Tuesday, May 4, 2010

To Beta or not to Beta

So it was officially announced yesterday that the Cataclysm Friends & Family Alpha testing phase is underway. For those of you who may be new to WoW since Wrath was released, this is the initial stage of testing for their expansion packs. Invites are sent to very specific people--all friends and/or family members of Blizzard employees. All testers accepted to this phase of testing are required to sign Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs), which means they're not allowed to publicly share any information about what they're playing. No vids, no screen shots, no blog posts, no conversations...nothing. The word is mum.

Of course this means that the Beta phase is not far off. Note that "not far" could still mean months, but still...not far.

I've been playing this crazy WoW game since Vanilla. I didn't attempt to get into the BC beta because...well...honestly, I wasn't that into the game yet. Then when the Wrath Beta rolled around two years later, I also opted to not worry about it. I was very into the game by that point and I readily devoured any information that was released on various blogs and websites. But there were a couple factors that held me back.

1) My playtime was still pretty limited, all things considered. I didn't want to start trying to figure out how to divide it between the current game (where I was still trying to get a lot done) and the new one.

2) Part of the thrill for me is the discovery. I wanted to be excited for the day I got the actual retail copy of Wrath and got to start exploring all this stuff I'd heard about with all my friends.

With San I eagerly quested out all of Northrend just because I wanted to see everything. Dal made it to 80 before I really lost the drive to keep doing quests I'd already done. Maarken...yeah. I've turned to leveling him through PvP just for something different. (Which, btw, has been an interesting experiment and one I might post about soon.)

I don't want that stuff to feel "old hat" when it's still technically brand new.

On the other hand, curiosity has sunk its teeth into me. I finally spent some time on the PTR when 3.3.3(.3.3.3) was in testing so that I could play with the Mangle changes and get better numbers on what it was actually going to do for us Cats. And then I spent a little extra time just romping around and checking things out. Of course there wasn't any crazy, new, OMG content that I was spoiling by doing so. But it was a small step. And I started to realize that seeing things before they went live wasn't somehow...I dunno...evil.

Plus I have this blog now. A Beta spot would give me a lot of content to write about. I wouldn't have to scrounge for a topic for months. Think of the traffic! The hits! The powah! Mwuhahahaha!



No, seriously, though. I think it would be really fun to be able to be one of those bloggers that gets to share first-hand (paw?) experiences of upcoming content. And it would allow me to place solid distinctions on my time pre- and post-release. During Beta I would be approaching things very critically. Both in the sense that, hey, a Beta tester is still a tester. But also in the sense that I'd be specifically seeking out good information for my blog.

Once the game was actually released, I'd be able to just enjoy the experience.

I don't know. I'm still kind of undecided.

Right now I'm pretty confident that I'm going to at least do what I can to procure a Beta spot once the opportunity comes around. If I don't get one...no biggie. I won't be crushed.

And if I did manage to get one...well then maybe my Titanium Seal of Dalaran would have to help me decide whether or not I should use it.


  1. Well I hope you get into beta because I don't have time for beta, so I can just cheat and look up kitteh info on your blog. I'm so selfish!

  2. I've done beta testing for BC & WotLK. The drawback of doing that is that I was already half bored with the expansion content by the time it went live. It's always a risk, but I usually decide that the risk is worth it because I actually spend a lot of time testing mechanics & giving feedback (rather than the focus being on running the content). So, I'll purposefully skip some things and "save" them for the Live servers (ie. the wrathgate quest line & COT: Strat were some of the goodies I didn't do on Beta purposefully. We'll see what happens this testing season.

  3. I'm really in the same dilemma. Having only started playing WoW 3 months before WotLK was released (and taking 6 months to level to 80), pretty much didn't have the time nor experience for Beta testing.

    Now that I do... ugh. I'm the kind that cannot tolerate to level another character to 80 just cos doing all those quests again makes me want to shoot myself. But eeeeeeeek Cata looks so fantastically interesting!!!

    ... But NOOOOoooo I want things to be fresh, new and sparkly after I get my expansion!


  4. This will be my platform. "Zelmaru says I should Beta! Lemme in!"

  5. I did the Wrath Beta. Well, I did it a little.

    When I first got into it I was excited. I did the Borean Tundra zone, blogged about the new shinies, and had a good time. I did my job as a good beta tester and provided feedback to Blizzard.

    Then I realized that I was going to have to run the same content over again when it went live. Also, there was no guild chat and very little socialization at all, which is a big part of the game to me. I only knew one other person in beta, and we had different play schedules.

    The final nail was that all the time I spent in beta was time I was not spending in the live game. I felt a little like I was abandoning my guild and my friends to play beta.

    Eventually I stopped participating in the beta. I never even made it to level 71.

    Will I got for it this time around? Having the inside track to learn the new class mechanics is too good to pass up, so I'll certainly try. But I expect it to go much the same as it went with Wrath.