The Playtest

So I read in another thread someone mentioning that we are beta testing Next. The thing is that we are not beta testing Next, we are part of an incomplete game and very much a part of the alpha testing phase of the game.

The idea that this is a nearly finished product has been in many people's minds and people seem to over react about certain things.

I think it is important that everyone involved with the playtest realizes that the game is still in the alpha stage.


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Agreed.  But nerd passion and vitriol runs deep and fast.
Well, i'm not so sure

According to Mike Mearls from the 10/15/2012 Legends and Lore:

The core D&D game, which is the starting point for new players and the game of choice for veteran players who want a streamlined system, is mostly done at this stage



So it sounds like the core of the game is done and we really are doing a beta test.  This seems to fall in line with the idea that GenCon 2013 is going to be the release (or something like that).

 
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Well, i'm not so sure

According to Mike Mearls from the 10/15/2012 Legends and Lore:

The core D&D game, which is the starting point for new players and the game of choice for veteran players who want a streamlined system, is mostly done at this stage



So it sounds like the core of the game is done and we really are doing a beta test.  This seems to fall in line with the idea that GenCon 2013 is going to be the release (or something like that).

 


Your idea of 'core game' is not his idea of core game.  We're definitely not in beta.  Definitely not.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
We're definitely not in beta.  Definitely not.

Yeah, especially if Expertise Dice and how to use them (and by which PCs!) is still in flux, and other classes and mechanics (spellcasting systems) aren't present.

In memory of wrecan and his Unearthed Wrecana.

Also keep in mind that where the devs are, and were we are, are two entirely different places.

Mearls has said on more than one occasion that he sometimes has difficulty talking about things we take as current but are actually steps behind where they are behind closed doors.
I think what he means by "Core" is that they've decided:

• Task resolution will be used primarily with a d20

• It will be a class-based fantasy RPG

• There will be six ability scores (Str, Dex, Con, Int, Wis, Cha)

• There will be a mechanic called Advantage/Disadvantage

• There will be Backgrounds (with modular intent) which are tailored to fit a specific list of Skills

• There will be Feats (with modular intent) which are received at 1st level, at 3rd level, then every 3 levels afterwards

• There will be Saving Throws based on Ability scores, not derived stats. This is actually pretty big since Derived saving throws have been around for 20+ years.

• HP is calculated via an individual class's HD + Con modifier. There will probably be varying rules to adjust how much this will represent.
 
• There will be a HD mechanic which shows how much you can gain for your Hit Points, plus a non-magical way of healing outside of combat

This, to me, is the "CORE" functions of the game and are (for the most part) done or SET IN STONE. As it were. We're not in the Beta stage yet becuase we still have a LOT of playtesting to go through for the 4-classes as well as spells, magical items, higher level play, epic level play (level 11+), etc....
   
   
   
  
  
  
 
   
  
 
  
Alpha testing should never be seen by the general public.  When they design a rule, they should be testing it behind their doors, re-writing the wording, and checking to see if it works and where kinks might be. 

The public playtest is beta testing of those rules.  Beta testing doesn't mean that feedback can't come back and tell them they completely messed things up and have to go back to the drawing board.  

Unless they are trying some wacky experiment that I have never seen in product development - we are in a beta test and they are (at least behind closed doors) further along than we realize.

They don't have infinite time to do this testing, assuming that they are going to shoot for a release in 2014 we had better be pretty far along considering time to edit, get to print, etc.  

But who knows - they can extend the development if they wanted as long as they can find other sources of income in the meantime - perhaps all these reprints are just that.  If the reprints aren't bringing in enough money then Hasbro is going to explain that at shareholder meetings why they are letting the development of a new product take as long as it is, granted D&D is a small niche product, they are still going to be looking for a RoI for the money and time spent putting this together, sooner than later.
 
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Having way too much playtesting experience, I would put where we are at somewhere between late Alpha testing and early Beta.
I would lean more toward early Beta as this is seen by the public and there are mechanics, base ones, that are working well. It's easier to change things in a pen & paper style than hundreds, if not thousands, of unconnected lines of code. 
It's possible to finish by GenCon '13 if they already have everything done and are not really listening to the playtesters. So, I don't see this hitting shelves by then. 
I think we are in the Tau testing phase.  For the Greater Good!

