Sunday, 6 September 2009

Beta testing: what is it all about?

Having spent a lot of hours now chatting with the newcomers to Blue Mars since the open-beta started, it became quickly clear that most new players had no idea what beta-testing involved.

Most of the players I met wanted to do just that, play, and were complaining about this feature or that feature not yet being available. Some wanted to set up shop immediately and start making money!

The purpose of beta-testing is to iron out the bugs and provide feedback and suggestions for improvement.

Blue Mars are taking the piecemeal approach, by adding functionality in small, controlled, chunks. The role of the beta testers is to test those new features, and report back any bugs, or make suggestions for further improvement. The BM developers will then iron out the bugs, get the platform stable, then issue an new release, with more functions to be tested, and so on until the end of beta and all planned functionality is present for launch.

For developers, bugs are reported on the Mantis bug tracking system. For players, problems can be reported in the In Game Bugs section, and general feedback in the Feedback section of the Blue Mars Online Beta Forum, and suggestions made in the Suggestions part of the forum.

It would save a lot of reporting and repeated suggestions if the Avatar Reality team published a roadmap of features that they are currently working on, and those they are going to try to implement in the future, so they are not repeatedly asked about avatar movement, camera controls, chat functionality, etc.