Train2Game News: End of Nations closed beta details and developer diary released

Trion Worlds and Petrogylph have released details about the upcoming closed beta for their MMORTS End of Nations, along with a developer diary discussing the key ideas behind the game.

The first End of Nations closed beta event will run from Friday 20th July through to Sunday 22nd July and will feature a variety of large and small maps across several different terrain types.

Those interested in taking part in the End of Nations closed beta can apply to be a part of it here.

Meanwhile, the End of Nations ‘When Titans Join Forces’ developer diary sees staff from both studios involved in producing the game, including Trion Worlds CEO Lars Buttler and Petrogyph president and co-founder Mike Legg, discussing their project.

Subjects covered include include the two studios working together as a team, bringing innovations to real time strategy and online gaming, and how they believe End of Nations is the world’s first AAA quality free-to-play game. Watch the developer diary below, here on The Train2Game Blog.

There’s much more about End of Nations, the importance of a beta to game development and QA Testing in our huge interview with Trion Worlds Senior QA Tester Karl Tars.

And be sure to keep reading The Train2Game Blog for more developer diaries and opportunities to take part in beta tests.

What are your thoughts on End of Nations? Will you be applying to take part in the closed beta?

Leave your comments here on The Train2Game Blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

Train2Game news: End of Nations beta accepting sign-ups, begins soon

Train2Game students can now register to take part in the upcoming End of Nations beta test.

The free-to-play MMO RTS from Petroglyph and Trion Worlds is scheduled for release later this year, but you can become part of the closed beta by registering your interest at http://endofnations.com/en/beta/

You’ll need to sign up for a Trion Worlds account to take part in the closed beta which will begin during Spring.

There’s much more information about End of Nations in this interview with Senior QA Tester Karl Tars, who even suggested that beta testing can potentially provide decent opportunities for breaking into the industry. Watch the latest End of Nations trailer below.

We recently spoke to End of Nations senior producer Chris Lena, who offered advice on getting into the industry. There’s more End of Nations news right here on The Train2Game Blog.

We’ll keep you informed about the latest beta testing opportunities.

So Train2Game, will you be registering to become part of the End of Nations closed beta? What are your initial impressions of the game?

Leave your comments here on The Train2Game Blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

Train2Game news: Trion Worlds’ senior producer Chris Lena on getting into the industry

Train2Game News recently had a chat with Trion Worlds’ senior producer Chris Lena, who is currently working on upcoming MMORTS End of Nations. In a quick interview, Chris discusses what his role involves, how he got started in the industry and offers advice to those looking to follow in his footsteps.

Hi Chris, what does your role as senior producer of End of Nations involve?

It’s interesting, the partnership between Trion Worlds and Petroglyph. Petroglyph have a history of RTS games so they know that very, very well, but making an online persistent game is a lot more than that. So we have people watching the servers, we have the server technology, we have customer support, we have a lot of other departments that are required to support that, and that’s really want Trion’s strength is.

So, on one side I’m keeping an eye on those things, as well as working directly with Petroglyph on making sure that they have what they need to develop the best game possible.

How did you get started in the industry and how did you get to where you are today?

I started in tech support and just kept on working and working. It’s the story of a lot of people in the industry; we love games, we’ll work anywhere in games then see where that takes us and it’s been a lot of fun and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

What advice would you give to someone looking to start in the games industry?

The number one advice is to keep on trying. Sometimes it’s difficult to break in, but don’t be afraid to start anywhere in the company if you can get it. Whether it’s in the mail room or driving someone’s car or making coffee, that’s where it all starts.

There’s much more about End of Nations in The Train2Game Blog’s previous huge  interview with Senior QA Tester Karl Tars

And there’s plenty of advice from industry professionals on getting into the industry here on The Train2Game Blog.

As usual, leave your comments here on The Train2Game Blog or on the Train2Game forum.

