Tuesday, January 31, 2006

More acceptance explanation!

In case people were still having problems figuring out why they didn't get into the beta, Morten Juul elaborated even further on the process in this post.
Hi there,

Two quick answers:

We have selected 500 in total, all included.

And forum activity is not a post count only, although it is a factor.

We selected most people at this point automatically, based on computer specs and forum sign-up date. Meaning that if 3000 had qualified for having the "fail safe" specs, we would select the ones having been with us for the longest time.

And the sign-up form input does matter: We have deselected a few on that behalf, and as Claus said, it will be a more decisive factor later on.

One thing we might do different another time would be stating this info clearly beforehand, I agree.

And again, we do appreciate all your applications, and we will need you at some point later - and be happy to let you in.

Kind regards,

Morten
Hardware was obviously the number one factor in determining acceptance -- there are people who got in who registered on the forums in January and posted a single message saying they got in. A lot of the "hardcore" forum-users also got invites though as well... Whether this was based on their participation, or on their hardware is unknown.

Haller went on to let us know in this post that even if we didn't get accepted in the first wave, our beta apps have helped the game.
It also matters for other things than 'just' selecting people for beta participation. It supplies us with computer specs that we need, not so much to select participant, as to be able to make better sense of bug reports later on. It gives us demographical data that people often don't put in their forum profiles - Either because they don't want to or because they don't bother. And other things like the beta plus signup, contact infomation etc. got collected in one neat package.

I know that the above propably doesn't mean much those of you who didn't get in this time round, but it does mean you've actually helped us already. Just as your feedback on our selection process (and all the other discussion here on the forum) is already of help to us.
Today has been a very busy day on the Seed forums... I can only imagine what tomorrow will be like!

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Bifrost = cruel!

Bifrost decided to show his cruel streak to the folks in #seed this afternoon, by posting a screen of him in the game! He also mentioned that he was currently in the game, and had been logged in for about an hour without any problems.

Why do you taunt us so?


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Selection Process Explained

Community Manager Morten Juul posted a good summary of how applicants were chosen:

Our primary criteria for Beta-testers have been:

  • "secure" computer specs (which we anticipate do not cause any system specific trouble)
  • forum activity
  • forum sign-up time (how long have you been a forum member)

We haven't made any selection based on nationality. A quick look in the database shows that for example a quarter of all selected Beta testers are from USA (where a third of all our applicants are from)

We did not have the time to go through all applications manually, but we have browsed through the ones chosen automatically.

We have taken the liberty of adding a few friends of the house as well (approx. 30) - that's a developer's privelegie, I guess .

Why 500? As Bifrost has explained: We want to test scalability before moving on to deep testing gameplay for real.

So, we haven't deselected anyone from the Beta - we have just not selected 90 percent of you guys yet. We will of course say when we are ready to let in the next batch.

Kind regards,

Morten

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No more doom and/or gloom! :D

Okay, my pity-party is over, I swear ;)

First of all, Lashiens sent me a PM at the official forums offering to supply me with beta pics/info(and hopefully video), so this blog won't be useless afterall! A huge thanks to Lashiens for the offer -- it definately brightened my day!

Also, xmentor(a Runestone Programmer) posted a message concerning the reasoning behind their choice of testers.

I can tell you so much that demographics were not an issue in the selection process - but incidentally we do have a rather high percentage of European forum members and the percentages in the accepted of course reflect that. We have selected based on peoples participation on the forum but also very much on the hardware they use - this is important to us, because we want to focus on some kinds of bugs now and other kinds later, and hardware bugs are not as important to us at this very early stage as scaling issues are. There will probably we a much larger variety of more or less exoctic hardware and OS'es in the next beta acceptance round.

As regards when we accept more players: That depends entirely on how well this first period goes. If we have few bugs, we will quickly open up for more beta testers, if we have a lot we'll have to wait. Bur of course we strive to get as many users as possible as quickly as possible.

Cheers,
Claus
Looks like hardware was more important than forum activity this round.

He also posted a note about which bugs took priority:

First issue above and beyond anything else is crash bugs and the most important of those are server crash bugs. Any server crashbug will be dealt with immediately or at least when we show up at work.

Apart from crash bugs, we are looking at bugs that are acutely annoying and which wreck the gameplay experience. And then come all the other bugs which may still be very serious but which after all will not be dealt with until the game actually runs decently.

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Beta Acceptance E-mail

LoneMessiah posted the beta acceptance e-mail on the forums for out viewing pleasure! It's fairly long so please click the "Full Post" link to read the body of the e-mail.

Welcome to the Seed beta test
PLEASE READ THE FULL TEXT OF THIS EMAIL

Thank you very much for helping us out with finding bugs and problems in Seed.We hope to get a lot of feedback from you, both regarding technical bugs, graphical bugs and inconsistencies. We also value suggestions about feature changes, and feature additions, but we will of course focus on fixing bugs first and foremost.

Please remember that this is a beta version of the game, and that the primary purpose of the beta test is to test, find and (for us) fix flaws. This should not keep you from playing the game and having fun, but if someone else asks you to help him track a bug, please do so.

For those of you that have volunteered and been selected as beta plus testers, you will receive additional information in a separate mail in the next week, concerning the special role you have in the beta test program.

While you are reading the rest of this mail, you may as well download one of the beta client packages from (link removed)
Please do not distribute the link – you need a Beta key to play the game anyhow.

There is no NDA (Non Disclosure Agreement) that you legally must obey as a part of the beta. There *are* a few things we kindly ask you not to do, as this would harm Seed and Runestone:

Please don't take screenshots or video capture of the canyon. The canyon is currently not in production quality, thus there are untextured areas, graphical errors and similar effects in the canyon. Screenshots and videos from canyon would not give a fair indication of the graphics quality you can expect from Seed. When canyon is "screenshot ready", we will let you know. Until then, consider the Canyon a special preview, only available to you, the beta testers, before everyone else.

