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Shadow
04-21-2010, 07:13 PM
Now that our beta / pre-order program for Din's Curse is over I thought I would write up some of my thoughts about it. Hopefully this will be interesting to our gamers and might also be helpful to other indie developers.

The good:

We got a ton of really good feedback. Right now there are 2,153 posts in the Din's Curse beta forum. For our forums, that's a lot. It's second only to the DoP main forum. Also if you look at the change lists, you'll notice a ton of changes were from our beta testers. I've said this a few times, but I'll say it again our beta testers helped a lot and I'm very grateful.

I think the biggest benefit to the feedback was to the balance of the game. It started out fairly rough, but I'm much happier where things are now. We wouldn't have officially released that rough, but I think it is better now than it would have been without the beta.

This one didn't occur to me until we had actually officially released the game, but on day 1 of the official release we had a bunch of experts in the forums. This is extremely helpful and it makes multi-party discussions happen more often (not just me and whoever started the thread).

I really like how the credits thing worked out. I already keep a pretty good done list, so tacking on someone's name to each item is fairly easy. I think it worked to give out a little recognition to people that helped out and is just kind of cool. I've actually had several people comment on it, so I think it was well received.

I ended up adding more new features than I expected to. I did expect to add some, just not this many. I suppose this could technically go into the neutral section, but Din's Curse is a better game with all of the new additions.

The game was pretty stable when the beta started, but I did squash a few crash bugs here and there. This is one of those places that is hard to test as an indie. You need more players and more configurations to track down some things.

The bad:

The only bad thing I can really think of is that we shipped later than I thought due to the beta. In reality, although the release date shifted out, I probably didn't actually lose any time overall. Without the beta, I still probably would have fixed many of the same bugs, it just would have happened during a private beta or in patches after release.

The neutral:

I really liked having open forums for the beta. I'm really not sure if this was ultimately a positive or a negative though. It could potentially have scared people away or encouraged them to join in. Actually I'm sure it did both, but how many of each I have no idea. It was nice that I didn't have to grant access to a private forum for anyone.

In theory, we will get better reviews since the whole idea was to make a better, more polished game before release. This probably should be under good, but I have no way to verify it either way.

Overall I think it went really well, so we are likely to do something similar for future games. What do you all think?

Warfran
04-21-2010, 07:56 PM
From my perspective the Beta/pre-order looked like a big success more than anything else.

I know from the many gaming forums I regularly visit that the thought was sure the beta had a bunch of things to fix/improve but it's a beta and man most people were very impressed(including myself) by how fast and how many patches were coming out to do just that.
Plus IMO it's better for people to read about bugs and problems before the game is released than after, I know I get far more scared hearing about a ton of bugs after release than when a game is still in beta.

It showed the level of support the game was getting right off the bat. And it was fun to be involved in the pre-order and watch it all happen as you played.

So all in all it seems to me to have been a smart move.

getter77
04-21-2010, 11:22 PM
Warfran pretty much has it I think---a good idea is a good idea and it worked out well on all parties involved near as I can reckon. It was surely another positive and useful experience for me that I'll take going forward to other beta projects and game dev shenanigans before, I hope, being back at it again to even better effect on future Soldak projects.

torikamal
04-22-2010, 12:40 AM
I think one of the biggest advantages is that the community is essentially able to shape the game in some ways before it was released and feel more invested and proud of the game.

I think having people's names who found bugs or came up with new ideas next to them really serves to reinforce the help that they gave and communicates that that kind of involvement is not only important but appreciated.

I think the beta also serves to offer insight as to how games are made and refined and sometimes how much work it is to balance a game for playability and a bunch of people's likes and dislikes.

Although I wasn't present for the pre-game time of DoP, this game had a ton of buzz from the community before it was officially released and I really think it help Din's Curse hit the ground running. The best publicity is word of mouth and when a bunch of people are actually involved in shaping the game, they are way more likely to have good things to say about the game.

I think this was a great process and I hope it gets carried forward for all future Soldak games.

Cheers, folks!

IJBall
04-22-2010, 07:52 PM
The neutral:

I really liked having open forums for the beta. I'm really not sure if this was ultimately a positive or a negative though. It could potentially have scared people away or encouraged them to join in. Actually I'm sure it did both, but how many of each I have no idea. It was nice that I didn't have to grant access to a private forum for anyone.

I can only speak for myself, but even though I didn't pre-order the game, I can say that I followed the BETA process in the open forums quite closely, and it significantly increased my interest in the game, as well as giving me some insight into how to play it when I eventually got the demo(!) and some insight into the process of game development.

IOW, I consider the BETA open forum to be an unambiguous "good".

(That said, this is true because Din's Curse is *not* a "plotted" game - if you ever do a game where plot is important, and beta testers could end up posting plot "spoilers", then I'd probably advocate that you do a 'closed' forum for beta testers of such a game...)

Just my $0.02! Thanks again! :)

Shadow
04-23-2010, 10:19 AM
I can only speak for myself, but even though I didn't pre-order the game, I can say that I followed the BETA process in the open forums quite closely, and it significantly increased my interest in the game, as well as giving me some insight into how to play it when I eventually got the demo(!) and some insight into the process of game development.

IOW, I consider the BETA open forum to be an unambiguous "good".

That's helpful to know, thanks.

Lyranaar
05-03-2010, 03:06 PM
The beta was a real blast!
And it was really great to see the game become better and better. I really hope that there will be the chance to beta a Din Addon soonish. ;)

Only suggestion I would like to make: Something like a bug tracker

It was sometimes really difficult to find out if some bug has been already reported or not.
Especially with newer versions and more people posting this was often the most difficult part.
The important thing for such a tracker wouldn't be to see what will be fixed, just what bugs happened and the version in which.