The importance of beta testing

[intro]

The last years in gaming history it has been a standard process for companies to invite players to closed and open beta events, to test their games before it’s released.

[/intro]

Now many gamers take this as an opportunity to test the game out, to see if it suits them or not. Fair enough. However, when players start demanding that some things should be added to the game and start complaining that the game is garbage because it is missing certain aspects of game as in game play, graphics, content and innovation. That’s when the players don’t realise the natural purpose of beta testing.

What is the point of beta testing?

The point of beta testing is to find bugs in the product, so the game won’t get released with those game breaking features, as well as it is to stress test the servers to see if they can handle the high demand of players, or test the game play to see what makes the game crash to get it all fixed for the release date.

The game that is in beta is NEVER the final built it’s just a build to test the performance of the game. Naturally many functions will be offline, because the developers want you to focus on the functions that need testing. The players perform a beta to make sure the game is as stable as possible for release. If the game is on pc, it will be harder to test the client of the game. Since everybody has a different build pc: No one has the same specs, hardware, or Operating System, so no machine is quite the same hence it’s harder to get a game or MMO to run stable on all PCs than on a console.

So how can the player help?

When the player gets invited they simply log in and play the game, as they would normally with the finished version.

But the point of the beta is not to play the game for fun, but to find bugs and report them to the developers so the developers can squash them. The beta is an important stage of development to gather feedback on how the game is performing, so if you wish to help the developer, find as many bugs as you can by generating them. You simply do this by playing normally, use the in game tools: Bug report (mostly every online game has that tool in the interface).

Or you can log on to the forums of the developer, and write a well described post containing information. How the bug was generated, what system you are playing the game on, and a good explanation of the nature of the bug, what did it do to your game play?

Can a player demand content to be added?

Demanding and asking are two different things, most developers have a suggestion place in the forums where you as the player can write suggestions of things that you think should be part of the game. Now make sure the post is well written, you can give examples of how your suggestion should play out, why it should be added, and keep it friendly, no developer will listen to you if you go offensive. Developers do go through their reports and forums of the beta to see how they can improve on the game before release. If enough players want the same suggestion added, in the end the developers might add that function to the game.

Think about it

Think about why you so badly want a beta key for the next big hit coming out this year. Is it just because you so badly want to play the game? With high expectations for a beta event a player can be quickly disappointed. If a player so badly wants the game to be perfect, they should wait till the game get’s released. By all means if you get a beta key, play the game for testing! The more bugs the players can find together with the developers, the more stable the game will become on release.

So instead of having high hopes for a game that isn’t released, think how you can contribute to the developers in the beta event, what will you do to find the bugs / glitches in the game? How will you report them to the developer?

What did you do to produce the bugs? How are you willing to spend your time in the beta as efficiently as possible to assist the developers? A beta is not a demo, it’s an important part of the game development process to make sure the game will be as smooth as possible. No one likes a broken game on launch.

Game on!

The Game Mistress!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *