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I'm making a 2D top-down fantasy "Nuclear Throne"-like game. I'm at the point where a player can walk around, pick up weapons and kill some enemies. I'm not an artist, so it looks pretty rough and its clearly unfinished as you can't even progress to newer levels. I want to know if its too soon to ask my friends/family/coworkers and the sort to give the game a test run to see how they like the base combat mechanics. Or even post some screenshots and start getting social media coverage up and running. If now isn't the time, when will I know it is?

I do plan on marketing the game commercially, I am the sole developer at the moment, and its my first commercial game.

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Fail Faster!

Game development is an iterative process.

Playtest early, playtest often. Playtest with many different people. Never be afraid of feedback. Test stuff before you polish it, so you don't waste as much work when you throw it away and rebuild it from scratch.

I made that mistake before. I once spent months building a game around a specific game idea. I wanted to do everything right from the beginning. It was supposed to be multiplayer, so I had a client/server architecture from the beginning. I added a persistence layer. I wrote a custom UI system with window handling. I added an NPC dialog system with a scripting engine, etc. etc.. And when it was finished it all worked great. But then I realized for the first time that the whole game idea just did not work out. My basic game mechanic just wasn't any fun. And no amount of polish or tweaking would have been able to fix that.

I could have figured that out within hours if I had just built a quick&dirty prototype first to test the basic game mechanics in a simple offline environment. I would have been able to realize its flaws before building a whole game around it. It would have saved me months of work.

So always do the core gameplay first, so you have something you can testplay. Add polish and frills later.

But regarding posting screenshots on social media to build up hype: I would recommend you to wait with this until you found out how you want your game to look and have enough assets in production-ready quality to demonstrate those aesthetics. Screenshots are mostly about the visuals. When your first screenshots show only primitive placeholder art, then you will turn away a lot of people who expect more. And when you later get around to give your game the look you wanted it to have, then those people you did get on the hype train might be disappointed because it's not the look they expected.

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It's always a good time to get feedback. Earlier feedback can help avoid spending a lot of time developing something you end up not using or changing later on.

It's particularly good in your case to discover things that you as the lone developer may not notice. Maybe the game doesn't run well on other platforms. Maybe you hadn't considered how to build? Maybe it's difficult to understand what's going on?

These things may in turn require core changes to your project. Might as well discover them early on.

A prototype game is also very motivating, and lets you discover problems yourself.

However, it may not be worth spending all your time gathering feedback. As the time spent developing would then suffer. For a project the size of yours, I would recommend asking a friend to test it, perhaps while you watch, and ask a few simple questions afterwards.

Posting screenshots and social media do not have these advantages. It may help you garner interest to get willing testers, but in your case, I feel time spent marketing might as well be spent after the product is complete. You can only do so much at once.

Keeping screenshots to track your progress might be motivating to look back at.

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If you have enough code in the game already to demo the concept of the game, regardless of the textures/models etc then it's actually a good time to get some feedback as there are always things you don't consider when writing pretty much all software that the users not personally involved in coding it will pick up on.

All I'd suggest is be as specific as you can about what you want testing when asking someone to test.

Just my two cents, in no way an expert (I'm a web dev same applies, Game dev is for fun) just read a lot of programming books/articles.

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