StarCraft® II

How to Write a Good "Technical Issue" Thread

- StarCraft
This thread is similar to "How to Write a Good Bug Report" - but for the Tech Support forums. I spend a fair amount of time helping out on the Starcraft II Tech Support Forum, and I've come to value a good technical report. Hopefully this guide will be helpful!

If any other tech regulars want to add\correct anything or give feedback that would be great!


        INDEX

(Hint: Use Control + F (Your browsers search function) to skip to the part of the article you wish to read)

    What is the Difference between a Technical Issue and a Bug?

    FAQ

    How to make a good Technical Issue post

      - When the issue occurs
      - Good description of the Symptoms
      - Evidence
      - Troubleshooting Information
      - Good Thread Title
      - Other

    Basic Troubleshooting Steps to try yourself?

      - Update Graphics Card Drivers\Other Drivers
      - Search for your Issue
      - Get computer updates
      - Repair Tool
      - Anti-Virus\Firewall Programs
      - Administrator Privileges
      - Selective Startup
      - Safe Mode with Networking
      - Temperature Monitoring
      - Memory Test\Scandisk





    - - What is the difference between a Technical issue and a Bug?


A bug is a glitch, or unintended behavior of the game or any part of the game client, such as the Editor or Battle.net.

A Technical Issue, on the other hand, is not unintended "behavior" but rather the game failing to work at all, general poor performance, or an issue with your Hardware, for an example:

  • An Issue Patching, Connecting, or starting the game.
  • A Crash, were the game stops functioning at all or closes.
  • An issue with your computer hardware or drivers, such as overheating or graphical errors caused by out of date or corrupted drivers.
  • File Corruption\Game Client corruption.





    - - - FAQ


Q: Why did Blizzard not reply to my thread?
A: While Blizzard does their best to reply to as many threads as they can, there is no guarantee that they will reply to every thread. If you want guaranteed support, contact Blizzard via the Support Ticket System: https://us.battle.net/support/en/ticket/submit


Q: What is the advantage of the Forums, over Support Ticket\Phone, etc?
A: a. Its easily searchable. This means you can simply look up your issue using the excellent search feature and see if anyone has had this issue in the past.

b. Anyone can help you. This provides a lot of benefits - you can sometimes get better, faster replies - but lends some uncertainty to the quality of support you get.

c. Because its public, you can check to see if other people are reporting your issue or if it is known by Blizzard; such as if you can't log on and you want to see if the servers or down or if it's just your connection.


Q: What kind of issues should I not post here?
A: You should generally not post Bugs, Account-related issues, Policy issues, or anything you think could require you to post sensitive information on the Tech Support forums.




    - - - How to make a Good Technical Issue post?


A good technical issue is descriptive and contains the information necessary for people to help you. Because there are countless numbers of crashes, some with more than one cause, if you aren't extremely specific and informative, nobody will know where to start in helping you. Of course, you may not know what information is helpful\necessary and what is not, so let me give you some examples of what you need to include:



    - When the Issue Occurs


At what point in the process of attempting to play Starcraft 2 do you run in to an issue? When installing or patching the game? On the loading screen? At the beginning of a match? After hours of playing? Randomly?

This can make big difference. For an example, if it's patching, it could be a connection issue or if it's after hours of playing it could be an overheating issue.



    - Good description of the Symptoms


You need to describe, in detail, what exactly happens. Not just in general terms such as "it crashes" but specifically what you see on your screen from when the issue first starts to occur to when it ends. Does the program close to the desktop, did it restart your computer? Did it give an error message?

And so on. These are the sorts of details you need to include - the more descriptive, the better.



    - Evidence


If applicable, provide an error log, warning message, screenshot, or video of the issue - anything found "at the scene of the crime"

Error logs can be found under My Documents\Starcraft 2\Game Logs.

(Inside the Game Logs folder, there will be crash folders. Inside the crash folder there are several files, but unless someone requests otherwise just paste the contents of the file that ends in Crash.txt or Error.txt)



    - Troubleshooting Information


You should provide some general information about your computer to help people troubleshoot your issue.

Always provide your Dxdiag. To retrieve your Dxdiag, Press the Windows Key + R, Type Dxdiag and hit Enter/OK, Click Save All Information and Save the file to your desktop.

Copy and Paste the contents to your thread. (Exclude everything below DirectShow Filters)

Highlight everything, and hit the "pre" button (It says "Code Blocks" when you hover your mouse over it).

You should also list recent Changes to your Computer:

  • Hardware changes, such as a new monitor, headset, graphics card - ect.

  • Software updates, such as new programs or graphics card drivers.

