Beta Testing Feedback Discussion


#1

I’m spinning off a discussion about providing beta feedback in general, so I don’t spam the Waywalker’s thread too much on what’s a general topic.

This isn’t a clarification of the rules found at http://www.choiceofgames.com/forum/discussion/700/new-to-the-choice-of-games-forums-read-this-first-seriously#Item_2 on how to beta games.

Beta-testing shouldn’t be about getting a free first look at a game. It’s an attempt to help the author improve the game. If you find nothing wrong with it, then you should at least mention that.

I was surprised when I first asked for beta-testers that out of the ten people who responded, and were given the link to my game, only two actually provided feedback. The rest said nothing. That made me have a number of questions as a writer as to why they didn’t actually respond to me. I did later discover some had played the game and just hadn’t said anything.

So maybe, if people are having problems finding out what to say about a game we can provide a list here of tips to help people provide feedback. I found one of the best games to test was when I had a list of points that the author wanted feedback on. I found that focus helped a lot.

I think that any feedback is better than no feedback. Even if you’re telling the author that the first page is too difficult/uninteresting for you, and that you didn’t play the game. That can tell there’s a problem. Same as if you just provide feedback saying that you really enjoyed the game, although try to mention what your favourite part is, so the author can at least know what they did right.

So game creators, what do you look for as feedback? What’s useful?

Beta-testers, what would help you give better feedback on games? If you don’t provide any feedback at all what are your reasons and what could encourage you to say more?


#2

@Jackrabbit I admit, I include knee-jerk reactions, just so that the author can see them. I find that often those knee-jerk reactions can be wrong, and on further inspection everything’s good, but that doesn’t mean the author shouldn’t be aware that they exist. It can also help let the author know if a particular scene is taken as intended or not. I’ll include everything, I trust the author’s judgement on what changes they’ll implement and which they’ll just cast aside. I don’t expect every, or even most of my suggestions to actually be used. I just tend to hope that they help the author, even if it’s to prepare them for some players grumbling over a certain part.

@Scrivener I wasn’t intending to make anyone feel guilty. I think any feedback given, even if it’s a “I’m not sure what sort of feedback to give” mail.


#3

I love give real feedback my real thoughts and sincere mayority of people like it even if I’m telling I don’t like this games and give a list of reasons. But many people arent sincere and prefer don’t tell author what think about and just don’t send the feedback. that going against beta tester job . If you agree be beta you has to give some feedback, and please be sincere


#4

I’ve currently got people Beta Testing my game and very few are actually providing feedback which was a shame. Some have their reasons (like lack of access to internet) and have apologised, others have just not responded. I’m lucky because of the few who do respond they have been giving me great feedback.

IMO as a author I am looking for every feedback to fit into one of these “pots”

  1. Critique - say why they like/dislike something and give reasons why.
  2. Suggestions - suggest how to improve scenes.
  3. general musing about the game world and characters - gives insights on the characters and world you create which helps enrich the world more.

#5

Just to say: I found FG’s knee-jerk responses to CoReb very helpful, and am glad he wrote them down and sent them on largely unedited. :slight_smile:


#6

@FairyGodfeather I didn’t mean what you said made me feel guilty. I meant in the general sense that if I sign up to beta and for some reason I can’t send feedback I feel that I’m letting the author down a bit, like I’m not helping them to make their game better or something.

As for sending feedback, I love sending my thoughts in. Makes me feel like I’m helping make the game better even if its just a thought bubble about how that character says a speech versus those characters telling a joke. Every bit helps.

And like @Nocturnal_Stillness said he likes feedback is how I like to organize what I send in. Keeps everything organized and easier for the author to sort out IMO and just nice to keep it easy.


#7

Ooooh, beta testing, where does one start…

I, for one, do not enjoy having to pry things out of beta testers, so ANY and ALL feedback, I don’t care wether it’s that “the pink elephant joke was too much”, or “the first chapter is utter poop”, or if it’s “hey this character is kinda cool”, or if its as short as “I like this game :-D”, so long as its SOME sort of feedback, it lets me 1. have a “poll” of a sort, like 5 ppl. said they like this part, and 3 said it was pretty poopy, that tells me that it’s not the ENTIRE part, but that it’s a specific part of that part that annoys the 3 that said it was poop, because five said otherwise, and so, I have more data to work with and I can pinpoint better, even if the 3 that said it was poop, didn’t provide much more information than that. And 2. Lets me know what elements I should keep using, even if it was as simple as “that joke was hilarious lol”, it lets me know to keep using humor in the game.

That said, I only need and want feedback that has absolutely NO sugarcoating on it, it does not help me if they do otherwise.

Sometimes, (since I’ve beta’d a few games) I felt as if the author didn’t really need me to tell him about a certain thing. WRONG! Without that feedback it could be a looooooong while before the author realizes how dumb one of the things he or she did was (I’ve been guilty of that (*ahem*ALOTR*cough**cough*)(#shamelessselfpromotion))).


