betawatch

Massively Overpowered’s Betawatch feature chronicles the adventures and misadventures of MMOs in various stages of testing. You might also be interested in Make My MMO, which focuses on crowdfunded games in particular. [Follow this feature’s RSS feed]

Betawatch: There’s factions in them there hills of Wild West Online (December 8, 2017)

Let’s start with something that you probably already ascertained: Wild West Online is being delayed. It delayed its early access alpha, and that delay leads rather naturally into a delay for for full early access into 2018. But the good news for those who aren’t fond of free-for-all PvP is that the game appears to be moving to a factional PvP system instead of a free-for-all. So less like the hypothetical wild west and more like the actual wild west as it existed in history, then.

Meanwhile, the beta band plays on.

That got a bit sad toward the end, didn’t it? Let’s see if we can’t ameliorate that with a nice shiny list just below. Let us know about the tests you’re taking part in down in the comments, or just let us know if something has soft launched without us noticing it.

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Betawatch: Star Citizen sells land… in space! (December 1, 2017)

Selling spaceships that don’t exist yet? That is so 2016. The new thing for Star Citizen is selling land that doesn’t exist yet, which (as with the aforementioned spaceships) the developers are quickly pointing out is totally optional and won’t result in any advantages. You can make your own giggles about how appropriate it is, although as a crowdfunding approach it does have a storied legacy.

Moving right along, let’s dig into some other beta news, shall we?

Wasn’t that fun? If it was, let us know if there are any errors in the list down below so that we can address them. If it wasn’t… well, still let us know if there are any errors. It’s still helpful. You could also talk about betas that you’re involved with, or just share your thoughts on this week’s beta news. We’re flexible.

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Betawatch: Moonlight Blade is defying gravity (November 24, 2017)

For those of us in this part of the world, this has been a quiet week of little news, because, well… Thanksgiving. (That is, a quiet week of little news for betas. Everything else has been exploding and on fire at the same time.) But Moonlight Blade has gotten plenty of new videos released into the wild, because it’s not Thanksgiving in South Korea. Moonlight Blade badger don’t care. Moonlight Blade badger does whatever it wants.

Other beta news? Oh, of course! It’s still been out there in the trenches.

  • The third alpha test for Prosperous Universe kicked off, and at last report everything was running smoothly. If something broke horribly during the holiday, well… these are the breaks.
  • There’s a new slot machine in FreeSO, if you want to watch your Sims watch things roll around in a circle and then not give them any money back. Living on the edge!
  • Magic: the Gathering Arena, the online version of the real card game, is kicking off its beta testing on December 4th. You could also probably test the game by actually playing the card game that’s been around for nearly three decades, although we suspect the beta test will be more focused on “make sure the software works right” and less on “do the tapping rules make sense.”
  • If you were worried about the future of Fortnite’s PvE mode (aka “the mode the game was actually sold on before someone realized they could tack on a battle royale version”) we have good news. It’s getting some love in December and January, so it shan’t end up like, well, Just Survive.
  • Oh, hey, speaking of Just Survive, it got some maps! And some free reward crates. That’s cool.

A full list of games in testing? What do you think this is, Betawatch? Because you’re right. Like always, do let us know if something skipped test phases without us noticing, we really do appreciate it.

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Betawatch: Ascent: Infinite Realm is already heading to Korean beta (November 17, 2017)

Let me tell you, I’m really glad that Ascent: Infinite Realm already has a publishing deal for the west, because otherwise I would be figuratively biting my nails about the game’s first beta test in South Korea. I only just learned it existed, sure, but it’s a game about steampunk mechs and airships. If we get superheroes and cats, that’s pushing most of my buttons right away.

More beta news? Sure, what the hey!

That’s a lot of questions followed by shouted responses, but we assure you there is less shouting in our list of games in testing down below. You can still respond to us in the comments, though; we like to hear from you. Especially if some game swapped test phases without us knowing about it. Those are useful responses!

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Betawatch: Closers Online has a closed beta (November 10, 2017)

Here’s this week’s test of age: When you see the title of Closers Online, is your first thought along the lines of “help me, I’ve torn apart my insides” or “four years, no call, now you’re looking pretty in a hotel bar”? It really doesn’t matter either way; the game just entered closed beta, so you can buy a founder’s pack to get in whether you want to growl about losing yourself in bed or sing about stealing mattresses from roommates.

Meanwhile, we bid farewell to Mu Legend as it moves into open beta, which rhymes with “soft launch” in this case.

Other beta news? Not a whole lot, but it’s still there if you know where to look! Specifically, toward games in testing. That’s where to look.

