Posting finished games for feedback vs updating WIPs as you go

Hey all, just wondering on writer’s thoughts on this one. What do you think are the pros and cons of leaving games until they’re pretty much done before releasing them into the wild on the forums? Particularly for games that aren’t going to get much discussion on the boards anyway. (Or maybe even for those which might.) I’ve seen a few finished/mostly finished games go up for the pre-req 1 month or so I think it is before they can be submitted to HG. And I’ve seen a few more authors talk about games they have in small private betas for much of their development. Anyone feel like discussing why they chose to do it that way? Any upsides? Downsides?

Particularly for low traffic WIPs. I’m not sure if there really are many reasons to put them out there on a public WIP thread anymore? (Prove me wrong though if you have any reasons why it might be better to keep them public :smiling_face:) I’ve seen a couple of posts (here and on reddit) within the last week basically saying the lack of enthusiasm caused them to abandon their game (one of which was over 75k apparently) or not feel like writing in general which is pretty sad. Yeah trigger for this is also some of my own where I was seriously considering not releasing Phantas as a WIP but second guessed myself and decided to do it anyway. Going forward with future projects though I’m back to wondering if keeping the game off the forums for much of its development would perhaps give more benefits or not. (I can think of a few reasons why it could be good to run public updates vs non-public writing only, just wondering on other’s thoughts.)

I can see why it might be great for the higher traffic ones (particularly for those using pateron it’s pretty much required etc) but even then I suspect there are still pros and cons there too depending on which way you decide to develop the game.

Anyways just looking for friendly discussion on how different folks handle their game development. No drama :smile:


I prefer feedback as you go, since it is easier to shape a product in motion than try to chip away at one that already mostly has its shape. I am not able to really write Grandparenting as a WIP and I am feeling the lack. My fifth story will likely be something original instead of a sequel (the sale helped Day After, but not quite that much) so I imagine that one will be a standard periodically updated WIP just like all the ones before this.


Yep I agree that can be a definite plus if feedback is happening. I can imagine it’d be frustrating to realise there’s a significant issue needing a big rewrite at the end. I was actually curious as to whether there was a reason Grandparenting hadn’t popped up as a WIP so thanks for the comment.


I think feedback as you go, such as updating chapter by chapter, is generally the better way to go. I wrote 170k words of The Cruel Guardians without feedback and it was lonely and nerve-wracking. Fortunately it has been a successful WIP but I had no idea if I was writing 170k words going in the wrong direction with something.


Devil’s advocate here. Fortunately it has been a successful WIP, I’m glad :smiley:

What if there was another WIP down the track that was released early and didn’t get attention (hope that never happens, but just as a what if.) Would this impact your (or anyone else’s) decision to finish it?
Once you’re 170k in, many writers are probably going to soldier on and finish it regardless due to sunk cost at worst, and let’s face it if you’ve written that much alone, it has to have been something you really wanted to do anyway. It may not be popular, but at least you’d have a finished game that you wanted to make rather than an abandoned WIP? You can feel good about writing it for a lot longer (and deal with the fall out if it’s there later :stuck_out_tongue: )
This could be a pro or con depending on what you are looking for. Perhaps it would be better to abandon unpopular WIPs early on in some cases?

There’s also the thing about IS an unpopular WIP unpopular because it didn’t get that early feedback. Chicken and egg stuff. I’ve got to wonder if with phantas for example, was it always going to be unpopular? (I fairly certain this is so for various reasons but that’s another topic lol) But did releasing it so far along contribute to most people just writing it off as it obviously has a storyline in place so not worth getting invested in as it can’t be realistically altered without a major rewrite? (I’ve noticed other “finished” games released for beta frequently seem to get little attention (unless they’re awaited sequels or games from previously known popular writers) which is odd in one way since they’re done and there’s no danger of being left hanging by an unfinished game, but understandable in another as the audience has limited ability to shape the course of the game as it goes along.

It’s also interesting that the CSGs seem to be the exception rather than the rule for releasing partially done games for feedback rather than the semi-finished one for testing. I’m not entirely certain why that is.

I’m actually thinking it was a terrible idea to do a half/half thing with phantas in retrospect (release semi written, updating as chapters get cleaned up) rather than just commit to not releasing it until finished given it was written offline for much of it. I didn’t get the lonely vibe you’ve experienced with writing yours in this case, but it was probably because it was a pick up and write here and there on it as I got time/felt like it hobby project with no pressure (as no one but me knew about it) rather than a serious committed effort to have it done on a time frame which I’d imagine would be much harder. It’s nice to share what you’re writing, but at the same time when does sharing become detrimental rather than helpful with pressure for updates or changes (if popular) or lack of enthusiasm killing the motivation to write (if its not.)

