Giving response to bad game with good effort?

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Elmiwisa
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Giving response to bad game with good effort?

#1 Post by Elmiwisa » Sat Aug 31, 2013 8:10 am

Sometimes games are bad because there are little effort being put in. Maybe there simply isn't enough time, maybe the creator simply did not care, or perhaps you have a different idea from the creator of what make a good game and thus the effort are spent on a different aspect.
And then, there are games that are bad, and yet it is clear that the game involve disproportionate deal of efforts. The artwork might be very detailed, the story is very long, the music is composed, and there might be a whole cast of voice actors. Perhaps the WIP thread have been constantly updated for over a year too. Yet the game fall short, for various reasons, sometimes even fundamentally flawed. The game might have premise that drive always almost everyone, the story might be bland, dull and cliche, the characters might be uninteresting, the music might sound like an airhorn in your ears, and perhaps the game mechanics (say in a simulation game) might be poorly designed and unintuitive.
If the game is bad because of poor effort, I would have no issues with leaving a negative feedback. However, if the game is bad despite a lot of effort, I felt very torn. :cry:

So the question is, if after you play a completed game you find that it is bad despite a lot of effort into it, do you...
-Not saying anything?
-Belittle the creator for their misguided effort?
-Just straight up lying and praise it to spare their feeling?
-Try to find what is still good to praise and ignore the rest?
-Or something else...
And why? Please take into account various factors such as the price (free/cheap/expensive), the amount of attention and hype the game already had (little/lots;positive/negative), the personality of the creator, what others had said about the game, and such. :idea:
Also, give examples of games that are bad despite good efforts if you have any.

EDIT: also assume that there is an easy way to give feedback (ie. the creator check their Completed Games thread constantly).
Last edited by Elmiwisa on Sat Aug 31, 2013 8:31 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Giving response to bad game with good effort?

#2 Post by Googaboga » Sat Aug 31, 2013 8:25 am

If I'm being perfectly honest, I normally don't say anything at all v.v. I am not confident in my skills to give constructive criticism but I wouldn't want to ignore the issues of the game and only praise it. I know I should work on being more helpful in that regard but either way that is the truth of the matter right now.

However, I luckily haven't played many games I thought were bad that had a lot of effort put into them. Plus most of the time they were commercial games made by a company and it would require going seriously out of the way to get my opinion to the creators themselves.
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Re: Giving response to bad game with good effort?

#3 Post by azureXtwilight » Sat Aug 31, 2013 9:08 am

I'm not exactly saying a game as "bad" because I don't like it, unless it's full of bugs and downright insulting. Some games might not be my cup of tea, but don't necessarily be bad.

The main rule of feedback is giving the game pros and cons, tell them what's good (Oh come on, having the idea of giving some voice acting is already a plus!), and tell them what's bad. However people in the internet has lost their decency these days and go straight on "it's awful ugh".

Also I tend to give mercy to cheap/free games, especially free games. These people didn't get any profit, and made this for fun. Bashing the things people are giving us for free is awful, since you don't give them anything in return anyway.
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Re: Giving response to bad game with good effort?

#4 Post by Katta » Sat Aug 31, 2013 9:12 am

I don't say anything, because tastes differ. I just note to myself that this person finds other things interesting and I shouldn't buy/play other games from this creator. I don't believe that people are ready to put so much effort into something they think is bad themselves, so there's no point in saying something as it's not likely they'll change their view to mine.
Another case may be when the creators see the flaws themselves, but don't know how to fix them/are not ready to spend even more time fixing and decide to release the game anyway, in this case I also don't say anything, because they know everything themselves. Of course I can't know for sure, but that seems to be the case with Heartstring Bugs.
My opinion about negative feedback in general is mostly that it does nothing but upset other people and that's not my intention, so why bother.

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Re: Giving response to bad game with good effort?

