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  1. #1

    A Guide to Beta Testing and What to Expect. (For New and Past Testers)

    I decided to write this in hopes of making Mist's beta test a very productive one. I would guess at least 95% of Cata testers didn't even make a forum appearance and not many more even filled out a bug report. I want that to change. Everyone who doesn't make it in deserves our best attempt at making it a better game

    It is our JOB to make sure we do our part to make Mists an amazing xpac. We may not be Devs but they do listen to testers if they actually raise their voices. For example I doubt many people know how UNPLAYABLE Blood DK's were until the last month or so of Cataclysm Beta. On the Beta DK Forums we discussed it over and over and gave ideas on how to fix it. Guess what nearly every one of the the fixes they implemented came straight from our suggestions.


    My "Credentials"

    *I have Closed beta tested for Wrath, Cataclysm, D3, Rift, Tera, SWTOR, Wrath of Heroes, Path of Exiles, Drakensang Online, God's and Hero's, Bloodline Champions and a couple others I feel like I'm forgetting.*


    First off I need to help some people get why we all don't get in day 1.

    People need to take into account the fact that 1 MILLION people jumping onto ~4 servers at nearly the same time would be catastrophic. We would break everything so badly that it would be weeks before we got to play again. Look at D3 beta and how badly their first big wave screwed up the servers. It would be the same except instead of a few thousand people it would be several HUNDRED thousand people all logging in at once. Honestly things are most likely going to trickle in at first and then expand fairly rapidly once they start to stabilize things.

    Don't get too excited or impatient to get in the first round or two if you don't have an abundance of patience and the ability to not be an annoying whiner.

    Things go wrong in beta. Quest chains will be broken usually right when you're at the juiciest part. Classes will be either extremely OP or UP. The earlier you are the worse it is so be prepared. Don't get all bent out of shape when you can't do [insert] follow my suggestions about bug reporting and move on to another zone, BG, quest or class.

    How to make good bug reports:

    *Whining about things not working IS NOT FEEDBACK.*

    Step 1: When something is broken you make a bug report ingame. There will be a blue button on your Mini-map and a tab in the help section (red ? on your menu bar)

    As of 3/23/2012 there isn't an in game reporting function implemented yet but it will be shortly.

    Step 2: Go to the known bugs list and if the bug is on it stop there. The known bugs list is usually a sticky on top of the Bug Report Forums

    Step 3: Next go to the bug report forums and check to see if there is a thread already started about this Bug. Check the date of the thread and make sure it is after the latest build came out. If it is go in and say its happening to you, where it happened, what you were doing, which if any addons you were using and what class you were playing(if applicable). Screen shot's when possible really helps them as well.

    Step 4: If there isn't a current thread start one. Say what happened, where it happened, what you were doing, which if any addons you were using and what class you were playing(if applicable). Screen shots's when possible really helps them as well.

    ****

    How to make feedback reports: *In no particular order*

    Use your voice it helps get things balanced and fixed.


    This stuff applies especially to Balance feedback and doubly for PvP balance feedback.


    1: Try to think about overall game balance when creating or responding to threads. You are here to make the game better for EVERYONE not to make your class OP as hell in Arena or dominate DPS charts.

    2: Bring proof. Anecdotal evidence is absolutely useless especially with the small pool of people that actually do their jobs as testers and provide feedback.

    3: If you have good credentials give your credentials. Especially with PvP a persons level of experience and the levels they play at makes a huge effect on how they perceive something. If you're an active top 25 raiding guild member you probably have a better grasp on Raid mechanics and class PvE balance than someone who has only done a few LFR's.

    4: If you have friends that agree that x is a problem then get them to come on your thread and talk about it.

    5: Act like you're a reasonable intelligent person. If you're pissed off wait a few hours or until the next day to make the thread. You may have valid things to say that WILL get ignored or taken lightly if you can't make proper feedback.

    6: Remember to give feedback on how you would fix it. Give feedback on what you think is the reason something is "wrong/broken". Give solutions not empty complaints. Remember what I said about Bloods DKs in Cata beta.

    7: Don't throw out troll bait. Your feedback will get ignored if your threads sounds like a troll or is dripping with troll bait. Also attempt to keep your topic on track and bring it back if its getting derailed.

    8: Check to see if there is another thread about the subject. If there is then chime in there. Remember the more voices saying the same thing is what causes them to change. A large single thread with good debate gets taken more seriously than several derailed or 3 post threads.

