ACCEPTING CRITICISM

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unity
You're magical to me.
12540
One thing that anyone sharing her stuff on the web has to deal with is criticism, and, of course, it plays a huge role in the RPG Making process. Criticism stings, and many people want to avoid it altogether. I see people removing details about their games from threads once someone criticizes their way of doing things, and people who want others to play their games but desperately don't want any feedback that could be viewed as "negative" in any manner.

I think that overcoming this is an important part of being a developer. I know its tough. When I get feedback and it seems to be mostly about what the person didn't like about my project, I still get that churning feeling in my stomach and I have to tell the part of my brain that says "YOU ARE HORRIBLE" to shut up. And I learned that if I look beyond that, I can get a lot of great advice on how to improve.

I've heard people on this forum talk about how accepting criticism and knowing what advice to follow and what to ignore is a skill like any other, and I totally agree. I also know that Gam Mak is a hobby and how much time each person can spend polishing their project will vary. Having that said, I'm always a little irked when I see someone who has no tolerance for criticism and won't even address people's points or try to convey to the person offering the criticism on why they don't agree.

So I wanted to ask how people weigh the criticism that helps their games against the criticism that doesn't, and what's the correct way to respond to criticism that you disagree with, and how can people get over their fears of criticism?
Eh I just don't accept criticism anymore. So I make what I want to play and I play what I make. In 6th grade I had a teacher that was very criticized for taking a stance that its either 100% A+ or its fail.

People just focus on the bad. It is as if people aren't happy unless they're complaining. Especially on the Internet. It is easier to tear something down than build it up. What takes game devs years to make, someone can just easily insult. Take COD for instance or Facebook. Netters seem to hate both, yet they both make millions of dollars.

Criticism isn't relevant.
Yeah, part of the problem is that even when people are trying to be constructive, they have a tendency to be overly caustic (probably in an attempt to be funny), which puts people on the defensive. A little empathy goes a long way.
Yeah Internet reviews seem to be.... who has the best insults about a game. Who can make themselves famous. Polygon comes to mind for always making themselves famous amongst a sea of Youtubers.
As you said, learning which criticism you need to take to heart and which criticism you can ignore is a skill you learn over time. Generally I find that the less swearwords and general rudeness there is in someones criticism, the better the criticism tends to be.
Not accepting any criticism at all is foolish, and you won't be able to find all of the errors and small mistakes you make yourself without feedback from other people, because that's just how it works. People are different and notice different things.
Sure people tend to focus on the bad, but if you don't act like a spoiled baby and be polite, people tend to be polite back.
The reason Phil Fish gets insulted is because he acts like a asshat, and people tend to respond negatively to that.
I have no personal experience with other people's criticism, but lurking the internet has given me some time to think these kinds of things over.

Its not so much that criticism is irrelevant as it is that most people's nonsensical attempts at criticism are. Even non-caustic reviews rarely contain anything helpful; "zomg i luv ur gaem is has teh mos perfict gaempley design eber" isn't any better than "ur gaem sux an u shuld feel bad". Granted, its usually not that bad, but even professional reviews tend to be annoyingly vague or even talk about things that aren't even in the game. Though, for magazine reviews, I don't entirely blame them as they usually aren't given adequate time to learn the game.

Also, while many people's outright dismissal of other people's work is rather absurd, putting a lot of work into something doesn't make it immune to criticism. Same goes for being freely available.

In the end, I think it would be vastly more important to work on your own critical faculties, sorting out what it is you like and don't like and really reasoning out why. Otherwise, you might have a hard time distinguishing between matters of personal taste and things that are just objectively bad.
When you post something on a public forum, expect that there will be criticism, and people will post good and bad things about it.

That's not to say there aren't trolls and flamers looking to insult, but there are just as many people that will take all criticism the wrong way, and all they want is people to praise them, even when their game is complete shit.

