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Friday Update:The Journey Into Beta

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Originally posted by Silirrion

Hello again folks, you get me back for a quick visit this week as the big beta news this week and the Easter break here in Oslo means this weeks update is a special forums only update.

The web guys are working on the strain that the community portal has had this week with the demand and interest generated by the beta process starting (and its been really awesome to see folks so interested in the game), so we have to cut them a little slack this week but didn't want to forget about Friday completely!

So here we go, this week, the guys wanted to explain a little more about the beta process and what you can expect to see:

The Journey into Beta

On Tuesday this week, Funcom announced the beta sign-up process for Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures. All you have to do is fill out a sign-up form available through the official website, and you might be one of the lucky ones who will get to play the game early. Still, beta testing is much more than fun and games (excuse the pun) and those who are admitted into the beta are expected to provide useful feedback to the developers. It's an important job, and though we do hope you will have fun during the beta process, we're also depending on you to help us bring the game up to the level of quality we all want.

When filling out the sign-up form, you probably noticed the beta is divided into two parts: the Technical Beta and the General Beta. Age of Conan is such a technologically game in all respects that we want to have separate, dedicated tests where we focus on the technical aspects of the game as opposed to gameplay and content.

So what exactly do we mean in relation to a beta process when we say 'technical'?

"The main purpose of the technical tests," explains Rui Casias, Lead Programmer on Age of Conan,"is to identify any performance bottlenecks that might be found in the game. We want to test the game under challenging conditions."

The Technical Beta will largely be composed of shorter tests held approximately once a month, where each test lasts from a few hours or up to several days. Those invited into the Technical Beta will be informed of when these tests will be held, and what they going to be asked to do once they get in the game.

Often the developers will alter the game in such a way that all players who log in will be funneled into one specific area so to stress test the game's engine, server code and client code. Or players might be asked to perform a certain task or use a certain feature, to see how well the game performs under heavy load.

So these technical stages are about testing the game mechanics themselves and trying to twist, stress and even break them so that they can be as polished as possible for launch.

The first tests in the Technical Beta will be starting as early as this month, and will most likely begin by including a few hundred of applicants. Even though we've been beta testing Age of Conan internally for a long time, the developers are looking forward to having more players logging in and stress testing their creation.

Then later on, we will be rolling out the general Beta stages, and an increasing number of players can look forward to helping us fine tune and polish the Age of Conan experience.

With the General Beta, we will be keeping the servers up more consistently and as we get closer to the launch, we'll be constantly increasing the number of people that can participate in the beta test.

As opposed to the specific, controlled testing of the Technical Beta, in the General Beta we will be focusing on testing the content. Players will be encouraged to focus on testing the actual gameplay and character advancement in a much more organic and natural manner.

There will of course still be a strong focus on testing in these stages too, "It's important to get players feedback on almost every aspect of the game," says QA Manager Ørjan Mathis Tvedt, "That can be anything from the GUI, the controls, the fun factor on quests, the combat system and so on. We've got solid systems set up to handle the feedback and for tracking the players reactions to the content and even their playing habits."

So there you have it, a little insight into the plans and goals for the beta process. We are really looking forward to hearing players feedback and genuinely appreciate the assistance that players provide during the beta process. Its a vital stage of development where the results help us improve the quality and polish of the game in time for the game's launch.

Good luck to all that have applied and we look forward to welcoming many of you into the world of King Conan over the coming months!

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