Kudos to the guys at Gamespy for giving us a really fun beta writeup this week. I was thinking while reading that it covered a lot of the points I like to see in a ‘what I did in beta’ report. I know we’ll be talking more about this when the NDA goes down but because I’m selfish, I just wanted to let everyone else in beta know what we wanna see!
(By the way, one of the really surreal things I found on Gamespy while I was poking around for the WAR beta writeup link was a guide for things to do in WoW at level 60. That’s practically a museum piece right there. Including the link for posterity.)
1. Was it fun
Did you have fun playing? Doing what in particular? Was it fun right from the start or did it grow on you? At a very basic level, if a game isn’t mostly fun then it has failed.
Were you able to find a character class that was fun for you, and what made it so fun? Did you like the class/es that you expected to like? Did you stick mostly to one side (ie. Order/Destruction) and if so, why?
2. What irritated you?
NDA will be down, you can be honest. Was there anything that irritated or frustrated you about the game? Give details! Do you think it’s mostly a beta issue or will we see it in live too? Did you find any workarounds?
3. What makes this game different?
In this case, we know what the selling points of WAR are. The public quests, the tome of knowledge, the RvR, the Warhammer setting. So, beta testers, just how cool are those things in the game right now? How did the rest of the beta testers take to them? What worked, and what were any issues? Was there anything else that really made you sit up and think ‘ok, this is new and different‘?
4. What makes this game the same?
What did you see that reminded you of existing games? It’s fine to compare WAR with WoW, for example. How was the UI? Did you find it easy to use because of similarity to games you played before?
Did the similarities make you feel positive about WAR or did it not compare well?
5. Did you try anything nuts?
I can tell you now that the first thing I do in an online game is to take a dive off something high and see what happens. Did you try anything silly or crazy? How about with your guild (if you have one)?
Give us some funny stories! Preferably with screenshots.
6. What is the core of the game like?
Do you think that the game is basically sound? What sort of activities did you do in a typical session?
When I talk about the core of the game, what I’m trying to say is that it’s hard to compare a new MMO to games that have been out for over a year and had a lot of content added to them. A MMO at release will always have less content than that. But the core mechanics and gameplay won’t change hugely over time. WoW was always loot dependent and had fast-moving combat with lots of tuned 5 man instances. LOTRO always made good use of instancing for storytelling and didn’t have a standard healing class. CoH always let you beat up lots of mooks at a time, relied on generated mission instances, and had a superb character generator.
What’s core to the gameplay here? Does it play well? Will it still be engaging when more content is added?
7. What do you think the biggest issues are going to be?
I can name a couple without troubling the NDA at all. But what were the biggest issues you encountered in beta, and do you think they’ll be present later too? I don’t mean what things were frustrating, I mean what actual design issues did you encounter?
8. What wasn’t there?
Name some functionality that wasn’t in the game yet but should be in there when the game goes live. In WoW, there were some placeholders in the beta (remember Captain Placeholder? We do!). Is there anything like that in WAR at the moment. What were you unable to test that should be present later?
9. So what was the beta experience like?
We know that beta communities tend to be more experienced and friendlier than live ones, mostly due to being picked for experience and willingness to actually beta test. What was it like being in beta? Were people cooperative? Was your beta server community friendly and interested in testing things together? What content did you actually get to test? The gamespy crew commented on getting level 31 templates. Did you do that too?
How were Mythic/GOA about taking feedback? Were the servers stable? What were the downloaders like?
10. Did you find any good bugs?
Do you have any particularly funny bugs to report? Any feedback that you are especially proud of? Feel free to include screenshots. We’ll be laughing at these a year from now.
How about exploits? Did anyone find anything potentially game breaking?
11. Send us chocolate!
<insert fluff text with barely disguised plea for chocolate, or ice cream>