Why won't anyone test my adventure?

Hi all,

I have advertised in this forum a couple of times for beta-testers for my adventure “The Axe of Kolt”, but I have not had one single reply.

It is the game itself which puts potential testers off? Is the game too big? Does that fact that I have written it using ADRIFT 5 put people off? Is it that there are simply very few people these days who are prepared to commit their spare time to testing an adventure?

So far just one person has playtested “The Axe of Kolt” from start to finish. That person has done an excellent job but one person cannot be expected to find ALL the bugs in a game as big as AoK and I am very reluctant to release it until at least two more people have playtested it. Another person has just started, who replied to my post on game-testing.org, but I really need at least one more.

Is there NOBODY out there who would like to playtest my game???

I would say to check out http://if.game-testing.org/ but I’ve seen your game listed there already. Have you not had any luck there either?

Didn’t you have the same issue with your last game? And then found that very few people played it once it was released?

As for why people haven’t offered to test it? Well:

a) It’s an old school game and most people here aren’t that interested in that kind of game, at least not to the extent of offering to test it.

b) It’s a massive game and massive games are a pain to test.

c) It’s written with ADRIFT 5, which isn’t popular on its own forum let alone here. If you’d written the same game with Inform 7, I bet a lot more people would have offered to test it for you.

I use ADRIFT 5 because it is so much easier to use than Inform 7 and it is much better than QUEST. I have no desire to get into a debate about the pros and cons of either system, but having learnt to use ADRIFT 5 I have neither the time, patience or desire to learn another system, especially Inform7.

What difference does it make what system was used to write a game? Surely it is the game itself which matters?

Yes, the other person who has just started playtesting saw my post on there. What has shocked me about game-testing.org was the sheer number of complete time-wasters who sent me an email saying “I would like to playtest your game”, but once I replied to them I never heard another word from them. It was worse with “Fortress of Fear”, there must’ve been getting on for 100 people who emailed me and turned out to be time-wasters. it hasn’t been so bad with AoK.

This at least I can answer… A ZCode game is playable even on the go. If you haven’t much time to sit down in front of your computer (let’s face it, few people do nowadays, and when they do, they’d rather invest on their own projects or have some fun) then you can get your iOS device, or your Android phone, or maybe even your J2ME compliant regular phone, and play the game.

Whereas ADRIFT is, AFAIK, Windows only.

As for the rest, one wonders whether it might not be best for you to release the game, and add a very lively, enthusiastic and encouraging “Send me bug reports so I can make the game better!” section, and then keep your game updated. Yeah, that’s not as good as beta testers, but if you’re finding it hard to get testers…

EDIT - The odd quoting of your post made me miss some bits.

We’re here… mostly, speaking for myself, I’m still busy playing the actual old-school old games. Personally, I don’t think there’s anything to dislike in an old-school game, as long as it doesn’t commit old-school sins.

Well, David was talking about testing, and you’re talking about playing. Beta-testing is hard work, man. I did it once, for a short game, and I swore never again. If Andy Phillips came to me and said, would you like to beta-test my new game since you seem to like them so much?, I’d be honored but answer NO flat-out. I’d love to play it, but not to beta-test it.

And don’t start talking about big games in the old days… things have changed. If you’re going REALLY old days, you have to remember people paid for the games and expected to be lost in them for days, to get their money’s worth. Attention span? Possibly. More likely, though, is: we have TONS of games to play today. A frightening amount of them are free. Some are bigger than others, some are more complex, but all in all, we’re not starving for new content, so we veer towards what we like… as opposed to veering towards the only thing that’s available. And different people like different things… the present IF community includes a lot of people who were not, and never would have been, into the IF of Zork.

EDIT 2 - Having said all that, I do have to add I’m saddened to hear you can’t find a betatester. I would have thought you could always get them.

Still not volunteering, though, sorry. :wink:

I’d like to add to Peter’s post that some beta-testers prefer to test for competition games. I know of some personally who’ve offered their testing services but, again, only for comp games. Just a matter of preference or whatever. I’m sure if you said your game was going to be in an upcoming comp, you’ll have more luck. But I’ve been wrong before. Like when I tried to build a cat. I couldn’t build a cat. Who was I kidding?

Hi Peter,

Thanks for your input.

Yes, you are dead right. If ADRIFT games could be played on a smartphone, maybe more people would play them.

I suppose I am a bit of a dinosaur, haven’t dragged myself into the 21st century yet. I found ADRIFT 5 so very very easy to learn how to use. I think I had “Fortress of Fear” on the go within days of downloading ADRIFT. I have looked at Inform 7 and find the complexity of the documentation bewildering. I am trying to find a tutorial that will teach me to write a small basic game in the simplest terms possible, but everything I have seen so far spends so much time trying to explain things I just get confused. (Getting on a bit now, I have just turned 60)

Thanks for the suggestion for the “Send me bug reports so I can make the game better!” section, that is a very good idea. The only feed back that I got for “Fortress of Fear” was from a German guy who found a bug! He went on to finish the game with a bit of help from me.

As you quite rightly say, in the “old days” we used to pay for games so we would spend weeks, if not months playing them so we got our money’s-worth. I remember the Rick Hanson series which would I spend night after night struggling with. I was not like any of my adventuring friends as I actually LIKED mapping mazes. I remember the “Hambledon Village maze” in one of the Rick Hanson’s (I think that was the name of the village?) there were about a dozen locations in the maze, each location had exits in all eight of the usual compass directions plus Up and Down AND In and Out. What fun I had mapping it!

