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The Beta Area Experience13. June 2009 18:37
Posted By: View User Profile Jozii Permalink | Comments (4)

Our wonderful Beta Area (United version and Nations version) is a place I’ve hardly ever visited – until now! And even though I’ve always thought the idea to be decent, it wasn’t until now I realized its potential.

For those of you who don’t know, the idea is that you upload an unfinished track that you’re working on and start a forum topic. Others can then download the beta track and leave feedback in the forum thread. My original thought was that you can just ask a friend to beta test, but what if you don’t know a suitable person, or they say no? And even if you do, it turns out that there are some other nice ups to using the Beta Area.

First on the positive side, and most obvious, is the fact that you get feedback for your track. Potentially from several people with several different preferences and viewpoints. When I tried the area, I uploaded a track and started a topic (if you really want feedback, starting a topic is necessary – it’s not enough just to upload a track), and it didn’t take long at all until I had a response from someone who had tried the track and had comments on it.

Most active TMX users have already made friends on the site, and many ask others in person to beta test their tracks. However, this should not mean they shouldn’t use the Beta Area too. It’s likely that a third person will enter the picture and give feedback from a different point of view, or confirm the feedback of the original friend(s). The more the merrier!

Additionally, if several people comment on a track, having a thread in the Beta Area would be useful to start a discussion where several people can be involved, rather than doing everything one-on-one via PM.

A second positive aspect is the potential gain of an extra award or two. By uploading to the Beta Area first, more people are likely to play your track since the track is “new” twice, and thus award it once it’s actually released for real. If no one else, at least those who gave sincere feedback and whom you have talked to and discussed with during the building process are likely to leave an award in the end (unless they really don’t like the track, of course).

And thirdly, I really like the design of the Beta Area page – quick and easy access to everything, from uploading and downloading beta tracks to the forum threads in which to discuss the tracks, all in one convenient place.

On the downside, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of people commenting Beta Tracks. Odds appear to be good that you’ll get a comment at all, but getting it from several people might not be as usual. But then again, one person might be enough in most cases.

Last but not least, I’ve been trying to look a bit into why some tracks in the Beta Area haven’t received any feedback at all. I can’t really find a single common factor, but two things have come to my mind: those who have received no feedback at all have either uploaded several beta tracks or are fairly new to the website. In the first case, I guess people are put off by one person having several tracks. For the second case, I believe that if a track is too bad – a newbie track of the kind we’ve all built once upon a time – people won’t, for some reason, bother to leave a comment even if they’ve tried the track.

In any case, the Beta Area has some nice benefits, and any serious author should use it to make any new track as good as it gets. I’d love to see more people there as it allows us to collectively make our tracks better yet Cool

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