Norrathian Notebook: Remembering that Landmark is in beta

MJ Guthrie
M. Guthrie|10.23.14

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Norrathian Notebook:  Remembering that Landmark is in beta
Norrathian Notebook:  Remembering that Landmark is in beta
An interesting thing happened on my way to pay upkeep. It hit me full force that Landmark is indeed in a true beta. I know, I know -- I have said this before. And I know that I know it. Yet sometimes that fact still sneaks up and wallops me in the face! I mean, it's pretty obvious the game is incomplete (hurry to me, AI editor!) and that there are definitely bugs to squash. But for the most part, I have not be too inconvenienced by bugs, so I guess the fact that it's a beta just floated to the back of my mind.

That all changed this past week. I encountered a bug so big that it squashed me. In fact, it was so intense that it effectively prevented me from continuing my gameplay. That's when it hit me: After eight months of playing and enjoying Landmark, I had forgotten that this can actually happen. But it is important to remember, to keep this fact at the forefront of our minds. Why? It's not to be a defensive rallying cry for why something isn't in game/isn't working as intended; it's so we can get the game we want, sooner! How? By doing our job as beta testers.

True confessions

I'll be honest: I have been lax in reporting bugs. If a bug wasn't majorly game breaking, I was just brushing it off. After all, I am used to there being bugs in all games to one degree or another, and I am fairly tolerant of minor nuisances. But what if those little bugs I have been dismissing were actually information the team needed to zero in on something and fix it faster? What if they didn't even know about some problem and by not getting a heads-up and correcting it, that little hiccup led to some major meltdowns later? When you're a fraction of a degree off when plotting an course, early detection and correction is key to keep from going way off course where it is much more difficult and time consuming to correct. By not keeping on our toes and doing our beta-tester duties, we could be hindering the very progress we want so badly!

The bug that brought it all back

So what was the situation that brought me back to the knowledge that I was indeed testing a game instead of just playing it early? It's an amusing tale. (And who knows, even more details here may help the devs!)

I logged into game knowing that this was the day I really needed to mine my heart out and hoard some copper so I could maintain my plots that expired the next day. However, as soon as my pick hit the ground, the entire square patch of terrain disappeared! Whoa! That was trippy, but it also meant I couldn't see any copper I moved and drove my pick into the ground again. And what do you know -- that patch was gone too. Soon I had a design of terrain-less game surrounding me. Bad, right? How could I find my copper now? Well, it got worse! I panned my camera a different way and suddely the terrain all over was missing! Definitely an eensy bit game breaking to me. So I filled out a bug report. And that's when it really hit me that I should be doing it for the little ones as well as the big ones.

Just in case any of you runs into this, I devised a workaround after submitting a bug report. If I kept my camera in a certain position facing a certain direction, I would retain the presence of terrain. Now I just had to zoom out in order to see where copper was. By using WASD to move sideways, forward, and back so I never changed the direction I faced (which was East, if you were curious) and keeping the camera pointed to the ground, I could run between harvesting nodes. At that point I ran into another slight problem. Once I dug through a full node, I had to swivel the camera to try and get out! Didn't work. I couldn't even the lip of the hole to jump or grapple my way out. I ended up having to evac to get myself out of the hole I dug. So now, in order to try and preserve my claims, I had to make sure I was facing on direction, scroll way out, and be sure only to harvest the surface so my toon did not get caught underground. That means I couldn't deplete each node, which in turn meant that I had to travel and mine even longer just to harvest enough. Not especially fun. I can tell you I'd rather have logged out and just come back when it worked and wouldn't cause me all the hassle, but I really did not want to lose my claims, so I persevered.

Do your duty

After this escapade, I've been seriously rethinking my participation in the game. No, I won't stop playing! What I will do is be more alert for the bugs -- both big and small -- and report them. Instead of feeling as if I am bothering the devs with all the info, I should be thinking about how details will help them. I, too, want to help make it an awesome game us all to lose ourselves in. But I shouldn't concentrate all of that helpfulness just to content type items. I should be helping the infrastructure as well. You never truly know when your contribution will have a significant impact.

How we personally approach the game and what we do to help make it better does indeed affect how quickly we get the finished product we want. That is the point that was driven home to me this past week. There's no question that I want Landmark to be all that it can be; I am excited for the promise of the full game. Yet I must admit that while I have been enjoying the many aspects of the game that are already there, from building to ogling the work of others to PvP matches, I have forgotten a key component of being in beta -- namely, that bug reporting is why we're there.

As beta testers (and that is what we signed up to be), we're meant to actually test the beta. Sounds pretty obvious, right? Yes, you have spent some money to get in on this development phase, so participate in it! It really is our duty to help the team progress faster by testing and reporting the things we find. Sure, it is pretty spiffy to get to play early, and simply complaining about annoyances that interrupt your gameplay doesn't help at all, but keeping up to date on what bugs are known, adding input if you experience something different, and adding new reports can make all the difference in the final launch product. This is not a launched game yet, but your input can help get it to that point quicker.

If you are also participating in Landmark, let's get in the habit of using /bug to tell the team when stuff is a little off. Be a proactive part of this community collaboration and testing. It may very well help us get the game we want (including EverQuest Next) quicker!

The EverQuest realm is so big that sometimes MJ Guthrie gets lost in it all! Join her as she explores the franchise's nooks and crannies from the Overrealm to Timorous Deep. Running biweekly on Thursdays, the Norrathian Notebook is your resource for all things EverQuest Next and EverQuest II. And keep an eye out for MJ's Massively TV adventures!
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