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Intrepid - Please Limit Testers Game Knowledge

Jerec TharenJerec Tharen Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
Full disclosure, I am an Alpha one tester. I wanted to start this discussion though because I have seen a lot of forum posts about people being worried about certain players using their game knowledge and enforcing a certain "meta" for those who participate in end-game content.

There has been a lot of arguments against this being an issue in the game because of the way it is being designed, but for the sake of this discussion, I would like to assume that this will not be the case, or that at the very best, the games design decisions will just slow this down.

When I played Classic World of Warcraft, I had quite a bit of fun in the initial release of the game, but didn't when I really started to get into end game. I wanted to participate in end-game, and was willing to conform to the meta where needed to do so, most of the time. Sometimes though, I wanted to do silly thinks like try to get into unreleased parts of the map, or hold social events. Many players were not willing to do such things though because they saw no point in doing something that would take time away from their need to prepare for raids or do battlegrounds. No one wanted to try out silly alternate specs like Warlock tanking for instance.

I am worried about a similar atmosphere being present in this game with how much time testers will have access to it, but also the open nature of the testing once the visual NDA lifts. At some point (probably during the Beta) they will have to raise the size of the world, and we'll have plenty of time to theorize about game mechanics and builds. This is a good problem to have, but one that still needs solving.

Would it be possible to at least limit the world size during the Beta and Alpha tests? Or, if you need to make sure quests and terrain are tested across the whole game world, could you split each zone into it's own test? What about classes, gear, and dungeons/raids? Could bosses be switched around into different places than they will be on launch? Perhaps the same can be done for Nodes? At the very least, I think it would be helpful to at least switch around names of the Nodes.

Basically, I think it is most important to prioritize the testers ability to make sure the game is in a condition that is ready to be launched, but as much as possible, this needs to be balanced against obscuring our knowledge of Verra so we can't "game the system."

What do other think? Are you worried about meta gaming? What other ways could Intrepid balance this so that the fresh experience a launch is supposed to be is protected?
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Comments

  • GrihmGrihm Member
    Me personally, i am kind of worried to generally be missing out, just because i don´t have the money to spend to make sure i can get into the testing.

    There is nothing worse coming into an MMO ( for an mmo gameplay POV ), and the massive amount of information and stats and what not is overwhelming to say the least. Feeling of being lost can be a very quick one to sink it´s claws into you, and once you are gripped, catching up can be hard.

    I was quite disappointed to see the testing being behind a paywall. I would venture a guess that having a bigger amount of testers would be beneficial to ensure the best outcome of the game to , but that´s just my personal POV.

  • Jerec TharenJerec Tharen Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    Grihm wrote: »
    Me personally, i am kind of worried to generally be missing out, just because i don´t have the money to spend to make sure i can get into the testing.

    With the visual NDA dropped in about a month, does that make you feel like your limit on game knowledge as a non-tester is reduced at all? Do you think that a large portion of non-testers can theory craft away any of the fun? I think this consideration bears thinking in addition to thinking directly about the testers themselves.
    Grihm wrote: »
    I was quite disappointed to see the testing being behind a paywall. I would venture a guess that having a bigger amount of testers would be beneficial to ensure the best outcome of the game to , but that´s just my personal POV.

    In my experience so far in the Alpha, (although I have only participated in 1 test) there appears to be no lack of players. You can even watch the castle siege video and see the many people there and that was supposedly a take with a smaller group than the test before it.
  • AsgerrAsgerr Member
    Grihm wrote: »

    I was quite disappointed to see the testing being behind a paywall. I would venture a guess that having a bigger amount of testers would be beneficial to ensure the best outcome of the game to , but that´s just my personal POV.

    They would have just gotten more people complaining that the game was shit because of all the bugs and rubberbanding, because they didn't fully grasp what an actual Alpha is. A lot of people use alpha as a marketing tool to show a game, rather than testing one.

    They really spared themselves a headache and having to chase people messing with their tests (even with having paid 500 credits, people were still non consensually PvPing at the risk of being banned forever).

    I don't particularly think there will be any metas developing prior to the game, nor will information be too prevalent.

    Most of the content in the world will be responding to how players play in their servers. So that entire aspect is a non factor.

