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New Beta Program! (Please Read Me!)

Wouldn’t you consider the Switch a console? :laughing:

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I thought of that, but it was too funny regardless

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Console player here, so no Beta for me. I would think it better to hear any criticism sooner rather than later. I see the difference @saltypatra was trying to make between constructive and purely negative criticism, but again, the criticism will come regardless. At least hearing it voiced in the Beta the team can anticipate a response ahead of release.

And furthermore, the criticism might even be lessened, because certain voices if prohibited from participating in the Beta might feel excluded and incensed that they were not deemed worthy by the powers that be.

Their game, their rules. I took an 8 month break once because I didn’t like the bright green click buttons following a ui update. Some Switch players are on break following a GW update that wasn’t noticed during Beta. Good luck future testers. Have fun. I hope your voices and concerns are listened to and acted upon.

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I think from this topic it will be possible to immediately understand who the developers will choose for the beta test

@Fourdottwoone it’s true that the differences are not any, I talked about this, the only difference is how the information is presented, more gently (as the developers want it to be) and a little aggressive with criticism

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Given that this developer has a history of hiding its head in the sand and ignoring/deleting what they dislike, it would be interesting to hear from previous Beta Testers how much effect/impact has their feedback had over the years (we know from the get go that they are not allowed to test new troops, so that red flag remains flying high).

Otherwise, the Beta Program may be (like an inexplicably increasing number of Pets) purely Cosmetic.
:thinking: :vulcan_salute:

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Yeah I’m not sure if I can be positive about that…

An example: we definitely said a lot about the epic tasks and it took until the public announcement and subsequent outrage before any changes were made. I don’t know about “changes considered prior to public announcement” but I certainly don’t recall any feedback indicative of that.

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Sure.


Editing this back in to answer the initial question - I believe that my feedback on the new Explore mode assisted in causing D12 on live to be level 150 and not 250 as it was on beta. (That said, level 250 delves wouldn’t stop Scorpius teams, but boy was it unfair to everything else as you needed a truly meta end-game stat team for a unit to survive a single hit from the opposing side.)


Personally, I believe that there is a wide-ranging misconception among what exactly beta testing is supposed to be in this game.

In what was the “current” beta program, the devs’ perspective on the matter was for beta testers to test out new features and replacement game modes in the 4.x series of updates. On the other hand, the general perception of the beta testers was that they expected to have significant influence on the actual update itself.

Beta, at least in the past, worked like this:

  1. The devs released an update-in-progress on beta/staging, with partial patch notes relevant to the partial update that was revealed to us.
  2. We were asked to verify functionality of things in the patch notes and note issues like missing assets, broken things (Cliffy errors) and give general feedback on our experiences.
  3. Beta testers post feedback/issues on the beta forums. Depending on the content posted by the beta tester, feedback may be given by Salty or a dev about the post.

As is well known on the public portion of the forums, beta testers don’t necessarily have complete information about the content they are testing. This could be attributable to a couple a reasons: the content in question was still internally not final and therefore not yet pushed to beta, complete knowledge would require revealing things (such as balance issues, the mechanics of the dynamic difficulty system, and so on) that the devs do not want to make public. The second issue is further compounded by the fact that beta testers are not held to a NDA or similar pact outside of an “honor pledge” not to spill the beans on beta things before they are publicly released.

Updates, when they are released, are 95% in-stone when then beta testers first gain access to them. What shows up on beta is going to happen, one way or another. Full stop. There’s literally nothing beta testers can do to make an update grind to a screeching halt, like with Epic Tasks. At best, beta testers can somewhat shape the final result of an update with directed, quality feedback. (Example: my edit about explore delve level at the top of the post)

Salty highlighted quality feedback, above.

One is a straight negative response, while the other recognizes the negative but attempts to discuss the content seeking a compromise while not dismissing the content entirely. There is surely going to be more content coming in the future that will be seen by some as negatively. Being able to be constructive in giving negative feedback is important, especially to avoid those situations on beta.

