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The Pub at MMORPG.COM  » NDA What's the Point?

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56 posts found
  Mtibbs1989

Hard Core Member

Joined: 12/17/10
Posts: 2871

 
OP  3/15/13 2:30:56 AM#21

"I'm not talking about the usual "I disagree with this game design decision" stuff.  Rather, I'm talking more about glaring bugs (e.g., it crashes when you do this) and major features that simply aren't implemented yet.  If you were to try to "play" a project I'm working on right now, for example, you wouldn't like it, at least if you tried to treat it like a finished game.  For starters, there isn't combat yet, nor crafting.  Your "character" consists of a single cylinder that is broken in several ways--and that I don't fix because it's a placeholder that is going to be deleted, anyway.  Rocks are pretty glaringly floating in mid-air, as is the player.  That's all fixable, and going to be fixed, but after the game has launched, you don't want people who are potentially interested in the game searching on Google, finding criticism of things that were fixed long before release, concluding that the game must be terrible, and then declining to try it out." -You.

 

I test games regularly regardless of the finished product. It's what I do. I understand that a game under developement is under developement so I know these things should/will be fixed and so should the people testing or those who are reading articles about it while a game is in the developement process. People who are interested in the concept of the game will watch the product grow throughout time and will see the systems improve. You shouldn't have a final judgement of a product until the release of the game.

 This is why I hate the mentality of today's developers they have prolonged the developing process past the developement stage and are selling unfinished products. Only to state, "games will have bugs on release." 


Somebody, somewhere has better skills as you have, more experience as you have, is smarter than you, has more friends as you do and can stay online longer. Just pray he's not out to get you.

  Mtibbs1989

Hard Core Member

Joined: 12/17/10
Posts: 2871

 
OP  3/15/13 2:36:54 AM#22
Originally posted by Rednecksith

NDAs exist to prevent bad press about game features which may not be complete / functioning properly at the time of the beta. There's nothing wrong with them, and I support their use and enforcement because misinformation can be incredibly damaging. Especially when you consider that features maligned during alpha / beta test might actually be working as advertised at release.

That being said, any publisher / developer which engages in the practice of review embargoes is to be treated with contempt and scorn, and any website / publication which agrees to abide by them is to be treated with much the same. For those not in the know, review embargoes are the practice of a publisher forbidding a gaming review site / magazine from publishing a review until the game's official release day, despite the fact that said game has actually been sent out by the publisher to be reviewed weeks ahead of time. Essentially, it prevents reviewers from warning folks ahead of time that a game might suck, in order to maximize the profit of developers & publishers off of preorders for a product which they damn well know won't sell well once official reviews denouncing it as crap begin to circulate.

I understand that review sites make money by playing sucky-sucky with game publishers, but being willing to openly deceive and / or mislead people (due to misinformation or lies by omission) into purchasing products which would generally be considered universally inferior in order to justify their own existence is just disgusting.

Bottom line is, don't trust publishers which issue review embargoes, and certainly don't trust review sites which enforce them.

Sorry if this has been touched on earlier, or if this is redundant information within the thread. I honestly was too lazy to read the majority of it. I'm just rambling on my opinions pertaining loosely to the subject matter based upon my recent experiences in getting screwed out of valuable money due to the aforementioned practices.

 

 I can understand that bad press is bad press. However, NDA's are usually used for early stages of developement so by the time the NDA is released which is around closed/open beta the product will be exposed to a lot of press regardless of good or bad. Which will essentially rule out any usefulness of the NDA. If you're going to use an NDA maintain it unless the product is released to avoid the negative press.


Somebody, somewhere has better skills as you have, more experience as you have, is smarter than you, has more friends as you do and can stay online longer. Just pray he's not out to get you.

  Rednecksith

Apprentice Member

Joined: 6/12/09
Posts: 1272

Bite my fiery metal ass!

3/15/13 2:46:36 AM#23
Originally posted by Mtibbs1989
Originally posted by Rednecksith

NDAs exist to prevent bad press about game features which may not be complete / functioning properly at the time of the beta. There's nothing wrong with them, and I support their use and enforcement because misinformation can be incredibly damaging. Especially when you consider that features maligned during alpha / beta test might actually be working as advertised at release.

