Some lessons from VIP Beta …
The beta has been over for more than a week now, and we have been busy processing the forum & survey feedbacks. Today, we would like to share those results with you: what went right and what went, well, less right … We won’t detail each and every point, but focus on the most pronounced stats to give you a general overview of what lessons we have learned from this VIP beta.
777 beta testers (so far) have filled and sent back the form, which for such an event is a pretty good score. The statistics given below are based on that number.
But first, here is a snapshot of you, people.
The overwhelming majority (90%) of beta testers is 18+ years old, with half of you being even 25+ years old. Only under 5% of you are new to or unfamiliar with RTS, with over half (55%) styling themselves as a RTS reincarnation of Sun Tzu (expert).
As was to be expected, about two third (63%) of the testers are familiar with or veterans from our Wargame series, yet there are still 15% of newcomers whom had never played any of this series’ installments.
THE ISSUES AT HAND
Now, let’s consider the main issues emerging from that survey.
The zoom level drew most of the fire, with either the camera being considered as set too low, either the vehicles & buildings being too big. One point though, is that the most adamant ones against the zoom are (as we expected) mostly Wargame veterans, used to the unconstrained IrisZoom.
The zoom level was set that way to match the combat range, and for the sake of visibility. With some people already complaining about the readability of infantry units, we can’t raise the zoom much further. Nonetheless, we are working on some alternate solutions to improve that aspect:
- downsizing some of the biggest buildings.
- improving the readability of the minimap.
- improving the satellite view.
While the three-resources economic system (plus banks & electricity) was validated, one particular facet of it was poorly received: the break-up of resources between different bases/networks. And consequently, the need for one to generate supply lines between main and secondary bases to supply one with a specific missing resources.
The great majority of testers (65%) never or seldom created a secondary network, nor considered the concept of managing multiple networks with their own resources interesting. We thought it would bring more depth to the game, but were aware it could be a risky move. That is why we wanted to put it to the test in this beta.
It might have to do with the lack of feedbacks explaining how it works, but we are nonetheless acknowledging the massively negative opinion, and will remove that aspect.
Pace of the game
Although a bit more than half the testers considered the pace as well balanced, the survey revealed some issues about it. General pace of the game is regarded as OK by about 55% of testers, while the rest is evenly split between “too fast” and “too slow“! What could be the reason of such a clear-cut rift?
If we look more closely into the specifics, it appears that a good part of the testers, even if not the majority, consider the pace of combat as too fast. And on the other hand, the pace of economic income is seen as too slow, with the durability of resources fields, considered too short, being the main gripe.
We think this is the reason for such diverging opinions about the general pace. We will work on balancing the combat and economy ones more finely in order to improve the general pace of the game.
If a majority of testers considers the air strikes ergonomics OK, the same was not true about air combat and planes behavior ingame. Both have received mediocre reviews in terms of planes’ speed, size, dogfight, …
We acknowledge the feedbacks and will rework our copy on that matter.
… or the lack of them. Well, it doesn’t come as a surprise for, as we forewarned in the disclaimer, we knew we will have to work on that before release although maybe not as much as this beta revealed.
Therefore, improvements on that aspect are a given.
THE GOOD STUFF
Everything isn’t dark and gloomy, this beta also provided us with clear confirmation that we were on the right track about most of the game’s core mechanics.
Overview & ratings
From our point of view, as a mean of test and validation (or not), the beta was a success: the level of attendance was high and remained steady all over the week-end, and the netcode hold up well. Although there are always some who encountered major technical issues, those were a rare instance.
Ratings have been very good, with over 75% of the testers giving it at least a mark of 7/10, more than 50% one of 8/10 or more, and more than 25% one of 9/10 or more. Which rates Act of Aggression as our most successful beta so far …
Apart from the income pace mentioned earlier, the overall resources systems was endorsed by a large majority of the testers, with the three different resources receiving 70% of positive review, the need to harvest them and to create supply lines ~75%, their random location and the need to survey for them ~80%,
The alternate income mechanism brought by the banks also received ~80% of positive review.
The need to produce electricity to sustain your own base, and the ability to cripple your opponent’s by striking at his generators before a full-scale was also voted in by more than 90% of testers.
The three maps presented with the beta have been validated by the testers, with all three receiving a majority of positive votes, between 70 and 90% depending on the question asked, with usually the quantity of resources on the map being the weak point.
Finally, with 80 to 90% positive reviews, and about half the testers even giving the best mark, the buildings and units tech trees and upgrades received a clear validation!