[MUD-Dev] RE: [MUD-Dev] Re: [MUD-Dev] Re: Fantasy clichés (was: Acting casual aboutcasualgamers)

John Bertoglio jb at pulsepoll.com
Thu Jul 13 13:03:54 New Zealand Standard Time 2000

> -----Original Message-----
> S. Patrick Gallaty > Sent: Thursday, July 13, 2000 10:29 AM
> semi-related rant :

<cut comments on ac beta>

> What is it with these 'betas'?  I see mmorpg companies invite thousands of
> random people, then due to their lack of selection process end up with a
> terrible signal to noise ratio on feedback, and then end up
> largely ignoring
> the benefits the beta could have afforded.  UO beta felt that way, EQ felt
> that way.
> It seems like logic should apply here, doesn't it?  If you invite ten
> talented car mechanics to drive your car, you may get feedback that is
> useful.  If you invite 100 people who have never driven a car before, your
> car gets wrecked and you get nothing.  Why do these MMORPG betas
> always feel
> like 100 unliscensed car drivers?  Is it too difficult to select testers?
> Am I missing something?

There are a lot of things developers hope to get from a beta test. The
companies backing the developers have their agendas as well. And, of
course, in last place are the players.

I suspect is what you are missing is that the goals you hoped would be
primary, like quality of experience or depth of play and character creation
are often subordinated by more mechanical ones like server loading, billing
issues and system vulnerabilities. The developers are more interested in
out if their system can be hacked than engaging in a fundamental discussion
how the system works and how it can be improved. By the time a MMORPG has
reached beta, most elements are already fixed in place. Only those which
prove disastrous are addressed. It is too late for the hot dog shop to add
sushi to the menu. The issue is how fast can we bang out the hot dogs and
what resources are required to do so.

To follow the analogy above, the goal is not to improve or repair the car...
it is to beat the hell out of it and see if it still works at the end of
the day. If a significant percentage of the non-drivers enjoy and feel they
have derived benefit from their driving experience, the car is good. (Or at
least, good enough).

There is also the aspect of beta as hype builder. The developers and backers
want to see a successful launch so a high percentage of effort goes into
supporting and promoting the current design and the philosophy behind it.

When our firm does a beta (non-game software) we choose a select group of
clients whose immediate needs for the product and/or improvements make them
willing to deal with hassles of implementing unfinished software. The alpha
round is even more selective. However, in most cases the tests are performed
on live sites with live data. The nature of our product and development
process allow our products to be essentially in permanent late-beta in that
once fielded, we make minor changes and impromvents several times a week
based on client feedback. If we had millions of lines of code with millions
of dollars of graphic art and a traditional development environment, this
would not be possible. The a big product and a bigger client base act to
constrain process and reduce it to the lowest common denominators.

John A. Bertoglio

PulsePoll.com <http://www.pulsepoll.com/>
| 503.781.3563
| jb at pulsepoll.com|

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