Using the DGCIssueTracker to Improve EverQuest II!

Written by Feldon on . Posted in DGC Wants Feedback, EQ2

dgcissuetracker_dashboard

Since the launch of EverQuest II, players have been able to submit bug reports and feedback through the in-game /bug and /feedback commands. It’s nice and integrated, but they are essentially a black hole. Players have no idea when or if their issue has been tested, confirmed to be a bug, or a timeframe when it might be addressed. Players have speculated that /bug and /feedback might not even be read (they are!). Over the years, other methods of bringing bugs and feedback to the EQ2 team’s attention have arisen, each with strengths and weaknesses.

Break On Through to the Other Side

In 2004, EverQuest II entered beta with Forums (EQ2Wire offers an extensive EQ2 Forum Archive of over 2.3 million posts) which has allowed players to share their thoughts and, more importantly, bring issues to the attention of developers. Unfortunately, forums tend to have a poor signal-to-noise ratio, especially if insufficient sections are made available to corral conversations into useful categories. Those who aren’t stakeholders tend to embrace the “active posts per week” metric to chase elusive “engagement” statistics, but this usually diminishes forums as an effective communications platform.

While the EQ2 team diligently reads the forums on a daily basis, these days posting a thread on the EQ2 Forums in the hope of getting an issue onto the radar of the right developer has become a hit-or-miss affair. The chaos of forums also invites off-topic blather and petty arguments which discourage the kind of fact-based discussion necessary to handling bugs and feedback in a professional manner.

In recent years, A number of EQ2 developers have invited players to contact them via E-mail or Private Message / Conversation via the Forums. This has proven successful for correcting very specific issues such as broken house items or misbehaving spells which can be addressed by a single developer. However it has been less effective for broader issues such as class balance, itemization, or mechanics issues which have more than one designer involved. These types of issues require a collaboration that is impossible with one-to-one communication.

Social Media (Twitter/Facebook) is most useful for large scale issues that widely affect players, such as server lag, chat room unavailability, travel bugs, etc. However it can be a blunt instrument (especially due to character limitations of Twitter) which is ineffective for addressing smaller scale issues such as a specifically bugged quest, armor appearance, or spell effect.

Attending SOE Live — Sometimes the most effective way of putting issues in front of EQ2 developers and immediately gauging player support for your bug fix/change has required a plane ticket to Las Vegas. By standing nervously at a microphone in a Question & Answer panel at the annual Fan Faire / SOE Live event, descriving your issue, and then praying for a round of applause (rather than crickets), many an issue has been addressed and received developer attention. Players have had similar success cornering developers in the hallways and shoppes of the host hotel during said Las Vegas event. The obvious drawbacks include the cost of a plane ticket and hotel, the sleeplessness that tends to erase salient details of a specific bug report if copious notes are not taken, and the fact that this approach doesn’t help for the other 361 days of the year.

Each of these methods has their strengths and weaknesses, but none offers a centralized place to discuss, collaborate, and verify bugs and track their progress on a year-round basis. And none of these approaches offers even the faintest timeline of when issues will be addressed, how many other players have experienced the same issues, or allows players to work together to root out the cause of complex bug interactions.

Introducing DGCIssueTracker

For years I and other EQ2 players have hoped that Daybreak nee SOE would institute a Bug Tracker for its games. That didn’t happen, so players have stepped in and saved the day! DGCIssueTracker.com is a fan-operated Bug Tracker which has been quickly adopted by the H1Z1, Planetside 2, DCUO, and more recently EverQuest and EverQuest II development teams.

Q: Isn’t this just another social media site we’re being pushed to like Reddit that works well for certain games but won’t get much attention from established games like EQ2?

A: I have personally consulted with the EQ2 team on this and, over the last few months, have voluntarily embraced this new site and are using it to track issues and gauge priority for issues and popularity for feedback to determine which items will get attention. The team have seen the benefits and advantages of a centralized, public Bug Tracker with player transparency and developer involvement rather than the opaque /bug and /feedback.

Q: Do I login to the DGCIssueTracker.com site with my DGC/All Access Account, or are the accounts separate? What if I’m worried about my privacy?

A: Like EQ2U and Dragon’s Armory, DGCIssueTracker is a third-party player-run fansite. You should create a separate account using a different login and password from what you use for DGC forums or EQ2. When setting up your DGCIssueTracker Profile, you may choose to use a familiar Display Name to something that players recognize from in-game or the official Forums so that any posting or collaboration you do is attributed to your name.

Q: What if I want to keep using /bug or /feedback or talking to developers by e-mail or through the forums?

A: There is certainly nothing stopping anyone from continuing to use these approaches. I know that some people do not wish to create and maintain yet another web account and keep track of the goings-on of another website. Personally, I’ve been using a Password Manager called LastPass to manage all my accounts so that I can have a different password on every site I use but not have to remember or write them all down.

