Game Feedback (Help and Discussion)

So, I have a few questions regarding public and private game testing here on the forum, and how to get the most effective feedback from both.

For public testing:

Is there any way to maintain a steady stream of feedback?
While the activity of a thread is a good indicator for excitement and hype, in many cases, it’s simply discussion regarding the game and characters in ways that are nearly divorced from genuine feedback. It can certainly be heartening for authors to see people so excited about something they’ve created, but it can also make it harder for authors to receive game feedback in such an environment because people will be talking to each other rather than communicating with the author. Is there a good balance between feedback and general discussion/excitement? How can it be achieved?

For private testing:

How many people should be in private testing?
Compared to a public thread, a private testing group is more streamlined and probably more focused on providing legitimate feedback. It can also require more time from an author to maintain, because unlike a public thread which is to some extent self-perpetuating in terms of content and discussion, the singular focus of a private group means that (in my experience, at least) group members only really interact when the author active requests feedback. On the flipside, too many members can result in the same pitfalls as a public testing, but too little may result in a lack of substantial feedback or a lack diverse opinions and viewpoints. What is a good number of of private testers to receive a healthy amount of feedback and diversity in viewpoints for private testing?

I don’t expect there to be clear-cut answers, but it would be very nice to hear about the experiences of authors, and how that informs their answers.
And feel free to ask your own questions! I know I had more than two, but I had to run errands in the middle of writing this and didn’t write them down, and now, for the life of me I can’t remember them. Oops.

I recognize that there are a few threads with this topic already, but they’re almost all nearly a year old and I didn’t want to bump dead threads.


Okay, I can only speak from my own experience…

For public testing: Don’t knock the general discussion, it’s a good indicator of the things that people are latching onto. Maybe you won’t get as many bughunters, but at the first stage, just seeing who people connect to was invaluable to me. It led me to rewriting some parts that nobody talked about, and they were better as a result. If there is anything in particular, just ask in the thread. There will usually be one or two who will give you feedback, and unless someone starts arguing with them it’s a good indicator of the issue. Also, updates.

For private testing: I ended up having two different varieties. The first one was for pure proofreading, they got the chapters in the mail and went over them with a comb. Not as many signed up there, maybe ten, tops, and of those only one stuck it out to the end. That will happen, it is hard work and not everyone is good at it, but if you find just one single person you’re in such luck. I did, and oh boy, she saved me from myself more than once.

After the proofreading I went for a public testing and ended up accepting pretty much everyone 'cause I figured that with the dropoff maybe I’ll get one tenth to give useful feedback. Here more people stuck it out, but there was still maybe ten or so who carried the heavy load of… I think I had three private DM threads, and that’s like 20 in each or something I think. Can’t remember. It was a lot.

Of course I could have done both with less people, but I did not know how to separate productive people from well-meaning but bad at spotting problems, and then there was real life who you never know will mess you up.

After the lessons I learned last time, I think I will do a similar thing again. On the whole it was a good process, and I got what I needed. The one difference is that I will not put the whole game up for the first, public beta. Just up to a certain point, after that I do not want things leaking… So I’ll probably do a super small alpha of special people who can keep their mouths shut for that part.


I think this is a fantastic idea for weeding out the people who just want to play for free and move on.


Hmm, I didn’t even consider that, but I see what you mean.

So…out of about 60 people only ten or so stuck through?

Yeesh, that’s a pretty steep drop, not that I should be so surprised. As you said, there’s various factors involved.

That said, is there any overlap for the people who frequent the thread with thoughtful conversation and the people who managed to stick it out?
What I’m really trying to figure out is how to spot people who would make dependable testers, if there’s any characteristics between them to keep an eye out for in the demo thread before I have to put out a call for testers.

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A bit? Not really? Some?

The thing is, that some people are really talkative and enthusiastic but not good at spotting commas or pronouns. Some people are good with continuity errors, while others are sticklers about grammars. Those kinds of things are hard to judge beforehand. Also, there is real life, someone who is really good might have no time during that month of testing, and someone who’s hardly talked in the thread might turn out to have a lot of time just then.

Dependability is a seasonal thing, we all have lives.

If you are worried about a loss of sales from having too many testers, I don’t think that’s an issue. If people would join to leech they would just find a pirated download later.