That being said, any publisher / developer which engages in the practice of review embargoes is to be treated with contempt and scorn, and any website / publication which agrees to abide by them is to be treated with much the same. For those not in the know, review embargoes are the practice of a publisher forbidding a gaming review site / magazine from publishing a review until the game's official release day, despite the fact that said game has actually been sent out by the publisher to be reviewed weeks ahead of time. Essentially, it prevents reviewers from warning folks ahead of time that a game might suck, in order to maximize the profit of developers & publishers off of preorders for a product which they damn well know won't sell well once official reviews denouncing it as crap begin to circulate.

I understand that review sites make money by playing sucky-sucky with game publishers, but being willing to openly deceive and / or mislead people (due to misinformation or lies by omission) into purchasing products which would generally be considered universally inferior in order to justify their own existence is just disgusting.

Bottom line is, don't trust publishers which issue review embargoes, and certainly don't trust review sites which enforce them.

Sorry if this has been touched on earlier, or if this is redundant information within the thread. I honestly was too lazy to read the majority of it. I'm just rambling on my opinions pertaining loosely to the subject matter based upon my recent experiences in getting screwed out of valuable money due to the aforementioned practices.

 

 I can understand that bad press is bad press. However, NDA's are usually used for early stages of developement so by the time the NDA is released which is around closed/open beta the product will be exposed to a lot of press regardless of good or bad. Which will essentially rule out any usefulness of the NDA. If you're going to use an NDA maintain it unless the product is released to avoid the negative press.

I understand that. What I mean to say is that I believe that an NDA actually has a legitimate use, unlike a review embargo which is used purely for malicious / dishonest means.

As a recent purchaser of Aliens: Colonial Marines (a game under embargo), I do have quite a bit of bias in that respect however, so as always take what I say with a few industrial-sized bags of salt.

  Mtibbs1989

Hard Core Member

Joined: 12/17/10
Posts: 2871

 
OP  3/15/13 2:49:33 AM#24

Ahh, I see. You were simply comparing the usefulness of the NDA  if properly used rather than an Embargo.

 

P.S. You better watch out Aliens developers might take offense on that post and delete your negative comments of their embargo.


Somebody, somewhere has better skills as you have, more experience as you have, is smarter than you, has more friends as you do and can stay online longer. Just pray he's not out to get you.

  maplestone

Novice Member

Joined: 12/10/08
Posts: 3109

3/15/13 3:17:00 AM#25

Do not underestimate the importance of controlling the first impression.  My one experience with an NDA involved a lot of content that was very raw and quasi-functional.  My view of the finished content was tainted by my memories and frustrations of some of those early builds and the flamewars that errupted on the private board (people can get pretty bitter about being on the losing side of debates over which way a feature should go). 

  Malcanis

Apprentice Member

Joined: 8/17/09
Posts: 3213

"A very special kind of stupidity"

3/15/13 5:30:03 AM#26
They say no one who likes law or sausages should see how they're made.

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  Ezhae

Apprentice Member

Joined: 9/03/06
Posts: 735

3/15/13 5:40:11 AM#27

In most cases NDA applies to games that are in fact still being worked on. Yes, some companies will abuse it as marketing/damage control tool, but 9 out of 10 times I actually had to agree to NDA it was warranted. 

Now why NDA is good? Because when you pull alpha/beta testers from random pool you are bound to get some impatient troubled souls among. Those people, at the sight of slightest bug, instead of reporting it to the developers will rush off to public forums and moan how stuff is terrible and how the game is terrible and how anyone who wants to plays it is a sinner. They don't wait for next build or patch, they don't wait for developers response. They just go and talk about stuff they have no idea about. 

When the NDA is used as intended however, you will see changes throughout the testing process, each build will usually improve some things, perhaps break others. That's how coding generally works. You iterate and adjust until you have product stable enough that it can be shipped. 

Without NDA, you'd see millions of posts on different forums complainign about stuff that perhaps a week later becomes irrelevant because it was fixed/changed. But the posts stay, and they are providing false information to people without first-hand experience which may hurt the game's sales when it eventually launches. 

 

  User Deleted
3/15/13 5:49:24 AM#28

Because often games in Beta do not reflect the release quality. Beta is when they open the floodgates to a larger but still controlled group. They should still be developing the game. And its unfair to judge a game in beta, as not all betas are treated like publicity stunts. Often the developers are genuinely interested in improving the game as much as possible before launch, which is when the game should be judged as a final product.

