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perroza

BETA Testing, is it important?

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I was recently participating in a couple of game BETAs when I started to wonder if my contribution was going to help at the end. I mean, I played the heck ot of the games, and made my coments, some positive and some negative. I was then thinking about the guys in the other side, the game programmers. Do they really whant to hear my opinion? Sure they will find bugs and mistakes that they could fix easely, but what about the other stuff, things that might impact the game as a whole. Just wanted to see with the game programmers out there who were part of a game that whent trhough a BETA with a whole bunch of players disecting your creation one part at a time. From the bunch of sugestions, how do you choose what stays the same, what changes, and what you ignore; and do you do the BETA just to find bugs, or do you really whant some feedback, even if it hurts your feelings. And please, dont give any corporate answer "this is a game from the people for the people". Honest answers please. OK, I'll shut up now.Thanks.

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Quote:

Do they really whant to hear my opinion?

Maybe. They certainly want to hear your bug reports, though. Exactly what a company is looking for in a test event varies widely between companies, and projects within that company, and milestones within that project.

There will certainly be suggestions or reports you make that they choose (or must) ignore. There will also be suggestions and reports you provide that they may find helpful. Or, in some cases, they may not be interested in your suggestions at all and might just want to stress the system. It all depends.

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It is to me... but then again, I'm sort of a BUG only beta guy. Sure there can be serious design bugs to go along with the multitudes of code bugs. But nothing tests an input system to my stuff like somebody that I don't know, or didn't plan for.

If there are plot and art design changes requested as part of the beta-rigor, that's what a sequal is for.

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Good stuff. So I guess you guys take in all the technical stuff in and kind of consider the artistic and gameplay sugestions. Does making BETAs take a big part of the budget? How long do you guys run it for?Amonth only or until perfection? Do you guys feel insulted when people dont like your game or make sugestions on the parts you where personally responsible for? Sorry for all the questions, I just whant to learn as much as I can. Thanks again.

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Quote:
Original post by perroza
Do they really whant to hear my opinion?


Generally, no. Beta should be about polishing the game, ironing out the remaining bugs and making the game solid. It is not a good time to change designs or implement features (which stills happens, but is not desirable). IMHO, the best thing a tester can do during beta, is to provide a good repro for a bug.

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What they are looking for really depends on the game. For instance, perhaps most of the Warcraft III beta was involved with the gameplay, to have lots of multiplayer games and sort out unit balancing (although they of course worked out most of the other bugs in the process).
Other beta tests are often just to iron out bugs, and AFAIK it is fairly rare to actually include much of the single-player story line in a beta (to avoid leaks).

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I always prefer to send the game I made to my friend first (and maybe sometime in one forum to get more opinions) before post it in some forums or my blog.

Because they reference to game as a players and not developers their opinion is very important to me. Maybe feature I think is cool they can see it at annoying and if more that one people think that this feature is annoying so maybe I should rethink using this features.

The same I believe happen to big companies. Of course you don't need to refer to every negative opinion, like if somebody says that your Inventory management is not good, don't run to fix it, wait if a lot of people complain about it so you should rethink you Inventory management system.

I think this is very important to every game developer or a group of game developers to get opinion form the "other side", the game players. Because game developers when they play their game (or other game) they think how to do this and that better from the Code Side and not from the Game Play Side (I'm talking about my self maybe other game developers can refer to games as a gamers).

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An important thing to remember is that BETA testing is supposed to test a product that is pretty much done, especially as far as gameplay dynamics. So as others have said, most of what will change will be bugs and balance issues. That could also be like where as you progress, you know a game is little by little supposed to be more difficult, but sometimes mistakes happen, so that is one thing that could get changed(also a form of balance issue). I DO agree though that testing possibly could be done DURING the coding cycle, as features are added. I'd say once a game has a playable form, but isn't that far done just yet is a good time. This gives a chance to make changes earlier to gameplay that would make a game more fun and also gives a chance to tweak features, such as powerups or whatever. But just as with BETA testing, it will be up to the programmers/design team/whatever to make the decisions about what to change and whether your opinion matters.

I personally think if I get an opinion that I disagree with, I check around and see what other people think, as in people that commented, but not on the specific idea in question, and I can see then if maybe my opinion isn't possibly the best way to go. If it is around 50/50, I usually go with my own, but if everyone is against me, especially noncoding gamers, I usually make the change/add the feature/take it away/whatever.

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One important thing that doesn't seem to have been covered yet is the problem with hardware and software compatiblity. Even as a large company, it's quite hard to cover all the permutations of hardware, software and circumstances in your test labs.By letting people run the game on their machines, you can get a much better image of what kind of hardware people have and how well your game works on it.

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If I was working on a commercial game I would certainly listen to any comments though I might not neccessarily implement them. As others have said, beta software should be feature complete and thus adding new features and the like is a bad idea.

It's a little different from a lone-programmer hobbyist perspective. If someone has an interesting idea for a feature it very well might get implemented.

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