GAMING ADVICE WITH PROFESSOR KNOW-IT-ALL: HOW TO DEAL WITH NEGATIVE CRITICISM / FEEDBACK

Just make sure to count to ten and breath

  • Addit
  • 08/20/2013 09:42 AM
  • 2903 views


Good day, ladies and gentlederps. The name is Professor Know-It-All. And I’m here today to teach you all about the secret art of game making and general game design. You can just call me “The Professor” for short, considering that’s what most people call me around here. For the next ten minutes, or however long it takes you to read all of this, I will be sharing my wisdom of many years of game making experience with you all. Although my speculative advice may come free and is considered well-informed by most, please take into the account that even I, the great and mighty professor can sometimes be faulty. So make sure that you have a clear head that is full of common sense and a willingness to go beyond the boundaries of knowledge as we take a look at today’s informal lesson.




Uh oh! Looks like somebody just finished reading a negative review that just got submitted for their GAMMMMEEEEEE!!! As much as we would absolutely adore the relinquishing fact to put both our fledgling hands through the computer monitor (or cellular / tablet devices for all you hipsters out there) and strangle the ever-loving life out of that person who wrote that shitty review and beat them senseless with a foam rubber baseball mallet, the simple fact is that we can’t do that - because it is illegal! (Also, you’d probably go to jail for that.) The thing is, like most forms of employments or any line of work you happen to do on the front lines or in the field, there will always be that negative nancy that will come out of seemingly nowhere during the end of your shift and call the company out for what it is: absolute garbage. And as much as you would WANT to do something to that person and kick his balls in, you can’t because you represent the company what the utmost of integrity and you want to display a wholesome image to the rest of your loyal customers. I mean, no point if having one bad apple spoil the rest of the bunch. And when it comes to general game feedback, the same rules apply.

The thing is, no matter how much you may think you’re game is a global success story and you tread the holy ground it walks on, the fact at the end of the day remains: it doesn’t matter what YOU think; it matters what THEY think that determines the overall success of your project. And with that, you’re generally going to get all sorts of interesting comments throughout the time your game is released, even to the point many, many years later down the line after you’ve released it, done a sequel / spin-off or a whole new game in general. And although most of the comments are usually positive, like, “Whoa, this looks cool” or, “I really like the art design you used,” you’re also bound to get some pretty distasteful ones as well, usually from trolls who are just out there to make a scene of things, such as the usual “This game SUCKS; you clearly have no sense of direction;” and, “I rather go play ‘such-and-such instead of this.’” The point is that these types of things happen. And how you deal with them will determine a major part of your own overall success. Remember – they are just words; they can’t physically harm you. You need to have a strong front in order to deal with this type of stuff, especially from your fans as your own popularity grows. So, if you’re ever faced in dealing with a negative comment / feedback and you’re thinking of letting your inner beast out to teach those fools a lesson – why not listen to some of my valuable pointers before you act on those urges and break something that you might not be able to pay for afterwards.



Besides, you don’t ever wanna go full retard.


#1 - NEVER Lose Your Cool

This is important. No matter WHAT anyone says, no matter how shallow or extremely hurtful it can be, you should never lose your cool and lash back out at the public for playing / commenting on your game for any standards. If you do, you’ve already lost the battle, and probably the entire war too. Depending on your response, your reputation could be damaged for a long time to the point of no recovery. And you may face stiff punishment from the site staff, too, like a warning, minor suspension or a ban, so don't do anything that you might regret later on.

#2 - Just Ignore It

Silence is often golden, and that very phrase also applies here. Sometimes, the best thing to do is just ignore everything and not even give it a second opportunity to rear its ugly head. Of course, by doing so, you may also damage your game’s reputation by not catering to fan’s demand and weed out some of the more important feedback for yourself.

