I am looking for a 2-3 beta testers for v1.9 of The Time Machine who have never played the game before (I have already reached out to my previous beta testers).
For those who aren’t familiar with the game it is a sequel to the H.G. Wells Victorian sci-fi novella "The Time Machine. I originally created v1.0 for ParserComp 2021, where it ranked 6 out of 18 games. After the competition I fixed some bugs for v1.1 and came up with a plan for a v2.0 to implement some of my original ideas that I didn’t have time to put into the competition version of the game (this was my first attempt with Inform 7).
I have been working on these changes part-time since September 2021 and am planning a v2.0 release sometime in January 2023 based on the results of this beta test.
Beta tester responsibilities will be to play the game at least once, provide a transcript of their play, and let me know of any bugs, grammatical errors, or suggestions, either as they play or at the end of their testing.
Please contact me via DM with your contact information if you are interested. I anticipate having the beta version ready in early December 2022.
Update - I’ve just finished going through three of the transcripts that I received from my beta testers and the results have left me both immensely appreciative of the work they put in and extremely humbled by what they found.
After going through the three transcripts I’ve got 502 items that need to be looked at. A majority of them are mistakes in areas you would expect: spelling, punctuation, default responses, synonyms, and unanticipated verbs. But their testing has also uncovered some critical flaws in the way some of the new code I wrote interacts with previously written code. In a nutshell, because not everyone plays the game the way I expected them to, unanticipated side effects and game states are created that make game play quite weird at times and destroy the narrative I was hoping to create.
This is my fault. But I’m going to use this as a learning experience. I’ve called a halt to beta testing and emailed all my beta testers since I don’t want to waste anyone’s time until I’ve correct the flaws that have surfaced. I’ve also apologized to each of them since I truly thought the game was ready and only needed a bit more polish.
My plan going forward is to simplify some of the game objects while hopefully retaining the Victorian background, mise-en-scene, and narrative elements. This plan also includes more testing on my part, particularly with the Inform 7 testing tools like the skein and transcript, tools that I really haven’t taken a look at to date (if anyone has any other suggestions for ways to automate Inform 7 testing please let me know).
I’ve given myself through May of 2023 to get this work done and I assume I’ll announce another round of beta testing around that time for the “real” v2.0.
Don’t beat yourself up about it. Quite often, the more polished and complete the author believes the (untested) work to be, the more bugs there are, and testers generally enjoy uncovering them! It’s boring if everything just works as it should.
Looking forward to testing this once current testing commitments are off my plate.
John - You don’t have to apologize for anything. I found your testing to be extensive and detailed and I appreciate the effort you put in. Several of the side effect bugs that I mentioned were discovered by your testing. And while I may have been a bit disappointed at first, I’m viewing this as a positive experience (imagine if I had released the game as-is).
If I do have another beta test I hope I can include you in that list. I can’t promise to implement everything you suggested but your experience should be better then before.
Speaking only for myself, when I’m testing a game and I find a big, game-breaking bug, that is the best thing in the world. It makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something important and helping the author make big improvements in the game, and even for the most staid of us, there’s a sense of anarchic glee that comes from borking things up (hopefully enough time has now passed that it’s ok for me to mention that I tested The Impossible Bottle, which is a marvel of robust implementation, but I managed to bring the beta to its knees by stacking all the dining room chairs in a big pile, then putting the stack on the table, then sitting on the chair that was second from the bottom. The Joker has never smiled more than I did that day).
Anyway, just to say that I don’t think anyone needs to apologize to anyone; this sounds like the testing process going exactly as it should - heck, if there’s a beta test where the author doesn’t want to crawl into their shoes and die of embarrassment three minutes after getting their first bit of feedback, I sure haven’t experienced it! Good on you for taking the time to do things right, and I look forward to checking out the result.