BTW this is just my rambling musings, I totally get where both hustler and Samuel are coming from finding off line written works harder to deal with, and sharing earlier working out well. It’s interesting to see how different writers find the right way to develop their works.


I think getting feedback as you go, even if it isn’t a lot of feedback, can help authors avoid major issues. It can also help them bounce ideas off people and get further inspiration


And if there are no comments? I’ve heard a few people recently saying they abandoned their games for lack of interest. It can be pretty disheartening when the author is posting multiple times on a thread to radio silence. And if the author stops posting then the many game threads get autolocked a few weeks later and that’s… well a tap on the shoulder to remind the author just how little interest anyone has in seeing it finished. I’ve always mantained that the best way to kill a project is through silence. It’s worse usually than even negative comments (up to a point- not counting pile ons of unconstructive crit here) as at least the author knows someone cared enough to read and comment. If a game doesn’t take off early, should it be moved back off line before inspiration to write it is completely decimated? In saying that, is the damage already done by that point and if you don’t think you’ve got a popular game on your hands play it safe and not release it “just in case”?


A lacking amount of feedback on my betas over the years made me strongly consider just releasing whole first drafts as WIPs instead of chapter by chapter WIPs to get more and higher quality feedback. However, I think the ongoing feedback and motivation makes up for that.

It can be really disheartening to not get feedback on an early WIP, but it’s not realistic to expect a huge amount of feedback and investment from readers when they have little to go off of, and I have also found that a lot of early comments are sort of like “non-actionable” requests anyways that can distract from the intended story. Like, “I had a lot of fun playing this game about being a cyborg. Do you think we could take over the world?” And meanwhile you’re planning on making the story about self-discovery or something.

It’s nice to get positive, excited early comments on early WIPs, but not always helpful or even necessary. I’d still push on and trust that more feedback and better feedback would naturally come as more chapters are released.


I can only provide the readers view one this matter but I 'd like to throw that view.

I don’t think that the decision to post a wip chapter by chapter or when it is nearly finished has too much to do with the feedback it gets.
I have been reading in this forum for a while now, and it has changed a lot.
When I started(2017/2018) there were a lot less WIPs, so naturally I at least read the premise for every new one to decide If I am interested in it or not. There are some things I am just not interested in and so some WIPs I would not try because of that.

But now there is a new WIP almost every day, I just don’t have the time to read every new thread, so I get picky. If the title is not interesting for me or I do not realize it is from an author I know, i pass.
There are a lot of reasons why I don’t even try reading a WIP. I guess every reader has their own reasons which make them not interested, so I skip that Part, since it is not that relevant at the moment.
What I noticed is the threads with a lot of feedback are often threads where they readers start discussing between themselves, not only with the author. When they feel there is something to talk about. Only when a reader is invested they will take their time to reply and Post after every update.

So the way someone makes their game thread interesting or how they interact with the Public is in my opinion more important than If it is updated chapter by chapter or first draft complete. If an author answers the feedback and thanks them for it that is nice, but that’s also finalizing it at that Moment. If you ASK for more information regarding the feedback you received most readers will answer again and a discussion might evolve.


Well… I did both.

Dragon of Steelthorne was released as a full draft. I received a ton of DMs requesting access to the game (along with the comments), and I just remember waking up and seeing an entire page of unread mail, not to mention the extra comments on the thread. It was a already complete game. so the range of feedback was somewhat limited, but there was definitely some useful stuff in the mix (city management needs more money sinks, menu should display companion relationships, romances need more content outside the management system, I want to romance this character, etc…).

Scarlet Sorceress was released as a partial game. It technically received more comments, but a much greater proportion of people requested links to Dragon of Steelthorne via DM, so Scarlet Sorceress actually had slightly less interest. With that said, it was a genderlocked-female romance game, which might have dampened its appeal substantially, regardless of finished/unfinished states.

I think it’s risky but still workable to release a full draft. Given that everyone here dislikes unfinished WIPs, a full draft seems like the counter to that. On the other hand, if there’s no interest, it would feel awful because you just did a huge bunch of work for nothing. I also do get that an unfinished WIP could have a greater draw as it’s fun to play the first few chapters and let your imagination run wild as to what the full product could look like (I do that a lot!), so an unfinished game might be the better option interest-wise. Plus, if you have a patreon, it’s a no-brainer.

