While speaking as a consumer and not a writer, I like open beta tests.
Why? Because in an open beta test the author gets opinions from more people. It might mean more aggravation on the author’s part, sorting the useful feedback from the useless, but the person who might have made a useful, perhaps even a game changing suggestion, might not get to participate in a closed beta test.
So perhaps it’s just selfish of me, but I’d rather a game made as good as it can be by getting as much useful feedback as possible.
I’m glad you started this thread because I was confused about alpha/beta too. If an author has a WIP thread with discussions and feedback on each new chapter as it is written, is that essentially an open alpha?
The when it is completed, if you keep the thread open, it would become open beta but if you limited feedback at that point to “invite only” it would become closed beta?
From my pov “alpha” is the first draft “beta” are rewrites from initial feedback.
Closed betas are good if you get the right people. Some people just join to play the game for free during my testing 3 of the people who applied sent no feedback at all. But at the same time got great feedback from the rest.
open betas get you more feedback but also opens it for people who just want to play for free.
@HornHeadFan Although it doesn’t discuss the merits of Open or Closed beta, the following Wiki article does at least include - among other things - a basic explanation of the terminology:
@JLBH Both have pros and cons, and @stsword makes a very good case for open betas. My personal preference (as an author) is however for a closed beta as that makes it a two-way street, with both parties gaining some benefit from the experience and sharing a connection with a mutual goal in mind - to produce a better game. Not all open beta testers are quite so… actively involved in the process, IMO.
Alpha means that the developer is testing it. I see that as me. When I test my own game, that’s Alpha. I suppose that if you are a labeled game, COG testers are still Alpha.
Beta is other people testing it.
Closed means by invite only.
Open means anyone can test.
I went with a middle ground this time, for Life of a Mobster, by accepting testers in waves, but it’s still essentially an Open Beta, since I’m letting in anyone who contacts me.
Open is nice for the simple reason that you get more testers. Alpha and Beta testing are both important. You should test your own game, but you’ll never catch all of your own errors, so Beta is very valuable.
It seems like most people prefer to upload a demo and then get feedback as they go, but I prefer to actually finish the story and then post it for feedback. Then you can get all the suggestions considered and all the bugs/typos weeded out at once, and it keeps people more interested. (Like it’s more exciting to read one big thing than to have to read a couple thousand words, and then wait a week to read another couple thousand words.)
@Samuel_H_Young Fair point, although I’ve found that good playtesters can also make a big difference in how the game actually develops, by taking some of their better early ideas and running with them throughout - something not very easy to implement, or adapt to, once you’ve already written the bulk of it… Not that either method is in any way superior, of course - just a different way of looking at / doing things.
Oh, definitely. But I actually added a whole new scene, added a ton more depth to my characters, and more character customization, and that was all after finishing it. Surprisingly, it wasn’t as hard to squeeze it in as you may think.