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My thoughts on 1.7 dropping Tuesday!

On Friday afternoon, I was sitting at my desk getting ready to pack up and leave work when Road sent me an IM with two pieces of information:  We weren’t going to be able to get a show out this week due to several real life issues hitting us all AND SWTOR Game Update 1.7 will be launching on Tuesday, February 12th.

The ONE time Bioware gives us news on a silver platter, we can’t do it.

In lieu of a podcast, you will get a (not very) humble opinion piece from Russell about 1.7.

The Good:

YAY! We are getting new content! I always get excited about new stuff in my favorite virtual world.

Bioware reworked Illum.  We are supposed to see big things in Illum’s contested area that will hopefully revitalize PvP there.  Accompanying this is a two week long world event.

Furthermore, we have a reputation system. While I understand the “meh” from a lot of people about this, one of the things that make MMOs feel “living”, at least to me, is questing in a zone and seeing a “bored 50” who wants to hang out in game but doesn’t want to do “Raids, Instances, or PvP”. This is a very common way to encourage this. I will do some of it, but I won’t farm it unless I get a stat boost.

Yes, I love this game, and I’m SO VERY excited to see what stories I can find. Bioware does a better job on this game then they are given credit for. I think it will be AWESOME AND FUN!

The Bad:

Wait, it’s going right to production without hitting the public test server?

I’ve ranted and raved a great deal on Bioware’s lack of use of the test server. While the Rackghoul event demonstrated that they have the ability to release to directly to production, I worry. You see, TOR has a Public Test server. However, it is almost always unavailable except for a short window before dropping a major patch. In this case, I wonder why they chose to skip the test server.

Many people on my server (myself included) deride Bioware for the bugs we encounter in SWTOR. However, I can attest that Software Quality Assurance is NOT easy. This is a prime reason why Public Test Servers for MMO content exist. This is not a case of a “content preview” like we see during the final rounds of beta just before release when companies try to combine stress testing of servers and marketing. A public test server should be a “True Beta” platform for testing. It’s OK to put content out there for “testing” and letting people always play on it, even during a “dry spell”. Before this game was released, I’d hopes of running in a PTS guild. No such luck.

I maintain that while I’m very excited to see what hits on Tuesday when I log in to work on my Explosive Conflict progression, I can’t help but realize that this software has not been exposed to a live production environment. It has not had players beating on it, looking for game breaking exploits, and falling through world geometry. (Illum is being reworked; this type of bug can be introduced). In software, it is impossible to test “everything”; QA needs to prioritize. However, a PTS environment is low hanging fruit in the quest for better software quality.

Don’t get me wrong. I am certain that there is an internal “staging” server that has been running 1.7 non-stop for a few weeks being hit by the test team. The testers are going through a long checklist of items and cases looking for problems. My RL job is Software Quality Assurance and I’ve worked at several different companies. That is how it works. In this way, the game industry would be no different. The only way that it would be different is that testers, developers, artist, administrators are all playing on it looking for issues.

I DO understand that Bioware wants to have surprise events. I’m OK with this. If they want to leave a surprise event OFF of the test server? I will accept that reasons exist for that happening. However, in the event of content like we are expecting on Tuesday? I am troubled that we aren’t seeing at least 2 weeks on PTS.

TL;DR

Yeah! New content on Tuesday!

Ugh, I can’t believe none of this is on the public test server before going live.

 

OK, back to tanking the Op. LETS DO THIS! LEEEERRRROOOOOYYYYY JEEEEEEEEENNNNKIIIIIIIIINSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!

-Russell

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