Sunday, January 09, 2011

It's beta time again, beta time again...

January, and it's that time of year again ... beta time for the upcoming EQII expansion, due to release in February!  This year's expansion is called Destiny of Velious.  If you haven't seen the teaser trailer we showed at Fan Faire yet, here it is.  I love the music, which sounds both epic and somehow nostalgic, and the video itself gives you a little teaser of what some of the zones will look like.  Can you guess which bits of the video are inside Thurgadin?  Did you spot the Tower of Frozen Shadow?  If you remember Velious fondly from EQ1, then you're probably looking forward to this expansion very much, as I am.

While many players are rushing to sign up for beta (secure link here) and impatiently saying they can't wait till it launches, the dev team of course are running around madly trying to make sure everything is as good as it can possibly be, and unable to believe how fast time is flying past.  As always, we tried to get everything done and ready before beta starts, but there are always a few things that don't get done quite on time, and other issues that may not become obvious until large numbers of people are running through the content.  So now is a time of much bug fixing and polish: polish being a catch-all term that means anything from "making it look prettier" to "explaining it better" to "improving the fun of it" and more.

Normally we all receive copies of nightly compilation reports from players on all our live servers who have used the in game /bug or /feedback commands to submit their comments.  If you've skimmed this blog in the past you may have seen some excerpts of the feedback reports that have caught my eye for one reason or another.  We also get regular reports from the customer service team highlighting problems they've come across through the live petition interactions, and of course there is always plenty of feedback posted on the official forums too.  All this is could be enough to keep a person busy all day just reading it; but during beta we add yet more reports on top of this.

During beta we compile and report the beta /feedback and /bug reports separately, so that they can be tracked separately, and these reports get the top priority for our attention.  We also have separate beta forums where people can leave feedback, and where we developers can post answers and information, or ask for specific feedback on areas we may want to get more information on.  Many of us log into the beta server itself as time permits, and either talk to people there, or perhaps just listen to the talk in the chat channels to see what people are talking about and whether there are any common themes.  We also get an additional report that we don't normally receive, which reports quests not completed.  This is a list of all quests that have been accepted by at least one player on the beta server but which have never been completed by anybody.  It's a good way of quickly highlighting a quest that might be broken: if 300 people accepted a quest but not a single person has managed to complete it, then chances are there's an issue that needs to be looked at.  Sometimes it's an easy reason - for example, maybe the quest requires entering a zone that isn't available yet on the beta server, or which is too hard thus far for anybody to have completed, or maybe there's a timing element that means you can't actually finish it for a couple of days.  But other times it may be that an NPC isn't spawning properly, or there's a bug in the quest causing it to actually not update, or similar.  We turned on these new reports about a week ago and they'll run till beta ends and the expansion launches, by which time of course we hope they will be completely empty.  So far no quests of mine are in the list, which makes me happy - but there are still several weeks of beta to go, and at least one rather important quest of mine that hasn't been tested yet, so neither I nor anyone else will truly relax until the last bug is closed and the launch date arrives.


  1. i have been in beta and seen most of the quests and have been bouncing back and forth looking at the reported areas of "oh this quest is bugged" or oh "this npc isn't" updating.

    i did see your post about the coldain prayer shawl line not being put into beta yet and am eagerly excited at seeing it and seeing how it folds in.

    A lot of players complain - its the nature of the business

    Not a lot of players come up with solutions that help you as a developer try to find a middle ground between what you are doing and your "goal" what ever that is atm.

    Personally i think its shaping up pretty well, yes there are bugs and yes we (beta testers) can see you guys making changes.

    I personally hope the general population of players that get to see it when the expansion goes live has those - OMG!!! moments like i did when i saw some stuff from EQ1.

  2. not in beta yet. Hoping to see snow bunnies. REALLY loved those little guys.