alt="Heroes of the Storm Alpha" />

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!

First Phase of Testing

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.

Limited Features

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.

alt="Alpha Testing" />

Not Perfect When Finished

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.

Bugs Galore

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.

alt="Heroes of the Storm Forums" />

Developer Involvement

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.

Down Time

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!


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Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016

About The Author

Mem
Amunet, also fondly known as Memtron, is an organic life form best known for its ongoing obsession with Blizzard Entertainment's numerous properties. To that end, Amu has authored hundreds (thousands?) of the most popular World of Warcraft guides, editorials, and Top 10 lists on the planet. When not gaming and writing, Amu is busy chasing after her three children in a perpetual loop of ongoing disaster.

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