Open the Beta Up to Non-Preorders

By on January 24, 2009 2:19:12 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

PossiblyImp...

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We need more people.  We need more feedback, we need more people playing the game, and we need different perspectives.  You can't expect to get a broad, reliable spectrum of gameplay analysis and feedback from people who are (obviously) already going to buy the game.  You need to get feedback from people who are on the fence, from the subset of potential players who are not as inclined to go for Demigod right away.

You can't expect to get a lot of useful feedback from people who are, for the most part, pretty happy with the game simply based on its description. 

Besides the feedback issue, we simply need more people.  The forums are fairly active, but they could be a lot more so.  Online gameplay is somewhat active (read: not very) and it could really use an improvement.  Between the desync and connection issues and the relative lack of people playing, I find myself very lucky just to get a 2v2 going that lasts for more than 5 minutes.  It's pretty hard for any of us to give good feedback when it's that difficult to consistently get games going.  This game isn't designed solely for 1v1 and 2v2.

 

Bring in more people to help out with this game.  It has potential, but having more testers would really help with this.

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January 24, 2009 2:47:16 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

Good feedback.

However, Stardock has a long history of pre-order access to betas and it's worked out well.  You end up having a core of people that are invested in making the game better.  It limits the amount of less useful feedback from people that don't know the game style adn may not really care.

I think it also reinforces the fact that this is not a demo.  It's a beta.  In your post above you mentioned he desync issues.  You understand that this is a process and you are not going to go out and tell everyone you know that the game sucks . . . JoeUser might do just that.  Everyone loses.

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January 24, 2009 2:47:50 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

The problem is their is alot in the beta. If they were to make a public beta my guess is it would me a smaller vers of what we are playing right now.

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January 24, 2009 3:18:13 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

Honestly, most people who joined an open beta at this point would download it, try to play online for 30 minutes and then uninstall. I also strongly disagree that you can't get good feedback from the current testers, just because we bought the game based on a description. Buying a product is not the same as being happy with it.

The game is simply not ready for open beta. Netcode needs to be 99.5%, not ~50% chance to connect, 50% chance to get desynced, 50% chance to lag so hard it is unplaylable. Generals and how they are played still need to be modified (according to most, anyway). Balance, as far as I know, hasn't even started yet. Word of mouth may just kill this game. It has the potential for greatness, but it's in beta for several good reasons.

Let's put it like this. Most beta players who pre-ordered don't bother at the moment. And we're the "fans". Imagine how players that joined open beta would respond. Yes, you can post in a hundred threads about how "beta is beta". They wouldn't come back anyway. First impressions matter. A lot.

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January 24, 2009 3:25:31 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

Quoting Zubaz,
Good feedback.

However, Stardock has a long history of pre-order access to betas and it's worked out well.  You end up having a core of people that are invested in making the game better.  It limits the amount of less useful feedback from people that don't know the game style adn may not really care.

I think it also reinforces the fact that this is not a demo.  It's a beta.  In your post above you mentioned he desync issues.  You understand that this is a process and you are not going to go out and tell everyone you know that the game sucks . . . JoeUser might do just that.  Everyone loses.

 

I understand what you're saying, but your last concern is what NDAs are for.  Stardock may have a long history of working with Pre-order betas, but far more other games have worked just fine with invite-only betas.  I'm not saying it should be "Open Beta" to the public.  But give people the chance to sign up for the beta.  You can even do like Mythic did with Warhammer and have people fill out an application and submit dxdiag or something.

My point is that I really don't think you get enough people with a preorder only beta, and you also don't get enough people with differing opinions.  You're generally going to get a certain subset of people who will preorder the game a while in advance in order to beta test the game.  In order to get a good variety of feedback, you need people from a lot of different subsets.  Yea, you run the risk of getting some annoying JoeUsers who disrespect the game, but in my experience as long as you're not letting in everybody and their mother you still get a pretty good solid group.

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January 24, 2009 3:28:38 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

Quoting Heavenfall,


The game is simply not ready for open beta.

