In this thread I want to give an account on how you can present your alpha, beta or final map releases in this forum.
Note that all of the points listed below are only advice as in suggestions for bringing your work to the attention of other forum users.
Posting an alpha or beta version of your map on the forums means you want others to share their views on your work and to help you improve producing the best quality map within your abilities. Similar to newspaper articles, blog entries, Facebook posts or other things, feedback threads should follow a certain pattern in order to catch the forum reader's interest and make them investigate further on their content.
A thread title should obviously give you an impression of what to expect inside the thread before loading it. I've created a short list of useful information to have in your thread's title.
- Your Project's title: Personally, I'd stick to the level's .bsp name to not confuse your testers and make it clear to them what they have to enter in the console - including the title of your project is important to give people something to remember or refer to.
- Author's name.
- Most Recent Version: Don't let anyone miss any updates on your project; let everyone know about your updates by including a date into your thread's title. You can change the topic title by editing the first post of the thread.
The Opening Post
The opening post is what makes the difference between getting your level downloaded or ignored. As I mentioned above, you want to float your reader's boat with solid, consistent formatting and possibly a nifty eye catcher. With this in mind, try using BBCode reasonably to give your post an easy to follow structure and fill it with relevant information.
Use a headline:
List the map name and an updated version number at the top of the post so that others will immediately know about any updates.
Add a brief description:
Offer a short map description stating why you are making this level, what has inspired you and where you want to go with it. Keep it interesting but brief.
Include a screenshot:
A lead screenshot featuring your geometry and layout, showing your potential tester what he is about to download - one screenshot is perfectly fitting, two are ok, three is pushing it, more than three will wake up the level editing demon known as Obsidian. The screenshot is a major part of "selling" your map to potential testers, make sure you take the time to properly compose each screenshot. The goal here is quality over quantity.
It's also always nice to have a top down shot of the map showing off the item setup. Making these however involves a bit of time effort so it's not a requirement. 640px*400px is a good size for a lead screenshot; pay attention to using lightweight image formats (i.e. JPG) and use a little compression (jpg compression level 8 is a good balance) on your screenshots.
Find a nice decent image hosting service that can keep the image hosted more or less indefinitely. It's annoying to read posts later on with missing images. Your personal web hosting service is cheap, or you can get decent free service with ImageShack or get a Dropbox account.
Include a download link:
By now the reader should have decided whether or not he wants to download your level so it's time to give him a download link. Download links should contain information about what version they are directing to as well as if they are leading you to an external file host or not. File size is another potentially interesting information but I would say it is optional.
Find a decent file hosting service, there's nothing more annoying than trying to download a file from some foreign site with a million blinking gifs, impossible Captua images, and throttled downloads that make you wait 15 minutes before starting the download. As before, get your own web hosting service, use Dropbox, or some other decent service.
Include your goals:
Include what your goals are for this version; is it to strictly test gameplay, visual suggestions, feedback on textures, performance optimization? Provide a short list of subjects you want your tester to look for while playing your level and what to provide as feedback. It is always easier to give explicit feedback if you know why and what for.
A Sample Opening Post...
Maintaining Your Feedback ThreadMapxyz - by cityy
With this map I'm looking to create a small but vertical deathmatch layout. For the theme I have been inspired by a movie I recently saw/game I recently played/talk I recently had. For the textures, I am making use of QuakeLive's strogg themed assets also seen on warehouse.
Download: Beta 2 (12mb)
- Item Layout
Thank you and have fun!
- Update a single thread instead of creating multiple threads.
- Keep your opening post up to date: Don't expect people to go through the entire thread to find the latest version of your level.
- Keep your thread's topic up to date by edit the first post.
- Post change logs: Keep people up to date about your changes, preferably in list form.
- Don't post a new version every day. Gather feedback until you have taken enough time to consider and think through all of it. Give people an opportunity to thoroughly test your map. It's annoying having to download a new version every other day.
- For updates, make a new post - keep the structure from your opening post.
- Post an ETA, list things that are still on your to do list.
- Respond to suggestions, elaborate on why you did what.
- Don't take it personally if people offer suggestions you don't agree with. They are doing this to help you. Just thank them for their opinion and move on.