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Beta Rage!

David North Posted:
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Unless you were hiding under a rock this past weekend, you probably heard about the login issues that were encountered for many users, including myself, during the Guild Wars 2 beta.  The list of different error messages seemed to grow as the weekend began.  As the errors appeared on player’s screens they reach for their pitchforks, and like a swarm of angry Grawl, they rushed into the official forums and Facebook page to post comments of rage.  It was like the Mass Effect 3 ending debate all over again!  The players argued that they had a right to play a clean running game, and that ArenaNet was robbing them of an exciting beta experience.  Do these players have a right to be angry?  Is it fine for their anger to be thrown towards issue that appeared in a beta?

The first thing I would like to remind everyone about is a word that is the key factor in this past weekend’s event.  That word is beta.  It wasn’t Guild Wars 2 “Release Day of Awesome”, it was Guild Wars 2 “Beta”, meaning not the final build.  The reason AreanNet and other companies as well, offer the public a chance to play the game is to allow the players to experience the game they’ve been waiting to play.  Another big reason is that the players will experience issues like glitches, technical issues, and balance problems.  These things exist in betas.  The developers can come up with these themselves, but having players come in and help and expose the problems on a mass scale can cut down the development time.  I do the same thing when I need to test a game.  Companies I’ve worked for have done this as well.  Everyone does it, and they do it to find the issues that are hidden in the game so that it doesn’t happen after the game is finished. Yes, you had to buy the game to get into this beta, but folks: you can cancel your pre-purchase and you can get your money back if the beta experience left you that sour.

Beta Rage!

Let’s focus on the login issues for a moment, as those made up a majority of the issues that made players Hulk out.  The issues happened a lot during the first and second day of the event causing people to say that they were robbed of their beta time.  They felt like they weren’t taking part in the event at all.  I myself had the login issues on the second day of the beta, but let me say this: “Everyone having issues over the weekend did indeed take part in the beta event.”  You showed ArenaNet issues they might not have expected, and that allowed them to be fixed.  Log in issues were present in the previous betas, but not in an alarming number. And by the weekend’s conclusion most problems were gone.

Lag and frame rate issues also caused some angry forum riots.  I’m not going to go into them too much, as I already talked about my experience with this in the past beta events.  This all comes down to that key word, and I feel like I’m repeating myself here: beta.  The game isn’t done yet, and things haven’t been optimized fully.  Over the course of the beta events, I have noticed improvements, but still I can’t judge.  I can only speculate.

When the deadline is about to hit you don't sleep, eat, or even bathe. This is what I look like after finishing a large project.

There will be more Guild Wars 2 beta events.  A question was asked on the forums about how many beta events were still left.  A developer answered saying they had a plan, but if needed, it would change.  To me that means they will do what it takes to make the game run smooth in time for the release.   ArenaNet learned a lot, and they will continue to learn as more of these events come and go.  The issues we experienced now will be gone in the future, and if they aren’t then we can get mad.  Heck, it seems like things cleared up a lot on Sunday, so already we can see progress being made.  I also hope that many of you toss your anger aside and take a look at what a developer has to go through to get a game finished.  The last moments can be the craziest, and are personally my least favorite in game design, but it must be endured.  If you think you had a rough weekend, just imagine what the ANet team went through.


David North