Questions on Post/Updating/Releasing WIPs

I hope you all can forgive me, I get overwhelmed by forums and the flow of processes that I’m not aware of yet. I appreciate ya’ll very much.

When creating a game, I noticed that a lot of people post WIP threads- how long do you continually put your WIP in the forums until you stop? I assume putting the entire game free of charge and available on the forum, even for testing, must have limits to it if you’re planning to try to publish through the hosted label? I’d be afraid of pushing the game to Hosted Games if I knew everyone could just play it in the WIP forum post or save the link, essentially, based on how hosting through DashingDon works. Is it like an honor system? Do you post a short demo, and then collect a few people to help you beta? How does getting betas work for the flow of things? Do people do betas? Is that normal? What’s the typical process for folks who have completed stuff- like do you update special twitters, or only post here in a single WIP thread and update the main entry as the game progresses?

How do people get cover art? Or those very fancy chapter headings that some stories have that appear to be images and not actually text? I know how to add images, but I always feel like everyone must be commissioning a special person/group of people, lol.

When’s an acceptable time to post a demo or get feedback? Is feedback/WIP posts purely for playtesting, or are there other reasons people do it?

I’m sorry if these are weird questions, I get nervous about starting out in forums and messing up the flow of things. I tried looking at some of the posts, but it always has that feel like everyone knows exactly what they’re doing and you’re kind of like, trying to piece it together.

Also I really sat for like thirty minutes trying to figure out if General was the best place for this question and I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ve way over-thought this

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Most of these questions can be answered with it depends! It’s really up to the writer and what works best for them, but let me try to be more specific.

Some writers keep their WIPs up from beginning to submission (I believe KOTSAM did this); others stop updating the public demo at a cut off point (Mind Blind’s public demo ends at chapter 9).

After a game is published, the only demo available is the normal (usually first 3 chapters, I think) demo that COG/HG publishes. Earlier demos are removed from the WIP thread/dashingdon/etc

To be published, you have to do a beta. Some authors collect beta testers through the forum, others have their own groups that beta their work–or a combination. Some authors do beta signups or applications. It’s fairly typical, I think, to start with a public beta (or alpha) and move to a private beta after getting to a certain point.

I don’t think there is a “typical.” A lot of writers, however, are active both in their WIP threads and on tumblr. Discord is another popular medium, but I’m not sure about other platforms. AFAIK, twitter and facebook aren’t common, but I think there’s a growing reddit community now.

They commission artists or do it themselves! You can find artists offering their skills in the professional services heading, and you can also take a look at cover art for previous games and see if there’s an artist/style you like and consider commissioning that artist to do some work for you.

Here’s a guide to help you make chapter headings! I’m no good at it myself, so I wish you better luck

This one is harder to answer more specifically than it depends. Longer demos are going to be better for generating feedback that can help you. It is difficult to give feedback on only a few hundred words, for example. On the other hand, you probably don’t want to wait so long that making changes to earlier chapters (which will also affect later chapters) becomes difficult. The purpose of posting a demo/creating a WIP thread is to prepare your game for publication–this might mean different things to different people! Some people might be looking for bug reports, copy editing, etc while others might be more interested in high and mid level feedback. In my experience, most writers are interested in all three (and that also includes positive feedback and encouragement!). The important thing for readers is to pay attention to what kind of feedback writers are looking for, and on the flip side the important thing for writers is to communicate what kind of feedback they want to hear.

I hope that’s helpful to you, and although I’m no expert, feel free to send me a PM if you want to chat more about something :slight_smile:

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Ah, bless, this was such an awesome and thorough response, thank you!!! Super helpful! I bookmarked it!

I spent a few days setting up the system and stats page for my project and the prologue, though in playtesting it takes like five minutes to visually get through it, so I think I’ll hold off until perhaps the end of Chapter 1. I think it’s gonna be cool, if a bit daunting and niche!

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@sviyagin has pretty much covered everything (seriously, I’m bookmarking it myself for future reference, lol), but there’s one thing I wanted to add to this question:

So yeah, as sviyagin said, a beta/playtesting period that is hosted on the forums (that is, the forums are the primary site of recruitment and updates) is a requirement to publication via Hosted Games. However, posting a publicly available demo (regardless of its length), shouldn’t just be seen as a means to an end or as purely functional, it’s also how you gain word-of-mouth.

Think of demos as advertisements, something for people to take notice and keep track of, to share to their friends. Successfully translating beta testing activity to into sales on launch can be tricky to pull off and is unfortunately not something that can be condensed or taught, it kinda has to be worked through to tailor it to your games’ needs and your personal means, but it’s definitely worth it to cultivate an internet presence prior to launch. Even a small preexisting fanbase can prove to be a boon for future sales and projects.

I’m currently on mobile so prexise examples will have to wait, but I hope this has been helpful nontheless.

And if you’re ever confused on something or need help with anything, you can always message me or any other mod and we’ll help you asap to the best of our abilities!

Welcome to the forum! :heart:

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I’ve always been an advocate of keeping your WiP up until publication. Let the forum community test the whole thing – the ones who like it will probably buy it anyway. A few years ago there was a discussion on this and I wrote:

The sales have been better than I could have hoped-- which is mainly to do with genre, but it’s definitely a better game for the feedback it received here, including on the endings. If I lost any sales from people who read the whole thing on the forum, they weren’t at a noticeable level.

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I’ve just put up my first WIP, so I don’t know how much my experience is going to help you, but I’ll give you my two cents anyway.

I’m not sure yet how long I’ll keep the open WIP up. What @Havenstone said about the gain in quality from loyal testers being greater than any negligible dip in sales seems like great advice. I can tell you that already within a week of having my WIP up, I’ve received some feedback and ideas which will make writing the rest of the story much easier. I’d say go for it and don’t worry about sales at this point!

I did mine myself! IDK if that’s going to be the version that goes into the final game, since CoG have their own artists to commission for graphical assets, but I think it’s part of the fun to make your project look fancy while you’re in the progress of writing it. I used Photoshop, but any graphics editing software will do, and remember to store them as PNG’s with transparency enabled.

I was nervous too, thinking about this question, but you shouldn’t worry. People on the forums seem to be very nice and skilled at providing constructive feedback! I would say the right time is whenever you are comfortable with it. I didn’t want to do it too early, because I’m usually very wary of sharing my projects before I’ve got to a point where people can get a good idea of what it’s about. That said, waiting until my game was around 80% complete was maybe a bit too long. I realize in hindsight that the enthusiasm and support from the forums would have actually helped me write content better and faster. So you should really aim for that sweet spot where your story will be established enough that readers will have an idea of what you’re going for, but don’t hold out for too long just because you’re nervous about sharing. If anything, getting fresh eyes on it will give you more confidence :slightly_smiling_face:

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I made a thread related to this question. It might provide you with some valuable insight. :slight_smile:

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That’s a really informative thread. I’ll bookmark it too. :slight_smile:

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Ahhhh, thank you everyone!!! This was so helpful!! I hope you all see this response because I just got back to the forum, but I really appreciate you all so very much!

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