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The Pub at MMORPG.COM  » Is the Idea of an NDA for MMORPG's in Beta "Old Fashioned" Business?

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23 posts found
  Fadedbomb

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 5/19/06
Posts: 2149

 
OP  6/15/12 6:46:33 AM#1

I've been tossing around the idea with friends of mine in the industry about how the average player would react to an MMORPG developed in Beta via blog posts, twitter feeds, and forums for major development points such as graphics, models, animations, sound, gameplay mechanics, and their aimed "goal" for the product. 

 

However, the twist would be that said product would be done completely WITHOUT an NDA, and Beta participants would be allowed to livestream, post, screenshot, and talk about anything relating to the game. Sort of a "What would happen" scenario from a development point of view if the developers aim for a goal & stick with it while at the same time allowing for MINIMAL input from the interested user base.

 

We all know there won't be a singular MMO that swallows up the entire market. So what would happen if "hype" was created from solid interactable information rather than merely hearsay and kindly spun words from the PR staff or Lead Developers in interviews?

 

Do you believe that the average community for Massively Multiplayer Online games are able to comprehend the idea without exploding over key design changes during developement (a well known action in product developement)?

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  User Deleted
6/15/12 6:51:25 AM#2

The biggest problem is that Apha and Beta testing is just that, testing. Devs have to break many thing, scrap ideas, chnage all kinds of stuff. Many, of not most, players don't understand this. If something goes wrong in testing, like OP abilties, broken quests, bugs, etc, ect, ect it can be fixed.  But, most likely, everyone would jump the gun ALL the time. That's why there's NDA's, to keep players from making rash judgements.

 

  cerb123

Novice Member

Joined: 6/16/06
Posts: 46

6/15/12 6:53:33 AM#3

I think the average player would comment endlessly on how all the placeholder animations, sounds, and effects looked like crap and how all of the unballanced mobs will make the game fail because the guys making it clearly don't know what they are doing based off the pre-alpha footage they were just shown.

  GTwander

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Joined: 3/14/09
Posts: 6125

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6/15/12 6:54:52 AM#4

I agree that being much more open about the product sets a bit of a precedent that consumers agree with, almost like "free positive PR", but they have them for betas for one reason - to keep flaws a secret.

~and honestly, I don't blame them. Every time there is a beta leak on youtube there are a thousand comments trashing it to the point of embarassment. It leads to bad publicity, and the NDA is what allows them to have the vids yanked at a moment's notice, by saying the uploader is breaching contract.

So it's a fine balance of earning a fanbase's trust, or protecting the validity of how terrible a product may be during it's early phases (something people harshly judge either way). I can't give a clear opinion on which angle is better.

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Now Playing: Skyrim, Wurm Online, Tropico 4
Waiting On: GW2, TSW, Archeage, The Rapture

  Fadedbomb

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Joined: 5/19/06
Posts: 2149

 
OP  6/15/12 6:55:03 AM#5

I didn't mean to leave "Alpha" in there as Alphas are generally in-house tested. Sorry about that :3! This discussion is about Beta only ;)!

 

Some of you are quicker than i anticipated :P!

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  Fadedbomb

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Joined: 5/19/06
Posts: 2149

 
OP  6/15/12 6:57:34 AM#6
Originally posted by GTwander

I agree that being much more open about the product sets a bit of a precedent that consumers agree with, almost like "free positive PR", but they have them for betas for one reason - to keep flaws a secret.

~and honestly, I don't blame them. Every time there is a beta leak on youtube there are a thousand comments trashing it to the point of embarassment. It leads to bad publicity, and the NDA is what allows them to have the vids yanked at a moment's notice, by saying the uploader is breaching contract.

So it's a fine balance of earning a fanbase's trust, or protecting the validity of how terrible a product may be during it's early phases (something people harshly judge either way). I can't give a clear opinion on which angle is better.

True, but you also have to realize that said leaked videos have a certain timeline to them. If the product is releasing in a month from the video being released & it's current information then they do deserve to be bashed for it. Lazy coding & forced launch dates should never ever EVER be encouraged. I've seen Project Leaders dismissed for things less than abusing product timelines. 

