Regarding Public Beta Testing and Feedback

So you want to get help and feedback with that project you’re working on and are at a level where you’re ready to show it to someone. That’s great!

While you will find a community here with a collective truck-load of knowledge who are eager to help, please consider how you go about showing your fledgeling project - which you are likely very partial to - in an state still unproven, potentially with some wet paint and some awkward things about it which is why you need personal feedback.

Realize that players and creators here know how it is done, and the best testing you can receive will be honest and therefore might at times feel brutal. Like someone attacking your baby that you’ve nurtured for months or possibly years - how dare they point out the misshapen features you didn’t even ask about. How could they miss the artistic point you’re making? The worst thing you can do is begin to take that personally. Ideally, your testers are wanting to help you make your project better.

Anything your testers say is what the wider audience is going to say - that’s the point. You’re getting a sampling of reaction before final release. Good testers know what to ask that will strike right at the heart of your endeavors. You might feel embarrassment. You might want to lash out to defend your baby and by proxy yourself from these people. If you take their advice that creates more work! They’re not even asking the right questions!

Consider that you might want to solicit volunteers for feedback and beta-testing here publicly, but actually carry it out in private.

For extended long-term testing that isn’t just a one-off question for the masses, take it to private messages here or personal emails, or use a private cloud workspace. That way any blunt feedback doesn’t get seen by everyone and won’t publicly embarrass you and will hopefully sting less. Find people you trust who have experience doing your thing and know exactly what you’re doing and with whom you can talk personally. And don’t be rude to them in private either or they’ll never agree to help you again.

If you do indeed decide to make your testing public access, be aware you’ll get feedback from everyone who takes a passing interest. People who might not understand the gears under the hood in the language you’re using or the tropes of your specific genre. The forum topics are archived so you may get notified five years from now about a typo that was long corrected after your V.3 release.

  • If you ask for public help, take (or don’t take) all feedback you get as constructively as possible. Some feedback you receive may not be valid but that’s okay. That’s still good data for the parking lot if someone didn’t understand what was happening. Don’t argue with the note - file it away and see if it’s a fluke or a pattern in other feedback you get.
  • It’s one thing to ask follow up questions for clarification. It’s another to deride someone’s honest opinion or advice they spent time to give you for free.
  • Instead of attacking someone for feedback you feel is invalid, say “thanks” and never think about it again. Or say nothing. They are not attacking you by expressing an opinion about your project that you are asking for people to express by posting it publicly.
  • Public forum threads do not belong to anyone exclusively. Everyone gets to participate and conversation will drift. That’s normal. In some cases, we can split a thread that veers too far away, but people will get ideas and discuss potential new things that were inspired by your work. Don’t take that as an affront and try to police “your” thread when people occasionally aren’t talking about your thing.
  • You can invite multiple people to a private message, and that is a private thread that belongs to the OP and they can run it how they like. As always, Staff and Moderators can intervene if if things get out of hand. But best not let that happen!

Be kind to each other.

We all want to help, and we all want to get along.

If, at the end, you feel someone is actually attacking you or violating the Code of Conduct, don’t waste time responding. Flag the post and let Staff sort it out.

More discussion for testers here:


As someone who has been both a tester and an author for several years, I’d like to add that I haven’t once had a bad experience.

Don’t be intimidated; getting your game beta tested is (in my opinion) the single best thing you can do to make it better. It is so very very worth it.


Yeah, I’d just echo all of this! I think this is a really helpful thread for helping set appropriate expectations because it can certainly be easy to get defensive about things you’ve put blood, sweat, and tears into. But I’ll second that having been on both sides of the equation, most of the time paired with folks I didn’t know very well at least at the time testing started, the experiences have been uniformly lovely, even when a game was really personal.

(Mostly saying this because I know asking for testers here when you don’t know anybody can feel intimidating – it certainly was for me when I did it! But as Hanon and Nils said, come on in the water’s fine)


The tester is your friend because he/she finds the warts that you may have missed. Just remember that.

I’ve been author and tester, so I’ve been on both sides of the fence. The people on here are fantastic, no matter what role I’m playing. I could not ask for a better bunch of people. Thank you.


The one thing I always tell my students and others whose drafts I review, before I give them any feedback at all, is “I’m not critiquing you, your skill, or your worth. I am critiquing this piece of writing, to help make it the best it can be.”


Yes this. The meaner a tester is to a game, the better that game will be. Every tester I’ve had here has been extremely hard on my games, but in a very nice way (@DeusIrae 's polite little “Oops!” comment when a command gives a blank response comes to mind. There are a lot of oopses in my betas).

If you’re open to it, testers will provide feedback on your writing, your plotting, your characterization, your mechanisms… and all of that can really improve a game if you listen, since the folks here are really experienced players. Of course, you don’t have to agree with everything a tester says, but my recommendation is to shelve your ego, ask for brutally honest feedback, and let other people do some of the heavy lifting of making a working game. Seriously, many of the elements that people have liked in my games either originated with an idea from a tester, or were massively improved by a tester.

Edit: In fact, I am going to give two examples just so folks asking for testing can see exactly how much an honest tester can do for an author.

1.) This summer, I wrote Of Their Shadows Deep. In the beta, you just solved riddles and then the game ended. The first person to play the beta was my BFF, who said, “But there’s nothing to DO. Nothing to manipulate. Nothing to carry around. That’s boring. You need a central puzzle, like where you collect some words or letters from the words and then make something out of them in the end.”

And I had hard, mean, and bitter thoughts about her for about 10 seconds until I realized she was right. And I went back and rewrote the thing with such a puzzle in it, and then the game got really good reviews and placed second in ParserComp. And I do not think that would have happened unless she had told me what was missing, and given me the idea for it.

2.) My latest game, The Spectators, was a game with a bunch of servant PCs going about their servantly duties, and then @zed tested the beta, and told me that the PCs didn’t seem like real people, and that there wasn’t enough to do in the game. He said I should give each of the PCs their own quests.

And I had hard, mean, and bitter thoughts about him for about 10 seconds until I realized he was right. And I went back and rewrote the game (and it became nearly twice as long because of this) and then it got good reviews and placed second in Ectocomp. And I do not think that would have happened if Zed hadn’t honestly told me that the game just wasn’t very good as it was (although he said it in a much gentler way, but that’s what he meant), and given me the idea to make it better.

The moral of the story is that it’s OK to have hard, mean, and bitter thoughts about your testers. But you should be able to listen to their honest thoughts and seriously consider that maybe they know what they’re talking about.