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Author Topic: Managing Criticism  (Read 2810 times)

Online Easy E

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Managing Criticism
« on: February 22, 2024, 09:50:22 PM »
I put together a few thoughts about managing criticism as a designer.  Whether you are writing full games, tweaking house rules, creating scenarios, etc.  Perhaps not super-relevant for everyone on this board, but it might be useful to some. 

Enjoy? 

I look forward to hearing how you manage criticism in your hobby, work, or just life in general.   

*********************************

Congratulations!  Your first (second, third, fourth, etc.) game is out into the world!  You went through all the steps of the process, play-tested it, finished it, did the post-production work, and now it is out in the wild and people are playing it!  If you are like me, this process has taken 2-5 years of your time.  However, you are now a wargame designer! 



I hope you are ready for the hard part.  People are not going to like your game, and they won't be afraid to tell you about it.  Some of this feedback is more helpful than others and you can learn from it for your next game.  Typically, it falls back into the following categories:

-None at All
-Not Helpful
-Misalignment
-A Gift

You can read all the details on the blog:
https://bloodandspectacles.blogspot.com/2024/02/wargame-design-managing-criticism.html
Support Blood and Spectacles Publishing:
https://www.patreon.com/Bloodandspectaclespublishing

Offline carlos marighela

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Re: Managing Criticism
« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2024, 11:31:02 PM »
Reviews are rarely, if ever, designed with the author/playwright/ director/chef in mind. I've yet to see a review that says, 'the chicken was overcooked and rubbery/ the film was an bloated disaster with a poor story arc and....here's how you could do it better'. The working assumption being that the creator of the thing being reviewed will work out where, in the opinion of the reviewer, things have gone awry.

Reviews are generally aimed at the audience, readership or market. So when constructing a criticism it's worth bearing that in mind and providing useful detail for people to make up their own minds on what is at best an informed opinion. Like any argument, it serves the reviewer and the target audience best if you bring evidence to the argument. That requires thought and some ability to join words together in a cohesive and logical fashion.

Marketing sites and the format they use typically work against this. The incentive is to give quick, one sentence appraisals.  Fine if you know the reviewer and can judge their knowledge and the worth of their review, otherwise pretty pointless. Of course the way such systems work is aggregation of reviews. If 100 people have commented and 90 of them think something sucks, there's a fighting chance it does. I doubt that wargaming rules is as cutthroat as running a restaurant or staging an off Broadway show, so less incentive for single reviewers to run vendetta campaigns, making multiple negative reviews using different user names.

The medium of the review is important. I've read a ton of pure shite on Twit Advisor and if making a decision on accommodation would weight it accordingly. Twit Advisor is essentially open source so no need to have actually stayed somewhere. Other mediums like Booking.com only allow reviews, post stay, by someone who has booked through their system. Tends to weed out the 'my cousin said' type of review.

Of course there's a whole other category (your Amazon example is a classic example) of feedback. It isn't a review but a visceral or emotional response. Item provided was not what the purchaser believed it to be or failed to meet their personal expectations, so they are venting. I suspect most potential purchasers are savvy enough to read into that, especially if it's an outlier in terms of other comments or ratings.

I suspect that forums are probably the principal place where rules get 'reviewed' in any detail, often pre-purchase. Any number of 'has anyone tried?' or 'what is the best?' type threads here and elsewhere. On the whole I think gamers are thoughtful and even if partially or wholly negative, they will attempt to provide a rationale.

Interesting article and certainly food for thought for prospective writers or publishers of rules. I think it behoves people flogging a product to know how to respond to all sorts of criticism. There's a well known American figure manufacturer, who provides the classic example of how not to respond to even the mildest critiques over on another forum. He invariably launches into weird, aggressive, attacks at the slightest negative inference. Hilarious to watch but I often wonder how he stays in business.
« Last Edit: February 22, 2024, 11:34:19 PM by carlos marighela »
Em dezembro de '81
Botou os ingleses na roda
3 a 0 no Liverpool
Ficou marcado na história
E no Rio não tem outro igual
Só o Flamengo é campeão mundial
E agora seu povo
Pede o mundo de novo

Offline carlos marighela

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Re: Managing Criticism
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2024, 11:36:15 PM »
Oh and design notes are a helpful way of shaping reaction. Someone may disagree with the concepts but it's difficult to be harsh if those concepts are explained up front.

Offline Vis Bellica

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Re: Managing Criticism
« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2024, 07:56:19 AM »
Worst review I ever had, published in a reputable magazine, was by someone who had never actually played the game, just pushed  few figures around his kitchen table to try out some of the mechanics...not that the review mentioned that fact.

What rankled even more was that when, purely by coincidence, we met and were chatting about this, he wasn't the least bit apologetic: almost proud of his ability to get his review published.

Fortunately to this day they haven't been able to find the body...

Offline nozza_uk

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Re: Managing Criticism
« Reply #4 on: February 23, 2024, 11:12:00 AM »
Fortunately to this day they haven't been able to find the body...

 lol  lol  lol

Offline Aethelflaeda was framed

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Re: Managing Criticism
« Reply #5 on: February 23, 2024, 01:32:25 PM »
Pride of ownership is as strong a problem regarding reviews as venting or vendettas by reviewers. I have seen pretty good and balanced reviews that point out real problems disregarded with very strong vitriol and unwillingness to admit an error.  And then there are the fanboys…

Rules writers should always include a very important tool to prevent ‘unwarrented’ criticism: Designer’s notes.  Often rare nowadays, these help explain why something is done one way or the other, the overall philosophy of the design, and what an abstraction or rating represents or simulates.  When doing simulations, it prevents the literalists complaining about an omission and from a gaming standpoint prevents the chronic, “the Guard did this in this battle, so they should always win a fight with militia” sort of debates.

no great work of art is ever finished, they are simply abandoned.
Mick

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Margate and New Orleans

Online Easy E

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Re: Managing Criticism
« Reply #6 on: February 23, 2024, 03:49:32 PM »
Many times, word counts, lay-out requirements, etc. leave no room or desire for a publisher to put in Designer Notes.  Afterall, that space and text costs $$$$!   