Train2Game news: Trion Worlds on why free-to-play is the best strategy for End of Nations

Train2Game students have differing opinions on free-to-play titles, with some regarding them as a great way to get a game out there, while others worry that they encourage a “pay-to-win” culture.

Trion Worlds say the reason their upcoming MMORTS End of Nations uses the free-to-play model is because it’s the best way to make sure the game gets the numbers of players it needs to thrive.

“For a premium strategy game like End of Nations, we really want to bring as many players as possible into its massive-scale strategic warfare.” End of Nations Executive Producer David Luehmann told VideoGamer.

“And as we looked at the enormous battles and huge persistent world, we realised that the success of End of Nations would be driven by having thousands of players from around the globe battling daily in the world’s biggest strategy game, and that is why it made perfect sense to be free-to-play!” he said.

Luehmann also pointed out that End of Nations might be free-to-play, but Trion Worlds is being careful this doesn’t become “pays-to-win” with microtransactions mainly being for cosmetic items.

“We are very sensitive to the concept of pay to win. In End of Nations at similar experience levels, player skill will determine the outcome of battles, not player wealth.” said the Trion Worlds Executive Producer.

“From that precept the monetisation elements must adhere, therefore anything you purchase in the game with real money with focus on vanity or convenience item type. Examples being skins, or boosts the increase the players experience or wealth generation rates.” Luehmann concluded.

You can find out much more about End of Nations in The Train2Game Blog’s huge interview with Senior QA Tester Karl Tars.

So Train2Game, what are your thoughts on End of Nations take on free-to-play? Do you think it’ll prove successful for Trion Worlds?

Leave your comments here on The Train2Game Blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

[Source: VideoGamer]

Train2Game interview with Trion Worlds Senior QA Tester Karl Tars – Part 3

End of Nations is an upcoming MMORTS from Petroglyph Games and Trion Worlds. The game was on display at the Eurogamer Expo, and the Train2Game blog caught up with Trion Worlds Senior QA Tester Karl Tars to find out more about the game, QA Testing and how to get into the industry.

In the final part of an in-depth three part interview, Karl Tars tells the Train2Game blog what his role as Senior QA Tester involves, the importance of QA in game development, how he got into the games industry and he offers advice on finding work as a QA Tester.

Read it below here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game Scribd page.

Part 1 and Part 2 of our interview are both available to read here on the Train2Game blog.

So, tell us a bit about your role as Senior QA Tester.

My role is…Petroglyph gives us the build then we go in to find all the bugs. We’ll report them so they get fixed so that the game itself plays smoothly, no crashes, no textures going weir. But we also go in and look for gameplay fun bugs, like ‘This feels overpowered, this feels underpowered, it’s not really clear when I’d ever use this, special ability,’ things like that.

That’s what we do, we’re officially called Quality Assurance but the actual role is more quality assessment; we don’t assure quality, we don’t fix the bugs, we just assess what the game is and tell them ‘Hey, this is how the game is, is that what you really want?’ and let them make the decision as to whether they want to fix it or whether they want to change it or drop it. A lot of times they’ll say ‘You know what, we can’t make this work, you’re right it’s not going to work right’ so they’ll drop a feature and change it to something new entirely.

How important is the QA process to game development?

I’d say it’s a critical step. In previous times there was a period where it was kind of neglected, they wanted to know does the game crash, does the game function, but they didn’t really care about the actual quality in terms of fun gameplay values. Trion certainly doesn’t do that and other companies have caught on that ‘Hey, we can’t just keep pushing out these terrible games forever,’ and eventually the consumer catches on too and stops buying them.

So the QA process is really critical, and it frees up the developers. Instead of having to spend 3 hours figuring out how to cause this crash, we do that: we figure out exactly how to cause it and it gives them the time to keep working on the game, keep programming, keep adding new units. And then once they know how to break it, they can go in and fix it quickly and get their jobs done much more efficiently.

How did you get into your role in the games industry?