#8

I’ve always tried to take all responses from testers under consideration, but - honestly - I look for very specific types of feedback. I’ve just always felt bad posting an exact list because it might make me seem like an overly controlling taskmaster. :frowning:

I do think it’s important for a game creator to know what they’re looking for from beta testing, as well as pointing out what they are and aren’t willing to change so that beta testers can focus their attention elsewhere if need be.

That’s just from a feedback requester’s viewpoint though. I don’t delve much into the world of testing myself. :slight_smile:


Closed Beta testing vs Open when you're struggling for feedback
#9

What I generally do, when beta-testing is the first thing I do is write down the start time when I begin playing. When I finish the game, I will note down the finish time. I’ll let the author know how long it took me to finish the game. I think that helps, since I know authors can often find it difficult to realise how long their game is.

I will also mention if the game had me hooked so I couldn’t tear myself away and desperately wanted to know what happened next, or if I was easily distracted and took many breaks. If I am distracted then I’ll generally mention at what points I lost interest.

On the first playthrough I’ll just play as I would. I tend to write down my stream of consciousness thoughts, anything that comes to mind, if there’s something that doesn’t make sense, or I don’t understand, then I’ll mention it. If there’s a character I like, or dislike I’ll say that. If there’s a choice I wish I had, or one that seems unrealistic, I’ll often note that down. Sometimes I get sucked into the game that these notes are fleeting things, and sometimes I have huge long essays.

I provide as much of my reactions as seems useful, especially moments of the game which I particularly loved.

I try and keep my feedback constructive. If something doesn’t work, I’ll generally explain why it doesn’t work for me. Sometimes I’ll offer a suggestion for an improvement, I generally don’t expect these suggestions to actually be taken but I do hope it at least explains to the author where I’m coming from.

Once I’ve got my stream of consciousness reaction to my first playthrough. I’ll generally quickly summarise my experiences, and write what I thought of the game, any bugs, any improvements etc. I’ll copy and paste my stat chart just so the author can see what sort of stats I’m finishing with.

Then I’ll usually send that, explaining that it is just what I was thinking while playing. Frequently I’ll ask questions like “who is that masked man, do I know him?” only for the question to be answered on the next page. But I leave that in anyway.

Then I take a break from the game. The next day I’ll frequently write up another game of all the stuff that’s been niggling at me since I played, the things that struck me. I’ll play through the game a few other times, I’ll check for bugs, I’ll see if I can break things, I’ll poke at the code a bit.

I’ll cheat while playing having several browser windows open so I can explore all the available paths. And I’ll write down my thoughts on if a path is well developed or not.

I don’t always do all of these steps. There’s been games where I’ve just sent in the one email. There’s been games where I’ve done my best to actually edit things down into concise points. There’s been games where I felt that it was so important one issue was addressed that that was all I provided feedback on.

I don’t actually think “I hate this game” is useful feedback in and of itself. I’ll generally mention if I’m testing a game which is in a genre I don’t enjoy, since I think that should be more useful, saying it’s not to my tastes, so the author actually knows that any feedback I provide will actually be influenced by that. I do try to be constructive.


#10

@CS_Closet I’d much rather have a complete list of what you do and don’t want. I’d rather spend my time concentrating on what the author finds useful than giving them stuff that doesn’t help.

Knowing what isn’t getting changed would actually be extremely helpful too.


#11

@FairyGodfeather
I wouldn’t say the extra input isn’t unwanted or doesn’t help. It’s just not the primary concern. As @Headhunter180 pointed out, sometimes the author doesn’t realize there’s something wrong to ask about.

But I agree that a list of primary concerns would help author and tester both stay on the same page.


#12

@CS_Closet

I think it can depend. I found, for instance, that the input on my game’s spelling and grammar started to overwhelm me. I started to look at all of the mistakes I’d made and get stressed out and wonder if anything was right with it. That’s also the level of finicky detail that I hate testing for myself.

Taking a step back and saying to my beta-tester where I did need feedback, was so much more useful. Which isn’t to say that the spelling and grammar wasn’t helpful, it was just not what I was needing at that time.

I think the same can be said for other things.

For instance, I was really, really worried that the feedback I gave on Resonance was too harsh. I love that game, it’s one of my favourites and I felt really bad about how one thing didn’t work for me. I think ultimately it’s the author’s right to railroad a specific scenario.

I actually found recently a game where there was a situation where there were two choices. They were realistic choices, but one of those choices allowed you to skip an extremely crucial scene and miss out a chunk of the game. The author hadn’t railroaded, the choice to avoid the crucial scene was realistic, in fact it was perfectly in character for me to make that choice, but it didn’t leave for a satisfying story.

It was as if I’d got to the end battle, and instead of facing my arch-nemesis myself, I decided I’d just call the police and let them do it, thus missing the epic final fight, and have to end up reading about it in the newspaper the next day. That doesn’t make for a satisfying story.