Friday, October 5, 2018

World Shut Your Mouth

It's been a very long time indeed since I was last invited to join an alpha or beta that had a strict NDA. I'm not sure it's happened during the life of this blog. Just as well, given that the main reason I sign up for the things nowadays is in the hope of getting few posts out of the experience.

It would get even more awkward if the NDA went so far as to forbid any mention of the fact that an invite had been extended and accepted. Although, I guess, just accepted, really.

After all, if you chose to turn the invite down, there'd be nothing to stop you talking about it, would there? By definition you wouldn't have agreed to the terms so you could hardly be bound by them, either legally or morally. Ironic to think you'd have more freedom to talk about something you had no personal engagement with than something you did, but there you go.

Then, if it's been a long time since I was under strict NDA, it's even longer since I was subject to a non-disclosure agreement that I actually believed would be enforced. Usually it feels as though no-one's really taking it seriously. Once in a while, though, there's tangible evidence someone very much is.

I'm trying to remember when was the last time I saw a personalized watermark on a screenshot. I think it must have been in the closed beta for the original version of Final Fantasy XIV. I think I still have some of those, somewhere. Probably not allowed to show them to anyone, even now.

If you go back far enough, there was a time when no-one questioned the idea that the terms and conditions of an NDA were there to be enforced. Even so, I've always wondered just how "strict" the punishment would turn out to be if all you blurted out was something along the lines of "well, this is a lot better than I thought it would be" or "I'm enjoying myself - it's surprisingly fun".

I'm not sure how much damage you could do to the prospects of a game by telling people something like that, even at a very early stage of development. Is it really worth kicking someone out of the program for letting on that  the game looks good, plays well and is easy to understand? Or that it feels like it has potential? You'd think most companies would be happy to get that kind of endorsement.

Anyway, if I was in such a test, I couldn't say any of that. Indeed, if I was in a test with a very strict NDA I couldn't even say I was in the test at all. So, I guess there wouldn't be much point going on about it. It would certainly make for a very short, very vague blog post.

With no pictures.


  1. And here I thought you were on vacation....

  2. We are probably in the same one. The Watermark was a surprise for me too. What are the chances - by all accounts this is a pretty limited round of invites.

    1. I was expecting there to be thousands of people but the numbers online were shown when I was logged in and they were in the low hundreds, so unless they're siloing a whole load of groups of testers (which they might be) then yes, it seems to be a fairly select group. Shame it co-incides with my vacation (although I have no idea how long the test lasts). I'm enjoying it a lot more than I expected to so far.


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