When you are in beta you are given ways to communicate with the development team, the only reason to publish stuff in a 3rd party forum is to be a douchbag. You are usually given a period between the NDA being lifted and release, where you can openly spew forth your vitriol towards a game if they havent fixed what you hate.

  delete5230

Elite Member

Joined: 8/15/07
Posts: 2647

3/15/13 5:54:02 AM#29

I have no problem with the NDA. As games need to be fixed before the public gets their hands on the information.

What I really hate are the squealers that will turn you in if you break it !..........I don't like squealers.

  Quirhid

Elite Member

Joined: 1/28/05
Posts: 5725

Correcting wrongs on the Internet...

3/15/13 6:12:32 AM#30
Standard practice and nothing to get worked up about. A contract like any other.

I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been -Wayne Gretzky

  FromHell

Novice Member

Joined: 11/10/12
Posts: 1338

3/15/13 6:20:32 AM#31
The point is you are testing a BETA. A BETA, an unfinished game, and they don´t want you to complain about bugs in an unfinished game in public, because you are a TESTER, not a reviewer, and they don´t want you to go to forums and make threads like "This game is crap because of X", "This game is broken, what a joke..."

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  Yamota

Elite Member

Joined: 10/05/03
Posts: 6697

Gaming should be about fun, not gender equality.

3/15/13 6:24:45 AM#32
I think that, post alpha testing stage, NDA is there so that the company can control the hype. By that I mean that they decide what gets released and not released so they can build up expectations by only showing what they want to show, i.e. only the good parts.
  Macecard

Novice Member

Joined: 2/03/10
Posts: 146

3/15/13 6:27:29 AM#33

Why Have an NDA if information gets out, should get out anyway?

1: So if someone does release some information and it causes the complete crash or failure of the game you (then developer) now have a contract you can use to sue the hell outta the person who did it.

This is obviously a rare case but considering most of you are from the US where sueing for the tinyiest reasons is all the rage that you didnt see this reason? Covering yourself from a 1 in a million chance of being put under by a wayward alpha tester is worth getting them ALL to sign an NDA.

And btw, it has nothing to do with feature or hiding industry secrets, its literally this, a way for companies to cover their asses.

If you continue to make sweeping statements like you know what everyone everywhere thinks about a certain topic then I am going to shout at you.
It easy to type 'I think this is the worst game ever'
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  Yamota

Elite Member

Joined: 10/05/03
Posts: 6697

Gaming should be about fun, not gender equality.

3/15/13 6:30:32 AM#34
Originally posted by FromHell
The point is you are testing a BETA. A BETA, an unfinished game, and they don´t want you to complain about bugs in an unfinished game in public, because you are a TESTER, not a reviewer, and they don´t want you to go to forums and make threads like "This game is crap because of X", "This game is broken, what a joke..."

Except that the most damaging critique wont be about bugs, as those cen fixed, but rather the game play which cannot be as easily fixed. Specially post alpha-testing stage.

  BMBender

Novice Member

Joined: 9/14/07
Posts: 559

3/15/13 6:59:56 AM#35
Originally posted by Quizzical

There are a variety of different reasons for an NDA.  One is that you don't want employees leaking critical trade secrets to your competitors.

 

/snip

I have a slight problem with this concept and I always have.  It made sense back in the UO/JG/EQ days when 3 guys in a garage could pump out a mmo in a couple yrs or so.  But these days mmos and the systems within them are so huge and bloated.  Any "trade" secret will long cease to be relevant by the time another company/group is able to implement it.  Or it becomes an "industry standard".  So no thats no longer a valid argument for an NDA. 

 

It's p[urely about information throttling these days, however as we saw with SWTOR; it is a two edged sword if the product gets over hyped without "real"info available to consumers.

  Loktofeit

Hard Core Member

Joined: 1/13/10
Posts: 12405

Currently playing EVE, SMITE, ArcheAge, and Combat Arms

3/15/13 7:26:44 AM#36
Originally posted by BMBender
Originally posted by Quizzical

There are a variety of different reasons for an NDA.  One is that you don't want employees leaking critical trade secrets to your competitors.

