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Age of Mythology Heaven » Forums » Strategy and General Discussion » So....You want to be a beta tester
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Topic Subject:So....You want to be a beta tester
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Stone_Giant
Mortal
posted 06 January 2002 12:25 PM EDT (US)         
Uh oh…time for another one of my long, informative posts

I asked a few people about this, the responses? All the same.

"Of course I want to beta test AoM!, Who doesn't? I'll get a free copy of the game months before its released, What could be better?"

While you do have a very, very good point . You need to realise, beta testing isn't all fun and games - there is serious work to be done.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~
How it all Started
~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Beta testers—"average" people who kick the tires on new software before it is released to the general public—are the unsung heroes of the computer gaming industry. They help developers fine-tune their game engines and control interfaces. They provide vital feedback that helps publishers decide how much marketing muscle to put behind a title. And they suffer through and help to fix last-minute bugs. The payoff? Beta testers get to play the games the rest of us only dream about.

Once software was issued and lasted for months or even years without change. (The word “patch” was a sewing term .) Sure it wasn’t a graphical wonder, but it did the job. Companies wrote code and tested it exhaustingly for errors. The employees did the testing and were an excellent source of trouble-shooting for customers. Programmers and testers worked as a team, proud of their end product.

Enter the marketing people who want to sell more products. They urged the programmers to issue more programs to sell. So the programming and testing departments grew larger and larger as new programs and fancy additions to existing programs were made. Sales grew but it was an expensive operation. Profits barely increased.

Consultants were hired. They noticed over-worked testers routinely took extra copies of new products for their relatives and friends to try out and report back on any problems. This little unpaid army of testers were thrilled to have the latest programs that no one else could get even if they had to put up with defects. What a money saver this would be: Fire the employee testers and give the programs away for free testing.

Amazingly, thousands of computer users volunteered (literally begged) to be testers. Many of them had nothing to do on their computers anyway , other than play a few games and send an email or two. At last, they could put all there expensive (and mostly idle) equipment to good use. And a genuine Beta-Tester carried an air or prestige so the position was sought eagerly, and protected carefully.

------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------

I don’t consider myself an exterminator, but I’ve been battling computer bugs for years. So Far, I've been involved in four projects, Netstorm: Islands at War, Conquest: Frontier Wars, Mech Commander 2 and most recently Arcanum. I don’t particularly go out of the way to try and beta test games, just the ones I'm really looking forward to .

So, where do we get started? Well, long before AoM hits the store shelves, it goes through a series of testing procedures to make sure the game works right. When the game is first created, it goes through preliminary tests, which are usually done in-house or by companies that specialize in testing games. This is often called the ‘‘alpha’’ testing phase.

Once the game is stable enough for wider distribution, it’s released to beta testers. This is a key part of the testing process that precedes the release of a game for sale to the public.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Beta Tester Requirements
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

When you become a beta tester for a game, you are held under variety of different NDAs (No Disclosure Agreement). This means that NO you cant show "outsiders" screenshots (Unless given specific acknowledgement by a official.), NO you cant tell other people about the game ("War Stories" are OK as far as I know; but no disclosure about specific a units and/or buildings.), NO you cant transmit the game in any way shape or form (Which includes uploading to server and burning to disc for profit or gain). Other rules and regulations are specified within the NDA.

As a beta tester, you are required to send in bug reports weekly if not by-daily (Every other day). Although these requirements do change with other companies/producers, they are required by every company (Unless its a open beta, where everyone gets to test it.). How well you test the game (and send in those reports) will determine how "bug ridden" the end result is.

As a tester, you also MUST have an average amount of computer knowledge.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
What developers are looking for
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Good writing skills, especially the ability to communicate a thought clearly and precisely to the point No wandering off, "oh yeah, did you know I whooped up this little n00b today, he was sooo sad". Kinda brings back memories of your English class eh?

Knowledge of the game type It does not help if you only play FPS, and dont know what a Rush is... You might just report "they sent bunch of units at me and I was not able to counter it. This needs to be balanced!" (Although if your do clearly see an unbalance problem, do report it).

Good sense of balance and fair play Meaning that you will report an unbalance bug even though it will defeat your chances of ever winning again.

Good knowldege of the game itself Should of followed the game, so that you know a bit about it, and not just rush into testing

Lots of free time! Do as much testing as you can, so called “real-life” is boring anyways

People who praise their product 24/7 …ok this one doesn’t really count

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Surviving the Beta Test
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Always remember, there are thousands and thousands of people to replace you at a moments notice.

Beta testers don’t complain - they comply. Don’t bother defending yourself or another beta tester when criticized by the beta manager. They are always right.. And know how to deal with malcontents.

Hold your tongue, don’t be too aggressive or trying to criticise the beta project. Example Post:

From: Tester #271 “Thank you for patch #15, the game booted up on the 5th try and I was able to test for an average of 3 minutes before crashing. This thing is ready to go gold.”

Don’t be a “dead horse”, if you find a bug, report it! Don’t rely on someone else to do it, If it hasn’t been fixed after a few patches, it probably never will.

