids the idea that the game is about to be released and then they jump into beta to get a demo. This can have a negative result for the games community who then has to suffer through 100's of posts about how "teh game is teh suxxor" because they dont grasp the concept that MMORPG.COM doesnt decide the release date the devs do and theres still months of testing ahead. These kids then quit, go bash the game and the dev's lose out by having their NDA's broken and being pulled away from their real job to deal with it.
    Anyway i could go on but with attention spans being what they are i'll end it here.



    This sounds like a member of the game company making excuses for a poorly developed game.  When you go to open Beta, you are entering the final stage of testing.  That means you should have already finished Alpha testing, which means you have at least developed all of the features and finished unit testing these features and finished integration testing. 

    Once all of your features are stable to the point of being ready for the end user, then you enter internal Beta testing.  That means you have already run all of the features through a battery of tests and have flushed out any overlooked bugs.  There shouldn't be any major features missing and there shouldn't be any obvious bugs.  That should have been taken care of in the Alpha testing stage.

    Now a game company doesn't need to do an open Beta if they don't want to.  Usually, open Beta is done to publicize the game and to generate interest in the more hardcore gamers.  Any insignificant lingering bugs that are discovered by the gamers are just icing on the cake.

    If a game is still very buggy in the Open Beta stage, then the game is either very poorly tested in internal Beta or the game is very behind schedule.  Here's a quote from the original post:

    "Do you even understand why they use less cumbersome graphics at the start of beta?"

    That doesn't make any sense for many reasons.  If you're already in Beta, the graphics should have been finalized by now.  Also, how can graphics be less cumbersome?  They are either good graphics or bad graphics.  Either way, they are handled exactly the same way by the source code, whether you are using DirectX or OpenGL or any other graphics library.  There is no "cumbersome level" for graphics.  So to say that a game's graphics should be allowed to be bad in the Beta stage is just an excuse for a poorly developed game.

    Open Beta testers are the potential buyers of a game.  If they are going to spend their valuable time to help a game company do Beta testing, they have every right to expect a game to be in a reasonably stable condition.  If a game is very buggy in the Beta stage or if the graphics is poor in the Beta stage, then gamers are correct to give their opinions about the game.  It is not "bashing".

  • XiraXira Member Posts: 437

    If the MMORPG company treates the beta as a demo, why shouldn't we?

  • MunkiMunki Member CommonPosts: 2,128



    My general concern is that you kids see beta's as some sort of demo. This is not the case. I understand that larger companies such as Blizzard and SOE used open beta stress tests as a Demo of their game but do you kids understand that most game developers actually use beta to iron out bugs and continue development? If you sign up for beta's with the idea that your doing a demo for your own self interest your letting every other gamer down and robbing the developers of a valuable source of feedback.

    Or not.
    Yes, a beta gets work done and irons out bugs, but in most cases now, errors are logged and automatically sent, its not somthing that requires as much input as before. As for Beta not being a demo. Lets look at what a demo accomplishes.

    A Demo lets people see how good a product is, by letting them sample the full game..
    A beta is a not finished product that lets you get a taste of the game as well as help iron out bugs.
    Ever wonder why 10,000 people get selected for beta? Do you honestly think they are expecting ten thousand people to iron out technical bugs, the simple answer is no.

    Open betas and most closed betas arent technical testing, they are to iron out balance, to add and tweak features. The techinical testing is done internally. As soon as you have sign ups for beta, you are simply taking imput from people on how to tweak or improve the game so that players can get more enjoyment out of it.



    I heard so many complaints about EQ2 and WoW at release about how all these bugs were reported yet they did nothing to fix them then i hear about other games how this game sucks because its using alpha graphics and has yet to implement its finished graphics. Do you even understand why they use less cumbersome graphics at the start of beta?

    I dont understand what you getting at here, your saying that they didnt fix bugs, that has nothing to do with us and beta testing/demoing. Yes at the start of beta the graphics can be a little rough, I dont generally see many complaints about that. But the graphics in beta are a semi-accurate view of what they will be, as that is the artists style, and if its low budget so will the graphics.



    I can understand if you get in a game and don't like aspects of it. Thats fine but then you quit? You're there to give the devs your feedback. If you just quit how do the devs know what they need to change to make it appealing? Sure there are some companies such as Blizzard and SOE who really wouldnt care what you suggested but let me assure most smaller companies care alot about what its community thinks. The very life of their game depends on such interaction.

    I love the poke at Bizzard and SoE, thats so very cool of you, fight the machine and all that crap...
    Anywho, if numbers go down = obviously somthings is wrong.
    if people quit, there will always be some loud schmuck on the forums ranting and raving about that problem, I dont that there is any issue there, people can leave if they are bored, thats showing the devs they are losing people, you can generally leave what the actual problem is to the loud mouths on the forums.



    Real beta's are not demo's they are tests. Developers tend to start with a very small portion of content just to make sure the servers all work properly. They'll deal with any patching and login issues first. After they get that sorted out they'll start adding features and content slowly over a period of time to insure that they're all tested adequately. This is a pretty simplistic breakdown of how beta's work but you should get the general idea.

    THIS, is lies.
    Server stanbility is done internally, I cannot think of any cases were the stabilty of the server was testing with real people. When beta starts, there is generally a server issue or two beacuse of the massive stress, these are usually patched very fast. Server issues are handled mostly in Alpha then tweaked to perfection over the whole beta as more and more people get added, thus a stress test. Every game needs to do one. Content is added slowly, yes, aswell as tweaked. But this content isnt just tested to see if it works, its tested to see if people like it, or if it works in the game, or fix any balance issues. Not just if it technically works, so you need the average schmo on there playing the game like a normal person would, HIS input is valuable because he represents a large amount of your player base. Sure the people who report the other technical errors help, but they are a small amount of players, and their job is no more importaint than the people who tell the developers if the game is done.



    Anyway i could go on but with attention spans being what they are i'll end it here.

    there we go! inuslt the people, thats the secret to being taken seriously. Eliteism at its finest!

    PS, I dont usually quote each paragraph and pick it apart, but with the amount of respect you showed my in writing this, I thought I should return just as much.

    image
    after 6 or so years, I had to change it a little...

  • MichhyMichhy Member Posts: 7

    I don't think they do treat it as a demo - except for the final final stress test and even that is being used as king of 50% demo hype machine and 50% real test. Hyping it so extensively is necessary to get the numbers to stress test and hyping it is a good promotional tool - so it makes sense to combine them.

  • CopelandCopeland Member Posts: 1,955

    Well i expected the childrens flames. Exactly as i expected too LOL. But i'm glad to see theres a large portion of this community that has a good grasp of what TESTING means. Hopefully the kids will think about it a bit and start to understand in time. I know we'll have to deal with it forever but every once in a while we have to educate the community about what is expected from them.

  • sushimeessushimees Member Posts: 489

    So, Copeland. If I'm like 16, that makes me a kid and that makes me a real idiot doesn't it?

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