This is beta not Sparta
Sep 10, 2008 10:32:00

spartaYes, I will admit, I am "as mad as hell and I am not going to take it any more" over the open beta release in Europe and the how it has not been shaping up since day one; but not for the reasons that some people are - quite the reverse in fact. Nothing rings truer than the following words from Mr. Mark Jacobs own blog:
"Why do some people feel it is okay to threaten, curse, abuse and be downright hostile to other people over a game, especially in this case when it is only over access to a game that is still in testing (Open Beta Test = Not Yet Ready For Prime Time, Players)? While I've become quite cynical over the decades, I still find myself amazed at times at certain people's reactions to stuff like this. I don't mind when people get upset but to treat other people in such a callous, mean and immature manner is really a bit much." - Mark Jacobs

Marshal Mcluhan's vision of a global village has been made all too true by the advent of the internet where we have, collectively, begun to "throw the baby out with the bathwater." I can certainly identify with Mr. Jacob's angst having been on the receiving end a good deal of "e-hatred" myself. As a gamer, a nun and a podcaster I have had things said to and about me that would wilt a steel rose. The sad truth of the matter is that people feel safe saying things to others, behind the perceived safety of the internet, that would get a gun pointed in their face in the average American City.

Say it with me friends and enemas...

THIS IS BETA - NOT SPARTA

When did expectations of open beta, a freebee that is being thrown at fans and players, come to be treated like it is the live release? It would be different if this WAS the live release but it isn't. When did open beta start being a marketing tool where expectations are that a game will be polished smoother than a greased pig? Mythic couldn't have made reporting problems any easier. Instead of having to go to some obscure internet address which is only open on alternate Tuesdays when the moon is full they simply made reporting a bug a menu option - an option I make sure I use when I find a problem and not just to RANT.

Yes, I understand the plight of EU players and can identify. But now, problems admitted and apologies given GIVE THE MAN A BREAK...

See you online (like it or not)

- Julie Whitefeather

Submitted by Brent on Sep 10, 2008 10:32:00 CST (comments: 15)


Comments:


'Preach on!' by smush
Submitted on 2008-09-10 12:24:05 CST
Finally!! A ray of enlightenment from sister Julie.

Jason (resident drunken idiot of Channel Massive)



'Recent derided post' by scytale2
Submitted on 2008-09-10 13:42:54 CST
I think I said this in a recently derided post. Beta is a privelege, not a right.


'Beta...' by Wilhelm2451
Submitted on 2008-09-10 15:24:19 CST
@scytale2 - Beta may be a privilege, but when you fail to meet expectations you have set, you should not expect everything to be sweetness and light. Not that I endorse some of the extreme responses, but when you make a mess, you have to deal with it.


'er....what if you pay for beta access ?' by Dathmar
Submitted on 2008-09-10 16:19:09 CST
Not sure if I agree - lots of European customers had to pay for a pre-order that gave guaranteed open beta access.
Some of these customers have still not seen any Warhammer action and the support from GOA is absolutely awful.
Its not Mythic that most of these EU customers are angry at - its GOA

(Did you know GOA did not have any way to register a beta code until 4 hours before the open beta went live - 4 HOURS ! ? - 30 mins after opening the "system" it failed.)

@scytale2 - lets face it - for most MMOs open betas are a preview of the game more a marketing "thing" than anything else....also I think any closed beta testing is a two way thing we scratch their backs and they scratch ours...
In this Open beta - it WAS a right of all the people that pre-ordered the product as the access was guaranteed.



'Reap what you sow' by Shalkis
Submitted on 2008-09-11 04:56:51 CST
If you make a marketing "beta", promise guaranteed access to those who pay and fail to deliver.. you reap what you sow. If you treat your beta as such, don't be surprised if the players do the same.

But there's also people who really want to help make a better game. And when they cannot do that because they can't even create accounts, they get pissed. They signed up to test a game, not a web page. Besides, testing a web page is not something that you require humans for. Especially for a simple registration page. It's not as there's a million different ways to enter a code and hit "Submit". You make your automated test cases and do the stress test internally, ramping up traffic until something breaks. You then go back, fix your code, add some more servers and re-run the tests until it stays stable under the expected load.




'RE:' by Ziss
Submitted on 2008-09-11 08:54:00 CST
Like stated above, open betas have become a marketing tool. It allows the company to get a few extra sales put in place with pre-orders as well as build hype. Understanding it's not necessarily Mythic's fault it didn't work out and also not knowing everything that was part of the agreement with GOA, it seems Mythic would make certain that GOA had implemented the proper tools to make this as smooth for the consumer as possible. And maybe Mythic believed GOA had all of that in place. But open betas have become less of a beta test and more of a demo. And as long as this trend continues in this same format we will see more and more of the complaining. Because it's not about testing anymore, open betas have become a demo and if there are any issues some players seem to forget it is a beta "test" for the client, servers, and all other operations. But then again, I'm not one of the EU people who got the shaft, so what do I know?