In fact, Salty said on the Wed/Thurs PQ stream that something controversial was going to be revealed by the Mon/Tue GoW stream. Maybe this might be the devs getting in front of a change for 4.8, similar to the pre-announcement of Epic Tasks for 4.7. Maybe a Screenshot Saturday, or perhaps revealed on-stream for discussion. Either way, whatever it is, the content will find its way to the forums for discussion quickly. Posts about the topic might serve as a pre-screening tool for upcoming beta applications on how players might react to controversial content presented on the beta server in the future. Just saying.

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If I may…
The TL:DR for your post: (based on my summary without quoting you directly)
The devs want feedback from the beta testers and honestly, the community itself. But that doesn’t mean they are going to listen to it all and make changes at the discretion of feedback.
The beta testers main objective is bug testing. But even that is handcuffed because though GoW is available on 6 different clients… Usually only 1 of them is actually beta tested by players. The rest of the beta testing is on 505 Games. Keeping in mind, the players beta testing is free labor and a large part will still try to support their guilds. So many have to play on at least 2 accounts during testing.

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That was you? Thanks. I wondered why the change happened.

The rest of your post rings true to my experience as a beta tester. I wonder how the new program will compare. I guess the best way to find out is to participate, at least for the first round of new-beta.

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What’s funny is the only reason I’d want to be on the beta is to advocate for the community and warn the devs about possible unforseen consequences to changes.
But even if 505 was okay now with me being on the beta (my words not theirs). I feel like I+2 is only responsibile for 10% of the changes done in the game anymore. And 90% of is at the discretion of 505 Games at least when it comes to resources.
As the years go on the developers themselves lose more and more touch with the game and the community.
So if I was on the beta (Mind you I don’t talk any other languages then the English. And as my previous sentence showed. I cans barely speak it.)
It would be me speaking Spanish to the Devs who only speak French, but are responsible for translating my Spanish to 505 who only speak English.
Even if all parties use Google Translate, a lot will still be lost in translation.
I brought the idea up to @Saltypatra years ago who informed me that it’s 505’s call (paraphrasing here not quoting)… But the idea was someone like @Ozball taking on the job of playing GoW 40 hours a week and interact with the community. Or at least help @Kafka and Salty out with the community.
GoW does an amazing job of bringing in new content in hopes of making the game more new and exciting for long time players. The job I personally feel like they fail at is the sustainment of the game modes that don’t get an update. So if the player isn’t into the new additions. And if they feel like they what they enjoyed about the game is now no longer as fun. They are quick to leave. Despite all the time or money they invested over the years.
What I do know for a fact is that publishers are more interested now a days with getting $10 a month for 3 years than $60 a year for 3 years. And since 4.7 was introduced I have literally witnessed way too many players who spent money monthly if not weekly walk out the door. Maybe the new players are replacing that income… If so… That’s great. But ideally wouldn’t it of been great if they could’ve kept both revenue streams?

TL:DR Patch previews or teases about a patch have become more like warnings of what GoW is becoming rather than exciting news about what’s to come.
The bigger GoW becomes the higher the risk of hitting a metaphorical iceberg. I hope @Sirrian will advocate to 505 to allow more time spent in game by his employees because the more complex GoW has become, the less time there’s been so far budgeted to actual knowledge of the game outside of that the code says. The community has practically begged for more developer understanding of the balance of all Faction teams. For years it’s been ignored or misinterpreted and instead all focus has been on how many gems are spent during Faction Assaults. That cannot, and will not be, sustainable…I promise you that.

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Yikes. That’s the preview stream for the upcoming faction that people are already angry about, design wise. That’s…extremely ominous.

At least it’ll be fun watching people sabotage their beta applications.

Edit: just noticed you said by, not on/during. Hopefully it’s an unrelated controversy.