.

 

I didn't say Open Beta.  I agree, it's not ready for that.  But we could use more people from different backgrounds, not just preorders.  What I'm saying (and perhaps it is too late at this point, I don't really know) is that giving people the chance to sign up for the beta and then sending out controlled numbers of Beta Keys (like most other games do for beta testing) would help out.  You still only get people who are already pretty interested in the game (the players who will actually notice that the game is taking applicants for beta) but you get more than just the die-hard group of people actually willing to preorder a game they've never played and don't know a whole lot about.

I'm afraid you may be right, though.  The fact that even the majority of people who pre-ordered this game aren't really "bothering" at this point is troubling.

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January 24, 2009 7:04:00 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

Tbh as I see it now the devs are doing a lot of work and there have been some huge improvements from when the game first started out. I also think there is enough feedback at the moment...and the good thing is that 90% (or a lot of it) is very good quality and well thought out, unlike a lot feedback for other games. The devs dont have to check 10 threads to find one constructive one.

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January 24, 2009 7:04:17 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

This is my 3rd (or is it 4th?) pre-order beta game from Stardock and they used this same pre-order beta system, and they have done very well right out of the box apon release. There was few issues apon those releases (especially compared to most other games) and have a rock solid community that has been very effective and keeping them on the golden path.

Those games I talk about are Sins of a Solar Empire and Galciv2:Twilight of Arnor (I can't remember if Dark Avatar had a beta; but I remember pre-ordering it).

I have also participated in open, and semi-open/semi-closed/closed betas as well (Roughly 12 in total, not including Stardock's), and all the games with a large or large-ish beta community tended to come out pretty buggy and balance being lopsided (Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts is a recent example), while smaller community, like that for Act of War: High Treason (and Direct ation, but I missed that) had an opposite effect. Granted, there are exceptions (Lost Empire Immortals), but generally, in my experience, larger beta communities, especially when theres no tie in (like the pre-order), do not exactly beta as well.

Right now, the pre-order for beta system is working, and I don't think it should be changed.

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January 24, 2009 8:35:20 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

We don't really need more beta testers, we just need the people who are already here to be able to connect to games and be able to play in order to post more feedback on the game.

Heavenfall is correct, at this point in time there is no way this game should be released to the public, it would only lead to major disappointment.

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January 24, 2009 8:57:50 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

Forget the beta, just release the game now so everyone can start playing!!

 

just kidding...

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January 25, 2009 12:10:54 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

I don't think volume of testers is really an issue so much as focus, which a free beta wouldn't help (in fact it'd probably do the opposite). Most people are more interested in playing and balance than the technical stuff. But over the past week, we've made some great progress with the people in IRC doing detailed CVP/network testing with directly with Cari.

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January 25, 2009 2:49:11 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

Honestly, most people who joined an open beta at this point would download it, try to play online for 30 minutes and then uninstall. I also strongly disagree that you can't get good feedback from the current testers, just because we bought the game based on a description. Buying a product is not the same as being happy with it.

The game is simply not ready for open beta. Netcode needs to be 99.5%, not ~50% chance to connect, 50% chance to get desynced, 50% chance to lag so hard it is unplaylable. Generals and how they are played still need to be modified (according to most, anyway). Balance, as far as I know, hasn't even started yet. Word of mouth may just kill this game. It has the potential for greatness, but it's in beta for several good reasons.

Let's put it like this. Most beta players who pre-ordered don't bother at the moment. And we're the "fans". Imagine how players that joined open beta would respond. Yes, you can post in a hundred threads about how "beta is beta". They wouldn't come back anyway. First impressions matter. A lot.

My thoughts exactly.

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January 25, 2009 8:10:13 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

mine too

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January 26, 2009 7:42:58 AM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

At the moment, the only people playing the beta are those so besotted by the concept of the game that they are willing to shell out the required cash without actually knowing fully what they're getting into; these are the people who will form the foundations of the community when it's out, and they are the people most likely to be dedicated to making the game better.