    9: If it's class related check the Mega threads (a thread that attempts to cover all the aspects, pluses and minuses of a specific class/thing within its sub forums) to see if this feedback has already been brought up. The CM's pay attention to these threads because they are often moderated to an extent by the people that frequent it. If it is already there reintroduce the topic by saying I'm having this issue currently to make sure its understood that is it still an issue.

    10: MAKE SURE that if you are joining into a thread that you aren't necroing (resurrecting a dead or outdated thread) it. Check to see if it was before the latest update. If it is start a new one. They are not likely to re-read something from a past build as it may not apply anymore. The start date of the thread is often less important than the date of the last several posts as long as they aren't necroing it. Often you will have to make a judgement call on whether you feel the older thread still relevant or not when there are newer posts at the end.

    11: Start threads in the appropriate sub-forum. If it's a PvP issue put it in the PvP threads. If its an issue with x class under/over preforming go to that classes sub-forum. If x raid boss hit to hard go to the individual boss threads the Devs will start when they start raid testing. If its... you get the idea.

    12: Use focused feedback. If you have problems with 3 separate things then start 3 threads. Don't derail your own threads with multiple subjects.

    13: Give positive feedback as well. I can't stress enough how much I believe in giving back positive feedback. Just try and put yourselves in their shoes. If all you hear is bad feedback at your job about your performance how would you feel and how much would you respect said persons opinions? It's fine to give negative feedback they need that to fix things but remember to give credit where credit is due.

    14: If starting a "Heres my idea for changing [insert ability] to be more fun/balanced/useful" style thread make sure you have thought it out and your idea isn't a completely retarded, OP or impossible suggestion.

    Example of the wrong and right types of thread:

    Scenario: You just got 1 shot by [insert class] in a BG... AGAIN


    Thread in general forum reads:

    "OMFG BLIZZ!!!!!1!1211!! That [insert class] is %#^ING broken and OP they 1 shot me. FIX IT #*&@WADS or I'm unsubbing right ^!#&ING NAO. Wait don't fix it I quit your $#!^ game maybe it sucking even more will make others see the light. /seeya"

    I call this the "childish douche that will never unsub because he takes this game so seriously that he can actually get this worked up about a perceived imbalance" syndrome. Don't be that guy. Please seriously don't be that guy. Everyone makes fun of you and sends their friends links so they can see what a retard you are.

    Thread in PvP forum should read:

    "Today in x BG x class hit me for x amount with x ability. Here is a SS of my combat log. I'm wearing pre-made PvP gear which gives me x defense. Guys this has been a problem for weeks now and these threads [insert link(s)] from the last 3 builds are all saying the same thing.

    I think the issue is how (X person who did 174 hours of math to prove it) said its double dipping with mastery. You can either fix the bug or there are a couple ways to change it. Its a boring ability anyways so how about while you're fixing it you make it do (insert good idea). Does anyone else have any ideas or problems with my idea that I missed?"

    ****

    Random advice:

    Don't take everything Blizzard does as a personal attack or a grave injustice. Remember they are sometimes just riffing when they make changes in beta. Give your feedback with the fact in mind that anything can and will change at anytime during a beta so don't get all worked up.

    The game is changing drastically. Give yourself time to acclimate to the changes before you start screaming for them to be reverted. "The good ole' days aren't always as good as they seemed" so try and keep that in mind as you decide on what feedback to give.

    You will often be asked "Can you reproduce that bug?" so before you go to the trouble of filling out reports and searching out or starting threads remember to spend a little time seeing if you can reproduce it. If it isn't possible to reproduce it I would personally report it with as much proof as possible. If I can't reproduce it I would personally try and gauge how "big" or "game breaking" of a bug I consider it to be and if it has potential to be a problem I would possibly report it even if I couldn't reproduce it or provide proof.

    Feedback like "I think this model is ugly" isn't probably all that important in the grand scheme of things but if you feel strongly let your voice be heard. Even if your feedback is cosmetic at least you are doing your job so don't hold back.

    Remember you will often get trolled. Don't take it to heart or let it offend you terribly. Often they are people that will mess with you just for the fun of pissing off everyone they can.

    Just because someone doesn't agree with you doesn't mean that they are trolling you so don't be so quick with the report button. Reporting for no MAJOR reason can often stifle good discussion. You will have to use your own judgement but please don't stifle good debate.

    Normally I say something like "you're one of the lucky few that get a chance..." but since you just paid for a chance to be a tester I want to implore you to get the most out of what you paid for and do your best to make this a game as awesome as it was "in the good ole days" for all of us.

    ****

    Additions from others in this thread.

