Syrco Owl 4 years!

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I can’t believe it’s already been 4 years since I posted my first post. It’s my blogiversary, Syrco Owl is 4 years old! I still remember the day I created the blog and wrote posts about the Cataclysm beta. The blog was just a place for me to collect my screenshots and write down my thoughts about the beta. I never dreamed that so many people would like my posts, comment and follow the blog. It still makes me so happy every time I get a new comment or someone click like on a post.

Thank you so much!

Summertime

It’s summer here in Norway! The weather has been surprisingly good the past since we moved back here in May. We’ve of course had some days of rain and but it has been warmer and drier than it usually is during summers here. We haven’t got a lot of rain, which we usually get plenty of, and we’re so used to the cold and wet weather that it takes a while to get used to this heat. I love sun and summer, but I wish it was colder at night so I could sleep better. I also dislike that the sun gives me headache sometimes and it’s too far to the nearest beach. With too far I mean 10 minutes drive.. I wish I could just go outside and jump in the sea too cool off every now and then.

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I got a summer job which started in June and lasts until August, so I work almost every day sometimes early and sometimes late. We also got an apartment! It wasn’t easy to find an apartment which was cheap, good standard, central and allows one to have a cat. But the apartment we found now is perfect and we’re moving in next week.

The summer heat, summer job and moving to a new apartment takes a lot of time so I don’t have a lot of spare time left to spend in front of the computer. It isn’t exactly comfortable to sit inside in front of the computer here right now anyway, it’s around 28 degrees in this room, the air doesn’t move, and having the computer on will only make it even warmer. Hopefully it won’t be as warm in our new apartment which got bigger windows and it’s in the basement of a house so the sun won’t shine directly on it all day.

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I would of course take the time to play more if I had the beta, but I haven’t got in, not yet. But I hope I’ll get lucky soon.

Anyone used to the heat and can give me some tips on how to survive and make it cooler inside?

What in WoW reminds you of your home

I’ve played with many different people from many different countries, I follow many different people on Twitter and I read blogs by many different bloggers. We live all around the world but WoW and blogging keep us connected. Some people are from places I’ve never even heard about and some from places I’ve only seen on TV and in movies and dream about visiting. It’s always fun to learn more about where everyone are from and what it looks like there.

I’ve played WoW for many years now and I’ve spent a lot of time running and flying around exploring the different zones and areas in the game. Most of the zones are very unique and nothing like anything I’ve ever seen in real life, but some of them reminds me of where I’m from and they feel like home. Most remind me of my country, Norway, but some also of my city and the place where I grew up. Snow capped mountains will always remind me of Norway and my city Bergen there are so many tall mountains in Norway, in Bergen alone there are at least seven mountains surrounding the city which is why it’s known as the city between the seven mountains.

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In Wrath of the Lich King and Northrend there were tons of things that reminded me of Norway because of the Vrykuls and their culture inspired by vikings and Norse mythology. Everything from the NPC’s Nordic names and names of areas like Jotunheim in Icecrown which is actually a mountain chain in Norway to polar bears and dragon heads carved from wood. Howling Fjord also reminds me of Norway because we got so many fjords here and the word “fjord” is actually Norwegian. But Howling Fjord doesn’t really have any fjords at all, the small so-called fjord which leads to Valgarde looks nothing like a real fjord, it’s more like a crack in the ground where sea water has filled it up.

I have to mention some of my favorite pieces of music which screams Norway all the way, at least for me it does.

Last but not least, the northern lights or aurora borealis! It’s one of the most beautiful things in the world. I’ve only seen it like twice and it wasn’t as bright and strong colored as you see on pictures, but it was still so amazing! It’s not often we see the aurora here south in Norway, so one day I’m going north to see it for real. The aurora in WoW looks great but it’s nothing like the real aurora, the colors are usually green, pink or a mix of both those colors. Believe me when I say: You HAVE TO see the aurora for real before you die, it’s stunning!

Now, tell me: What in WoW reminds you of your home?