Open Beta has its strengths, but only late on in the development lifecycle; you use it late on in the balance process and to stress test your servers. The problem with open beta early on is that you open the floodgates for all of the world's idiots who are simply bored and want something new to do; they've got no interest in making the game better, they'll never post here or contribute anything meaningful to the design/development process and they'll stress the online servers even further, before they're even ready for it. This forum would turn into a sea of meaningless drivel rather than useful feedback for the staff to use.

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January 26, 2009 7:46:28 AM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

Quoting Heavenfall,
Honestly, most people who joined an open beta at this point would download it, try to play online for 30 minutes and then uninstall. I also strongly disagree that you can't get good feedback from the current testers, just because we bought the game based on a description. Buying a product is not the same as being happy with it.

The game is simply not ready for open beta. Netcode needs to be 99.5%, not ~50% chance to connect, 50% chance to get desynced, 50% chance to lag so hard it is unplaylable. Generals and how they are played still need to be modified (according to most, anyway). Balance, as far as I know, hasn't even started yet. Word of mouth may just kill this game. It has the potential for greatness, but it's in beta for several good reasons.

Let's put it like this. Most beta players who pre-ordered don't bother at the moment. And we're the "fans". Imagine how players that joined open beta would respond. Yes, you can post in a hundred threads about how "beta is beta". They wouldn't come back anyway. First impressions matter. A lot.

Great post man You hit my thoughts exactly

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January 26, 2009 5:53:58 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

Actually, I think the point of the OP is that there should be more closed-beta participants hand-selected from brief applications that seem to be knowledegable enough about the genre and computers and willing to participate enough to be able to give good feedback.  I personally think that he might have a point, if it would be reasonable to do this.

In fact, the reasons why this game is not ready for open beta are exactly the reasons why I am skeptical about the whole pre-order beta idea.  It seems to me that it would be more productive to restrict beta to only those people that have been screened to participate, as it would then even more strongly reinforce that this is beta and not a demo, as well as help ensure more and higher quality feedback.

That said, I've personally been remiss and need to play the game more in order to help its development

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January 26, 2009 6:22:49 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

The beta has a large portioon of the game right now and its very raw. Some people might not be encouraged to make it the best it can be. that also means stardock has to read every aplication which would make it harder to work on the game. If u payed $45-$50 ur gonna have a good incentive to make it the best u can and now people from varius backrounds and gaming expierience can critque the game.

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January 26, 2009 7:55:10 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

Quoting Frogboy,

Honestly, most people who joined an open beta at this point would download it, try to play online for 30 minutes and then uninstall. I also strongly disagree that you can't get good feedback from the current testers, just because we bought the game based on a description. Buying a product is not the same as being happy with it.
The game is simply not ready for open beta. Netcode needs to be 99.5%, not ~50% chance to connect, 50% chance to get desynced, 50% chance to lag so hard it is unplaylable. Generals and how they are played still need to be modified (according to most, anyway). Balance, as far as I know, hasn't even started yet. Word of mouth may just kill this game. It has the potential for greatness, but it's in beta for several good reasons.

Let's put it like this. Most beta players who pre-ordered don't bother at the moment. And we're the "fans". Imagine how players that joined open beta would respond. Yes, you can post in a hundred threads about how "beta is beta". They wouldn't come back anyway. First impressions matter. A lot.

My thoughts exactly.

 

You're all misinterpreting me.  I never said Open Beta.  I just said non-preorder testers.  There's a huge difference.  The world of difference.

Coke doesn't do taste tests only with people who profess that they love Coke.  Point being that you don't get good feedback for improving something from people who are bound to pretty much love what you give them anyway.  You need to draw feedback from a variety of sources, even people who might not be 100% invested in this game being the best game ever. 

