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Portalus Games | Official Site
MMORPG | Setting:Historical | Status:Final  (rel 01/22/08)  | Pub:Portalus Games
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Dev Log: Beta Apps

Posted by Jon Wood on May 05, 2006  | Comments

Dev Log: Beta Apps -

Thar's a new Dev Log ahoy over at Pirates of the Burning Sea. In this one, Misha talkes about Beta applications. In other words, what should you avoid doing when sending in a beta application:


I was adding some more folks to our beta yesterday and started thinking about some issues I've noticed in some beta applications. In the course of talking to Aether on a tangentially related topic, he said "you haven't done a devlog in a while – how 'bout one on beta applications?" That's Aether for you, always looking for an excuse for someone to do a devlog. :p So here goes.

Some folks just don't have hardware we can run on. Some don't have hardware sufficient for even our lowest goals. We currently use (nay, demand) Pixel Shader 2.0. If your video card supports an earlier version of Pixel Shader, the game might run but looks like poo. (Maybe it looks more like spilt milk – much stuff is white where there should be lovely colors and other wonderful features.) Some day, we will do a better job of supporting PS 1.1 and at that point, it's good to have folks with those cards in the beta. If your card doesn't support *any* version of Pixel Shader, the game will not run at all. Soon, we will add code to cause it to fail gracefully (pop up an error message telling you to buy a better video card) instead of crashing (like we do now), but we're never going to run on cards that don't support at least PS 1.1. We also need at least 512M of RAM and at least Windows XP. If your system is insufficient for us, consider upgrading and then be sure to update your DXDIAG in your beta application.

Which brings me to the second thing: We're serious about your DXDIAG. We actually do need to know what sort of system you have. We not only use it when we're adding folks based on certain configurations but we use it when tracking down bugs the beta testers report as well. So if your application says "this DXDIAG is from my work machine but my game machine at home is a sweet setup" or *worse*, you don't submit a DXDIAG, I'm left wondering... Now, some folks are lucky enough to have multiple machines available for playing and you can only submit one DXDIAG. (Actually, you can submit many but only the last one shows up – previous ones get overwritten.) Most of those folks submit one and then comment in the Additional Info field that "I also have a GeForce 6800 I can throw in there” or "I also have a slightly slower machine with only 512M of RAM and a Radeon x800" That's fine. That's info I can use and we don't really give these folks a better way to present it to me. Having two machines doesn't get you added any sooner so don't use me as an excuse to talk your sig other into letting you buy a new one. ;-)

Which reminds me about the Additional Info field. The other fields are sort of like your résumé – full of dry facts. Name, address, phone number, relevant experience. The Additional Info field is like your cover letter. It's an opportunity to provide info that will help your application stand out. And I really am fascinated by why you want to help us test, why you think I should pick you instead of the next guy or gal, and how you got your beta key. If you have no comments in your Additional Info field, it's no crime, but I have a *ton* of these applications to slog through – entertain me! I'd sure appreciate it... <3

In your Additional Info field, if you're in a guild, don't just say "I'm in a guild." You have to tell me which one if you want me to add you at the same time as your buddies. Not that I've done that yet – tried to add guild members in clumps. The tool doesn't let me find you related folks easily so I've never tried to do "next batch is all from such-and-such guild." But I expect to some day and Isildur's got a new helper in the PHP world so my tool improves every day so you never know. Best to clarify who your buddies are, just in case. :-)

Speaking of Isildur's new helper, I have to sing her praises some more. No offense to Isildur – I'm eternally grateful to him too (and you are too whether you know it or not). He implemented as much of the Beta Application System Spec I wrote as he could in the time he had (he has another job, you know, actually working on the game) and it's... functional. It's also dadgum slow and annoying in many ways. I'd spec'ed some features to make my life easier; he just didn't have time to implement them. His new helper has another job too – actually working on the game (I'm hoping Aether will talk her into doing a devlog to introduce herself soon) – but in her spare time she's implementing these little features I'd asked for ages ago. Each one is a delight – a tasty piece of candy to brighten my day. The latest feature will enable me to add the next bunch of folks in about 1/5 the time it took me to add the last batch of folks! You know, the ability to add folks faster can only mean one thing... I'll be adding more folks faster! :D

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