I’ve suggested this as a shared topic on Blog Azeroth so it would be great if you could join the forum, read this post about shared topics. Then wait for the start date of my topic, write your own post about it and link that post in the thread of my shared topic. You can also write a reply to this post if you don’t have a blog. Or do both if you like :)

Sweet Home Azuremyst by Matty of Sugar & Blood
Blog Azeroth: What in WoW Reminds You of Home? by Velgana of Adventures in Skywall
My home away from home…in WoW by Katherine of 4 Druids and a Death Knight
Shared Topic: What Reminds You of Home by Tome of the Ancient

My gaming regrets

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I recently discovered this new blog through Mama Needs Mana. It’s a blog called Gamerwife where Mariko writes about gaming, other geeky topics and anything else that interests her. She has a monthly link up on her blog called “Gadabout Gamers” where she choses a topic, writes about it, and then other bloggers can write a post about that topic. Last month’s topic was “Gaming regrets“.

There is only one big thing I regret when it comes to games. Something I did when I was 10-13 years old. I sold almost all of my Nintendo 64 games and my Playstation 1 with all the games. I think I sold the Playstation 1 first to buy games to my Nintendo 64. Then I sold Nintendo 64 games to save up money to buy the GameCube and games which was released in 2002 when I was 13 years old. I still got my Nintendo 64 console and my four favorite games The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time, The Legend of Zelda Majoras Mask, Banjo-Kazooie and Super Smash Bros. But I had so many other awesome games like the Mario Party games, Mario Kart, Super Mario 64, Diddy Kong Racing, Banjo-Tooie and more. I want to buy some of the games back some day, because I want to have them, play them again like I did when I was a kid, I got so many great memories from those games.
I might also buy a Playstation with all the old games I remember. Some of my favorite games were Crash Bandicoot, Spyro, Medievil, Pandemonium, Tekken, Tony Hawk’s Skateboarding and Gran Turismo.

I remember how much I regretted selling all those games when I got older, so I didn’t sell my GameCube, Wii or any of the games, I still got everything. I haven’t bought the Wii U yet as I couldn’t afford it when I was released. Actually I still haven’t been able to afford all the Wii games I wanted, or the time to play and finish the games I already have. I want to pick up console gaming soon. As soon as we get a new apartment and a new TV. I want to finish The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword and buy the Wii U before The Legend of Zelda Wii U is released some time next year.

What’s your biggest gaming regret?

WoD: How To Be A Good Beta Tester

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The Warlords of Draenor beta is finally here! The first wave of invites went out yesterday (June 27th 2014) and more will be sent out as soon as they need more. Be on guard for potential scams. You can log into your Battle.net account and view your game licenses to check if you’ve been invited. If you’re interested in participating, opt in here.

A lot of people are talking about how excited they are about the Warlords of Draenor beta and what they are planning on doing if they get access. But some people are also questioning what’s expected of them as a beta tester and what they should do to become a good beta tester. First I think you should ask yourself these two questions: Why do you want to be a beta tester? What do you think makes you a good beta tester?

I participated in the Wrath of the Lich King beta, Cataclysm alpha+beta, Mists of Pandaria beta and Diablo 3 Reaper of Souls beta. At first I saw it as a chance to get a sneak peek and play the game before everyone else, but then I learned that there is so much more you should do and I felt important and happy to be one of those who got to test it and give feedback to polish and improve the game before it went live.

I’ve now read through some websites and forums, gathered and written down what I think are the most important things to keep in mind if you are going to participate in the beta test.

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What is a beta test

Game testing is a process for quality control of a software. The primary function of game testing is the discovery and reporting of software defects, also known as bugs. A beta test is usually the second test (after alpha) and the first test by the actual customers. Beta testers are needed because the designers are probably so used to their game that they’re very likely to overlook many things that fresh pair of eyes won’t.

Usually there is an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) you need to agree to in order to participate in testing, but not for Warlords of Draenor. This means you are free to talk about, write about, stream and share screenshots from the alpha/beta.

Who can be a beta tester

A veteran player isn’t necessary a better beta tester than a new player. Introducing previously uninvolved testers with fresh perspective may help identify new bugs. Blizzard wants a wide variety of testers: varied, locations, age, experience and game interest. You don’t need the newest computer, the best graphics card etc. Blizzard wants to make sure that the game works on everyone’s computer. They want a variety of testers with all kinds of different hardware, not just people with the latest stuff.

