Monday, April 9, 2012

Why Beta isn't a Huge Deal

The Mists of Pandaria Beta is here, which is awesome for quite a few different reasons. It means that the new expansion isn't to far away (Aug or Sept if history is any indication). It's also a time when Blizzard reveals what plans they have for each class/spec and what they are trying to do to improve them. And most importantly to most people it is the first glimpse we get of all the new content from new races, new classes, new levels, and a lot of other new stuff.

The beta is an exciting time in the WoW life cycle. Everyone wants to be involved, and it sucks to be one of the people not included. I know this from experience. I never got into the WotLK Beta and I got into the Cata Beta quite late. When you’re not in the Beta if feels like there is a really cool party around the corner that you weren't invited too. For those people who are not included it can feel awful.

However, looks can be deceiving. Though the party looks awesome from the outside, you don't see the guy puking in the bathroom or the fight that breaks some furniture. In the Beta, there is a lot of cool stuff going on but it can also be frustrating. It's not all peppermint and ice cream. I'm not going to tell you that Beta sucks, because it doesn't, but I do want to give you a few reasons why you should be patient if your beta invite hasn't come yet.

Beta is Crowded:

Let’s do a little bit of simple math. At WoW peak hit had 12 million accounts. There are 754 active servers listed in WoWWiki for all regions. That means the average server would have around 16,000 accounts on it. The Beta has four servers, and over the past two weeks Blizzard has sent out over 550,000 beta invites. This means that the beta servers have on average 137,000 accounts on them. I'm making a lot of generalizations and assumptions, and I will agree that this math is not completely fair, but I do think it makes my point. Beta is crowded and probably more crowded then anything you have ever experienced in WoW before.

When I got my Beta invite I copied Graylo over as I downloaded the client. When I finally got on the server I tested mechanics for an hour or so before I took a look at any of the new content. When I finally decided to do some quests I as smacked in the face by a ton of blue name plates. There were players everywhere, and trying to quest was like pulling teeth. Mobs were tagged as soon as they spawned and the spawn rate was incredibly slow. To complete one of my quests I ended up having to form a group of 3 or 4 people and basically camp spawn locations. It literally took me an hour to complete this one quest. To be fair the others weren't that hard, but finding quest mobs in this crowded environment is difficult. When I'm questing I'm more frustrated then excited because most of the time I'm running around looking for the spawn I need rather then actually doing something.

The good news is this will slow down. Check back in a few weeks and I bet questing will be a whole lot easier after people spread themselves out a little bit and others loose interest in the beta. In this way, getting into the beta later rather then sooner could be a good thing.

So Many Bugs:

When playing on a live server, the bugs are annoying but infrequent. So, we complain about it for a little bit, find a work around, and continue on with our questing. In the Beta, the bugs can be crippling. The first big bug I experienced was the invisible quest giver. I could see the question mark on my mini map, but the NPC was there. Eventually I figured out that if I stood out side the building and moved my mouse over the area, I could target him (still without seeing him), but as soon as I moved into the room he was untargetable again. Eventually I as able to inch forward enough so that I could click him with out him disappearing but it was a big pain in the butt, and that one is fairly mild.

Here are some of the other bug issues I've experience. The first button in vehicle quests isn't hot keyed to "1", so I have to click to do the quest. There are quite a few lore cut scene quests that can only be done one at a time and have a big line waiting to do them. My personal favorite is the mobs that cause a critical WoW error every time I kill one of them. It makes it really hard to complete a quest when every time you fight a mob you get kicked out of the game.

It's important to remember that the Beta is not a polished product, and can feel choppy when your experience is interrupted by bugs and such. If this is something that frustrates you in live, then you are unlikely to enjoy Beta much since it happens much more frequently.

No Addons:

This is more of a personal pet peeve, but I find it very frustrating that I can't have addons in the beta currently. I completely understand why Blizzard has turned them off, but I've grown so used to them on the live servers that it is difficult to play without them in some cases. I'm mainly missing something that I could use to track DoTs and Starsurge with, and really those aren't huge things while questing, but I miss them. I feel like a bad without them. If you are a big addon user, you might find the Beta frustrating at this point as well.

It's Temporary:

Finally, Beta is temporary. Nothing you do in the Beta Will last. Everything you do will be deleted except for the things you learned in the process. If you are the type of player who is going for a server first level 90 toon, then the Beta experience is invaluable to you. If you are the type of player who has several alts that you will be leveling to level 90, then the Beta is just removing some of the fun you will be having later. In short, being in the Beta is a little like getting to open your Christmas presents early, but having to wrap them back up as soon as you do. You know what’s in there. There are no more surprises, but you still have to go through the motions later.


The release of the Beta is an exciting time, and if you are one of the people who hasn't been invited yet it can be very frustrating. However, let me assure you that Beta is not all cupcakes and ice cream, and getting in a little later then most is not a horrible thing. Getting in a little later means you will avoid some of the issues that a lot of testers are experiencing now and may have a more enjoyable experience later. It's also important to remember that by playing the beta you are just ruining the experience you will have later. So, not being in the Beta is frustrating, but being patient will result in you having a better experience later.

Skunkworks LF Moonkin:

Just wanted to throw this out there that an old guild of mine is looking for a Moonkin. Skunkworks is an awesome guild and I would be applying for this spot if I hadn't finally found a good raiding home. If you are looking for a new guild and have experience raiding at a high level, I would recommend that you give them a look. You can find their recruitment information here

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