Welcome to the 1,025th Edition of Loading...

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The Pulse

You vote with what you view at Ten Ton Hammer, and the result is the Ten Ton Pulse (What is Pulse?).

Here's today's top 5 Pulse results:

  1. World of Warcraft
  2. Darkfall (UP 6 )
  3. EverQuest 2
  4. Star Trek Online (UP 1)
  5. Age of Conan

Biggest Movers in the Top 20 this week :

  1. Darkfall (UP 9 to #7)
  2. Star Trek Online (UP 7 to #8)
  3. Jumpgate Evolution (UP 7 to #10)

Loading... Daily

Loading... it's the right beer now.

With a number of 2009's best MMO hopes entering or in closed beta at present (Champions Online, Darkfall, Free Realms, and Jumpgate Evolution among them), it seems like a good time to talk about how beta, specifically open beta, is done. I know open beta is a time honored tradition and borderline necessary to see how your game will perform with a full complement of players crowding up the servers.

But after years of intense planning, millions spent on licenses, assets, gameplay, marketing, and animation, and the hopes and dreams of your studio riding on this nearly finished, heavily encumbered, but still not-for-sale product of yours, what's the next step? For many studios, it's to let in hundreds of thousands play the game for free - most of whom weren't planning to buy but just want to say "I was in the beta and it sucked" as if that magically seals their forum flaming judgments.

This isn't marketing - I don't buy that argument for a second. This is anti-marketing in that it encourages developers to waste man-years of development time on the "hook" of low level content and polish that most players will exhaust in their first hour of game time. Incidentally, this is my argument against free trials too. Recruit-a-friend, yes, that works because those new players have someone drawing them in, a pre-made community. But MMOs aren't made to be sipped and spat out like the cheap stuff at a wine tasting, you need to pay the cover-fee and commit before you get to the real fun.

Worst of all, marketing teams sieze upon open beta numbers, sending investor expectations through the roof, and devs draw up their plans for a number of servers to match those hefty, highly unrealistic numbers. Servers seem crowded for a week as everyone tries to flow through the past of least leveling resistance, and sooner or later the start of the game, which had been so laboriously created, feels like a ghost town (unless your game, like the first three years of WoW, was built for replayability).

My hard-line solution is still to let pre-order players, and only pre-orders, into the beta until launch. No other type of game opens wide the floodgates before launch, and I don't really see the business or marketing sense of giving away a less than polished product for free. You've got their money, they've proven their commitment, they're your core audience that you have to prove the worth of the game to - let them in. On the systems side of things, I wonder that the sheer scale of Internet endeavors anymore that much of the backend kinks couldn't be worked out with a simulation layer. The churn on free trial accounts (let's start thinking of the traditional open beta as a free trial) is both ridiculously high and ultimately harmful; in the wake of the last few beta disasters, notably Vanguard, how can you not believe that the overwhelming majority of the open-beta hopping community is just looking for a free game to hate?

Should the free ride end? The Loading... forum beckons or, as always, feel free to email me.


Shayalyn's Epic Thread of
the Day



From our Articles, News and Events Discussion Forum


Commentary: Is Bigger Really Better in MMOGs?

Our staff writer (and resident pony harvester) Ralsu's editorial and subsequent forum thread
about virtual real estate in MMOGs sparked an active discussion. I'm a
"size matters" kind of girl myself (yes, you may now giggle nervously
into your hands). I love a big, expansive...game to play around with. I
quickly tire of any game that makes me feel tied to one location and
set of quest lines for any specific level range. Give me plenty of
options and I'm bound to stick around trying to discover them all.

Do
you require a lot of variety and plenty to explore in a MMOG? Or can
you satisfy yourself with a smaller world as long as updates and
expansions roll out at a regular rate? With today's economic
challenges, is it still feasible for gamers to expect massive worlds
from MMOGs right from launch? Join the Bigger is Better debate (which
is almost double-entendre-free!) right here.



=================================

Awesome Quote from the
Epic Thread
:

"I
refuse to accept that a game can't be huge AND polished at launch. I
think our standards are just dropping because of all the crap
[developers] have tossed at us lately.
"

- megaflux

=================================



Do you have a favorite Epic Thread? Let
us know
!

3 new MMOG hand-crafted articles today! 117 in February! 253 in 2009!

New MMOG Articles At Ten Ton Hammer Today

Podcast

Comics

Opinion

Guides

Hot Content - Or, what I took a fancy to:

  1. Darkfall: A Promise of Hope?
  2. Loading... Live #5 : Dev Chat with Star Trek Online's Craig Zinkievich
  3. WoW Comic - Goob & Begud - "Picking up the Slack"
  4. City of Heroes "Captain Dynamic" Video #1 - Awesome Button
  5. A Final Hurrah - 10 Things to Learn from Tabula Rasa
  6. City of Heroes Architect Edition Screenshots and FAQ
  7. The MMO Wish List - What Are the Extras Players Really Want?
  8. Jumpgate Evolution: Hands-on Report - In the Eyes of a Veteran
  9. Darkfall: Hands-on Report - The Rise of the Ninja (Looter)
  10. The Comic Book Guy: Are Pirate MMOGs in Davy Jones' Locker?

Real World News

Will return next week, do it please ya.


Thanks for visiting the Ten Ton Hammer network!

-Jeff "Ethec" Woleslagle and the Ten Ton Hammer team


Last Updated: Mar 13, 2016

About The Author

Jeff
Jeff joined the Ten Ton Hammer team in 2004 covering EverQuest II, and he's had his hands on just about every PC online and multiplayer game he could since.

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