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#1 Dec 19 2009 at 3:14 AM Rating: Default
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As FFXIV is approaching closed Beta status, how long does the closed Beta process typically last? Like 2-3 months or less? When I think of Beta testing, I think of a six month troubleshooting marathon prior to release if no problems are plaguing the launch. Now that we know FFXIV is moving into the Beta phase, we can begin to calculate the launch of the finished product.

However, before we can calculate the launch, we'll need the start date of Beta testing first. That's why I'm interested how long your average Beta test consists of by the numbers. My instincts tell me to take your average Beta test numbers and add two months to the figure because of FFXIV's ambitious multi-platform launch across all regions. I'd assume delay are very likely. SE has promised a release date of 2010. Let's hope the beta selection is ready to begin soon.

#2 Dec 19 2009 at 4:15 AM Rating: Good
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I wouldn't say I'm an expert by any stretch, but I've been in a fair few betas in my time.

The length of the test really depends on how much in house testing has been done before hand, how complete and buggy the game is, how long the company want to test it and how stable everything is. I guess what I'm saying is "How long is a piece of string".

I've been in closed beta's that have lasted a year and some that have lasted 2 months. It's really a very inaccurate science guessing how long it will last, as only they know that and I doubt that they would commit to telling anyone, even those that get to be in the beta.
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#3 Dec 19 2009 at 4:19 AM Rating: Decent
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ShadowedgeFFXI wrote:
Like 2-3 months or less?

Maybe phase two. Maybe open beta. Usually there are several phases of alpha-beta that become progressively more inclusive to participants. I've been in the HoN beta for at least two months now, and there is still no launch in site, though they are ready.
ShadowedgeFFXI wrote:
we can begin to calculate the launch of the finished product.

Unfortunately problems can arise that change the times of releases significantly. SSBB had its release date pushed back several times by a wide margin. Warhammer completely eliminated 4 of the planned cities and 4 classes because they felt it would take too long to complete. Even release dates aren't immutable.
ShadowedgeFFXI wrote:
However, before we can calculate the launch, we'll need the start date of Beta testing first.

As I mentioned earlier, betas usually have several phases and the developers rarely explicitly tell you which phase they are in. Differences in team size and content size also contribute to variance, and then there are rnadom and significant flaws that occasionally pop up.

It's really not possible to give an estimate with a meaningful confidence interval.
#4 Dec 19 2009 at 5:19 AM Rating: Good
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I'd say something between 3 and 6 months.

But right now I'm more interested, when the beta actually starts.
Anyone got a clue how long it will take for SE to get thorugh all those beta sign-ups? 2? 4 weeks?
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#5 Dec 19 2009 at 5:24 AM Rating: Decent
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Quote:
I've been in closed beta's that have lasted a year and some that have lasted 2 months. It's really a very inaccurate science guessing how long it will last, as only they know that and I doubt that they would commit to telling anyone, even those that get to be in the beta.


So do you believe it would be a wiser decision to wait for open Beta phase to begin to start to extrapolate a launch time frame?

Quote:
As I mentioned earlier, betas usually have several phases and the developers rarely explicitly tell you which phase they are in. Differences in team size and content size also contribute to variance, and then there are random and significant flaws that occasionally pop up.

It's really not possible to give an estimate with a meaningful confidence interval.


So in your opinion, the best anyone could do is take a wild guess. I've been thinking though. There must some indication that FFXIV is approaching launch status. For example, during the later stages of Open Beta, wouldn't a dwindling number of glitches show the game is almost ready for market on the testing level? I realize marketing and production and other factors play a role too. But once the bugs are cleared up, shouldn't the release date be predictable to a certain degree?

One concern that I hope SE pays special attention to is the in-game economy. Would SE be monitoring the activity of players selling and trading to help stabilize the economy?
#6 Dec 19 2009 at 6:20 AM Rating: Decent
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depends on how much stuff they have to test and to how much detail of the game they're willing to beta test prior to launch. chances are we wont even get full access to what they've currently made, maybe a limited number of races/classes just to test if the mechanics work on a live server with only access to certain areas/a small amount of the plot... then once they've test that part to the degree they want they might adjust to testing different parts.
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#7 Dec 19 2009 at 7:19 AM Rating: Excellent
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Different phases of testing serve different purposes.