Always consider when reporting a bug that it could be a hardware problem, not necessarily the games fault. Example:

From: Tester #882 “Patch #15 disabled my sound card, the printer won’t print and the display is now red”

From: Tester #659 “Obviously tester #882 that’s a hardware problem and has nothing to do with the program. Contact the manufacturer

From: Tester #477 “Tester #882 must be deaf and colour blind. Try putting some ink in your printer!”

From: Beta Test Manager “Attention: Tester #882, This newsgroup is for reporting real bugs – not for minor glitches that are probably caused by faulty hardware or user error. End this thread immediately or face termination”

Become best pals with the beta test managers, if they like you, they may contact you again for there next game . Don’t forget though, they own the ball and bat; they are only letting you play.

~~~~~~~~
Conclusions
~~~~~~~~

Beta tests mostly start with an eager group of users and ends with a decimated group of shell-shocked people brow beaten and deflated from the ordeal.

Sounds harsh? Well, imagine the people who HAVE to do this more than 12 hours a day. You can slack off ! They do get paid though...

If you’re genuinely interested in testing all types of games, I’d recommend you checkout gamespots beta test centre right here
------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------

**Phew, that’s it for the moment, as always, comments and suggestions are welcome, just remember this is just my opinion, I’m not saying its correct, and if any of ye have experiences in this field, I’d love to hear them **

Thanks for reading this!
Stone_Giant

Oh! – And thanks to Azn for letting me use some of this from his original article

[This message has been edited by Stone_Giant (edited 01-06-2002 @ 12:31 PM).]

AuthorReplies:
Zen
Ghost
(id: Angel Zen)
posted 09 January 2002 07:47 PM EDT (US)     31 / 51       
Not to mention... some developers might make decisions on who to add to their beta list based on who was the most useful in their previous beta... so keep that in mind when you decide to participate in a beta - your reputation is also at stake

Zen
Stone_Giant
Mortal
posted 10 January 2002 01:58 PM EDT (US)     32 / 51       

Quote:

I understand about secresy and, but what about if my best mate comes over my house?, could i show him? I would make him make an oath on a Bible and everything:

Well, this isn't a problem for me as I invested in a cabin in the woods for all my beta tests . Don't worry about it, No developer is going to make you lock your friends out of the house, but remember, if they get into to trouble, YOU get into trouble.

Stone_Giant

Zen
Ghost
(id: Angel Zen)
posted 10 January 2002 02:12 PM EDT (US)     33 / 51       

Quote:

I understand about secresy and, but what about if my best mate comes over my house?, could i show him? I would make him make an oath on a Bible and everything

If you trust him to the point where you're willing to be sued by the developer as a result of breaking the NDA (It is a legal document after all)


Zen
Last_Knight
Mortal
posted 10 January 2002 02:20 PM EDT (US)     34 / 51       
If I were a beta tester, I'd just find excuses why I can't meet my friends/let them play with my computer.
For example:
Friend: "what were you doing all the evening?"
me: "I was playing with Myth... I mean... with myself".

Friend: "can I see what's in that directory?"
me: "NO WAY! I mean... you wouldn't like the content... it has all those people, goats, horses... and different combinations of them... you know what I mean...".



The Last Knight
Grasshoppers are cheap, nutritious, tasety,Kosher and easy to dissect
Yuri
Banned
posted 10 January 2002 09:58 PM EDT (US)     35 / 51       
Yeah, I have beta tested before. Back in the good ol days of ra1(for those none westwood players...red alert). back in the good ol days. Basically if one were to get a beta what would we have to report to you or other es workers??
But seriously how many pre-laws could an ES game have?? Very few if none. I am new here. All Vladimir87's Fault....
Well Is there a list that one could apply to??
Wow.... been a long time since i've done forumes.
Dont worry though more thoughtful and inciteful posts may soon come from me...

Cuautemoc
Mortal
posted 11 January 2002 11:35 AM EDT (US)     36 / 51       
will the number of times u post make a difference to es? how often do u think the average forumer posts??

Id challenge you to a battle of wits; but u appear to be unarmed
Imperialarc
Mortal
posted 11 January 2002 03:05 PM EDT (US)     37 / 51       
Not really Cuautomec. Its more Quality over Quantity. As always the case with ES. Which means it is the content of your posts and how you help the fan site or even ES themselves.

[This message has been edited by Imperialarc (edited 01-11-2002 @ 03:06 PM).]

Dark Age warrior
Mortal
posted 12 January 2002 03:19 PM EDT (US)     38 / 51       

Quote:

As a tester, you also MUST have an average amount of computer knowledge.

Oh dear...
Just how much knowledge do I need?.

And...
Are crashes to the desktop hardware problems or software problems?

-Dark Age Warrior

[This message has been edited by Dark Age warrior (edited 01-12-2002 @ 03:20 PM).]

Enrique Orduno
Banned
posted 12 January 2002 03:40 PM EDT (US)     39 / 51       
Crash to desktop is usually software problem, a lockup on the other end can be software and hardware.

