Posted Fri, Jun 13, 2014 by Mem
With Alpha invites being sent out for both Heroes of the Storm and Warlords of Draenor, the Blizzard community is in a frenzy. All of us, myself included, are eagerly awaiting our chance to dive into the game. Despite our excitement, we need to keep in mind that Alpha testing is much different than Beta testing. Wondering what these differences are? Here are five differences you can expect from Alpha testing compared to Beta testing. Enjoy!
Alpha testing is the first part of game testing, as indicated by the name. In order to go into Beta testing, a game must first pass Alpha testing. If the game fails anywhere during the Alpha testing phase, it automatically gets sent right back into back into development. After repeating the development process, it will be retested until it passes this phase and moves on to Beta testing.
This is much different than Beta testing. Beta testing is the second phase of testing and is usually a more completed product. Usually, games don't get sent back to full development during Beta testing. After Beta testing is passes, the game can be released with no other testing needed.
If you are used to Beta testing, which is a pretty complete look at the game, you may expect the same from Alpha testing. This is absolutely not the case. In Alpha testing the game is far from complete. In fact, very limited features will be available here, as the players found out who first entered the Warlords of Draenor Alpha. Here only the Horde faction was playable and only certain zones were up and running.
While more features may eventually be
added, Alpha testing is not so much about content as it is about
making sure the game will even function. Remember, this is the first
run of the game, expecting everything to be inside or to even be
completed is pretty unreasonable.
As we previously touched upon, Alpha testing is used to ensure the game software functions correctly. However, the game doesn't have to be perfect to move onward. Alpha testing can end when developers feel like the game is ready for the next stage of testing; Beta. This means that usually major bugs and glitches are taken care of and the developers feel confident the game is running well.
This is slightly different from Beta testing. As the final form of testing, most of the content is already available. Here things are fine tuned until the game feels as close to perfect as possible. This is necessary since after a game is released from Beta it is (usually) ready for full release. It is only after Beta testing that games are able to hit the store shelves. Unlike the game you see in Alpha testing, the Beta version is almost complete.
If you think Beta tests are bad when it comes to bugs and glitches, you haven’t seen anything yet. Being the very first stage of testing, games in Alpha are filled with all these things. There will probably be more bugs than you can count and glitches that are sure to make you shake your fist in outrage.
This is all part of the Alpha testing process. These major bugs will be worked out here and if need be, the game will be returned to development for some tweaking before being once again released into Alpha testing. If bugs and glitches causes you anger, Alpha testing probably won't be your cup of tea.
Alpha testing involves a very limited number of people. In fact, sometimes the general public isn't even allowed to be involved. Instead, many companies decide to use only employees and perhaps their families. Due to this and the major flaws that may be in the game, developers are heavily involved in this stage of the testing.
Warlords of Draenor and Heroes of the Storm are both exceptions to this rule. Both of these games have allowed fans to join in the Alpha testing. However, this doesn't mean the developers have stepped out. Instead, it is likely that they are observing the game as you play or even playing it right beside you! While developers may still play during Beta testing, it becomes increasingly unnecessary as major bugs are ironed out and more players are available to assist in fine tuning things.
If you think the down time games experience in Beta testing is bad, then Alpha testing will be a nightmare for you. Alpha testing is usually the bare bones of the game. Just enough to make things run. This means that things are being added, tweaked, and often totally redone. Not to mention, any big problems will send the Alpha version of the game straight back into development.
This means that Alpha testers may experience a ton of down time. Not because the developers don’t' want your help, but because they need time to fix things. The only thing you can do is wait it out. As soon as things are functional again, the game Alpha will be back up and running.
That wraps up our list of five ways Alpha testing is different than Beta testing. As you can see, the differences are pretty profound. Are you currently involved in the Warlords of Draenor Alpha test? What are some other differences you have noticed between Alpha and Beta testing? Share your experiences with us in the comments section below!