Maybe it's in the Lambda Lambda Lambda testing phase.  But then arent all roleplayers always in that phase? 
The public playtest is beta testing of those rules.

No, it isn't.  It's not made into a beta just by virtue of being public. 

D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
The public playtest is beta testing of those rules.

No, it isn't.  It's not made into a beta just by virtue of being public. 



I'm sorry but we don't get to change the definition of what a beta test is. 

The definition of an alpha test is an internal test.  The definition of an external/public test is beta.

 
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Because nobody can ever change protocols, based on unique organizational needs? 

They're including the public in what everyone else would normally call an alpha.  That doesn't make it not an alpha, because alpha-level design and iteration is still taking place.

Insisting that we stick to a design process model that has assumptions that flatly don't apply in any way whatsoever to what we're actually doing is a sure-fire way to get things wrong.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
For all practical purposes we are testing breaking points, new ideas to see if they are valuable (the rogue using expertise dice is a good example), we have been given the ability to request major changes and when we don't like something to potentially completely change it.

Now let's look at the rogue. The rogue using expertise dice was added into the game without much playtesting on the designers part. (The rogue mostly using fighter maneuvers supports this).

The inclusion of the sorcerer and warlock early on was to test different ways of having magic in the game and this is completely changing now.

Hence we aren't in beta testing.
Because nobody can ever change protocols? 

They're including the public in what everyone else would normally call an alpha.  That doesn't make it not an alpha, because alpha-level design and iteration is still taking place.



We don't see the alpha level design.  If us being alpha testers were true  by what you are stating then as soon as they had the concept for an idea it would go straight out to us to test.  There would be no checking it against other things, no refinement of the rule, etc.  It would be no different than people who post their little ideas for suggestions for rules on this board.  There would be far more unbalance and conflict in rules.

That is not what is happening.  

Also, if that was true, then Mearls other comment that what we see as current and what they think as current being two different things would be false.  

Even if D&D Next was still in an overall alpha stage, we are not alpha testers, we are beta testing the things they feel are ready for us to see.  Right now they probably have enough material together that they could publish something like one of the original basic D&D books that covered the 4 classes, a few races, and levels 1-5.  

 
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We don't see the alpha level design. 


And your evidence for this assertion is...what, exactly?
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
We don't see the alpha level design. 


And your evidence for this assertion is...what, exactly?



The fact we aren't seeing new material every day.  

If we were alpha testers we would be getting material every day for us to review against the material the day before (and sometimes even material a few hours ago).  We may get more than one option for us to test and give our feedback on which one worked best at the time.  

The fact that our playtest packets are typed out - if this was alpha stage we would have a quick forum post, a quick email, or some scribbled out notes 

No matter where in the development lifecycle D&D Next is, WE are not alpha testers.   
Welcome to ZomboniLand - My D&D Blog http://zomboniland.blogspot.com/
So, basically, your assumptions as to how RPG development works, completely devoid of any actual reality of what WotC is doing.

Here's the deal.  I've participated in WotC alpha testing.  You know, things actually labeled "alpha" by the people developing it.  Some of it was rougher than the things in the Next public packets, but some of it was further along the path toward a refined system or subsystem. 

Bottom line:  people have this idea when you say "beta" that's not accurate to the process that we're going through.  They're still iterating, still redesigning, heck still creating major system components.  There's no way under any rational definition that that could ever be called a beta, whether it's public or not, whether their releases are prompt or not, or whether they include you on every internal communication.

Maybe it shouldn't be called alpha, either, but it's definitely not a beta, and it's definitely not as far along as people think it is when they hear "beta."
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
I am fairly certain that some of the ideas and game concepts that have been thrown at us are unrefined.
I am fairly certain that some of the ideas and game concepts that have been thrown at us are unrefined.



Some people would say that 3.xE was unrefined. that's all opinion...Smile
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The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
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The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
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