Q: What software is this DGCIssueTracker website running? It’s confusing, where can I find documentation?

A: DGCIssueTracker uses industry standard bug tracking software called JIRA by Atlassian. It can indeed be confusing, but this is one of the cleaner implementations I’ve seen.The best place to start is the EQ2 Dashboard. There you can see existing issues, click on them and Vote or post Comments about them. An Activity Stream of what’s been going on with the EQ2 Project is available. At any time, a new Bug or Suggestion (Feedback) can be posted by clicking the “New Submission” button in the navigation bar at the top.

 dgcissuetracker_issue

As seen in the example issue above, the issue was created by a player named Ubix on April 27, 2015. They consider it a Bug affecting Items. There are currently 5 Votes for this issue and 5 people are Watching the progess of this issue. There have been a number of Comments including one from an EQ2 developer. There is a place (if you’re logged in) to drag-and-drop Screenshots that further illustrate the issue.

Q: What can I do to help this Bug Tracker? Are you looking for Moderators to assist in Categorizing and Verifying Issues/Bug Reports?

A: Absolutely! The EQ2 team are looking for individuals who wish to spend about an hour a day going through submitted and backlogged issues to keep things neat-and-tidy. DGCIssueTracker has a team of moderators, especially on H1Z1, PS2, and DCUO, and they would love to see people from the EverQuest and EverQuest II communities lend a hand to support these games. If you’d like to volunteer for this position, please Contact me at morgan (at) eq2wire.com or e-mail Kander at kvallee (at) daybreakgames.com (or both if you wish!). We’re looking for a few good bug hunters!

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Comments (10)

  • Luciar

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    Awesome article! I hope a larger base of EQ2 enthusiasts will begin to use this incredibly powerful tool!

    Reply

  • GriffonLady

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    Maybe there’s hope for some of the old bugs, like the Pet arena not keeping score, rendering the items on the Pet arena merchant unattainable (unless you were here and got 1000wins/1000kills in the few months it was functioning back in 2006). The handful of us decorators that have been salivating over the unique house items there need to boogie on over and vote for that one. I already did. (Quickest fix would be to get rid of the merchant and add his items to the faction merchants or loyalty token shop, IMHO. There are bigger bugs to squash, but I would love to see something done after all these years…)

    Reply

  • Dellmon

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    Feldon wrote

    Sometimes the most effective way of putting issues in front of EQ2 developers and immediately gauging player support for your bug fix/change has required a plane ticket to Las Vegas…Players have had similar success cornering developers in the hallways and shoppes of the host hotel during said Las Vegas event.

    Feldon, are you honestly suggesting that someone would pay hundreds of dollars and travel thousands of miles suffering tremendous pain and anguish while trapped for untold hours in a non-Exit Row seat designed for a gnome-width butt and then endlessly stalk a Sr. Producer at the Pool Party – - that they would do all that just so that they could get Giant kill count added to Everquest II???

    No one in their right mind would do something as silly as that….

    Reply

    • Feldon

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      Not just suggesting. I’ve got you on tape confessing to it. ;)

      Reply

  • Alethus

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    One thing I wish they would do on the issue tracker is be more specific about what they are looking for when they mention that additional information is needed. Most people are not developers or have a testing background to know what information is needed to help solve the issue.

    Reply

    • Feldon

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      Have you got an example of an issue you reported that got the “additional information” flag? I’ll be happy to look at it.

      Reply

      • Alethus

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        The one I have been looking at recently was EQII-59. It went for about 2 weeks as a more information needed with just a simple is this still happening question that was later changed to ask for the same info as the forums thread that was finally linked by someone else and there has been some recent activity in it, but it has been slow coming until they announced in the patch notes that they fixed one of the memory leaks, and then has seen some new life when that actually made it worse for plenty of people.

        I was just commenting that when the issue is triaged that if it is deemed to need more information, that the specifics of what they would be looking for would be stated then.

        It looks like things are getting better in that department, as I have seen lots of recent activity along those lines. so it might be a moot point at this point and probably just needs to get to a critical mass of moderators to help things along. (I would step up and volunteer, but I can’t devote the hour a day right now that they are looking for, best I could hope for is an hour a week for the foreseeable future).

        Reply

  • Striinger

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    Dellmon, as I recall those long flights may result in the attention from a toey female traveler. Also, 14 hour flights are for more than dev stalking. There also Feldon stalking!
    This is the most compelling reason yet for oAuth and uploading bug data to census. Where is the oAuth 2016 campaign for out of game chat, group maker, and bug tracking?

    Reply

  • Katz

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    I signed up for and have upvoted a few things. I’ll use this now as a direct result of your clear write up.

    Reply

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