Developer Blog

Responding to Player Feedback

So it's time for a decent blog post. I feel like I've had some time to think over a lot of topics, and the first I'd like to discuss is the idea of player feedback. Specifically, how should a developer respond?

Naturally, I was tasked with answering that question during the past two months. Initially I was ecstatic to begin talking about my new release, as I'm sure any developer would be. There are certainly some people who think that game makers who "keep in touch" with their audience are a lot more likeable and down-to-Earth for that reason.

While I definitely respect those who take time to respond to fan feedback, I believe there's such a thing as "too much" responding. Particularly in the EVN world, but I want to address most creative works in general with this post.

As a creator, you give rise to a fictional world. I believe that the work should be fully self-contained, and that if your work fails to convey its intended message to the audience, then that's your mistake as a creator. It's a fault. But that's a mistake you'll catch next time, right? So just learn from it.

Sometimes creators will be asked questions in order to get Word of God pertaining to their story. That's fine, although ideally you still don't want too many questions to be answered directly this way. For instance, an ideal answer to a question regarding a plot hole is "Remember that thing in that one scene? Yeah, that's what it was foreshadowing!" and there's your evidence -- while a bad answer is "Oh, uh, I never thought it out that far, but I guess [explanation] makes sense, sorry". The work must be self-sufficient, and it shouldn't rely on anyone else. In other words, as the creator of your universe, you should know how to plant evidence and where to point it out, to support what the audience should be thinking and feeling.

I think there is a point where, between the back-and-forth of creator and audience, the questions become less relevant and more redundant. What I noticed is that a large group of people tended to have the same negative opinion about certain parts (admittedly, parts I didn't do too well on, and I'm aware of that) while others had varied opinions. A certain scene which tended to be "least favorite" was surprisingly someone else's favorite. It just goes to show that even a perceived failure in the eyes of one person can be a success in another. Ultimately, you are your own best judge.

Which brings me to my point. If you are aware of your flaws and weak points, is it really necessary to address them in audience reviews? For movies and books, the authors rarely get a chance to respond to the reviewer who asserts there was a gaping plot hole left open when there really wasn't (in the author's mind). That's why I believe a work needs to be self-sufficient, to stand up for itself.

I made something. It wasn't the best, but it wasn't the worst, and for that I am happy. However, I'm going to be less vocal toward reviewers from now on. Believe me, I honestly appreciate every word of feedback I receive -- but I feel no need to try and justify anything. If I haven't convinced you during the story, there's no point in trying afterward. I just need to improve for next time.

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