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.
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.
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.