You normally have to search Design Notes out in a separate space such as blogs, online, etc.   


Offline Aethelflaeda was framed

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Re: Managing Criticism
« Reply #7 on: February 23, 2024, 03:58:21 PM »
They should be made very, very easy to find.  Sadly even previews often omit anything more substantial than the sizzle.  I  think a one or two page designers notes are not that expensive to include, and in any case one can instead leave out some of the fluff photos and save some money.
« Last Edit: February 23, 2024, 05:45:51 PM by Aethelflaeda was framed »

Offline sir_shvantselot

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Re: Managing Criticism
« Reply #8 on: February 23, 2024, 05:35:10 PM »
Interesting article. Always remember though that you had the vision to make something! Most people never do.

Online Easy E

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Re: Managing Criticism
« Reply #9 on: February 23, 2024, 06:18:28 PM »
They should be made very, very easy to find.  Sadly even previews often omit anything more substantial than the sizzle.  I  think a one or two page designers notes are not that expensive to include, and in any case one can instead leave out some of the fluff photos and save some money.

I totally agree with you.  I know I have been guilty of that! 

Without the Designer Notes, you really have no idea if the writer accomplished what they set out to do. That makes reviewing a set of rules all about preference, instead of focusing on if the writer accomplished the goal of the design.  Without the notes, any criticism is more likely to have misalignment or give feedback that doesn't align with the games goals.   

Offline Emir of Askaristan

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Re: Managing Criticism
« Reply #10 on: February 23, 2024, 08:57:32 PM »
Reviews, criticism and feedback.

Not every review tells you what you need to know....you need to do some legwork yourself.

Not all criticism is valid.

And not all feedback is balanced.

As someone who spends a lot of time writing procedures for work even getting input and useful feedback is hard. Plenty folk will helpfully correct spelling for you...but less will offer insight into how things could be explained better or differently. Luckily the people whom I work with now are good at that but in the past I've been deafened by the silence.....until the doc has been issued for use....

I've had one chap come up to me and attempt to pull my stuff apart by quoting sources and stuff at me.  I had it covered or may have missed them. But I had a few different ones too. He said "I suppose I will buy a copy then"

Ultimately whatever we produce is our own view on a topic. There's no definitive rule set, never will be because someone will have their own ideas on how it should be done.

But most importantly take pride in the fact you took the time and the effort to put something together that did get published. The hobby won't grow and develop otherwise.

There are plenty takers in life, but far far fewer givers.




Offline SteveBurt

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Re: Managing Criticism
« Reply #11 on: February 24, 2024, 09:53:42 AM »
I remember one review of a UK set of rules by a US reviewer. He spent most of his time criticising the use of the word dice in the singular (roll a dice) rather than the US die for one dice. Very little about the rules just a rant about language even though dice as a singular noun is standard UK usage.

Offline carlos marighela

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Re: Managing Criticism
« Reply #12 on: February 24, 2024, 10:23:57 AM »
I remember one review of a UK set of rules by a US reviewer. He spent most of his time criticising the use of the word dice in the singular (roll a dice) rather than the US die for one dice. Very little about the rules just a rant about language even though dice as a singular noun is standard UK usage.

Clearly that was his hill to die upon.  :D

Offline vodkafan

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Re: Managing Criticism
« Reply #13 on: March 24, 2024, 11:37:00 PM »
I remember one review of a UK set of rules by a US reviewer. He spent most of his time criticising the use of the word dice in the singular (roll a dice) rather than the US die for one dice. Very little about the rules just a rant about language even though dice as a singular noun is standard UK usage.

I wouldn't agree that "dice" is a proper singular noun in UK. but it IS a very common UK usage that people learn when they are kids and don't even know it is wrong. That is how language changes and deviates I guess.  I see folks on here from both sides of the pond writing "loose" (properly belonging the verb "to loosen",  when they actually mean "lose" (i.e. the opposite of win). That irritates me but I won't lose any sleep over it.
I am going to build a wargames army, a big beautiful wargames army, and Mexico is going to pay for it.

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Offline Patrice

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Re: Managing Criticism
« Reply #14 on: March 25, 2024, 12:03:09 AM »
I wouldn't agree that "dice" is a proper singular noun in UK. but it IS a very common UK usage that people learn when they are kids and don't even know it is wrong. That is how language changes and deviates I guess.  I see folks on here from both sides of the pond writing "loose" (properly belonging the verb "to loosen",  when they actually mean "lose" (i.e. the opposite of win). That irritates me but I won't lose any sleep over it.

Fascinating. As a native French speaker (and also Breton but my grandfather didn't want to talk much) it took some time for me to understand the die/dice difference in English. Now I make the effort to write “die“ (singular) and “dice“ (plural) please don't tell me it's not longer true. lol

Also, some French people write “looser“ (in English) in a French sentence when they actually mean: perdant (loser) that irritates me also ...but being irritated about how people write on internet is no good for health.  ;)

 

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