#3 - Be Responsive

Your general public are going to want some answers from you, so it probably would be best if you could provide some answers to all that feedback yourself. It’s understandable that you can’t answer to everyone, but try to respond to as many of them as you can. That doesn’t mean you have to go back and physically “fix” your game to meet those types of standards, but it’s also a nice simple solution to explain to people why you did things a certain way and promise to improve on certain areas in the future. It’s like you’re at a major press conference for a professional sports team and you’re the coach for it and you know that your team played pretty bad that night - so what do you do? You answer questions to the media about how your team played and how they can do even better for the next game. You may not do or listen to what they have to say to heart, but at least you’re talking to them about possible changes to satisfy them for the meantime.

#4 - Fix It Up

Of course, if you’re getting the same constructive problems about your game by many people of the sorts and it’s bothering you to the point that you sometimes can’t sleep at night, then the next best thing to do is to go back and fix your game up and re-release it again. There’s nothing wrong with going back and fixing your game up multiple times over once you’ve finished. I mean, most commercial games release patches, add-on’s and even DLC once a game has been completed, so there’s no shame in going back and fixing many of the problems that people have been pointing out over. Besides, it shall make your game 1000x times better than it ever was before!

#5 - Save It For Another Time

You might already be well-spent on your current project and wanting to do something else. Well – that’s okay! Just take whatever helpful, constructive comments that you got and tell everybody that you’ll think / apply most of these things for the next game. Besides, a lot of these types of comments may be beneficial for the next game’s success and make your next project even better.

#6 - Use Some Positivity To Silence Those Negative Blues Away

So all we’ve been talking about is how to respond to negative comments and feedback – but what about the positive ones? Sometimes, you just need to sit back and go like, “Hey, this one person liked what I did and he found it to be just fine. I don’t need make any changes or fix anything because if this guy likes it than the other people probably like it too.” If you find that your game has more positive comments about it than more negative ones, then that probably means you did mostly right than wrong.

#7 - Think Happy Thoughts

All this negativity stuff swirling around… Instead of thinking of such vile thoughts – why not think about things on the bright side for a change? Remember, think about your recent accomplishments: You just finished a game, for one (or a demo); at least people are talking about your game whether it's positive or negative – so that’s good; and you’ve also earned a ton of extra makerscore! That’s great! Just think about all the positive things that you’ve done and that might turn your misfortunes around.

#8 - Respect Your Elders

If you take a second glance at certain commenters, you may want to especially focus on those who have reviewed or have released a bunch of game’s themselves. Unlike random people who have just been around the site for a few weeks and haven’t really done that much themselves, these people know what they’re talking about, and you SHOULD listen to their feedback the best you can. Besides, most of these experienced veterans have been through this song-and-dance before and they just wanna help you out through it too, so you can become better at what you do, just like them.

#9 - U Mad? Well, Get Glad, Then!

Still feel like punching somebody out? Well, that’s what good exercise is for! I know that not everyone in this class is a fan of getting some much needed sun, but whatever you can do to release some of that negative tension and not release that very same on your gamepage comments would do you a world of wonders. Besides, by the time you go back to browsing around through those comments, you’ll be so tuckered out that you’ll have no inner rage left in you to do anything.

#10 - Take A Load Off

Don’t feel like talking to a bunch of winers / fan-boys / fan-girls? Then just kick up your feet on the coach, grab a cold, frosty one and do something else for a change that is completely ten feet away from gaming. This way, by the time you come back to it all, you’ll be so refreshed and in a completely different mindset that you don’t mind dealing with the odd comment or two.

Criticism is definitely a very helpful process in determining on what areas you need to improve on, your overall strengths, and how your game faired during the end of things. If, for example, that most of the comments listed were mostly positive, then your game was a success and you should keep on making your next projects more like that one. If the comments were mostly negative or lukewarm at best, you should probably take the best advice that you can and try again harder for your next game to improve on those lackluster scores. Either way, constructive criticism is more “right” than “wrong” when it comes down to it.

