On 7 August 2000, Sierra's Media Relations Department released this announcement about public beta testing for Arcanum:
"Sierra Studios and Troika Games announced a public beta program for their upcoming role-playing game Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura. The public beta will begin in September, and will give gamers access to some of the 19 major environments within the land of Arcanum, along with scores of dungeons and quests to explore. Testers will also be given a private online forum on which to discuss the game with the developers, give feedback and suggestions, and report bugs.
To fully incorporate feedback from the beta program, Arcanum will be released in February of 2001. In addition, Sierra and Troika will release a playable demo of the game this winter. More information about Arcanum can be found at www.arcanum1.com. Arcanum is the first game to come from the development house Troika Games, LLC, started by former Fallout(r) team members Tim Cain, Leonard Boyarsky, and Jason Anderson. The experienced Arcanum development team reunites many of the original development team from the critically acclaimed Fallout(r) and Fallout 2(r) RPGs.
Arcanum creates a compelling new world where magic and technology coexist in an uneasy balance. As Arcanum opens, the mechanical age has only recently arrived in this ancient land where Humans, Elves, Dwarves, Orcs and other races have learned to coexist in the new sprawling industrialized cities. But this radical shift from magic to technology has created a potentially explosive situation. While the townspeople and other thinkers begin mass production of light bulbs, batteries, eyeglasses and guns, the Mages grow leery. This tightly-wound setting is the starting point from which the character must set out on his quest.
Arcanum allows gamers to assume the role of multiple pre-existing characters or create their own, and provides many paths to explore the game world, ensuring the highest degree of replayability. Meanwhile, the multiplayer component extends the life of the game and appeals to a large fan base that enjoys cooperative and competitive play.
Sierra On-Line, Inc. www.sierra.com is one of the original developers and largest worldwide publishers of interactive entertainment and productivity software. Sierra is a division of Havas Interactive, a global leader in interactive content, and is one of the world's largest publishers of education, entertainment and home productivity software. Its divisions, Blizzard Entertainment(r), Coktel, Knowledge Adventure(r), Sierra(tm) and Flipside.com(tm) are famous for releasing critically acclaimed and award winning titles. Havas has operations in the US and in Europe and is a subsidiary of the French publishing house Havas, part of Vivendi Communications.
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Guy Welch, Sierra Studios Web Producer, added to this announcement at the Sierra Arcanum Board, "Like our past beta periods, the Arcanum beta test will be open to a finite number of people. In the past, beta testing has been open to groups of 200 - 1000 people. Users have been selected from a list of eligible candidates who've signed up at http://beta.sierra.com. We've also included candidates chosen from product specific sign up lists tied to special online events. In any case, once we release the particulars of this beta period, we'll give ample time for everyone to sign up. In the event that we have more registrations than open slots, we'll choose the list of actual participants at random."
On the Arcanum Inn VN boards during the first week of September 2000, Sharon Shellman added this information concerning the beta:
"You will actually be able to wander "anywhere", we've actually removed the other areas, so you will not be able to find them, even if you go to where they should be. (sneaky, huh?) Your characters will probably be able to obtain level 20 by the end of the beta. The beta encompasses bout 20% of the game. The first 2 areas are small, but the third area you will be exploring is Tarant. The hugest city in the game. Tarant has a very large number of side quests that the main story arc does not rely on, so you will only be seeing 1/13th of the main plot. So it shouldn't spoil anything for you guys, just make you want more. :o) You will probably not be able to bring any save games from the beta into the final game. Because we are using the beta for balancing, we will probably be moving/adding/deleting people and items from the beta to the final, and this would corrupt your save game. We are very much hoping that the beta testers will play through the beta many times over, with different types of characters. That way we will get plenty of feedback on gameplay and balance issues. (and of course, bugs too)."
Shellman also added this statement about surpassing the level 20 mark:
"Sure... if you wanted to spend a bunch of time wandering the world map getting random encounters... you'd ultimately hit level 50 (if you tried hard enough)."
Shellman made this statement concerning the demo in relation to the beta game:
"The demo that (I think) is currently scheduled for release around christmas will be smaller in scope than the beta/press demo. I believe it will have the first 2 areas (not 3) so as not to give too much of the story away. So those of you that get in on the beta will see a lot more of the game than those who have to wait for the demo."
As more information about the Arcanum beta testing becomes available, we will keep you posted.