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Was the backer beta a good idea?

bugs negativity fatigue

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102 replies to this topic

#1
samm

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As a software developer as well as a gamer, the backer beta and the flood of feedback really got me thinking. By involving the customer base, which is a potential fan base in case of the game, into the development process at this stage, Obsidian has on one hand gained a lot more feedback than it would have otherwise, so they can polish the game to the testers' specific liking in addition to fixing more bugs. On the other hand, the players now had a look at a truly unfinished product. In some cases, a very thorough look. The beta players have developed an eye for inconsistencies, rule flaws and bugs.

 

I think the beta players will not be able to enjoy the game upon its release (or after the first one or two post-release patches ;) ) the way they would have otherwise. Instead of looking for and finding PoE's strengths, they will look for and find its weaknesses. All the other players will be profiting from the work the beta players put into the beta, but this part of the potential fan base will probably not turn into actual fans of the game.

 

What do you think about that aspect? How do you work against such tendencies in your own attitude towards Pillars of Eternity? Or am I just over-analyzing things only related to my own point of view?


Edited by samm, 06 September 2014 - 02:35 AM.

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#2
Monte Carlo

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I think your view might be overly-skewed by your background in the industry.

 

As a non-industry person I'll be delighted if they fix everything and want to be a fan of the game. Whether Obz will let me do that is another matter.


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#3
Sensuki

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Yes I think taking part in the beta is a sacrificial act. 

 

That said the game will be better for our participation, and I want this IP to succeed, I want this style of RPG to come back and I want sequels, so IMO it's worth it for me


Edited by Sensuki, 06 September 2014 - 03:00 AM.

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#4
Doppelschwert

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For one thing, nobody is forced to participate in the beta, so the point is kind of moot.

People are responsible for themselves, so if they spoil their overall enjoyment of the game, they can blame themselves; it's not in any kind obsidians fault.

 

Showing an unfinished/broken product also has not to be a bad thing; if they can fix everything the game is currently suffering from, it will just show how great they are at polishing in a small timeframe.


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#5
mutonizer

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You gotta grow a thick skin and perspective if you beta anything you care about, or if as a game company, allow outside parties to beta your product.

 

If you can't, you need to stay well away from all that :)


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#6
wanderon

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I think it depends on your motivation to play the beta - I had originally planned not to play the beta because I didn't want to be spoiled and was pleased when they announced it had been designed specifically not to spoil anything in the main storyline and to have minimal spoilage in other aspects. 

 

My goal in playing the beta is to get a handle on the games mechanics - character creation and generally using it as a tutorial so when the actual game arrives I will have a clear understanding of classes and mechanics & be ready to play it right out of the box and thus far it seems to be working as planned. 

 

Thanks Obsidian!  :thumbsup:


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#7
C2B

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As a software developer as well as a gamer, the backer beta and the flood of feedback really got me thinking. By involving the customer base, which is a potential fan base in case of the game, into the development process at this stage, Obsidian has on one hand gained a lot more feedback than it would have otherwise, so they can polish the game to the testers' specific liking in addition to fixing more bugs. On the other hand, the players now had a look at a truly unfinished product. In some cases, a very thorough look. The beta players have developed an eye for inconsistencies, rule flaws and bugs.
 
I think the beta players will not be able to enjoy the game upon its release (or after the first one or two post-release patches ;) ) the way they would have otherwise. Instead of looking for and finding PoE's strengths, they will look for and find its weaknesses. All the other players will be profiting from the work the beta players put into the beta, but this part of the potential fan base will probably not turn into actual fans of the game.
 
What do you think about that aspect? How do you work against such tendencies in your own attitude towards Pillars of Eternity? Or am I just over-analyzing things only related to my own point of view?


The positives outweigh the negatives in my opinion. Even disgruntled beta players will find their way back eventually.

I know the concern. It's the same with early access. But, here its restricted to backers that opted for beta participation. For most people the release version will decide their impression of the game.

#8
Karkarov

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No it is fine.  The only thing to be concerned about is if negative beta tester impression will have an impact on sales.  But I think it will be fairly minimal in this case.  Like Sensuki I want the game to be the best it can be, so I have played the beta and given feedback on my observations.  I have no fear at all of spoiling myself on the game as a whole, after all, this is literally only one tiny area and three quests.  One of the quests doesn't even take but 10 minutes or so tops to complete.  If I am that burned out on the others by launch time I can always just skip them.


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#9
Justinian

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No it is fine.  The only thing to be concerned about is if negative beta tester impression will have an impact on sales.  But I think it will be fairly minimal in this case.  Like Sensuki I want the game to be the best it can be, so I have played the beta and given feedback on my observations.  I have no fear at all of spoiling myself on the game as a whole, after all, this is literally only one tiny area and three quests.  One of the quests doesn't even take but 10 minutes or so tops to complete.  If I am that burned out on the others by launch time I can always just skip them.

 

Regarding sales, I doubt the beta will have any impact on sales in the end. The overwhelming majority of the negative impressions only seem to exist here and on RPGCodex - the game is still being seen in a very positive light in the rest of the gaming community.


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#10
Monte Carlo

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Here and the Codex are where the most hardcore fans dwell. Dare I say it, they need to keep us happy.


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#11
Infinitron

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Angry backers tend to have an outsized opinion of their numbers.

 

The truth is that it'll be very hard for these Kickstarter RPGs to fail. Even Alpha Protocol-level sales would be enough for them to be a resounding success.


Edited by Infinitron, 06 September 2014 - 05:10 AM.

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#12
frogdown

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I can only see my participation in the beta being a good thing.

Feedback that I give now, both bugs and mechanics, can be incorporated into the final product and will hopefully make it well worth the effort.