 

The real problem I see is that the majority of the people giving feedback here are people who have played past Stardock / GPG games i.e. Supreme Commander or Sins of a Solar Empire.  That makes sense because they have brand loyalty and they're willing to preorder based on that loyalty.  But the developers need more feedback from people who aren't already inclined to go for this sort of game from this company.  They're getting a whole lot of "a-okays" from their testers because the testers are perfectly fine with the sort of stuff that's been given to them before.  That's not a good thing.

Good testers are not yes-men, and they aren't simply bug-reporters.

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January 26, 2009 8:13:36 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

Coke doesn't do taste tests only with people who profess that they love Coke.
Coke does to taste test with people that like soda though. 

 

The people who pre-ordered  are like the people that will (hopefully) order. right?  The target market?  Who else would you invite?

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January 26, 2009 8:20:31 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

Perhaps a friend invite wouldn't be such a bad idea..maybe 1 invite per pre-order beta user. Would be a good way to convince a friend to maybe buy it in the future.

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January 26, 2009 9:07:41 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

Quoting Ryo2810,
Perhaps a friend invite wouldn't be such a bad idea..maybe 1 invite per pre-order beta user. Would be a good way to convince a friend to maybe buy it in the future.

 

great idea imo

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January 26, 2009 10:15:37 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

Quoting Tazzasaurus,



Quoting Ryo2810,
reply 19
Perhaps a friend invite wouldn't be such a bad idea..maybe 1 invite per pre-order beta user. Would be a good way to convince a friend to maybe buy it in the future.


 

great idea imo

agreed.  just 1 though.  maybe make a bit more games open to play with.

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January 27, 2009 1:26:14 AM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

Quoting Ryo2810,
Perhaps a friend invite wouldn't be such a bad idea..maybe 1 invite per pre-order beta user. Would be a good way to convince a friend to maybe buy it in the future.

 

I think this is actually a really good compromise.  Nice idea.  One invite is perhaps a bit draconic though.  Personally I know that with my kind of friends I'd need to send out at least a few invite to hopefully get one person who is a dedicated tester. 

But that's a good thing, because my friends aren't the people who would gravitate towards this game on their own - but they could very likely have some useful feedback.

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January 27, 2009 1:30:21 AM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

Quoting Zubaz,

Coke doesn't do taste tests only with people who profess that they love Coke. Coke does to taste test with people that like soda though. 
 

The people who pre-ordered  are like the people that will (hopefully) order. right?  The target market?  Who else would you invite?

 

I can't imagine that people who sign up for an online beta are people who do not like online games.  If you sign up for a beta and play it at all you're at least the kind of person who likes the sort of game that the game you're testing is advertised as.

 

Don't try to tell me that only the sort of people who preorder are the sort of people "that like soda" (rolling with the metaphor).

Anyway, I like the idea of giving all the current beta testers a few invites to hand out to their friends - though waiting until the netcode and connectivity issues have been worked out a bit better wouldn't be a bad thing.

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January 27, 2009 7:37:38 AM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

Quoting PossiblyImpossible,



Quoting Zubaz,
reply 18

Coke doesn't do taste tests only with people who profess that they love Coke. Coke does to taste test with people that like soda though. 
 

The people who pre-ordered  are like the people that will (hopefully) order. right?  The target market?  Who else would you invite?


 

I can't imagine that people who sign up for an online beta are people who do not like online games.  If you sign up for a beta and play it at all you're at least the kind of person who likes the sort of game that the game you're testing is advertised as.

 

Don't try to tell me that only the sort of people who preorder are the sort of people "that like soda" (rolling with the metaphor).

Anyway, I like the idea of giving all the current beta testers a few invites to hand out to their friends - though waiting until the netcode and connectivity issues have been worked out a bit better wouldn't be a bad thing.

Some people will sign up for anything that looks like a chance to play a game for free. They may not necessarily care about participating in discussion to make the game better, they just want something to do.

Maybe I'm just a cynic though.

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January 27, 2009 10:33:59 AM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

Quoting Mooglepies,

Maybe I'm just a cynic though.

 

No, you're exactly right.

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