Making Friends and Influencing People
Playing on the Test Server
Nearly every major online role-playing game has one, but often game test
servers seem like a mystical far away land that only the suck ups and control
freaks will venture to. What sane player would waste time helping to develop a game that they are paying a monthly fee for? Don't people get paid for that?
The Test Server for any given game is always a bit different, but the idea
remains the same; give players a place to see features before they go live
and give developers a place to get reliable feedback. Yes, Age of Conan
has a quality control department that test the bits before they actually get to the test
server, but there just is no real way to replicate a living and breathing
community within a limited QA department. It ends up being a win/win situation
for players who crave unorthodox gameplay and for the game makers who need their
updates reliably tested before sending them live.
Aside from the amazing community that resides on test, there are so many
benefits to playing there part-time, or even full-time, but not many know what is there or even how to get there
and that is where I come in with my little how-to for Playing on the Test Server. I aim to convince a
few of you to come on over (we have cookies) just to say "Hi!" or maybe hang out
a bit and have some testing goodness fun!
What Does the Test Communities Do?
We have orgies! Err, okay, we don't actually but now you wonder just a
teeny bit, right?
The test community mostly functions like any other server community except
for a few key points. First off, we test. We test new features that
come in with patches mostly, but since many players are on the test server
full-time, many will note bugs through out typical gameplay in all aspects of the
Great testers take the time to note all sorts of oddities and glitches, large
and small, they keep involved with the various update versions and they work
closely with the Funcom Quality Assurance team on things that may need a little
extra attention. Above all else, testers provide detailed and constructive
feedback consistently and accurately. The information that is provided can
make a huge difference in the quality of a patch that will eventually make its way to the
Who Plays on Test?
Anyone and everyone that would like to help make the game better. New
test content comes in many different flavors so having a variety of players
mimics live server happenings the best and gives developers a better idea of
how features will function. Whether you are a casual soloer or a hardcore
raider, your help can be used. A lot of testers will log in and
keep close tabs on the chat channels looking for wider testing opportunities
such as test groups forming or raids being coordinated. Other players
might just log to go about their regular business and wait to stumble onto
something out of the ordinary. All types of players with all kinds of play
styles are needed and everyone is important to the testing process.
Are There Test Perks?
I will fully admit that I moved to the test server full-time because of the
perks of playing on a non-live server. I love to keep up with the new
things that are happening and Age of Conan is tossing out update after update
with drool worthy goodies. I'm a open-the-Christmas-gifts-before-Christmas
sorta girl, and nothing feeds my need to know more than pre-live gameplay!
I found myself hopping onto test to see a proposed mechanic that would effect
one of my characters, or jumping in to see one of the new areas so often that I
ended up playing on test more than I did on live!
The next best perk is the buffer. This golden goddess earns my undying
worship every time I play through the starting area, zone into Tortage, and say
those magic words "I need to boost my level". Magically and
suddenly I have all the
world of Hyboria before me with a few simple choices of level and gear.
Fate, as the buffer is currently named on the PvE test server, also gives out other fun stuff like
mounts, coin, and PvP incidentals, really just anything you could possibly need
to make the most of your time on test. This makes it great for those of us
who have limited playtime but still really want to contribute to the testing
Another great perk is QA interaction. Regular and reliable testers get
to work closely with the Funcom team to help ensure a better product which is
really what we all hope for in the end. Plus these guys are all very cool
and informative and really take the feedback to heart.
I'm Sold, Sign Me Up!
How could you not be with my stellar powers of persuasion? There are a
couple of things you'll need to do before you can dash in and save the day with
your testing awesomeness.
You'll need a separate copy of the game to use for testing. This can be
somewhat scary given how large AoC is on a hard disk, but it is necessary
because test is updated more frequently with content that is not yet usable on the
live servers. I've played on several test servers and I gotta say,
AoC's duplicator tool is by far the least painful way of getting a test game
copy installed. Download the application and follow the directions.
Once you've done this all you need to do is patch up your test copy of the game.
Now you are ready to get to testing! You have some options on getting
started with a character. You can start a new character and just play them
as if you were on a live server. You could make a new character and play
them up to Tortage where a buffer is available and then choose your level and
destination. Finally, you we do now have the ability to copy characters
from the live servers. It is a good idea to check out the
for more info on these options and for more detailed instructions.
Because this is a test server, you need to be aware that there aren't any
game play promises. Downtime happens a bit more often than live servers,
though it does tend to be brief. There is always the possibility of
character wipes, though this is something that the Funcom team will strive to
avoid. While the QA team desires feedback, they don't need abusive rants
(pretty sure they get plenty of that from the live servers) so keep
communication neat, detailed, and constructive. Finally, just because it
is the test server, it doesn't mean all rules are defunct; the play nice policy
is still there and if you find exploits, report them immediately and in detail
through the proper methods.
Test players are there to make the game better and in return for your loyalty
you get to be the first to see new things, play new content, and be a voice for
the players all over the world who will soon be playing the content you are
trying on. Helping to shape the game we play makes these guys the heroes
of Age of Conan and anyone can be the same regardless of how little or how much
time you can dedicate to playing on the test server!
Savanja's opinions and thoughts are her own and not those
of Ten Ton Hammer. If you have feedback, comments, or questions regarding
this editorial or any other she has written, please feel free to
drop her a note!
To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Age of Conan: Unchained Game Page.