Global Agenda's very first beta testers just leveled up.
Inside the Studio, Thursdays are typically New Tester Day (OK, internally we call it 'N00b' day), when we invite new people in to the studio to test Global Agenda.
Today, our NooBs got a special treat. While Global Agenda’s Closed Beta does not officially begin until tomorrow (July 24), we allowed the tester's to login early and be the first on our Beta Servers. So, if you are one of our Closed Beta testers and you login right at the start tomorrow and see a few players already tooling around 10 levels ahead of you – you know they were probably among the group that was at Hi-Rez today.
Over the past two years, Hi-Rez hosted hundreds of internal testing sessions for Global Agenda, drawing in players from the nearby community.
Our developers, especially QA & Level Designers, receive valuable feedback from these first-time users by watching how they navigate through maps, the intuitiveness of device usage and capabilities and, above all, how much fun the testers have while they play the game.
As part of our fast-paced scrum-based development, Hi-Rez deploys and plays a new version (or build) of the game every single work day inside the study. Developers pull the latest content at the beginning of each day, create/tweak/build new content and check it in once they are ready. Around midnight each night all the new content wrangles together and by the time we're back in the studio to start the next day, a new version of Global Agenda is ready for us to test.
Daily developer playtests are brutal! Take it from a Medic who equips with more poisons than healing devices; those sneaky Recons and their decoys are enough to get even the most mild-tempered agents close to rage-quitting a post-lunch testing session...especially when they stealth, then stun bomb and then sneak up with a melee attack. Also when they two-shot you from across the map but, I digress.
In the spring of last year, the Studio connected with a local high school's Interactive Media Club -- a group of students who got together once a week and played games in a supervised classroom with consoles they brought from home -- and created a program for consecutive testing of Global Agenda. Basically, we offered a new, perhaps cooler venue than their chemistry classroom for their club to meet, and a chance to actually be part of a game's development.
The consecutive weekly testing slowly evolved to a twice-a-week rhythm of testing at the Studio, and the group expanded to include game design students from local universities who previously play tested at Hi-Rez as part of their course curriculum; and eventually, expanded further to external folks who learned of the in-studio testing via word of mouth or community forums. These testing sessions are a regular part of Studio life and judging by the noise level that comes out of the gaming lab on a given afternoon, I'd say they have a lot of fun!
"Noob Day" is usually quite different. The groups are generally quieter (at least for the first hour) and more attentive to the details of game mechanics because they're looking at them with a set of fresh eyes.
New testers came to the studio when Hi-Rez first announced its Tour & Play Program, an initiative geared toward Georgia-based schools, universities, technical colleges, and clubs, with the aim of exposing budding video game creators and enthusiasts to the development process to help cultivate Georgia's gaming industry. Last week we hosted a group of kids from a computer camp based at Emory University; prior to that we had folks from the State of Georgia's Economic Development office - even the Commissioner himself.
Today's 'noob group comprises individuals who live nearby and register through the Global Agenda website for today's testing session. I'm not sure when they signed up they knew they'd be the first to get onto Global Agenda's Beta, and I guess I should stop calling them 'noobs' because right now they are the highest ranks players on our beta server!