  • Recently reformat, get a virus, or perform maintenance?




    - Good Thread Title


Try include the keywords for your issue that are consistent each time you experience the issue, such as:

  • A consistent key word in the error message

  • At what point the crash occurs (Patching, loading, etc)

  • What general kind of crash it was (Freeze, Blue Screen, etc)



Example of a good title: Freeze while Patching - "Tracker Not Responding"

This shows that the issue occurred while patching, the issue was a freeze, and the error message was "Tracker Not Responding"


Example of a bad title: Can’t play, Help!

This doesn’t tell us anything at all – what’s preventing you from playing, how it’s preventing you, or what message you see on your screen. It's generally taken for granted that you want help, and that a technical issue would somehow hinder your play.



    - Other


Always list every solution you've already tried, to avoid wasting their time when they could already rule out those solutions.

Be patient. Generally, don't bump your thread unless it's 24 hours old or has fallen on to the next page.

Don't get angry or aggressive towards people who are offering help, even if it's not particularly helpful advice - people don't like to even try and help people with a short temper.

Unless you have good reason to believe it could harm your computer, follow their advice even if you don't think it will help - for one thing, if other people think it is the solution as well, they may simply not post since they see its been suggested but ignored. It will put doubt to rest so nobody else will keep bringing it up. (Also, nobody wants to help someone who just ignores suggestions)

In general, don't act as if your issue shouldn't have existed to begin with or it ought to have been addressed sooner. Despite anyone's best attempts, your computer and any applications you run such as Starcraft 2 are bound to crash some time or another. While Blizzard does their best to fix issues as they find them and there are many people who try their best to help troubleshoot technical issues, there are always bound to be difficult issues that can't be addressed right away.
Edited by TheSkunk on 12/14/2011 1:05 PM PST
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- StarCraft
    - - - Basic Troubleshooting Steps to try yourself?


There are some basic troubleshooting steps you can try yourself. They can sometimes fix a broad range of issues because they are just solutions to general problems that could manifest themselves in many ways.

Note that this thread is primarily for how to write a good report; this list is not extensive. These are basic troubleshooting steps that can be used in certain situations.

As a first step, you should generally:

a. Use the Search feature of the Starcraft 2 Community Site and search for keywords associated with your issue. You may want to limit your search to Technical Support.

b. You should also check Archers Troubleshooting thread for your issue: http://us.battle.net/SC2/en/forum/topic/3075997722 (Use the Search Function of your browser (Usually Control + F))

c. Check all of the sticky threads. New sticky threads are created for current issues, and some threads like Known Issues are updated constantly with workarounds.
Below are some more basic troubleshooting steps.



    - Update Graphics Card Drivers\Other Drivers


You should always make sure your computer is up to date.

Windows Updates - Check for windows updates under Control Panel - Windows Updates

Graphics Card Drivers - To find your graphics card and current driver version, go to the display tab of your Dxdiag (Press the Windows Key + R, Type Dxdiag and hit Enter/OK) Check the site of the manufacturer for your graphics card. The list of Manufacturers can be found here: http://us.blizzard.com/support/article.xml?locale=en_US&articleId=21124 Be sure to get the latest driver from the official site. There are many scam driver sites that will get you a virus at best.



    - Repair Tool


The Repair.exe tool can be found in the Starcraft 2\Support folder. The repair tool finds missing or corrupted game files and replaces them with new ones. The Repair tool has fixed issues such as poor performance, crashing, or general bugs and glitches. Its generally always worth a try, since it's an official Blizzard tool that comes with the game and doesn't take any effort on your part. (Simply let it run some time when you aren't busy)



    - Anti-Virus\Firewall Programs


Security software can often block sending\retrieving information from Battle.net, interfering with connecting, patching, and Battle.net features. It can also stop the actual game client if it thinks it's a virus. This can cause a wide range of issues.

The Solution? Do one or more of the following:

    a. Add the Starcraft 2 application to your anti-virus's list of safe programs or "exceptions" (Recommended)

    b. Temporarily disable your antivirus

    c. Uninstall your Antivirus\Security program (Some programs still bock it even after being disabled so do this for certainty - but I don't advise it)




    - Administrator Privileges


If the game doesn't have Administrator Privileges, it may not be able to access the files it needs to run the game properly. If you aren't already on an administrator account, you can set one up or change the level of your account under control panel. You can also right click on the Starcraft 2.exe and select "Run as Administrator" (Under Compatability you can set it to always run as an Administrator)



    - Selective Startup


Some programs automatically start themselves up when you turn on the computer. These programs often hide in the background so you don't notice them. These programs, or any programs you have running while playing, could potentially cause issues with Starcraft.
By booting into Selective Startup, you remove those startup programs so you can play with NOTHING in the background. If this solves your issue, you need to go through these programs and determine what one is causing the issue.

