What I found interesting if not a bit upsetting was how poorly designed the application itself was. I was just looking over it again so I thought I'd comment about it.
The questions in this Application seem more like a marketing survey than an actual device to determine criteria needed for testing. Many of the questions are ones that should be asked of actual testers not potential ones. It looks more like an exit survey than an application.
What bothered me the most was the lack of a DXDiag submission requirement, something that most MMO Betas require and even mandate through an automated process these days. For instance, the TOR beta required me to have my machine scanned to even complete the application, so it would be impossible to cheat by sending in someone else's DXDiag.txt, lie about my specs or to even submit duplicate entries because of serialization. Those of us that took the time and money to prepare for these new bleeding edge DX10+ MMOs love being scanned. Square's answer? One of the most limited system checkbox lists I have seen in many years on a Beta Application. Serious MMO developers that are truly concerned about potential problems down the line put the submitted DXDiag scans in a database and determine all the variations of hardware and software, some even link your DXDiag to your account and cross reference your information with a well designed crash/bug tool. I guess Square just wanted a few checkboxes based on Scouts honor to determine if you were eligible. The sad thing about doing that is that most people just check the highest possible specs, thus eliminating the much needed pool of older hardware for compatibility development.
The entire POL ID aspect of the test was confusing and actually has become one of the more irritating aspects of the entire process post-facto. There was a section on the Application that asked for your POL ID. You had to manually enter it in a field. Yet, at the same time you can link your POL ID to the Square Enix Account and you have to use that account to process the beta application anyways? How does that make any sense? What prevents people from entering in someone else's POL ID? Does entering in a random POL ID work, but not linking it prevent you from a better chance? Or is it the other way around? What about active players versus people that played in 2004 for 2 weeks? Why mention FFXI as being meaningful in terms of acceptance if you don't even take the time to explain exactly how that is determined or what is required? Really sloppy and since there is no way to actually look at your application (Another thing that most MMOs do now adays) many people do not even remember if they entered in the proper information at all.
A Beta Application has one purpose only: To stratify potential candidates into groups suitable for testing the needs of your software. The way to do that is to ask direct questions relating to what combination of hardware a user has to offer. The second tier of criteria is the social aspect. Age, Gender, Language spoken and in a MMO's case playstyle are all part of the second question set on the ladder, however again that information is more aimed at developers getting a glimpse of who will be playing their game nothing more. Peer groups and focus testing is done pre-development anyhow, so knowing that information doesn't really help in terms of altering the game so late in development. The third section is really just fluff, usually a paragraph asking for your testing experience or why you would be great to have on the team. Square didn't bother putting in either of those options, presumably because they didn't care enough about their Beta to have someone take the time to read through all of them. I Always shine in those areas because I check the actual application for any mistakes or typos and submit that as my first bug, always helps, Heh. I also have an archive of my bug submissions online, I link that (Its at 850 submissions at the point). None of those fields were on the applications, so there was no way to explain your history of testing experience, a shame really.
Honestly, I found the application to come across as a joke and that it was written by someone that did not take its potential usefulness seriously. With questions like "Rate on a scale from 1-100 your enthusiasm for Final Fantasy". Seriously Square, get your @#%^ing head out of the clouds and stop wasting peoples time with questions like that. The poorly designed application in conjunction with a extremely confusing and yet to be answered process of exactly what the "Alpha/Beta/Closed Alpha Vanafest Secret Bonus Stage/Beta Site" are leads me to believe that they actually have a huge in-house or outsourced testing capability and this entire Beta is more of a preview to instill excitement about the game and not for actual testing. I have honestly tested so many games I have lost count and have never seen a more confusing entry period like this one. Well Relic's HomeWorld Betas were kinda close, people were sending expensive gifts to the Relic offices at one point because their selection process was so... selective and mysterious.
tbh, you sound like you are just upset because you didn't get picked, and the fact that you didn't get picked makes their process of choosing people unfair. If you had been picked you wouldn't have spent a couple hours dissecting every aspect of the beta app.
I've seen forum sigs that have my computers specs in them and say something along the lines of "lol mine is better than yours though" or something. I think it's possible to do a hardware scan with the app.
it's also possible that they didn't expect people to have the same computer 3 months after they signed up for the beta, so they left the system info open.
And then again, it's also possible that the dev team has not been on the interwebz very long and expects people to be honest and forthright with their application.
at any rate, go away, you will find no sympathy here. I hear the BG forums has a support group though.
Just as an edited in after thought, what does it matter to you how they do their beta selection? All that matters is that SE delivers with a great MMO.
I can forgive them for expecting honest people to be the ones to fill out applications if they only deliver a great game. Edited, Mar 2nd 2010 11:15pm by MetalSmith