  • After ages of tests and rumors, Lineage Eternal is being rebooted as Project TL, which is… we’d like to say a step closer to release? It’s not actually even in consistent testing, see.
  • The second week of early testing for Prosperous Universe apparently felt a lot slower than the first one in terms of gameplay. But that’s still providing lots of technical data, so it counts as a net win.
  • The plans are set for OrbusVR’s early access schedule once December rolls around, but it’s still in a beta state for the rest of November. There’s a plan, and that plan is important.

While the week may have been quiet (read: while the week was totally quiet), there’s still a whole list of games on the testing docket just below. If you’re curious, you can jump on down there and check them out, but you can also let us know about the tests you’ve personally been checking out down in the comments. And if you’ve seen a game on the list that seems to have changed states without us noticing? Do let us know with specificity, that helps us yank things from the list.

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Betawatch: Star Citizen dazzles, delights, and declines dates (November 3, 2017)

There was a lot of stuff that went down at the most recent Star Citizen convention, although none of the things that went down there included a firm date for Alpha 3.0. (Because of course it didn’t.) Want to catch up? Well, the good news is that we’ve got all of that rounded up nicely right here. Don’t say we never did nothing for you.

Meanwhile, there’s other testing news to cover here.

Just like last week and the week before, we’ve also got a full list of the games we know of in testing (and of wide enough interest to be worth including) down below. If we missed a title or missed one of these titles changing states unexpectedly, do let us know; the more specific you are about it, the more helpful.

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Betawatch: The week the betas died (October 27, 2017)

This week should serve as a helpful reminder that just because a game is in testing does not mean that it’s actually primed for launch. Two high-profile games this week have gone from early testing to a hiatus or cancellation. Breakaway is definitely on a hiatus that may well rhyme with “cancelled,” and The Amazing Eternals is paused and presumed dead. Whether this is an acknowledgement that the market is oversaturated with games of this type or just that those two titles were more than was needed is left as an exercise for the readers.

Other less cancel-y beta news also existed this week, though, so that’s good!

We also had a discussion about when a game crosses the line from “testing” to “launch.” That isn’t exactly beta news, but it’s relevant.

A list of titles in testing? Sure, we’ve got that down below. Did something jump test phases without us noticing? Has a cash shop opened in a game we don’t know about? Have we missed a game? Did Timmy fall in something other than a well (seriously, that kid never fell in a well)? Let us know in the comments!

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Massively Overthinking: The state of early access, alpha, and beta ‘testing’ in the MMO genre

I remember years ago when then-Massively-columnist Rubi Bayer let loose with a blistering rant on the state of faux beta MMOs. She helmed Betawatch back then, see, and she was fed up with (mostly imported) MMOs claiming to be in beta when in fact they’d soft-launched. A lot of readers didn’t understand her fury at the time, but boy have things changed, right? Now, every game’s in on that very old trick, only they call it early access now, while some are still pushing the boundaries, charging $1000 for pre-alpha.

MOP reader Pepperzine proposed a topic for this week’s Massively Overthinking that’s right on point. “I was thinking it would be interesting if we could discuss when people consider a game to be in alpha/beta versus a final launch as a topic,” he wrote to us.

“Back in the day, this was easy to determine. Selective testers were extended invites into beta who were experienced testers who had the computer hardware to handle the software. The primary purpose of being in the testing phase was exactly that, to test and bug report. When the game was made available to the public at a price, a game was considered launched. Now, players are granted access to pre-launch titles by ‘donating’ or purchasing access. For the most part, the primary purpose of participating in the pre-launch experience for these players is not testing or bug reporting but rather to experience and play the game. The division of purchasing a game and donating to test has become so blurred that it is no longer a valid way of determining if a title is at a state to where it is launch ready. These titles can stay in this pre-launch phase for as long as they deem necessary, easily deflecting criticisms by reiterating it is still in development. So when do you consider a game to be launched? Is it when the producers declare it is? Is it when there is no longer the possibility of wipes? Is it when cash shop monetization is implemented? Is it as soon as the company begins selling access?”

Where’s the line in 2017? Let’s dig in.

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Betawatch: Closers Online’s alpha is totally open this weekend (October 20, 2017)

Welcome back to another edition of Betawatch, the game where literally everything is in early access forever. Except Closers, of course, which is open! I never get tired of that. Yes, Closers Online is running a fully open alpha this weekend, which I guess is what we do now when open beta is actually soft launch. Regardless, you can play it and check it out. What else happened in the world of eternal testing this past week? Let’s see…

  • Go Project Gorgon! It put your crowdfunding to work on a programmer to overhaul the in-testing UI.
  • OrbusVR kicked off its third round of closed beta testing. Backers could also take part in Dual Universe’s second pre-alpha, which begins tomorrowday.
  • Both Legends of Aria and Prosperous Universe put the wraps on their alpha testing.
  • Crowfall talked up its action harvesting, while Ship of Heroes went all pew-pew with lightning.
  • H1Z1 changed its name. Again. This is its third try and it’s still in early access! So is PUBG; it broke 2.3M concurrent players last weekend. Not too shabby.
  • Don’t get your hopes up about Star Citizen spinoff Squadron 42; it’s not launching this year. Star Citizen itself is still busy breaking alpha 3.0. But Bless Online is definitely coming (to us) in 2018!
  • Conan Exiles, on the other hand, will stay in testing an extra quarter.