If your screen becomes all colorful and weird, it's a hardware problem with the game.

And so on...

But, usually you just need to report what happened, your system config, what you were running other than EE and so on...

Stone_Giant
Mortal
posted 12 January 2002 06:04 PM EDT (US)     40 / 51       
Damn, got to stop letting people jump in and answer the questions

........40 replies!
*crowd goes wild with cheer*

Stone_Giant

zam zap
Mortal
posted 13 January 2002 03:33 PM EDT (US)     41 / 51       
great post!

it makes me envious about all of those beta testers!

ZAM WILL ZAPATH!!

jduderocks
Mortal
posted 13 January 2002 11:25 PM EDT (US)     42 / 51       
"Of course I want to beta test AoM!, Who doesn't? I'll get a free copy of the game months before its released, What could be better?"

I'm not just out for the free pre-release game i really really really want to beta test for es i mean what could be more fun than being part of helping make the best game of all time ,AOM, seeing unit balances checking for bugs then getting to email my findings to es.

ES please keep the age limit at 13 and let people outside of the us beta test too and the more beta testers the better i might actually have a chance to test it if there is lots of testers.

Alexandergreat3
Mortal
posted 14 January 2002 04:09 AM EDT (US)     43 / 51       
Perhaps public beta testing would be more "casual" (if that's a good word to describe it) than the one conduct privately within the studios, where only a few selected individuals can test the game. So I think that the public beta test wouldn't require too much from a tester - good example would be EE's public beta.
MurphGuitar
Mortal
(id: Sir William of Pork)
posted 15 January 2002 04:02 PM EDT (US)     44 / 51       
If you really want to help, you should give a list of all the tech info that ES will likely want from beta testers and tell us non-techie types where to find it. Like motherboard information. On other beta tests I've seen something like you have to reboot and at a certain point press a function key to open up a certain menu? I don't understand any of that nonsense. You should list each piece of information ES will want and next to it give a thorough, like-I'm-a-6-year-old explanation of where that info can be found.

Defy me at your peril
pokethejohn
Mortal
posted 15 January 2002 04:19 PM EDT (US)     45 / 51       
I think beta testing would be fun.

You get to find different things in and about the game
plus you get to talk about the game with other testers.


Personal site- www.stellar-sky.net/immix -not active at the moment.
AOM site I help run- www.age-of-myth.com -check out the new layout.
Age site I post news for- www.aoe2.com -back up and running

Stone_Giant
Mortal
posted 15 January 2002 06:20 PM EDT (US)     46 / 51       
Taken from the recent XGR interview:

Quoted from David Rippy, Asked about an open-beta:

There will be, not ready to announce anything quite yet, but yeah you can definitely expect a marketing beta probably around the May/June time frame and that will be where we have tens of thousands of people to jump and have fun with us.

An Open-Beta! Nice! That basically means, a full version of AoM will be put up on the ES site, and anyone who wants to download it, can . Hopefully there'll be one major version, and small patches onto that, I can't afford to be downloading 300mb of files every week.

Enjoy playing AoM 3 months before its released
Stone_Giant

[This message has been edited by Stone_Giant (edited 01-15-2002 @ 06:22 PM).]

LongSiege
Mortal
posted 15 January 2002 07:20 PM EDT (US)     47 / 51       
Very good summary of beta testing Stone_Giant! I myself have beta tested Empire Earth and Battle Realms... I agree with everything you said. I hate it when people join the beta to get a trial of the game before its released! they defeat the purpose of a beta test all together... thats my 2 cents...
Stone_Giant
Mortal
posted 16 January 2002 01:24 PM EDT (US)     48 / 51       

Quoted from Sir William Of Pork:

On other beta tests I've seen something like you have to reboot and at a certain point press a function key to open up a certain menu? I don't understand any of that nonsense.

Hmmmm, I've never heard of this to be honest

Stone_Giant

Yuri
Banned
posted 16 January 2002 06:23 PM EDT (US)     49 / 51       
How many kinks and gliches will be in the beta. And thw work we will have to do. If it is not accomplished then dost that mean beta taken back? Like i mentioned. I have beta tested. But i will not be familiar with ES' beta rules. could someone fill me out on the details??
zam zap
Mortal
posted 17 January 2002 09:03 PM EDT (US)     50 / 51       
18 to 13 is a big adjustment. I think that it will be higher than 13 definately. (maby im wrong though)


"extended warrenty, hou can i lose" -Homer J. Simpson-

ZAM WILL ZAPATH!!

Stone_Giant
Mortal
posted 19 January 2002 08:23 AM EDT (US)     51 / 51       

Quoted from Yuri:

How many kinks and gliches will be in the beta. And thw work we will have to do. If it is not accomplished then dost that mean beta taken back

It varies, You should be able to play it pretty well, but don't be surprised if you see "AoM.exe has caused an error on line 36, shutting down in the middle of that game you were having", or your villagers walking off the edge of the map .

Stone_Giant

[This message has been edited by Stone_Giant (edited 01-19-2002 @ 08:24 AM).]

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