Beta Testing Games

These closed testing WIPs always sound interesting, but I’m always worried about applying because if it turns out the game just really isn’t at all to my tastes then testing it ends up becoming like unpaid labor. I mean, I know I can just quit, but that hardly seems like a great way to get picked to test future games which I might actually enjoy.


Yep! It’s a risk! But part of the fun of beta-ing a game is challenging yourself to explain why a game isn’t to your taste, and the fact that the author and editors will consider your feedback. If you really think you wouldn’t enjoy a game just based on its premise/genre reasons (which we always list) then just wait for one you do think you’ll like.


See that’s the problem. They almost always look interesting just based on the premise/genre. That I, Cyborg one looks really neat, this one sounds intriguing too, but then you apply and get into the actual testing and that’s when you realize that the execution is very different from how you imagined based on just the description, and you really aren’t sure how that could reasonably be changed based on your feedback since at the end of the day the artist compromising their vision is just going to make a mess of things. I had this issue with two betas in a row a few years back and after that I just stopped applying to them because I didn’t want to annoy Jason any more than I can help it.


Sounds like beta testing isn’t for you.


I quite like beta testing the open ones on the site though, where I have an option to decide whether to give feedback based on actually knowing about the game. I just don’t like the idea of being obligated towards doing something something I get nothing out of and have no way of knowing that before hand. I mean, you see what I’m saying right? I’m basically volunteering my time to help someone else make money with something I may or may not have any investment in with no solid way of knowing that before hand.

You’re making a distinction between user submitted WIPs and Choice of Games betas that doesn’t actually exist when you say

You’re volunteering your time in either case, and in either case, if the author of a WIP publishes their game as a Hosted Game, for instance, someone other than you is going to make money somehow.


Well, you’re getting free access to something that other people will pay money for. Instead of asking you for money, we’re asking you for your time, which is something some of our fans have, in particular, fans that don’t have money but do love to play our games.

It sounds like your preference here would be for us to run our beta testing like a forumgoers’ WIP: i.e., anyone has access to any game in beta, playable, no commitment to give feedback. Unfortunately, that isn’t something we can do.


I’d say betatesting allows you to save your money in the end when you find a game is not what you expected.

Also, though i go by observation here, it seems as if the top HG games ALL had a closed beta with pm threads for feedback.
And didn’t Tally Ho also have a private thread for additional feedback? (Not certain)

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Yes but they also tend to have had an open beta prior to that. It tends to be CoG games that solely have closed betas only.

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Yeah, but I don’t think that’s a reason to say CoG should pay betatesters.

Truth be told though, sometimes more accurate descriptions would be a blessing come to think of it.

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Not exactly. I’m making a distinction between the games with open betas which are all hosted games, and the games with closed betas which are almost all COG games. I don’t tend to ask to join closed betas for hosted games either unless I have a reason to think I’ll enjoy my time with it beyond the description sounding interesting. That said, there is a further distinction between COG closed betas and HG closed betas. Jason is the one selecting the testers for all the COG betas, so any time I find the game to be too far outside my comfort zone or interests to find testing it enjoyable I’m letting down the same exact person again. There’s also the fact that even among the HGs that have had closed betas several of them have also had open ones first (or at least demos) to give potential testers a good idea of what they’re getting in to.

I know I’m volunteering my time no matter what and I know that if the game is sold it’ll make money for someone. I don’t have a problem with people making money. I just have a problem motivating myself to work purely for the sake of a stranger on the internet making money and/or a piece of art I don’t enjoy. Like I wouldn’t crowdfund a project I had no interest in. But usually crowdfunded projects go to great lengths to give you a solid idea of what you’re funding

All open betas would certainly be my preference, but I imagine you have a good reason for not doing so. You are trying to run a business here after all, and an extremely niche one at that. While I don’t have any personal experience with it I can imagine that it’s a constant difficult balancing act to keep your customers liking you, pull more in, and actually turn a decent enough profit to expand. CDPR seems to manage it with a bit of harsh working conditions, and their first two games still had vastly greater potential audiences than I’d imagine most COG games do. Yes, we get the opportunity to try out a new game before anyone else and for free, in exchange for the obligation to assist in testing it, but if the game turns out to be intrinsically unenjoyable for us that isn’t a benefit. Isn’t there some middle ground? You release demos of all your games once they’re complete. Is there any reason you can’t do something similar for betas, or at least some way to know more about what we’re getting in to before we make the commitment to a closed beta?

