Friday, January 4, 2013

Butt Kicking For Goodness! When is a Beta Not a Beta?

Pathfinder MMO - So, I've been listening to the Fear the Boot Podcast the past couple of days, and there was recently a 2 parter in which Mark Kalmes of Goblin Works is interviewed about the Pathfinder MMO. Interesting stuff and a decent thing to listen to during your commute. One thing really stuck out in my head though - Goblin Works expects players to pay to play in the Beta.

Think about that for a second. Pay a monthly fee for the privilege to play in an unfinished product.

Now, the spin is a decent attempt but still falls flat - the "Alpha" will be the bug stomping phase, the "Beta" will be the content adding phase. In iter words, the claim is "The Beta" is not "A Beta". The bug stomping is going to be done by bots and in house playtesting, which means there will still be a shit load of "bugs" in "Beta.

I know Goblin Works is a small company, but if you need to charge you playtesters for the right to test your game for however many months the Beta lasts, maybe your finances aren't where they need to be to make this game a success. Just a thought.

Side note - The idea that one should not call game developers / writers / publishers / whatever to task for running late with their Kickstarter Projects because "if you rush them they may just release a rushed product" is a crock of shit.

The fear that criticism might damage their fragile mental health? If you are going to ask for money in return for your own creative product, expect some criticism when you fail to deliver on the promises.

If you were the type of student that did every term paper and project in college on the last weekend / last night / handed the shit in late, you are going to be late with your Kickstarter Project unless you do some major changes in how you apply yourself to these types of events.

Excuses are only good the first time they are used. After that, we don't want to hear it. Falling on the sword and admitting you "fucked up" works a lot better then us reading about yet another head cold that has sidelined a creative type. As the vast majority do this work on the side, if you are sick enough to stay home from work, you probably can sneak some time in at home on the computer catching up on your project.

Shit, there were supposed to be actual updates, weren't there?

Far West - Weekly updates from here on out. Slowly the folks running these Kickstarters are learning communication is key, especially when you are really late (Powerchords is years late and it's constantly being updated)

Metamorphosis Alpha - Weekly updates from here on out. Am I detecting a trend here?

Tremulous - no updates since mid October. The physical product is due this month. No updates on the forum side either. Reality Blurs needs should consider joining others in weekly updates ;)


  1. I think paid open-or-quasi-open beta phases are becoming broadly accepted, mostly because there is a strong demand for access.

    When it's done transparently, it works pretty well - see Minecraft, and Blizzard's bundled subscriber access, for instance - but people clearly rebel when publishers falsely advertize a "beta" game as finished (see the recent fiasco on Steam).

  2. A paid beta is the least of PFO's problems....


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