[MUD-Dev] Quality Testing

Michael Tresca talien at toast.net
Sat Oct 27 10:41:55 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001


Daniel Harman posted on Friday, October 26, 2001 6:01 AM

> Yep, lifes not fair and the barrier to entry may well go up. Then
> again the market my broaden so perhaps it won't be as soon as you
> think.

Some quotes from Computer Gaming World, December 2001, Issue #209,
should provide some perspective on this...

==============
PERSPECTIVE: CGW DEATHMATCH - Was Anarchy Online released too soon? 
(p. 58)

Tom McDonald squares off against Funcom's Henning Solberg.  McDonald
reviewed Anarchy online in the November issue, where the game
received three stars.  Solberg is AO's Live Manager.

HS: "...releasing online games is totally different than releasing
traditional PC games.  Things that might appear to be unfinished to
you are only a matter of minor adjustments on our end--and those
things are impossible to simulate through the beta period."

TM: "Your answer seems both evasive and defensive.  It's pretty
clear what's going on here.  You set an arbitrary ship date and
decided it was going out the door, ready or not.  People expect and
deserve finished product when they buy something.  Just because a
game is online doesn't mean developers can ship broken and fix
later.  When I buy a car, they don't ask me to come back in a month
to pick up the breaks."

HS: "...I agree with you that games should not be shipped
broken--but online games are different.  The size of the game makes
it virtually impossible to test every aspect properly, and some
problems will not be found before the game ships.  You can get that
confirmed by other online developers..."
================

What's interesting about this rather hostile exchange is that this
cycle of abuse (product ships broken, early adopters are clearly
testing the product) has existed for awhile with many Microsoft
products.

As a tester and technical writer for incredibly broken products
(that were being released anyway), the theory our team developed was
that modern users have difficulty wrapping their minds around
virtual goods:

If your monitor burst into flame every time a program crashed,
there'd be recalls, there'd be apologies, there'd be furious
customers not purchasing that product.  But virtual creations do NOT
burst into flame.  They just don't work, and it all happens inside
your computer.

My theory, which I believe is proving out, is that the conception of
the value of a virtual good is a historical measure.  Over time, the
more users comprehend a virtual good's importance (my paper for
school in MS Word, my 5.8 million bill in MS Excel) the less
tolerance they will have for crashing software.

In a virtual universe, this process is accelerated.  AO is creating
virtual bodies, objects, and terrain. When a character "blows up" in
a virtual universe, despite the fact there's not a whole lot of
separation between that character and the MS Word document, people
can relate to it easier.

And finally, they start to treat their games like cars.  FINALLY.

Mike "Talien" Tresca
RetroMUD Administrator
http://www.retromud.org/talien



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