Gatheryn has sent out a wave of beta invites, as Ysharros notes over at her place. I commented there that I’ve received an invite to the beta… but had to turn it down. See, there’s this little clause in the Terms of Service when setting up an account that prohibits anyone working for a different game company from playing in the beta.
…the beta that ostensibly is about finding and fixing bugs.
…bugs that industry insiders may well know a thing or two about, diagnosing them and even suggesting fixes.
I can understand not wanting competitors getting wind of things, but it’s exactly this sort of insular mentality that has MMO design in a rut, with everyone making DIKU flavors of the month, as Chris notes over at his place.
Of course, that’s assuming that beta is actually about making the game better. If it’s a glorified PR release with some minor back end stress testing, then the nature of the beast is a bit different. Also, there are those who aren’t currently employed in the industry who can contribute as well, so it’s not like they really *need* game insiders like me. It just seems a touch paranoid and insular to me. As I’ve noted before, game testing is a very different animal from game playing, so I can only hope that the Gatheryn guys have some internal testing going on with those who know what they are doing.
Still, it seems to me that having experienced eyes would be valuable. Then again, this industry does reinvent the wheel the vast majority of the time, so it’s no surprise. It doesn’t put me off of the game either; I’ll check it out when it goes live.
If you’re wondering why the state of the art of game design doesn’t progress very rapidly, this is one reason. In a world where IP is protected fiercely, to the point of whining about secondary sales on the market, a paranoid design sensibility fits quite naturally. It’s not exactly healthy, but it’s understandable.