#5 Post by Elmiwisa » Sat Aug 31, 2013 10:25 am

Let me clarify something. When I said it is bad, I means of course it is bad to the intended audience. So if you play the game, and you are an intended audience and dislike it, or you think that the general intended audience would dislike it. This definition is so that the effect of personal taste is minimal and what that is called "bad" can be effectively said to be objectively bad. Between salty popcorn and sugary popcorn, that would be taste. Between salty popcorn and popcorn burnt into charcoal, that would be quality.
For example, if you have a slasher themed VN, even if has no fantastic elements, it is still fine for the villain to teleport off-screen to maximize the drama. But if it is a murder mystery VN, and the supposed culprit could only perform the act by teleportation, that is going to be a major flaw. Similarly, a thriller VN can get away with a single romantic element in the denouncement, but the lack of build up won't sit well if it were to be a romantic VN.
Same thing for game mechanics. Having player to keep track of 100 stats while attempting to obtain a friendship ending in a slice-of-life stats raising sims is probably not going to sit well. But that would be acceptable if it is a RPG with lots of characters.
Or perhaps the UI. A VN can easily get away with a minimal UI consisting of a single basic textbox and regular buttons for menu, but a stats raising sims need a decent UI to convey the stats and the calendar to the player.

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Re: Giving response to bad game with good effort?

#6 Post by Katta » Sat Aug 31, 2013 11:22 am

Well, of course when the game is buggy or the text is illiterate it is objectively bad, but the game you described as being put a lot of effort in wouldn't have that, unless the team is not able to fix it. Everyone can miss a typo or two and I don't regard reporting it as negative feedback.
But when it comes to gameplay and story I think it's really difficult to distinguish bad and personal taste.

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Re: Giving response to bad game with good effort?

#7 Post by Applegate » Sat Aug 31, 2013 11:47 am

I tend to get really excited about a game which clearly has a lot of effort put into it, but then I start reading and I lose all interest. In my case, I tend just to not post about it at all and quietly beat a retreat from the thread.

It'd be a different case if the creator asked for feedback, but even then I'm hesitant; I mean, amateur game-makers, writers and artists tend to be somewhat hard-headed at times, and it's really difficult to get through to them. I remember this one game where, set in socially strict Japan, there were parents who wished their daughter were never born but had no issue giving a key of their home to their daughter's cross-dressing friend.

That the cross-dresser was regarded so normally and treated so warmly contrasted heavily with the setting, but when pointed out the commenter was attacked for it. Honestly, LemmaSoft doesn't strike me as the place where you give honest feedback or point out critical flaws. It's a place where you tell people what they did well and praise that, we gloss over what went wrong. (Unless it's a community-bashing, as with "Day of Vampire Love".)

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Re: Giving response to bad game with good effort?

#8 Post by AWSalmon » Sat Aug 31, 2013 12:21 pm

Not saying anything or beating around the bush isn't going to make anyone a better developer. If you play a game and think the plot is weak or the characters contradictory, tell them. Don't be a jerk, there's no reason to be disrespectful about it, but tell them how they could have done better. Even if they totally flip out when they read or respond to your comments, hopefully they'll learn from it. If they don't, well... Too bad for them.

But you're not helping anyone by staying silent or ignoring the problems.
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Re: Giving response to bad game with good effort?

#9 Post by TrickWithAKnife » Sat Aug 31, 2013 12:49 pm

To be honest, I'm not giving negative feedback unless the devs request it. Even then, I'll check what kind of negative feedback they want, and how strongly.

Not everyone wants to hear about flaws in what they made. And even for those that do, they may be interested in very particular feedback, such as bugs or spelling errors.
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Re: Giving response to bad game with good effort?

#10 Post by LateWhiteRabbit » Sat Aug 31, 2013 1:38 pm

Applegate wrote: It'd be a different case if the creator asked for feedback, but even then I'm hesitant; I mean, amateur game-makers, writers and artists tend to be somewhat hard-headed at times, and it's really difficult to get through to them. .... Honestly, LemmaSoft doesn't strike me as the place where you give honest feedback or point out critical flaws. It's a place where you tell people what they did well and praise that, we gloss over what went wrong.
This is generally my experience. I tend to keep my head down and pass by when creator's ask for feedback and I didn't find the game very good. Too often they don't mean, "Tell me what I can improve" and instead mean "Don't be shy about telling me how much you love my stuff".

I also have a tendency not to "sandwich" critiques. If I can't find something I genuinely thought was good about the work to praise, I'm not going to pick some pleasant non-offensive aspect of the work to pad the things I point out as bad or needing improvement. It comes from my experience giving and receiving group critiques in art school - no one has time to wait while people desperately seek out something to praise when everyone can immediately pick out the one thing about a work that is driving them nuts. It is an understanding that if no one said your anatomy or colors are bad, then congratulations - those things are good or acceptable.