Those were the days!

Unfortunately, as my games have been published before (on the Sinclair Spectrum), they are (I think I am right in saying) ineligible for most competitions. I did enter the first few locations of “The Axe of Kolt” in an ADRIFT “Intro” competition. It did quite well and the people that played it said they were looking forward to playing the whole game.

I have even thought of offering to PAY anybody who would properly playtest my game from start to finish, but my one regular (unpaid) playtester advised me against this.

I wonder, out of sheer curiosity, whether we could meaningfully correlate a person’s age and whether they prefer new-school or old-school IF, assuming they have a strong preference at all. We theorize about it all the time, but given this very community we have here (after all, this board IS the focal point for english IF) maybe we could just ask and get some data.

(of course by “age” I mostly mean “having lived through the commercial era of IF”, which isn’t the same thing but is close enough)

It DID cross my mind to start talking about beta-testing as a paid position, actually. But everything that involves money turns ugly really soon.

“c) It’s written with ADRIFT 5, which isn’t popular on its own forum let alone here. If you’d written the same game with Inform 7, I bet a lot more people would have offered to test it for you.”

And it would have been screen-reader accessible. I was going to beta test your old school game Fortress of Fear when testers were asked for, but I couldn’t use the ADRIFT 5 Runner. So yes, the authoring tool matters if you want to reach a wide audience (though, in my example, offering a game to a very small population of visually-impaired potential players may not be a priority).


AFAIK, one of the strengths of IF is exactly that - since it’s text only, visually-impaired players can enjoy is just as much (arguably maybe even more). So I disagree - it’s a WHOPPING priority, IMO.

I would have thought a screen reader would work with the Adrift 5 runner, though…?

It matters for all the reasons already stated above and also because you might simply not like playing a game with its default program. I’m not fond of the ADRIFT 5 Runner, finding it clunky and unresponsive, and I intensely dislike the map. I’d prefer to play ADRIFT 5 games in a different program but (as far as I’m aware) this isn’t possible, so a game that only runs in ADRIFT 5 and nothing else has already got the thumbs down from me.

One more benefit of I7: the interface is similar to reading an eBook, and has typography that people are used to, similar to Kindle. Not saying you need to jump to I7, but it’s the platform of choice if you want to reach a lot of people. (And maybe Tads? I don’t know.) If I’m not mistaken, Adrift looks more like playing a text based MUD. Since you have the games already written, converting them to another platform isn’t a huge time-sink, once you learn the platform.

The Windows-only thing is a huge problem, too, since a lot of people are on iPads, and MACs.

Yeah. When I was six I spent hours and hours on Jacaranda Jim, even though I knew it was kind of crap, because it was the only IF I had access to.

Right. When I see betatesting requests, I ask myself these questions:

  • Is this the sort of game I enjoy? It’s a lot more fulfilling to help make a game if it’s the kind of game you’d want to play, and much more pleasant to actually play it. In your case, I don’t really have much interest in old-school high-fantasy cave-crawls.
  • How much work will this entail? For a game that can be completed in under an hour, I’ll test just about anything. For a comp-sized game, I’ll be a little more picky. For something requiring 4+ hours of play, I’ll be very selective. Testing a beta game takes a good deal more effort than playing a finished one. As you say, it’s a big game.
  • How well do I know the author, and how much do I respect them? Testing for someone you know, like and respect is a pleasure. Testing for someone who’s an ass is miserable. I don’t know you too well - we’ve interacted a little bit, and you don’t seem like a dick; but you’re not a friend or someone I specially admire, so this is kind of a wash.
  • Have I tested for this person before, and what was that experience like? I’m far more willing to test for authors if I’ve worked with them before and had a positive experience. I’ve been testing for Emily for over a decade, and if she said ‘I’m making a game about collecting space grommets with over 500,000 rooms and no story’ I’d probably agree to test it.
  • What other gaming-related commitments do I have on my plate right now? Right now I’m testing my own IF, developing a mini-RPG, managing the XYZZY Awards and planning a minicomp for after that. I have some art that I’d said I’d make for someone’s game that I haven’t got around to yet. I have a couple more IF WIPs that are on hold. I’m GMing a Fate campaign, I’m an organiser and regular game facilitator for Story Games Seattle, I’m signed up to facilitate yet more storygames at ECCC, and come June there’s GoPlayNW. All this is great, and I’m doing it because it’s stuff I enjoy, but there’s nothing worse than making something you enjoy into a chore by over-committing. So for me to take on another Big Thing, it’d have to be pretty damn special.

When you’re testing, always remember: you’re asking for someone to work for you - kind of specialised work, honestly - for free. You don’t have any right to their labour. If they flake out on you, that sucks, but you can’t really complain too hard.

You’re telling the guy to remake the game he’s already remade and port it again, so it’s Spectrum, Adrift 5 AND I7? You’re cruel, man, cruel!

Wow, the memories you just brought up… I tries and tried and tried to play T-Zero when I was a teenager. My basic English was generally as good as it is today, but not my knowledge of expressions, idioms, and all the linguistic tricks T-Zero gets up to. But I didn’t have much more than that, and my folks’ dial-up internet was pricey, so I got what I could and I was glad of it!

:laughing: Yeap. It would be a better way of learning the system than creating a “My messy apartment” game. Even though, someday, someone is going to create the Citizen Kane of my messy apartment games.

They have. It’s called Shade. :wink:

I KNEW someone was going to say that. :confused:

I thought that was howling dogs. At least insofar as it has inspired further messy apartment games.