I took a rather long path for it; I actually have a Computer Science degree, I can programme but when I graduated it was a terrible time for programming and so I picked up a QA job at Vivendi Games in L.A. They’ve since been bought out by Activision, but basically it was a temporary position and I was good enough that they kept me on a lot longer than the average temp.

After it was bought out by Activision, I thought ‘I’m not too interested in working for them, they don’t treat their employees as well as I’d like,’ so I moved onto Trion Worlds who have been fantastic.  For the most part, anyone who has a good eye, likes playing games and can clearly, precisely say what they did and how to reproduce what they just caused, they can have a job in QA.

What advice would you give to anyone looking to work in QA?

The main thing to do if you want a job in QA is working on your skills at spotting things. A lot of us are game players, and that’s not necessarily what you’re going to be doing in testing. Testing isn’t just playing the game; a lot of it is very repetitive, where we’ll go through every single unit, make sure that every single ability works, make sure every single texture on a map looks correct.

So as you’re playing through a game and you spot a texture out of alignment? That’s something that QA would do. If you can cause the game to crash consistently in a certain way, that’s something QA have to do.

So spotting a bug is the first half of it, the second half of it, is having good English skills or whatever other languages your company works in.  Being able to clearly say ‘do this, do this, do this’ – the way I was told to practice that was imagine you have an alien, they understand the language in some respects, but they don’t necessarily know a lot of the noun, they wouldn’t know what a fork this, they wouldn’t know what a knife is.

Now try and tell them how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich when they don’t know what any of those things are. And you have to describe them being very descriptive and giving a good guide of exact steps and also including things like ‘it doesn’t work if you do this,’ so that when the developer gets it they can just immediately go click, click, click, straight through your steps and ‘Oh there’s the issue, I can see it now, and now that I can see it on my machine I can fix it really easily.”

Thanks for your time Karl.

End of Nations is scheduled for release next year.

Leave your comments here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

Train2Game interview with Trion Worlds Senior QA Tester Karl Tars – Part 2

End of Nations is an upcoming MMORTS from Petroglyph Games and Trion Worlds. The game was on display at the Eurogamer Expo, and the Train2Game blog caught up with Trion Worlds Senior QA Tester Karl Tars to find out more about the game, QA Testingand how to get into the industry.

In the second part of an in-depth three part interview, Karl Tars tells the Train2Game blog about the team behind End of Nations, the importance of beta testing during game development and how it can be useful for those with aspirations to work in the games industry. Read the interview below, or on the Train2Game Scribd page.

Part 1 is available to read here on the Train2Game blog.

Tell us about the team behind End of Nations

The way it works is Petroglyph Games are the developer, that’s a studio founded by a bunch of former developers from Westwood Studios, the guys who did Dune and Command & Conquer. So veterans’ of those games are designing and developing the game. Trion Worlds is publishing, we’re giving them the servers and a lot of the back end infrastructure that makes the game work. That’s the studio that’s behind it.

When is End of Nations scheduled for release, will there be a beta?

We have a beta coming up, so if you go to www.endofnations.com you can sign up for the beta right now. If you have an existing Rift account, that account will work for End of Nations as well. We’ll have more information in the next few months as we don’t have a confirmed time for that for the release, but it’s going to be a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to playing it on my own!

How important is the beta for the game development process?

Betas are really critical in terms of making sure the live servers can handle the real loads that players will put on our servers. We can test some of that in our labs but we certainly don’t have the manpower to try having 100,000 people connecting at once and with every single weird configuration of computer that’s out there. We don’t have the resources regularly do that.

Also, as clever as we are in QA, we’re not as good as every single player out there. We’re not going to be able to figure out all the interesting ways of using abilities that just break the game and make it un-fun for the other team. And so it’s also really important to have people go out there and try random things and finding ways of exploiting it so that we can tone those down or make them work within the system so it doesn’t feel unbalanced.