/snip

I have a slight problem with this concept and I always have.  It made sense back in the UO/JG/EQ days when 3 guys in a garage could pump out a mmo in a couple yrs or so.  But these days mmos and the systems within them are so huge and bloated.  Any "trade" secret will long cease to be relevant by the time another company/group is able to implement it.  Or it becomes an "industry standard".  So no thats no longer a valid argument for an NDA. 

It's p[urely about information throttling these days, however as we saw with SWTOR; it is a two edged sword if the product gets over hyped without "real"info available to consumers.

It's still relevant. It may not be specifcally about 'trade secrets' but a developer will definitely have a marketing strategy for rolling out information and content reveals. Let's say there's some really neat aspect to the boss fights in your game and you've already set up press interviews and mail blasts around that. On the target date, all that information goes out and you get a carpet of coverage on it. The messaging not only is more effective when it's going out like that, but it's also the message that you're looking to get out there. Without the NDA, you have players trickling out their take on it which has several drawbacks

  1. it dilutes the impact of the announcement because a topic spread over several weeks has far less reach and ranking than a big hit over one or two days.
  2. it's not as interesting for the press and fansites to cover because the news is already out there
  3. what the players are relaying may not be what the event or mechanic is actually all about because they may either not have all the information or may not be seeing the bigger picture / long term effects.
That's just some of the reasons from a marketing perspective. From a development perspective, it can often put content out there before it is finished which doesn't truly represent the content. A lot of what gets changed is completely transparent to the tester but makes a big impact on how the game plays.
 
For example, one of the things that gets changed a lot during the beta tests is how players navigate the game world. As a player, you're rarely ever going to notice the subtle changes to the environment that are made to better lead you to and from different areas of content. However, during beta, that's being tracked and changes are being made. If players seem to be taking the long route around town to get somewhere, the devs will change lighting, terrain, signs and other small aspects so in those areas where the players were heading one direction they now naturally head in another.
 
Also, players that have been in beta a while develop a different perspective of the game than new players will have. They begin travelling the world differently and using the content differently. What they relay about their experiences may not necessrily be the new player experience. The same goes for employees who have been playing the game for the past year or two.
 

 

"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

  Aerowyn

Novice Member

Joined: 2/20/12
Posts: 7969

3/15/13 7:32:23 AM#37
Originally posted by atuerstar

The NDA bound experiences I have had lead me to one conclusion.

 

The game is bad. They want to be absolutely positive these testers cannot initiate negative advertising and affect sales by leaking the truth.

I have alpha tested numerous games and everyone had NDA... actually can't think of really any MMO that didn't have NDA for alpha.. 

I angered the clerk in a clothing shop today. She asked me what size I was and I said actual, because I am not to scale. I like vending machines 'cause snacks are better when they fall. If I buy a candy bar at a store, oftentimes, I will drop it... so that it achieves its maximum flavor potential. --Mitch Hedberg

  SlickShoes

Novice Member

Joined: 3/01/06
Posts: 1040

3/15/13 7:38:19 AM#38

I think some games should drop the NDA earlier than they do but an NDA is 100% necessary. You need to make sure your ideas are safe and no one is stealing them, your game could be a total train wreck at certain stages of testing and if you release that information to the public they will dismiss the game even if it is fixed at release.

I worked on GTA San Andreas and my NDA only expired last year, so for 6 years I could not tell anyone that I worked on an expansion pack for that game that in the end was never released. If someone had leaked that was being made at the time then people would have went bananas hounding rockstar to find out when it would be released and when it never saw the light of day those people would feel cheated.

The general public don't understand game development, exposing buggys alpha and beta games is not good business. Enthusiasts understand the stages a bit better and how games can change drastically but if Joe Public tried to play a buggy Alpha and failed miserably he would never touch that game again.

  DeniZg

Hard Core Member

Joined: 1/29/12
Posts: 586

3/15/13 8:20:38 AM#39

NDA makes sense in early stages of the game, where developer company does not want to fuel speculations and bad press about game systems still in development stage.

NDA when game is close to release means: We don't have confidence in our product. Let's cash in on box sales to uninformed customers and run for the hills.

  Lienhart

Novice Member

Joined: 5/21/07
Posts: 673

3/15/13 8:56:04 AM#40

Read some of this and stopped early.

Start working in the software world to understand why we have NDAs. MMORPGs are not exempt from this.

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