Ideally, when should an author create a private beta test for their story?

I created a thread previously asking a very similar question and I got curious what both readers and authors think about the criteria for a private beta test.

Specifically, what should the private beta testers have access to that the public does not?

I have only completed one private beta test (A Kiss From Death by @will), so I don’t have much opinion on when the best time for a private beta test should be done.

The only thing I have to add is that sometimes the public demos that authors leave up seem too short, especially if I am intrigued by their story. I think having the public demo cut off towards the middle of the story, leaving the ending exclusively to the private beta testers. It gives enough substance for the public readers to offer possibly very helpful critique, but doesn’t spoil the entire story.

YMMV per story however.

I’m curious what others think.

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I have almost “finished” (though it seems it never ends) writing my first book and I’ve never published anything about it, mainly because I knew I was going to have to change the first parts (and probably others too) because of starting from 0 in writing and everything related gave me the impression that once I research, learn and practice with the rest of the book I would look back at the beginning and cringe in horror. And also because sometimes, like now, life gets in the way throwing problems I have to look out for giving me no time to work on the book.

All of that has lead to me don’t knowing anything about beta test in general. so my comment is pretty much useless, but I feel I need to start to learn something about it soon.

Maybe this can be used as an example of a finished story that has never appeared on a WIP, so no one read it before. What beta test do you recommend for that case?

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I’ll say that private or public depends on the author. If you have a private group of beta testers that represent a good diversity of readers and will give you constructive feedback and play the hell out of your game to properly dissect and play and reach all different branches… I’ll say go for a private beta. Just keep in mind that You’ll need to send that beta link to Hosted game once it’s time for publication.

Personally, I’ll do half and half… a public beta on the forum with 3/4 of the game available to the public and a private beta where the endings and full game will be available to the private beta testers.

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Everyone’s writing process is going to be different.

I intentionally left it vague for what the author will do after the private beta test has finished. Whether they go to get it published with HG or go for another round of testing, therefore building upon the previous beta testers’ feedback is left ambiguous.

Malin Ryden, author of the Fallen Hero series, offers some insight into what comes after you publish your book in this tumblr post. If you’ve been following Vampire the Masquerade - Night Road you’ll notice it still is being edited for bug fixes (understandable since it’s a huge story) and there’s even more content being added nearly 3 months after initial release.

So what I’m getting at is for IFs written by a single person, and at most two people, having a “day one patch” is understandable given the size and scope of these projects. If you as an author want to limit yourself to simply one private beta test, that’s up to you. Or if you want to do multiple sweeps and delay publication to catch more bugs or just fine tune your work, that’s also an option.

I don’t think I’m in any position to recommend how you do your beta cause I’m not at that stage myself, but maybe this will give you the opportunity to get some beta readers!

Personally I agree/lean towards @CC_Hill’s personal recommendation but YMMV based on how big your story is. If three fourths of your story 600k story is 450k, then you might want to adjust. This is one of those things where I feel it’s easier to give a loose criteria (3/4s of someone’s story) than a hardline (at 200k words you should do X).

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I’d do CBT (closed beta testing) when I have a specific goal in mind: don’t wanna spoil the content, having different versions of drafts to test (A/B testing), or probably having a focused group to rush things asap.

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I feel ya brah, I’m in a similar situation, finding it hard to reach an acceptable stopping point.

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That seems a pretty good way to do it, I’ll have to cut the book at some point to public beta, maybe a dumb question but, do you think it would be best to do it on a cliffhanger or just the end of a chapter?

@The_Black_Reaper I’m not really familiarized with any work around here, I’m not having enough time and I try to spend what’s left on progressing on my own book to be honest. The idea I’m trying to write could be a lot longer than what I’ve done so far, (and I intend it to be) but I think I’ll have to cut it in a series because otherwise I’ll never get it finished, so even if it could be more than 1 million words long I’m chopping it, so it won’t be a monstrosity like some of the books out there, making it somewhat easier to avoid errors, hopefully

I’m doing the initial review and changing things I don’t like, mainly the way things are written, not much of plot and that, just more “show don’t tell” noob writer learning. Due to the idea of being a series I’ve kind of forced myself to not branch it too much, cause I knew it can become unmanageable on the future.

At the moment I think I’m at 250k words, and I don’t think it’ll grow much more than that (I hope I’m wrong though), so I don’t know, I’ll try to polish it the best I can and release a public beta with 3/4 of it as you guys advice, meanwhile I’ll start to do the artwork for it, so I can push that along the editing/review I’ll have to do with the feedback. And at the end I guess I don’t have much more than hope for the best, or worse… :thinking:

@Farsight I’m just in my initial review, and I’ve already knew I have to change a bunch of things due to my inexperience at the beginning, but that’s true, I don’t know how much of that feeling of “I can’t public this sh*t in the actual condition” would haunt me after the review.

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I’ll give you my own example again but I’ll say definitely on a cliffhanger lol I love cliffhangers

My story will be around 150k… the public beta will end right before you choose your ending… I’m planning 5 ending with 5 distinct epilogues so yeah I think it’s fair for me to end it like this… and the private beta will have access to the full story because I need feedback on those endings

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Yeah, sure, cliffhangers are the way jaja.
My story isn’t so branched due to it being a series, so it is more linear, otherwise at some point it would get out of control and it’ll become impossible to finish with the time I have.
I’ll have to experiment with the beta testing then, I wonder if it would be necessary to make a WIP post also.

(sorry for the hanged answer, I intended to make it a while ago but I got busy and didn’t remember to post it till now.)

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No problem, and regarding WIP thread it’s all depend on your preference. If you want to have the insight of multiple people that will do different playthroughs a WIP thread can be a good thing. But if you already have all the insights you need from private alpha testers then, it’s fine too. Again, it’s just depend on what feedback you need. Good luck with your project :slight_smile:

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Something I am always unsure of is how Choice Script authors relay the wordcount of their current projects. Is it commonplace to include the code into your wordcount , or is this count strcitly related to the actual story narrative?

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As far as I know, the word count given for published games includes code, so that’s probably the standard on the forums as well. :thinking:

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As @Myrtle said, last time I checked the code is included, it can obviously vary from game to game but I think it was roughly a 10% of the total word count.

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I have found this to be generally true for most games. Being the OCD person I am, I tend to copy and paste my game into word docs so I can go back later and read it like a book (also helps for games where there’s a sequel coming and it’s not out yet, so I can run through quickly and save, as well as being able to see where I interfered in my MC’s choices so I can go back and let them do as they please), and I’ve compared word counts of those docs to the word count claims. It averages around 10%, sometimes a little higher, sometimes lower.

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That’s nice. I guess that you can make some kind of script or something that ignores all commands or only take into account the commands to make a word count with and without them.
I barely even know something about programming, so I’m not able to do it, but I think it’s totally doable. Too out of topic to discuss here maybe?

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Agreed. I would say that this avenue of conversation needs a new topic. Thank you!

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