@MeltingPenguins I was in no way suggesting COG should pay beta testers. If they became really big and successful some day, sure, but not with the way things are now. I mean, hell, if I remember right this whole thing got kicked off because Google was evil long before they stopped pretending not being so was a company policy.

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So, @Shoelip if i get this correctly: you don’t want to do closed betas for CoG cause you don’t want to disappoint jason again and again?


My reply was about when you said the top HGs having closed betas and just saying they mostly had open betas before that.

Wasn’t saying beta testers should be paid. Sorry if I gave that Impression.

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Ah, alright.
And going by what i saw im several cases, HG games can change a lot between open and closed beta.

But as said before: clearer descriptions would help often enough imho.

Although I have tried beta testing once but from what I understand, the reason why there are beta testing is to give your honest opinion on the CoG/HG? To give feedback on which part works for you and not? I think that what authors look out for in terms of feedback.

I kinda agree in the sense some of the games I’ve tested seem to just bore me, and as such I’m less inclined to spend more time doing a bug report, however I normally just find bug errors (as I don’t care for the story) and post them all at once, then report them.
Then leave.

I do think it’d be in the best interest of the tester and CoG to only have enthusiastic testers, however above all else CoG is a business and if deemed not worth the cost or hassle (e.g. “testing” games but offering no feedback on the basis you dislike the game) you’ll probably just be blacklisted or something from testing in private betas.

The public ones are always open though-- however since there’'s so many I don’t get a chance to test em in public build. Plus it’s then pinned at the top, for eventilation more visibility.

If the game is super not to your taste and you physically can’t report anything, you could still email them saying what’s up.

At least that seems preferable from a business perspective

I only see in our records that you’ve beta tested three games.

If those were bad experiences for you, I’m sorry. But no one is demanding you continue to beta test. Yes, COG betas are closed and will remain so.

I’m sorry our system isn’t set up to satisfy everyone, but I don’t know what that middle ground is. Maybe it’s putting the first chapter up. I don’t know. But you’re the only one complaining in this particular way about our process, so unless there’s a hue and cry for this, I think things will remain as they are.

I really don’t mean to sound callous, but…we’re talking like two hours of time for you to test a game which you may or may not like. If your threshold for doing something there’s a risk you won’t enjoy is that low, then…maybe beta testing isn’t for you.

And if I can ask: what do you @shoelip and @fairlyfairfighter do when you buy a game and don’t like it or think it’s boring? Like… the risk here is to your time not your money. I’m genuinely confused.

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If I buy a game and don’t enjoy I’m upset, but at least COG got their money so they aren’t upset too, and at least I’m not potentially getting myself blacklisted, and games on sale usually have demos. Of course I like beta testing more because I actually get to add a bit of my own ideas to the game sometimes, which for someone uncreative who can’t figure out coding like me feels really good, because there are very very few games out there where I can actually get a real feeling of immersion. Plus I’m poor. Playing Tabletop RPGs on forums can work for that sometimes, but those games seem to have an epidemic of Flakey GM Syndrome.


Ok. So the answer is basically: you’re afraid of joining a beta you hate, then getting blacklisted from future betas which you may like, because you do a poor job/flake out of the beta you didn’t like. So you want us to have either better descriptions of the game going into beta or have free chapters of it for everyone.


Eh I’m not fussed about disliking a beta game because although my role is to have hella fun it’s more important to make rhe game better.

Just in case was unclear i’m aight with the current system, I merely can sympathise with their position. In stuff like ‘pm me on forum to sign up’ if I dislike it I put it on the back burner but still contribute, because even if I don’t like the game it dosen’t mean I can’t help out, just that I’m probably going to focus on coding/ syntax errors than the plot.

And hey don’t worry I realise my time is pretty worthless (or rather, £4.20 an hour) but I don’t really want for much.
My entertainment is free aside from CoG/HG, and with those you get a demo most of the time, and regardless most of em cost less than an hours worth of work but give me more than that in satisfaction, so if I don’t like a game after paying money I’d just uninstall it.

I’d only do the 'quick and easy Google play refund policy" if the game seems to be very different than what it suggests or made with very little effort.

FWIW none of the games I’ve tested (in PM’'s or email) were bad (although I think I’ve tested like 2 for GoG,) so I don’t believe the system of testing needs to be changed, but a policy of “If for whatever reason you cannae test this game goodly, tell us and we’ll give yer spot to someone else” wold benefit both parties (if not misused!)

*But without my badly autocorrected weird style I used