Gears of War Producer Says Consoles Make Betas Difficult

Gears of War Producer Says Consoles Make Betas Difficult

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According to Epic's Rod Fergusson, console gamers often don't have the same level of technical knowledge as their PC counterparts.

Fergusson, executive producer on the Gears of War games, says that closed nature of consoles makes beta testing rather difficult. He feels that console gamers have a certain expectation of how good a game will be during its beta, and that can make it hard to get any useful data.

Fergusson said that PC gamers tended to be more hands on with their hardware and have a greater degree of technical knowledge. He thought that they also understood that a beta wasn't a representation of the game's final quality, and actually enjoyed being part of the design process. As betas spread to consoles however, the amount of technical knowledge declined, because where PC gamers were used to installing their own components, consoles were closed boxes. He added that console gamers often didn't get the idea that the purpose of a beta was to test an unfinished product.

Getting useful data is going to be especially important to Epic in a few weeks, as it plans to hold a beta for Gears of War 3 in April, and will use players' comments to refine and improve the game's multiplayer before it comes out in the fall. Epic's Cliff Bleszinski said that getting good feedback from the test was vital, as bad multiplayer in Gears 3 would kill the series.

Unfortunately, part of this misconception about betas among console gamers is down to the developers themselves. It's not uncommon for access to a beta to be doled out as a reward for purchases or pre-orders. Access to the Gears 3 beta, for example, was granted by either purchasing the special edition of Bulletstorm, or pre-ordering Gears 3 at GameStop. With that arrangement, where players have effectively bought their way into the beta, it's hardly surprising that they should be expecting something pretty polished.

Source: Strategy Informer

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Like I always said, absolute standardization will lead to an idiocracy.

Does this mean Gears 2 and 3 will somehow be coming to PC?

NAH.

So after years of studying technology and taking part first hand in the industry, this is news to him?

That's an excellent point about "buying" your way into a console beta, actually. Certainly you can dole out limited access keys or something just like they do for PC games, right? It's true that console gamers as a whole probably do have less technical knowledge than PC gamers, especially when you consider the target audience for consoles.

Logan Westbrook:

Unfortunately, part of this misconception about betas among console gamers is down to the developers themselves. It's not uncommon for access to a beta to be doled out as a reward for purchases or pre-orders. Access to the Gears 3 beta, for example, was granted by either purchasing the special edition of Bulletstorm, or pre-ordering Gears 3 at GameStop. With that arrangement, where players have effectively bought their way into the beta, it's hardly surprising that they should be expecting something pretty polished.

I've been saying this for years: if these devs started treating it like a job again and not some prize, bonus, or product, they might get some better testing done.

No wonder so many games look/work like crap, some 11 year old with a new PSPlus subscription counts as a tester.

Maybe devs should go back to selling finished products like they (usually) did last gen.

These publishers always make me feel like Red:

With Gears 3 which isn't coming out until later in the year I would expect an unpolished, unfinished piece of work for their MP Beta. But a game like Crysis 2 that releases its MP Demo/beta at least 2 months from the release I would expect something a little better than what I downloaded from XBL.

I understand that betas are works in progress, but with that said I had MUCH more fun with CoD4 and Halo:Reach in their beta forms rather than the retail releases.

I think it's the fact that the fewer selections means that I more quickly get accustomed to the gameplay mechanincs and level layouts and feel like I can perform well.
Hell, I had a total BLAST playing Generator Defense on that sole map in the Reach beta, while I couldn't get into the competitive multiplayer in the retail release and ended up trading the game in.

Yes because being able to click "install" puts PC gamers leaps ahead of those poor console tards doesn't it. And only one us genius PC gamers has any idea what Beta means.

I think Epic isn't quite aware of just who their new market is. The sort of people whose only method of expressing displeasure is "that shit be whack dawg".

You can't expect real help from those people.

Oh, you noticed that Rod? Yeah, it annoys me too. You always see people going "YAY BETA!" like they're getting an early copy of the finished retail product. And then when it's not polished and not balanced quite yet, they got tell everyone that the game sucks and that they shouldn't buy it.