I don't sugar coat my comments, and I don't expect others to do the same for me. At the same time, if somebody is just targeting you for no reason other than to bash you and the game, report them, ignore them, and move on.
LockeZ
I'd really like to get rid of LockeZ. His play style is way too unpredictable. He's always like this too. If he ran a country, he'd just kill and imprison people at random until crime stopped.
5958
do we actually need this topic again

can't you just go re-read one of the old ones

(I suspect most of them are probably locked and in the archives, if you want to look for them, because people can't even accept criticism about the way they accept criticism and get ridiculously defensive)
First and foremost, make the game you want to make. If you're not making a game you enjoy but rather what others might like, you'll fail. You can't please everybody all of the time. But also just as equally important, learn from your mistakes. Don't act like you're top stuff at game design when you're not, because you will be called out for it, and people won't bother playing your games.

This is also true for accepting criticism. There are plenty of decent game designers and artists that I ignore simply because they won't accept criticism.

As for weighing criticism, you have to know how much of it is true and how much of it is false, or not relevant to you.

For example, if you go out to make a game that mimicks the style and feel of a classic Dragon Quest game, people playing it need to expect that the game will have save points versus menu saves, random encounters, potential for grinding, to name a few.

Somebody who critiques that game and suggests touch encounters, unlimited saves, and minimal grinding may not be relevant to you for that game. I would still acknowledge them, since their input at least tells you what they're looking for in a game, which may be useful for you in future projects that target his demographic. However, that doesn't mean you need to suddenly change your game to meet their needs.

On the other side, if you're encounter rate is set way too high and it's keeping people from having fun, or if the level grind is ridiculous even for a game of that style, or you've designed a 3 hour dungeon with no save points, then the critiques against that are very relevant, and you'll probably need to make changes to accomodate.

Make sure to research the type of game you are making, who your target audience is, and where your target audience hangs out.
When I was in college and still taking creative writing workshops, we would submit our stories to the class, return in a week, get in a circle, and critique each other's work. There weren't any hard rules on politeness, but social decency kept most people's comments constructive (though, when it's something you poured your heart into, even constructive criticisms can feel barbed). There was one rule for the author, though: shut up. You don't say a word when people are critiquing your work. After they've said their peace, you would then be able to ask some questions, clarify things, or justify things, but during the bulk of the discussion, you just shut up.

This accomplished two things: 1) It allowed the feedback to come naturally. If you interrupted the process, you would inadvertently be guiding the discussion into what you found important about your work instead of what others found important. It doesn't matter what your goal was--if the audience didn't pick up on that, you failed, and that's an important thing to note. 2) It forced you to listen, and listening is a skill that not enough people practice. If your audience doesn't like your work, then you're failing. Drop any feelings about how you might be making it for yourself, because it's a bullshit perspective. If your audience is unhappy, you either need to adapt your work so it's more palatable or find a different audience. Listen to what your audience says and use that as a barometer. For God's sake, don't just ignore everything like ShortStar said.

People are posting critiques after playing your game. You should be fucking grateful for every piece of feedback you get, because that means people took time out of their lives to play your game. We only get so long on this planet, so take a second to think of how sacred that time is. Yes, you're going to get uninformed opinions that you'll have to weed through, and, yes, you're putting yourself out there, and it makes you nervous and uncomfortable, but that just means that what you're doing is meaningful to you, so chase that feeling.

(I gave some criticisms on Luxaren Allure a while back, so I just wanted to say that this wasn't directed at you, Unity. You seem to take criticism really well, actually.)
If you don't make a game you yourself enjoy, why would anyone else enjoy it?

Then you get into corporate stuff. Like I have arguments with my boss that something sucks and he tells me, yeah just do what makes money. I still does exactly what he tells me knowing full well its awful, but hey its what makes money. Then people tell us how awful it is and ask us to change it, but nope. Oh well. That's work, its about money.

I'm also reminded of interviews with people that write movies and direct movies for Fox. How the Fox execs tell them, it doesn't need to be good. Its all about the name 'Wolverine' or 'Aliens' that will make us money. Take for instance all of the Final Fantasy games out there that people say are awful or too linear. Yeah, but they sell a lot of copies and fan games get a lot of downloads.

