I am making my first indie retail game, I hosted a prototype on www.agfgames.com but I am struggling to find testers...

Being a company made only of myself, and having no budget (actually, I have huge debts because of college), I cannot hire a testing service, but I am failing to find testers on my own, does not matter how much I try... Sometimes I spend half of the week in marketing, trying to find testers...

All the ones that tested the game, praised it, thus it is not fault of the game, but fault of me not finding the testers around... But since all the few ones that I found praise the game, this mean that I am not getting meaningful feedback...

  • \$\begingroup\$ Given this place is now up, might I suggest here? :P Or is that an off topic question \$\endgroup\$ – glasnt Jul 21 '10 at 22:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @TomatoSandwich: Soliciting users on this site for testing (or anything else along those lines) would be very much off-topic. \$\endgroup\$ – Robert Cartaino Jul 22 '10 at 1:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ Although I would not mind if someone from here decided to test it :P But yes, this site is about game dev questions, not to ask help, or advertise, or that stuff... \$\endgroup\$ – speeder Jul 22 '10 at 1:45

If you are playtesting early builds, it's good to test in-person. You can actually observe players getting frustrated, discovering exploits, or having fun in real-time, and it's easier to ask them questions immediately after they are done testing. For indie games, simpler solutions are often better.

Put your game on a laptop and go to a place where people are hanging out. If it's summer, head for an ice-cream shop and ask people to play your game. Coffeeshops are great for this too. Check out the location beforehand and verify that there are power outlets and that you can have a conversation without yelling, though.

You can put up paper posters at local colleges and schools. I strongly recommend reaching out to middle-schoolers, as they have the skills to play pretty complex games with none of the shyness. (They will tell you exactly why a game sucks to your face.) Science/technology/math teachers may let you test a game with their students in exchange for a talk about game development or programming.

Once you're starting to test for stability, definitely put together a friends-and-family email list and send them builds. People who know you will be more likely to get back to you quickly, especially if you need esoteric details from them, such as their processor and graphic specs.

Of course, you want to be able to reach out to total strangers as well, but don't ignore low-hanging fruit.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Great ideas too! Specially the ones about reaching total strangers in public places (the low hanging fruits, I am sparing for each build... Every time I make a major build, I take one of the low-hanging fruits, so I can see them test in person in my computer :P To have a certainly "fresh" tester) \$\endgroup\$ – speeder Jul 21 '10 at 21:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ Bring a box of candy bars. People seem to do anything for candy bars. Just walk around an airport and see all the airline credit cards that you can sign up for... \$\endgroup\$ – Daniel Blezek Apr 6 '11 at 14:54

Try some social websites. Reddit is a really good place to get people to try out your product (if it's interesting enough). Just make sure you find the right subreddit(s) to post it under.

Or try some of your inner circle on Twitter/Facebook/etc.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Humm... I tried already twitter, facebook etc... But I never heard of Reddit... Will try it, thanks! \$\endgroup\$ – speeder Jul 21 '10 at 21:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ @speeder reddit is sort of like digg \$\endgroup\$ – Bryan Denny Jul 22 '10 at 12:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ Not anymore it's not. You been to digg lately? That place is a ghost town. @speeder On reddit you should try /r/gamedev, they're all helpful people \$\endgroup\$ – Harold Apr 6 '11 at 8:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Harold that comment is almost a year old, that was before digg screwed themselves over :D \$\endgroup\$ – Bryan Denny Apr 6 '11 at 12:54

My company puts up ads on Craigslist and we seem to generally find people. Mention that there is some free pizza in it for them if you need an extra incentive (or money if you happen to have some).

  • \$\begingroup\$ Craiglist: Good... pizza... bad :P Where I live people don't visit craigslist... \$\endgroup\$ – speeder Jul 21 '10 at 21:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ Probably should have mentioned, this is in the SFBA. \$\endgroup\$ – coderanger Jul 21 '10 at 21:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ If offering cash to total strangers worries you, one low-cost alternative would be to offer gift cards. \$\endgroup\$ – Philip Tan Jul 21 '10 at 21:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ What is SFBA??? \$\endgroup\$ – speeder Jul 21 '10 at 21:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ San Francisco Bay Area, a region with a lot of game companies. \$\endgroup\$ – coderanger Jul 21 '10 at 21:39

Have you considered offering some sort of incentive for people to find defects?

I wouldn't necessarily use direct financial incentives as they can skew the results (intrinsic vs extrinsic rewards), but you could certainly offer them credit on the game with their name being more prominent the more issues they help find.

  • \$\begingroup\$ That is a good idea, but how I would prevent billions of people getting into the credits? (other than not having billions of bugs, obviously...) \$\endgroup\$ – speeder Jul 21 '10 at 21:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @speeder, have a minimum number of unique bugs perhaps? So if two people find the same problem only the first gets credit. \$\endgroup\$ – ChrisF Jul 21 '10 at 21:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ I asked my beta testers if they wanted to be in the credits. Had about 1 in 5 ask to be included. Don't think you have much of an issue with billions of people (billions of bugs is a different issue! 8). \$\endgroup\$ – Daniel Blezek Apr 6 '11 at 14:55

Have you ever considered utilizing kids from a school/club by offering an after school program? If you were to present yourself as a game developer and thought that you could offer a class/club/lecture/whatever and that it would positive for them I bet a lot of places would be interested in having you come on by. They would gladly pass the word along to their kids, and I know when I was younger that I thought it was the coolest thing in the world to test games. I really thought that was the best job in the world at the time. =D

If you did do something like that maybe you could break up your testing of the game in parts and have each part be a lesson. That way the kids still get to learn something cool and in return they will learn how to be "testers" by testing your game.

  • \$\begingroup\$ This would be hard to implement here unfortunately :( Here (the physical location) the computer penetration is not high, most people don't have computers... Computers that run OpenGL then, are a rarity (yes, I only noticed how stupid I was in using OpenGL when the game refused to run on my sister computer) \$\endgroup\$ – speeder Jul 21 '10 at 21:27

I know this question is old and already answered, but ... have you considered having press-releases of some sort on your site and marketing your game there? It's easier to find people who are the type who will play your game (as opposed to looking in a single, physical, rural city) because the internet brings niches together.

I do this too. On my main site, I have a "labs" section where I post in-development releases, along with a sort of press release that outlines what's new (with screenshots).

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I tried that, but it do not worked. Since this is my first game, the only people that see the game, are those that already know about it. \$\endgroup\$ – speeder Apr 6 '11 at 16:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm having the same issue. It's still a good marketing point -- you can email your friends the press-release part, for example. \$\endgroup\$ – ashes999 Apr 6 '11 at 16:46

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.