Uplink Analysis: Beta Feedback

Written by David "Scooter" Bass on January 14, 2013

WildStar Uplink is a bi-weekly conversation we hold with our fans about MMO design, philosophy, and news. The main goal of these conversations is to gauge how important certain issues are to the WildStar community. More than just a simple conversation, we ask questions about topics that are important, and we share your responses with the development team directly. Want to participate? Follow @Team_WildStar on Twitter for the weekly question, participate using #WSuplink, and keep an eye on the community team (CRB_Atreid, CRB_Aether, and CRB_Scooter) to interact with us throughout the discussions.

We wanted to start off the year discussing what is sure to become more important as we drive towards beta for WildStar:

What does "good feedback" mean to you during a beta? What does "bad feedback" include?

Let's start with what good feedback from players encapsulates:

WolfpackCasey: Good feedback - Reporting issues, suggesting impovements/changes in a well-thought way, trying out everything.

jleithart: Good by the testers should explain what they like /didn't like and why they feel the way they do. This requires the means to do so

WolfpackCasey: Bad feedback - not reporting things, being a fan-boi and saying the game is perfect, whining, demanding changes

TheNamesNobody: Good feedback, constructive criticism, and detailed breakdowns of events. Bad feedback, example "This blows "..

jleithart: Bad feedback is no feedback at all. When players use beta to decide if they actually want to buy the game, etc.

Bkmiller428: "Good feedback" helps improve game performance and enjoyability. "Bad feedback" doesn't.

jleithart: @Bkmiller428 This is very true. You want feedback from people who want to see the game succeed, not just dishonest fanboys.

BlackBigBang: Great feedbacks reports issues precisely, suggesting some things. Bad feedbacks "This is perfect" or "That's bad !"

Gazimoff: Good feedback, as a minimum, is reporting bugs and describing the steps required to reproduce them. But possibly moreso, it should be about highlighting where there are great, fun experiences that really work and conversely about pinpointing where the experience isn't great, why it's not fun and trying to describe why.

grieger: ...the original point behind Beta beyond testing is determining whether or not you've got gameplay down for your target audience.

BigDamn_Heroes: good feedback identifies issues (bugs, features, game systems) by providing the user "experience" with them. "bad feedback" is things like "Devs sux, they don't know what they're doing".

grieger: I'd actually argue good feedback is more about how well the game mechanics work and how fun the game is more than bug reporting.

Guideborn: Good feedback is well-detailed, legible, and I suppose cordial. Bad feedback is none whatsoever. "Game sux" isn't feedback!

qn2Quid: Good feedback is detailed information about how you feel about the game and its content, and if things didnt work as you expected

Incan_: I think beta is mostly about giving my opinion on the game, what's fun, what's understandable, etc. and what's not. Bug report is better done by QA imho

cecilandblues: good feedback includes reasons and details. It shows effort and will be taken more seriously

qn2Quid: Bad feedback is no feedback, players/testers who doesnt communicate and use the beta as a demo version of the game in development

We also discussed the best feedback developers could give their beta testers:

CRB_Scooter: I loved this blog post describing what CMs use and ignore in feedback:

Bkmiller428: @CRB_Scooter An excellent article!

Ryowulf: Good is giving info which helps the devs. Bad is acting like you are playing the finished version.

jleithart: Good feedback by the developers should make that the testers voices are heard whether or not their suggestions will be pursued

Bkmiller428: Feedback from the developer needs to come in the form of bug fix schedules and Yea/Nay responses to suggestions.

jleithart: Bad by the developers is when no communication and then suddenly things change

bramhendriks: Feedback for me is interaction between people where everyone listens and their opinion is taken serious.

ReleeSquirrel: You should have in-game bug reporting and it should tell you the player's location. That way, when I say "I can see through the ground at this location." you know where I mean! I hate mesh holes.

Since we're in the midst of finishing up our plans for beta testing, I decided to take this response on myself, with some help from the rest of the Community team:

Hey guys! Thanks for participating in the first Uplink of 2013. It's an exciting year for us, both in terms of finally getting to reveal everything WildStar, but also because we're ramping up towards beta in the next few months. You can look forward to seeing a number of articles and Uplink topics in the near future geared towards WildStar beta, so you know exactly what to expect should you get an invite.

So let's talk about feedback! Most of you touched on this point, but the absolute most important part of Beta feedback is getting useful, actionable feedback. What does this mean?

  1. Well-thought out posts with concise, focused feedback. A single post explaining why the Whirlwind ability makes all other abilities inferior is perfect for us. We can easily package that post up and send it off to a designer for review and/or a response.
  2. Attention to detail is crucial. Saying "My character fell through the world" doesn't give us enough information, and we'll have no choice but to move on (more accurately, we'll most likely reply with "Can you tell us more about how and where this happened?"). Being able to tell us exactly where you were and what you were doing will allow us to reproduce the issue (which will, in turn, allow us to find and fix the bug).
  3. Constructive, thoughtful debates about a topic between testers will likely encourage one of us to hop in and offer our opinions. Putting down others because you disagree with them? Not so much.

We're actually using the Friends & Family phase of testing to help us improve our communication with our testers. It's difficult to adjust to having an external group of people constantly evaluating your game, but it's a challenge we love working to overcome. Over the coming months, think about how you'll help us test and improve WildStar, and get excited for beta!

What do you think of our advice for good feedback? Let us know on Twitter at @Team_WildStar and keep an eye on the #WSuplink hashtag for a heads up when we begin a new topic on Monday. Thanks to everyone who participated in last week's discussion!

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