Actually, besides myself, are there any cases of writers releasing a long and finished game as a WIP up front? I know Zoo-pocalypse was put up as a finished game, but it was 40k words, which is shorter than some unfinished WIPs on their initial post. Have there been any cases of writers (successful or otherwise) putting up a complete draft exceeding 100k words as a WIP?

Maybe it’s just me, but to be honest, I’m not seeing a lot of new WIPs now. Back when I joined in November last year, there seemed to be a ton popping up (the large majority of which seem clearly abandoned by now), but I’m seeing less these days. Maybe it’s because everyone is having final exams at this time of the year.


Off the top of my head I can think of a number by felicity_banks that were released complete/almost so either for HG or itch. (There’s a few in there. Scarlet sails which was the extended HG version of an IFComp entry got 15 comments (including the author’s) and 8 whole likes on its request for testers list despite having over 700 clicks on the link. It’s a far better game than that :confused: )

A few shorter games like Zoo-pocalypse (I’d have to go through them to remember which ones they were in that bunch.)

I seem to remember one of the really popular authors with a number of games saying they don’t like running WIP threads any more (I’ll have to see if I can remember who it was.)

Most comp entries tend to be under that 100k which is probably part of the reason why there’s often so little interest in playing them.

There’s been at least once instance of a game going on extended hiatus while still incomplete, and then popping back up completed for a final beta some time later. (Blood for poppies springs to mind.)

Fortune the fated? (I think?)

There’s probably more, I’d just have to think back and try and separate games that didn’t have much of a beta on the forums from those that I’ve just somehow missed prior to publishing.

Yep. Sadly that’s going to drop your audience significantly unless you get particularly lucky (like the infinite sea which has a strong following). It’s a well known strike in HG games for popularity.

Yep that’s definitely a thing. Years ago the forums were much quieter so more WIPs got a fair chance at being looked at, but it’s impossible to follow everything or even most games now.


It can be disheartening, and I totally get it. Even though my WiP is generally well received, there have been literal months where I’ve had to leave a comment on it just to make sure it wouldn’t lock. If you take away my comments on my own WiP thread, I have only a fraction of engagement as I do likes on it.

My argument for this always is: don’t create something expecting it to be wildly popular. Create so.ething because you want to create it. Because you’re passionate about it. Maybe it’s not the next Fallen Hero or Wayhaven or Infamous. But is it something you’re proud of? If so, release it to the public on the off chance it reaches someone it otherwise wouldn’t. In doing so, you might gain valuable feedback that could help bring your vision to reality.

I know having a thriving, active WiP thread is the dream on here (Well… sometimes…) but it shouldn’t be the main priority. I would say the only time you should not make a public update for going aling the way is if you have people in private that are reviewing as you go.

What’s the saying? You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take?


Oh I totally agree. I wouldn’t even be writing anymore if I wasn’t just chipping away at projects that make me happy as I know full well they’ll likely bomb.

What’s the saying? You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take?

I guess I’ve been around for a while, and the reason why games used to get WIP threads was to see what people thought, fix problems as they arise, add extras if they don’t derail the story, share what you’re writing so you’re not going it alone… but that is something that this forum has partially at least outgrown. When does posting a game early, outweigh the benefits of keeping it to yourself if essentially you’re writing something you just want to create? I guess there’s not an easy answer to that and it depends a bit on how damaging silence is to your motivation which is the risk vs the benefit of being able to share your game with others.

Edit: Just to be clear this isn’t just about me XD . I’m one of the people in this category, but I consider myself relatively resistant due to a) going into games I write expecting them to fail and b) when they fail just continuing to plug away at them anyway most of the time until they get done. Even though I do feel I’m relatively resistant, as much as I tell myself that a game’s WIP flopping is expected, it still does mess with my head. I was feeling pretty good about phantasmagoria as a hobby project (even though I knew it’d be unpopular) but once putting it out there as a WIP those “yeah, told you it wasn’t good enough to bother with” thoughts still creep in and I have to block them out to want to work on it and try to get back to how I felt about the game previously. I’m of two minds as on one hand I’ve gotten some great feedback I’m really happy to have (how to structure the riddle choices and expansion of the hell hound for example) but on the other there’s that niggly self doubt monster on your shoulder that makes you wish you never put it out there… Anyways risks vs rewards on both sides as to what is going to work best.