To do this, Hit the Windows Key + R, and type: msconfig

Hit Enter or OK.

In the General tab:
    1. Choose Selective Startup
    2. Disable (uncheck) Load Startup Items
    3. Click on the Services tab
    4. Check "Hide All Microsoft Services"
    5. Click on "Disable All"
    6. Click OK and Reboot




    - Safe Mode with Networking


Safe Mode is basically running only the bare essentials of your computer. Selecting "With Networking" allows you to still connect to the internet. This is generally used to troubleshoot, often with patching issues or if you have a virus. If this solves your issue but you still need a permanent fix, post a thread asking for additional help.



    - Temperature Monitoring:


Depending on what part of your computer is overheating, this can have different effects. Your computer can slow down, crash, or turn off\reboot or experience general degradation of performance in any way.

To check if you are indeed having an overheating issue, you'll need to use a program to monitor your computers temperatures. Some computers or drivers have built in temperature monitoring, but if not you can use the following free programs:

http://www.cpuid.com/softwares/hwmonitor.html

http://www.playclaw.com/



What to do if you're overheating?

In many cases, this is because either your case fans or fans attached directly to computer components are broken or coming loose - or there is simply an insufficient number of fans installed.

If not, its possible that a part is simply malfunctioning or is overclocked.

Other ways to lower your temperatures:

Blow out your computer case with canned air.

Leave the side of the case off while playing.

If you have a laptop, get a cooling pad.

Cap the FPS of Starcraft by adding the following lines to the My Documents\Starcraft 2\Variables.txt file:
    frameratecap=60 (In-game FPS limit)
    frameratecapGlue=30 (FPS limit for the battle.net user interface)




    - Memory Test\Disk Check:


If you have corrupted\bad RAM (memory) Starcraft may not be able to read the information it needs, leading to crashes. For instance, this has been the cause of "ACCESS_VIOLATION"

You can test your memory with this: http://hcidesign.com/memtest/ (Recommended)

Or with some operating systems, like Windows 7, simply search for "Windows Memory Diagnostic" on the start menu. (Although it doesn't always work as well as memtest)

Another good troubleshooting tool when facing corrupted files is a DiskCheck\ScanDisk, to check and repair file systems and bad clusters on the hard drive.

To Run a ScanDisk:

(Windows 2000/XP)

- Open My Computer, and select the local disk you want to check
- On the File menu, click Properties
- Click the Tools tab
- Under Error-checking, click Check Now
- Under Check disk options, select the Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors check box and the automatically fix file system errors box
- Select yes to schedule after restart if a dialog box comes up prompting you to do so
- Restart your computer


(Windows Vista/7)

- Click The Start/Windows Button
- Select Computer
- Right click on the Hard disk that you wish to check, this will commonly be C:
- Select Properties from the pop-up menu
- Click the Tools tab
- Under Error-checking, click Check Now
- Under Check disk options, select the Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors check box and the automatically fix file system errors box
- Select yes to schedule after restart if a dialog box comes up prompting you to do so
- Restart your computer if necessary
Edited by TheSkunk on 10/17/2011 10:40 AM PDT
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- StarCraft
Always provide your Dxdiag. To retrieve your Dxdiag, Press the Windows Key + R, Type Dxdiag and hit Enter/OK, Click Save All Information and Save the file to your desktop.

Copy and Paste the contents to your thread. (Exclude everything below DirectShow Filters)

Highlight everything, and hit the "pre" button (The button to the left of the quote button when editing a post).
Edited by TheSkunk on 4/9/2012 11:59 AM PDT
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Man what an awesome post!
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- StarCraft
Thanks, if you have any feedback for improving it or making it more accessible to the average forum goer, go ahead.

I is feeling lonely with only one reply. =(
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- ANZ
Congratulations on your MVP status TheSkunk!

10/28/2011 09:27 AMPosted by TheSkunk
Thanks, if you have any feedback for improving it or making it more accessible to the average forum goer, go ahead.


I personally think you covered everything. If you missed something, it's probably just something you could use the Temp Area for anyway.

No signature.
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- Technical Support
Remember that for an issue to be properly addressed and solved, a proper diagnosis must be made by whomever is helping you. This is why you must be so incredibly specific about issues, so that the proper solutions can be given, and the error ceased.

Duke, Volunteer Tech Support
Edited by Duke on 12/6/2012 11:56 AM PST
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