Is It Worth Your Time to Alpha Test?


Let me start by sharing with you what I don’t do:

  1. I don’t buy every new MMO on the market
  2. I no longer feel a strong interest in playing on the first day of Alpha

Much of this has to do with acquired skepticism.

A decade ago, I used to get super excited about upcoming MMORPGs. And then I experienced those games losing their playerbase in droves while the developers/publishers failed to meaningfully address the concerns of the community.

This happened with Warhammer Online, Aion, Allods Online, RIFT, and SWTOR. The collapses of WAR, RIFT, and SWTOR were particularly personally disappointing to me, because I saw so much promise in each of those games. WAR had epic battlegrounds (aka scenarios) and RVR, and you could level up through PVP. RIFT had the most flexible class customization system ever – for a given class you could choose 3 out of 9 talent trees – and the battlegrounds were superbly designed. SWTOR was so much fun and felt epic – the writing and aesthetics were immersive. All of those games “failed” for reasons I won’t belabor here.

What I realized through those painful experiences – because I was often a player who hung around after 80% of my guild mates and community had left – is that players are extremely fickle and that developers for MMORPGs often bit off too much scope in terms of both PVE and PVP. Very few games have staying power, which is why the multi-year success of games such as LoL, Dota 2, WoT, and Overwatch has been encouraging, even though I don’t play the first 2 titles. But those games are MMOs not MMORPGs, and the only MMORPG to meaningfully sustain a player base is WoW, and I highly doubt Blizzard could launch another MMORPG IP with such sustained success. WoW is self-sustaining because it has them most content and biggest community. Some would argue GW2 has had sustained success, but I would argue that it has more of a loyal niche community.

So that brings me to the question in this article: is it worth your time to Alpha test?

For me, the answer is now no. Even after I became a skeptic, I was burned by the collapses of WildStar and Armored Warfare. Carbine launched with a very dated subscription model, and the move to F2P came to late too be relevant. AW in my opinion offered a better experience than WoT (no cheesy pay-for-advantage mechanics, no crew grinds, less RNG) but wasn’t meaningfully better to prevent players from going back to WoT, and eventually I went back to WoT because the AW player base was functionally dead.

Aside from playing WoT, I have tried the following games in the past 2 years:

  1. Overwatch
  2. Total War: ARENA
  3. The Exiled (formerly Das Tal)
  4. Gloria Victis

None of those games held my interest, but it’s partly because WoT is a good game and I’m still holding out hope for a great MMORPG. The MOBA-style games just don’t do it for me, although I did really enjoy Overwatch which is a MOBA/FPS hybrid. I don’t play Overwatch because I’m uninterested in changing the way I use my mouse to improve my aim – pro players use huge motions to move the mouse for precision, and I’m too lazy to do that. You know, old dog new tricks. In addition, I miss being able to spec or build my character the way I want to support my preferred playstyle or interesting mechanics.

I have been waiting for 6 years now for Camelot Unchained (CU), which is what spawned my writing this article. CU now has limited windows of testing, but at this point I’m unmotivated to be a tester. I want to play a game where my progress is permanent, because re-grinding is tedious and onerous to me. When the game reaches a Beta stage with regular play times and no character wipes, I’ll play it, and if it’s good enough, I’ll blog and YouTube about it.


EDIT (2018/07/31): I just received the following email from City State Entertainment, the developer of CU:

    How does one start an email that one has been looking forward to for far too long? Do I start with all sorts of gushy sayings? Do I start with some nice piece of art from our talented team? What about one of my long and detailed descriptions? Or, do I start with something short and sweet. Hmmm… How about this?

OMG, we are actually, truly in Beta 1!