    Quote Originally Posted by Aoyi View Post
    Great guide. I'd just like to add that as this is a beta, be prepared to download update after update. It's all part of the testing process. Sometimes it will require a full reinstall. Sometimes just a few seconds of download. Be patient when this happens. Remember, you can also play something else while it's downloading.

    As for addons, they are sometimes allowed towards the end of the testing process to allow developers to get a "live" version prepped for release.
    Quote Originally Posted by peacemaster View Post
    A good strategy to find bugs is to try to break the game. Do things that are unexpected; if you think it's unexpected the software developers may not have considered it. The point of testing isn't to make sure the software works, it's to find the things that (inevitably) don't work and fix them before the product is released.
    This is a good point but remember to attempt to break the game WITHOUT FURTHER EXPLOITING THE BUGS YOU FIND. That can be frowned upon. If you find something truly game breaking (e.g. The D3 latency bug that allowed people past the gates into "locked" territory) You might want to make a more private bug report than on the forums. If you aren't further exploiting the problem SERIOUSLY I doubt you will get in trouble for posting it on the Forums but if just 1 person with less decency gets a hold of something it won't be good for anyone.

    I realize that this is a long guide and I hope it was worth the time to not only write but to read. I really feel strongly that we have way more say in the game during beta then we ever will again. I want to see at least 50% of the community actually out there trying to make the game better instead of 100 people trying to make change happen with their tiny voices. Blizzard focus on how many people are saying the same thing so let your voice be heard. Encourage everyone you meet on Beta to do the same.

    ****

    I just wanted to publicly thank the people who have PM'd me asking permission to translate this guide and those that have put it on other forums. It says a lot about everyone in this thread that 99% of you want a better game so much that you are willing to take the time to actually be a tester rather than just have fun experiencing the new content. Be proud that you feel passionate enough and mature enough to better our community!!!

    I really am impressed that so many people know the role a good tester should play. I honestly can't wait to debate with you guys about anything and everything we feel passionate about on the Beta forums as well as here.

    Keep up the good fight everyone. I'll probably be on the Beta forums as Dyrtnap as its my MMO-C identity. I WILL see you all soon.

    -Dyrt

    P.S. Hastings since you were the first that I am aware of I wanted to thank you by name as well as Sleeper who was willing to translate it into German and I wanted to say thanks to everyone else who did/does it also.

    P.S.S Remember the most useful macro ATM for Beta are

    /cast !Extreme Patience
    /cast !Prayer of Getting Into 2nd Wave
    Last edited by Dyrtnap; 2012-03-23 at 05:27 AM.

  2. #2
    Good guide. A lot of this is common sense for people who recognize what BETA really is(not a game, a test). However I like how you explain everything, perfect timing for this thread too.

  3. #3
    The Lightbringer UnifiedDivide's Avatar
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    Most people just see beta as playing the game for free I feel. With MoP, that will certainly be the case too.

    Luckily, I'm kinda like you, OP, in that I've beta tested more than my fair share of games so I'll know what I'm doing. (More or less ^^)

  4. #4
    Dreadlord bethofwow's Avatar
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    So is it okay to give them your idea of how something would work? I will probably be tempted to be a backseat driver during the beta and hope I won't offend any of them if I throw out a suggestion or two.
    Have you hugged a Gnome today?

  5. #5
    Good guide. Can we sticky this please? An expansion is only as good as its beta testers, this info will be nice to have.

    Warender - Orc Elemental Shaman - Mal'Ganis US

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by bethofwow View Post
    So is it okay to give them your idea of how something would work? I will probably be tempted to be a backseat driver during the beta and hope I won't offend any of them if I throw out a suggestion or two.
    As long as you take the time to explain why it should work in an other way rather then just stating your 'solution' yes.
    Stuff does get read eventho you dont instantly receive feedback on what you write (i had a few talks with gm's during tbc beta about reports i made but none during wrath/cata) but do keep in mind stuff is prolly designed for a reason.
    This will be their fourth WoW expansion so they pretty much got the basics down already, dont argue with everything you run into.
    Well you can, you'll just burn yourself out doing so.
    Major events etc you can argue with but dont bother with the small stuff as a certain texture on a table within a panda npc house or such things.

  7. #7
    Dreadlord EFG's Avatar
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    This deserves a sticky
    I reported lamb of log twice, once for having a slow car and once for trolling.

  8. #8
    This is a great post. Thanks!

  9. #9
    Thumbs up!

    The better the testers are, the better the product will be. Great guide.

