So yeah, beta testing time draws near!

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1) Beta testing—how do you guys find testers and distribute your game to them for beta testing? I realize there’s a few options: Kong’s beta, but that’s only open to K+ users, and FGL, but I’m still not sure if I want to get involved with them since they gouge 10% if you actually sell through them. I’ve also seen people use sites like deviantart. Any suggestions?

2) When it finally does come to be time to seek sponsorships, is it wiser to contact Kong (or other top sponsors) directly, or use FGL anyway despite the 10% cut, seeing as I’m a rookie developer who has yet to build a real portfolio.

 
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1: I spam everyone on my IM contact list until they play and give me feed back. Sometimes I use GDR, but people are usually busier there. I don’t do much beta testing otherwise. I usually get 3-4 good playtesters and 5 or 10 mediocre ones. I’d be happy to beta test for you if you want. IM is truefire87c@yahoo.com if you want to add me (increase the playtester pool on both sides), or you can PM me a link.

2: FGL, easily. The main reason is that sponsors will ignore you if you contact them personally. Some kid made a game and wants me to sponsor it? Or maybe he just thinks he will be able to make a game. Trash without reading. FGL provides a reliable means for sponsors to find game they know are atleast somewhat legit. Sponsors also don’t have tons of free time to deal with a bunch of developers on a personal basis. They like to pick and choose. Not that I’ve ever gotten a game sponsored (I put one game on FGL, just for a contest, didn’t put it up for bidding), but that’s what I’ve heard.

 
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I’d also go with friends. Most of my friends are gamers (or were at some point of their lives) and I have an idea of their skill level, so I can send the game to a hardcore gamer, a casual player and to someone who barely plays games anymore and see how they do.

ie, for The Flood, a hardcore gamer friend of mine tested it and was able to get all the coins, while some other friends who don’t play that much only got about half.

Also, you know your friends and what genres they enjoy the most, then you can see what a fan of the genre thinks of your game and what’s the opinion of someone who dislikes that sort of games.

I think that’s better than grabbing a bunch of random people that you found on a website and expecting to get useful feedback from them. I don’t mean that it can’t happen, but it’d be easier with friends. Also, you wouldn’t have to worry about some random kid stealing your preview SWF and spamming it all over the web, “for the lulz” or whatever argument they use these days to do stupid things.

 
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@Truefire: Unfortunately, no IM systems for me. I’ve always hated them for a number of reasons (mostly irritation). I’ll PM the link after this post though, thanks. :D

And yeah, I had a feeling FGL was going to be the way to go, at least until I’m a developer of some repute. Speaking of which, the folks like Nerdook, Matt Roszak, etc who practically have a 100% chance to get Kong sponsorships for anything they publish, is it really just a matter of being noticed and in the limelight like they are?

@Senekis: The beta version is sitelocked and will (should) only load on my site or if ran locally—I did so with “for the lulz” kids in mind.

Overall, it looks like friends (or at least people I have a degree of familiarity with) are the way to go. Now, to track them down as they get off work and have time open. Hmm!

I suppose I should start making a FGL account, too.

 
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Entering the market is incredibly hard. Incredibly hard. Once you hit ML1, however, you are in. Bids will roll in much much easier. You’ll use contacts from FGL to help you get sponsorships in the future, perhaps even outside of FGL to avoid the 10%. So yes, FGL is going to be the way to go.

If you don’t get a sponsorship, there is always Plan B, which is attracting attention from sponsors by having successful self sponsored games and using them as bragging rights.


When you have signed up for FGL, please please please do NOT upload your game for bidding. Start with a pre-review. Some FGL admin will review your game and give you pointers on things to fix if you want to have a better chance at sponsorship. Take their advice. Do it. Then enable bidding when you are sure that you can’t make it any better.

 
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How would self-sponsorship work? I know through normal sponsorship, they give me a wad of cash in exchange for me branding my game with their links & logos. Me handing myself a wad of cash doesn’t seem like it would be quite as profitable. :D

Thanks for the tip on pre-reviewing too. Being a perfectionist at heart, I wouldn’t dream of putting it up for bidding unless I was certain it was ready to stamp and ship.

 
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Me handing myself a wad of cash doesn’t seem like it would be quite as profitable.

I’ve always wondered about this myself.

Start with a pre-review.

They do this? For free? How comprehensive is it? Who does it? What is the meaning of life?

 
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Me handing myself a wad of cash doesn’t seem like it would be quite as profitable. :D

Advertisements. And Links. Its not nearly as profitable usually. (ad revenue accounts for like 40% of our revenue for our most popular game, but much less for the less popular)

Start with a pre-review.

They do this? For free? How comprehensive is it? Who does it? What is the meaning of life?


Free. 15 minutes. Its pretty nice. I’ll see if I can rip one and upload to youtube. I just got one emailed to me 20 minutes ago.
 
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Hm, 15 minutes… Not as much as I’d like, but beggars can’t be choosers.

