A Crown of Sorcery and Steel -- BETA TESTERS NEEDED

Swing a sword, delve dungeons, and lead a resistance against the tyrannical queen of a war-torn fantasy realm. Will you be an elf, orc, dwarf, or human? Crown of Sorcery and Steel is a 300-thousand word interactive novel by Josh Labelle. It’s entirely text-based, without graphics or sound effects, and fueled by the vast, unstoppable power of your imagination.

For centuries, the kingdom of Kanda has been at war with Queen Nidana and her infernal machines. Each day, further reaches of the kingdom fall under her boot, overwhelmed by her enchanted army of iron constructs.

You’re an adventurer, caught in the middle of a war that began before you were born. Perhaps you’re an elf from the Sanctuaries to the west… which the queen’s machines long ago burned to the ground. Maybe you come from Ridgebank, one of the last human strongholds. Wherever you’re from, now you make your living helping people, plundering dungeons, or following the coin wherever it leads you. It’s not long before you’re invited to join the resistance and battle back against the dark empress. But will you rally the resistance… or ally with the queen and snuff it out?

  • Play as male, female, nonbinary; gay, straight, bi, asexual, or poly. Or choose among the genders of the elven, dwarven, and orc cultures.
  • Wield a sword, master magic, or disarm traps as you travel Kanda, a teeming fantasy kingdom struggling against a brutal occupation.
  • Engage in epic fantasy combat and turn the tide of the war as you battle side by side with a party full of fighters, spellslingers, and rogues.
  • Explore the realm as a human, elf, dwarf, or orc, with four distinct backgrounds that change your adventure.
  • Broker peace between the human cities and the dwarven mining colonies or side with the dwarves and take control of the mountains.
  • Delve lost ruins to uncover ancient elven artifacts, and restore the elves to their former glory… or sell the artifacts off to the highest bidders.
  • Navigate palace intrigue in the orc empire, and decide who should take the throne.
  • Turn against the resistance and become the queen’s best-loved spy to experience another side of the story.
  • Romance a human resistance leader, an elven Scribe, a dwarven bard, an exiled orc prince, a halfling thief… or the dark queen herself.

Will you unite the realm and end the queen’s reign of terror… or join her and rule by her side?

Directions for Beta Testing

Email us, beta AT choiceofgames for access.

DO NOT POST ASKING WHAT THE BETA EMAIL ADDRESS IS. The first test to becoming a beta tester is inferring what it is based on how we describe it above.

Do not send DMs/PMs through the forum mail system, Discord, text message, carrier pigeon, or any other method than email.

When you send your EMAIL, include:

  • the game you want to test in the Subject line of the email.
  • your forum-name
  • your real name (first and last). Please indicate if your family/surname comes first as well. Beta testers’ names are listed in the game’s credits, which are accessed with the “About” link you’ll see within the game. If you don’t want to appear in the credits, or you want to be credited under a name other than your real one, please let us know.

Do not email us multiple times about joining a beta. If you don’t email us as soon as we post a beta, you go into a queue. As we post new drafts, we admit more people from the queue. Eventually, we will get to you. Some beta processes last longer than others, and it may take up to a few weeks to reach the front of the queue. When you have been admitted to the beta, we will send you a link, a username, and a password as a reply to your email.

When you have feedback to submit:

  • Return feedback as part of the same email thread where you were admitted. Copying beta@choiceofgames on that email is the best way to make sure your comments are seen as soon as possible.
  • Please send screenshots or copy/pasted quotes whenever you can; it helps us track down whatever observation you’re making. In particular, the author may see things that you don’t, and/or the screenshot may contain more information than you realize.
  • If you’re submitting feedback using the Bug/Submit button in the game, make sure you include your handle/name in the body of the email. The Submit button obscures your email address, and I can’t give you credit for feedback if I don’t know who you are.

A few more notes:

  • You cannot be testing two games at once. Send feedback on one and you can apply to another. If you apply for multiple games at the same time, you will likely be admitted first to whichever game has testing slots open up first, and we won’t be able to admit you to the other one until you send in your comments for that one. (From an admin standpoint, it’s easiest if you don’t apply to more than one game at once – applying to multiple games makes it more likely that we’ll miss admitting you to one of them.)
  • If you’re admitted as a tester but realize you won’t be able to send in feedback for that game, please let us know! You won’t be penalized in any way - we’ll just take you off the list of testers for that game. But if you sign up to test a game and don’t send comments or withdraw, it will affect your chances of being admitted to future betas.
  • There’s no standard length of time for a beta testing period to last, and we usually don’t know exactly how long a game will be in beta when it opens. The best way to know how long a beta will be open is to follow the thread for updates.
    -It’s fine to send multiple feedback emails, but if you have a lot of quick comments, it’s easier to keep track of them if you bundle them into one email.