Criticism doesn't matter, do what you want.
Coming from my experience as a site founding member and former admin...

Annoying things I tend to see in reviews on RMN:

1) Harping on one thing endlessly. It's alright to rant a little, but writing multiple paragraphs or an entire review that complains about a single cutscene, for example, is a waste of everyone's time.

2) Failing to give examples. This happens a lot! Generalized statements are useless, giving in-game examples for why something does or does not work goes a long way.

3) Minimal effort. Congratulations, you barely met the incredibly lenient review guidelines and expect to be taken seriously. GOLD STAR! Obviously length and draftsmanship aren't everything, but you're writing the review because you want to, right? Don't hand in something an English 101 teacher would give you a C- on.

4) It's okay to be entertaining. It's not okay to be needlessly aggressive. I make shit posts occasionally too but it doesn't mean you should make yourself look bad by throwing up a needlessly caustic review that gets lots of exposure. Speaking from experience here.

Annoying things developers do in response to reviews on RMN:

1) Ignore it completely. Pretty insulting, if you ask me.

2) Taking it as a personal attack and getting all passive-aggressive. Unless the review was complete horseshit(objectively), this kind of behavior is not the right approach. And even then it's probably not a good idea.

3) Encouraging review bandwagons. Was more of a problem in the past, when people would write positive reviews in response to negative reviews, and occasionally vice-versa. Still happens occasionally, still stupid.

4) Revenge reviews. Happened a few times in the past when this place was quite a bit more volatile and under different administration. Seriously, don't do this. Ever. It will only ever cause problems.
unity
You're magical to me.
12540
author=SnowOwl
I find that the less swearwords and general rudeness there is in someones criticism, the better the criticism tends to be.

Yeah, exactly. Let me be clear for everyone: I'm talking about Constructive Criticism. I'm not talking about people hating on something that is popular, trolling, or otherwise just being rude. I'm talking about someone taking time to tell you what they honestly thought of your game.

author=SnowOwl
Not accepting any criticism at all is foolish, and you won't be able to find all of the errors and small mistakes you make yourself without feedback from other people, because that's just how it works. People are different and notice different things.
Sure people tend to focus on the bad, but if you don't act like a spoiled baby and be polite, people tend to be polite back.

Exactly. Everyone's got strengths and weaknesses, and I honestly think you'd need to be either a genius or a skilled veteran to make a truly outstanding game without getting feedback, and even then, that game could be polished further by taking feedback into consideration.

author=LockeZ
do we actually need this topic again

can't you just go re-read one of the old ones

My mistake, I really should have searched for them before making a new one. I will accept your criticism of my post-making and try to do better in the future ^_^

author=ShortStar
Criticism doesn't matter, do what you want.

Yes, you should do what you want, as amerk said, "Make the game you want to make." But accepting criticism is not about changing your project solely to suit the whims of other people. It's about getting other people's viewpoints on how to do what you're already trying to do, but how to do it better.

I think its being unfair to your own games to not listen to any criticism. There are a lot of talented people in the community; do you really think you have nothing to learn from their viewpoints and experience? Why not at least entertain opinions that could be beneficial to your game?

author=Housekeeping
People are posting critiques after playing your game. You should be fucking grateful for every piece of feedback you get, because that means people took time out of their lives to play your game. We only get so long on this planet, so take a second to think of how sacred that time is. Yes, you're going to get uninformed opinions that you'll have to weed through, and, yes, you're putting yourself out there, and it makes you nervous and uncomfortable, but that just means that what you're doing is meaningful to you, so chase that feeling.

I think this is another great point. It's about respecting the people who have taken the time to play your game, and respecting their feedback, because feedback is crucial. You don't need to follow everyone's suggestions, but try maturely listening and discussing them. I think you may find that many people will be more helpful than you think.

author=Housekeeping
(I gave some criticisms on Luxaren Allure a while back, so I just wanted to say that this wasn't directed at you, Unity. You seem to take criticism really well, actually.)

