There’s something magical about being accepted into a closed
beta test. Whether you’re a veteran of MMOs who finally
decided to jump into the testing portion of a game’s
development cycle or a relative virgin to the MMO experience that fell
in love with a well-known IP, receiving that
“You’re Invited!” email from a gaming
studio/publisher is like opening presents on Christmas Day.
You’re ready to work closely with the development team,
helping them to iron out bugs and improving game systems that
aren’t quite up to snuff. As the new kid in the testing
phase, you're prepared to formulate fantastic posts for the message
boards that argue about the functionality of certain mechanics, and you
expect thousands of bugs will be reported thanks to your efforts.
But in this modern era of MMO gaming, do your efforts really make a
difference on the final design of the game? Is it possible to convince
a developer that the game truly isn’t ready to launch? That
they should polish the title for another 2-3 months to work out the
kinks? Or are those items set in stone as soon as a game reaches any
sort of “public” beta testing stage?
To answer these questions, Ten Ton Hammer extended an open invitation
to the highest tier of MMO developers – those men and women
that make the big decisions about beta tests – current and
former high level employees of studios like Cryptic Studios, NetDevil,
Sony Online Entertainment, Funcom, and Mythic Entertainment. While we
may never know the inner workings behind some of past MMO development
teams, these individuals can give us a glimpse into what their thought
processes are when they start inviting the public into their testing
To provide another viewpoint, the Ten Ton Hammer staff also took time
to ask our legion of premium members about their thoughts on beta
testing. As some of the most informed MMO fans on the planet, these
individuals offer an interesting glimpse into the mind of the gamer.
Their entries are as informative as they are entertaining. Once you're
finished with the article, make sure you head on over to our forums and
jot down your own thoughts on the beta testing process!