HotM:Instructions For Testers

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Intro

So, you're private testing the game. Please read the following instructions before anything else.

How To Get Your Key

Your key should have been sent to you by a Direct Message (DM) via discord. If you don't have a key yet, then be sure to check in your messages; sometimes it is not super visible.

What Are You Expected To Do?

If You Have Not Played The Demo Already

  • Play the game for at least 2-4 hours within the first 3 days of getting access.
    • Provide a naive player experience, in general, the more blind you can go into the game, the better.
    • But life happens, you know? If something comes up, this isn't a giant crisis and you don't need to feel bad at all.
  • There are specific questions below; please leave those data points in the specific linked bugtracker tickets.
  • If you have some constructive feedback, please add it in the bugtracker as a suggestion ticket.
  • If you have some half-formed thoughts, that are not actionable items, and you want to discuss it with other testers, use the private discord channels.
    • This is a great way for you and others to talk about your thoughts, and then for someone to eventually bubble up an actual actionable item into the bugtracker.
  • Beyond that, play more or don't play more as you wish. This is not a job.

If You Have Already Played The Demo

  • There's going to be some months of updates coming out. Please give them a go when you feel like it, and leave comments if you see things that need adjusting, but by and large there's nothing hugely specific.

Information For You To Keep Private (Important!)

  • The embargo is over for everything you currently have access to in chapter one. You can stream on open platforms, post screenshots anywhere you like, tell anything to friends, and so on.
    • For these things, which is about 10 hours of content, you can talk about anything and everything with anyone, and post any sorts of video and screenshots, no restrictions.

What is still off limits:

  • Content for chapter two once yet get there
    • The "surprise reveals" at the end of chapter one, which are not available in the upcoming public demo. None of this stuff is actually in the build you have right now.
    • THAT said, the spoiler info is already being discussed in open spoiler channels that anyone can read, so this is not exactly a crisis now. Anyone on the internet can get the info if they want it. So talk about it freely with friends, but please just keep your comments on the discord more spoiler-covered or in spoiler-specific channels.

What To Expect From Me

I am a solo dev at this point, which means my time is incredibly limited. I have written a personal essay about testing if you want more context, but don't feel like you need to read it.

I Can't Engage In Long Conversations Or Read Long Write-ups (But I Do Anyway)

  • Any time I spend reading feedback or conversing about things is time that is directly taken out of development.
    • In past games, just reading and responding to feedback has taken me 4-6 hours per day.
    • Update: during the week of the demo, this has taken me 10-12 hours a day. New record!
  • I have a lot of stuff to finish in the coming months, so I can't afford to do that, or even close, on an ongoing basis. But I will probably still spend like 2 hours a day on it.
  • Thank you for understanding.

For Your First Play Session

If You Did Not Play The Demo

  • I'm looking for na├»ve player experiences.
  • In general, the more blind you can go in, the better.
  • Avoid learning anything about the game, from other testers, the wiki, Discord, BugTracker, Steam, etc.
  • The more I get of your thoughts, rather than those of the crowd, the better.

Moving Your Saves From The Demo To The Playtest

If you have already played the demo, then you probably already have savegames and such. Settings, too.

If you open up the local install folder for the demo in Steam, you will find a PlayerData subfolder. All of the contents of that can be copied straight over into your Playtest's same version of that folder.

Sessions Beyond Your First

  • Please do as you like. This isn't your job.
  • If you don't enjoy the game and want to bow out of testing, that's absolutely fine.
  • If you just can't get enough of it, also fine.

What Is The Current State Of The Test Build?

Please only refer to this after your first blind playthrough, unless you already played the demo: Current State For Testing

Your Mission AKA What I'm Looking For

Use The Bugtracker

Mantis Sign In

The majority of your feedback will go in the Arcen bugtracker.

