Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, September 01, 2010
Thought for the day: Beta bugs

The Final Fantasy XIV open beta, which should have started today, has been postponed because, oh my god, the devs found a bug!!! Obviously you can't release a beta with a bug in it, so the open beta has been postponed for an unknown amount of time.

On the other hand I am in another beta, where "being in the beta" is more of a theoretical exercise. Due to serious bugs the majority of the players are stuck at the loading screen since the weekend. Before that you could play, but other serious bugs made it impossible to advance in the game, unless you read on the forum how you could exploit another bug to circumvent the bug that prevented you from progressing.

Clearly different companies have rather different opinions on what a beta is, and what level of bugs are permissible in them.
I like Japanese Quality Management :)
I'm not sure if SE can actually pull this off now. It's been 8 years since they first launched FFXI in Japan, and they don't have the benefit of a staggered launch.

Wonder if we will see a repeat of what happened with warhammer online... initial surge of subs, subsequent cancellation and return to wow when its new expansion is released at the end of the year.
well, this is open beta. closed beta had all of that stuff you mention. bugs that prevented logging in, that prevented getting out of the opening instance and into the world etc.

this is open beta which means "game demo" and "stress test".

that said, it was plenty buggy at the end of closed beta so i wouldn't be surprised if it was something relatively major. lots of posts on the beta forums went along the lines of "this will never be ready in time".
Like many people, I couldn't even install the FF XIV beta, since the beta installer is buggy.
reading the other comments .. .. perhaps I don't like Japanese QM .. :)
I'm with alf on this, but regardless, I'm wondering how this game would run on a system with the minimal requirements. I've always had problems with Japanese PC games. They run buggy as hell, and they make my CPU bug out and over heat.

So I haven't bought a PC game from a Japanese game company in at least 3 years. (note this stuff only happened while I played Japanese games,and not american made games, which tended to be easily run even below sys. req.)
pretty much that I would guess.

and I'm amazed some ppl were able to actually dl & patch this at all, I had a counter of 17hours+ and left it at that..
this comment comes from experience in closed beta so there may be optimisation passes to be done making my experience of little relevance but my machine is about dead on the minimum requirements (with a 9500GT probably being my weakest link) and way below the recommended.

the game looks great. my monitor is 1920x1080 native and running it on that even with all extra settings off gave me a pretty low but not unplayable framerate.

there are two sets of options, one out of game, a separate config program allowing you to choose resolution and turn on and off some more major features like anti-aliasing, and an in-game config which allows you to turn shadows and particles (etc.) on and off.

i was able to find a decent framerate by switching most of the optionals off and still run it at 1080p.
there's an option in the config utility that allows you to set the "buffer size". this option has a massive impact on framerate but also on visual quality. it comically like a "make it look like FFXI switch" ^_^

hope that sheds a bit of light on it.
To be fair, the whole beta process has become a glorified exercise in marketing for big budget games. There is legitimate testing to be done in a lot of smaller budget games, but a lot of the time beta is a time to play, and recruit your friends, and hopefully spread positive buzz about the launch.

There is the classic argument on every beta forum "We are here to test, not play" which is hypothetically true, but I think the reality of the situation just doesn't reflect that anymore.
Too many companies now use a Beta as an advertising gimmick rather than actual testing of the game/software.

Seems like FF is in the advertising stages rather than the testing phase., although that said it could be a complete game breaker of a bug, you just never know.
Compare this with Elemental where it appears the actual release is just a continuation of the testing phase.
ALSO: Clearly different companies have rather different opinions on what a release-quality game is.
Their are bugs and bugs. In a example from about a decade ago, uninstalling deleting just a bit more then was originally installed.
What's wrong with an Open Beta being an advertising gimmick? I've never understood that.

When it's closed beta, yes you are still advertising, but that is the time bugs and issues are acceptable.

When you hit open beta that is just a demo to 99% of the people out there. Deluding yourself into thinking it's still beta wont mean much when those people hate your game because of bugs.

You can use the term beta all you want, but as soon as it is open to the public you better be ready for people to form long lasting opinions on it's quality.
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