Hi Claudio,
Well, as a game developer and someone who has run my own private beta teams I have to say there is a lot more to the selection process than you may realize. When a developer such as myself puts out a request looking for beta testers it is easy to get back several applications for the position, but only 10 to 12 out of those applications will actually be selected for the team. Therefore my job as the lead developer and beta tester is to somehow select 10 to 12 people out of 40, 50, or 60 applications for the position. The only way to do that is by looking for specific skills and qualities that would make a good beta tester in my opinion. I have to do that, because not everyone who applies for a testing position is exactly qualified for the position he/she wants. Just like any employer I pick and choose based on certain criteria which i feel would best be suited for the job. Here is a few that I personally look for. The applicant's language skills. When testing it is important for the tester to be able to clearly state his/her opinions, problem with the product, and be able to communicate effectively with the other beta testers. Since communication on a test team is vitally important I'm likely to reject an application if the applicant makes consistent grammatical and spelling errors, and the message is difficult to read. Previous experience testing software. Just like any employer I tend to look for references and prier experience testing software. It is nice for me to be able to ask developer x if he/she has had such and such an applicant as a beta tester, and how well he/she did while testing. A good reference from developer x goes a long way towards getting on my beta team, and a bad reference will put the applicant at the bottom of the list. So references are just another way for me to sort out the potential applicants. The applicant's hardware/software. Not only does a potential tester have to meet certain criteria his/her computer also may have to meet specific criteria for testing. Given the number of types of computers out there, different operating systems, processors, etc it is vitally important that a developer try and gather information on as many different computers and configurations as humanly possible during the early testing period. Now, that USA Games is now going forward with a cross-platform design initiative it will be more important than ever to include a little bit of everything in the testing process. Generally, it would be a good idea to have at least one representative for each platform targeted such as Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Mac OS, and Linux. A team consisting of 12 users all running the same operating system would obviously be too narrow a target group, and so I may decide to reject someone on the grounds I already have the maximum number of testers for a specific target group. The applicant's reputation. As a developer I often look at the applicant's reputation or character for possible membership on one of my test teams. I wouldn't want a known software pirate for obvious reasons, and someone who is frequently disruptive on list wouldn't exactly be a good choice either. So a person's reputation will definitely be factored into my decision for beta testing. The applicant's technical skills. As a beta tester I expect an applicant to be able to perform basic computer operations such as adding and removing software from his/her computer, being able to install required dependencies on his/her own, be able to trouble shoot problems that arise during testing, and to do all of this with little to no documentation. The object of selecting a test team is to test the software, run it through various test situations, etc and the developer is not there to hold someone's hand and walk them through basic skills like installing software, removing software, deleting files, downloading software from the internet, whatever. Therefore some basic computer skills are absolutely essential for a beta tester. For example, currently I'm working on porting Mysteries of the Ancients to C++ and have already cross compiled a version for the Linux OS. Before it goes public I'll be forming a test team to test the Linux port of the game. I'd expect a tester using a Debian based Linux to be familiar with the Linux operating system as well as package add/remove tools such as dpkg and apt-get. Similarly a Red Hat based Linux user would be familiar with his/her Linux operating system as well as package add/remove tools like rpm and yum. The Linux user would have to be familiar with the Gnome desktop environment, and have basic skills using a screen reader like Orca. I'm not going to pick a Linux tester that doesn't have at least these technical skills for the position. As far as responding to each and every applicant sometimes that isn't feasible. When I announced beta testing positions for Mysteries of the Ancients I got just over 60 applications. That's just to many people to respond to individually. Instead I inform the members who were selected, and let the rest know via this list that I've selected my testers and that the positions are filled. Anyone who was not personally contacted by me is not on the team. That is the most effective and only way to approach that many applicants at once.


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