So today's post is going to be short, but somewhat information dense. I will start keeping things short since we are now completely in the thick of getting this game to the finish line.
To register for the beta, we have decided to take a pretty "simple" route in order for you to take the first step;
(1) simply submit your email here: http://www.gamersfirst.com/apb/ in the "stay up to date" box. Make sure you give us one that we can actually reach you on - and not the 14 minute email variation :).
(2) Create a GamersFirst account (preferably with the same email, though not required)
That's it at the moment is the actual first required sign-up step (simple - eh).
But then it gets a little trickier. About 2 weeks before the closed beta (which probably means on or about the first week in February), you will receive an email sent to the address you submitted above. That email will have a unique link where you will go to activate your beta request. In order to do so you will be asked to submit a lot of additional data, among other things your DxDiag (if you don't know that is, then you might not be a great closed beta candidate) and some additional information about you, as well as about your system and your own background as a gamer. Once we have verified the data, we will then send you back your actual beta key. If you feel like you don't want to share the additional data being asked of you, you can always back out of the process, and just ask to be notified about the Open Beta when that's ready instead.
So far we have received about 20,000 emails that have registered their interest in the game at the above location, and we do expect that about 10%-20% of players who sign up for the email notification will in fact fulfill all our closed beta registration requirements.
Our goal is to have a closed beta with approximately 6,000 - 8,000 fully registered and confirmed players, which roughly means we'd expect to see 800 players online at peak times during the closed beta, which would be sufficient to test all the various system components before going in to the bigger Open Beta.
So why are we gathering this extra data, and why have a Closed Beta in the first place?
The question of "why have a closed beta" came up in a previous series of blog replies. It might seem obvious to us why we want to run the game with a limited audience as first pass. But happy to clarify.
For one thing, there are several components that have been updated since the game went dormant. Among them are the Vivox voice over IP libraries, the installation and unpacking components, and there will be some new components we need to test in order to see what might be normal vs. "abnormal" gameplay (you know what I am referring to :) ). As part of this process it's critical we gather data on as many diverse machines and systems as possible. Thus we need to get as many normal, common, uncommon, unusual, strange, weird and just plain odd system configurations into the beta as possible. If we don't think we have sufficient "diversity" in systems we would need to seek out more closed beta testers (though at this point that should not be a big problem).
The second main goal will be to test some of the new balance and progression systems. They will not at first be extremely different than what they were during the original run of the game, however, these progression changes are now "starting their journey" toward incremental change for the real long term (and we hope - improvements), so we need to see how people interact with them during the game run.
What do you "Get" for participating in the beta?
In return for giving us a bunch of extra data, and taking the survey when you sign-up for the beta (and then spending hours in the game) we plan to give you something lasting. As a thank you to our beta testers we expect to give away a token that shows you were a beta tester back in the day. Trust us, we will not forget who you were :)
Finally - what about those pre-existing characters and accounts from the old game?
First of all NO PRE-EXISTING ACCOUNTS will be part of the closed beta. During the closed beta you will create throw-away accounts. That's the purpose of closed beta.
So this topic is one we will come back to later on, before Open Beta, but at the moment we are trying to allow players to reclaim "lost and found" items as part of the Open Beta (maybe in the "San Paro Lost and Found Department?").
Not all details are finalized for this (since it's really not part of the first beta) - but a few things are pretty clear at this point, and I am happy to share them (though it's possible some will have to be modified down the line);
- YES - we plan on letting players of the original APB game reclaim the original content (ie characters etc.) that existed at the time the game shut down, since that data is considered "game content." This would give you most (if not all) customizations, gear, and character names back that you had during the first run of the game.
- NO - we are likely to NOT give you back all the progression data (though some, but this particular point will be explained in much more detail before Open Beta since part of the changes to the game itself relate to progression).
- YES - you will need to create a NEW user account (a G1 account that is) before you can reclaim your characters, which means you have to basically sign up and agree to the new terms of service that govern the use of all G1 accounts (ie your old RTW account cannot sign you in to the game or anything else)
- NO - we will NOT have any of your original payment data on our side, and therefore you also will have no RTW points or cash-equivalent credits. We simply have no information about anything you bought via EA, Digital River nor Steam. So we will have no idea what you did or did not purchase back during the original run of the game. No point in asking us. We simply don't know. If you tell us you spent a bizillion dollars we might feel really sorry for you. And the best sad story might very well win you some sympathy and recognition from our development team. But we simply don't have the data (nor the money) from whatever happened back then. Remember, that company simply does not exist any longer. I know I am going to have to repeat this information many times :(
- and finally it's LIKELY - that you will be able to "patch-up" to the new game from the original installation. This gets a little bit tricky due to how patching is handled - but it at least appears plausible. Therefore, at least keep any old installations of the game around if you have the space on your drive, since it will save you a lot of content download time. However, we will get back to you before launch to verify this last part.
Back to work....