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Beta Testing 101: 5 things you should always report

Anne Stickney

Have you made it into the Mists of Pandaria beta yet? Being a beta tester isn't about simply playing through a free sample of the game. If you're expecting a completed product when you log in, you're in for a surprise. What you are playing is a not-quite-finished version of the game, and it's highly likely you'll run into your fair share of bugs as you're wandering Pandaria's gorgeous hills and valleys. As a beta tester, it's your job to report those bugs you find in game, so that they can be fixed before the game goes live.

However, not every error out there deserves a report. Things like NPCs that are marked with a PC or NYI tag are things the developers already know about -- they're just placeholder models. Music isn't yet implemented into Pandaria yet either, but the developers know about that, too. So what makes a bug a bug, and what kinds of bugs should you report?

In layman's terms, a bug is anything in the game that causes the game to mess up. But a bug is also something that can be repeated -- it's not just a one-time weird occurrence. Ideally, a bug is an error that interferes with or otherwise shouldn't exist within the realm of normal gameplay, and the reason it's able to be repeated is because there's something going on that needs to be addressed.

When you are reporting a bug on the forums, you want to absolutely make sure it can be repeated and that it's not just a freak occurrence. This is because in order to fix that bug, Blizzard's going to have to make it happen first-hand. If it's something the developers can't repeat, they can't really fix the issue, because they can't pinpoint the cause. Blizzard has provided beta forums specifically for bug reports as well as feedback on quests, dungeons and more. If you're going to report a bug, be sure that you do so concisely, with only relevant information.

Bugs worth reporting

1. Game crashes If your game crashes, it could be due to one of two things -- your computer or the game. If you notice that your client crashes repeatedly at the same point in the game, test it repeatedly to see if the crash is reproducible. Is there a particular location causing the crash? Is interacting with a particular quest NPC causing it? Do you have your in-game camera pointed in a particular direction when the crash happens? Information like this will help the developers figure out what's causing the crash.

2. Holes in the terrain If you're quite happily prancing along in the landscape and suddenly find yourself falling through the world to your untimely demise, this is something that should be reported. Again, you want to make sure you can reproduce an error like this -- if you happened to Blink through the landscape, try walking over it without using Blink. Sometimes the problem is less with the terrain and more with using a particular spell in a particular area. In either case, make sure you note the location of the hole, and what area it was in. Take a screenshot of the area, if you like. That way, it'll be easier for the developers to find and patch.

3. Quest bugs If you run into something that doesn't allow you to complete a quest, this is something that should be reported. Examples include being pointed to the wrong location to turn a quest in, as in the map is showing the wrong location; being told to pick up a particular item and not being able to interact with that particular item; or being phased out of a particular area and unable to continue any further with a particular chain. In any of these cases, you want to point out the name of the quest, where you were when you weren't able to complete it, and why you weren't able to finish the quest.

4. UI bugs A UI bug is anything that interferes with the user interface for the game. If you're trying to open your spellbook and you can't click on any spells, this would be a UI error. Or if you've got a particular mob targeted but you can't see a health bar on your screen, that would also be a UI error. Or if you're in a vehicle but you can't see a way to control or exit it, that would also count as a UI error. If you run into one of these types of errors, make sure you report what part of the UI wasn't functioning correctly, what you were trying to do (click on a spell, enter a vehicle), and what happened when you tried to do it.

5. Camera errors I'm not talking about cinematics failing to play -- most of the cinematics in Mists aren't even implemented yet. But if you're in an area or playing through a quest and your camera suddenly starts swinging around wildly or acting in any way that interferes with gameplay, this is something that should be reported. If this error is part of a quest where the camera has taken over, be sure to report what quest you were on. If it just happened in a particular area, make a note of the area it occurred in. If it was while you were swimming or on a flight path, make sure you note that, too.

Other bugs worth squishing

These are just a few major types of bugs that should be reported, but there are plenty of others, too. If you notice that one of your class spells or abilities is behaving erratically, see if you can reproduce the error. If you can, report it. If you notice grammatical errors in quests, you can report that too, even though that's a relatively minor bug. If you notice an NPC is speaking gibberish or behaving oddly, you'll want to report that, too.

Remember, when you're beta testing, you're in there to help make sure the release version of the game is running as smoothly and error-free as possible. Reporting bugs as you find them on the beta forums will help guarantee that Mists of Pandaria's launch is a smooth success.

It's open warfare between Alliance and Horde in Mists of Pandaria, World of Warcraft's next expansion. Jump into five new levels with new talents and class mechanics, try the new monk class, and create a pandaren character to ally with either Horde or Alliance. Look for expansion basics in our Mists FAQ, or dig into our spring press event coverage for more details!

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