    Most of the character specific elements are so numerous, that there is no way they'll have tested everything with enough depth, to form a meta. If anything, we'll get advice and an idea of what augments do what to what classes.
    Considering that you can't change classes and that changing your secondary archetype is supposed to be difficult and a bit of a chore, it's a good thing to have ahead of time. You avoid playing for months and then feel like you wasted all that time on something that is unplayable or makes no sense.
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  • GrihmGrihm Member
    Seeing the gameplay sessions and what not is sure... it helps, but it´s not doing it yourself or getting a feel for how the systems work.

    I am sure there are a lot of testers doing a very good job. However, being a tester yourself is always a different story, and me personally, i do feel it´s hard to keep up when left with just reading and seeing things from others perspective.

    There are many aspects i would love to try out myself, but for now, that is not the case.
  • Jerec TharenJerec Tharen Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    Asgerr wrote: »
    I don't particularly think there will be any metas developing prior to the game, nor will information be too prevalent.

    Most of the content in the world will be responding to how players play in their servers. So that entire aspect is a non factor.

    Most of the character specific elements are so numerous, that there is no way they'll have tested everything with enough depth, to form a meta. If anything, we'll get advice and an idea of what augments do what to what classes.

    Yeah, this is definitely not outside the realm of possibility. However, would your opinion change if after Alpha 1, they open up the game a lot more during Alpha 2? Or even spend more time in Beta testing than expected? I'm thinking about if the game releases in 2 years or more, and they continue to have Alpha tests and gradually open up more of the map and we have a chance to explore the base features. What would be a period of time, or a set of circumstances that would make you worry?

  • AsgerrAsgerr Member
    edited June 10
    Asgerr wrote: »
    I don't particularly think there will be any metas developing prior to the game, nor will information be too prevalent.

    Most of the content in the world will be responding to how players play in their servers. So that entire aspect is a non factor.

    Most of the character specific elements are so numerous, that there is no way they'll have tested everything with enough depth, to form a meta. If anything, we'll get advice and an idea of what augments do what to what classes.

    Yeah, this is definitely not outside the realm of possibility. However, would your opinion change if after Alpha 1, they open up the game a lot more during Alpha 2? Or even spend more time in Beta testing than expected? I'm thinking about if the game releases in 2 years or more, and they continue to have Alpha tests and gradually open up more of the map and we have a chance to explore the base features. What would be a period of time, or a set of circumstances that would make you worry?

    Honestly, none. I'll play the game all the same and enjoy it whatever way I please. If I can go and steal bits of wisdom from others who've gone through the hours and days of trial and error, all the better for me.

    Also a reminder that no plan survives contact with the enemy. Perhaps what seemed meta in Beta, suddenly gets wrecked by non tester doing something no one could have predicted. And then: pouf* there goes the meta.

    In the end, we'll all start at level 1. Every server will be different, and there will always be people min-maxing in any MMO regardless of what quantity of an edge is gained (sometimes it's negligeable).

    FOMO as many people accuse games to prey upon, will ever be the individual's fault, and their warped sense of why they play a certain game.
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  • AzheraeAzherae Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    As an idealist, I feel like your worry, while valid, is the opposite of how you should be thinking about it.

    The sort of person who has some sort of advantage due to their ability to understand systems, or overall intellect, will figure that sort of thing out, in a modern MMO, so quickly, that it's irrelevant to 90% of the playerbase.

    If you were thinking of yourself as one of those people, your concern is very altruistic and commendable, but if not (or even so, honestly) your better bet would be to find any imbalances faster so that you could tell the Devs so that they can tweak or remove them.

    This is even more true if you're concerned about 'a poor community developing because of it'. That community type is a symptom of something, not caused by something. The only benefit you'd get would be that the ignorant masses (no disrespect to them, that's the literal definition) have a higher chance to be wrong when they are being 'best only' min-maxers.

    In Ashes, that wouldn't even work out properly because 'hey guys this is the optimal node to raise' would be easily stopped by 'a band of people who are annoyed at that, attacking the Node'. Or just an army of 'casual' players who like some other Node better visually or something.

    The big worry point would be if the full game lacked content. Not 'that there is no gap between Beta and full', just that full has little content.

    So don't worry about testers 'figuring out that you can make tons of money hunting wolves in winter because the respawn on wolves is too high compared to the value of pelts'.

    Worry about them NOT finding that, and it getting into main game, and breaking a whole economic system across a region because a single huge guild with a savvy economist realizes it first.
  • GrihmGrihm Member

    Yeah, this is definitely not outside the realm of possibility. However, would your opinion change if after Alpha 1, they open up the game a lot more during Alpha 2? Or even spend more time in Beta testing than expected? I'm thinking about if the game releases in 2 years or more, and they continue to have Alpha tests and gradually open up more of the map and we have a chance to explore the base features. What would be a period of time, or a set of circumstances that would make you worry?