-Ziss
Lagwar.com
"The Web's First Guild & Clan Spotlight Podcast"



'Plain Wrong' by Julie
Submitted on 2008-09-11 10:21:42 CST
I wrote the article above (which will be the lead section on "No Prisoners No Mercy" show 6 which is being edited as I type this (by my co-host) even knowing that TOG (the older gamers - the 14,000 strong) has a large European contingent.

That being said, let me follow up with this. Once the apologies were made, and Mr. Jacobs (who even spoke in advance of the open beta about how things going bad can have a bad long term effect on the game) having assumed responsibility that should have been the end of it.

So, this time no "maybe people are rights" - the reaction, the threats, the cursing the reactions that, as I said, would get a gun pointed in peopoles face in most American cities was wrong. Plain and simple. Some of the garbage I saw posted on Mr. Jacobs blog was just too astounding for words. There were some reactions that were of the nature that gave me reason to suspect the poster should have been sent back to their room with thier bottle and their blanket. The people behind the game are real people with real feelings. Is it any wonder there aren't any "OFFICIAL" forums for Warhammer Online. Plain and simple the crap that some angry people spewed on websites is WHY there aren't official forums. How would it be if an account worked with someone on the other side of the desk and every time the debits and credits didn't balance in a first draft someone on the other side of the desk screamed DAM YOU DO IT RIGHT!!!

As Fran and I will discuss on the podcast, this is NOT the live release. If this was the live release I would be harping on it right along with everyone else.

What this all boils down to, as grandmother used to say, is that just because the gaming community in general WANTS it to be a marketing tool that is ready for release that does not mean it is right nor desireable. Think back about all of the people who have become upset about games constantly having their release dates pushed back...this is why.

And what happens when players treat beta, open or not, like a freebee that is a right instead of a priviledge? What happens at live release when players in open beta refuse to test the dam thing?

You get Age of Conan, Anarchy online, and Vanguard

People can burn me in effigy on this one if they want...I'm just getting warmed up.

Julie



'Forums' by Ziss
Submitted on 2008-09-11 10:55:10 CST
I\'m happy Mythic doesn't have offical WAR forums up honestly. It\'s my personal opinion you should have forums and expect the hate and love to come in (mostly hate from the loud minority) and it is what it is. Or you can choose not to have forums and it is what it is. I'd rather see no forums at all than see forums like the offical AoC or Ten Ton Hammer forums where they delete posts that doesn't say what they want to hear or are not worded to their liking. Granted forums must be moderated and protected from spammers and the pure non-sense the internet brings. But deleting posts that are legit and also state a common issue/concern or even a legit general topic in the appropriate thread is ridiculous.

ziss
Lagwar.com



'You bet' by Julie
Submitted on 2008-09-11 11:36:33 CST
@ Ziss You have a great big whole hearted agreement where that is concerned. Just like Mr. T would have said "I pity the fool...who has the community manager's position." Unless, of course, the community manager can dish it out as well as she can take it (sort of what I get paid to do now).

Yes indeed, I think the decision to have no "official" forums is a good one - with one provision and that is this: That there is still an outlet for the game company to keep the gamers up to date with what is happening. No matter what GOA may or may have not done, Mythic has a place for updated information (Warhammer Herald) and a customer service phone number (I have called it twice when I had beta problems and my problem was solve immediately.).

When you say (above) "... where they delete posts that doesn't say what they want to hear or are not worded to their liking. " I would say that this is a sign of a community manager that can't take the heat, providing of course that the post isn't simply slander, filth, or both.

Julie



'So Open Beta participants shouldn't complain ? ....mmm' by Dathmar
Submitted on 2008-09-11 12:06:09 CST
I fully agree that people hiding behind "the Internet" making threads or just being generally rude or offensive is wrong - no excuses...for beta testing or full release , anything

But surely if you are told that you will be in an open beta and its guaranteed - then surely you are allowed to have a moan if you cannot get in...especially when its the account system that is at fault and not the game causing the problem....if its the game I agree - but if its a really poorly run service - I don't.

The Warhammer Open Beta in Europe should not be about "testing" the GOA system to register open beta keys - that could have been done weeks or even a few months ago. The idea was to test the game - and many players couldn't (and I guess still cannot) get into the game to do and "testing" whatever form this took. Many EU players warned GOA about this weeks if not months before the open beta and they were told not to worry - so you can understand their frustrations....well I can.

I think many are just venting their concerns as there are only a few days to the head start / release and if GOA cannot get these customer's into the Open Beta....what's going to happen in a few days time ?
Should they be silent and just expect the best of GOA ? - they did this already prior to the Open Beta problems....and look where we are.

BTW - I think AoC had an account beta / stress test prior to the open beta - for all the bad things people say about FunCom - I do think they go this side of the release correct

...oh and I think not having official forums really didn't help GOA with this situation as they had to update many different sites with current information (sometimes completely wrong information) - they even updated Tolbold's Blog !!
If they had one official site then customers would know where to go to get the most update to date info.