  • You will need an account. If you don't have one already, you can either sign up directly or through your Steam login.
    • To use the Steam login click "Login", and then click the Steam image that says "click here to log in through Steam".
    • To sign up directly, click "Signup for a new account." You'll need an email address and is slightly more steps than just using Steam.
      • Either method works fine.
Signing In Via Steam
  • When using the bugtracker, be sure to look in the upper right corner of the page and change your project to just Heart of the Machine.
    • This will allow you to see just things related to this project, not other games Arcen has done in the past.
Project Select
  • On that same page, there are also handy filters in the center of the screen. You can bulk set those via the dropdown in the upper left. The Complete List Except For Closed can be useful if you're browsing what other people have said that is currently still outstanding.
Project Select
  • But if you want to search for duplicate issues, it's best to do it with no filters at all (hit the Reset button next to the dropdown, if it is there).
Project Select

General Feedback

These are the primary issues I'm looking for feedback for. Create new bugtracker issues for these.

  • If you are confused by something.
  • If something unexpected happened.
  • If you experience a bug or glitches.
  • If there was a clever idea you had, but the game wouldn't let you execute on that.
    • This includes potential future content (e.g. "I started trying to see if I could do X but it turns out I can't, this feels like something other people might want to do and is something you could add").
    • This is probably the most valuable kind of feedback long-term for this game, and frankly probably also the most fun for you to give.

What A Good Bugtracker Ticket Looks Like

  • It's a new issue (AKA Not a duplicate).
    • Search for your issue before reporting it. If it's a duplicate and it looks like more data is needed, you can add your details to the existing ticket.
  • It has a concise title.
    • It makes it easier for others to identify duplicate issues.
  • It includes a savegame that shows the issue, or where you'd like some new feature, or whatever.
    • Those are located in your install folder of the game, in /PlayerData/Saves/[your profile name].
    • If I have to spend hours to recreate the conditions of your report, that's a giant waste of resources.
    • For things that are just text-based, I don't need a savegame. Just make sure you have the exact text, so I can search for it.
  • It includes your logs if you got an error.
    • Those are located in your install folder of the game, in /PlayerData/Logs/HeartOfTheMachineLog.txt
  • If it is a laundry-list of items, that are all DEEPLY related.
    • For example, if you have a big list of typos, feel free to just dump that in one ticket.
    • Or for another example, if there are a bunch of locations that all have a similar sort of inconsistency with how clicking works or something, then all those go in one ticket.
  • Otherwise, it's one ticket per actual item that needs changing, please.
    • When I am going through and (closing/fixing/resolving) issues, I can't do that by partial-ticket.
    • So in other words, if you have a 5 minute fix, one thing that is already working as intended, and one thing that will take me 4 hours but is super low priority, I can't remotely deal with that as one ticket. Normally I would fix the first fast, close the second with a note, and then mark the third one with the appropriate status to get to later. But when they're all in one ticket, it doesn't work.
  • It is actionable in some way. It's not discussion-oriented.
    • If you have something you want to discuss, then please do that with other testers in the tester section of the discord.
    • Where actionable items result out of some sort of consensus, one person can then put that on the bugtracker.
    • If I need to be involved in the discussion for some reason, then I can be pinged about it.
    • Discord is great for discussions; the bugtracker is not.

Ad Blockers May Mess Up Ticket Submission

I'm not sure if this is a generalized thing, but there are no ads on the arcen website at all, anyway. I have one report of getting api errors on the bugtracker when trying to submit tickets until the adblocker was off.

If I had to guess, possibly certain adblockers are stripping out some data that is supposed to be sent with the form (like the savegame or log you're uploading, I dunno).

But in general, this bugtracker has been in continuous use for us since 2011 and this is the sole report of it, so maybe it was just gremlins on that one day in 2024.

Other Ways You Can Help

  • If there are reports on the bugtracker that are marked as "feedback requested," then I'm looking for either more information, or a savegame that reproduces (repros) a problem. If you can provide that, awesome!
  • If there's a discussion on the private part of Discord where other testers are grappling with some issue, trying to decide how best to ask for something, or if to ask for something at all, please feel free to get involved there!
  • Any help you want to provide with adding content to the wiki is a HUGE help.