Anyhows, I’ll get it finished regardless, but what about others? What should the recommendations be to them? One person kind of shocked me that they said they’d started and abandoned two WIPs (one about 75k and another about 100k) due to at least in part a lack of interest. That’s really sad! Imagine if they had’ve plugged away at if offline and actually got them done. That’s so much work to be abandoned. How many other people are dropping WIPs repeatedly chasing that one that “is actually any good.” Someone else expressed they didn’t feel like writing any more. And that’s just in the last week! Should we be setting expectations for new authors wanting to come in and start a game? I don’t know.

(Edit- yeah Eiwynn is right this is veering off course a bit from where I originally wanted this to go which what asking how different authors manage their game development. The two are related so I can see how they veer off in this direction :slight_smile: )


This discussion is evolving beyond the scope of the OP.

The impact of social media and self funding schemes have impacted the WiP process more than I think has been acknowledged.

First there were Tumblr pages and then Facebook and Twitter … all of these had an impact, but not anything transformative.

The transformative developments were Patreon and Kofi recently, with even Kick-starter starting to show up.

Many of the self-contained environments created by these have shifted the discussion and feedback into walled-off gardens where an author has more control over what they are exposed to, or not.

Even the different jams are just blasting adverts here to draw more people away and into their preferred arenas. Not one of these organizers has run a jam here!

Getting feedback is not an easy thing… but I also see many authors have an expectation that if they throw stuff against a wall, something will become the next golden ticket and they have this expectation regardless how many times such an approach fails.

I hear complaints from authors that have posts in their WiP threads at least twice or three times a week. When I ask them what they are doing to get feedback, all I hear is radio silence, or maybe a weak hmm and haw.

@Jacic – I’ll answer your op questions in my next post.


I would say it is always better to do a WIP as you go, rather than once you have a completed story. Not every WIP is going to get immediate attention, but they can build momentum on the forums. For a fully completed WIP that momentum will only really come from others commenting and talking about the WIP, keeping it at the top of the forums for even more people to see. For a WIP that is being regularly worked on the author has some control over when the WIP jumps to the top of the forum.

I know I have personally discounted several WIPs just because their initial title/premise didn’t seem that interesting to me, but through repeated exposure of seeing the topic at the top of the forums I eventually gave them a go and discovered some great works.

This is definitely true. If a general silence from the forums is going to damage your ability/enthusiasm to tell a story then maybe it’s best not to post a WIP at all. Because that threat is always there, whether its a fully completed game or a in progress WIP.


Both a blessing and a curse, I agree. I wasn’t around in the olden days (joined 2021) but it’s true that, most of the time now with the extremely popular threads, it’s normally talking about certain love interests or using memes. I’m actually very content with my audience being… well, content with my work! I was having a rough day, got left a comment saying it was their favorite game, and it gave me a little boost to get through the day.

But the best way to have a popular work in progress thread now is for it to, of course, be well written. But ALSO to have something that people can hate. There’s a reason politics gets so much airtime on the news. It brings in numbers. Everyone loves to hate politics. But honestly, if you look closely, it’s obvious that the authors of those WiP’s don’t want that attention. At least, not most of them. Suffering from success is, unfortunately, the other side where the grass seems greener.

Wrapping back around to the original point of the post, however, their games wouldn’t do nearly as well unless they did post those WiP forum pages in the first place. It’s difficult to find the balance and get people to interact in a way that you want them to interact in. Ideally, we want people to give feedback and talk about the game as a whole, but that’s rarely going to happen, at least to the extent that we want it to happen in.


While I do agree with most of what you’re saying here, I do disagree a little on the jams side of things. I think it actually would benefit the CSG community a lot to get out there and see what is happening in the wider world of IF as the line of what is and is not an acceptable game has become extremely narrow of late.

The jams (with the exception of code specific ones) tend to be a bit of an open forum to anyone who wants to go from anywhere held on fairly neutral territory like itch so you’d likely find they wouldn’t feel all that comfortable running a CSG specific one over here. Most places don’t have their own little corner of the web like CSGs do so if anything by reaching out I think it’s just trying to be inclusive and encourage participation in the IF community in general. The jams tend to be pretty quick little diversions as well compared to the mammoth games expected by most HG writers these days. Exceptions are the larger events like IFComp where the games can get as large as what is submitted to HG. Even then they can be quirky. Like Turandot won (edit- sorry came second) IFComp one year but you never here it mentioned here. It’s not a “normal” CSG so I guess the comps can serve as an outlet for them to be expressed.

Anyway just my 2c, feel free to disagree (I do enter some of the jams so I’m admittedly very biased :wink: )


I guess that depends on a few things. Full disclosure: I am someone who’s canceled a WIP due to a lack of interest before.

