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WRUP: Ransom edition


PAX East is holding Eliot hostage! We've just learned that the infamous Boston gaming con is planning to force Eliot, Matt, Lis, and Karen to play video games for money indefinitely. But don't worry; I'm sure you guys can have Eliot and his Dadaist commentary back once I get those cookies. I mean, once PAX gets those cookies. Yeah.

In the meantime, let's do this WRUP thing after the break! We'll talk about what we think of beta weekends and what we're playing, and then you can do the same using our brand-new comment system that so totally doesn't have any bugs (see, I can be absurd like Eliot!).

Beau Hindman, F2P and Mobile Columnist
@Beau_Hindman: I will be switching to Stronghold Kingdoms for my next Rise and Shiny session. Look for that write-up at its usual time on Sunday. I'll also be streaming the game on Monday at 5:00 p.m. EDT as usual. I think I am spending this weekend making a good solid list of HTML games. I want to have places for people to go and find games that will run on any device from a netbook to a smartphone. The more I search, the more I find good games that actually work. If anyone knows of any good HTML (or any other) games, please email me!

I'm not a fan of beta weekends simply because I do not experience them anymore. I haven't cared or become excited about a "major release" in a long time. There are simply too many other games that couldn't even afford a beta weekend for me to cover. I think I'm becoming a snob.

Bree Royce, Senior Editor
@nbrianna: I'm letting a friend resurrect my World of Warcraft account this weekend so that I don't miss out on the free level 80 toon. I'll take advice on what class to roll... I've already got a highbie Shaman, Warrior, and Hunter, and my highbie Priest is collecting dust because ug, hate Priests so much. What would you zip to level 80?

Betas weekends annoy me because they're inconvenient. Rarely will I spend a whole weekend doing unpaid testing or seriously playing something that will be wiped anyway. Guild Wars 2 provided a recent and notable exception.

Elisabeth Cardy, Guild Wars 2 Columnist
@elixabethclaire: I'll be playing a lot of games this weekend... for about 20-40 minutes at a time. PAX East is finally upon us, so I'll also be playing the waiting game, the SEE ALL THE THINGS game, and (perhaps my favorite) the socialization game.

I am absolutely a fan of beta weekends, for multiple reasons. For a prospective fan of a game (or standing fan of a series), weekends are an excellent way to not only get a taste of what's in store for the game you've got an eye on but also (in the best cases) provide helpful and constructive feedback -- essentially, a chance to contribute in a meaningful way to the development of a game you hope to love. That meaningful contribution can be explicit feedback and critique, population and server testing, or bug finding and game breaking. I can only imagine that beta weekends are tremendously helpful for developers, both for the feedback and statistics monitoring (nothing shows you how many ways your game can be broken quite like opening the world up to thousands of gamers -- better to do it while you're using the beta label than waiting to see it at launch) and for the gratification of seeing what's hopefully a positive response to the labor of love that you've been slaving away on for months and years.

Jeremy Stratton, Contributing Editor
@Jeremy_Stratton: My game-time will be cut considerably because my family is visiting over the weekend. I am going to try to get some questing done in Atlantica Online and Vanguard and continue my work to open up a small photography studio in Second Life.

Idealistically, I like beta weekends, but realistically, I dislike them. I like the idea of helping bug-test the game to improve it, but the meta-game betas have become really turns me off. Now, release versions aren't all that different from betas, and you even keep your characters. Beta tests, the players, or both have cultivated an elite status out of being "specially" picked, which is just used to burn through as much content as fast as possible to retain this status of being elite, or something.

Justin Olivetti, Columnist Extraordinaire and Senior Contributing Editor
@Sypster: I'm feeling a little burned out on MMOs as of late, so I might step back to focus on some old-school RPGs that I'm picking up here and there. Oh, to play Wasteland or Fallout... choices choices! Or, heck, why not some Fallen Earth?

I generally don't like betas, so the weekend things, while exciting to the community, aren't so much my thing.

Karen Bryan, Columnist Extraordinaire
@JayeRnH: My gaming weekend is pretty light, although I'll probably sneak in a little RIFT and EverQuest II between a trip to PAX East and Easter plans.

I like the idea of beta weekends, but that's when I'm most busy. I'd much rather have a longer beta session, like a week or so, to give all participants a chance to fit it into their schedules.

Larry Everett, SWTOR Columnist
@Shaddoe: While the rest of the crew is at PAX, I have a bunch of betas to catch up on. I have yet to play TERA, so that's on my list. I want to play more Firefall, then of course, I want to get into Star Wars: The Old Republic's Explosive Conflict operation. So much to do and so little time to do it.

I'm kind of indifferent about beta weekends. For the developers putting them on, they appear to be a great idea because the devs can pretty much sit back and gather data to work on for the next week. It also prevents them from having to concentrate on server upkeep during the week. However, for people (like yours truly) whose major playtime is during the week, it kind of sucks. It means I have to make time to play during a beta weekend. I'm not real keen on taking time from my family to test a game.

Matt Daniel, Contributing Editor
@mvmatt: I will be up in Yank territory to explore PAX East with some of my fabulous coworkers, so this little Southern boy will be trying not to freeze in the 50-degree Boston weather (that's chilly, dammit). Aside from that, I will be dipping my toes into World of Warcraft with the boy and maybe be a super-nerd and play Guild Wars with Lis during breaks on the con floor. I don't even know at this point, but who cares? I'm going to PAX!

I really have no opinion on beta weekends aside from the fact that I prefer 24/7 betas. I hate not being able to help beta test a game that I'm really excited about because its beta schedule doesn't match up with my own.

MJ Guthrie, Aion and Sandbox Columnist
DOUBLE XP! I will be putting all of my weekend gaming time into EverQuest II to soak up as much double XP as I can (I am woefully short on AA since I left before it was implemented). And with Aion's 3.0 launching next week, I may not see EQII again for a while. No other games will be happening because I will be enjoying the holiday with my family and munching my yearly white chocolate bunny!

I can see both sides of the beta weekends coin: It's great that companies can gather info and work out bugs during the week, but it really sucks when your play times don't coincide with the prescribed beta hours. Personally, I need betas so that I can have the requisite two weeks I need to actually make my character; if I waited until launch I would never get to play with my friends!

Patrick Mackey, League of Legends Columnist
@mackeypb: More League of Legends, although I'm sure that surprises no one. I'm really focusing on Kassadin now; I end up having to play Yorick in most of my games due to a lack of a bottom-laning teammate. I'd really like to play a non-bottom seriously, but it's just not possible without premades.

I'm not a big fan of beta weekends mostly because it prevents number-crunchers from actually figuring much out about the game. To me, they're just pre-release information dumps that allow us to get a head start. Even compared to other people in the beta, we generally learn much more in the beta weekends than other testers. The beta weekends are better stress tests and more indicative of early post-launch activity than a typical open beta, but I personally find them annoying.

Terilynn Shull, Star Trek Online Columnist
@terilynns: I'll be playing Star Trek Online this weekend to participate in the First Contact Day events and the last day of Klingon Awareness Week activities. I have to come clean: I created another new character yesterday... my 12th. She's an alien tactical officer, and I'm already enjoying her quite a bit.

I've never really been a fan of beta weekends. When I consider the games I've been tempted to play, the thought of only getting a 48-to-72-hour crack at them doesn't nearly seem like enough time.

At the start of every weekend, we catch up with the Massively staff members and ask them, "What are you playing this week?" (Otherwise known as: WRUP!) Join us to see what we're up to in and out of game -- and catch us in the comments to let us know what you're playing, too!

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