 

I almost wish there was a massive stigma about setting a release date for a product publicly & managing your time & resources poorly. 

 

I've always been under the belief that a proper quality product will sell itself, and it will also generate the needed positive consumer base to defend it should said allegations come to light despite what the consumers are actually seeing.

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  BeansnBread

Hard Core Member

Joined: 9/19/06
Posts: 5566

6/15/12 6:59:43 AM#7

I think there is a grey area.

 

Some NDAs are far too restictive to the point that I begin to question the quality of the product. I get that, "what are they trying to hide?" feeling.

 

A complete lack of an NDA brings far too much criticism in a time when thing are still being iterated on.

 

Somewhere in between, there exists a land of lollipops and unicorns where people can get a feel for the game before purchasing and the developers feel like they have shown what they intended to show.

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  GTwander

Novice Member

Joined: 3/14/09
Posts: 6125

LARPer Hunter

6/15/12 7:02:50 AM#8
Originally posted by Fadedbomb

I've always been under the belief that a proper quality product will sell itself, and it will also generate the needed positive consumer base to defend it should said allegations come to light despite what the consumers are actually seeing.

A publisher would tar and feather you for saying that...

They already know what the deal is when they rush a game to gold status, sometimes they have no choice, other times it's simple greed. Either way, they want to lessen collateral damage by limiting how much information exists on said product's failings.

If a game has investors (smart ones) they are going to make similar demands as well.

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  Caldrin

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Joined: 10/02/04
Posts: 4305

6/15/12 7:08:29 AM#9

NDAs are there for a reason...

Alpha and Beta tests are not the finished game, they dont want people testing the game then tellnig everyone how buggy the game is as most people will just assume thats how its going to be..

Usually NDAs will be lifted when the game is in a stage thats ready for general release..

 

I think NDAs should stay as we would just had thousands of posts from people writing up reviews and crying about all the bugs.. and that would be very negative for any game...

 

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  Ikeda

Elite Member

Joined: 10/07/10
Posts: 2096

6/15/12 7:11:49 AM#10
It also tends to depend on where in the beta process a game is. There is one now, that if things leaked, well, the PR would not be good. Since then, they've cleaned up something's and the PR would be lukewarm. I'm sure by launch it'll be leaning more towards the positive. NDA ultimately holds back the discussion from what are typically huge fans of the IP/game.

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  Lille7

Novice Member

Joined: 12/08/08
Posts: 303

6/15/12 2:50:11 PM#11

ArcheAge beta have no NDA and never have i think.

The lead guy thinks NDAs are for people who don't believe in the game they are making.

  Souldrainer

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Joined: 5/21/06
Posts: 1878

6/16/12 8:45:00 PM#12
I can't remember the last time a company used a beta test as a beta test.

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  Siveria

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 3/11/11
Posts: 1174

6/16/12 8:55:24 PM#13

Lately I notice NDA's have been used more to hide shitty games from having info about how crappy they are get on the net, not that it stops most people though, I personally find nda's in mmo beta/alphas to be kinda.. stupid, the info gets out anyway so why bother?

Being a pessimist is a win-win pattern of thinking. If you're a pessimist (I'll admit that I am!) you're either:

A. Proven right (if something bad happens)

or

B. Pleasantly surprised (if something good happens)

Either way, you can't lose! Try it out sometime!

  Siveria

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 3/11/11
Posts: 1174

6/16/12 8:59:43 PM#14
Originally posted by Lille7

ArcheAge beta have no NDA and never have i think.

The lead guy thinks NDAs are for people who don't believe in the game they are making.

^ this is true, sadly most games that are behind nda's mmo wise end up sucking ass probally due to no real input from the community. I can't remember the last time a decent mmo came out.. Anarchy Online, Daoc, ff11, and maybe ff14 (its nto that bad of a game now a days, still has some issues like the combat jobs leveling WAY to fast), but nothing after it really has been all that good. Most mmo's now a days are the same generic boring themepark bullshit that everyone is getting sick of, its not just the quest hub to quest hub shoveled down a forced path thing either, were getting sick of bascally the exact same combat system in every single mmo, I mean do devs even try anymore? Because since wow's release pretty much every mmo has been bascally world fo warcraft in a new skin...