I forgot about that lol. I got it mixed up with the NDA I did have to sign pertaining to the contract work I was doing …

I suspect that beta testers feedback is largely ignored except perhaps regarding bug identification. Perhaps difficulty reduction in explore may be a very rare exception. Delve no doubt received similar feedback. So my take is that beta testing is mild mannered bug reporting (sometimes acted upon as Taciet pointed out), constructive event and game mode criticism/feedback (almost universally ignored). It must be incredibly frustrating to make constructive criticism and see it ignored when the criticised content goes live and then receives universal condemnation like factions have. My take on this is that beta testing is largely cosmetic and an attempt to convince us that our opinions matter. We of course know that our opinions don’t matter whether we articulate them pleasantly (Saltys definition of “constructive criticism”) or in warranted outrage (Saltys take on “negative…helps nobody criticism”). The nett result is always the same regardless of how “constructive” we are; the only consideration is profit. Player satisfaction is a trifling irrelevance and a rehashed beta test program is a mere smokescreen trying to mask that. Testers should be on the payroll; not be exploited as “free labour”. Kinda says it all about the true focus of the game as a whole. We’ve got enough cosmetic pets, don’t apply to be another one.

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reading comments, I understand more and more that there will be a current name from beta testers, well, pets are still possible who will nod in agreement

to some extent, saying that the project is degrading in some way, since it’s not an MMO or AAA game, it’s just hard to add something new here, the game is over 5 years old and every year the changes, but only for the worse, and all because of what? due to the fact that the developers do not listen not to the players, not to the beta testers and as a result a lot of errors, bugs and glitches, I’m sure that in the end the developers will make a game for themselves where they will play alone

I was in the game for 2 years and saw a lot, but recent changes with epic quests have really undermined my faith in the game, I see one thing that will finish me off soon, and I will leave as many have done did it adding epic tasks, they made boredom, dullness, monotonous movements from the game, wait and see, but I’m one hundred percent sure that soon there will be a roll of the field if the developers do not start listening to players and beta testers

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Good luck to anybody who applies for beta status (Beta Boss?).
I just hope the opinion of the next wave of testers is appreciated more than the previous waves - flashback to epic tasks and most people’s dislike of them, including several well known beta testers.

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This is rich! I had to comment!

You are closing down a beta program that hasn’t worked since probably its inception. You know why? Because you don’t listen to the players anyway! Is that not constructive feedback? I think that’s the most constructive feedback anybody could ever give you, is that you don’t listen anyway. You said in your OP that most of your testers moved on… gee, I wonder why that happened.

You just want to take away forum badges and give new people the opportunity to suck up and be ignored. Yes, that is how little faith I have in you as game developers. I’m sure you’re all great people outside of Gems of War, but as game developers you have shown you are manipulative, uncaring and greedy. Everything you do is to make an extra penny. Look at Path of Exile. They’ve kept the lights on because their game is content rich and solid. Your game revolves around matching 3 for no reward, or at best, matching 3 to buy some energy to match 3 some more in an event that isn’t going to give anything worthwhile to begin with.

And I didn’t even need to be accepted into the program to be ignored! Look at that, I’m a beta tester.

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Here’s an attempt at a reasoned take of how I read beta testers have described how they are used:

What players think beta testing is: Beta testers are given the next version early and tasked with finding bugs and giving feedback so there are no major mistakes in the release. Troops and upgrades are available so testers can make sure it all works coherently and find problems with new mechanics.

What beta testing is: The devs pick and choose specific pieces of the next update that they aren’t sure about, and let beta testers try them. This does not always include new troops or mechanics. Beta testers are allowed to give feedback, but usually the devs already have in mind what changes might need to be made and changes are only made if the beta testers comment within that realm.

Respectfully, I think it’s a terminology problem. It sounds to me more like a “focus group” or “user survey” than a beta test. This is why it’s been so confusing to me that they haven’t found things in the past, and now I get it.

The testers do not see the full product. They aren’t being asked to approve or disapprove of the features. They aren’t being tasked specifically with finding bugs. They’re mostly being given a preview and very focused guidance on what kind of feedback is wanted. They aren’t being asked, “Should we make a chicken sandwich or a new kind of hamburger?”, they’re being asked, “Should this chicken sandwich have pickles?” And even if their comments are, “The chicken was raw, more care should be taken when preparing it”, that wasn’t the question so that feedback is not always acted upon.

On top of that, it appears there is also strong tone policing on the feedback. If you can’t build a “compliment sandwich”, where you start with something good, say your bad thing, then end with something good, you’re out.

