Beta testing (and) real life


Spring is still just barely beginning here in southern Norway.

A few days ago, I was invited to a closed beta test of a game. Well, let us not give more details than that, closed beta tests are very secret. I accepted; after all, being invited to closed beta is a great honor. This is particularly true in this case, since I had not asked, applied or in any way taken any initiative to get invited.

For the non-gamers that may read this, testing usually proceeds in three phases: Alpha tests are done in-house, by the developers themselves and quality assurance personnel, and whoever else in the company may be useful. Then comes the closed beta, where a limited number of outsiders are brought in. Their task is to try to break the game by bizarre behavior, and then report any bugs and glitches to the developers. Finally there is the open beta, if any. This is typically only for online games, and serves to test how the game holds up under heavy load.

Beta testers are not paid for their work, but have early access to the game. The job also confers some bragging rights, but not until the closed beta is over. Until then, nobody must know that you are testing it. As soon as the non-disclosure is lifted, you can tell everything and preen like a rooster.

The extremely loyal reader will remember that I spent about a month absorbed in such a test, back in March 2004. It won’t be so noticeable this time, but I am not allowed to tell you why. Let’s just say that if I don’t update every day, it is probably because I don’t have anything to say, not because I am spending all my time playing.

Actually I can easily write even if I have nothing to say, but I try to keep it down.

As proven by today’s photo, I also took the time for a real walk in real life. The body needs to be reminded regularly that it is still in use. Of course, some of us believe that real life is in closed beta as well, that we are here by invitation and that a greatly improved version will be released later. It is sometimes hard to say what things in real life are bugs and which are features, but we faithfully report any dubious events to the creator like good beta testers do.

No matter your views on that, we can agree that real life has amazing graphics and an unrivalled attention to detail. The sense of “being there” is just amazing, if you take the time to stop and just look around, listen and feel. This is strongly recommended from time to time, at least if you live in an area where there is little risk of sudden monster attacks.

As for me, the bugs are the only monsters today. There are bugs in my throat that keep me from dictating, and bugs in my finger hangnail that get in the way of typing. But bugs and all, I’m glad to be here.

3 thoughts on “Beta testing (and) real life

  1. The concept of “winter loosening its grasp” is awesome to me. Of course, any real concept of “winter” is somewhat foreign. I’m all sweaty from being outside putting plants out into my new garden, while you watch the ice slowly fade! (Yes, your post was mostly about the beta testing, but not being a gamer myself . . . I like the photo best!)

    • I was surprised the picture turned out this good, and even then I mostly kept it for the play of light in the sky. The long white and brown spring is not very photogenic, I’m afraid. The green spring that follows is, but that is still a month away.

  2. Your white and brown spring beats our yellowish, dead-looking winter and fall. Lack of rainfall made even our unusually balmy winter very dead indeed.

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