This won't really be new for those who know how software testing goes or who've beta tested Sins, but for everyone else I figured I'd write up a quick rundown on how Sins testing works so that Ironclad can get stuff done
The main principle to remember is that when you're reporting a bug or issue, you want to provide as much information is possible. In the case of bugs, if you can find a fix it usually helps quite a bit to determine the cause.
To post a bug:
Please create a new thread. In the past, Ironclad liked a separate thread for each specific bug, as they go through them and comment/edit the thread title with "Resolved" for issues they identified and fixed. It makes it easier for them than having to keep track of a single thread with many reports.
Basic game bugs:
Try to duplicate it. Try to figure out exactly how it happens, and you might just stumble on a "fix" yourself. This will pin it down for Ironclad so they know exactly where to look.
Example - There was once a bug where the colony/scouts "Capture neutral mine" ability had a bugged auto-cast. You could jump the ship in, turn on auto-cast and it wouldn't do anything. It turns out, the auto-cast was trying to look in the "local area" engagement range, even though the ship was set to "gravity well". This is how the bug was reported, and IC knew exactly where to look. If it was reported just as "Auto-cast of the capture neutral mine doesn't work", they would've had to try to discover it themselves, and would've wasted a lot more time.
This is the trickiest one because it's usually not easy to duplicate. When you see something funky happening with the AI or your ships: SAVE YOUR GAME. This is very important. When you write up your report post, host the save game on something like Rapidshare and include a link. Being able to see what you're talking about right away helps Ironclad a ton, because they can analyze exactly what the AI is trying to do at that moment.
Example - One of the most difficult bugs to squash for Sins was that ships would sometimes try to fly out of gravity well one normal drives instead of phase jumping. There was no sure-fire way to cause it, so you basically had to get lucky and see it. Ironclad could not track it down until we started submitting save games while it was happening, and they could see it in the act and analyze the code.
If you can't get a save game (forgot to save it, or whatnot), post the replay and indicate what time index to look at and where. They can't fast-forward replays either, so they have to look at 'em from the beginning, so knowing the when and where to look speeds up the process. Replays aren't usually as good as saves, but definitely better than nothing.
Perhaps the easiest - just take a screenshot, and post it with your system specs Self explanatory here.
Beta testing is a cooperation between the testers and the developers. The more we dig in and figure out, the faster they can fix it. So, dig away! When the beta patch rolls out and if you start encountering issues, try to make your reports as detailed as possible, and let's not make the test phase take 2 months