Personally I, and maybe others are sick to death of the themepark mmo, these devs need to stop it and actually try to do something unique. I'd love a mmo with a realtime battle system, Only one on the Horizon the I know of is PSO2, and I am waiting for it because it'll be the first semi-unique mmo to come out in 6+ years.

Being a pessimist is a win-win pattern of thinking. If you're a pessimist (I'll admit that I am!) you're either:

A. Proven right (if something bad happens)

or

B. Pleasantly surprised (if something good happens)

Either way, you can't lose! Try it out sometime!

  Loktofeit

Hard Core Member

Joined: 1/13/10
Posts: 12406

Currently playing EVE, SMITE, ArcheAge, and Combat Arms

6/16/12 9:53:38 PM#15
Originally posted by Fadedbomb

I've been tossing around the idea with friends of mine in the industry about how the average player would react to an MMORPG developed in Beta via blog posts, twitter feeds, and forums for major development points such as graphics, models, animations, sound, gameplay mechanics, and their aimed "goal" for the product. 

 

However, the twist would be that said product would be done completely WITHOUT an NDA, and Beta participants would be allowed to livestream, post, screenshot, and talk about anything relating to the game. Sort of a "What would happen" scenario from a development point of view if the developers aim for a goal & stick with it while at the same time allowing for MINIMAL input from the interested user base.

 

We all know there won't be a singular MMO that swallows up the entire market. So what would happen if "hype" was created from solid interactable information rather than merely hearsay and kindly spun words from the PR staff or Lead Developers in interviews?

 

Do you believe that the average community for Massively Multiplayer Online games are able to comprehend the idea without exploding over key design changes during developement (a well known action in product developement)?

 

See, the problem there, if we are talking about creating a commercial game, is that you'd need the developers to post these blogs, tweets, forum posts, art assets, etc. That means allocating time to their sprint, schedule, milestone chart, or whatever system they are using to create these things. It means that regular development gets pushed back as a result of it. It's not that the team doesn't want to do these things or that there is some dark iron curtain kept over things, rathe that there isn't enough time in the day to do them. 

Let me give you an example. If your team is working on a cool feature for the core technology of your game, you're going to want to get that out to the players, especially if it's tech that has visible benefits for them (faster responses, smoother graphics, less latency, sharper graphics, etc). So you ask the team for a dev blog about it. Well, for that to happen, the tech has to take time out to write it, but not just write it but translate it into laymen's speak. Even after that's done, you'll probably find that they may be an incredible engineer or programmer, but their writing sucks. So someone has to take this great information and turn it into something remotely interesting for the target audience. 

It's a whole different ball of wax when it comes to art and animations. If your graphics team knows their work is going to come under the microscope once it hits the beta server, they are going to move a lot of the beta polish and tweaking to the Alpha stage because they know full well you can say WIP as loud as you want but it won't drown out the flood of  ZOMG CRAPPY GRAFIX posts the minute a single glitch, hitch or issue is spotted. 

Are you sure your friends work in the game industry? This is basic stuff here. 

 

"And wikipedia is as accurate as Britannica. Wikipedia is very reliable. You would be hard pressed to find a more reliable source for these kinds of things." -fivoroth

  Loktofeit

Hard Core Member

Joined: 1/13/10
Posts: 12406

Currently playing EVE, SMITE, ArcheAge, and Combat Arms

6/16/12 9:55:05 PM#16
Originally posted by Souldrainer
I can't remember the last time a company used a beta test as a beta test.

In this day and age, it's almost impossible to. It's pretty much the reason you rarely see an NDA after the first few rounds of FAF and Closed Beta. 