But yeah. Maybe... Just maybe! If console betas weren't handed out like candy to anyone who wanted some, you might get better results. I shouldn't just be surfing the web one day and randomly get an e-mail telling me that I've been invited to play the LittleBigPlanet 2 beta. What? I didn't sign up for this. I don't really want this. Why did you send this to me? And then there's PS+... $50 a year and one of the "perks" is access to unfinished games that I'm supposed to be trying to break so bugs can be found? Really, you just stood there at E3 and announced that like it's the most awesome thing ever, WTF are you thinking Sony? And then you Rod... Maybe you didn't do this personally, but giving away beta access to people who bought Bulletstorm: Epic Edition and preordered Gears 3 at GameStop? Not the way you should be picking participants.

When exactly did it become standard to buy your way into betas, anyway? If you participate in a beta correctly, you're already doing the job of a game tester for free. Now they want you to pay to join the testing experience? So backwards.

HankMan:
Yes because being able to click "install" puts PC gamers leaps ahead of those poor console tards doesn't it. And only one us genius PC gamers has any idea what Beta means.

And that's not what he said at all. Thanks for reading the article before commenting!

If they think PC users are so much smarter and more helpful, how about releasing an f'ing new Gears game for PC then, you jerks?

It's pretty sad that people don't know what "beta" means and actually expect it to be a fully finished polished product. You reap what you sew Epic. Stop bitching about a situation that you created yourselves.

How much technical knowledge do you need to say, "This gun is overpowered?" or is it for those time they really want you to rack your brain with the specifics and say, "This overpowered gun could stand to either do less damage or have a lower rate of fire?"

After playing gears of war PC I didn't think epic bothered with beta testing

mjc0961:

*Snip*

HankMan:
Yes because being able to click "install" puts PC gamers leaps ahead of those poor console tards doesn't it. And only one us genius PC gamers has any idea what Beta means.

And that's not what he said at all. Thanks for reading the article before commenting!

About that.

Logan Westbrook:
Fergusson said that PC gamers tended to be more hands on with their hardware and have a greater degree of technical knowledge. He thought that they also understood that a beta wasn't a representation of the game's final quality, and actually enjoyed being part of the design process. As betas spread to consoles however, the amount of technical knowledge declined, because where PC gamers were used to installing their own components, consoles were closed boxes. He added that console gamers often didn't get the idea that the purpose of a beta was to test an unfinished product.

I agree with the views presented in the article: PC gamers tend to have more technical knowledge than console gamers, console gamers think the word beta means demo, which is in part the fault of the developers in their way of handing out betas on the console.

I am a console gamer myself, who dabbles into the PC gaming scene and have found that there are some technical roadblocks that I need to wrap my head around when getting into the guts of a PC game. I don't mean trying to make my own maps or levels, but downloading and adding maps and levels built by the modding community. It is always a little bit of an adventure trying to navigate all the different terms used for this particular game on this particular site and then trying to add everything without breaking the game. In a console setting, everything is pretty much professionally made and put right into the game for you, and adding maps just means waiting for the developers to make a map pack and then buying it and downloading it. The console scene is just not exposed to the guts of the game they play.

This leads to an under-appreciation of the amount of things that can go wrong in a game when trying to make a map or levels, or an entire multi-player experience in the console scene, but like the end of the article says, that may be in part to the presentation of betas and the closed box nature of consoles. For trying to fix the closed box of consoles, I cannot offer any suggestions. That is up to Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo, but they see this closed box way of doing business as a form of protecting their interests from piracy and the like. As for the presentation of the beta for console gamers, I kind of like the way it is done. For the Reach beta, I was pleasantly surprised that I got it for owning ODST (yes I bought it before actually knowing full well about when the beta was going to be out. I actually wanted to play the game.) I think that works--making it a little of a nice gift of loyalty, and/or buying a game that the developer made that is different from their main franchise machine. The key is to remind the player that what they are about to play is a work in progress. Bungie did this over and over again throughout the beta. Messages as it loaded, messages in the multi-player lobby, and they even had a playlist dedicated to stressing the hell out of the networks (Generator Defense), in which they clearly stated in the play list description.

