Last year, for quite some time, us community contributors didn’t really feel like we were part of the game anymore. Wargaming would share its news with certain clans and people, and we’d get questions about it while we had no idea what they were talking about. This was incredibly frustrating, because as CC’s, we’re meant to be the link between players and Wargaming and though I’m all for Wargaming communicating with the playerbase as well, being circumvented isn’t nice.
This changed a few months later though, and thanks to our amazing community manager, we’re back in the loop. We actually sometimes get some early info on things to boot, which is incredibly nice, so we (I say we, but I really mean the rest of the guys) can prepare content so that when whatever it is we know does get public, we (they) can publish content about it that much sooner and that much more effectively.
But, on top of that, our community manager signed all us CC’s up for open test, which meant that when that came up, usually the Thursday and Friday before the next update, we could stream, or make videos, of what was coming in the next update. And sometimes we could test things and not be allowed to tell anyone.
And on top of all of that, our CM also signed all of us up for testing tanks. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is great fun. For the period of usually two weeks, we get tanks added onto our accounts that aren’t in available in the game yet and we get to test them. Because they’re still balancing these tanks, most of the time, they’re quite OP. The downside is that when they arrive in the game, you’ll remember the tank you absolutely love, and it’ll have been nerfed quite a bit.
In those two weeks, we’re supposed to drive at least 25 games with these tanks and we have to have both encounter and supremacy mode active, so that the people behind the scenes get numbers on both gamemodes. Especially when the tank is fun, that’s no problem at all. When the tank sucks and definitely needs a buff in one or more areas, it can be challenging, but I still feel privileged to be able to drive them.
Now, for this testing, we have a discord server so that the staff involved can get to everyone straight away. Screenshots of epic games are also shared there, and of funny moments, comments in game, etc. Because we’re not allowed to talk about these tanks anywhere but there.
But that server is also used to complain about the tanks (and players, and other things. It can get quite sad.. but yeah..). A while ago, we got a tier III tank to test, and a lot of people complained about that. Not about the tank, mind you, but about having to play a tier III tank. Apparently, they thought that testing tanks would only ever happen in the high tiers, and that low tier-tanks don’t need testing? To be honest, I actually quite liked testing different tiers but high tiers. But then, I don’t take the game all that seriously to begin with and tend to sealclub every now and again anyway.
The challenge lies in not being able to release any content about the tanks. Not in the form of comments, not in the form of screenshots, videos, stats, nothing. We’re not even allowed to say what we think about the tanks and how we feel they are in battle. Wargaming has actually listed a list of standard replies we can tell people in the rules that we’re given when we get a new tank to test – but most often, the thing that I say is simply “it’s being tested and I’m not allowed to say anything about it, sorry”.
The rules are quite simple. Don’t share stuff, don’t toon the test tanks together if it’s the same test tank, don’t play rating and play both supremacy and encounter. Oh, and don’t be rude in the game while driving the tank. Especially that last one must be quite a bit challenge to a lot of people.
Any random person that meets a test-tank in battle, records that and puts it on youtube is not breaking any rules. But someone tooning with someone with a test tank is, let alone someone streaming them. And this has happened. It’s caused people, and clans, to get kicked out of the testing thing altogether.
Luckily, I have two other CC’s in my clan and I can talk about the test tanks with them because they’re testers as well. As a woman, it’s definitely hard not to gossip about such things, but thanks to Meadsy69 and Gentlefun, I’m managing.
The best and worst part? The aces. Much more so than with other tanks, test tanks have to be aced. Eventually, I want a perfect record, and that means acing all tanks that I have. Test tanks get taken away after two weeks, and there’s no telling if they’ll eventually make it into the game – and when they do, if I’ll be able to get one. I’m refusing to buy crates, so chances aren’t looking good in that regard. So the two weeks are all I have. This has resulted in my playing quite a bit more the day we get new test tanks, just to be sure that I get those shiny little golden badges.
Overall, it’s just nice to be involved in the making of the game itself. Not that I’ve any real say or anything like that, but being able to test tanks makes me more aware of what’s coming to the game. Being able to go on test server even more so. I will always see CC’s as a link between WG and the playerbase, and being kept in the loop of things that are coming helps a lot with that.
And it helps us address things with WG early. Of course, WG being WG, it generally doesn’t change anything and the things we warn them about beforehand often happen exactly as we predicted. But to be fair, even aside from the testing the builds and the tanks, I do feel Wargaming has taken huge leaps in improving the way they’re communicating with us and the playerbase. I thank our community manager for almost all of that. Of course, on the other hand, I’m still waiting for a reply to a pm I send a different staff member two months ago (and to the reminders I’ve send), so what do I know?
For now, I’ll have fun driving the test tanks and seeing what they’re like, getting early sneakpeaks into updates, into what’s coming to the store, and just generally being involved.
And I’m working on getting my content out there more frequently so that I feel like I actually deserve it, too.