You gotta love the frenzy involved with a major title going into its first beta event weekend. I mean really, is there anything, short of a presidential election, like it?
It's like one of those international days of solidarity that different organizations are always trying to get together. You know, the ones where they try to have people all join hands across America or concentrate on world peace at the same time, only in this situation what you have is a bunch of basement trolls all pushed hard up against their computer desks, Dr. Pepper and Mountain Dew flowing like a river, and hot pocket wrappers and sunflower seed husks, among a wide variety of other things cluttering up the place like so many peanut shells in a country and western bar.
And for that ever present consummate professional, coffee is on standby just waiting for that moment when the dust settles, the game is downloaded, and it is now time to log in.
We all signed up months ago and patiently waited for that response that said "Thank you for your interest, you have been officially invited to participate in the (insert the games name here) beta. Here is your beta key. Please click the link below, do some other stuff, download the client, and wait for further instructions."
It's like being Mr. Phelps on Mission Impossible, James Bond receiving new orders mid mission. Everything stops, nothing else matters. This is now the mission and you will not stop until the mission is complete.
Then it comes. Beta Weekend.
You may not have gotten in on the first round. Hell, you may not even have gotten in when they were jacking up peoples levels and allowing them to look at some of the endgame. You're in now though and neither you, nor your friends (if in fact you have managed to get a few friends to come along with you on this excursion) are going to stop hammering at this thing until you decide that it is either worth continuing to play, and perhaps even test, or it sucks.
The patcher comes up, if the patcher comes up, you log in, if you can log in, and suddenly you are at the character creation screen. It's game on and although you really, really, want to take the time out to make that character that really exemplifies your presence in this new world of fiction and fantasy, most of us settle for good enough and immediately enter the game because building a character is not what this day is all about. This day is about killing. It is about leveling and learning. This day is about dying. And it is a GOOD day to die.
And so you proceed. Alone or in pairs. In groups or in in factions. With your guild or with your little brother or sister. Click here, run there, pick this up, drop this, OMG THESE FREAKING BAGS!!!, THIS FREAKING LAG!! THAT FREAKING BUTTHEAD!!! THIS FREAKING INTERFACE!!!
If it's a PVP you find yourself wishing that it was PVE, if its PVE you find yourself wishing it was PVP. OPEN PVP, because these fools are running around like they are crazy. No respect. No sanctity of the kill. You swung at the monster once and it was dead before you could raise your hammer to swing a second time as ten other players, just like you, struggled to get that finishing blow.
But it's good. It's real good. You are getting to see, for the first time, what hundreds of thousands of people have been waiting for months to see. When this session is over it will be YOU that gets to allude, without breaking the NDA of course, to whether you thought it was a good game or not. It will be YOU that gets to call shenanigans on this reviewer or that reviewer for not noticing the subtle intricacies of the game that YOU noticed while YOU were testing it.
You pound on this thing until the sun comes up, or until your eyes begin to bleed, or until your husband or wife drops separation papers on the desk next to you, and then you go to sleep, go to work (if you haven't taken that couple of days off) and you come right back home and you do it again.
Sparta ain't got shit on what you are doing right now.
You are a Warrior of the ether. A Wizard of electricity. A Thief of the video settings and a Healer of crashes incurred by said video settings. You are a clothed, battle hardened Avatar of your own brain, made alive by circuits and silicon, lights and crystal, plastic and metal, reflexes and intuition.
YOU ARE A FREAKING BETA TESTER AND YOU ARE HAVING A FREAKING BALL!!!!
And then, when the weekend is finally over. When the servers shut down, and you feel that familiar feeling of withdrawal that can only come from having to return to that which is normal after having spent time in that which was new, and sometimes amazing. You head for the forums. And you watch, and you wait.
You wait for that one guy to formulate that one post in just that one way that will allow you to dump everything that you are feeling and have felt for the last three or four days into his festering, seething string of love or hatred, and you BLAST HIM!!!
LET THE PIGEONS LOOSE!!! The forum wars have now begun!!
"It does NOT suck!!"
"I found the graphics to be yadda, yadda, yadda."
"I found the graphics to be yadda, yadda, yadda, the opposite of how you found them."
The love is almost palpable.
You are no longer just one guy or one group of people sitting in the basement finishing off the last slice of delivery pizza and wondering how you got to this moment of bloodshot eyes and lack of sleep from that moment of anticipation only two or three days ago.
YOU ARE A NATION! YOU ARE BETA TESTERS!! Your desk chair smells like somebody DIED in it LITERALLY, but can't nobody tell you a DAMN THING!!!
This is beta weekend, give or take a couple of trips to the convenience store and maybe a shift or two of work (if you couldn't get out of it.) Jobs have been lost, relationships had final nails banged into them, and wars started over this one, single, solitary event that harkens the coming of a new, life sucking, product to a corporate run video game retailer near you.
It is crazy and we love it. And I didn't even touch on the things that happen in voice chat.
Welcome to your MMORPG life. This has been Jesad and this has been beta testing In My Understanding.
See you in the games!