"And wikipedia is as accurate as Britannica. Wikipedia is very reliable. You would be hard pressed to find a more reliable source for these kinds of things." -fivoroth

  GTwander

Novice Member

Joined: 3/14/09
Posts: 6125

LARPer Hunter

6/16/12 9:57:31 PM#17
Originally posted by Loktofeit

Let me give you an example. If your team is working on a cool feature for the core technology of your game, you're going to want to get that out to the players, especially if it's tech that has visible benefits for them (faster responses, smoother graphics, less latency, sharper graphics, etc). So you ask the team for a dev blog about it. Well, for that to happen, the tech has to take time out to write it, but not just write it but translate it into laymen's speak. Even after that's done, you'll probably find that they may be an incredible engineer or programmer, but their writing sucks. So someone has to take this great information and turn it into something remotely interesting for the target audience.

I agree with the rest, but this part is something the average secretary can do. In terms of 'schedule' it shouldn't take more than a couple hours to push a mid-length essay into the hands of an intern that can put it into the right terms for r-tards.

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  Loktofeit

Hard Core Member

Joined: 1/13/10
Posts: 12406

Currently playing EVE, SMITE, ArcheAge, and Combat Arms

6/16/12 10:19:33 PM#18
Originally posted by GTwander
Originally posted by Loktofeit

Let me give you an example. If your team is working on a cool feature for the core technology of your game, you're going to want to get that out to the players, especially if it's tech that has visible benefits for them (faster responses, smoother graphics, less latency, sharper graphics, etc). So you ask the team for a dev blog about it. Well, for that to happen, the tech has to take time out to write it, but not just write it but translate it into laymen's speak. Even after that's done, you'll probably find that they may be an incredible engineer or programmer, but their writing sucks. So someone has to take this great information and turn it into something remotely interesting for the target audience.

I agree with the rest, but this part is something the average secretary can do. In terms of 'schedule' it shouldn't take more than a couple hours to push a mid-length essay into the hands of an intern that can put it into the right terms for r-tards.

 

"The average secretary" in your world is a pretty smart cookie!

You'd make an amazing project manager, however this issue was addressed earlier in the post. 

Unfortunately, that's assigning them work which is not allowed in some countries. That aside, if they understand the subject matter well enough that they can read and translate the information for the layman, then why are they an intern and not workingon your project?

If a playerbase doesn't readily understand heavily abstract or deeply technical design documents they're r-tards? 

 

 

"And wikipedia is as accurate as Britannica. Wikipedia is very reliable. You would be hard pressed to find a more reliable source for these kinds of things." -fivoroth

  GTwander

Novice Member

Joined: 3/14/09
Posts: 6125

LARPer Hunter

6/16/12 10:28:36 PM#19

Dude, you could even replace the word 'secretary' for 'intern' with little difference in the outcome, and I've done plenty of clerical work with little more than hours until it's due. It's not as hard as you seem to think.

Nitpicking aside, you know this is a fact. Quit it.

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  Zippy

Apprentice Member

Joined: 7/24/03
Posts: 1428

6/16/12 10:36:22 PM#20

Betas now  are much more limited and smaller than they used to be.  MMOs now are generally tested by a very small somewhat hardcore group (a few thousand players) that are trusted by the developers while the masses are now given the game in small limited marketing chunks called beta weekends.  WoW and GW1 started the beta weekends and it was followed very successfully by RiFt and then ToR and now GW2.  The real testing goes now in the beta/alpha and marketing goes on int he weekends.

The one big difference in MMO betas today is the players.  The vast majority do not have the patience, maturity or attention span to play MMOs.  Developers have to limit their exposure to the game.  If they let them in to a long beta or long open beta they will simply become bored and move on to the next game.  if they limit their access to a somewhat polished open beta weekend then pull their access the players suddenly cannot play the game whenever they want.  It is only natrual they end up wanting and missing the game more.  Simply because they have to wait to play it again.

The vast majority of MMO players now are simply not real players.  They do nto have the attention span to play any game longer than a couple of months.  The beta weekend meets these needs and does not over expose that target market while still allowing the developers to cash in these players.

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