Not everyone can deal with handling such downbeat comments after working on something that they’ve enjoyed so much only for their own perceptions of it to be shattered. It’s hard hearing the truth, sometimes. But remember that part of the whole gaming development process is like you’re a salesman trying to sell a bunch of people a used car from the showroom. If they don’t like a certain particular feature about that car, they’ll let you know. And being the salesman, all you can do is take their comments and fix it to meet their demands and keep your customers happy. Your game will never be perfect in the eyes of everyone, but the more positive reviews than negative ones that you get the better the overall product will be.



Class dismissed.

Posts

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edchuy
You the practice of self-promotion
1624
Good read. Hopefully, especially those sensitive developers take heed, Prof and we avoid some flair ups. BTW, #9 = Turn your frown upside down. (:
Addit
Thumbs up to no pants
5966
I used to be like one of those “full retards,” until the Professor changed my whole outlook on life...

Now I just using my newly found accumulated rage directed towards other things, like sporting events – and the Cleveland Browns!!! :D

(Just kidding about that last part. No one would EVER be a fan of that pathetic, garbage excuse of a Football team.)
I have been lucky so far. I've gotten criticism but it's all been constructive (aka,helpful) so far!

I imagine even if someone told me my game was terrible I still wouldn't give up. This is something I enjoy doing so I'll keep doing it regardless of any protest!
it's not a matter of giving up/not giving up, so much as being able to look past your initial reaction to negativity and see whether the criticism has anything useful in it. odds are, unless you're dealing with some weird caricature of a human being, that even the most abrasive nonsense has some veins of useful knowledge.

the problem I see with a lot of people new to content creation, whether it's with rpg maker or something else entirely, is that they see critique as some kind of battle between the creator and the consumer -- they think a harsh review is just the reviewer being a big evil dude and trying to get them to 'give up' or something like that. this is a self-indulgent view that doesn't help anything.
author=mawk
it's not a matter of giving up/not giving up, so much as being able to look past your initial reaction to negativity and see whether the criticism has anything useful in it. odds are, unless you're dealing with some weird caricature of a human being, that even the most abrasive nonsense has some veins of useful knowledge.

the problem I see with a lot of people new to content creation, whether it's with rpg maker or something else entirely, is that they see critique as some kind of battle between the creator and the consumer -- they think a harsh review is just the reviewer being a big evil dude and trying to get them to 'give up' or something like that. this is a self-indulgent view that doesn't help anything.


I do not think someone who dislikes my game is out to crush my dreams. Maybe they didn't like the tile-set I used. Maybe they didn't like the story, the pacing,battle system, or the characters. All those things are rather subjective.

The only thing I'll say in defense of "the creators" is not everyone has a team of 5-6 people and if you're just one girl or guy making a whole game then that ups the probability of mistakes and misspellings considerably.

Aka, I think reviewers should be able to discern the difference between a more mainstream game with more man-power and one that had less support,less marketing, and less of a budget to work with. (Even in the indie scene)

However,I'm preaching to the choir. I'm rather confident people that review games on rmn don't automatically compare rpgmaker projects next to the greats like Skyrim,Mass Effect,Xeno-blade,Persona 4,Kotor,Witcher 2,and Dragon's Dogma. That would be unfair and ridiculous to the extreme.

Lastly, I'm not saying reviewers should have no standards at all. If a game is broken and frustrating that's what it is. At that point the creator can either try to rectify the errors brought to his or her attention or move onto his or her next project and try to make it better than the previous attempt.
Aka, I think reviewers should be able to discern the difference between a more mainstream game with more man-power and one that had less support,less marketing, and less of a budget to work with. (Even in the indie scene)

be careful not to let this become a crutch. the rm community as it stands is horrible about this -- quality is judged only relative to other rpg maker games, and very few of the examples people use are anywhere close to the limits of what one person can do with the engine. this is largely why the engine is sort of viewed as the punchline of the entire independent game development scene.

