Closed Alpha 3 Recap and Thoughts

Well, the third closed Alpha test is now in the books and done. It was great to see everyone trying out the new Warrior and Musketeer changes, as well as the new Lure Crafting.

Overall, the game continues to come together to a cohesive whole. Having a Personal Chest and something to do with drops from the world besides just equipping gear is definitely an interesting development. And I think a lot more folks were able to run the dungeon this time because the Musketeer healing and Warrior tanking was more reliable and easy to understand, which is great.

A few stats:

  • 102 people participated in the test
  • A total of 394 hours were played
  • That's 3.85 hours/player on average
  • 252 players have now participated in at least one Alpha test

Unfortunately I don't have a good "most hours played by a single person" stat to share this time. Bloodrhen retained their post as the top overall time played, but they only played an additional ~2 hours during this test, so I'm sure someone topped them for this particular test but I'm not sure who. I'll figure out a better way to track that before the next test.

Observations and Thoughts

The number of total participants was about the same during this test as last test, even though this test was twice as long. In addition, even though this test was twice as long, the total number of hours played actually decreased.

I think what we're seeing here is testing fatigue set in, which is perfectly understandable. The last two tests have focused on re-working existing features that were already in the game, and didn't introduce any new content (such as new zones or dungeons). It's boring playing the same two zones repeatedly and re-acquiring the same inventory over and over again.

The good news is that from here on out, we should be able to provide completely new and varied activities during each test. In addition, while we will be resetting the inventory and Ranger levels for everyone before the next test, that's the last time we should have to do that until the end of the Alpha (barring some unforeseen catastrophe). So, if you have been a little burned out on the last two Alpha tests, I encourage you to drop by for the next one because there will be a lot of new, exciting things to try!

My only other thought is about concurrent players. During the first 24 hours we saw some pretty healthy concurrent player numbers, but during the second half there were often 10 or fewer people online. That's really not a great play experience for an MMO. Currently I think the world feels "full" when there's at least 25 folks on and doing things, and that number is only going to go up as we add more places to go and things to see. So I'm considering dropping the testing period back down to 24 hours just for the sake of concentrating the player population. I checked at the end of the first 24 hour period and 95 people had participated at that point, so adding on the extra 24 hours only gained 7 people who didn't get to play during the first part, and who knows, they might have been able to if they knew it was only 24 hours long. But, I'm going to leave that up to the community to decide.

Alpha Survey

Since we're now officially halfway through the Alpha test, we're putting out a survey that we'd like our Alpha participants to answer for us:

Please take 5 minutes to fill it out when you get a chance and give us some feedback on how the Alpha is going so far, as well as casting your vote on if you'd like the tests to be 24 or 48 hours going forward.

Next Test: Friday, June 2nd

The next test will take place on Friday, June 2nd. I'll announce the start time and the length of the test later this week after I see the survey results.

The focus of that test is going to be:

  • Getting the rest of the Fishing discipline in the game
  • Reworking the Ranger class (although this will be a much smaller rework than the previous classes, as we're pretty happy with where it is already from a basic mechanics standpoint)
  • Beginning implementation of the PvP Bounty/Bandit system (e.g. bandit timers, rewards for killing bandits, bandits going to 'jail', etc.)
  • Introducing new content, including hopefully a new zone and a new dungeon

Also, since we're halfway through Alpha, I thought it would be a good time to take stock of how we're doing so far schedule-wise, and what's left to do before Beta. Right now I think we're on-schedule, perhaps slightly behind, but still doing good. The major things we still have left to do before Open Alpha (which will happen right before the Closed Beta begins are):

  • Alchemy and Runsmithing profession prototypes
  • Beginning tutorial
  • Getting at least some NPCs and quests into the game for the early levels
  • Player Trading / Soulbound system
  • Social Features including Fellowships and Friends List
  • Death penalty mechanics

If it's not on that list (for example, Merchant Stalls, group finder system, PvP arena improvements, "wanted" posters, pet companion system, just to name a few) then it's something we're planning to do during the Beta process. The focus of the Beta will be adding in those last few polishing features, and then just massively expanding the content of the game (zones, dungeons, quests, NPCs, crafting ingredients and recipes, fishing spots, etc.).

Thanks and we'll see you in-game in on June 2nd!


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