In a moment that, I assume, is equal parts victory and terror, Camelot Unchained has finally breached the gate and charged into Beta One. If there were a visual to accompany a studio moving into Beta one I assume it would be a pale red-eyed developer standing up from the desk they drive, taking off the shackles and chugging a beer while they fist pump to the synthwave playing in the background! Their face a mask of pride and triumph!... Followed by that same developer setting the beer down, picking up an energy drink, re-applying the shackles and sliding back into their chair as the music fades in the background. Their face a mask of intensity and focus. Such is life for our key crunching heroes.
Before we get into the battles of future past, let’s take a brief moment to enjoy the present. This is an important day for every game and the studio's that birth them. Not unlike the first time a new ship slides into the deep blue the question on everyone's mind is will it hold? Will the tech hold? Wait, that isn’t good enough. City State Entertainment is known for two things, Mark Jacobs and definitely putting their tech ahead of all else. All of their chips are in this single basket. Next to them resides their reputation, his reputation and years of blood sweat and delays that have built up to this one fulcrum. If she sinks it won’t be the end, this is still Beta, crashing is part of the process. But if she can’t roll upright again an ominous omen will rise as Unchained darkens beneath the shadow of a tsunami. That brings us to the fans.
From the outside its a jubilant time of celebration. After years of anticipating the unknown gives way to the confines of reality. What may be becomes what is. The old question is, what happens when expectation crashes into reality? According to Ian Malcolm, the outcome is unexpected. We turn the crowd-funded games that have already had their Beta day to gather evidence. Three kinds of Beta testers will emerge, those that love it, those that hate it, and the smallest contingent, those that are willing to wait and see what comes. Unfortunately when black and white battle it’s the shades of gray that are lost. Trolls will troll, fans with fawn and the patient will wait for Unchained's final form before casting their opinions.
This isn’t to take anything away from what is, by most accounts, a joyous occasion. You always remember your firsts. Beta day, the first log in, the first time you get to feel that universe from within itself. Those are not easily forgotten. The anticipation, at times overpowering, finally turning into an actual experience if only for a window of opportunity, this is Beta after all. She will sway, tip, roll and sink only to be resurrected again and again until her buoyancy holds true. Enjoy this time, there is nothing quite like the early Beta experience.