Regarding Hosted Games beta-testing


#1

There’s not anything about this on the CoG website, so far as I can find…

I hear that a public beta test of a game is required before a Hosted Game will be published. I’d like to inquire about that in more detail. For example, all of the CoG and Hosted Games seem to have a free demo version of the first few chapters, then pay for the rest of the game. Is this a proper format for the forums? Having a demo version open to the public and a private beta for the full game… or, how is it best to handle this? The game I’m working on, I’d eventually like to publish- and I’d like to know if I should stop updating the WIP at some point before writing the whole game. (Granted, that’s a ways away, but the question seems pertinent) Or, if a full access is required, if I should stop updating the WIP at the demo, and then post the full game when it is ready? Any advice on this sort of thing in general?


Thoughts on Beta Testing?
#2

I think that’s largely up to the author how open they want testing to be, but for obvious reasons there comes a point where you want to restrict access. You’d have to ask @jasonstevanhill or @dfabulich for specific though.


#3

You should treat it like a WIP; upload what you have and let people play it, test it, criticise, comment, improve etc. When you do some more, upload what you’ve done and repeat the process.
For my first Hosted Game, I eventually uploaded the full thing to the forum. I decided that for my second (Divided We Fall), I would stop the forum WIP posting about 2 chapters from the end and asked for beta testers, who then gave their verdict on the finished product in a private message chat thingy.
It’s up to you, there aren’t any strict regulations, just make sure a fair number of people have played it so there isn’t (too many) mistakes in the final game you submit.
Hope that helps!


#4

The point of the beta-testing requirement, in general, is to not have another Sword of the Elements.


#5

Why, what happened with that?


#6

Have you played it?

The short version is, it was not ready to be published.


#7

The game needs to be beta-tested. I don’t believe it all needs to be done publicly.

I believe that it is entirely up to you how much of the game is made public though. Posting the entire game on the forums won’t actually prevent you from publishing it.

You can post almost all of it public but hold back the last chapter. You can just do a closed beta-test either through email or the private messages on this site and never share the game link with any but your beta testers. It’s up to you.

@Fantom Just have a glance of the comments https://www.choiceofgames.com/2014/09/new-game-sword-of-the-elements


#8

So basically, keep it as open as you think reasonable to ensure that as many bugs and spelling errors are caught, but close it up at some point before the end of the game to a handful of beta testers so people have an incentive to actually buy it?


#9

You could do that. On the other hand, the share of your potential audience who are on the forum is likely small. So I don’t know that you’ll lose that many paying customers by open-beta-ing the whole thing. Probably not many more than you’d lose to a final closed beta?


#10

You’re probably right. I haven’t the faintest idea how many people typically buy published games.


#11

Well- that was basically my thought: I’m so interested in these games personally, that I came on to the forums. So it seems that those who are on the forums are the die-hards who will definitely buy a game that interests them. But if a full game goes up, they might decide not to. I do like the idea of holding back the ending to closed beta as an incentive. I believe a lot can be gained from keeping a WIP open… but I would want to give people who play a WIP an incentive to buy the game if they like it.


#12

The die hards will buy a game even if they have tested it. They want you to do well. But even if they don’t, say a game costs $3 dollars. If you were to pay for testing how many minutes would you get for that $3. Are the testers giving you more than $3 value each?


#13

“See what I changed between the final beta and publication!”

:smile:

I understand that a pretty small share of CoG’s customer base visits the forums. We’re a niche, and among the hardcore forumites are lots of teenagers with internet access but minimal disposable income… So you might lose a lot less than you fear. But anyway, seems you don’t need to do an open beta of the whole thing. Just enough to raise the flag of “I can’t read this/needs proofreading” for CoG?


#14

I’ll buy the game if its good even if I already beat it for the sole purpose of getting achievements.
(I am a completionist gamer at heart)


#15

If you have 100 beta testers (that is a lot!) and none of them buy your finished game because “they’ve already read it,” then you’ve lost a grand total of $35 in sales (assuming 17.5 % of $1.99 priced final game) in exchange for 100 people pointing out probably 100s or errors and suggesting surely dozens of improvements.

Beta test away! It’s the best value around.


#16

@FairyGodfeather Oh, aye. No disagreements. I’m the kind of person who would buy the game for $3 (or what have you) to get that one last chapter. It would be harder to buy it if it’s all posted up free to view… I still might, being an author m’self, but it would be harder. (Although $3 is small as a donation, and there’s not really a reason not to).

@faewkless XD You make me happy. :slight_smile: I get secondhand pride from that.

@Havenstone XD Such a perfect sentence. Except I prefer to go through and correct things as I go rather than after getting everything done. Guess that’s just a matter of writing style.

@HornHeadFan Best response award. I agree- I’d rather get the shit tested out of a game and launch one that is error-free than a game with little things wrong (the perfectionist in me). And I do make a lot of little errors on first drafts.


#17

Well, the basic beta proofreading thing is really for CoG’s sake – the “never another Elements” rationale. For perfectionists like you, the beta testers might not come away with too much to say on spelling or grammar.

But they’ll point out ways of improving the game that would never occur to the author: alternative choices that will enrich it, style suggestions, avoided misreadings, ways to make the strong bits stronger and the weak bits go away. And some zany ideas, or good ones that would take more coding than they’re worth… but you’re free to leave those, of course.

I’d say it’s always worth having a big beta. As I recall, @JimD agrees, and his views carry rather more weight as he’s actually published a game… :slight_smile:


#18

I always beta full games here, since the feedback is invaluable. The community here is motivated to help you succeed based on their love of CYOA. Outside of CoG forums, I offer a demo version but never provide the full game. Facebook and Twitter are great to build readership, but not so great for feedback.

I consider these forums my not-so-secret weapon.