Alpha Testing: Most MMO studios have an in-house testing facility. Often inviting people to do "Testing sessions" on site. "Alpha Testing" is typically reserved for in-house testers or a special select few of 3rd party testers and typically has a very involved bug tracking system (Usually involving tons of fault exceptions) to keep track of what is going on. Most of the critical content bugs are sorted out during this phase.

Beta Test (Closed): Beta Tests are usually always started "Closed" and last a long time. Meaning that they have looked at all the applications and determined who will benefit this phase the most by participating. An example of this would be... lets say Network devices. Typically a studio's "Hardware shop" will have dozens of gaming rigs and I am not exaggerating 100s of network cards that have to be tested for problems. Each Network card has to be swapped out and tested. The Closed Beta depending on how strict the application process is (DXDiag submission etc) will try and cover as many hardware variations as possible. That is why questionnaire have so many in-depth questions about what your rig has in it or even what your ISP, router and network card combination is. A trick I used to use was picking one of the more "Off beat" hardware combinations hoping that I would be picked for a Beta, it typically worked as there is a database that picks likely candidates, not a person.

Open Beta: This phase typically means that the software phase of bug hunting has become systematic and predictable. More emphasis is placed on clipping errors, user input, interface errors, conditional sequences (Quests) etc etc. Since this part usually has many hundreds if not thousands of players interacting with the game off site, it really is the first indication of what needs to be fixed or tweaked in terms of player interaction. An example of this for instance would be if a game has a collision function and if it has problems or how group interactions register server side etc etc.

Stress test: This phase is usually very short, typically highly marketed and only runs the duration of a few days. Network engineers work tirelessly to watch load balances on the servers and determine if there will be problems come launch. This phase is interesting in that a lot of people will typically participate to judge if they want to play the game or not and the at the same time the servers get the most action in one day that they will ever see. Some MMOs are too terrified to even attempt this (Ie. Famous Anarchy Online opening day) because they are not confident enough about their game to let people "Try it". Of course the down side of that is a very very sh*tty launch.

Edited, Dec 19th 2009 7:23am by patient
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#8 Dec 19 2009 at 8:22 AM Rating: Decent
The only beta I've ever been in, was the open beta for xi on 360. S.E. spent what 3months testing a game that was finished for the most part. I wouldnt have thought launching an existing game on standardized hardware would be so difficult for them. My point being if that took them that long, Asura only knows how long new content will take them.

although I have this image of Wada pushing it out the door(more $ to be made on this, then a few 360 sales)

Edited, Dec 19th 2009 9:33am by excildorofasura
#9 Dec 19 2009 at 8:42 AM Rating: Decent
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There was some Q&A in which one of the developers said that they planned for FFXIV's beta to last longer than FFXI's, which lasted about 3-4 months.
#10 Dec 19 2009 at 9:04 AM Rating: Decent
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ShadowedgeFFXI wrote:
For example, during the later stages of Open Beta, wouldn't a dwindling number of glitches show the game is almost ready for market on the testing level? I realize marketing and production and other factors play a role too. But once the bugs are cleared up, shouldn't the release date be predictable to a certain degree?

Usually for MMOS once the game is satisfactory glitch free it is ready for launch, but even that can be up in the air. The game I specifically mentioned, Heroes of Newerth, is ready to launch. It is bug free, the content is there, and the servers can handle the capacity, but they're still in beta. Primarily they are adding new playable characters to the game, but the roster is full enough that any additions are really just icing on the cake. I don't fully understand why they have chosen to remain in beta.
ShadowedgeFFXI wrote:
One concern that I hope SE pays special attention to is the in-game economy. Would SE be monitoring the activity of players selling and trading to help stabilize the economy?

