EQ2 Guide All A-Buzz About Beta  

All A-Buzz About Beta

All A-Buzz About Beta

As signups for the Rise of Kunark beta opened, I once again watched a flurry of activity as people speculated who would get into beta, and more importantly, when. This beta's frenzy is compounded by special invitations extended to players who purchased Equinox magazine or attended Fan Faire. People want to know when, oh when will they get in?

Before I worked for fansites I had little interest in beta; I was quite happy to get to the new content when the new content got to me, and the clamor for beta invites always seemed a bit disproportional. So I inquired on a few popular EQ2 forums: Why do you want to be in beta?

The largest, most vocal group seems genuinely interested in testing the content before it goes live. “For me it is to test content and help remove as many bugs/flaws as possible.“ says Ballads. Ballads is quite disparaging of people who want to be in beta for any reason other than to test: “I can only hope that those of you who get into beta to get ww1st, a sneak peak, impress the nubs [1], or simply see/play it first actually take the time to test/report/feedback/ and post about the bugs and flaws you find. That way we might actually get a good expansion instead of a crappy one you happen to know all the exploits for.”

And there are those who are primarily interested in self-gain: When answering my question, Calbiyum said “So I can get WW 1sts [2].” Whether it's securing information for world wide firsts, having a solid plan the day the expansion launches, or just knowing where the good harvesting areas are, there's no doubt that beta testers will have an advantage over non-testers regardless of their intent. In the past we've seen huge drama generated by the highly competitive hardcore raiding guilds when a guild is suspected of having inside information on an encounter because they tested beta.

Many people are very interested in experiencing the development process first hand in beta. “I would love to be able to see the developer's work as it progresses through the late development beta phase and help them to better improve the best game ever,” said Josgar. There is an appeal to watching the proto-game change and grow as the development team works through bugs and feedback. Many testers say they feel they are really contributing to the community when they beta test and help the developers.

Fansites desire access to beta to get a jump on new information for their sites. This is always an iffy proposition, because you want to have timely information, but any data from beta may be inaccurate by the time the expansion goes live. Savanja from Ten Ton Hammer notes that “...I barely contain my excitement when I see something new on the horizon. Beta is like getting a Christmas gift a day early! Given that I do have to run through content for guides and the such, I think that provides a benefit for testing. Skipping content isn't an option for me, so I try to get into everything. If some things are pooed up, I report it and we all win!”

Savanja's excitement was echoed by a lot of people. This particular beta, which will bring the legendary continent of Kunark back to Norrath, has its own appeal. “I practically lived in [3] in EQ.” said one EverQuest veteran “I want very much to be in a position to provide feedback on Sebilis before it goes live in hopes that it can be as glorious as it is in EQ.”

And there are still people who are just not interested in beta testing at all, as odd as that may seem to the people eager for an invite. Mawie commented, “I don't have time for it, and I would rather work on my character on the live server, and not her clone which is going to be deleted.” SG_01 says. “I have way too much on my plate for something like that.”

In a phone interview I asked EverQuest II Senior Producer Scott Hartsman how beta testers are chosen. A veteran of a dozen betas, Scott says it can be different every time depending on the problems the developers are trying to solve and the state of the game. The plan for the Rise of Kunark beta is one of staging in content: zones are brought on-line as they are ready to be tested. “Right now we're just testing one zone, the newb experience. We have a very small group of testers focusing on one area to give us concentrated feedback and bug reports without overwhelming us.”

That's right, testing of Kunark has started. “Internally we're calling this 'Friends and Family' and 'Alpha' interchangeably,” Scott says. While about one-third of the people in Alpha really are just friends and family, two-thirds of them are “people who we have known over the long term to give us great feedback.” As more zones are added to the beta larger scale invites will go out, possibly starting as soon as next week, and invites will continue through the end of beta.

What about Fan Faire and Equinox magazine beta invites? There's no cause for alarm. Scott says, “These are the die-hard fans. It's in our best interest to bring devoted players into beta sooner, rather than later.” Is it about the money? Are beta invites for sale? Scott doesn't even see it as money. “The purchase of Equinox is an indicator of someone's eagerness to be a part of beta. The best thing you can do in a beta is bring in people who are willing to beta. Anyone who plopped down $15 for magazine or flew to Vegas just to meet their in-game friends has demonstrated their commitment to EQ2.”

I asked if whole guilds will be receiving invites for Kunark as we have seen in previous betas. “Absolutely,” says Scott. “We need raid and group content tested, which requires people who already play well together.” There's no time in a beta to hack out group and raid dynamics.

And what about the rest of us? Is there room in the Kunark beta for anyone after the friends, families, guilds, Fan Faire, and Equinox people are brought in or will we have to wait until open beta? First, Scott debunked the idea of an open beta. “With the exception of Legends of Norrath, we've never done an open beta in EQ2, where you could just give us your e-mail and be in. We've lifted the NDA early sometimes, but we've never done an open beta.”

Scott assured me there will be lots of room in beta: “Before it goes live, every expansion needs load testing.” This is bringing in a large population to make sure there are no crash issues or unforeseen problems caused by sheer numbers of players. I joked about using the RNG to pick beta testers, and to my surprise Scott said that's almost exactly what happens. “We go to a tool for the web registrations, punch in a number like 5000, and it sends out 5000 invites from the application pool.” I just hope it's not the same RNG that runs my loot rolls!

Finally I asked if there was any way to not be selected for beta. “The only way to 100% guarantee you will not be selected for beta is to be banned from the live game,” Scott said.

So if you have sent in your beta application, or have a Fan Faire or Equinox invite burning a hole in your pocket, hang in there. Invites are coming “soon”(tm)!

Converted from Guides
Created: 2007-09-19 21:34:32
Last Changed: 2007-09-20 09:33:05
Author: Calthine
Category: Editorial
Last Edited 1383528
Score: 5.00
Note: None
Guide ID: 1080
Last Changed: Unknown

EverQuest II

Category: EverQuest II
This page last modified 2009-06-06 11:04:08.