do what you can. do everything you can. don't make excuses unless you're bleeding.
author=mawk
Aka, I think reviewers should be able to discern the difference between a more mainstream game with more man-power and one that had less support,less marketing, and less of a budget to work with. (Even in the indie scene)
be careful not to let this become a crutch. the rm community as it stands is horrible about this -- quality is judged only relative to other rpg maker games, and very few of the examples people use are anywhere close to the limits of what one person can do with the engine. this is largely why the engine is sort of viewed as the punchline of the entire independent game development scene.

do what you can. do everything you can. don't make excuses unless you're bleeding.


I don't mind bleeding out a little for something I love doing. Bleed to death for it though? Not so much! (Especially not for free. Just saying!) I do have a life beyond rpgmaker. Not much of one mind you, but one all the same!

Yeah, I could go ballistic by throwing in a bunch of new scripts and what not but I rather stick to the "tried and true" route. There have been some pretty awesome rpgmaker games that did not exactly break the mold from a conventionality perspective. I find a good story and lovable characters coupled with "reasonable battles" is a winning formula for me personally. I'll even tolerate a few cryptic frustraing puzzles for a good enough yarn. (Though I'd prefer easier and more straight forward puzzles. I'm kind of a wimp that way. lol.)

well, throwing in new scripts isn't exactly what I meant. adding in features just for their own sake isn't progress -- it's kind of the opposite, actually, since clarity and efficiency are very important to gameplay. execution is far more important than scale -- and making something too large-scale can make it almost impossible to put in the fine details and care that go along with proper execution. but I'm getting sidetracked. I think we're basically on the same page, anyway.
author=mawk
well, throwing in new scripts isn't exactly what I meant. adding in features just for their own sake isn't progress -- it's kind of the opposite, actually, since clarity and efficiency are very important to gameplay. execution is far more important than scale -- and making something too large-scale can make it almost impossible to put in the fine details and care that go along with proper execution. but I'm getting sidetracked. I think we're basically on the same page, anyway.


I think we're on the same page too. Still,it was fun going into depth discussing this topic so I consider it time well spent!
It was a nice read, and helped me come up with new ideas on how to deal with negative feedback (I haven't gotten the most constructive criticism in the past;;).
Thanks for the helpful article.
Great Post!

Can you write something on the opposite side? When I write reviews, I try to be positive; but there are some reaaaaaaaally bad ones out there. I always try to end with a complement, but my goodness, it's like some of these guys are programming with a lol-cat on their keyboard. I usually have to whip out the ol' business writing skills, but still feel like a jerk at the end of the day.
Addit
Thumbs up to no pants
5966
Hey, I’m just like you. Even if I really didn’t enjoy the game and I thought that it was a complete waste of my time, I will still give it a compliment (even if there really isn’t anything to compliment at all).

And, yeah, bad reviews are going to happen. Luckily, with RMN, there aren’t too many negative reviews being submitted and accepted that are just two whole sentences explaining how much you should jump off a bridge. At the end of the day, bad reviews happen and there’s nothing you can do about it but to try and learn from your mistakes (even if the review isn’t totally accurate about exploiting those types of mistakes).

Besides, bad reviews can often sometimes be pretty amusing. :D
author=Addit
Hey, I’m just like you. Even if I really didn’t enjoy the game and I thought that it was a complete waste of my time, I will still give it a compliment (even if there really isn’t anything to compliment at all).


Yeah, you understand the dilemma, if it was a complete waste of time, you have to review it to get something out of your experience right? Otherwise I'd just ignore it and move on... But then we leave other poor people stuck in the same quagmire of horrible gaming.
That was really thoughtful of you to type all that out, but really, all you needed to say was, "Do the opposite of what Max McGee would do."
author=Clyve
That was really thoughtful of you to type all that out, but really, all you needed to say was, "Do the opposite of what Max McGee would do."


lol
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