    Is 2 years + to release still the most accurate estimation?
  • tautautautau Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    People are totally guessing. Some are informed guesses, many are not. Some people think that throwing out pessimistic guesses makes then seem 'wise' somehow.

    Of course, I think I have figured out the schedule for Alpha 2, Beta 1 & 2 and live release. But I'm not telling, so later I can claim I was right.

    I'm glad that IS is not making promises that they cannot keep.
  • Jerec TharenJerec Tharen Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    I liked a lot of what you said, and you could be right about the 10% meta being figured out won't have too much of an impact. However I think I can expand on this point you made:
    Azherae wrote: »
    So don't worry about testers 'figuring out that you can make tons of money hunting wolves in winter because the respawn on wolves is too high compared to the value of pelts'.

    Worry about them NOT finding that, and it getting into main game, and breaking a whole economic system across a region because a single huge guild with a savvy economist realizes it first.

    What I am worried about is not that a guild will get a huge advantage out of hunting wolves in winter, in fact, I hope that things like that happen all the time! The situation that does concern me though is one where everyone just hunts wolves during winter because that is known as the best way to make money and I have trouble finding groups to go hunt lizards or that I won't be able to put together a contest of how many level 1 rabbits we can kill. That isn't the perfect example since I doubt hunting wolves would be so beneficial it locks out all other gameplay, but it illustrates my point of what I am worried about.

  • Jerec TharenJerec Tharen Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    Grihm wrote: »
    Is 2 years + to release still the most accurate estimation?
    tautau wrote: »
    People are totally guessing. Some are informed guesses, many are not. Some people think that throwing out pessimistic guesses makes then seem 'wise' somehow..

    Tautau is completely correct, this is just a guess and I don't mean to become a neigh sayer. I just was trying to pose a hypothetical trying to see if an assumption of a sooner release date than I am expecting was influencing Grihm's opinion and if a longer testing period would cause him to rethink it.

    Thanks for helping clear that up Tautau!
  • GrihmGrihm Member
    I am in no rush to get into the game to " play " it, but i am very interested into getting in to test it´s systems that mean a lot for me. If the testing continues for 1...2...3...5 years more, so be it.

    The only point i was referring to, was that i feel it´s a bit of bad luck that you are left out of assisting in testing if you don´t have the money to spend, and that´s in a pandemic as well where money is in short supply as it is.

    Until i have extra to spare, or perhaps the tests become more open, i am grateful and appreciative of all the people doing the testing now and working towards our common goal of getting the new MMO we all been looking for =)
  • MaezrielMaezriel Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    I wouldn't worry too much about the game getting "solved."

    Your primary example is Classic, which is a game that's very much on rails and raiding/battlegrounds is pretty much the only thing worth pursuing...the fact that the game is ancient and everyone saw the "get to the top of Org" videos back in 2008 and it's no wonder you had trouble finding people to just explore.

    The difference w/ AoC is that it's a sandbox that's being built so that the players are the source of content. At the end of the day it doesn't really matter if testers figured out the best way to level or kill a boss b/c the main progression will still be building and defending your Node, the leaders of which should be far harder to overthrow than anything Intrepid can code in.
  • DygzDygz Member, Braver of Worlds, Alpha One
    edited June 10
    @Jerec Tharen
    Ashes doesn't have an end-game.
    So... what is the "end-game" content that you think will be problematic??

    The world is not static. Bosses will appear and disappear as Nodes move from Stage to Stage and as different races take control of Nodes and as different buildings and services are constructed.

    We will not have the exact same configuration of villages, towns, cities, metros, dungeons and raids at Launch as we have during Beta.

    Wolf pelts might be highly valued in Winter by Niküa and Py'Rai and Ren'Kai but be much less valued by Empyrean, Dünir, and Tulnar. Wolf pelts might be offensive to Tulnar, for all we know.
    Wolf pelts in Winter might be of greater value in Economic and Religious Nodes and if lesser value in Scientific and Military Nodes.
    And, should have different values depending on whether it's a Desert region or a Forest region or the Underrealm.
    Depending on the Stage of the Node, Wolves could be more prevalent or more scarce.
    It's not a static world, so the value Wolves in Winter could very likely be in flux for a variety of reasons.
    We should expect the value to be in flux rather than static.
  • VhaeyneVhaeyne Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    The only game I have seen successfully keep everything secret until launch day is FFXIV. They can keep everything locked down until launch day with minimum leaks from data-miners. The game is then solved within days as world first raiders prog savage and ultimate.

