Beta Testing FAQs - Please Read Before Applying!

First of all, these questions only apply to beta tests for Choice of Games and Heart’s Choice, the ones that are posted in this category on the forum. Betas for Hosted Games are run individually by their authors, so I can’t speak to them.

How do I apply for a beta?
The information for how to apply is included in the first post of every beta testing thread. (The reason why it’s listed the way it is is that we want to make sure you’re reading the full post, because part of what we want to see in beta testers is attention to detail.)

How long are games open for beta testing?
Generally, we don’t know the answer to this when a game goes into beta. It depends on a lot of factors, like the length of the game, how many issues turn up in testing, and how long it takes the author to fix those issues. I’d say the average is around three to four weeks, but it could be anywhere from two weeks to a few months. The best way to know how much longer a beta is going to be open is to check the game’s beta testing thread here on the forum - that’s where we post updates. If you’ve been admitted to test a game, please follow that thread.

In general, it’s best to assume a beta will be closing sooner rather than later and get your feedback in as soon as you can - that also means the author will have more time to implement it even if the beta will be open a while longer. If you’d like to apply to test a game but don’t think you’ll be able to send feedback within two weeks (or less if the beta has already been up for a while), it might be better to wait and apply for a different game when you’re more available.

How long will it take to receive a response to my application email?
Again, it depends. We admit testers in batches as new drafts of the game are posted, in the order the applications are received. We tend to get a burst of applications right as a game goes up for beta testing, so even if you apply fairly quickly, it could still be a few drafts before you get in. It could be a few weeks before you get a response, depending on the speed at which new drafts go up. Please don’t send multiple application emails unless you think there was a legitimate technical problem with your first one (and not just that you haven’t received an answer yet). And if you’re no longer available to test by the time you get a response, just let us know.

We do our best to eventually get around to all the testers, but if a game is very popular or goes through beta very quickly, it’s possible that not everyone will be admitted.

I was admitted to a beta, but I realized I’m not going to be able to send feedback in time.
No worries - just respond to the email and let us know. It’s not a problem if you have to drop out as long as you let us know, but if you don’t say anything to us for multiple games in a row, you may not be admitted to future betas.

Can you review my beta comments and let me know if I’m doing this right?
Unfortunately, not usually. We often have multiple games in beta at once, and each game has dozens of testers, and there’s usually only one or two people on our team managing a beta, so we can’t send individual responses to beta feedback. But we have examples of the kind of feedback we’re looking for both in the beta threads and the emails we send you when you’re admitted. And in general, as long as you send something more substantial than “I didn’t see any problems or typos,” you’re probably doing fine.

But I didn’t see any problems or typos - what should I send then?
Send specific things you liked about the game, or things you’d like to see more of, or examples of what you thought while you were playing - anything that’s discussing the game rather than just saying that there weren’t issues. Beta feedback doesn’t have to be entirely problems or things that need to be fixed - it’s great for authors to see positive feedback too.

I can’t figure out how to achieve something in the game I’m testing - can you let me know?
Again, not usually, for a few reasons. One is that the person directly receiving most of the beta feedback emails is me, or sometimes one of the other COG editors. Each game has one editor who’s been reviewing it since the beginning, but the rest of us generally don’t know very much about its content. So if I didn’t edit the game you’re asking about, I probably don’t know the answer to your question. (Or even sometimes if I did - I don’t always remember all the details!) After the beta feedback goes through us, it goes to the author, and while they probably know the answer to your question, authors are very busy during beta testing. They might be able to reply and let you know, but they might not have time. It’s also possible that the reason you weren’t able to do the thing you were trying to do is because of a bug, which will be fixed in a future draft.

Hearing that you wanted to do something in the game but weren’t able to figure out how is still useful feedback, because the author might then be able to make it easier. We just might not be able to reply to you and tell you how.

The beta is closed, but I still have feedback I’d like to send. Can I?
If a beta is closed, it means the game has gone to copyedit. That means that a copyeditor is reviewing the game to look for any final typos or errors. The author can’t make changes during that process, and the game will be released shortly after the copyedit finishes. If you’ve found a definite bug or continuity error, let us know, and we should be able to fix it after copyedit. But any other feedback is not possible to implement at that point, so we ask that you don’t send it in.

The author didn’t make the changes I requested. Why not?
It could be any of a lot of reasons, here are a few possible ones:

  • There was contradictory feedback, and the author went with the side other than yours.
  • Your feedback was based on a misunderstanding (in which case, the author will still often change something to clarify).
  • More broadly, the author did change something in response to what you asked, just not exactly what you requested.
  • You asked for something beyond the scope of what the game can include, because it would have made the game too long or complicated, or because the beta is almost over and there isn’t time.
  • If the game is still in beta, they might still be planning to make your changes in a future draft, but just haven’t had time yet.
  • The author disagreed with you.

We appreciate your feedback and encourage you to send in all your thoughts - it’s always useful to know what people think during beta testing. But the final decisions about a game rest with the editor and the author, and it’s not possible to make all the requested changes.