Best practices for authors in search of testers

Slowly, I will.


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You mean, me, Finn and Denk are not the dream team that I thought we were?? We’d better retire.

Seriously though, I think it probably is a combination of length, old-school vibes (with the negative connotations of hardness and frustration for many players), and the slight crankiness of the system involved that puts people off testing. And that’s not just ADRIFT - I know, for example, that Jim MacBrayne struggles to get testers for his games, for the same reasons. There’s quite a time commitment involved, and a particular kind of stubborn determination needed to grind all the way through to the end of that kind of game. Shorter and more forgiving parser games in Inform etc are definitely an easier sell for testers but, often, less rewarding overall (I mean, I really felt like I’d earned it when I finally got to the end of your last game!).


Problems when playing online has been a big issue for Adrift 5 games but is hopefully going to change in the not so distant future as some people are working hard on embedding the new interpreter Frankendrift into Parchment. Frankendrift is based on the Adrift 5 source code and the compatibililty is very high.

Being able to play Adrift 5 games reliably online will be a game changer. Then it is just crucial that the released Adrift games are well programmed and well-tested.


That’s really sad to hear. You are a long established author with many highly-regarded games under your belt. I’m surprised that you haven’t had more testers. I can only imagine that it must be something to do with the perceived problems of running Adrift games. Adrift isn’t a problem for me.

I must confess that your requests for testing have happened at the most inopportune times when I’ve been busy on other projects. I’ll try my best to test your next game, especially as I owe you one for testing ‘Submarine Sabotage’ for PunyJam #3.


I had 19 playtesters for Erstwhile (and I say ‘I’ despite it being co-written because I’m the one who solicited like…most of them, surveyed their efforts, and implemented fixes).

However, we also developed the game over the course of 2 years and all of those people were personal friends of mine/ours. I switched Twine story formats 3 times (from harlowe 1 to harlowe 2 to sugarcube 2) which required bugtesting each time and was very annoying, which didn’t help.

We had a MVP that I tested just to make sure the main mystery made sense and bugs were worked out. Then we added the lore and rest of the secret extra bits. I basically asked people to liveblog to me what they thought as they were playing it (which I also took personal delight in). If some part of the mystery was confusing or they couldn’t figure out what clues to combine next, I tweaked it to be easier and clearer. For small tweaks I asked the same people to look again, but for the bigger stuff I got new playtesters.

I might’ve gotten sorta obsessive about testing it, but it paid off because several reviews remarked on how smooth the mystery solving was and how they couldn’t find any bugs :slight_smile: