BTW #3

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delta
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Re: BTW #3

#16 Post by delta » Thu Jul 30, 2009 6:53 am

PyTom wrote: But it wasn't really a release, was it? It's a demo of a future release. And that's an important distinction.
No.
The rest is left as an exercise for the reader.

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Re: BTW #3

#17 Post by Samu-kun » Thu Jul 30, 2009 6:55 am

Yes.

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Re: BTW #3

#18 Post by pinkmouse » Thu Jul 30, 2009 7:26 am

Jake wrote:
PyTom wrote: But if there's a lack of pointless criticism on this forum, rather than calling it a "circle-jerk", realize that perhaps our time is valuable.
When you put it like you do, though, it comes across more that we arrogantly presume that we're all at the peak of our creative abilities and cannot improve ourselves any more, which is a rather sad idea for so many reasons. I prefer the notion that everyone here is too lazy to give feedback, but that doesn't seem to be the case - it seems more like most people here are too afraid of offending people to give useful feedback, which means... well, the guys calling it a circlejerk are more or less right.
I thoroughly agree that the only purpose of giving critique should be to help someone improve. However, there is no "one size fits all" level of criticism that will help everybody.

What one person will find useful, clear feedback another will perceive as a savage dismissal of their creative ability. The amount of criticism that a person can take depends as much on their current situation and self confidence as on their personality, so it even varies from day to day.

Unfortunately once the criticism goes beyond what the recipient can deal with, then at best the recipient will just put up barriers and stop listening - which means the critiquer is wasting their time (and serious critiquing is hard work and does take time, so that's not an unimportant consideration.)

Worse, too much negative feedback may just generally discourage the recipient. This defeats the purpose of giving feedback, which is to end up with more, higher quality EVNs, right?

I believe that positive feedback and encouragement is as important as drawing someone's attention to their shortcomings. Some people need more encouragement, some less. I think dismissing such supportive culture as a "circle jerk" is unhelpful.

I've found the resources at Critters: http://www.critters.org/lib.ht very useful - particularly the article "It's not what you say but how you say it", which makes the point that the purpose of gentle, diplomatic language is to enable people to communicate as clearly as possible and avoid wasted effort.

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Re: BTW #3

#19 Post by Jake » Thu Jul 30, 2009 8:08 am

pinkmouse wrote: However, there is no "one size fits all" level of criticism that will help everybody.
Sure, and I've thoroughly advocated the "encourage someone when they start, and start to pick apart more and more things the more they improve" approach in the past - including more than once arguments with people (*cough*A22*cough*) who seem to believe that it's a good idea to savage someone as hard as you can right from the word 'go', and thus only the thick-skinned should ever create anything.

But while critique should be carefully metered where possible, that's not an excuse for not giving it at all.
Samu-kun wrote: Besides, you're misinterpreting what Pytom said... It's not due to arrogance that works generally don't get much constructive criticism. I don't feel any obligation to pour love on any project just because it's released on this board, and I doubt many other people do.
No, I'm saying how the lack of critique comes across, not what PyTom specifically said.

And honestly, I wonder if you're thinking of the same forum. The problem isn't that people's works are generally ignored and nobody gives any feedback at all - the problem is that people only ever give positive, encouraging feedback and very, very rarely anything constructive.
Samu-kun wrote: In fact, the latest project that I want to actually criticize, the Cute, Light, and Fluffy Project, I've been holding off on mostly because I was involved with the project and it'll be weird if I were to actually criticize it... I mean, it feels too much like criticizing my own project, so I'm kinda at a loss to what I should do... @_@
Um, what? Am I missing something - I thought all you did for that project was bring it together in a single distribution, but that it was comprised of four stories by four people who weren't you, using art that wasn't by you and direction that wasn't by you, and so on? Why should the fact that you were involved in the project in some way prevent you from being able to give useful feedback on things which were entirely other people's work?
Samu-kun wrote: Also, some of the projects released here simply aren't worth criticizing...
Sure. But then, if they're so meaningless that nothing constructive can be said about them, then probably nothing can be said about them at all. So why do we still see "good work!", "this was awesome!", etc.?
Samu-kun wrote: Now Jake, what kept you from critiquing the games you played, hmmm?
I was too busy banging my girlfriend.

Some games, I've given what I think is useful feedback on. Others, I was too lazy, or (more often) didn't even play the thing in the first place. But "being too lazy" is an honest reason; "giving feedback isn't worthwhile because the product is finished" is at best a terrible excuse, at worst downright unhelpful because it might discourage others from giving feedback as well.
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Re: BTW #3

#20 Post by delta » Thu Jul 30, 2009 9:26 am

I don't usually give critique for these reasons:

1. Going into a thread full of praise and completely ripping the piece apart seems gratuitous.
2. I usually drop bad games like a hot potato and I don't want to critique something I didn't even see fully.
3. Often, I think critique is pointless because the persons responsible just can't do any better, if if you tell them.
The rest is left as an exercise for the reader.

