Hi,
my personal opinion is go public.
I rather liked Tom Ward's betas and I am willing to get the game, once it is out as a final version. If there are a few beta releases, people can see a game grow, when you put it more together per release. I can't know how much work you have left on actual content or if you only want testing for finding bugs and improve stability, but either way you have something in your hand (the user) which you can then await and eventually help the developer with...
Again: I'd say that you should go public.
Regards,
Michael


----- Original Message ----- From: "Philip Bennefall" <phi...@blastbay.com>
To: "A public mailing list for Blastbay Studios." <t...@blastbay.com>
Cc: "Gamers Discussion list" <gamers@audyssey.org>
Sent: Sunday, January 03, 2010 12:33 AM
Subject: [Audyssey] Public betas vs private testing


Hi all,

I just wanted to put a question out. What are your opinions of private testing with a dedicated team versus publicly released betas that everyone can try out? I have a new game in development now, and I am considering whether to make a public beta available similar to what Thomas Ward and Jason Alan have done. I see some pros and cons with private testing, though:

Pros:
1. Easier to manage. Since you have only a few people who are testing the game you do not need to answer the same questions or receive the same bug reports numerous times.

2. The element of surprise. With a private team, very few people know about the development and so it comes as more of a nice surprise when something new is released, where as in the case when everyone knows pretty much everything that is going on it's hardly unexpected when a game finally is released. In the worst case, some people may even have gotten tired of the game after playing the betas!

Cons:

1. Limited testing=more possible bugs. If you have a smaller team you are not as likely to catch every single bug before the product goes to release. This can result in some pretty rapid patch releases (1.0.1, 1.0.2, 1.1, etc) right after 1.0 has been put out and this obviously doesn't look too good.

2. Nagging. If everyone knows about the game while it is being developed, I fear that some people would be sending emails asking when the next version is out or wanting to know why this or that feature that they suggested hasn't been implemented. This is of course a very broad generalization and I do not in any way wish to insinuate that a lot of people do this, but there are a few cases and it might make it annoying for the developer to see the project all the way to the end. If no one except the private testing team knows about the game, then you will not get any public comments before you go 1.0 and then you are obviosly prepared to take them.

On the other hand, of course, more public suggestions means more good possible ideas for the developer to work with. Thoughts, anyone?

Kind regards,

Philip Bennefall
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