'If a soldier couldn't complain' by Julie
Submitted on 2008-09-11 14:29:38 CST
I had an NCOIC in the miliatary (non-commissioned officer in charge for all you not "ex-military out there) who used to say "if a soldier couldn't complain she wouldn't be happy." This far exceeded the realm of complaints. Complaints is when the service is so bad in a restaurant you don't leave a tip. A complaint is when you tell the waiter WHY you didn't leave the tip. This was the same thing as dragging the waiter around back of the restaurant and beating the waiter within an inch of his life for not serving the coffee or tea on time.

Not only does this make me understand the "no official forums" policy but to me it proves the point.

As far as AoC is concerned, stress test or no, it demonstrates how companies who make games for computers "lowball" the sytem requirements, and recommended system specs just to get people to buy the game, knowing that a gamer can't return the software once purchased. Funcom produced a product that ran like pushing an elephant across the rug on it's nose even at the recommended specs. I held out for a long time and even produced a short run podcast for ogr about it, but it reached the point where it was intolerable.

and as a last note, yes I read where tobold considered himself one of the "official" sources of information. As much as I respect Tobold as a blogger that's just hubris.

Julie



'I dunno Julie, maybe Tobold is a source...' by BiggDawg98
Submitted on 2008-09-11 14:59:09 CST
Looks like Mark Jacobs has his back (http://onlinegamesareanichemarket.wordpress.com/), so I dunno maybe he is an official source.


'Hrmmm...' by Wilhelm2451
Submitted on 2008-09-11 15:24:42 CST
"This was the same thing as dragging the waiter around back of the restaurant and beating the waiter within an inch of his life for not serving the coffee or tea on time."

Hrmm, I'm going to have to say "no" to that analogy unless you can prove that somebody at Mythic or GOA sustained actual bodily injury.

It would however be the same as threatening to do the above for reasons all out of proportion to the threat. And it would still land you in jail, albeit on a lesser charge.

While I sympathize with the "No Official Forums" stance by Mythic, that only works if I can get all the relevant information from the Warhammer Herald. Right now, however, I appear to need to read the forums on Warhammer Alliance, Mark Jacobs' blog, and Tolbold in addition to the Herald to get the same level of information I would get from official posts on the official forums for WoW or any SOE game you care to pick.

It feels, to me at least, that items need a lot more vetting to get up on to the Herald and I am not sure you can do community management via a press-release-like process.



'Don't like the analogy ?' by Julie
Submitted on 2008-09-11 16:05:59 CST
So...first a quote:

"A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it. Fifteen hundred years ago everybody knew the Earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, everybody knew the Earth was flat, and fifteen minutes ago, you knew that humans were alone on this planet. Imagine what you'll know tomorrow." - kay from Men in Black 2

You and I (the "you" in this case is the virgin worlds collective community of which we are all a part) can discuss this in an adult manner. In fact we are doing so. But the collective "THEY" of the gaming community across the internet - and here I mean the people who are the type that issue actual threats over a beta game - it appears cann not.

So...it seems the analogy needs improving. It wasn't a matter of bodily harm, but rather an analogy that the reaction of the community was "overkill". So lets try this one:

"This wasn't simply complaining, this was overkill...like dynamiting open a can of beans." (insert in article above)

Analogy or no, this is beta. Things go wrong with beta. That's what beta is for...to TEST the program. It is not going to be a bright shining star right out of the gate. If it is, bravo, it's a happy event and an extra bonus. This is the issue - the reaction of the internet gaming community to the problems with beta. Yes, Mark Jacobs has already admitted the importance of being ready for "open beta". Yes, he has admitted that mistakes were made. But the reaction of the community has gone way beyond what is reasonable and and sunken to new levels. That is the point...what is inexcusable is the way the community responded.

And since BigDawg98 brought up Tobold, we can use that as another example. I do indeed read Mr. Jacobs blog. Interesting that he had to post an entry to his blog entitled "Grab the tar and feathers boys and girls, it's party time, Internet-style". The anger with which the gaming community responded to the fact that Mythic comped Tobold to a game subscription is both astounding and a perfect example of gamers (and obviously not all of them) who descend to levels of hatred over a game - and in this case over $15.00 a month. Wow, what can I say to that except perhaps "OMG I spend more on that for coffee in three working days."

And to descend to the level that people think Tobold can't be "objective"? Wow, it's a blog, not the New York Times. What is all this "objective" garbage. Who said the man has to be objective anyway. What do you read anyone's blog, column or listen to a podecast for? Is it for objectivity or creativity? Is it for a good discusion or someone who is a mind numbing "fan girl" or "fan boy". Not to mention the fact that if I was Mr. Jacobs and I wanted to get a popular podcaster or blogger like brent and tobold to play the game the person I WOULD comp would be the person who didn't like the game in the first place. In fact I would give brent a FEW comped accounts just to try and change his mind (I am listening to the latest witty ranter as I type this).

As far as forums are concerned, one thing there is NOT a problem with is feedback from the community - in fact at this point I would say there is way to much of the wrong kind. Useful feedback would be a refreshing change.




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