5

Beta Testing done Right

I’ve always disliked the way MMORPGs are tested. It has always felt like more of a free sneak peak at the game than a real Beta Test to me when a company basically gives you full access to the game 24/7. In my mind with that system very little testing occurs and more “zomG we gots into the game before others so now we know how to be leet” happens as guilds form and prepare to be super uber informed. There are testers (myself included) who would always send in well thought out feedback on the content and truly try to find bugs and perfect the game before release. I’m pleased to see that Mythic has decided to take a more direct and efficient way of testing their systems.

Instead of bringing up the Beta server and leaving it up 24/7 for free play, we’ll be moving forward with a series of focused Beta events set around a specific concept or two. These events will last anywhere from 3-10 days and will enable us to gather specific, detailed feedback from our Beta Community in regards to specific features and locations. We’ll be bringing the server down between each event for a day or two in order to prepare for the next focused event. This will also give us time to process the feedback we receive and incorporate it in future events.

Now that’s a beta test.  Players who are chosen to participate in this phase of beta will be given specific parts of the game to focus on and they’re not set loose in the world to “play” the game.  Instead they’re being directed to focal points where the players will have no option but to test what the devs want them to test.  Taking the servers down gives the beta testers less attachment to their characters which is good – these aren’t your characters you should be attached to, these are your vessels for testing the game.  I’m also positive that they’ll get much more feedback from this method of testing because it will put the testers into the testing mindset much more than usual.

Hopefully we’ll see more of this type of testing in the future.  Open testing definitely has its place in the beta testing process but definitely not when it’s crunch time.

2

November Warhammer Newsletter – Finally something worth waiting for!

Last month’s Warhammer Online newsletter bombed in my book. This month however I am happy to report that we finally have something worth waiting for. That works on two levels for me. Lately the newsletters have been lack luster and nothing but regurgitated information and this newsletter was worth waiting for. It also gives me hope and more to look forward to with the game itself. Lately I was extremely unsatisfied with the info they released about flagging, instanced pvp, etc. I was beginning to doubt whether or not Warhammer would ever be able to crawl out from under the enormous shadow cast by DAOC. This newsletter has renewed my hopes for WAR.

The newsletter starts out with the usual suspects. They released information about the Dark elf Sorceress class, a look at the Archmage, and a zone overview. That’s all good stuff and I recommend you check it out but it doesn’t even begin to compare with what else came in the newsletter. First up was the mounts section. We’re given concept art of what we can expect for mounts in Warhammer Online. Boars and Ale powered mechanical vehicles… freaking AWESOME! The newsletter continues with a scenario boss sneakpeak, a zone sneakpeak, yada yada, a lackluster regurgitated grab bag (which is on the bottom of the newsletter now i see), yada yada and the rest of the stuff no one really looks at.

Where this newsletter really delivers is in the podcast. Josh Drescher is probably the most believable guy at EA Mythic right now and he comes at us in a very serious and straight forward “I’m going to be real with you” approach. In the podcast Josh reveals that Warhammer Online has had two parts of the game revamped. Careers and RVR. With careers Mythic has decided to give classes more individuality, specialty, and purpose. Three very strong words when you’re talking about a character that people will dedicate a lot of time and feeling into. From what Josh described it looks like they’re taking a pretty standard approach. You’ll obtain a certain level then be given the choice to spec one of three ways. Given what they have to work with I’m expecting a mix of WoW and EQ2’s talents and achievements system. Probably something along the lines of a Holy and Shadow priest deal. There’s plenty of potential to make this system extremely beneficial to Warhammer but there’s also the risk of min/maxing and having some subclasses be “useless” in the eyes of many players. I’m worried about seeing the “we don’t need any arcane spec’d mages, sorry” crap from other games. Just make sure you balance them all and make them all worth playing – thanks.

Now the best part of the entire thing: RvR! Mythic finally came to their senses and decided to run with the idea that *gasp* DAOC was awesome and we should *gasp* go with what is proven to work! *shock and awe*. Basically they’re introducing keeps, fortifications, and siege weapons to open world RVR. “The addition of Keeps will bring focus and meaning to Open Field RvR” … whodathunkit?!  I won’t rub it in their faces more because they did in fact come to their senses before it was too late.  Kudos to whoever decided to go in this direction.  This should not only add lasting appeal to RVR but it will (like they say) add focus and meaning.  I wasn’t too sure on how fun I could have just running around and capturing flags or working a scenario over and over.  It would be fun for a while but it would undoubtedly die out.  Josh admits that they weren’t really specific at all in the podcast but it’s all good.  Take your time and get back to us on the details next month we’ll be waiting. 😉

BTW, you are now forgiven for delaying the game.