Did we miss anything? Other than Eliot, who will be back in action next week? Send it along to us! And in the meantime, check out our ongoing list of MMOs-purporting-to-be-in-testing that we’re watching.

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Betawatch: Wild West Online’s alpha just isn’t ready (October 13, 2017)

It’s not high noon in Wild West Online. It’s not any time at all, in fact. The game’s early access alpha would have established a time, probably, but that’s been delayed because… well, the game just isn’t ready for that sort of testing yet. Disappointing for those looking forward to the game? Certainly. But probably for the best in the long run, we hope.

This week has been thin in terms of beta news, but we’ve still got a few pieces here and there to show off, don’t we? Of course we do; check out this list.

Sorry there’s a little less news this week, but we do have that whole list down below; that’s something cool, right? You can let us know what you’re thinking about betas you’re playing in the comments, or you can let us know if something surreptitiously launched without us noticing as well. We would prefer that you not place your recipe for chili con carne in the comments; just mail that along.

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Betawatch: Wild Buster has opened a limited alpha (October 6, 2017)

Is this a real game? Did this happen again? Wild Buster added Serious Sam alongside Duke Nukem. We must acquiesce, neither is in the first alpha test; this is a small test, runs through October 9th with a little map, little squads, lots of guns, the lore is odd. If you want to play it, there’s an IndieGoGo that’s on. Now that’s done.

Readers! We have more news. We put it in a list, read it now, you can’t resist.

Now that we’ve gotten Queen references out of our system and shared some other news with you, we feel comfortable showing you a list of games in testing. If something in here has soft-launched without us noticing, please, let us know down in the comments. Things get missed sometimes, you know how it is.

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Betawatch: Final alpha is go for Legends of Aria (September 29, 2017)

Well, Legends of Aria fans, it’s the final… alpha? That doesn’t sound like a 1980s power ballad line at all, someone should get on that. But yes, this is the final alpha for the game ahead of its upcoming Steam launch. There’s no date for said launch just yet, though, so you may as well get into the alpha testing now (assuming you already have access or want to drop the money on it).

Do we have more beta news? Of course we do. There’s always more news.

Also, there’s a list. It’s on a list; it must be true if it’s in a list, like charts in tabletop RPGs. Why not see what’s on the list? Why not let us know your thoughts on this week’s beta news or share your comments from beta testing you’re allowed to talk about? Why not build yourself a chicken costume just in case that becomes a pressing need in your life? Rhetorical questions are fun.

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Betawatch: Fortnite rolls out a free-for-all mode that’s free for all (September 22, 2017)

Remember when Fortnite’s whole thing was that it was going to be about co-op survival gameplay without any PvP aspects? That clearly didn’t last, as it turns out the game’s new Battle Royale mode is going to be free-to-play and seems to be getting an unexpected share of the game’s development. Oh, and the game accidentally turned on cross-platform play before turning it right back off, so that was great too.

In unrelated news, we bid farewell to Guardians of Ember as it has actually, like, launched now. It’s not in early access any more! It’s just access. Guild Wars 2 has also dropped its second expansion, and The Elder Scrolls Online has its latest DLC up on the test server.

More beta news? Yes indeed! Including titles you might not have seen this week otherwise.

  • All right, Pantropy, do you really think that the only thing you need to seduce someone into survival sandbox games is to include a bunch of stompy mechs? Because you are very possibly right.
  • The stress testing for MU Legend is running on September 23rd, which is the server equivalent of packing tons of college freshmen into a phone booth and daring them to fall out. Taking part will earn you 500 Bound Redzen for use in the future, so if the simple joy of stress testing isn’t enough, do it for the bribery.
  • You’ve missed the first alpha testing weekend for Closers, but there are several more weekends coming up, such as this weekend. Would you like a whole schedule for the next few weeks? You’ve got one.
  • The closed alpha weekends for Survived By are starting very soon, with several closed alpha weekends planned over the next several weeks. Exact dates aren’t given, unfortunately, but considering that there are only so many people being invited, that seems at least moderately sensible.
  • Around 350 players took place in the second OrbusVR closed beta, and you can catch up on the notes from that second beta right now. It’s a good chance to keep an eye on the game when you’re not keeping both eyes in the headset.

And as we always do, there’s a list of titles in testing and early access just below, because that’s how we operate. Did something hop to another phase of testing without letting us know? Fix that oversight in the comments. You can also use the comments for other comments, of course.

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