Saturday, October 27, 2007

Rehersal: Sucking the Life out of Uru Live

We all know there is a Rehearsal Server for Uru Live. Said Rehearsal is for large crowds of people do final bug testing on the upcoming content for Live. No big secret, that's what test servers are for.

And, like most test servers, people participating are NDAd six was to Sunday. The first rule of Rehearsal Club, is you will not talk about Rehearsal Club.

Rehearsal was the first chance people had to glimpse Uru Live, so of course all the die hards who'd been clinging to Uru since the death of Prologue jumped at the chance. And they continue to recruit for beta testers for Rehersal.

So, what can we extrapolate from this information?

1) There is a place where Uru Live new content is available to a large portion of the player base, weeks in advance of release.

2) People on Rehearsal are not allowed to talk about the content they see, but they are expected to work through it.

This implies that a unnumbered segment of the player base is ACTIVELY PLAYING NEW CONTENT weeks in advance. We can guess that not only are they seeing new and shiny things, but that they are exploring, solving puzzles, and speculating on what they find, all in an enclosed, isolated space, and they *can't talk about it to the rest of the player base*

That means that when content hits Live, there's a large segment of the player base that is ALREADY DONE with the new content, and is already waiting for the next thing.

And, given the pre-live recruitment, we can infer that many of the Rehearsal population is the REALLY BIG FANS, who used to be publicly seen speculating and solving puzzles, and now are keeping their mouths shut.

No WONDER things are slow in Live! If the real sparks of the community are off Exploring on Rehearsal, and just twiddle their thumbs and be social in Live, their Explorer energy and enthusiasm is wasted on Live. Instead of OMG CHECK IT OUT all over the forums when content hits, people are ho-humming, in part because they've already BTDT.

And I'd be willing to bet money that there are people who spend more time in Rehearsal than they do in Live. I'd even be willing to be that there are people who never come into Live at all anymore.

How is that good for Live? The rationale is that GameTap gets their money and numbers either way, but what does it do for the dynamic of the cavern? When a portion of the community, likely some of the most active members, are restrained, restricted and in some cases not even around, how does that make things look to new people?

The solutions range from the extreme: Boot everyone off of Rehearsal, and only recruit from outside the fan base; to the complicated; Make people earn Rehearsal access through time in Live; to the theoretically possible: Make at least two Rehearsal teams, A and B, and alternate their access.

But really, something needs to change. Beta testing is a needed, vital step. But in this case, it really looks as if that step is coming at the expense of the final product.


Anonymous said...

Actually, you are quite incorrect on a number of counts.

1) The Rehearsal server is only open for two weeks before a release to Live. So the beta testers ONLY have two weeks to test. The rest of the time the test server is shut down.

2) The general "excitement" has little to do with... more like nothing to do with the Rehearsal testers, that granted are not allowed to say anything... but are not all that excited either.

This brings us to some more realistic concerns. People are not excited about the content because there is nothing new. We have all seen the content being released. The only "real" excitement was for Minkata, other than that, there was some for Jalek... which was very short lived and people became bored with very quickly.

This brings us to the inevitable (as much as I hate to say this) that the is not enough support for a game where there is generally nothing to do but socialize... in other words the game is boring and people are leaving because of this.

Yes, I'm and avid fan, but even that is waining and I myself have considered leaving. Not because of the people or because of Cyan, but because there is NOTHING to do, no where to explore that I haven't seen a hundred times already, no new puzzles to ponder over, just rehashed content. The fear that IF we see Season Two is that content will consist of EoA stuff. Granted, while somewhat newer... again it is nothing new.

I understand Cyan is under staffed. I understand that the budget is very tight. I understand that the players are getting bored. I understand the the story line... well there is no story line. I'm beginning to believe that Myst should have stopped at Myst III and be done with it. Seems quite common that after the 3rd game in any series, it severely goes down hill from there.

So anyway, your assessment is quite wrong and incorrect.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, everyone is bored. However, my guess is that the rehearsal situation just aggravates it.

If the rehearsal people have two weeks to test, then they are already two weeks into whatever progression of interest. So lets say it took people a week to be bored by Jalak. All those people would already be bored for a week by the time Jalak hit live. Now, if many of the most vocal members are in rehearsal and their week of interest cannot be shared with the players at large. So, any sort of infectious interest they might generate is lost.

Is rehearsal the 'reason' for Uru's problems? No. But it might be silencing (or at least hampering) some of the more engaging people in the community. That can't be helping.

EleriCooks said...

Is rehearsal the 'reason' for Uru's problems? No. But it might be silencing (or at least hampering) some of the more engaging people in the community. That can't be helping.

Just that. Is Rehearsal the only issue? Nope. Is it not helping? Yup.

Anonymous said...

This has been worrying me as well lately... Beta testing is needed, but it's not really helping to keep the "URU" image, that of the deep city bursting with life again. It sucks but there's nothing that can be done about it I think.

Papa G said...

Hey, guess what, I WAS in the rehearsal! But then again, UL died just yesterday! WHOO HOOO!!! Forget the NDA (or what?).

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