Module 16 Closed Beta Review

With the buildup towards module 16, there has been a lot of curiosity and controversy spread within the player base surrounding the decision on the part of cryptic to allow for some players to closed beta test the new module. As a member of this closed beta, I thought it would be interesting to the players who were not involved in this, for me to provide some insight on what it was like.

Initially, when I went into this playtest I was quite pessimistic about it. I had disliked module 15 so much on preview that I had already quit playing before it went live and I wasn’t expecting module 16 to be any better. I only really signed up initially to confirm for myself it would be more of the same and then just quit. But then it wasn’t and I was pleasantly surprised.

The Details:

  • These are the basic details of what we signed, how long the test lasted and in general how it worked:
  • We signed an NDA which prevented us from discussing anything that had not been released yet, up until it was available to the general public. This included screenshots, videos, the works.
  • The NDA was quite comprehensive, requiring details like our address and phone number.
  • Failure to comply with the NDA had the potential to result in a ban and/or legal action.
  • The playtest lasted 5 weeks, from when we started testing until it hit preview.
  • Originally there were 19 people involved, after about a week, 1 of them quit the playtest (for reasons not related to the playtest itself).

Developer Interactivity Within the Play Test

Depending on who you ask and when you asked them, the level of developer reactivity was either really good or really bad. Overall, I think it was good overall. Even if I did not get the response you wanted, I did get a response and often they would justify why they did a certain thing, even if I did not like it. In some cases, it made me consider things from a different angle, although there were some issues where I at the very least did not want to budge from. In the case of issues where neither side was willing to relent, we usually both just moved past them since debating them was counterproductive and moved onto things that were up for debate, as there were other matters which were not as set in stone.

For example, I complained a lot about the implementation of counter ratings in module 16, as it incentivizes the stacking of as few offensive stats as possible, as high as possible. This was not a point the developers were willing to contest, and so we moved on, but there was a lot of back and forth discussions about the different feats for classes. Some of the CW feats (for example Smoldering Recovery) were my suggestion and there were lots of cases like this where things got changed on recommendation, across various classes. However, there was the other side of the coin. Other players within the playtest felt like their feedback was ignored. At the same time though, I did write a lot more than most, which made it more likely that I would be responded to.

I think from a player perspective, one thing that was very frustrating is it often felt like the developers approached reading what we wrote with an, “I am right” perspective and didn’t really read over the contents of our post or acknowledge the reasoning in our arguments. This caused a lot of disgruntlement among the playtesters, with many of them wanting to give up entirely. I spent a very long time just trying to convince people that maybe they will be listened to, even though they felt like the developers were ignoring them and talking them down.

On the other hand, it was very obvious they were going out of their way to do their best for module 16, even if you didn’t agree with what they were doing. There were some cases where we got responses to questions as late as 1 am Cryptic time, during the weekend. Or long, detailed responses to questions we didn’t actually expect answers to. As the playtest went on the answers did begin to dry up, but I think this is more because they were under more and more time pressure and did not have the time to respond.

Player Feedback Within the Test

A big concern that I see commented on a lot by people outside of the playtest is that they “only chose yes men” and I can assure you, that was not the case. Everyone to some degree or another gave some critical feedback about something. For example, I was (and still am) very negative about the way counter stats are implemented, I think it would be better as a multiplicative function as the way it is currently implemented favors an all or nothing approach into stacking statistics.

I think player feedback was divided into two camps, those who coordinated the test and those who did not. I was part of a group of eight where we delegated who tested what, there wasn’t much time to test things and it made no sense for there to be redundancies, where multiple people check the same thing. As multiple people in that group of eight played the same class, not all classes were covered by our feedback, but for example Rainer (who played the same class as Viral) spent a massive amount of time testing the companion system, while Viral focused on testing Ranger.

Whilst this team-based approach was effective from our perspective and I would hazard a guess and say around 80-90% of the feedback provided came from within that group, it would be better if the developers had helped to organize something like that to begin with. If at the start of the test they had given us a schedule of what they would do in each week, we could have scheduled what we tested better and this would improve the quality of feedback given on our part.

How It Was Managed

I feel for a first try of something like this, it went quite well. Sure, there were some things that could definitely be done better, but overall as a pilot run of a playtest it went good. Probably the biggest let down was from the community itself, due to someone on the playtest leaking information to the public, but I think for future playtests more measures can be taken to try ensure it does not happen again, for example, cutting down on the number of people invited by having stricter invite requirements.