Is getting involved with beta testing a good way of getting a job in QA?

It can be. It used to be that was one of the primary ways of getting in in older days. However, more recently betas have become almost a marketing type of thing where the majority of people playing in a beta, they don’t really want to test, they just want to play the game early and see as they like it more like a demo than a testing environment.

However, if you can find a lot of good bugs and you can report them to the team in a good way, you can develop a fairly good rapport with some of the developers and that can get you in.  And if nothing else it gives you a chance to see these incomplete builds where it’s more likely to have bugs in it and so you can learn how to deal with that type of thing.

It’s definitely a way of getting in, but I wouldn’t say it’s a good way of doing it these days, but it’s definitely a good way to practice, get started and if you apply to the same company that you did a beta for, you can say ‘hey, I found this bug and these are the steps for it.’ That’s going to really impress the QA leads who are reviewing it and saying ‘This guy knows exactly how to write a bug report, he knows our game, he knows how to look for a bug and report it.’ That’s really what’s going to get you in.

Part 3 of our interview with Trion Worlds Senior QA Tester Karl Tars will be available soon. End of Nations is scheduled for release next year.

Leave your comments here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum. Part 3 of the Train2Game interview with End of Nations Senior QA Tester Karl Tars is here.

Train2Game interview with Trion Worlds Senior QA Tester Karl Tars – Part 1

End of Nations is an upcoming MMORTS from Petroglyph Games and Trion Worlds. The game was on display at the Eurogamer Expo, and the Train2Game blog caught up with Trion Worlds Senior QA Tester Karl Tars to find out more about the game, QA Testing and how to get into the industry.

In the first part of an in-depth three part interview, Karl Tars tells the Train2Game blog about End of Nations and the reasons behind key game design features. Read it below, here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game Scribd page.

So, what is End of Nations?

End of Nations is an MMORTS. The basic idea is we looked at Starcraft and said ‘8 players in the game? That’s not enough.’ What we’re showing off here is 16 players and we have a couple of maps that are going up to 50 players and we’re hoping that we can push it further than that and just have massive real time strategy combat.

The back story for the world is that there’s been an economic collapse, and so a group called The Order of Nations has come in and started to establish order.  They’ve gone through and destroyed some of the other nations that were still OK, then the people after they realise ‘Order’s restored, that’s great, but I’d like to be able to go outside and do my own thing’ – and that’s not being allowed, they’re very anti-freedom, very totalitarian – and so a couple splinter groups have shown up.

There’s a Liberation Front which are very pro-freedom, patriotic, and they’re going to be our brute force faction with big armour, big weapons and not a lot of subtly. The Shadow Revolution is the other faction, they are a lot more about stealth, tactics, hit and run strikes…they’re going to have a lot of little tricks where they can leave that’ll weaken the enemy and then they’ll strike. Or they’ll come out of stealth and they’ll have an invisibility cloak that allows them to hide, wait for the right time to strike and then launch their attack when they’re ready.

The basic idea is that these two groups are trying to take down The Order of Nations in their own ways and for their own reasons, and since they don’t see eye to eye you’ll also have a lot of times where they’re going to be fighting each other.

How does the gameplay work?

All the units you’re going to see today are from the Liberation Front because they’re the most balanced and the most ready to go and so the most fun to play with at the moment.  What we have here is am Infiltration loadout, its infantry, a couple of artillery units and flame tanks.

Your basic gameplay is your standard top down Real Time Strategy; you get to move your units forward. What you’re going to want to do, for example, here we have a resource point. You have resources on the corner [of the screen] and they trickle in very slowly at the start, and it’ll allow you to respawn your units if they get destroyed. But if you take a resource point they start coming in faster so the majority of each map is going around capturing strategic points that are needed.

There are also Landing Zones. If you capture a Landing Zone you can bring your units into the front line when they get destroyed. We have a Bombing Run and when this happens when it’s captured, the enemy area will start coming under attack.

