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. This environment will be publicly available to players, but under tight access control.
Access to the PTU requires an invitation, 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 (Opds) 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. We only open the PTU servers when we have release candidate builds to test for an upcoming release.
PTU Invites and Waves
The PTU is designed to be a staging environment where we can deploy builds for external players to test before it goes 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 benchmarking to find the right mix of difficulty, performance, stability, and playability.
- 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, 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, playing, running missions, and more. When joining the Evocati, we require a signed NDA 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.
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 (numbers will change per PTU):
- Evocati (800-2,000 invites): 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.
- Wave One (6,000 invites): Approximately 1,000 accounts from participating on Issue Council with one New Report and one Contribution, plus 5,000 accounts who have played more than five PTU builds in the last three months.
- Wave Two (12,000 additional invites, 18,000 total): 12,000 accounts who have played three to five PTU builds in the last three months.
- Wave Three (16,000 additional invites, 34,000 total): 16,000 accounts who have played two PTU builds.
- Wave Four (80,000 additional invites, 114,000 total): 80,000 accounts who have played one PTU build in the last three months.
- Wave Five: Open to all.
The PTU is live and I got an invite! What do I do?
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.
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.
Recopying your account!
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 Delta 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!
How do I get a PTU invite?
When the PTU is up, we will create a forum and post information in Spectrum. We keep a forum post updated on PTU invites and waves. Please check that post for updates on the PTU! We also post known issues, test requests for the community, and Issue Council links we may need for specific player involvement.
Live? PTU? But the game is in Alpha?
Even though we call it the Live service with PTU release candidate builds, the game is still very much in the Alpha stage of development. Each Live release gets us closer to a feature complete Alpha.
The PTU is specifically pre-Alpha Live release content and builds, used to verify and prepare for a release to all players.
Both games, Star Citizen and Squadron 42, have many features still in design phase, development, and testing. We also have performance and optimization work in each phase to complete as the games increase in size and complexity.