All in all, yes consoles are closed boxes compared to PCs limiting the technical exposure console gamers have. Betas still are a mixed bag of interpretations on the console, so long as developers keep selling it as a early access demo. They need to keep telling the player that what they are playing is a very rough build and that they playing the beta will help make the final product so much better.

mjc0961:

HankMan:
Yes because being able to click "install" puts PC gamers leaps ahead of those poor console tards doesn't it. And only one us genius PC gamers has any idea what Beta means.

And that's not what he said at all. Thanks for reading the article before commenting!

Yes, it fucking is.

Article:
Fergusson said that PC gamers ... understood that a beta wasn't a representation of the game's final quality.

...

He added that console gamers often didn't get the idea that the purpose of a beta was to test an unfinished product.

OT: If you don't like us, Rod, make PC games or something. Or, you know, actually have really tightly closed betas for your fanbase.

Sigh Epic turns their backs on the PC platform after years of dedicated fans kept them in business, now they have the balls to complain about their new audience? I remember growing up playing Jazz Jackrabbit and One Must Fall way back when they were Epic MegaGames.

Used to love the stuff they put out. Nowadays, meh. Seems like they turned into loudmouths (Cliffy B), assholes (Mark Rien) and babies (Rod Fergusson).

I'd agree with his statement, but not just about console gamers but about people beta testing games today in general. I find that when I end up in a beta the forums are clogged with constant whining to the tune of; "OMFG THIS IS BROKEN FIX IT NAUGH!!" or "This game is shit and riddled with errors shouldn't you have gotten this all fixed in alpha?" Really if you've spent any amount of time in any beta you'll know the stuff I'm talking about and how it causes any actual feedback to be buried under this constant stream of ignorant bitching.

He's right that by giving access to betas through pre-orders and subscriptions the people you're going to get are people expecting a finished product and will not give the quality of feedback you're looking for. Oh sure there's always exceptions to this rule but the point is that you can have bad testers on both PC and consoles.

It's not that one audience is dumber than the other one it's that developers shouldn't be using their betas as a marketing ploy to increase sales.

You know what they should do, then? The first time that everyone boots up the beta, they should have a short, unskippable video where Cliffy B. carefully explains that this is not a finished product, that there may be some balancing problems and glitches here and there. He then needs to, in the simplest language possible, explain that this is just a test to find out what they can do to make the game better.

Of course, some idiots will still say "it's a demo!" but at least some of those that don't study computers, or don't spend a lot of time around them, will know what it is.

Also, after watching this once it needs to be skippable.

Captcha - Psyme Halfway. Sounds like a parody, somehow, of that one Black-Eyed Peas song, Meet Me Halfway. Haste the Day's already done that, but hey.

Truth:

By comparison of technical knowledge, console gamers are downright stupid in some cases (SOME CASES).

On another note, the fact the consoles are locked does create a problem. Consoles are magical boxes people are told what to do with it. PC's are open sources of trying new things and playing around with components. I constantly tweak my PC to run better or perform this operation faster, mess with settings both in and out of games to get the best FPS/Graphic ratio. I spent an entire week refining my video card overclocking, as well as another one refining my CPU overclock. You don't have any options with a console, and it's sad that some people actually believe that PC's are on the way out, haha.

To be fair, when I got my first gaming PC I was pretty flumoxed by a lot if it. Didn't understand overclocking, modding, many of the settings (LOD was a mystery to me) and if something didn't instant install I didn't know what to do. I imagine many console gamers would be the same.

Only took me a week to pick this stuff up though, so maybe they need to give a little more credit.

HankMan:

mjc0961:

*Snip*

HankMan:
Yes because being able to click "install" puts PC gamers leaps ahead of those poor console tards doesn't it. And only one us genius PC gamers has any idea what Beta means.

And that's not what he said at all. Thanks for reading the article before commenting!

About that.

When he said installing components he meant parts of their computers, not software.

archvile93:
How much technical knowledge do you need to say, "This gun is overpowered?" or is it for those time they really want you to rack your brain with the specifics and say, "This overpowered gun could stand to either do less damage or have a lower rate of fire?"