    With Ashes things, will be different. There is nothing to "Solve". As Dygz said there is no classical "end-game" as you know it. Nothing is static. You might solve an excellent strategy for downing the ice dragon raid boss, but it can be different next time you have to fight it because a different raid might be there fighting you for it.
    Open-world raid bosses are PvX content. You will have to fight other raids before, during, and after the raid to secure the loot.

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  • OkeydokeOkeydoke Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    The devs should limit game knowledge as much as practical. The more the better, but it may end up not being that much. Things need to be tested and there's only so much you can hide.

    Beta access will be cheaper and allow people to catch up on knowledge before release. Youtube videos and twitch streams will help people catch up too.
  • MaezrielMaezriel Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    Okeydoke wrote: »
    The devs should limit game knowledge as much as practical. The more the better, but it may end up not being that much. Things need to be tested and there's only so much you can hide.

    Beta access will be cheaper and allow people to catch up on knowledge before release. Youtube videos and twitch streams will help people catch up too.

    But why? Does it really make a difference if they go out of their way to hide game knowledge throughout testing if the whole point of AoC is to be an ever changing world that reacts to the players?
  • OkeydokeOkeydoke Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    I don't think they should go out of their way to hide knowledge. If they can keep certain things secret with no ill effect on testing, I think they should. But I don't see it as a huge deal either way.
  • truelyyytruelyyy Member, Alpha One
    I mean we are on "alpha" island what more do you want? You can't test the game without playing the game doesn't make sense.
  • It's one of the benefits of paying to test a game, I suppose. Their reward is slightly more game experience. Our reward is a better game at launch.
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  • Jerec TharenJerec Tharen Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    @Dygz
    Dygz wrote: »
    We will not have the exact same configuration of villages, towns, cities, metros, dungeons and raids at Launch as we have during Beta.

    Do you have a source for this you can PM me, I'd love to look over it!

    As far as your other points. You may be right that no end-game meta might exist. I guess what truly bothers me is the nature of gamer's to focus on efficiency. I just want to try to find people that will do silly thinks with me where we try to do things outside of what was "intended" for us to do. A few more examples of things that I have wanted to do in Classic more are doing Ragefire Chasm as the Alliance (although since it is low enough level, I have been able to find a few groups of people willing to do it, but I get ridiculed a lot when recruiting for it), Warlock tanking, and playing games like Tag or Hide 'N Go Seek. I like finding weird things to do like this because it breaks up the grind, and helps me feel more immersed in the community of the game - like I am making an impact on it.

  • Jerec TharenJerec Tharen Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    Vhaeyne wrote: »
    With Ashes things, will be different. There is nothing to "Solve". As Dygz said there is no classical "end-game" as you know it. Nothing is static. You might solve an excellent strategy for downing the ice dragon raid boss, but it can be different next time you have to fight it because a different raid might be there fighting you for it.
    Open-world raid bosses are PvX content. You will have to fight other raids before, during, and after the raid to secure the loot.

    Yeah, I hope this really is the case and that they really have a lot of different kind of content that is hidden, locked, and impossible to find without progressing a specific node. However, I worry that the cost of adding that much content will be too much and that pressure to release will force them to do so where you have a set of "cookie cutter" content that can be predicted and meta-gamed for. Perhaps that's a worry a bit outside the topic of this discussion though.
  • Jerec TharenJerec Tharen Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    truelyyy wrote: »
    I mean we are on "alpha" island what more do you want? You can't test the game without playing the game doesn't make sense.

    This is true right now, but what happens after Alpha 1? I am assuming here that they will need more tested, or that what is learned on Alpha island can be used to ruin surprises outside of that area.
  • AzheraeAzherae Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    Not everyone can learn just by watching videos of someone else doing something, but so far, there isn't a single system, nor any indicators of a system, that would imply this can happen (ruining of surprises).

    If you just 'need a ragtag bunch of crazy people who don't value efficiency above all else', those exist. I find it's best not to worry about it too much, you only need to find one stable group like that, and after that, you don't have to care.

    As for the Alpha Island thing, the current build is 9 nodes within a space that would normally hold twice as many, so even the individual zones of influence are gonna be different.

    This probably can't be true for Beta, but Beta is supposed to be shorter.

