Monday, March 19, 2012

What CCP can learn from the StarHawk Beta

Recently we had the chance to get some extended time inside the PS3's Starhawk beta and while the gameplay was solid and strangely addictive, we were actually more impressed with how well the beta itself was done. We only hope that the Dust 514 beta will be as organized and well-executed. Many people's first experience's in Dust will be in the beta period and so it has to show potential, solid gameplay and the ability to tune gameplay elements that may not be polished. Here are some of the things we noticed in the Starhawk beta that we'd like to see CCP do well.

1. Tweak, Tweak, Tweak - We were shocked to see beta version 1.05 when we finally downloaded Starhawk. Now that is some serious interest in getting things right. The Dust 514 beta needs atleast that many. Nothing ensures a games success more than good gameplay and exposure like a beta period that is done correctly.

2. Go Feature-Heavy - Look at all the options in the Starhawk beta. Even the things that are disabled like Customization and the MP Homeworld section give you a glimpse of the many options you'll have in-game. Bare bones betas are simply not en vogue any longer. They only serve to scare away potential buyers.

3. Make it Pretty - Never forget that you're competing not only with other titles but with the great concept artwork that is shown regularly. Gamers expect a great looking game as a given with today's console and they will not give you a mulligan simply because your game is F2P. Do yourself a favor and don't give the graphics whores anything to complain about.

4. Grouping - Too many games these days make the mistake of not including a a grouping mechanic in their beta version, scare clans away and make organized players nervous. "It'll be fixed in retail" is a guarantee of nothing. Organized players have little interest in playing with randoms. Developers need to accept the fact that gamers today want to play with their friends or clanmates and do their best to facilitate that. Really want to impress? Give users the ability to merge separate groups as well.

5. Clan Features - FACT: Starhawk's BETA gives more options for clans than in the retail versions of many games. That's saying alot. The ability to outline a clan bio, add members, change settings, and view recent news the moment the game launches are all good ways to make betas more user-friendly.

6. Explore - We simply LOVED the ability to learn the maps in StarHawk by ourselves without pestering enemies. While this option could be better served by being offline, we certainly applaud it being added into the game.

7. Duration - We've gone on and on regarding short betas that only serve as a one week demo to advertise titles right before release. StarHawk's beta is over two months old and is continuing to iron out issues that they want to be resolved by the time the retail version launches. Dust must embrace this model and provide us a beta period long enough to deliver on the promise of truly revolutionary gameplay.

We hope the Dust 514 beta period is done with as much foresight and attention to detail as the Starhawk's. It can only do a good job of tuning, perfecting the gameplay and advertising the game as well. It will also do a great job of delivering to us a retail version that many users will be more than eager to download.


  1. SH too casual for me but i agree the beta is really done well.

  2. *goes to download starhawk beta*

  3. I hope CCP pays GOOD attention, we are after all future customers :D

    CCP I love you and what you have done with EvE but plzzzzz Take This to heart and use the knowledge they are giving you..... I thinks this is all.

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