The benefit of a private beta for me was to be able to actually get structured feedback and to preserve the secrecy so less would leak and spoil people for the release. But much of the game was open for everyone, it was just the final stage that I kept private.
I still kept the private beta on Dashingdon and just shared the link on a private discord; some are worried about security and do not. I am sadly aware that if people want the forbidden tasty content they will find it no matter what I do.
Reading your posts and the suggested topics the forum gave me, it seems to be near a consensus that authors maintain a public beta for up to 3/4 of their game but keep the final quarter locked up for private testing.
I imagine it is important to find willing, passionate, trusted testers too, for a private beta.
Apart from dashingdon, do people use Google Drive and things like it? I have always tried to avoid the cloud since I am a semi-luddite who feels secure with the tangibility of things.
It sounds like a good idea to hold something back from public testing, following the practice of authors more experienced than I am. At least some orcs relish a visage of mystery, particularly the shamans,
I think I am approaching that time, though there will be a good few more months of development left (not counting all the final bug-checking and proofreading).
I would personally think it also depends on how much one gets feedback overall - if there’s lack of testers when the project is fully public, is it really even possible to get enough for a private one? On the other hand, if there’s way too many feedback when it’s public, a private one is probably way more manageable.
You can make a Dashingdon link private and just share it with the tester group if you like, though it’s not fully secure if someone shares it outside the group. Moody has more robust private settings but seems less stable unfortunately; you can also compile a ChoiceScript game and put it on itch.io as a private or password-protected game.
My experience is CoG-specific where the way it’s usually done is to have a private beta once the full draft is complete. When putting up my WIPs in public I’ve generally had more detailed feedback at the beginning, and then in the private beta test there is an uptick in that sort of feedback again as people have the bigger picture/perspective having played the whole thing.
I know authors have had good experiences with both fully public and partially-private playtesting. There was some very interesting discussion in this threadv which gave me a lot of things to think about:
There are successful authors that go public from start to finish. @Havenstone 's successful and popular Choice of Rebels is the most known, but @JimD has brought both of his Zombie Exodus stories to the public as well, releasing the parts he writes for them as he writes them.
@Lucid on the other hand has a full private beta with an open invite … and does not open a beta until his game is fully written.
In my case, i started with private testing because of my imposter syndrome and my shyness regarding my writing. I also had testers built up, something you, or others may not have access to.
As my writing improved and I started getting braver and less vulnerable to my imposter feelings, I have opened my game up to more people, arriving to a point where, after this last testing round I will be making a WiP thread in the form that both JimD and Havestone do theirs.
One of the practices I engage in to help overcome my imposter feelings is to share an excerpt of my writing every 15th of the month in the Writer’s Support Thread.
Perhaps that would help if you suffer shyness or imposter feelings as well.
This is just proof of how all over the place that thread ended up getting lol. Reading the description in the referenced part, you’d never know that we discussed pros and cons of public vs private betas. It makes sense once you read through it, obviously, but it looks so out of left field out of context.
Good point. I would say my project seems quite niche and may not have enough testers willing to invest a large amount of time in private testing. What would you say is an optimal amount of private testers- roughly?
Excellent thread! Also, you’ve eased my mind with worrying about privacy, since it is available on dashingdon and itch.io. From what I have learned, there is no wrong way to do it, in regards to the public-private split. I think I’ll eventually find what works best, once I’ve got the growing pains out of the way.
Thanks for the advice and the excellent examples of other’s work. My project has been fully public since I first uploaded it so I am not shy in that regard. I’ve gone through the typical dozens of rejections for one tiny acceptance letter a good dozen times to wear my imposter suit over my imposter shirt proudly
Although I have often browsed those writer’s threads here and the community is fantastic!
I’ll say this: there is no right or wrong way to do it, but their usefulness might vary. You can read for yourself, but in the referenced thread, it seemed to me that many more people were in favor of public testing all the way, or most of the way. The general consensus seemed to be that you got significantly more feedback throughout the entire process, which was something a lot of people valued highly.
Idk. I think most people would agree that a handful of experienced testers would probably be better, but the Avengers aren’t always available.
No idea, never done either. But from a theoretical perspective - enough that someone is playing through all the major branches (and the more playing through minor ones, the better!) to catch the bugs and continuity issues and such.
…now I got the most hilarious picture in my head. Thanks for that.
I think that if, as Eiwyn said, you have a solid amount of testers built up over time, then a final focused push through a private beta could be very rewarding.
But yes, since public betas do attract a variety of players, some of whom grow to enjoy the work, then it can be inherently more valuable to shape a game and world with their feedback. Also, the exposure to all those ideas can be an amazing thing.
Ha, I thought I decided what I was going to do but am swaying back and forth.