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MMOWTF: Giv Beta Plz

Posted Jul 20, 2007 by Jon Wood

MMOWTF: Giv Beta Plz

This week, columnist Dan Fortier returns to talk about the meaning of beta testing.

For a fair portion of the MMO community is it a huge event when a game they have been looking forward to enters Beta testing. It is like ringing the dinner bells for those Pavlovian dogs the way that the faithful heed the call for signing up. It signals a change in the development of a game when it is ready to be played by the public even in a limited and semi-confidential setting. Players come out of the woodwork to flood the official forums and entire fan sites are created overnight in an attempt to be recognized and selected for the earliest versions of the test. This week I'm going to revisit an old topic and grant my considerable wisdom regarding this very special event in the lives of hardcore gamers everywhere.

A while back, I did a debate about Beta testing becoming more of a free trial instead of serious testing. I took the the high road and argued the case that testing should always be the main goal of the players selected. While a part of me believes in that kind of idyllic scenario, the fact is that most of the players who sign up for any form of testing are looking for a free game. While they might also have a vested interest in promoting and improving the game they plan to play one day, it would be naive to think that everyone would be spending their time in game finding and reporting bugs. The reasons for this are obvious and for every well-meaning tester, there are several dozen guys looking for a couple months of free game time and another game they can claim to have tested as if it makes them some kind of expert or visionary.

Read the whole column here.

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