From this playtest, they can at least see who actively provided feedback and who did not, so it at least gives them a base moving forward. I think many of the content creators were invited just to promote the game, as opposed to actually providing feedback, which, in my opinion, is a mistake. By making those content creators sign an NDA, they cannot talk about the new module until everyone else can. As a result of this, they would be in no different position if they were not invited at all. If somebody is invited to help market something, they also need to be able to actually talk about it before it goes live. Otherwise, they have no purpose to be there.

The first videos to go live covering the new information were not even by players within the playtest it was those speculating on the blog posts who had no prior information to begin with. As a result of this, I would just cut down the people invited to only those who can give in depth feedback. It risks fewer leaks and reduces the amount of noise.

Another thing I would do better is communication. For example, we had no prior warning for when those blogs went live and when they did go live, we were unsure of what we could and could not talk about. Communicating this ahead of time would have helped us quite a bit. In addition to this, giving us some sort of framework for what would be happening on a week by week basis would also be great.

Speculation on the in Game Auction House

For many, this is a touchy subject and they feel it is unfair that some of us had an advantage going into module 16, knowing what to buy in advance as well as what would devalue and thus we should sell. I will be up front here and not mince words, I have no issues with this player advantage. Some of us spent 6+ hours a day in the evening basically doing unpaid testing, I essentially did not play the game at all. I see no issues why someone who is doing something like this, getting some benefit out of it, when the entire community is benefiting from their feedback.

Conclusion

To wrap this up, I think this play test was a tentative success. Whilst it could have been handled better, both by players and by the developers, the changes that were made and the level of back and forth feedback that occurred in my opinion helped to shape module 16 into a better mod.


What’s your take on the alpha? Did you participate and have had a similar experience? Share your thoughts and on our social channels, in the comments below, or visit our message board!

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27 thoughts on “Module 16 Closed Beta Review

  • Avatar
    March 5, 2019 at 8:29 am
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    Thanks for your thoughts. That was really insightful to see the what went on with testing on mod 16. Kudos for your hard work and for Rainer’s also. Lets hope your input will make mod 16 not just “nerfmountain”.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    March 5, 2019 at 9:38 am
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    Glad you’re still about, Sharp.

    In Mod 14, I also hated the very idea of Mod 15 Professions. But I now like it a lot, despite the bugs and glitches and glaring oversights.

    I fully expect Mod 16 to be far, far worse than Mod 6, but with all characters becoming the new class of “Cookie Cutter”.

    We shall see.

    At least I learned my lesson in Mod 6 and never even bothered upgrading companions, or even getting good ones, and used only Account-bound armour, weapons and rings so my Alts and their companions could share.

    But the overwhelming take home message from your post seems to be:

    “The Devs “know” best, even though they don’t play at all and five of them get simultaneously Hulk Smashed by a single PvP player, so they ONCE AGAIN ignored 95% of the feedback, while Sharpedge only got things changed because he hammered on and on and on and on about it.”

    Nerfermountain looks like it will Dumb Down the Game so that “Dumb and Dumber” look like Einstein and Stephen Hawking.

    😡

    Reply
  • Avatar
    March 5, 2019 at 2:47 pm
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    What I dint’t read in this post, that would be very interesting to know, is how the different classes got represented in this beta.

    That would explain why some classes have 10 pages feedback and some 1.

    or how some classes or better roles got utterly destroyed.

    Also about the auction house issue I don’t think that people get touchy about the 16 people that participated in the closed beta but about a wider circle around those 16 people that took advantage so don’t get touchy in your turn too.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    March 5, 2019 at 8:42 pm
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    ty for the thoughtful column. A lot of people are in full “chicken little” mode, and some of it is just resistance to change and/or the unfinished state of m16 on preview. Not all of it, ofc. It’s not all good, but there is a lot of good, and a lot of effort went into it (rather clearly). A balanced view, like the column above, is, imho, constructive. GJ.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    March 5, 2019 at 9:03 pm
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    Thanks for the info, I’m curious if anyone on the pay test team was an expert on the Warlock in the same way you are with the wizard. Most of the changes seen positive for the game but the Warlock class doesn’t have the same sense of fun play that the wizard does on preview.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    March 5, 2019 at 11:24 pm
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    noworries#8859 said:
    “Ability Scores affect different stats than they previously did, and are no longer different per class.”
    “On top of that, a given class has a set layout of initial ability score distribution.”