If the experience has taught me one thing it’s that IF is a different beast compared to other forms of writing. As it is wildly defined by well, the interactive elements. It’s one of the forms of storytelling that I really do think it’s useful to have varied feedback on, as it’s otherwise difficult to tell how the choices, narrative branches, and the player character is coming across to your audience. Whereas with a traditional novel, it’s a bit easier for the author to figure that out by themselves.

In my opinion that’s probably why even a lot of experienced writers will sometimes throw in the towel when attempting IF.

That said, personally I’d still suggest publishing a demo early. If you post it, are met with disinterest, and decide, “eh, this isn’t worth my time” it’s better for you to figure that out early as opposed to later. Whereas if it does garner interest, then you’ll be encouraged and have a pool of readers to get feedback from as you go. It’s a win-win.

Even if feedback isn’t really important to you or you can handle silence, I still think posting the WIP early is a good idea, as readers may still be able to catch technical glitches that you might’ve missed.

All that said, it depends on the writer. If you’re absolutely dedicated to seeing your story all the way through to completion, no matter what, waiting and posting a full draft might actually be for the best.


My methodology for CS development has evolved and is still in the process of change.

When I first joined this community, I had just finished a long stint as a tester for graphical games and my expectations were shaped and influenced by what I saw over many years of testing such graphical games.

I expected a fostering of community, of out-reach and camaraderie to be nurtured by the publisher.

HG was more of an open sandbox where those DIY types would survive and thrive and the connection and comradery were only fostered among those that overcame their inhibitions and who connected one way or another.

This was a different way of development than I ever experienced, and I fell on my face in trying to start 3 different projects, one of which was the competition held to give an HG work editing and all that jazz that CoG titles get.

It took me learning from the more successful authors what they were/are doing and figuring out why they were doing what they are. I learned that there are different ways of being successful, and I learned that you, as an author, should be always in motion yourself, in trying to get through to the end.

When I look at my notes and plans for Patchwerks from three or four years ago, I see just how much I had to adapt and overcome myself.

Which leads me to what I am doing, currently.

Patchwerks is an unknown commodity to the majority of the people of the IF world. So, I have had to build (slowly) each phase of the project until it was completed.

The first phase was to find people I could “spit-ball” my ideas with. Patchwerks spitball phase took longer for me, because not only did I get long-COVID during this time, but the project morphed a way that required me to step back, re-evaluate and reconsider all the elements of the project.

The second phase was to commit to the project 100%. For a year or so, I was undecided on which project I really wanted to go with first. In that time I posted a WiP of my Emigre project, trying to use it as a test run on what would follow.

Once I did this, I started writing my draft copy and I shared excerpts of that draft with various people who I trusted and who’s feedback I knew I’d understand. At most there were 20 people over this period I shared these excerpts with. (including initial stat systems). This was done privately, because nothing was ready to be seen publicly.

The third phase did not start until the first draft, the second draft and finally, the “completed” draft-copy was done.

The main reason I did things this way, is that what I wanted to do with Patchwerks would not be seen or even understood until everything was out there and written. The Deathsights and everything surrounding them is not something I’d expect anyone to understand if I presented them piecemeal.

Once I had the “completed” draft done, I opened a private pre-beta, for people who agreed to read the game for me. I am very thankful I ran this, because not only did I receive feedback, but I was able to follow through with each person and ask follow up questions and for clarity.

The fourth phase is taking this feedback, making necessary changes and getting the next “revised” copy ready. This is where the project is currently.

The fifth phase will be running another pre-beta …and the sixth phase will be to open a WiP thread with a second “revised” copy of the game for the general public.

I approached my development this way because I am not established as an IF author. My experience with the Emigre WiP thread has led me to believe I will get the most out of a WiP thread by making it once the narrative and mechanics systems were in place and whole.


I’m glad you replied @Eiwynn thank you. You were one of the people I was thinking of that I knew was running a private beta rather than a forum WIP thread and was wondering how it was all going. I didn’t realise it had quite so many stages to it though!

Thing is I’m not entirely convinced this is purely a win-win. Trying to chase that one elusive popular game that may never eventuate can get dangerous if you are in the cycle of starting a game, finding it’s unpopular, getting discouraged, starting a new one, repeat. The number of games that are hyper popular are very low, and even the % of games getting even moderate amounts of attention seems to be falling year by year. I don’t have the right answer by the way, I have no idea. I guess it’s more being clear about whether your primary goal is to chase popularity or get something finished. If it’s the latter I guess that’s why I’m curious about those who don’t choose the standard public WIP thread from early on and how it’s working out (or not) for them to that goal.