Please make sure the "Beta version" window is visible on all screen captures, if you wish to publish these. We also remind you, that Seed is copyright of Runestone Game Development. Permission is hereby granted to publish in-game images and video, as long as such publication is accompanied by a text stating "Permission to use granted by Runestone Game Development".

Other than these two requests, feel free to take screenshots and in game video to your hearts delight. Also, feel free to discuss the game on the forums or elsewhere, with anyone you please. If you want us to respond to your thoughts, please use the Seed forum. The developers will actively follow the discussions.

So, what to expect of the beta:

Expect crashes: We have tested Seed in-house of course, but on February 1st, Seed will be subjected for the first time ever to hundreds of simultaneous
players. This will almost certainly cause new bugs to appear, some of them crash-bugs.

Expect server downtime: We have keep-alive mechanisms that will automatically restart the servers after a crash, but sometimes, even these will fail, and
need a developer to restart. We will keep you informed of server downtime on the website,

Expect bugs: ...but do not assume we know about them: get in the habit of having a notebook and pen handy when playing. Immediately when you experience a
bug, write down what you did, who you were logged in as, where it happened, and what happened. Submit the bug from the ingame bugsubmission tool, or on the bug submission webpage.

Expect some time to pass, between the time you notify us of a bug, and the time it is fixed: While we will strive to fix bugs as quickly as possible, we will
also have to prioritize.

Expect stuff that worked yesterday to be broken today: While we strive to only remove bugs, and while we test internally whenever we do so, we *will*
accidentally introduce new bugs.

Expect character resets: We will try to avoid character resets as much as possible, but we *may* have to wipe the character database a few times during
beta.

Content expectations.

We launch the beta with a relatively small part of the tower. We also launch without stories and NPCs. We prefer to handle the issues that will surely arise
simply from having hundreds of players online simultaneously first.

We launch the beta with relatively few items and components. We want to make sure the system we have in place is sound, before adding more items and
components.

We will add graphical and story content on a continuous basis. We will also add game systems and features, but especially these, will be of lower priority than
bug fixing.

Developer feedback

We developers will be busy fixing all the bugs you find. We hope and will try to find time to also post on the boards, but we may be a little silent from
time to time. If we are, it means we are working hard fixing bugs and adding content.

Finally, we ask you to be patient with us: Developing a MMO is very complex, and we make mistakes.

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No beta for me :(

Well, the unthinkable has happened -- I didn't get a beta invite, and the last of the 500 were sent out about 15 minutes ago. Normally, I could hold out hope that perhaps mine was delayed... but I applied with a gmail account, and several people who got in also had gmail :P

I didn't expect to be this bummed about it. Then again, I expected to get in for some reason. I've posted a fair bit on the forums, my posts weren't spammy, I have a lot of beta experience, etc... It turns out that 9,000 people applied for the beta, but only around 300 have actually posted on the forums more than 1-3 times, so I just assumed that I would get in. The idea of not getting in didn't cross my mind until it was announced in IRC that 250 mails had been sent. It was at that point that my inner pessimist reared it's ugly head... and was right!

Ah well... This blog will remain useless for a while, I suppose.

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One more very minor delay

Morten Juul posted the following message this morning on the official forums:

I do not like to push announced deadlines, but at least it's only an hour this time

Mails will be sent out within the hour to the selected applicants. ETA: 15:00 CET / 9:00 ET

Back to selecting...

kind regards,

Morten

*goes back to pretending to be rational and calm*

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Monday, January 30, 2006

New Screens!

New screenshots have been posted on the official website, giving us our first good look at the garden and a chimpbot!



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Beta E-mails Delayed!!!

... by one day ;)

Morten Juul, Runestone's Community Manager posted the following message on the offcial forums:

Hi all,

The mails to the first 500 Beta-testers will be sent out tomorrow:

January 31st, 14:00 Central European Time / 08:00 Eastern Time.

I know this is a one day delay compared to what I promised earlier, and I am sorry to say that it is the best we can do.

The sad explanation is that we have been way too busy to look at your applications yet. We will however do so tonight and tomorrow morning. I ask for your patience yet another day.

Kind regards,

Morten

I suppose I can survive until then...

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Sunday, January 29, 2006

Perhaps a bit premature...

I'm one of the 6,000+ hopefuls that has applied to beta test the upcoming MMOG(massivelt multiplayer online game) Seed since sign-ups went live on January 9th... Like everyone else, I have spent the last few weeks wishing and hoping that I'll be one of the 500 lucky fans to recieve an e-mail tomorrow stating that I have been accepted into the first round of testing.

So in creating this blog, I jumped the gun a bit.

First of all, I have no idea if I'll be one those 500 lucky souls to get invited into round one. Truthfully, I don't know if I'll ever get to test the game. Runestone, the developers of Seed, have stated that they would like to have around 10,000 testers by the time the game goes live in April(the tentative release date).

Secondly, and perhaps less important, is that the test doesn't even begin until February 1st. But these last few weeks have ticked away so slowly... The forums have been abuzz with speculation and theory. And now the clock moves ever closer to the test! I guess this blog is an attempt to stave off the "beta madness," at least for a few minutes.

A thought just occured to me... If I do get into the beta, will I even want to spend time telling the general public about my adventures? I mean, I'll be very busy playin... err, testing to my heart's content afterall. In any case, at least this space is here if the mood strikes me.

Good luck to 499 other applicants out there. I'll be happy for you, as long as I'm number 500. :)

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