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Re: BTW #3

#21 Post by pinkmouse » Thu Jul 30, 2009 9:49 am

Jake wrote:
pinkmouse wrote: However, there is no "one size fits all" level of criticism that will help everybody.
Sure, and I've thoroughly advocated the "encourage someone when they start, and start to pick apart more and more things the more they improve" approach in the past - including more than once arguments with people (*cough*A22*cough*) who seem to believe that it's a good idea to savage someone as hard as you can right from the word 'go', and thus only the thick-skinned should ever create anything.

But while critique should be carefully metered where possible, that's not an excuse for not giving it at all.
I disagree. I think a good principle is "first, do no harm."

Badly judged, over-harsh critique does do harm. I think it's perfectly valid to say to yourself "this game has flaws, but I don't have the time/energy to sit down and write a good, diplomatic critique; therefore I will say nothing."
Jake wrote: No, I'm saying how the lack of critique comes across, not what PyTom specifically said.

And honestly, I wonder if you're thinking of the same forum. The problem isn't that people's works are generally ignored and nobody gives any feedback at all - the problem is that people only ever give positive, encouraging feedback and very, very rarely anything constructive.
If you are implying that to be constructive, feedback must draw the artist's attention to a deficiency, I disagree. It is also constructive to point to something that someone does well, and say "hey, keep doing that - I like it."

I think that you're also conflating two different kinds of responses. Constructive feedback and, well let's call it "squee".

If we're talking about a commercial VN, then the creator(s) are rewarded by people planking down hard, cold cash. But hobbyists don't get that - I see squee as the hobbyist's equivalent of cash rewards. It's a thank-you and an encouragement to produce more free works.

If people work hard in their spare time, and find that their game is released to deafening silence, then they're much less likely to release another. They may work on another for their own enjoyment, but release it? Why bother?

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Re: BTW #3

#22 Post by pinkmouse » Thu Jul 30, 2009 10:11 am

delta wrote:I don't usually give critique for these reasons:

1. Going into a thread full of praise and completely ripping the piece apart seems gratuitous.
2. I usually drop bad games like a hot potato and I don't want to critique something I didn't even see fully.
3. Often, I think critique is pointless because the persons responsible just can't do any better, if if you tell them.
"Ripping the piece apart" is not so much gratuitous as counter-productive IMHO - see my post above.

Anyway, the trouble with an "all or nothing" approach is that quite often all is too much and nothing is no help. Why not find one thing you liked about the game and one thing you didn't, and post that?

"I liked Maisie's costume: I thought all the folds were particularly well drawn, but I found it difficult to see if she was smiling or frowning. Perhaps next time you'd consider making the expressions bigger, or having a head-shot next to the dialogue?" or whatever.

A specific comment like that will necessarily refer to the part of the game you saw. Why should not having seen other parts of the game invalidate that comment? A small comment like the example is what, five minutes of typing time?

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Re: BTW #3

#23 Post by delta » Thu Jul 30, 2009 10:21 am

I find cherry-picking small, insignificant parts of a game and highlighting them when the rest is too bad to even think about highly dishonest.
The rest is left as an exercise for the reader.

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Re: BTW #3

#24 Post by Jake » Thu Jul 30, 2009 10:36 am

pinkmouse wrote: I disagree. I think a good principle is "first, do no harm."
Um... how is this significantly different from what I said?
pinkmouse wrote: I think that you're also conflating two different kinds of responses. Constructive feedback and, well let's call it "squee".
No, I'm not. I'm implying that most of the time, we see what you call 'squee' and nothing else.

I've not got anything in particular against the 'squee', and I agree - it can be encouraging. What I don't like is that generally, we see the 'squee' to the near- or absolute exclusion of all else. Honestly, it seems like 95% of the members here are afraid to suggest improvements or point out flaws.

'Squee', as you put it, only has a very short-term benefit; it makes the creator happy briefly. Often only until the next time someone says "I didn't like it". Good advice about how to improve their skills has a benefit to the creator for the rest of their life.

If this community is a creative community with integrity, it has to help its members grow instead of coddling them for all eternity and telling them that it's fine for them to stay as children and never worry about the real world. And you help people grow by encouraging the things they do well and pointing out the things they don't get right, so that they can actually improve.
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Re: BTW #3

#25 Post by papillon » Thu Jul 30, 2009 10:54 am

I find cherry-picking small, insignificant parts of a game and highlighting them when the rest is too bad to even think about highly dishonest.
Enh, I disagree, I think it's better than nothing. Over at ye olde GMC, the things which get the most commentary are the really popular goodies and the really atrocious crap that people love to mock. Most games are just massively, massive mediocre, and a lot of them sink to the bottom with no comments, especially during the in-progress stage.

