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Hello everyone and welcome to a new chapter in zOMG!'s on-going "Behind the Scenes" series!

My name is Kuzuan and together with mlos we are responsible for the Quality Assurance (QA) work on zOMG!. We work closely with the Developers (Devs) in order to find as many bugs, glitches and problems in the game as possible so that you are better able to enjoy the game.

To kick off the QA chapter of the "Behind the Scenes", we wanted to give everyone an overview of the general steps that are followed before we release a new update for the game. This process is called a Build Cycle and we follow it in order to keep things organized and reduce the chance of errors or misunderstandings. Moreover, all zOMG! players are an important part of this process as we are able to identify bugs or areas for improvement through your time spent playing the game and providing valuable feedback on the forums! For example: we read user feedback on the way Splash Screens are presented in the game and are happy to announce that, starting with the next update, Splash Screens depicting a specific zone will only appear when a player is loading that zone! User Image

An important thing to remember is that all of the servers or game versions described below are hosted separately and have zero direct connection to the servers or game that you play on the GaiaOnline main site. This setup enhances security and prevents trouble on our end from effecting your enjoyment of the game.

Stop, flowchart time! User Image

Follow the arrows to see how the Build Cycle progresses.
The numbers in red circles correspond to explanations provided below the chart.

User Image


1) Trunk -- The Trunk is a zOMG! server that contains the absolute latest version (or build) of the game. New content, changes and tweaks the developers make are first added to the Trunk so that the they can see how their changes affect the game. The version of zOMG! on Trunk is usually stable, however this is certainly zOMG! in its rawest form.

2) Staging -- The Devs move (or push) the latest version of zOMG! to Staging after making sure that the game is stable and they are satisfied with the new changes they have made. Staging is a different zOMG! server that most closely mirrors the setup of the game's server on the main site. The Devs also e-mail QA with a list of changes that are present in the new build. After receiving this e-mail QA plans how we will conduct our tests and asks the Devs any questions we may have about new features.

3) Test Cycle -- This is where the magic happens! User Image The basic Test Cycle has QA working closely with the Devs on the new build in order to test new changes and identify bugs. As we work, the Devs provide us with updates to the build that contain fixes. Deadlines are set to make sure that the Test Cycle never becomes unreasonably long. We work within these deadlines to achieve the ultimate goal of this effort: bringing the new build to a level where both QA and Devs agree that the update is ready for Release.

4) Quality Assurance (QA) -- When we receive a new build our first task is to update our records with information about the new changes. At this time we also split up test areas so everyone has their own set of responsibilities during the Test Cycle. In order to keep things organized we immediately make a record of any new bugs or glitches that we find. The Devs check for new entries often in order to decide how a reported problem should be handled. QA uses a variety of software tools and testing methods to make sure that the Devs' vision works as intended and that the game functions properly. In addition we often call upon members of the SCAS Beta Tester Guild to help us test new changes and provide valuable player feedback.

5) Developers (Devs) -- The Devs are just as busy as QA during the Test Cycle! They check bug records to see what problems have been found and they meet with QA in order to hear feedback about the new build. The Devs work hard to fix reported bugs quickly so that QA has an opportunity to test the update content and the game in as many ways and as many times as possible.

6) Release -- Even though the Test Cycle has already concluded it's still too early to break out the Champagne. The Devs notify the department responsible for monitoring the GaiaOnline servers (our Operations team) about their intention to push a new build to the main site. After this, the Devs close the servers for maintenance as they push the final version of the new build from Staging to the main site. The Devs notify QA when the push is complete so that we can enter the game and quickly verify that everything looks good. The servers are opened as soon as we give Devs the green light to proceed. At least one person from the QA team keeps an eye on the zOMG! forums after each new push in order to check for players raising alerts about any bugs or problems they encounter in the new build. If an issue comes up then we alert the Devs who decide whether to hotfix the issue that day or to wait until the next Release. User Image

I hope you enjoyed this overview of the zOMG! Build Cycle! We will be on hand to answer questions you might have about the process used to shepherd a new version of the game from its inception to you! Please let us know if there are any areas that you would like us to cover in greater details in future entries of "Behind the Scenes". All of us are looking forward to sharing more information with you about how this awesome game is created, how it grows and evolves!
Lady Aidan's avatar

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You know you are legit when you have a flowchart that explains what you do. xp

Looks awesome, I can't wait for the rest of the chapter/series.
ShadowFlame1721's avatar

O.G. Entrepreneur

More behind the scenes. biggrin

Yeah, I remember talking about this at a dev meet awhile back, but the flowchart helped me understand a lot better. I knew about the secret server, but I never knew what it was called. xD

And those emotes.... xD
this is so cool..>w<

Edit: love the emots and everthing biggrin
Valheita's avatar

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Have you heard of Test Driven Development, Kuzuan?
Please, don't forget questions! blaugh
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Saburoo's avatar

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:OOOOO

cool ^_^
Kuzuan
Moreover, all zOMG! players are an important part of this process as we are able to identify bugs or areas for improvement through your time spent playing the game and providing valuable feedback on the forums! For example: we read user feedback on the way Splash Screens are presented in the game and are happy to announce that, starting with the next update, Splash Screens depicting a specific zone will only appear when a player is loading that zone!

Thank you. It was a bit disconcerting to see one area "splashed" when one is heading elsewhere.
Ooo, interesting.

So I'm guessing that when the server-opening is delayed for __long, it means that the QA found something that needed to be fixed before the servers were/are opened to us?
I know you've touched upon what you do during your meetings, but it's nice to finally see a more in-depth description of what goes on. : )
Ragna the Hell Tutor's avatar

Demonic Guest

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It looks like the kind of job that just tires one to death.
My head hurts just from imagining myself doing it...
Aseres's avatar

IRL Vampire

FLOOWCHHHHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRTTTTTSS
So glad these threads aren't finished!! 8D

and those emotes are so much better than gaia's default emotes O.O

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