Beta 1 starts in less than an hour. Simply huge :)

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Posted in Aion, Allods Online, Armored Warfare, Camelot Unchained, Game Design, Guild Wars 2, League of Legends, PVE, PVP, RIFT, SWTOR, Warhammer Online, WildStar, World of Tanks, World of Warcraft
15 comments on “Is It Worth Your Time to Alpha Test?
  1. Bronloch says:

    Not sure if you have tried it yet, but, For Honor has been my favorite game since beta almost 2 years ago! It is not an RPG in any sense but it is BY FAR the closest thing to actual melee combat that I have ever seen in a game! We’ve come a LONG way from KarateChamp then StreetFighter1 now ForHonor! Give it try if you havent! PS-Still mad about WAR! Loved Goblin tutorials!

    • Bronloch says:

      PSS- Surf Presidio!

    • Hmm, just from watching 30 seconds of footage, For Honor looks like what Gloria Victis was trying to capture in terms of medieval combat.

      • Bronloch says:

        MUCH more detailed combat and recovery times and attacks. It is one of the best games I have seen in years in regards to “easy to learn but hard to master”! Extremely addictive though once you get your favorite hero and start slaying people with style and grace!

  2. Namaste says:

    Miss the old MMORPG days playing lotro, warhammer and more. The communities werr great at times.

    Still waiting for Camelot. I am in beta but don’t want to play it until it’s more ready.

    Been playing card games lately like hearthstone. But am really loving magic the gathering arena. It’s in beta and very polished and ready for release.

    • Namaste says:

      Also waiting for crowfall!!!

    • Oh man I so miss WAR. What a great community and fun game. It was so epic, there really hasn’t been anything like it, although the open world PVP in GW2 was close.

      Do you still watch MMA? I was so glad to see DC capture the HW belt. It’s amazing he’s able to handle much taller/longer fighters.

      • Namaste says:

        I do still watch MMA. Always will love that sport. Was awesome seeing you do Muay Thai!

        Thanks for this post. Reminded me that I have the Warrior 2.0 alpha package from years ago for Camelot Unchained. Might try some beta today if I have time.

        • MMA is one of my favorite sports. So richly complex and technical.

          I’m finally getting my ass in gear to try to get better at sparring. I’ve been casual with Muay Thai for years, mostly for fun and for exercise. I now really want to improve my technique and be able to hold my own sparring against experienced MT practitioners.

          You still powerlifting?

          We’re going to have to keep talking during the CU Beta. It would be awesome to PVP with you again.

  3. jasonwinter says:

    Hey, didn’t know you were into Total War: Arena. I played it a fair bit when it was new, but haven’t jumped back in for a few months. Would be nice to have someone I could actually coordinate my efforts with.

    And I feel you on Overwatch. I’ve just accepted I’ll only be a certain level because there’s no way I can play on the highest sensitivity settings. Sucks to get old.

    • I thought it was the opposite in terms of mouse settings. Pros tend to use low sensitivity but make big sweeping motions with their arm to aim. I’m too lazy to do that.

      That said, in WoT I have gradually decreased my mouse sensitivity and have gotten used to it, and I have fewer spazzy aiming.

  4. Chris Wine says:

    I’m still hopeful for Camelot Unchained being real good, even though the years have dampened my enthusiasm somewhat.

    I gotta second your point on the WoW community… I still come back to WoW myself on and off, because of the guild of friends that still regularly plays.

    • That is exactly how I feel about CU.

      Had I known it would be 6 years to get to this point, I probably would have still contributed the $60 as a backer, but I would have had low expectations.

  5. EDIT (2018/07/31): I just received the following email from City State Entertainment, the developer of CU:

        How does one start an email that one has been looking forward to for far too long? Do I start with all sorts of gushy sayings? Do I start with some nice piece of art from our talented team? What about one of my long and detailed descriptions? Or, do I start with something short and sweet. Hmmm… How about this?

    OMG, we are actually, truly in Beta 1!

    Beta 1 starts in less than an hour. Simply huge :)

  6. Thillin says:

    Taugrim…. been awhile! lol Just having one of those nostalgic days remembering the old WOW battlegrounds and arenas! Wanted to say hi. Forgot your email so thought I would post.

    Hope you are doing well.

    ~ Thillin

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