But many amateurs act like you've physically assaulted them if you point out their anatomy is wonky, or that they need to look up story structure. So if I think something is truly bad, I just won't say anything. However, if I see potential and talent and the person is just making some basic mistakes, I'll speak up. Or, you know, if an amateur of any talent or skill level has proven they can take criticism and apply it, I'll give advice and analysis. But life is too short to try and help people that don't want it - or say they do, but never apply any of the critiques you give. People are free to ignore any critiques, but don't expect to get any more if you do.

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Re: Giving response to bad game with good effort?

#11 Post by trooper6 » Sat Aug 31, 2013 2:02 pm

Elmiwisa wrote: So the question is, if after you play a completed game you find that it is bad despite a lot of effort into it, do you...
-Not saying anything?
-Belittle the creator for their misguided effort?
-Just straight up lying and praise it to spare their feeling?
-Try to find what is still good to praise and ignore the rest?
-Or something else...
None of these option work for me. But let's back up one more step. Who is the feedback for?

I write feedback differently depending on if I'm writing a review of a game aimed at prospective buyers/players or if I'm writing feedback for the creator, or if I'm writing a more literary critical essay aimed at other nerds like me.

If I am writing a review for prospective audiences, then my purpose is to give people information on if they should play/buy his game as it currently exists.

If I am am writing feedback for the author, then my purpose is help the author make a better game next time (or to make this particular game better if that is still possible), or at least to give the author information about audience perceptions.

If I am writing a literary critical essay, then I trying to make a larger philosophical/cultural/historical argument about the game.

In none of those instances would it be appropriate to belittle someone or to lie. I actually don't think it is ever appropriate to do those things.

In a review, I want to let people know what the game is about, what it is trying to do, how successful it is at doing it, and who I think might want to play the game (if anyone). A review might end up being harsh, but in this case, my responsibility is to the prospective buyer, not the creator. That said, even in a negative review, I would want to remain professional and fair.

In feedback to the creator, I am am wanting to give the author constructive criticism. I want to be fair, kind, helpful, and honest. My responsibility is to the creator and to bettering the game.

In a literary critical essay, my point is not to say if I like it or not, but to analyze something historical/cultural/aesthetic/philosophical and say something illuminating and larger. My responsibility is to society.

So...be a good human being, be professional, fulfilling your responsibility...those are all my guidelines when I sit down to write something.

Lastly, I also have to ask this one last question...is it worth my time? If there is a game that I don't think is successful in any way, I must ask, do I have a responsibility to spend my limited time writing up something (which will take a lot of time and thought)? At this point in time, I'm still working on my tenure book, and I have articles I'm still working on, I have classes I have to prep for and grading to do. And I'm still working on my VN in whatever spare time I have. So I play a game I think is epically unsuccessful in doing what it is trying to do. Do I write something up? And in my experience, it is much more difficult and time consuming to write a negative, but constructive and professional critique than to write a positive review (where you can get a bit lazy without negative consequences).

If the game is free, I don't necessarily feel a responsibility to write a review for prospective customers.
If the creator doesn't want feedback, I don't necessarily feel a responsibility to write constructive criticism for the author.
If there is nothing really interesting to say about the work regardless of the quality. I don't feel any responsibility to society to write an academic essay about it.

But...here is the one caveat. For me, there is a difference between a game being unsuccessful and doing what it is trying to do, and a game that I think is offensive or harmful to society. If I think a game is offensive or harmful to society, then I do feel I have a larger responsibility to those being harmed by the game to say something. And when I do, I feel I need to do so, as always, ethically and professionally.
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Re: Giving response to bad game with good effort?

#12 Post by trooper6 » Sat Aug 31, 2013 2:08 pm

LateWhiteRabbit wrote: I also have a tendency not to "sandwich" critiques.

Or, you know, if an amateur of any talent or skill level has proven they can take criticism and apply it, I'll give advice and analysis. But life is too short to try and help people that don't want it - or say they do, but never apply any of the critiques you give. People are free to ignore any critiques, but don't expect to get any more if you do.
I want to say two things about this.