So if I’ve captured this resource point and we’re trying to gain resources a little bit faster – every time it ticks we’ll get a little bit more than we did previously. That’s going to allow me for example put down a turret [to defend against enemy forces]

And so rather than doing the normal base building, instead we have these structures you can place temporarily. They’re good for small temporary bases but not a standard build up your infantry, build up your main defences and turtle on your side while you wait for the enemy.

From a game design perspective, what were the main reasons for including these mini-bases?

What they allow you to do is to make a temporary base; it’s a way of getting that little extra push to get in. So, for example, that’s going to take their attention off my units so they can come in and attack more freely. Or if they’ve captured my units in it’s going to help me fire off at them. It’s possible to get a depot that’ll allow your units to have more armour so they can take more damage.

There’s a repair depot so your units can get repaired in a forward location. But there are specific structures, and a lot of easy ways to take out other structures so they’re not going to last forever…you can have up to six of them, but the idea is you have to think about where you want to put them. I remember when I used to play Starcraft, you used to do a Proton turret tree where I’d keep adding turrets in front of my other turrets and I wouldn’t even attack with units, just push turrets more.

You can’t really do that here, you’ve got to think ‘I want this point’ right now so you set up your turrets offensively to take that point, capture it and then move on and then you remove your last set of turrets to assault the next sector.

So the game design makes the gameplay a bit more challenging and more interesting to play?

Yeah, it’s less defensive and less turtling; it’s more about constant movement and you’ll want to be always looking at your next objective or looking at the next point to defend, but you never have a time where you just sit, turtle up and wait for the enemy to attack you. You’re always going to want to keep moving, because there’s also, like I said the Liberation Front has got a nuke, they will launch it at you and they’ll wipe out all your little turrets and you’re not going to have anything left.

Or the Shadow Revolution, they can deploy a system virus which will degrade all of your units over time but if you’re not ready for it, it’ll wipe out your units pretty quickly.

End of Nations is scheduled for release next year. Click here for Part 2 of our huge interview with Trion Worlds.

Leave your comments here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum. Part 2 of the Train2Game interview with End of Nations Senior QA Tester Karl Tars is here.

Train2Game student advice from Trion Worlds on QA reports: write for an alien

Train2Game Games QA Testing students should find this blog interesting, as it features some interesting advice from a Trion Worlds Senior QA Tester on how to write a great QA Report.

Trion Worlds are the developer behind MMO Rift and the upcoming strategy title End of Nations.

And in a soon to be published interview with the Train2Game blog, Karl Tars, Senior QA Tester at the Austin Studio has some great advice for Train2Game QA Testers about producing bug reports.

“Imagine you have an alien, they understand the language in some respects, but they don’t necessarily know a lot of the noun, they wouldn’t know what a fork this, they wouldn’t know what a knife is.”

“Now try and tell them how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich when they don’t know what any of those things are.” Tars told the Train2Game blog.

The Trion Worlds Senior QA Tester argued that a well written, easy to follow bug report written by a QA Tester means that the developers can easily fix any issue that’s been found.

“You have to describe them being very descriptive and giving a good guide of exact steps and also including things like ‘it doesn’t work if you do this,” he said.

“So when the developer gets it they can just immediately go click, click, click, straight through your steps and ‘Oh there’s the issue, I can see it now, and now that I can see it on my machine I can fix it really easily.” Tars added.

The full interview with Trion Worlds Senior QA Tester Karl Tars, featuring an extensive insight into QA Testing and a look at upcoming title End of Nations, will be published on the Train2Game blog in the near future.

In the meantime, feel free to check out this post from earlier this week in which Valve discuss the importance of playtesting to game development.

Full details on the Train2Game Game QA Tester course are available here on the official Train2Game website.

So Train2Game, what are your thoughts on Tars advice for writing bug reports? Will you take it on board?

Leave your comments here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.