  10. #10
    Bloodsail Admiral Yuuki Asuna's Avatar
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    Very good guide, well done =]

  11. #11
    This is a brilliant post, well done.

  12. #12
    Very good guide Well done.

  13. #13
    Good guide. To add to it, I would also suggest keeping your mind open while you play and analyzing everything. For example if you grab a quest that has you pick up an x amount of plants. After you have completed the quest (whether it was bugged or worked perfectly fine) analyze everything about it. Was the quest text confusing? Were the plants where they were supposed to be? Were the plants really small and hard to see? Did the items take a while to spawn or did they respawn within a reasonable amount of time? Was the quest giver hard to find? Even though asking yourself those types of questions might slow you down, it can really help to make the quest less annoying when the game comes out.

  14. #14
    I REALLY appreciate the kind words guys and gals. I plan and hope to see you all on the forums and in game. If you know any people that will be testers and you think they could profit from reading this guide please send them to this thread. I want to make sure that the crap that was Cata beta never gets revisited because I really want to see WoW back at its pinnacle again.

    Quote Originally Posted by bethofwow View Post
    So is it okay to give them your idea of how something would work? I will probably be tempted to be a backseat driver during the beta and hope I won't offend any of them if I throw out a suggestion or two.
    Actually that is a big part of what you are there for. Just don't turn into a WoW hating forum douche if they don't do everything you suggest :P I'm not saying you would but God I've seen quite a few that do when they don't get their ways during my different beta experiences.

    They do want you to find bugs but I think they HONESTLY care as much or more about knowing if you are enjoying their product. They really do want to know what would make you enjoy it more. They want to have your creative ideas to toss around at their next meeting. They just want you to do it respectfully. If you listen to the Blizzard hates and whiners you would think they don't care but if you pay attention this beta to what they change and how they interact with us you will have a different view.

    If those AMAZING (and masochistic) Blood Testers in the Cata beta DK forums hadn't come up with their ideas and fixes there wouldn't have been a single DK in a raid that planned on downing a boss. Partially because they had threat and survivability problems due to rune mechanics and Death Strike and partially to do with rune regen being so slow you fell asleep while tanking which = no bueno while raiding.

    Give them your ideas and suggestions as fast and hard as they come. I'll be right there in your threads arguing with, against and/or supporting you hopefully the rest will be too.

  15. #15
    Awesome guide!

    As a first time Beta tester for a non-text based game *showing age* >_> I was surprised that you mentioned addons, as I hadn't even thought about addons in Beta. I assumed they wouldn't work, which would be a challenge for me since I'm a customization junkie and generally use a whole bunch of them.

    Do you think loading out of date addons, as they'd have to be I can't imagine the creators keeping up with beta, is at all helpful or something to avoid?

    "There is a thin, semantic line separating weird and beautiful. And that line is covered in jellyfish." - Welcome to Night Vale.

  16. #16
    The Patient Igloo's Avatar
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    Sticky this!
    Mage - Retired

  17. #17
    Warchief Asmodias's Avatar
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    I saw your guide and wanted to jump in and praise you for it.

    I've been working in the games industry, QA specifically, for the last 9 years. I like to think I have a good handle on testing methodology and what goes into it. What you have written is well thought out and showcases a lot of what I do in any given day. Kudos for writing it. Hopefully, people in the beta will be able to refer to this and help ensure Blizzard puts out a good product.


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  18. #18
    Pit Lord Aeriedk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by UnifiedDivide View Post
    Most people just see beta as playing the game for free I feel. With MoP, that will certainly be the case too.

    Luckily, I'm kinda like you, OP, in that I've beta tested more than my fair share of games so I'll know what I'm doing. (More or less ^^)
    Sadly the first part of this is true. However the more people we encourage to take the proper procedures in beta testing the better. I'd like this game to be a very well done final product and I'd like blizzard to think that they have so help on the outside rather than a bunch of kids getting to play the game early.

    Good thread. I hope it gets a sticky.
    -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-HxC Raider & A new avid PC builder-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

  19. #19
    Great guide. I'd just like to add that as this is a beta, be prepared to download update after update. It's all part of the testing process. Sometimes it will require a full reinstall. Sometimes just a few seconds of download. Be patient when this happens. Remember, you can also play something else while it's downloading.

    As for addons, they are sometimes allowed towards the end of the testing process to allow developers to get a "live" version prepped for release.

  20. #20
    Blademaster Frient's Avatar
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    Many thanks to you for putting this together. Some great information for veteran and rookie testers alike.

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