Today we feature an editorial from Darkfall on WarCry where "Gamegoddess" looks at the Beta Date for the ever-in-development MMORPG Darkfall. Darkfall was supposed to have launched a few years ago, but the size of the company and other factors have kept it in production.
Article by Gamegoddess
In August of 2001 we were introduced to DarkFall. We were told that the game we had all been waiting for was on its way. We would have our housing, our full looting, and our free pking, everything we all missed from the old days of Ultima Online.
As I went and browsed the old forums from 2001, there was the talk of early sketches and first screenshots of the world. Things we could expect from an early idea. As I progressed through the forums for 2002, it looked like the early plans for most of the races and the early world was completed. Several interviews with Claus were showing up as well continued work on monsters, races and work on the website. During 2003 we saw more interviews, a few more screenshots and continued work on characters. There seemed to be a lot of work during this year, letting different sites know about the game. Late in 2003 DarkFall went into closed technical beta. On Jan 26, 2004 the community was given an update by Tasos giving the current status of the game which can be seen here if you scroll to the bottom. In April we were given another update that you can see here July of 2004 saw the community with another update which you can see here if you scroll to the bottom. 2005 was a quiet year according to the news forum with not much being released. 2006 there was another surge of pictures a trip to E3 and a great deal of dev releases. As 2007 arrived I found an early update in January located here. This looked very promising with the community being told that the team was not looking for investors and everything well in check.
The reason I chose this topic was as a person that has beta tested several games I do feel I understand the pros and cons of beta testing and in this cut throat industry we can all understand the importance of not leaking game information before release. As I tried to show above there has been information released continuously. Perhaps not as much as people would like but released none the less. The real thing that people want to know, just to have something to hold onto is when is the beta of DarkFall going to be released. I don't think anyone expects to be told such and such a day in whatever month. But I do think the DarkFall community wants to hear something like "in the next six months" or "late in 2007" or something. Instead we are told that wonderful little word of "soon" or "as soon as possible" or any number of other things that really translate into "we don't know".
How long is a community expected to blindly wait? Will they wait? Will they move on? I have often wondered and debated whether or not a dev team owes the community anything. Is their only responsibility to getting their game done? I myself don't think so. I think if they want to get their community hyped about their game they owe it to them to have contact with them on a somewhat routine timeline. If the team wants their game to be really wanted by the community then there has to be a solid bridge built. I don't agree with the philosophy that you can starve the community and expect them to survive on a crumb now and then. I think the game will be a much better seller if there is a great relationship with the community and this can only be done if the devs keep the community knowing what is going on and what to expect and this includes giving them some kind of an idea when beta will be.
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