Tips on How to Give Feedback

We’re looking for “high level” and “low level” feedback. Not mid-level feedback.

Low-level = typos and continuity errors. A continuity error is when a character’s gender flips, or someone comes back from the dead, or you run into a plotline that just doesn’t make sense (because it’s probably a coding error).

For these low-level issues, screenshots are very helpful. If you see a problem, take a screenshot, or copy and paste the text that is in error, and email that.

“High level” feedback has to do with things like plot, pacing, and characters. “Scene A didn’t work for me because x, y, and z,” is useful feedback. “B character was entirely unsympathetic, because u, w, and v,” is also useful feedback.

“Mid-level” feedback describes things like grammar, style, word choice, or the use of commas. As I said above, I do not want mid-level feedback. In particular, DO NOT WRITE TO ME ABOUT COMMAS.

“I had a great time and saw only a few spelling errors,” is not useful feedback. In fact, it’s the sort of thing that results in you not being given access to future betas.

Some examples of useful feedback :

In Choice of the Dragon, you get to choose what type of wings you have: leather or scaled. Someone wrote in and asked about having feathered wings. Great suggestion! Done!

In “The Eagle’s Heir,” someone asked about Eugenie. They said that the romance moved too quickly–because she only appeared in the last third of the game–and wished they could have had an opportunity to meet her earlier. So the authors added an opportunity to meet her and start the romance earlier in the game (in a scene that already existed).

In “Demon Mark: A Russian Saga” several people commented on how the PC’s parents were unsympathetic, so the authors added a choice or two to deepen the relationship with the parents in the first chapter, to help better establish their characters.

Similarly, pointing out a specific choice and saying, “this is who I imagined my character was at this particular moment, and none of these options seemed right for me. I would have liked an option to do X instead,” is also really helpful feedback.

Another useful piece of feedback: if you choose an #option and then the results of that #option don’t make sense. Like, if you thought an #option might test one stat, but it seems to have tested a different one.

22 Likes

New draft posted!

  1. Italics tag typo noted by unnamed player using support email.

  2. Harry noted the romance achievements were rewarding multiple times, as there were multiple places you could begin the romances. I’ve added *check_achievements commands across all instances where they’re awarded to fix this issue.

  3. Mitch noted an issue with a character’s pronoun during the pronoun selection section (ironically, not the player’s pronoun) – this is fixed here.

  4. Another unnamed player using support noted a “shee” typo instead of “she” in chapter nine, fixed here.

  5. I made a few very minor copyedits for things I noticed in the course of these fixes as well.

5 Likes

New draft posted!

  • fixes for all typos and achievement issues noted
  • I’ve added “romancing multiple NPCs” sections as noted by one of the people providing beta feedback to allow players to more explicitly be polyam with consent from the other characters
  • I’ve added a “Khattya and Anattho end up together” path and achievement available under certain conditions (seemed fun)
  • I’ve added a little more acknowledgment of elven and dwarven genders
6 Likes

New draft posted!

  • Fixes for all bugs and typos sent to me Friday, as well as a couple of bugs and issues noticed during testing.
  • A full pass adding new romance choices with Queen Nidana throughout along the queenspet route to address recurring feedback about her romance not feeling fully fleshed out like the others.
  • To address some recurring feedback about the other party members not feeling like they treat you realistically when you’ve behaved in ways they don’t like, I undertook a rebalance of every time “rel_” stats were nerfed or added to in order to try to make these outcomes feel more realistic.
    I think this has slightly increased the difficulty of the game (which might be good, since the recurring feedback is that it’s quite easy, although no one’s seemed to mind that) since it requires a little more thought about your choices to get the romantic outcomes you want with all characters (though imo it’s still relatively easy to romance just one).
    I also made it so that in the later chapters, there are entirely alternate scenes for characters who have (rel < 50) relationships with the player – characters who have antagonistic relationships with you no longer ask you for favors and the player discovers the plot relevant information in other ways or by overhearing characters asking each other for favors.
    An example is Khattya requesting your help stealing the tapestry – now if she doesn’t like you, she’s asking Cora and you overhear, and it’s on you to proactively help if you’re inclined. I’m hoping this will address this recurring issue and make these character relationships feel a little more high stakes and alive.
2 Likes

This is the final call for feedback! If you haven’t sent it in, please get your feedback in the next two days!

2 Likes