The PTU (Public Test Universe) is a replica environment of all servers needed to operate the game and the platform. This environment exists to allow public testing phases of unreleased patches of the game and platform, but under tight access control.
Access to the PTU requires an invitation and is handled in waves to control the amount of players in the environment based on testing needs. The PTU also includes the Evocati Test Flight group, an advance team of player testers.
How does the PTU work?
The Public Test Universe will be started up when a large patch is nearing task implementation lock. Development Operations (Ops) will select the best working build and deploy it to the PTU servers. Then players and internal staff (QA, Development, Ops) will access the environment for testing.
The PTU is managed by testing “phases”. A testing phase includes a date range for testing, set features per release and build, and wave invites for required account badges. The PTU is not always available and attempting to login when it is not active will give an error. We only open the PTU servers when we have release candidate builds to test for an upcoming release.
PTU Testing Expectations
The PTU is designed to be a staging environment where we can deploy builds for players to test before they go to the Live servers and general availability to all alpha players.
These early release candidates are builds with new features, new ships, bug fixes, and in-progress updates to existing features. Be advised of the following:
- These early builds are not complete and require extensive testing.
To help with player feedback and aid in stress-testing performance, features, and fixes, we push the builds to the Public Test Universe servers and open invite waves as needed for that testing.
- These builds are not ready for prime time, Live access.
They require multiple rounds of code revisions, internal tests, and bench marking to find the right mix of difficulty, performance, stability, and play-ability.
- We may push builds to the PTU daily to weekly.
Depending on updates from design, development, and QA verification, we may update the PTU servers and game code as needed. When you run the Launcher, it will check for updates.
- Updates may require wipes of PTU accounts.
If you push your account to the PTU, you will not lose credit for your reports to Issue Council. These may not be in your report links. Don't worry, we still see them linked to you internally.
As part of this process, we learned that the signal-to-noise ratio for the early iterations of a build was far too low. Sifting through the mountains of data on our forums that thousands of players would provide in order to find information that would help us make the build better was a logistical nightmare.
This led us to create the Evocati Test Flight organization and test group. We then schedule waves of invites to the PTU for Evocati and players-at-large, increasing access as needed by development, designers, QA, and operations to test all aspects of the release candidate builds.
Example PTU post
Evocati Test Flight
We determined having a small group of technically-minded players hammering away on the early builds would provide far more accurate data to focus development and testing efforts. This group became Evocati Test Flight (ETF), lovingly called Avocados.
The Evocati are a small group of testers we’ve selected from the top players participating in Star Citizen: contributing to Issue Council, racing, running missions, and more. When joining the Evocati, we require a signed NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) and work through the process to add members to the Evocati Organization.
They can access the in-progress builds deemed “not quite ready for normal PTU” either due to issues in-progress, features being considered for release, and verifying updates before general release that might be removed depending on how the testing goes.
Beware! Should you be selected to join the ETF and accept, builds that are opened only for them are not for the faint of heart.
PTU Invite Waves
Once a build is stabilized and features are completed, we then roll that build out to a wider audience. The current PTU release format is as follows:
- Evocati: Our smallest group of testers who help us get our releases ready for a proper public viewing more quickly! Picked from Issue Council posters with multiple submissions or contributions and from our most active PTU testers.
- Subs and Concierge Wave: All RSI accounts that are active subscribers and all of our Concierge members will be invited to join the PTU testing after we open this wave. This is sometimes referred to as Wave 1.
- Active Participation Wave: All members of the previous waves plus any players that have been very active and involved on the Issue Council, plus players with the highest amount of playtime across all game modes. This group is sometimes referred to as Wave 2.
- Open PTU: The PTU servers and access will be opened to all backers with a game package.
The PTU is live and I got an invite! What do I do to copy my account?
When a PTU is live, we post to a new forum in Spectrum. This post will provide information on the play test, links and instructions for any special Launcher and game installation, and any special information you need on the play test.
Copy your account to the PTU environment.
- Visit our site and login to Account.
- In your account page, click Public Test Universe.
- Click Copy account to PTU to copy your current account information.
- Select the PTU option from the drop down and Download the PTU client.
If you add ships or make changes to your Live account, or you have issues in PTU, you may need to erase and recopy your account to the PTU. When you do, any Issue Council entries on the PTU Issue Council won't show up on your account. Don't worry, we still see them associated to your account.
We provide a PTU RSI site for:
- PTU account access if you need to change your password through Account Recovery
- PTU Issue Council
- PTU Spectrum for chat
When you copy over your account to the PTU, your ships, equipment, and account information transfers from your Live account. The following items do not carry over to PTU: Authenticator settings, rentals, REC, UEC, and flair items. Anything you earn on the PTU does not carry back over to Live.
During the course of PTU testing, you may need to recopy over your account from Live. You can do this anytime through the Live RSI site. This will send a different password. Your entered Issue Council reports may not be linked to your account anymore, but don't worry! We still see you as the reporter in our systems.
I want to test, how do I get involved?
These are the best ways to get involved to receive invites:
- We accept testing reports on Live and PTU. As you find bugs, issues, and crashes with the RSI Launcher and game, you can use the Issue Council to report them!
- Watch for Spectrum posts requesting help and information on specific issues from CIG.
- Play the game, extensively, deeply, for enjoyment but also to provide insight back to CIG on gameplay.
We track all involvement to determine our invitation lists for Evocati and PTU waves! We also post known issues, test requests for the community, and Issue Council links we may need for specific player involvement.
I've encountered a bug/error/crash/etc. on the PTU. How should I report this?
This is the only method of reporting that should be used as RSI Support Staff will not be able to assist with any problems that our PTU testers run into while they are helping test the build. Placing a support ticket to report a bug or problem found on the current PTU build will result in a response directing you to the Issue Council.
The PTU has been opened to everyone! Why can't I access the servers?
Assuming that there are no technical issues with your game install, then there are two requirements that must be fulfilled to be granted access to the PTU servers to help us shape the future of the game:
- Your account must own a Game Package. A pledge for a standalone ship or a ship/weapon skin will not work.
- You must be a backer. To be considered a backer, your account must have made a monetary pledge to support the game. An RSI account with only gifted pledges received from other players is not considered a backer account.