Guild Wars 2 Beta: What it is to play a beta.
The most epic beta weekend event has come to an end, Guild Wars 2 Beta Weekend Event 1. As the name indicates, there are more to come before the release, and we get to join in if we’ve pre-purchased.
Edit: First I’d like to say that the beta event were for pre-purchase orders, and in the past GW have used Beta weekends for all of their user base to help out balance out new expansions. This said, Arena.net already has my money, and I don’t mind that they do.
With a beta, one is to expect certain things, like bugs.
I’ve heard users explain beta play and getting into betas as “I get to try out the game for free and if it’s shit I won’t bother with it later, yey me”. Which is not something I agree with. In this case most of the beta players had already bought the game, so there’s a bit difference in attitude. Non the less, all of these people need to learn to expect the same thing when it comes to playing Beta, of any game, or product for that matter.
There are a few points of beta-tests to keep in mind, but let us start a few steps earlier:
When games or a product (will stick with a game further in this reference) is developed the developer need help to test the product, the first step is often to just throw an idea someone else general direction to see if it might fly. Look at this as you asking your friend “Should we got out side for a BBQ today?”, if your friend replies, “Today it’s raining, maybe another day will be better” it is definitely not the best time to go for a BBQ. This said, some of the best BBQs can be in the worst weather, fighting the forces at hand and all that, but it doesn’t have the immediate layout for success, and will most likely not bring a lot of people. Exactly this goes for game development as well.
First semi-public tests will be Alpha tests, which most people don’t even hear about for games because it’s so early in development and heavily NDA’d (Non Disclosure Agreement). I have know people to be in those only because I happened to live in the same house. People keep these NDA’s as they should, but it’s also why you don’t hear about it.
Beta-testing. First these are usually closed, for a bit more testing of new things. The main point of Alpha and Beta-tests is to iron out bugs, after all. Which is actually the point I want to get to. If you’re in a beta, it’s to help the developers solve bugs. Complaining about said bugs in the game, the servers or similar, is kinda mean. The best way to help is usually to report bugs and issues as you encounter them. Suggestions and ideas are often welcome too.
This weekends play of Guild Wars 2 Beta entailed a lot of waiting around for the servers to wake up again. Which sure was a hassle and horrible to wait for, WE WANTED TO PLAY, after all that was why we were there. But when we helped the team, by reporting the error codes we encountered, we’ve hopefully helped them stresstest their servers in a way they didn’t expect for this weekend and now the game at release will be better for it.
You might also be interested in reading this blog post over at Kill Ten Rats, “When beta isn’t beta but really is“.