What to keep in mind

  • You shouldn’t sign up for the beta if you don’t plan on actually testing and giving feedback. Many people sign up for the beta not to test it but to play the game and see if it’s something they would like to buy.
  • The beta is not a demo to complete content before anyone else.
  • Nothing is final before it’s live.
  • Being a beta tester is more like a job than something you do just cause it’s fun.
  • The beta test is designed to find bugs, issues that have made it past internal testing.
  • You are responsible for checking that the game works, is easy to use, has actions that make sense, and contains fun gameplay.
  • If the game was perfect, they wouldn’t need people beta testing.
  • The more bugs that get reported in the beta, the less there will be when it goes live.
  • Visit and read the official beta forums, follow Blizzard’s updates on what they want you to focus testing on.
  • Test as many features as possible in as many ways as possible.
  • Consult with other testers for answers to potential problems you may be experiencing.
  • Support creative new approaches to abilities, spells and other changes to the game.
  • Instead of complaining out loud or in the chat, report your problem by using the feedback survey or the official beta testing forums, and be constructive.
  • You can still give feedback on the quests, zones, dungeons etc even if you don’t find any bugs.
  • Remember that all characters in Blizzard beta tests are wiped from the servers before the final game. Carrying characters over from the beta to the final game would give beta testers an unfair advantage and there are numerous technical issues as the beta client is not the same as the final game version.
  • What is your reward? A sense of accomplishment. You helped to polish a game you enjoy. And a sneak peek at the game is the reward for most. But previous beta invites and good feedback can increase your chances of getting picked again.

What to expect

There will be frequent disconnects, and the realm may be up for a few minutes at a time as new content is added. Do not expect the entire expansion to be available. Expect things to be broken, graphics to be missing or placeholders.

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Bugs

Testing requires creative gameplay to discover often subtle bugs. Some bugs are easy to document, but many require a detailed description so a developer can replicate or find the bug. Do stuff Blizzard never intended for players to do. Because a player will do so by accident and cause an issue. Players also have ways of doing stuff the developers never thought of doing. It is better that it happens in beta than on live.

Bugs can be…

  • art glitches
  • animation errors
  • logic errors
  • level bugs
  • quest items not working
  • random dismounts
  • falling through the world
  • getting stuck
  • damage and class/mob balance bugs
  • lore error
  • + much more

I remember I’ve been able to fly indoors, or dismounted from my flying mount in the air when flying above buildings. I’ve also fallen through worlds, got stuck in walls or behind invisible walls and stuck in cracks in the ground.  Been unable to complete quests, pick up items, missing NPCs and NPCs who yell over and over again so the whole zone gets a headache. I’ve also seen spelling mistakes in the quest info and NPC speech, and tons of graphic bugs.

How to report bugs

As a beta tester, you’re expected to report the bugs you encounter in the game. Blizzard has beta forums for feedback and bug reporting. Once you’ve found and identified a bug, you should write a brief report so Blizzard knows that there is a problem and can fix it before release. Good bug reports can be read quickly, easily understood and be recreated even by someone who is playing the beta for the first time. A good bug report makes it much easier to get the bugs fixed as fast as possible.

Make sure you can repeat the bug
What caused the bug? What where you doing? Write down what you did before you encountered the bug and try to make it happen again. Check the forums to see if the bug you found has already been reported. Sometimes there is a post or a list of known bugs, bugs they already know about and are working on. If you got more information to add about a bug someone else has already reported, just write a reply to their post.

Information to give
Make a note of the time and the place that the bug occurred and what you were doing when it happened. Sometimes it can also be important to write down which class, spec, level and race you are. The beta build you are using can also be of importance. It can be found in the lower left of the login screen. You want to include your computer’s information if you’re experiencing graphic issues, crashes etc. Write down exactly what the bug did. Did you get disconnected, a screen freeze, game crash or an error message? Did you character get stuck? Maybe you fell through the world? Or are you unable to pick up or use a certain item? The more detail the better. Go back and see if you can cause the bug to occur again.

How to recreate the bug
Write down the steps needed to recreate the bug so the developers can recreate it and see what happens. This can be which spell you used, where you walked, which item you used and where, which NPC you spoke to etc.

Writing a bug report post
If you find multiple bugs, make one post for each bug you find. Use a tag in the subject of your post to make it easier to know what kind of bug it is. Like [Quest bug], [Spell bug] etc.

If you can remember and do all or some of the points above, you’re on the right way to become a good beta tester! Good luck and enjoy!

Check out this funny video about beta testing, made for Cataclysm but it’s still useful.

Sources and useful links

This post was originally written for the Mists of Pandaria beta and posted March 21. 2012. It was rewritten for the Warlords of Draenor alpha/beta and reposted June 7. 2014.