This is a very interesting topic to me, as starting a private thread for alpha testers is now something I’m very seriously considering doing.

I wonder, though: how do you pick your alpha testers? Do you have them apply, or volunteer? Or do you reach out them individually and ask if they’d be interested? Is using a private thread on the COG forum best, or are other means – such as Discord – better?


Off the top of my head? Write a 1000 word essay and ask some questions that require critical thinking. If a potential beta tester complains about the wall of text you just gave them, they probably aren’t a good fit. :wink:


I have been normally called for alphas via pm but sometimes via email and once bia google groups. I think you should not make public who are your alpha testers because could end up with people rant about Why x is tester and not me. However I also had people accused me of hate x author who just happens to be an alpha of all his games XD … You could also do some Facebook or discord contest to be alpha to gain public.

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I’ve seen authors ask for applicants in their WIP threads.

Depending on what authors are looking for, they can ask some questions to help narrow down candidates instead of just saying: “Hey, who wants to help?”. For example, sometimes a game has mechanics you’d want to test for. If it had stealth, melee combat, ranged combat, etc., the author could ask for players to indicate what play style they wanted to test (if the author was trying to check to see if everything was balanced).

Or if there are romances and the options to play as different sexualities, the author might ask for what romance option they wanted to go for and what sexual preference they’d want to play as (please note they aren’t asking what preference they are, just what they wanted to play as).

They choose however many testers they think they can deal with, making sure that it’s clear at the start what kind of time constraints must be adhered to.

If there are certain people in the WIP thread who you’ve seen give some good feedback, you might want to reach out to them privately.


Then happen to be people like me that reply saying why there is no poison or charismatic flirt in the essay lol

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You bring all the poison and charismatic flirting anyone will ever need. :heart:

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I’m saving all this information. Thank you so much!

(This question isn’t necessarily directed at @spunkycatninja, so everyone feel free to answer)

In this case, would it be smart to ask for, say, a player’s top 3 ROs or playstyles, that way if one drops off, you hopefully have at least two other playtesters in the same area.
Or would an even large number help?

What I’m mostly nervous about is the steep drop-off as it almost seems inevitable. I would love any advice for mitigating it as much as possible.


I mean really depends entirely of the people and if you really know you them or not. For example I have been helping certain authors like more 5 years lol. They and I know each other so we have a understanding. What i advice you is being sincere and ckear in what do you want as writer and tell to testers so.
Like I want you tell me how x scene flows. Or there is enough choices?

Or i change scene 24 it works? Not only new update with nothing more. I hate that due I have to know where the new is to give feedback on it.

Edit a 70% of your testers would not reach end of it. And more will never say more of two small things and shut up forever


Definitely overlap. You’ll want more than one person testing a route/play style, especially if there are nuanced differences involved. People will also notice different things, even doing the same routes and choices.

I’m not sure how much of a drop in participation is normal. I think you’d need more authors in here giving some feedback on that. For instance, I don’t think Sera really had any drop off when doing the testing, but she kept it short—a week I think (which I think helped with avoiding burnout for her and them). They were also more focused on the game itself and not doing a lot of proofreading, which was my contribution, though they did catch things like pronoun corrections on the female UB routes, or if something glaring stood out, they noted it. But she had them focused mainly on the game, which I think is more fun for people.

I think if you ask specific questions for feedback, it can help the testers from feeling overwhelmed and dropping out. That will also help you get some constructive feedback on what you as the creator are worried about. Here are some examples so that you can see what I’m talking about.

For instance, if you have romances that switch gender, asking about how natural it feels during certain scenes or what improvements can be made to make it more organic might be helpful; that way, if you have a straight or gay player going for the same RO, you can make sure it feels good for both.

Other questions:
If testing personality traits (or skill stats, just tweak the questions): Do you feel like the game reflects the character you were trying to portray? If no, what stat did you have trouble with/did you feel not accurately reflect your character? Were there times when you felt there were no options/choices for the character you wanted to roleplay? Which choices specifically? etc.

Questions like those may help. Not that I’ve run beta testing before, but I think the more structured you have it, the more helpful and smoother it will be overall. Not that you have to create questions for every single thing, but having just a few as guidelines may also clue some testers in as to what you are looking for and how they should be analyzing the game.