Alex’s Analysis – A Better Beta

posted by on 30th July 2012, at 5:40pm

You’ll have noticed it’s been mentioned when the Combat Beta came out, or if you’re an old-timer, you’ll have experienced it first hand. This is not the first time a beta of this scale came out for Runescape.

Previously, when Runescape 2 came out of Runescape Classic, it was almost a complete rewriting of the game. Not only was the inventory system different (no items that go into an equipable inventory, but you could hold 30 items), but the world itself was almost completely rewritten. Aside from the relative positions of landmarks like the cities, mines, and most quest locations, pretty well the entire world was rewritten to a point where it was almost an adventure to rediscover where everything was if you were a veteran of Runescape Classic.

Interesting thing about this inventory is that rather than pick out the best of some kind of armor, it was instead more beneficial to simply wear the best possible out of any different kind. Of course, I don’t miss it. At least I can now play in style, and it doesn’t take any extra inventory space.

Going back to the topic in mind, when the Runescape 2 Beta came out, it was also a case of being able to import your character in, play around a bit, and when the beta ended, everything you’ve done vanishes. Back then, though, you didn’t get free awesome from Lumbridge. Also, there were no limits; anybody member could jump in and try it out. Of course, there weren’t as many players back then. But otherwise, it’s pretty much identical to the last one that happened many years ago.

Now, I’ve said that Jagex have done a beta before. Back then, it was fun and interesting to the point where it was worth doing. And they have grown so much over the years that they’ve been doing everything better. The artwork, the music, the game mechanics, etc. But lately, I’ve seen a decline in content updates.

So, is the Combat Beta a better Beta than the last one? Is it more worth it than the last one to play despite losing everything afterwards?

The answer: In my opinion, no. I played it, had some fun and kicks watching my character completely dominate opponents with those sweet combo ultimate attacks. I also got to try wearing armor I would only ever get by soloing Nex (yeah right, I’d have better luck getting Third Age from a clue scroll…). For a while, I got to be almighty and powerful.

As I’ve explained over and over, though, once you are as powerful as you can possibly get, the game gets boring. There are no more goals to reach, you’ve become the best, and you’ve experienced as great of a feeling of glory as the game had to offer. So now when the beta ends and the combat system reverts to the alpha stage, I won’t have that awesome armor anymore, so it would seem much more slow and dull to me.

But for sake of argument, it’s not really supposed to be fun like this. You don’t play betas to gain any benefit from them. Betas are for testing stuff and getting feedback. Just randomly doing stuff, messing around, and finding bugs. Attempting to break the game. In fact, that’s the fun in itself. You’re testing unstable content (or else it wouldn’t be a beta), so all the fun comes from doing stuff that shouldn’t be happening.

And as an added bonus, you get to wear any weapons or armor you want, and get unlimited supplies of food, potions, summoning stuff, etc. That means that lesser players can enjoy the thrill of being as incredibly powerful as possible when the content is released. There’s also no risk involved in dying, as you didn’t lose anything (if you did, import save and it’s back – and no, you can’t trade holiday items in the beta), so running out into the wilderness in a blitz just whacking away at stuff was one of the first things I did.

Here’s something else, though. Back then, the beta ended, but the Runescape 2 world was released in an incomplete stage. There were still many bugs to go around, including several where I remember physically getting stuck in the game world. Bit of a nightmare when that happens, you know. Over the course of the months, you were given a few opportunities to transfer all your stuff from Runescape Classic to Runescape 2 (I even discovered a cannon cloning trick where I could get the cannon from Nulodion on both games and transfer one over – something I now regret doing).

It was still interesting, though. I remember stuck players calling out for help, offering to pay tens of thousands of coins for a teleport.

Will this happen as well with the Combat Beta? Will the beta become the alpha in an incomplete state, but stable enough to prevent any well game-breaking issues with players losing money and work? Probably not, as it’s simply a component in the game rather than an entirely new game engine.

For me, though, it’s no longer about playing for fun. And there are more than enough players playing it to find all the bugs out there. Not fun or necessary for me anymore. Yeah, maybe I’ll play a couple of new events as new content come out, but until the alpha comes out, I’m going to stick with what’s fun.

Until next time.

Cheers, cannoneers!

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