7

Gamespot fires an Editor over a Review

According to Kotaku’s source Gamespot fired Jeff Gertsmann (Editor) due to a review he wrote. According to the article Jeff Gertsmann reviewed a game being published by Eidos (which also happened to be paying out big advertisement checks to Gamespot) as an average game but with a negative tone – Eidos was not happy. You can read the Kane & Lynch: Dead Men review for yourself and probably many others from Jeff such as Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and Legends of Zelda: Twighlight Princess which were also controversial reviews.

The drama surrounding the issue all boils down to this: wtf happened to objective reviews? Basically Gamespot was being payed (directly or through extortion) by Eidos to pass out positive reviews of their games. Jeff Gertsmann reviewed the game (hopefully honestly) and was fired because of it. It’s obviously safe to bet that Eidos is paying for other positive reviews and that they are probably not the only ones. It would not be a risky venture to say that a great many publishers pay sites to review games well or spin them in a positive light. My response? Anyone who takes part in this can go to hell. If you take money to review a game, pay money for good reviews, or have any part in it then you are a deceitful low life.

I can understand receiving advertisement money and working with a publisher. I can’t however understand how anyone can compromise their integrity and deceive/misinform the gaming community. Who can we trust now? Websites like Gamespot, IGN, GameTrailers, the entire Cnet Network, etc… all are writing reviews and all are enormous corporations with advertisements from major publishers. There’s no doubt in my mind we’re all being spoon fed crap being called ice cream. It doesn’t take a genius to have spotted this a long time ago. I’ve read plenty of outrageous reviews ranging from spiteful dribble to sugar coated crap from all the sites above. Now it’s just out in the open and we can finally put the nail in this coffin.

This goes back to a blog post I wrote in October titled Keeping it Real. I will continue to go back to my statement that blogs are the future. Bloggers out there offer subjective opinions but at least you can find a blogger who you see eye to eye with and can trust. Most of us bloggers are not out there to make a buck. We’re writing because we’re passionate about the games we play. If your game sucks we’ll say it. If your game rocks we’ll say it. There’s no publishers filling our pages with ads and lining our pockets with favors. Bloggers are the real people playing the games and providing feedback.

I’m done with the review sites because they are simply no longer worth my time. I highly recommend that everyone think twice before trusting a review from a site receiving money from game publishers. Shame on the sites AND the publishers. It truly takes one apple to spoil the bunch. Any and all credibility these sites had is shot.

12

Sarnak on a Carpet and nothin you can do about it!

Nothing more to report on today other than I finished the Carpet quest in Sinking Sands with the help of my guild. This is the first mount I have ever had in EQ2 and it’s totally awesome. Moving 40% faster is going to make life slightly more easier and I’ll look cool doing it too. As for Khek he’s going to be 50 tonight after I finish a couple more quests in Sinking Sands and once he dings I have no idea where to take him. I’m considering Lesser Faydark – is that a good idea?

carpet ss1 ss2

4

K&G’s Holiday Buyer’s Guide and Podcast

Here at Keen and Graev’s Gaming Blog our number one purpose is to inform our readers about the games we play. With the 2007 Holiday Season already upon us we thought it would be fitting to share with you all the games that we have not only played but would recommend to anyone. Along with the games we have played we would also like to give you a list of games on our wishlist for Christmas to form the perfect buyer’s guide. In addition to this guide we have dedicated the entirety of our 7th podcast Episode to the explanation of each game. We hope that this guide will alleviate some of that holiday stress.  You can find our Holiday Buyer’s Guide available to you all the way up until the New Year right underneath the podcast on the left hand main nav bar of our blog.  Happy Holiday shopping all!

orange boxHoliday Buyer’s Guide

PC Games
Everquest 2 Rise of Kunark
Team Fortress 2 or Orange Box if you want HL:2 (recommend you buy through Steam)
Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer

zak and wikimario galaxyeye of judgementPlaystation 3
Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune
Warhawk
Eye of Judgement

Wii
Super Mario Galaxy
Metroid Prime 3: Corruption
Zak and Wiki

Mass EffectskateBioshockHalo 3Xbox 360
Mass Effect
Bioshock
Skate
Halo 3
Orange Box

Nintendo DS
Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass

Holiday Wishlist (What we want for Christmas)

wii zapperConsole Games
Assassin’s Creed (Xbox 360)
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (PC or Xbox 360)
Ratchet and Clank Future Tools of Destruction (Ps3)
Folklore (Ps3)
Wii Zapper – Bundled with Link’s Crossbow Training (Wii)
Resident Evil Umbrella Chronicals (Wii)
FolkloreRock Band (Xbox 360)
Guitar Hero 3 (Xbox 360)
Unreal Tournament 3 (Ps3)

Gamer Gear
Razer Lachesis Gaming Mouse
Razer exactMat
Razer exactRest

www.RazerZone.com

DVDs
star trek tng dvdStar Trek The Next Generation Collection
Stargate Season 10

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