Introduction to the Bug Fixing Process and the Live Response Team.

Introduction to the Bug Fixing Process and the Live Response Team.

in Game Bugs

Posted by: Jason King

Jason King

Live Response Embed

If you’ve seen a “red post” from an ArenaNet staff member, you probably know that all of us have a title indicating which team we’re on; so without further ado, I’d like to take some time to introduce the Live Response Team and go into detail on what we do with bugs!

Who is the Live Response Team and what do we do?
The Live Response Team is a tight-knit team of developers from just about every discipline in the company. While we tend to rotate team members based on the skill sets needed and who’s available, our team goals have largely remained the same:

  1. Fix exploits: Of our daily duties, these take the highest priority, and we work to fix these as quickly and efficiently as possible to protect the game. To that end, most of the team typically spends some time browsing forums and external sites, as well as monitoring the company’s public-facing exploits email inbox and bug queue for new exploit reports.
  2. Fix high-priority game bugs: While the Live Response Team isn’t responsible for all of the bug fixes that make it into the game, we do handle a large majority of them. For example, you may remember the huge number of balance changes that went in with the 11/15 update; these were largely done by the Live Response Team.
  3. Track player concerns and implement minor, quality-of-life improvements based on these concerns: As mentioned earlier, when we’re not fixing bugs, we’ll read through the forums and/or play the game and listen to what players are talking about. Based on player discussions and suggestions, we’ll work on new improvements and features to add to the game. If there are concerns that require more in-depth work than what we can handle, we’ll also bring those up with other teams for consideration.
  4. Add minor additional content to allow continued character progression: While there are other teams dedicated to the larger batches of new content, the Live Response Team is responsible for some content additions, such as monthly achievements. While we can’t go into more detail on what’s on the horizon, there are some other changes coming up that will be implemented by the Live Response Team as well.

How does the Live Response Team determine which bugs to fix/exploits to remove/features to implement in each update?
To track the active bugs in the game, we use a bug tracking database and a priority system. For those of you who’ve worked in the video game industry, this process will be familiar: depending on the severity of the issue, each bug in our system is given a priority number depending on how many players or which systems it affects. For example, blocking, severely detracting, and highly visible issues are considered priority 1 or priority 2 issues, while text issues and minor graphic bugs are usually priority 3 or lower.

What is the process for fixing bugs?
Fixing bugs and exploits for Guild Wars 2 often involves developers from different teams and disciplines collaborating together on systems that can affect multiple aspects of the game. From the time a bug or exploit is reported to the time it’s fixed, there are a number of interim steps that we go through to produce quality content and not introduce more problems.

When we receive a bug/exploit report, the first thing we do is investigate it and make sure that A: we can consistently cause it to occur and/or identify what is causing it, and B: write up a bug with the information necessary for the appropriate developer to fix it. The bug is then investigated and fixed by a developer(s) of the appropriate discipline, after which it goes through a rigorous quality assurance process to ensure that extraneous bugs are not introduced with the fixes and that the fixes work. In other words, while we are frequently aware of bugs as soon as they appear and are reported, fixing a bug/exploit involves a number of steps that cannot be bypassed without the possibility of introducing more problems.

Why isn’t “X” bug being fixed/“Y” exploit being removed?
We try to fix as many issues as possible in-between our game update milestones, but we have strict deadlines in place to make sure that all fixes have the time to go through the process I outlined. We are always working to improve our processes, and the Live Response Team frequently works with other teams to improve our workflow and the tools we use to gather data. While these changes are not always externally visible, they’re constantly happening.

What is the Live Response Team doing in the future?
Once we finish eliminating the more severe bugs that are lurking in the wild, there will be more time for us to focus on other parts of the game to make it even better! To help us reach that point sooner, please keep reporting bugs and exploits with as much clear, concise information as possible. Even though we may not post all the time because we’re busy working on the game, we’re always reading and listening to what you’re saying and taking that into account with each update we make.

Thank you for your support, everyone! We truly appreciate the way your bug reports help us improve the game, and we hope to keep improving Guild Wars 2 so that it will live on for years to come!

ArenaNet Community Team
Live Response Embed