Youtube? What format is it in? Do they record the gameplay and do audio commentary or something?

 
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They record the gameplay and audio commentary at the same time. 15 minutes because it eats up time of paid employees. mp4 format, but hosted online.

1 minute till upload completes.

EDIT FGL Preview vid here. I’ll take it down in a few hours.

 
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I totally approve of your screen transition. :D (I went practically the same route with mine)

 
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Ha. Did you see what information he gave us though? It’s a quality review. We already have 10-15 changes we are going to be making because of a few comments, including a total re-code of one part because of a couple of words he made at one point.

 
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Yeah, that’s exactly the kind of thing I’m hoping to get for mine, although hopefully my reviewer will be like “OMG, THIS IS THE BEST THING EVER I HAVE EVER PLAYED IN MY LIFE AND I KNOW A GUY WHO WILL PAY YOU A MILLION DOLLARS FOR IT.”

Edit: Would it be worth flagging it for a pre-review now, or should I wait until I get music for it?

 
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Definitely try to have your game at 98-99% complete. Have everything you feel that a player could judge in there. That means music, sfx, highscores api, etc. The reviewer might comment on it.

Regarding music, we play tested ours and found the music was much too loud for levels 1-10 compared to everything else. We caught and fixed that mistake so the reviewer didn’t have to. Having balanced music that wasn’t annoying also led to no comments about it (not including lack of game play mute button). But if you have bad music, they will tell you.

 
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Originally posted by UnknownGuardian:

sfx

The sounds in my new game are epic. I made most of them myself. The game has little or no sound compression.

I sent Kong an email regarding sponsorship a couple of days ago. I have a feeling I won’t get a reply because I’m not Nerdook or TurboNuke. Honestly, I think my game is a lot better than TurboGolf.

 
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Originally posted by UnknownGuardian:

Ha. Did you see what information he gave us though? It’s a quality review. We already have 10-15 changes we are going to be making because of a few comments, including a total re-code of one part because of a couple of words he made at one point.

Eh, in my opinion, it’s kind of a quality review. Seemed like a lot of wasted time, but still helpful obviously. What changes did you end up making from it?

 
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A lot of wasted time was good. That means that other players are going to get stuck there perhaps. (Didn’t really help that he is kinda out of the age group/demographics so he might be a bit ‘slower’)

Somethings we are thinking of, with reasons why/what the guy said that made us change it:

  1. Entirely redoing the menu. Separating into 3 worlds with each colors’ levels in it. (So 3 doors, with 10 doors inside them)
    – Comments about clutter
    – Lots of text
    – No ‘main menu’
  2. Entirely redoing the instructions. We are horrible at telling the player how to play our game. Everything relating to this will be recoded/redone
    – Lots of Space used by instructions
    – Ineffective instructions
    – Unneeded instructions
  3. Recoding Ladders
    – Utilizing less keys for same result
    – Buggy jumps on ladders
  4. Adding Locked Levels
    – Lots of Clutter, if things are unlocked. Player should follow specified flow.
    – Not much purpose to earlier levels/color groups
  5. Spikes Removal/Tweaking
    – Player gets stuck a lot, repetitively on same spikes
    – Frustration builds. Hook user, not frustrate them. Difficulty is for yellow/red levels.
 
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Watched the review.

I love how he points out that you have to know to use arrow keys or WASD to get to the room that tells you that you have to use arrow keys or WASD. He also has a really loud keyboard.

I’m definitely going to have to put an easy mode in my game before I ask for a pre-review :P.

 
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Do you know when they started doing video reviews, UG?
They definitely didn’t do them 2-3 years ago, but this is an awesome change

 
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So what I have to do my game has review by fgl employee? Do I have to check “Allow Preview-Player Viewing” option during game uploading?

 
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Ok, found it. It has separater screen titled “Add New Game: Pre-Reviews”.

 
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From This page.

To activate pre-review, go to the “Edit Game” page for your game and look for the Pre-Review option.

Note:

Please don’t request a pre-review unless you are willing to make substantial changes to your game based on our feedback. We’re happy to provide pre-reviews, but they do take a lot of our time. We can’t afford to spend a lot of time giving feedback to people who can’t use it.

E: Ninja’d, dang it.

 
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Do you know when they started doing video reviews, UG?

Its a fairly recent addition. Not sure if they are going to continue it, but I think they will. It seems very successful, more personal, more realistic, easier to do than the old written ones they did.

I’m definitely going to have to put an easy mode in my game before I ask for a pre-review :P.

No. If you didn’t have one before, don’t have one now. Don’t do anything “just for a pre-review”. Have your game exactly as if it was going to be released.

He also has a really loud keyboard.

Pretty sure he was mashing the space bar. We prolly should let ENTER be an alternate Jump for WASD users.

 
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before I ask for a pre-review" is opposed to "after I ask for a pre-review and he tells me it’s too hard.

 
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I would be a beta tester :) I like giving feedback.