Getting Needed Feedback

“A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Getting Needed Feedback

The World of Warcraft, owned by Blizzard, is a huge international business. They create games and they are very popular games. Because they continuously update and add to their games, they open forums to the public for feedback. I don’t know how many languages are supported but the game is popular everywhere; from the US to China to the EU to South America.

Typically, the designers will announce changes and open a forum page for feedback. For example, they might say, “We have made changes to the Hunter class. Play it on the Beta and then visit our forum to give us feedback”. It is not surprising that many of the comments are:

Yer game suxs.

The Moderator may respond that this is not constructive feedback. However, Blizzard does deserve that kind of response because their request is too broad and vague. Hunters have spell animations and hit points and armor sets and dance moves and damage cool downs. Way too much stuff. By opening a forum for feedback with no qualifiers they are either:

  1. Asking the Moderator to cull from the thousands of replies any that might be helpful and then forward them to the designers. An incredibly unwieldy way to work.
  2. They have no interest in any feedback but, instead, hope that by getting players to respond that they’ll feel more invested in the game.

Cynical, no?

To get needed feedback, there has to be a point to focus upon provided by the generator of the content. The reviewer then has been asked to look at a feature or facet of the product. And, the designer can safely zero in on the parts that is being worked on.

How many times have I been asked for feedback on created pieces; from writing to choreography to drawing to design? Without any thing specific to look at, I can only respond two ways:

  1. It’s good!
  2. Yer game sux.

You deserve either response. I have no choice to but answer either way or, I mean really, pick some random bit out of the content and point it out as lacking; pure guesswork and not very valuable. In the worse case, I’ll be forced to ask a follow-up question like, “what is your intention?”.

On the other hand, if you were to give me a short story and say that you were working on description or action or pronouns; then I have something to look at and respond.

Feedback is almost always about the technique side of work and the question should be in that area. Your content proper is none of my business, if you choose to write a story on Gnome Serial Killers; that is your business. You do not want to hear me suggest Gnome Serial Killers in Love.

Defining the feedback on your work also means that everything outside of that definition is out-of-bounds. If you ask for feedback on pacing and I tell you that Gnome Serial Killers is too bloody; it should be rejected as outside of the realm of the defined feedback. In other words, you protect yourself from random attacks on your work; especially true with many people responding.

Feedback from friends and experts is valuable. Fresh eyes on your work can give you fresh eyes. But, asking for feedback on a piece without defining parameters, I have to assume that you want me on the bandwagon for your journey and not really wanting true effort on my part. Golly, if you want a hug, say so!

Define what you need and ask for feedback. Then you can keep working on your project and change or improve the product.

My girlfriend used to hold up two dresses and ask me to pick the best for that evening. She always went with the one I did not choose. Smart girl.

4 thoughts on “Getting Needed Feedback

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