Waiting until the final product would be far too late & games like this needs many, many eyes and ideas to become brilliant.

 

I am also using the beta as a major refresher for myself - it has been many years since I dedicated the required time to play games of this nature.

So far this is working, albeit I feel I have a long way to go with the combat tactics.

I can't see me loosing any particular enjoyment with the final game as a result of this.

 

I also think the hard core gamers always look for the weaknesses in any game, regardless of beta participation. Those weaknesses are the things that give them an edge.

I can't see that participation in the beta would change that, or the attention to detail they would devote.

I can see that their participation in the beta should remove the vast majority of weaknesses, hopefully resulting in it living up to the marketing and actually becoming the modern day successor to BG.........assuming that the feedback is constructive and not troll driven



#13
forgottenlor

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I can only say that the early access forums for Might and Magic X were much harsher and more negative than anything I've seen here. And yet when that

game was released it got very good reviews (considering its very low budget) and the tone on the forums completely turned around. In my opinion it turned out very well. Many of the negative Early Access players were still vocal critics, but their voices were suddenly drown out by the vast number of players playing the finished product and enjoying it. The number of people who Beta test the game will be very small in comparison to those who play the finished game, and the finished game will determine its success or failure.



#14
nipsen

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I think the beta players will not be able to enjoy the game upon its release (or after the first one or two post-release patches ;) ) the way they would have otherwise. 

..I'm afraid it could easily be the other way around. When you're comfortable with the mechanics, you will overlook or work around all kinds of problems that new players will run into.

 

Feedback in general around here seems unusually level-headed and useful to me as well. No one has threatened to sue if the main character isn't predetermined to be a white, privileged, suburban boy with blue jeans and a white shirt. Few are going into 3000 post spamming-sprees over a semantic construction they are convinced everyone else are too dumb to see through. No signature campaigns have been started to remove foreign-sounding names and places. We don't have in-house testers commanding people to start agitating for "twitch-mode", hardcore controls that only use keyboard shortcuts and macros - that then everyone has to use if they want the game to be playable. We haven't had people write novels about how the addition of snap-to and guided cursor controls (along with gamepad support), as well as an "easy mode" with predetermined dialogues and party formations, guided combat and so on.. will make the game "accessible for all users", which is the only way that the game will be a success, etc. I've seen several actual discussions where people have argued themselves back and forth and changed their opinion based on facts and reasonable observation. That's practically unheard of in a normal beta. And I've actually not seen anyone insist that the game should be renamed to "Pillars of Mass Effect Destiny" yet.

 

So I don't think it's going to be much of a problem. Paradox will likely have, like expected, a pretty easy sell in their lineup compared to their earlier games.


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#15
Infinitron

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Well, this isn't BSN after all.


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#16
mutonizer

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I can only say that the early access forums for Might and Magic X were much harsher and more negative than anything I've seen here. And yet when that

game was released it got very good reviews (considering its very low budget) and the tone on the forums completely turned around. In my opinion it turned out very well. Many of the negative Early Access players were still vocal critics, but their voices were suddenly drown out by the vast number of players playing the finished product and enjoying it. The number of people who Beta test the game will be very small in comparison to those who play the finished game, and the finished game will determine its success or failure.

 

Not on topic but what exactly are you smoking, because I want some :)



#17
archangel979

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As a Wasteland 2 beta player from the early WL2 beta version I can say my participation is not going to ruin my experience with the release version. I am sure many of the PoE beta players are going to be like me.

#18
nipsen

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I can only say that the early access forums for Might and Magic X were much harsher and more negative than anything I've seen here. And yet when that

game was released it got very good reviews (considering its very low budget) and the tone on the forums completely turned around. In my opinion it turned out very well. Many of the negative Early Access players were still vocal critics, but their voices were suddenly drown out by the vast number of players playing the finished product and enjoying it. The number of people who Beta test the game will be very small in comparison to those who play the finished game, and the finished game will determine its success or failure.

 

Not on topic but what exactly are you smoking, because I want some :)

 

 

..it's pretty common that you get developers, or community managers with unimpeded authority to interpret everything into their own bs, divining that their beta-test population is a perfect cut of the demography that will play the final game. So that the interpreted forum wisdom is going to be the same opinion everyone else will have.

 

The worst failures I've ever seen have come from betas like that. Expensive titles or cheap titles, there's nothing worse. The testers are convinced that the game will be a complete failure. Or worse, they're convinced it will be a monstrous hit. And when it hits the shelves, the opposite of the expectation happens.


Edited by nipsen, 06 September 2014 - 06:41 AM.

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#19
PrimeJunta

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Nah, it's not a bad idea. With a project like this, butthurt is inevitable, and I don't think it's worse to get it out of the system early on. Plus at least some of the feedback we're giving is genuinely useful, I'm sure.

 

It's got to be hard on some of the devs though. I hope they have a sufficiently thick skin plus enough judgment and patience to be able to hear the signal among the noise.

 

Participating in the beta is not a sacrifice for me. I'm enjoying the process of seeing it take shape, and I look forward to having a pretty good handle on how it works by the time it's released, so I can wade into it eyes wide open as it were.

 

The final game might eventually fall short of the extemely high expectations some of us have, but we will have gotten a brand-new isometric party-based fantasy cRPG chock-full of quests, monsters, loot, and magic. That's pretty amazing when you think about it.


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#20
Bulkbu

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I have done a lot of modding to games after I played and enjoyed them for a while. And for me, I can say for sure that once you have delved deeply into the theory behind a game, it completely kills the fun aspect of actually playing it because you begin to deconstruct and reflect on aspects you wouldn't have noticed otherwise.

 

Beta testing is, in a way, actively becoming part of the development process. Some people will still enjoy the finished product, others will have lost all interest by the time the game officially launches.


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