1) I generally sandwich my critiques because that is how I was taught to do critiques. I also think it is an important exercise. If you can't find something positive in a piece of art, then that may be an indication that you as critic may not have objective goggles on, and might need to revisit.
2) As to the second point, I totally agree with you. Writing good, responsible critique takes a lot of time and effort. I am not going to spend all that energy on a person who doesn't want to hear it.

Unless, again, if I think the art is offensive or harmful.
Last edited by trooper6 on Sat Aug 31, 2013 5:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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*Last Thing Done (Aug 17): Finished coding emotions and camera for 4/10 main labels.
*Currently Doing: Coding of emotions and camera for the labels--On 5/10
*First Next thing to do: Code in all CG and special animation stuff
*Next Next thing to do: Set up film animation
*Other Thing to Do: Do SFX and Score (maybe think about eye blinks?)
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Re: Giving response to bad game with good effort?

#13 Post by papillon » Sat Aug 31, 2013 3:20 pm

If I can't think of both good and bad things to say about a work I don't say anything to the author at all. For one, it's possible that if I have nothing good to say about it, then I didn't get it at all, either because I drastically misinterpreted something or because it was aimed at people very, very unlike me. The same qualifies for if you're having to really stretch yourself to think of anything nice to say. For me that's a sign that I am not a useful person to be critiquing the work. I'm not close enough to the intended wavelength to give useful guidance.

However, there's a difference between communicating directly to an author and posting a review in a neutral space. Pull back from the viewpoint of VNs for a minute. It is sort of obnoxious for me to track down the author of a bad book I read and tell them in great detail everything I thought sucked about the book. It's entirely reasonable for me to blog about everything I thought sucked about the book.

It's not your job as a player to try and 'fix' everyone else's games (unless they specifically ask for it). Especially with a completed game, where no matter what you say, the author may have no intention of changing anything. With an in-progress work where they're responding to feedback and changing direction based on it, feedback is WAY more useful and important.

That doesn't mean you have to blindly praise games you don't like, or that you should never talk about game flaws. This community could use a lot more reviewers. But the place for a serious in-depth review is probably not the game's announcement thread, for a number of reasons.


As for the original question, if you wanted to, you could post exactly that - that you respect the work that went into it but you really don't like the end result - and if the author wants to know more details of why, they can ask?

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Re: Giving response to bad game with good effort?

#14 Post by Applegate » Sat Aug 31, 2013 4:38 pm

trooper6 wrote:
LateWhiteRabbit wrote:
Applegate wrote:I also have a tendency not to "sandwich" critiques.

Or, you know, if an amateur of any talent or skill level has proven they can take criticism and apply it, I'll give advice and analysis. But life is too short to try and help people that don't want it - or say they do, but never apply any of the critiques you give. People are free to ignore any critiques, but don't expect to get any more if you do.
I want to say two things about this.
I would appreciate if you didn't attribute LWR's words to me. :P The part under "Applegate wrote" is what LWR wrote, while I do sandwich critiques. It's because, on the internet, you have all the time in the world to come up with some positive attributes. I find that, in any case, if I need to grasp for good things to say, there's little reason for me to comment because odds are I never finished it anyway.

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Re: Giving response to bad game with good effort?

#15 Post by trooper6 » Sat Aug 31, 2013 5:46 pm

Applegate wrote: I would appreciate if you didn't attribute LWR's words to me. :P The part under "Applegate wrote" is what LWR wrote, while I do sandwich critiques. It's because, on the internet, you have all the time in the world to come up with some positive attributes. I find that, in any case, if I need to grasp for good things to say, there's little reason for me to comment because odds are I never finished it anyway.
Sorry about that! It was a quote tag error, and is now fixed!
A Close Shave:
*Last Thing Done (Aug 17): Finished coding emotions and camera for 4/10 main labels.
*Currently Doing: Coding of emotions and camera for the labels--On 5/10
*First Next thing to do: Code in all CG and special animation stuff
*Next Next thing to do: Set up film animation
*Other Thing to Do: Do SFX and Score (maybe think about eye blinks?)
Check out My Clock Cookbook Recipe: http://lemmasoft.renai.us/forums/viewto ... 51&t=21978

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