While idly perusing MMO-Champion I came across this and promptly succumbed to dilemma overload. When TBC and WotLK beta options came out, I just ignored them. I decided to wait and just see the new content with everyone else. Turned out it wasn’t ‘everyone else’ though. Just about everyone and their dog had a beta key – well it felt like that anyway. I promptly got fed up hearing about how good the new content was from those who got the beta keys – “I’ll send you some screenshots too”. Oh yes, please do, I’d be lost without knowing how much fun you are having in every last graphic and pixellated detail….
The other side of it was people I was playing online with at the time (especially TBC) disappeared from the usual server we played on to the Hip-Kid Club server where only the Chosen Few (well it seemed like Chosen Many to me) were allowed to go. So the social side of idly chatting while playing died a bit too. Of course when they did show up it was ‘you wouldn’t believe how good the new zones are, let me tell you about…..’ Well that’s great, I’m really happy for you, would you now just please shut the f*ck up about the new expansion. How do you tell a friend, who is obviously excited and very positive about something, that you are tired of hearing about it? The answer has to be extremely bluntly or not at all. I’m pretty sure I did both at times.
Once the expansions shipped, those who had the beta keys became gurus. “Oh the quest item? Yeah, its round about X,Y next to the dead ice wombat. (Thanks) And watch out for the ice wombats (Its fine, co-ords were great) they have this really nasty attack that paralyses you with tedium (OK, I’ll find the rest out when I get there) but they drop good amounts of gold (That’s enough now) and have a 4.75% chance to drop a green (Shut Up), a 0.35% chance to drop a blue (Please shut up) and a 1% chance to drop Eternal Components (I hate you) and they’re skinnable (arghhhhhhh, what’s that f*cker’s home address, where is my axe and how soon can I get there?) Every last detail given in a helpful manner, whether you wanted it or not. Scratch that, especially when you did not want it.
Third time round and its the Cataclysm beta. Send in your details to Blizzard and if you are lucky a beta key will be yours. So along with getting access to the shiny new content first, the real deal about having a beta key is the ability to show off. You also have the chance to ostracize your close friends in the short-term and seriously piss off what remaining friends you have further down the line when you decide to be helpful. This should be and can be avoided. It just needs to be managed properly.
There is no point in having a beta key if no one else knows how you are one of the privileged and select few, elevated by Blizzard to a lofty position above the common masses. To be fair you probably already suspected this was the case, but its nice to see it finally confirmed by Blizzard.
First thing is immediately place a post on your guild forums giving your name on the hip-kid server, so you can ‘meet up with friends who are also there’. This ensures the common masses in the guild immediately appreciate your lofty new position.
Second up is reinforcement. When someone asks you if you want to join for any sort of group, do point out how you were just about to go off to the beta servers, but you don’t mind helping out, you’ll just go to the beta servers later. This reminds them of your lofty position, demonstrates you remain a benevolent type offering help and guidance when you would rather be doing something else and allows you store a favour in the bank for later manipulation.
Thirdly, when absent for a while log back on and announce in guild chat how you are sorry you haven’t been about much, but you have been busy with the beta and ask what’s been happening, ignore the answers, what you are looking for is some poor schmuck to ask you “So what’s it like?” You can now hold court while they hang onto to your every word, grateful for the scraps of knowledge you generously bestow.
Next is keep them hanging on. Don’t give out all the info at once, milk the situation for all you can. Maintain an air of mystery, be the enigma. If anyone asks you something you don’t know or can’t be bothered explaining, just remind them under the terms of the NDA you aren’t allowed to tell. Make sure you say NDA a few times, it always sounds cool and professional.
Lastly is bow out like a pro. When the game does ship to the masses its time to prepare your exit. You will have a couple of weeks while the rank and file play catch up, but catch up they will. You will need to compose an air of boredom. You’ve been there, seen that, done it all already and having done so its time to move onto the next big thing. Complain about the servers being too busy, and all these people in the same zones causing lag, no one can play properly like that. Besides, you can mention you have just received a key to the new LOTRO expansion beta so you’ll do that while things calm down with the noobs in the new zones and you’ll let people know how its going.
So in the face of all this, there is only really one question: Did I sign up for the beta key? Of course I did, I’m just not proud of it.
PS Work intervenes again, wont be about much for most of the next week.