    There's been talk of a lot of reactive content in the world, too (example below in the spoiler is mine, but I remember hearing something similar) and reactive content has two benefits. It can take long to trigger, and most parts of it don't need to be tested as strictly since it 'failing to trigger' isn't gamebreaking.
    Imagine a node in a forest where it develops high quickly and now there's so many gatherers that the trees are always camped and chopped down instantly, some number of 'trees cut' racks up until it spawns a Corrupted wandering boss "Eater of The Forest's Rage". But this couldn't spawn until literally months into the game, and therefore wouldn't have spawned in Alpha or Beta.

    I have formulated systems for adding their content type before, it benefits from a specific thing. You don't have to have 'a long list of Node specific quests'. You can have a 'Metropolis node quest template' with different parameters to fill it out, and players will take months to see any of them. By the time they have raised a Metropolis, sacked a Metropolis, and raised a new, different Metropolis, not only might the quests seem unfamiliar again, the Devs would have had time to make new stuff.

    They can literally 'react to this in real time' on the Quest maker side. If they see you pushing a City up toward Metropolis level they can focus on building new unique quests for when you manage, a month in advance. Maybe quests and emergent content may be bugged, but you sound like you'll be happier with that possibility, as long as you get to react to the world.
  • ConradConrad Member
    I think perhaps they should do like 1 or 2 special tests for public like... let's say the stability test and stuff? Thats my opinion at least
  • McMackMuckMcMackMuck Member
    edited June 10
    I'm not an Alpha tester, as my name clearly shows.
    I don't think there's much you can learn in Alpha 1 that will be present in the released game. Alpha 1 is about server testing, so all the race and archetype abilities are placeholders that are only what they need to be to load the server. The game mechanics of clicking on a guy to go out through a castle door is a prime example!

    The only thing that I can think of that may not change significantly is the partial map that Alpha 1 testers play on. Memorizing the map is an advantage. Learning the best routes from A to B is an advantage. Speculating where the nodes will be when that area of the map has a higher node density might be worthwhile.

    Beta testing will be the point where test experiences will give an advantage in the released game, IMO.
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  • MaezrielMaezriel Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    @Dygz
    Dygz wrote: »
    We will not have the exact same configuration of villages, towns, cities, metros, dungeons and raids at Launch as we have during Beta.

    Do you have a source for this you can PM me, I'd love to look over it!

    It's the entire selling point of the Node system. Every server will have the same layout of Nodes but how players go about developing them will vary greatly so every server is going to have cities, towns, & ports in different locations which in turn effects the world around to give access to different dungeons, quest, and monsters that other servers won't have.
  • DygzDygz Member, Braver of Worlds, Alpha One
    edited June 10
    You may be right that no end-game meta might exist. I guess what truly bothers me is the nature of gamer's to focus on efficiency. I just want to try to find people that will do silly thinks with me where we try to do things outside of what was "intended" for us to do. A few more examples of things that I have wanted to do in Classic more are doing Ragefire Chasm as the Alliance (although since it is low enough level, I have been able to find a few groups of people willing to do it, but I get ridiculed a lot when recruiting for it), Warlock tanking, and playing games like Tag or Hide 'N Go Seek. I like finding weird things to do like this because it breaks up the grind, and helps me feel more immersed in the community of the game - like I am making an impact on it.
    Seems like it should be fairly easy to find people willing to do stuff like that. That's what Twitch, YouTube, Discord and twitter are for. People used to do naked dungeon runs or drunken dungeon runs back in the day.
    And, you should be able to know when other silly people are online at the same time as you...and also know where they live.
    You could set up a weekly or biweekly event. Advertise on social media. Especially fun as post-podcast activities.
  • Jerec TharenJerec Tharen Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    Conrad wrote: »
    I think perhaps they should do like 1 or 2 special tests for public like... let's say the stability test and stuff? Thats my opinion at least

    How would that help limit game knowledge?
  • Jerec TharenJerec Tharen Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    Maezriel wrote: »
    It's the entire selling point of the Node system. Every server will have the same layout of Nodes but how players go about developing them will vary greatly so every server is going to have cities, towns, & ports in different locations which in turn effects the world around to give access to different dungeons, quest, and monsters that other servers won't have.

    Oh, you meant how nodes will develop differently when the game launches, not that Intrepid will change around their locations, names, attributes, etc for launch. Yeah, that could definitely help if they have enough content and set it up to only be revealed under certain circumstances.

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