By: Robyn Piatt
"No amount of testing can prove a software right, but a single test can prove a software wrong"
Kix makes a preview server available for us to test and provide them with feedback. They don't have to do this. They can release targets or hulls and functionality without any testing from us the players and then we have no opportunity to share our concerns or observations with them.
Kixeye generally tells us in advance what targets are available and what feedback they are looking for. Using the last preview server as an example, this is what was posted in the notice "Focused on April A-Set targets and May event S-target mechanics and feedback"
With that being said lets talk a little bit about what a preview is and what it is not.
A Preview (test) server is a controlled environment made available to allow testers (players) the ability to test specific targets, hulls or functionality and provide feedback to Kixeye. While the players are testing, Kixeye is watching the activity in the region for issues with functionality, load balancing and lag, as well as gathering data based on the players activity within the targets.
With the last test we had level 84 and level 100 targets. We were asked to hit these targets and provide feed back via a survey at the end of the session. We are given limited time to perform testing and there are limited participant slots available. Kixeye provides each player over 90k in gold coins to allow the player to build and rank fleets and have free repair while testing
What a test sever is not......
It is not a place for you goof off. If you are asked to test a specific item then test that item. When we are asked to hit raid targets it does not help if you are out constantly hitting mega hulls or other player fleets for the whole testing period. This is not the time to go out and hit your most hated opponent. It is not a time to go out and smash bases (unless this is part of the test) This does nothing but waste time and skew the data Kixeye is collecting. We all tend to pull out that one fleet that we never use at the end of the test and take it for a spin while on free repair but 99% of the time is spent validating the proper functionality.
It is not a place for you if you are brand new to the game and don't understand what is being asked of you for testing. Again, there are limited slots. If you are not familiar with the mechanics of what is being tested then it might be better for you to wait until you are a little more advanced in the game. It also does not help if you are a low level player that does not have the necessary tech components needed to perform the necessary testing. If you don't have the stuff to build the requested fleets correctly, then the information Kixeye collects is invalid.
If you hit a target in the test....finish the target. There is nothing worse than trying to test something and you have to spend 20 minutes of an already extremely short window clearing out targets to get another one to spawn. You have 90k in gold. Use it for repairs and finish the target and then go back into your base and tweak your fleet. There are people that take the time to live stream while on the preview so that others that did not make it in can see the targets as well. Again, not cool having to drive around to find a new target.
"How do I get rid of the shroud? If you make it onto the test server and are a little lost on how to hit the targets, watch a couple of people hit targets to see what you are missing.
If you are going to take part in the preview then be there for the allotted time. Don't log on if you can only spend 20 minutes on the preview. You have taken the spot from another player that does have the time to participate for the full time allotted. If you can't do the time it's a testing crime - there are always videos and information provided afterwards to the community on the many pages available.
Even if you have mastered the target in one go, don't just log off and think you are done. It is not about you and your ability to drive, try other combinations of fleets on the targets, who knows, you might find an error that Kixeye was unaware of. We are not testing to see how good we are, we are testing to make sure the functionality being released is working correctly and does not impact other areas of the game. For example, in the preview just passed, an issue with autoing targets was identified and corrected within the testing window.
While you are in the test server, do not be concerned if all of a sudden a Developer starts to watch your battle while in the preview. They are not spying on you, nor are they going to critique your driving skills (although I am sure they record and laugh at mine later). They are gathering information.
Providing constructive feedback
If you participate in the preview. Fill out the survey. It is always available at the top of the page when you first log in. Click that link so it is open in another page ready for you to fill out when you are done. Once the test is finished the link is gone. The survey asks specific information. It is okay and expected for you to provide negative feedback along with the positive as long as it is clear, event driven and not some major rant. This information is critical to Kixeye. If you fail to fill out the survey or provide the necessary information then you have failed as a test participant. If we don't give them feedback then we cannot complain about the new functionality later. You have a voice - use it constructively.
Why is it so limited and why do "Special" players get access??
Lately people have gotten upset and cried foul because there are a few players that may have early or guaranteed access to a preview. There is a reason for this. These players are people that understand the mechanics of the game and the importance of testing and can articulate issues when they arise. Kixeye has confirmed that these players do not use any of the slots available for the general player access. Ask yourself this.....Do you want 300 random people (that may or may not know what they are doing) or do you want to know there is always a small team of dedicated and knowledgeable players that get guaranteed access that you know will always be there to test and provide feedback and observations. I like knowing that if I cannot get on the sever to test for myself, there will always be a core group I know testing and they will be able to provide information that will help ensure that functionality works, does not cause a massive upset to the game balance, and can provide the correct technical feedback to Kixeye.
Having a preview is a privilege not a right. Don't squander what we have by fart-assing around doing things that do not provide Kixeye with the necessary information they are looking for.