Thanks! And I didn't take it as you directing it to me. This is actually a really good example: My game had bad writing and plotting, and thanks to Housekeeping and others pointing that out and how I could make it better, I rewrote a large chunk of the game and everyone I've talked to about it says that its much improved. If I hadn't done that, the game would have been way worse. Better yet, the game is still doing exactly what I set out wanting it to do. It's just doing it a lot more competently.

EDIT:

author=Karsuman
Annoying things I tend to see in reviews on RMN... Annoying things developers do in response to reviews on RMN:

This can serve as a great guide to reviewers and developers who get reviews as well! I seem to especially see a lot of the "failing to give examples" one in particular.
The stuff that makes money though, generally makes it because someone is enjoying it. The popular commercial stuff might not be high art, but it's doing some things that people like, and avoiding some things that people dislike, and if you don't pick up what these things are, you'll be limiting yourself as a creator.

There is no shortage of creators out there, in writing, in visual art, in filmmaking, probably in any creative endeavor, who are really, really terrible at what they do, and are utterly impervious to criticism. Not only is it totally possible to follow your creative vision faithfully without letting yourself be swayed by criticism, and end up making something really terrible, this is almost certainly the most common result of people following their own creative vision.

Most people who learn to be really good learn it by successive approximations, by doing the best they can and finding what mistakes they made that other people pick up, trying again, making new mistakes, fixing those, and so on.
Corfaisus
"It's frustrating because - as much as Corf is otherwise an irredeemable person - his 2k/3 mapping is on point." ~ psy_wombats
7874
author=ShortStar
If you don't make a game you yourself enjoy, why would anyone else enjoy it?...

...Criticism doesn't matter, do what you want.

1. Nobody's denying doing what feels right, more what the end product is of "what feels right". If your game is true to your vision but is just absolutely horrendous in every other way, you damn well better be ready to listen. It's the only way you get better.

2. Refer to point 1.

Not a paragon of knowledge or anything, b-*laugh*-but you know.

Nine times out of ten, the critique you receive will be something that you can easily apply to your entire creative approach (spend time learning how to make X). The only time you really need to balance out whether or not to listen to a piece of advice is if it's something super esoteric, in which case it's likely not going to be a case of doing exactly what they ask for but understanding what the core problem is in the game and fixing it. Someone says the story isn't gripping enough? Don't just start writing good stuff for the next part or revise what you already have, but find where you have excess nonsense that only serves as padding for your uninteresting story and cut that before revising what you have. Battles aren't feeling substantial enough? Cut the length/frequency of them and try to incorporate strategy in the stuff you already have. The same thing applies to grinding; most times if your battles are actually fun, it won't feel grindy unless you require the player to go up X amount of levels between dungeons.

Let's compare my own experience:

Age of Ignorance: 2003 (Mystic Quest II: Return of Dolosus) - 2007 (Redeeming Legacy)

Age of Diligence: 2009 (Dawning of a Dragon's Valor) - 2013 (Tales from Zilmurik) (Both are canon Caldinasus)

Both are four years apart but show drastic differences in quality. This is all thanks to taking time to improve instead of remaining complacent, and the best has yet to come!

author=ShortStar
If you don't make a game you yourself enjoy, why would anyone else enjoy it?
Blaha blaha about not enjoying making games.
Criticism doesn't matter, do what you want.

You are not making any sense.
Anyway, I think the general consensus is that it does matter.
I've learnt alot of stuff from feedback provided on my games, and if I ignored all of it I am almost certain that my games would be pretty darn boring for everyone involved. I think you have the wrong mindset if you believe that listening to others is always a bad idea.
It’s just part of the job, any job, for that matter. No matter how good you may be at something or how much attention to detail you dedicate yourself to, you’re bound to always get somebody who just doesn’t see things the way you see things, and that’s okay, how to deal with it is the important key here.

