@Shockbolt As to striking a good tone in giving feedback - I may not be the best person to answer this, but I try to keep in mind that I’m making suggestions. My typo list doesn’t have much of a tone, I don’t think. It just looks like this (and much like a lot of others’ typo lists on forum WiPs):
(5). The sparkling pink vampire ponies leapt across teh* fast-moving crystal river.
[N.B. not a real line, nor from an actual beta test.]
When making a high-level suggestion about plot, characters, or mechanics, I try to use a question format when I can: “Do you think a ‘maybe’ option would be possible here, instead of just shades of ‘yes’ and ‘no’? I would have liked to take a more neutral position.”
I can only suggest what I think, and sometimes I do include a brief reason why. “I would have liked an option to tell Captain Thatfellow that I don’t mind if he sticks around, because I want to maintain a relationship without either alienating him or jumping him.”
With editing, I do address grammar of course, which is not looked for in Choice of Games beta tests (WiPs on the forums vary in this regard, I gather?). @Samuel_H_Young and @Nocturnal_Stillness, the only two ChoiceScript authors whose works I have edited, could probably answer questions about niceness levels with editing vs. better than I could.
Even with editing, though, I try to make a point of saying, ‘I would recommend this but style guides vary’ instead of just basic corrections without notation, if an issue could really go either way.
And any narrative or character choice is going to be a suggestion, to my mind. If I feel strongly about an issue when editing, I’ll say so. If I feel strongly about it when beta testing, I’ll just say something like, ‘This section broke my immersion because of Y and Z reasons’. Then the author can decide what to do about it, or whether to do anything at all. Does that sort of answer your question?
@WaterOracle Even the ‘this is wrong’ issues are still at the discretion of the author, though. Beta testers do not control the game. An editor or the publisher would be the one to take a stand on things, to my mind, and not beta testers. I liked @Sashira’s comment about not trying to convince the author with a paragraph of arguments as to why one is right.
@P_Chikiamco I really appreciate your point about weighting issues properly; that’s helpful. Thanks! Could you share an item or two of especially helpful feedback from Slammed!, if you don’t mind? And why was it exceptionally helpful - what changed, how it improved the game overall, anything like that?
@OScott That’s hard for me too because I have to not-edit! I always look at issues I spot and think, "Is this an ACTUAL TYPO that even my word processing program would spit back out, or something like swapped genders? *if (yes), *goto make a note. *if (no - there’s any amount of room for debate), *goto skipit. I think twice I’ve given actual grammar feedback, and only because I found it terribly distracting and I wasn’t sure it was intentional.
Sometimes ‘bad’ grammar IS intentional, too, or a result of house preferences (don’t get me started on ellipses). So reporting grammar errors isn’t helpful because beta testers would be talking over each other, and then the editor, house, and author are making the style decisions anyhow.
Besides, editors don’t have trouble catching poor grammar. Certain typos or continuity errors, though . . . I don’t know how other ChoiceScript editors work, but I look at the entire manuscript, code and all. I’m not playing the game, so I might not notice if a sentence fragment in line 120 needs the word ‘and’ to properly meld with the other half of the sentence down in line 258.
Another issue is that the writer and the editor sees ALL of the plot and character information. I’ve seen a few games critiqued because readers felt like the plot had holes, or the characters were shallow. The information was there in the story, somewhere, but the reader never saw it, and wasn’t inclined to do a replay after an unsatisfying game. The editor and the writer have already seen every single line, so it’s harder to tell if key information is missing from certain routes. Beta testers would notice, though!
(@Shockbolt if I DO have a huge list of typos and errors lurking in my prosey halls, please at least tell me they’re there so I can try to hunt them down . . .)
I also don’t think it’s any one beta tester’s job, as @P_Tigras pointed out on another thread, to ‘fix’ games. Lots of beta testers noticing different small things is the way to go - especially in a game, where the beta testers may only be seeing 30% of the game per run, and all shuffled together in different ways.