Beta testing a game is a huge responsibility and everyone involved has a chance to help shape the future of the gaming world they are helping to test. If you are one of the lucky few who are selected to aid in this task, the responsibility falls to you to aid the developers in making Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventure all that it can be and more. While you can't directly change the game, it is your job to provide feedback and find problems, bugs, and glitches and report them to the developers for review. For some people, this may be their first opportunity to beta test a game, so Ten Ton Hammer will provide you with this little guide to effective beta testing. The first step to effective beta testing is to understand the basics of Beta and what you will be involved in.
style="font-style: italic;">Things don't always work as intended in beta.
What is Beta?
Beta testing is a chance to see the game in an unfinished stage so the first thing you need to do is not be judgmental when something appears broken or in bad shape. The one thing that gives me a massive headache from previous beta testing is logging in and seeing someone in Out of Character (OOC) chat shouting how much the game sucks because x mechanic is broke or something is screwy with Non Player Characters (NPC) or mechanics. It is beta, and the reason that same person yelling about a busted game is there, is to help find and locate the cause of the very problems they are complaining about.
What can you expect in Beta? To be an effective beta tester, you must first know what beta is and what you can expect upon entering into a beta testing world. Beta is a development phase and the game is unfinished and likely unstable at times. Here is a short list of things you can expect from testing in a beta world in general.
- Bugs, bugs, and more bugs: You might as well get use to things breaking, not working, and acting crazy. You may hit a mob for a thousand damage at level one or be unable to kill a creature that just won't die. You could fall through the world and the servers might crash. Expect it, embrace it, and love it. This is what you can expect.
- Things don't work right: While in the testing phase you can expect things to not work. An NPC may not walk or talk and doors might not open. Certain mechanics may just quit and others may act odd.
- Server Downtime: Expect this to happen especially after a Beta patch. A patch may fix one thing and break several others. This can lead to more downtime for a hotfix. Expect downtimes as it is all part of beta.
The Three Types of Beta Tester:
There are people who want to help make this game a fun and engaging world, but there are also those who view beta as a chance to free preview the game. This is a dangerous way to view the game as these people don't often help with the problems by submitting feedback and bug reports. In every beta there are three distinct groups of people.
- The Tester: This person will test all aspects of the game. They will try to break mechanics and combat, provide detailed feedback by using the beta forums, and report every bug with a detailed bug report and steps to repeat.
- The Previewer: These are perhaps the most destructive group to any beta test. These people view the game as a chance to free preview the game, but when they enter and realize the game is not finished and due to still being in beta development may still have a lot of bugs. This group of people often times will leak NDA information and bash the game. These people really don't benefit the game or the community in anyway since most of their information is usually leaked and bashing an unfinished game. Make sure you do not fall into this categories.
- The Middle Man: This person wants to help, but is also here to preview the game. They may be new to beta and require some guidance, or they could be age old veterans. These people can often be a mix of the other two and can range from helpful to the cause or detrimental. The best way to view these people is a little of both and can lean either way.
What should you test?
Test everything you possibly can and try to break it. Test every class and every race. Run from point A to point B and then talk to every NPC along the way. Fight all mobs and use all skills. Try playing with the User Interface (UI) to see if it is all working. Change the graphic settings to see if the game crashes. See if armor and stats are being added to your character. If you can do it, test it.
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