Probably, During any large scale beta test they're going to be looking at how the system functions with thousands of players constantly trying to break and exploit it.
#11 Dec 19 2009 at 1:13 PM Rating: Default
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SE gave a time frame of about 6 months that they would like to Beta test. It's in an interview somewhere. I would think that after the beta starts then it will be released in 9-10 months? So I think 6 months of Beta and 2-3 months for them to tweak the game inhouse and get it ready for launch. But the inhouse tweak is just my opinion.
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#12 Dec 21 2009 at 3:45 AM Rating: Decent
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http://www.jpbutton.com/?p=3326

Quote:
4 months? 6 months? 9 months? A year?
How long will the FFXIV beta be? Most people guess it will be about 6 months. Beta testing for FFXI originally lasted 4 months after a 2 year development period. Modern MMOs test for much longer. In this interview with Famitsu Xbox360, Tanaka says 4 months of beta testing at the time seemed long but now looking back it was very short. In interviews done after FFXIV was announced, Tanaka said we probably won’t see a beta as long as other modern MMOs. With a release date of 2010 and 2009 half over already, a 6 month beta seems more and more likely.


Around 6 months for beta to be done with and maybe a couple months until ffxiv hits store shelves.
#13 Dec 21 2009 at 3:52 AM Rating: Decent
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Quote:
Around 6 months for beta to be done with and maybe a couple months until ffxiv hits store shelves.


I'm a Q.A. manager for a developer and I can corroborate this statement. 6 months sounds like it would be appropriate.

Plus, I think read somewhere that they wanted it to be about 3 months of closed and 3 months of open. Can't remember if I read it, or dreamed it.
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#14 Dec 21 2009 at 4:40 AM Rating: Decent
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In an early interview...don't quote me, but I think it was a German demo show...

They stated that the closed beta would be longer than FFXI. I did not join during the initial wave of FFXI beta, but I think i've read several posters' comments which said it was around 3 months. This could mean 4 months or 6 months for a closed beta.

The tipping point will be reached when they determine the game is ready for stress tests/glitches/moderate bug fixes...i.e. open beta. This of course, means that a large portion of everything else has been tweaked and ground out by CB testers. Granted i've only got two closed betas under my belt at this point, so take that with a grain of salt.

Open betas on a mostly polished NEW game do last longer than normal, as ChelseaSMN stated. Once again, it all depends on SE's definition of 'polished'. You can count on a a minimum of one month for OB though.

SE is pretty decent about getting the ball rolling once a formal announcement has been made. I can only recall very few incidents in FFXI where a delivery date was missed on updates, expansions, etc. (WoTG boxes being one of those exceptions) This leads me, and many other hopefuls, to believe beta invites will be in mid to late January.


Edited, Dec 21st 2009 2:47am by Dallie
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#15 Dec 21 2009 at 12:05 PM Rating: Decent
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The media question always gets me.

I work for a newspaper company managing their digital products, yet the question is so generic "do you work for or in a media-related field?" that my simple 'yes' could make it seem like I'll publish a "This is an insider's view of FFXIV" story if I get an invite.

I always catch myself debating if I should answer that question truthfully or not. I clicked 'yes' for FFXIV, but I'm starting to wish I hadn't.
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#16 Dec 21 2009 at 5:14 PM Rating: Decent
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Yeah man, I hear that. See the little "do you work in the video games industry?" question and I kinda think "oh noes".

You can have multiple non-conflicting NDA's. I'm sure in the media field you'd have to have one too but they should never intersect with one another.

I'm hoping that it's more of a boon than a bother when it comes time for selection.
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#17 Dec 21 2009 at 7:56 PM Rating: Default
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I've had a lot of beta experiences, but they don't follow a specific trend. If I had to guess, I would say FFXIV will have 2-3 months of Closed Beta as you guessed, and then a short Open Beta period before launch. They already said that the Closed Beta will be broken into phases where more and more people will be allowed to participate.
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#18 Dec 21 2009 at 8:03 PM Rating: Decent
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I think it starts in mid january, 2-3 month closed, 1.5-2 mo beta, 1 month to hit shelves.
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