Occasionally I dig up one of these no-reply-ever threads to try and be helpful. Download their game, and can't force myself to play for more than a minute because it's just uninspired crap.

But if I can think of ONE THING that they might change in the future, their next work might be that little bit better, and enough of these little bit betters might eventually build up to make their work playable. Or even just the different perspective of someone pointing out that something could be done differently might help them look at their creation in a new light and come up with lots of better ideas.

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Re: BTW #3

#26 Post by delta » Thu Jul 30, 2009 11:54 am

The highlighting isn't the problem, it's the lack of pointing out that the rest sucked. If I were to point out the good thing, I'd definitely also point out the flaws or at least generally saying that it wasn't good. I just don't want to leave the impression that I liked it when I didn't. Because that is much more counterproductive than anything else.
The rest is left as an exercise for the reader.

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Re: BTW #3

#27 Post by Samu-kun » Thu Jul 30, 2009 4:21 pm

Meh, well I doubt anyone will stop making what you refer to the "squee" comments then. I know I don't make those comments, and you don't either, but I don't see any way to keep other people from making them. If anything, I trust that the creator in question is intelligent enough to differentiate between the majority of the people who're just praising your work without question and the few that offer constructive criticism.

As for constructive criticism, it looks like we all have our reasons why we never do it, so it's not really surprising when it rarely happens. So stop banging your girlfriend being lazy and get to work!

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Re: BTW #3

#28 Post by Wintermoon » Thu Jul 30, 2009 9:49 pm

Jake wrote:Sure. But then, if they're so meaningless that nothing constructive can be said about them, then probably nothing can be said about them at all. So why do we still see "good work!", "this was awesome!", etc.?
Praise is easy; criticism is hard.

I try to give at least one bit of constructive criticism for every VN that I read. I often fail because I honestly don't know how to improve it, because I can't think of a way to phrase my criticism diplomatically, because I don't feel confident in my own criticism, because I feel that it's all been said before in previous comments in the thread, or because I feel that the project (and possibly the author) is a lost cause.

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Re: BTW #3

#29 Post by Guest » Fri Jul 31, 2009 5:41 am

Samu-kun wrote:In fact, the latest project that I want to actually criticize, the Cute, Light, and Fluffy Project, I've been holding off on mostly because I was involved with the project and it'll be weird if I were to actually criticize it... I mean, it feels too much like criticizing my own project, so I'm kinda at a loss to what I should do... @_@
Use anonymous/guest posting. With this, people will pay attention to the content of your post instead of your identity (being an oldfag; 4 digits post count; status within LSF community; your involvement with certain project; your personal relationship with specific user). You don't need to think too hard with diplomacy, instead you can focus on writing a honest critique if you're being anonymous. This could work as long as the recipient assume good faith, instead of treating all guest posts as potential trolling.

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Re: BTW #3

#30 Post by pinkmouse » Fri Jul 31, 2009 5:55 am

Jake wrote:
pinkmouse wrote: I disagree. I think a good principle is "first, do no harm."
Um... how is this significantly different from what I said?
Well I interpreted:
Jake wrote:But while critique should be carefully metered where possible, that's not an excuse for not giving it at all.
to mean that it's always helpful to give some feedback rather than no feedback. I can see your point, but I think this ignores the damage "bad" (i.e. badly phrased/judged) criticism can do.

But yeah, I take your point - this is a difference in emphasis rather than two wildly different positions.

It also occurred to me last night that I have different criteria depending on whether the author has invited "comments & criticism" or not.

Jake wrote: Good advice about how to improve their skills has a benefit to the creator for the rest of their life.
Agreed - if that advice is phrased in a way that allows the author to hear it. Otherwise; well see my earlier comments about wasting time and crushing people's confidence.
Jake wrote: If this community is a creative community with integrity, it has to help its members grow instead of coddling them for all eternity and telling them that it's fine for them to stay as children and never worry about the real world. And you help people grow by encouraging the things they do well and pointing out the things they don't get right, so that they can actually improve.
Again, agreed. Nurturing talent requires both positive and negative feedback, in the right amounts and at the right time. But it's hard enough for a teacher to do that in a face-to-face situation with all the benefits of instantaneous feedback and nonverbal communication.

We only have text - a medium that is comparatively impoverished, non-simultaneous, and so is notorious for generating misunderstandings. So caution and moderation are more important when making critical remarks than when passing compliments since as you point out, compliments have a shorter period of effect.

So, in the spirit of doing something positive:

I promise that where a poster explicitly states "comments & criticism welcomed" (or a similar invitation) I'll move them to the top of my "people to respond to when I've got the time/energy" list.

Whether my comments will turn out to be useful - well I make no promises about that! But you'll get an honest effort. :mrgreen:

(Say something useful? Hah! It's taken me four goes to get the attributions right!)

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