    Contractions of Fate says:
    You pig-shit stupid, retarded, game-destroying, spastic cunt!

    M16 Preview Stat Effects
    STR: Stamina Regeneration, Physical Damage Boost
    CON: Max hp, APG
    DEX: Critical Severity, Movement Speed
    INT: Control Bonus, Magical Damage Boost
    WIS Control Resist, Incoming Healing <—- Where is DC damage and outgoing healing?!?
    CHA: Companion Stat Bonus, Recharge Speed

    M16 Preview Stat Arrays
    STR CON DEX INT WIS CHA
    Rogue: 13 13 18 08 10 12
    Cleric: 10 10 08 15 18 13
    Wizard: 08 10 12 18 14 12
    Ranger: 16 12 16 10 08 12
    Warlock: 08 14 12 16 08 16
    Paladin: 12 18 08 12 14 08
    Barbie: 18 14 14 08 10 10
    Fighter: 16 16 14 08 10 10

    What the actual fuck?

    😡 😡 😡 😡 😡 😡

    Reply
    • Avatar
      March 6, 2019 at 9:05 am
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      Can one presume that these were prebuilt stat set ups purely for testing and when this mod goes live we will still have the options to place stats where we want and not be dictated to?

      Reply
    • Avatar
      March 6, 2019 at 10:19 am
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      Fucking bullshit, isn’t it? One of the first things I threw a fit about. Actually, the first thing I threw a fit about was the ninja-nerf of VIP by making all equipment identified, so those 25 scrolls a day people paid for are useless.

      Reply
      • Avatar
        March 6, 2019 at 12:36 pm
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        HOLY TURD. did you buy vip to get those id scrolls? really? what an idiotic arguement

        Reply
    • Avatar
      March 6, 2019 at 4:15 pm
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      I too am very upset by this particular change.

      Reply
  • Avatar
    March 6, 2019 at 2:07 am
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    This is from that troll server. Like anything from this server is taken seriously. Even the devs call this server a bunch of autistic trolls. Whatever you say can be chalked up as horse shit.

    So, no one cares expect all your troll accounts replying. Nothing has been set in stone, but all your tiny brains think its the end. I hope the devs change everything and you all look like the retards you are. I think is hilarious, you prance around like you’re the source. Fake. All fake. You just run a server as a power trip.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    March 6, 2019 at 4:56 am
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    I would agree with your ideas around more organization and direction for what to test – they did that, sort of, with week 1 and 2, but that direction fell off after that and even those directions weren’t that specific and devolved into simple patch notes instead. I think we, as testers, probably could have been more proactive as a group sharing schedules, in game handles, etc – often it was hard to know who was even online to work with so people who would have otherwise wanted to be included in group testing weren’t simply because people weren’t aware others were even online. NW is a big place when there’s less than 10 people online total… Cryptic certainly could have helped facilitated that a bit more, but mostly it was left to the testers to self-organize which wasn’t done in any broad way.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    March 6, 2019 at 6:24 am
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    I was in the playtest, but my contributions were pretty minimal, partly because I was on vacation the whole month….and connecting through a slow laptop from Cambodia or Vietnam is not really feasible. So, I could log in, look for inconsistencies in collections and such, but could not really play, So, much of my feedback was just things like “Obedient and Defiant companion gear gives the same bonuses, but should be different.”. I did complain pretty loudly about the the treatment of the primary stats, however….and will absolutely not be happy if that issue keeps on being ignored.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    March 6, 2019 at 9:19 am
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    So the “testing” wasn’t really much organized and they just let people login and proceed as how people usually would in the preview server?

    I agree with you that if some people are just there for publicity, those slots are better given to others who would like to really test stuff in a much organized manner.

    Auction House advantage is a “good” compensation, but better be stricter on how one is allowed to “help” for a more thorough testing for those that have the passion and time for it.

    Hopefully you can push that idea as we go on to the next mods!