I don’t think this is a very effective process at all, and it feels like a more complicated version of posting a survey after a preview stream where you get special gold star stickers if you’re always positive.

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Beta = The final stage of testing before release. The beta build of a game/app/software is feature complete, it is rare for anything new to be introduced or scrapped and only minor changes are made. This is a polishing stage, the major pieces are all locked in.

Beta testing is used to gather user feedback and for final balancing before release.

Let me give another example of useless feedback vs constructive criticism:

Useless:

This update is the worst I can’t believe you even thought we’d want this, the Devs are completely incompetent. I’m quitting.

Constructive Criticism:

I tried out the XYZ feature and I really didn’t like it. I found it too difficult/too time consuming/I didn’t think the rewards were worth the effort/I didn’t find it fun/it’s not something I would play/use. The reason I say this is because… insert reasons here

Not necessary but bonus points if you contribute a suggestion to improve the feature without completely scrapping it or needing it to be drastically changed.

Explanation:

My example of useless criticism above doesn’t tell us why you don’t like the update, it doesn’t offer any insight at all. It’s an ultimatum, scrap the whole thing or I’m quitting. We can’t use this, we know from this feedback you think we suck but it doesn’t tell us what you didn’t like or why you didn’t like it - we can only make assumptions and that’s not why we asked you to participate in the beta. We asked you so we could get feedback we can use.

In the example of constructive criticism you still get to tell us what you think even if it’s negative: “it’s boring”, “it’s too hard” “it’s a waste of my time” BUT you also explain WHY you feel that way. This is actionable feedback.

Beta testers aren’t asked to compliment us or the things they’re testing.

Here’s another example of useless feedback:

OMG you’ve done it again you Devs are the best I love you, number 1 fan yay!

^ Ok, so you like the features you’re testing. But we don’t know what you liked especially or why.
This isn’t useful feedback.

We’re not asking you to kiss our butts if you participate in the beta. We just expect our beta testers to be able to participate in civil discussions.

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Just to get the beta access in the first place requires the kissing of :peach:. :grin:
(I agree with everything you said. But you set yourself up at the end.)

Beta = The final stage of testing before release. The beta build of a game/app/software is feature complete, it is rare for anything new to be introduced or scrapped and only minor changes are made. This is a polishing stage, the major pieces are all locked in.

Beta testing is used to gather user feedback and for final balancing before release.


QFE. I cannot put enough shiny Broadway-style lights or big giant neon arrows pointing at this statement.

A long time ago, on a whiteboard/paper far, far, away, the I+2 designers met with 505. Negotiations were made and there was an agreement between the two parties on the roadmap for the game. As part of the agreement, 505 provides support and funding for GoW to develop and implement the updates needed to make that roadmap a reality.

By the time an update makes it to beta, months of time and manpower have been invested in that update, which costs very significant amounts of money. Stakeholders that have invested those resources in developing that update are expecting a finished product to be released, as contractually agreed upon.

Guess what would happen if I+2 backed out on an update based upon user feedback?

(a gross oversimplication)

I+2: “Hey 505, we beta tested this new update that we promised to produce for you. Based on user feedback on our forums and social media channels, there’s a lot of negativity about the update. So, we’re deciding to abort the update because we believe that’s the right thing to do.”

505: “Thank you for your thoughts and honesty on the matter on what the right thing to do is. We believe the right thing to do is to end support for your game. Oh, yeah. We’re also suing you for breach of contract and other related damages as well.”

(end)

Beta testers aren’t ever going to cause an update to not happen because of controversial or negative feedback. What they can do, is exactly what Kafka posted about. That controversial update can be polished so that it might be as “bad” as it could have been. That’s what type of feedback that the devs are seeking.

Yes, this can be the proverbial “polishing the turd” (before anyone else says it) regarding a highly controversial update.

But, at least I can take some satisfaction in knowing that based upon beta testing feedback, the controversial update in question was a released in form that was superior than it initially appeared on beta. (Example: the public discussion about Epic Tasks for 4.7 is normally a thing that happens on the beta forums about updates, which the open forums generally never see.)

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