World of Warcraft

WoW: Blizzard reveals why PTR raid tests are announced on such short notice

It's a topic that might only be of direct interest to a few people, but it's still exciting. In the Community Council forum, where the WoW developers are currently very busy discussing many different things with the players, the question came up as to why the raid tests on the PTR are always announced at such short notice. This leaves little time for guilds and players to prepare. The answer from the developers was immediate and more detailed than most would have guessed.

Blizzard did not respond with an 08/15 PR answer that they plan on short notice and that there is no other way to solve this internally, but simply disclosed their complete approach to PTR testing of bosses .

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Short notice and without much lead time

  • About a week before the PTR test of a boss, the developers talk through which bosses would be ready for testing, after which the designers prepare a stable and testable version by the end of the week.
  • The following weekend, a new test build is created.
  • This will then run for a few days so that the bugs and such that always occur can be found and fixed.
  • As soon as the worst bugs are eliminated in the middle of the week and the quality assurance gives their okay, the tests will be officially announced and the new test build will be released on the PTR.

The developers thus confirmed that they could well announce the boss tests earlier. But at the same time pointed to the high risk that the tests would then more often have to be canceled at short notice. If not all bugs could be fixed in the first days of the test build, which could be the case, the tests would have to be postponed. Otherwise, you're just wasting the players' time.
Currently, the bosses from the Mausoleum of the First, the upcoming raid from WoW Patch 9.2, are being tested on the PTR. Source: Blizzard
In the same course, the developers thereby initiated the discussion whether short-term announcements or rather longer-term ones with the chance of cancellation would be the better way. However, it is interesting to see how short-term such decisions are currently made.

Official statement from Blizzard

This is super fair feedback and something we've talked about previously.

To understand the problem, we need to take a step back and talk about how we do PTR testing:

  • The week prior to a PTR test, we confirm which bosses are ready for testing and ask their designers to have them in a stable & testable state by the end of the week.
  • The weekend before a PTR test, we generate a new build to use for testing.
  • While bugs are to be expected on PTR, we want to ensure a baseline level of stability so that we're not wasting players' time. This is where QA comes in and they do a great job finding any bugs that could interfere with testing.
  • Once we've fixed any major issues & have QA's blessing, we put the new build on the PTR and post our announcement for raid testing.

The challenge comes in with that last part - sometimes the problems we find are serious enough that they can take multiple days to fix or might prevent raid testing that week entirely. An example might be something like: "there are invisible holes in the floor all over the raid". This is why we wait until we're pretty certain a test will happen before announcing it.

That being said we do know what we "want to" test by the start of the week, and we could announce that sooner, but it'd come with a significant risk of plans being changed or canceled later in the week. The question then becomes: "would it be OK to announce a test earlier, have players plan to attend, and then cancel it later if we discover a problem that would prevent testing?"

I'd want to discuss with the team before promising any changes to how we do things, but I'm curious to hear your thoughts on this based on the information above.

Are you one of the players who already test the bosses on the PTR or do you prefer to be surprised on the live servers?

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