Industries of Titan features an in-game bug reporter that has been incredibly useful. Players have been very kind in submitting bug reports and suggestions through it, and we usually get a couple of hundred reports a day.
In this tutorial I won’t go into the technical aspects of creating a bug reporter, but instead talk about how to get the most out of a your bug report system.
Make it easy for players to submit bug reports
This first point might be obvious, but it’s the whole point of making an in-game bug reporter. Players can always contact via other methods (Discord, forums, Twitter etc.) but in-game should have as little friction as possible. Ideally a button visible on-screen or on the pause screen.
Include as much information as possible
System specs: Windows version, CPU, GPU, RAM information etc.
Current game information: If there is information about the player’s current game state that is not present in a screenshot, make sure to included it in files or logs. For example what skills do they have equipped, where are they in the overworld, what quests have they completed, can all be incredibly useful in understanding the cause of a bug.
Current save file: QA will need to load saves to verify bugs. The key is to make the process of going from reading the bug report to being in-game with the save as simple as possible. Ideally it should be a single click for QA to download the save, start the game, and load the downloaded save file.
A screenshot: Players will often report visual bugs. You will need a screenshot to see what they are referring to. Giving the player the ability to re-take the screenshot and see it is ideal.
All configuration files: If a user reports that some input is not working, or that they are having problems with their resolution, you will need to their configuration files to confirm if it is something with the config, or the game, or something else.
Give each report a player-facing unique ID
Players have often used the in-game bug reporter and then followed up about it in Discord. By showing them a copy-pastable unique ID after submitting a report, they can use it when asking for more help or adding info.
Hey I submitted a report via the in-game bug reporter, ID 12345, I found out that I can repro the bug by making a ship with 3 people as well as with 5 people.
Filter by game version
As your game changes, older versions will be deprecated and replaced with newer ones. You will continue to get bug reports from users who are still playing old versions. Those are not useful for QA, so you will need to be able to filter reports by game version.
I would recommend your game version information include the repository version number so programmers can know whether a particular bugfix would be included in a build.
Filter gross comments
Players will be frustrated by bugs and some will take to foul language. QA’s job is to help identify bugs in the game, not to be abused or read hate-speech, so you will need to filter any comments with hateful content.
Make reports searchable
This might seem optional, but it’s incredibly useful to be able to search reports to find if multiple players are seeing the same issue, or when an issue started to appear.
Translate all reports into your QA’s language
Hopefully you will be releasing your game in multiple languages, which means you will be getting bug reports in multiple languages too!
QA can manually copy-paste text into a translation services but it’s a huge time-sink and is really boring.
There are a bunch of online automated translation services that are reasonably-priced, and will help QA make the best of all the reports you will be receiving.
Allow optional user ID
Some users may wish to know workarounds, or be willing to supply more informaiton on request. Give them the option of supplying an email address or Discord username for this.