Everybody here makes a lot of great points in regards to accepting such criticism, but the most important thing here is the overall evaluation process on how your game(s) did overall. If your game ended up getting a ton of reviews, each scoring your game very, very high, a ton of downloads, a few pieces of fanart here or there and the odd mentioning of it on the front page of not just RMN but other sites in general – then you’re on the right track and you really don’t need to do much in terms of overall improvement unless the same complaint about something is being brought up quite often. If reviews haven’t been very favorable, or you’re just struggling to get any sort of attention for your game(s) at all, then you’re probably making a few critical mistakes that you need to improve on. The best thing is to take the good with the bad and find a nice happy medium between the two. Nobody is perfect, but there’s always room for improvement in regards to anything you do.

Criticism might seem at first to be very harsh and quite a rude awakening to almost anybody who has never experienced it before, but it’s all beneficial in order to get better.
LockeZ
I'd really like to get rid of LockeZ. His play style is way too unpredictable. He's always like this too. If he ran a country, he'd just kill and imprison people at random until crime stopped.
5958
It's not about changing your vision. It's about learning how to achieve it.

Sometimes it's fairly obvious that this is what's happening. "You said this map was supposed to be a meat locker but it looks nothing like one. The walls are zigzaggy, the floor is made of dirt, and all the meat is on the ground. Have you ever seen a meat locker? Maybe you should go look up some photos on google." You were trying to make something very specific, it's clear what you were trying to do, and you failed miserably due to a lack of knowledge and skill. Obviously this is a case where criticism is insanely helpful.

But sometimes it isn't so obvious, when it's in regards to gameplay stuff. "LockeZ, the castle basement in your RM2K3 game has the party split into two groups, but one of those groups consists solely of a knight with stat breaks and a bunch of generic soldiers with no abilities. The stat breaks are useless in almost every battle in that section. Also, the other party has access to multiple elements for the first time in the game, but nothing except the boss is weak to any of them. Please fucking fix this, it is boring and awful."

(someone please go back in time to 2008 and tell me this)

My vision wasn't to make the normal battles in this part of the game so boring! I was just so fixated on the exploration puzzles and the boss difficulty that I didn't pay enough attention to the boring battles against enemy soldiers. I was also worried about making sure the main characters stood out from the generic soldiers, but went overboard. I didn't know how to make normal battles engaging as well as I do now, and I sure didn't know how to do that in a party where most of the characters had no abilities.

I didn't even know I needed the help though at the time. You'd've had to convince me it was bad first! And then you'd've had to further convince me it was worth fixing. Neither of these things would've hopefully been super difficult to convince me of since, you know, it was really quite bad, and I did eventually fix some of those problems.

Also keep in mind that what players complain about and what actually bothers them aren't always the same. Sometimes you have to ask questions to figure out what is really causing the problem. For example, I might've seen some complaints about "goddamn it give these soldiers some abilities please" and realized that the actual problem was "these battles are really boring because you can't respond to anything the enemies do." But I might've come up with a different solution to that problem besides giving the soldiers abilities! I might've come up with things for the enemies to do that the player could respond to just by choosing different targets, like enemies that heal, self-destruct, buff each-other, etc. A good interpreter of criticism can see a criticism about one thing, change something else, and stop the criticism. But that doesn't make the criticism worthless. It's still super valuable. You just have to use it correctly.
author=SnowOwl
author=ShortStar
If you don't make a game you yourself enjoy, why would anyone else enjoy it?
Blaha blaha about not enjoying making games.
Criticism doesn't matter, do what you want.

You are not making any sense.
Anyway, I think the general consensus is that it does matter.
I've learnt alot of stuff from feedback provided on my games, and if I ignored all of it I am almost certain that my games would be pretty darn boring for everyone involved. I think you have the wrong mindset if you believe that listening to others is always a bad idea.


I don't accept your criticism.
author=SnowOwl
As you said, learning which criticism you need to take to heart and which criticism you can ignore is a skill you learn over time. Generally I find that the less swearwords and general rudeness there is in someones criticism, the better the criticism tends to be.

Basically my view, really. If criticism is basically THIS FUCKING SUCKS AND YOU FUCKING SUCK FOR MAKING IT, then it's bad criticism. If it's actually detailed and reasonable without relying on insulting the creator, then it's good criticism.