If only issues in beta's were that simple.

ph0b0s123:

archvile93:
How much technical knowledge do you need to say, "This gun is overpowered?" or is it for those time they really want you to rack your brain with the specifics and say, "This overpowered gun could stand to either do less damage or have a lower rate of fire?"

If only issues in beta's were that simple.

Isn't the job of the betat tester only to attempt to break the game and inform the developer of these problem, not to go "I found a glitch and here's step by step instructions on how to fix it?"

JourneyThroughHell:

mjc0961:

HankMan:
Yes because being able to click "install" puts PC gamers leaps ahead of those poor console tards doesn't it. And only one us genius PC gamers has any idea what Beta means.

And that's not what he said at all. Thanks for reading the article before commenting!

Yes, it fucking is.

I think some people are overlooking that PC gamers can access files which show the values of guns and perks.

This allows for a new value to be given, and fine tuned.

As a result, "make it better" or "nerf it" are not taken to the extremes.

Anyone who played APB during it's short life would have seen overpowered weapons or nerfed weapons that were previously the other end of the scale after each update, okay it wasn't a great example for pc gaming, but the game dying did reflect that "make it better/worse" can ruin a game.

Or some people are overlooking that PC gamers are not just anyone, such as a pick up and play console like the 360 or PS3 where anyone old enough to operate the on button and the open disk drive button can play, and only see it as a chance to play a "demo".

Or that the people who love the previous games, pre order (or however they got the beta) and say it is great (justifying their purchase).

But a lot of people who play console betas do not really give any feedback other than their most used weapon or other statistics (which is given without their input other than playing), check an OFFICIAL (closed to the participants) forum for a console beta and for a PC beta, however you might have had to partake in them to actually have any accurate information, as they are/were closed.

Its sad but true...

laryri:
When he said installing components he meant parts of their computers, not software.

Hum, well I used to game exclusively on the PC for most of the nineties and I never learned how to that. Then again that's probably because I was in elementary and middle school at the time.

NO KIDDING EINSTEIN?

The closed nature of consoles is a hindrance to anything really.

Hopefully everyone and their dog will read this; I'm bored of having to explain what a beta is to people.

HankMan:

laryri:
When he said installing components he meant parts of their computers, not software.

Hum, well I used to game exclusively on the PC for most of the nineties and I never learned how to that. Then again that's probably because I was in elementary and middle school at the time.

And because generalisations aren't applicable to every individual case...

koroem:
Sigh Epic turns their backs on the PC platform after years of dedicated fans kept them in business, now they have the balls to complain about their new audience? I remember growing up playing Jazz Jackrabbit and One Must Fall way back when they were Epic MegaGames.

Used to love the stuff they put out. Nowadays, meh. Seems like they turned into loudmouths (Cliffy B), assholes (Mark Rien) and babies (Rod Fergusson).

"A history of Epic Games"
Written by Epic Games & Microsoft.
Devoted to Bungie.

It's amazing, console gamers defend console gaming to the high heavens because of it's plug and play nature. They defend it for not requiring any technical knowledge and "just working."

Then, if you try to base any conjecture off this idea that they fully endorse, they get up in arms for you calling them dumb.

Can't have it both ways, kids.

If you expect your beta testers to be people who essentially bought the beta, then those gamers will want to play the game, not test it. It's not even about what system it's on, it's how the beta has been handled that defines how little of a beta Gears really will be.

archvile93:

ph0b0s123:

archvile93:
How much technical knowledge do you need to say, "This gun is overpowered?" or is it for those time they really want you to rack your brain with the specifics and say, "This overpowered gun could stand to either do less damage or have a lower rate of fire?"

If only issues in beta's were that simple.

Isn't the job of the betat tester only to attempt to break the game and inform the developer of these problem, not to go "I found a glitch and here's step by step instructions on how to fix it?"

No, my point was that, problems in beta's rarely as simple as a gun being over powered. I wish beta problems were that simple.

/>>Insert obligatory 'In other words sky is blue...* comment here

 

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