Friday, 24 September 2010

How to get into the WoW Beta

Having failed to get myself into the Cataclysm beta, despite some half-hearted attempts, I thought it would be fun to make a list of how you might want to go about it for the next beta. None of these are warrantied and indeed may fail.

Go to Blizzcon or the Worldwide Invitational
For the last 2 Blizzcons and in the last Paris WWI, attendees have been given a beta code card which gets them into a Blizzard beta of their choice. Some of my friends attended the Paris WWI and one used their code for the Wrath beta. The other friend kept their code and could have used it to get into Cataclysm or Starcraft 2.

Will this trend continue? There is no reason to suspect Blizzard will stop handing out these code cards, so attending Blizzcon/WWI seems like a safe bet to get some beta action.

Be on a fansite
Now we have all seen how WoW Insider becomes flooded with beta news the second the Alpha ends, many of the staffers seem to get beta invites. Now quite how they get these remains to be seen, certainly Blizzard will hand them out to "press" to ensure they generate a fair amount of hype, although personal contacts from Blizzcon and the like may also play a part here.

I know of some WoW Insider writers who do not have Beta access, so this tactic may not always work. Still, I would hope those on an "official" WoW fansite (the ones in the Blizzard program) would get Beta access.

Write a blog / EJ posts / Blizzard forum posts
So if Blizzard are selecting people to participate, they will in theory want some well informed players. Several of those in the WoW community who are renounded for being knowledgeable are in the Beta, it only stands to reason Blizz will want the likes of Rouncer and BigRedKitty to feedback on how their classes are playing. These people are well known because they might post on EJ and be an authority, or the official forums, or run well known blogs.

For us less well known people who might not have particular expertise but just post things, I am not so sure. It isn't like the vast number of blogs I read have suddenly all got into the beta, I suspect most invites are a result of the random selection process Blizzard do.

So if you are well known in the community I reckon you increase your chances. If not, they are probably the same as anyone else who checks the Cataclysm opt-in.

Know someone in Blizzard
Now the way to get into the Friends and Family Alpha, apart from being BigRedKitty, is to actually be a friend or family member of someone at Blizzard. From the GMs to Ghostcrawler, knowing any of these people will likely get you access to the F&F Alpha, because Blizzard staff can add their friends and family to a list of battle net accounts to be admitted into the Alpha.

From what I know of it, anyone in the Alpha gets access to the Beta. So get chummy with those Blizzard employees at Blizzcon!

Apply via battle net
The second least likely way to get in (apart from not applying of course), you can just check the opt-in on battle net. No further discussion needed really.

Write a (non-trivial) mod and post it on
Finally the route I might try for the next beta. If you have a WoW mod hosted on, and it is non-trivial in such that it is not "hello world" or something like that, you can now apply to get beta access for the purposes of testing and recoding your mod to work. You can also upload the mod to a special Cataclysm section where other beta people can try it.

Wowinterface also did this offer for the Wrath beta, although you didn't get in right at the start of the beta, and Blizz didn't enable 3rd party mods until fairly late in the Cataclysm beta. Still this is pretty much a guaranteed way to get in for some beta action.

My own guide for Tourguide was not sufficiently "complex" enough to qualify me for entry to the beta, so I think you need to code a stand alone mod for something or another, most likely not a mod which relies on another one to do its work and not a plug-in for another mod. Still there is plenty of time until the next expansion, and I have a few ideas about mods I could write to make my WoW life a little easier.

But I didn't get in!
So you didn't get into the Cataclysm beta, despite coding 4 mods, being a writer for and knowing Greg Street's cat personally. Well, that's ok. While others have been playing around in the beta, I've taken the time to level and gear some alts, continue to raid and instance and try my hand at some gold making using my professions. I am now in a good position to start the expansion, a far better position than if I had been using all my play time in the Cataclysm beta. I suggest anyone who didn't get in also takes the opportunity to get their Wrath house in order before the world is sundered. As it were.

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