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Starhawk testing a "real beta"; games "need time in the pressure cooker"

The closed beta for upcoming shooter strategy hybrid Starhawk isn't just a stress test or a demo, Lightbox has stressed.

"This is a real beta. It allows us to take our time with balancing: it’s not like we’re scrambling to release the game in a week or two," producer Harvard Bonin told the US PS Blog

"There’s a big window between the public beta ending and the game releasing. Games need time in the pressure cooker, you know?"

Lightbox is learning plenty, both about the game and how to approach feedback.

"One of the key learnings has been how closely we need to listen to hardcore Warhawk players," Bonin said.

"We made some changes to the flight controls that they reacted to negatively. We’re now in the process of addressing that, and it’s only because of the beta that we realized. Without a beta, we have no way to do that."

It sounds like the Warhawk veterans aren't afraid to speak their minds, but are slowly coming around to the new features of Starhawk.

"Some days they love it, some days they’ve got constructive criticism," the producer noted.

"We had originally invited very top Warhawk players to join the Starhawk private beta, and they were apprehensive at first. But now we’ve seen some of the harshest critics from before begin to evangelize Starhawk."

Bonin added that players have surprised Lightbox with some of the ways they've approached the game.

"The Build & Battle configurations are pretty interesting, people placing walls backwards so enemies can get in but not get out. Some players are employing a more aggressive use of the Spawn Towers, and they’re leapfrogging across the map while planting Spawn Towers in order to progress faster," he said.

"On the outer space map we’ve had players going under the map in the outer space level. People love the drop pods, trying to land on an enemy when they respawn. One of the most useful tactics so far is using the jetpack to sneak close to the enemy and then knifing him from behind. It’s not exactly a science, but some of these guys are great at it."

Lightbox intends to send another round of beta invites this week. A public beta is planned for 2012, ahead of the PlayStation 3 exclusive's undated release.

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Brenna Hillier avatar

Brenna Hillier


Based in Australia and having come from a lengthy career in the Aussie games media, Brenna worked as VG247's remote Deputy Editor for several years, covering news and events from the other side of the planet to the rest of the team. After leaving VG247, Brenna retired from games media and crossed over to development, working as a writer on several video games.