Without a doubt, the beta testing experience has changed since the
beginning of the MMO industry. In a href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/66885" target="_blank">recent
article that Ten Ton Hammer
released to the public, the staff compiled a variety of
quotes from
present and past MMO developers while putting these side-by-side with
thoughts from the Ten Ton Hammer premium members. Not wanting to miss
the action, the BioWare Austin developers working on href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/1422"
Wars: The Old Republic
sent over their own
thoughts on beta testing. Straight from the mind of Co-Studio VP,
Richard Vogel, this Q&A gives players a hint of what they might
expect from the upcoming SW:TOR beta test.

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Ten Ton Hammer: Since style="font-weight: bold;"
original beta testing period, the concept of the beta test seems to
have shifted toward pure marketing tactics rather than any actual
testing by the player base. Do you think that beta tests will continue
along this trend until we no longer see any form of open beta "test"
any longer? Besides stress testing, is there any benefit to having a
large closed beta or true open beta?

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Richard Vogel:
The Open Beta test has changed.  It is more of a
“try before you buy” marketing push as well as a
soft launch.  You really don’t get much data from
“Open” tests.   It is really just
making sure everything holds under stress and allows us to get people
in the game early vs. everyone getting into the game on launch
day.  The reality of beta testing is that most people
don’t play the game the way they do when it is
launched.  If there are exploits, they usually keep them to
themselves to exploit later when the game goes live.  

Ten Ton Hammer: After the
release of href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/tr" target="_blank">Tabula
Rasa, Richard Garriott alluded to the fact that the TR beta
test actually hurt the game's chances of success. On the other hand,
there were a few instances in recent games where hardware factors kept
players out of the game, but when the game released it sold very well.
How do developers know if a beta will hurt their retail sales? When is
it appropriate to let a lot of gamers see your upcoming game? Does it
hurt a company to never have a truly public display before a game

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Vogel: One
thing to do is survey the users.  If 75 percent or more tell
us they will recommend the game to someone else, that is a very good
sign.  Another good sign is how much and how often people are
playing the game.  It they are playing a lot and they speak
positively about their experience that is also a good sign. 
It is very important to ship a quality, fun product.  You
should know this by the number of open bugs, their severity, and survey
data that is collected in the game.  What happens most of the
time is that decisions are made to ship the game before it is ready.
You are only given one shot at this.  If you have a bad player
experience at launch and through the first few months, it sets the
brand value forever.  That is why games don’t
usually recover from a bad launch.   

Ten Ton Hammer: When is
it appropriate to let a lot of gamers see your upcoming game? Does it
hurt a company to never have a truly public display before a game

Vogel: We
feel that limiting the [number of] beta testers is a good
thing.  We get better data with fewer, more dedicated players
and we are able to focus test specific areas of the game.  You
can’t do that with tens of thousands of players.  It
is a coordination issue.  It is good, however, to allow enough
players into the game to make sure it can handle the load under stress.

About 4 weeks before launch is a good time to open the game up to
consumers.  If you have done your job right, you will know if
the game is ready before you open beta.  If not, you
don’t open it until it is.  It doesn’t
hurt a company at all to open the game up to players four weeks before
launch.   It allows them to try before they buy and
it allows us to make sure the game holds under pressure as well as
providing a rolling launch so day one is not so crowded. 

To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Star Wars: The Old Republic Game Page.

Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016