Welcome to the Elemental Beta!
If you've beta tested with us before, welcome back. If not, or if you've beta tested other games, please keep in mind that our definition of "beta" is different from others. At this early stage, things are going to be rough and it won't be fun, but with your help and input the game will come together before your very eyes!
So you've found a problem.
First things first: what kind of problem? For the title of your report thread, you'll want to begin with the general category so that particular issues are easier for us to find. Some categories include:
Technical Issues --
||The game crashes, hangs, or fails to start.
||The game runs poorly, even with sufficient hardware.
||Graphical anomalies or artifacts.
(ex: the map is just a jumbled mess of lines and static)
Non-technical Issues --
||A game mechanic is not working correctly.
(ex: your kingdom's skill bonus does not appear to apply)
||Something in the user interface is not working correctly.
(ex: text or backgrounds are not layered correctly in a menu)
||Other not-working-correctly issues outside the above categories.
||Something you think could be reasonably improved.
(ex: something isn't broken, but could work better or be easier another way)
After figuring out the category, provide a brief but descriptive title. Please refrain from making a post with a mysterious title like "[Bug]" only, or putting an entire post in the title line.
If you have a suggestion which does not involve the game systems that we're focusing on in the current phase, please post them in the Ideas forum rather than under Beta feedback.
Finally, please keep it to one bug per topic. Combining multiple reports into one thread makes it much more difficult to quickly categorize them when we go over them.
What kind of detail should you give?
In the body of the report, please give as much detail about the problem as you can. This includes what the problem is (as best as you can describe it), what you were doing when it happened, and (most importantly) if/how it can be made to happen again.
If it is a technical issue (Crashes, Performance, Graphic Bugs), there are some files you can provide to help. Before we cover them though, take note to use pastebin.com or some other text hosting service (if you have your own website, you can just upload them there) to link any log files externally. These files are usually very long, and if you paste them directly in your post it can become unreadable very quickly. However you upload them, please make sure that the files are readable directly from the link--don't use rapidshare or other such download sites to host them.
Note: If the debug.err file is too large for pastebin, you can split it across multiple pastes or just upload it to dropbox as with memory dumps below.
First and foremost, each time you run the game it will generate a log named debug.err. This file will always be located at My Documents\My Games\Elemental and will be replaced each time you run the game, so make sure to grab it right after the problem happens. Despite the funny extension, it is a plain text file so you can open it with notepad to copy the text out.
Second, also for technical issues, you can provide a dxdiag report. To generate one, go to the Run option in your start menu, type in dxdiag and click OK. It will process for a bit; when it finishes, click the Save All button and save the report someplace you'll remember. You can then open the report with notepad and upload it or post it to pastebin as with the debug.err file. Again, please don't post these directly in your report as they are usually very long.
For crash reports in particular, the most helpful file you can provide is a memory dump that the game will generate when a crash occurs. If you're running Windows XP, there will be a zip file with the memory dump located in Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Stardock\Elemental - War of Magic. If you're running Windows Vista or 7, the zip file will be located at ProgramData\Stardock\Elemental - War of Magic instead.
Due to the high importance of solving crash issues and the need to provide a non-text file, we ask that instead of using third party upload sites or the forums, please submit crash reports with the memory dump zip, your debug.err, and your dxdiag report attached directly to our bug tracking system. Submission of other bugs through that system is optional, but for crashes we do ask that you use it specifically. Although there is a suggestions category there, please keep those to the forums so that it doesn't get too full. There should also be a link to the bug tracker in your start menu should you need to use it.
Update: Unfortunately we've had to close off fogbugz to the general public due to a high volume of spam. For subsequent betas, please post crash reports directly on the forum. For the dumps, we recommend DropBox. Please do not upload dumps to sites such as Rapidshare as the limits on those sites can make gathering large numbers of reports quickly very difficult.
A picture is worth a thousand words...
If you're reporting anything that is most easily illustrated with a picture, we recommend using Jing. This service allows you to post screenshots, annotate them, and host them very easily. For example:
On with the show!
Thanks for reading this guide--now get to playing! If you have any questions about bug reporting or anything is unclear, feel free to ask here.