    Reply
  • Avatar
    March 6, 2019 at 9:22 am
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    Without mentioning names, the distribution between classes of people I consider major theorycrafters looked something like this:

    1) Wizard – 1 (Likes changes)
    2) Cleric – 2 (but this class had the most overall representation, almost everyone had an opinion on it)
    3) Barbarian – 0
    4) Paladin – 1 (This person was happy with the changes)
    5) Warlock – 2 (1 was happy with the changes, the other was not)
    6) Rogue – 2 (Neither was happy)
    7) Ranger – 1 (Not happy)
    8) Fighter – 1 (Not happy)

    Reply
    • Avatar
      March 6, 2019 at 12:33 pm
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      oh god paladins are really doomed, give him our sincere thanks (NOT)

      Reply
    • Avatar
      March 6, 2019 at 1:32 pm
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      You forgot to mention the very lackluster answer from the legal team regarding the personal info on the NDA. Unless I was mistaken, there was also next to no reason to put the phone number in the NDA, seeing as none of the testers got any text message or communication from the dev team aside from the private forum.

      For the management section, you forgot one category: “because I can pull strings with Foss et. al”. Otherwise, they fell into the oddly handled marketing issue.

      You already did name a name. There is only one player that tested HR and you said that Viral tested Ranger earlier in the article. And it’s not hard to figure out which of the one Wizard main mentioned likes the changes when said user has posted that they’ve liked it.

      You miscounted the Fighter section, should be “0”. People like Kali mentioning that they “plan to test” doesn’t count.

      Reply
    • Avatar
      March 6, 2019 at 4:14 pm
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      Thank you for taking the time to make Neverwinter a better experience for the players. I appreciate your contributions to the playtest and to theorycrafting over the years!

      Reply
  • Avatar
    March 6, 2019 at 2:13 pm
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    ” I see no issues why someone who is doing something like this, getting some benefit out of it, when the entire community is benefiting from their feedback.”

    Yea, people who are guilty of insider trading generally don’t. It isn’t only that the playtesters ‘got some benefit’, but they also denied that benefit to all other players who didn’t get selected. Examples being that things like owlbear bub, low ranking insignias, and vorpals began being bought up en masse before the changes went live on preview. Then those same items were reposted at sometimes 10x the prior value. That denies regular players the ability to improve.

    If the idea is that playtesters should get ‘some benefit’ that isn’t a blatant exploit, thats what a set amount of compensation is for. Since you guys agreed to do the testing on a volunteer basis without any compensation in game or out, thats on you.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      March 10, 2019 at 7:55 am
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      I agree. It’s a scummy move by scummy people.

      Reply
    • Avatar
      March 11, 2019 at 11:34 pm
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      Luckily I think the testers had more leaks than the Iraqi navy. So if the game does continue this will never happen again.

      Reply
  • Avatar
    March 6, 2019 at 4:11 pm
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    I feel better about mod 16 having read this blog post.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    March 6, 2019 at 9:00 pm
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    There are some things about counter stats I like, some I don’t. I love that they’ve announced the various stat ratings at each level, but the duplicating of counter stats in certain situations seems idiotic to me. So essentially, according to Sharp, if I stack Critical Strike and Combat Adv I’ll need to have about 50k of each before I start to actually have a chance to crit or deal combat advantage damage, but choose one of the other and I’ll be fine. The problem is that Critical Chance and Combat Adv are paired almost everywhere outside of a few artifacts and maybe some gear. They’re together on enchants, insignias, etc. How can you be expected to stack one without stacking the other in that situation?

    Reply
  • Avatar
    March 7, 2019 at 9:51 am
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    I think that’s the whole idea Vretzen. They want to have some control over our stat placement. Our only freedom we now have for stat balancing comes from pets and enchants. So when they change enemy stats, we all need new pets and/or enchants.

    I have no doubt it is intentionally done this way. To force player purchases whenever enemy stats change, instead of just swapping a piece of gear.

    Although I hate it. I understand the reason behind it and believe it will make for a healthier game in the end.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    March 8, 2019 at 8:18 am
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    after watching lots of youtube streams of mod 16… it is very obvious that they want us to adjust our play styles… the thing that comes to me the most is that combat is slower… I guess because they want us to coordinate our actions more with our party members… therefore using the microphone more or typing more… solo play seems doable but will absolutely take looooooooooonger… im keeping an open mind about this because I still think that NWO is an awesome game… maybe there is still hope.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    March 11, 2019 at 3:13 am
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    The testing gave some Players an unfair advantage and an opportunity to scam/abuse the system and get rich by using insider information and effectively cheating non private beta players. This has destroyed the economy and done damage i do not think can be repaired

    Reply
  • Avatar
    March 16, 2019 at 6:56 pm
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    anyone who logs on to preview has always had an advantage on people who do not. same as people who log on to the forums get insight that gives them an advantage over players who do not

    Reply

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