Sometimes I like to write about game design and development in general. This isn’t necessary directly Wayward-specific, but the content pertains to my feelings and choices on developing Wayward. Hopefully it’s useful to some game developers out there.
When you put something out there for consumption, people will hopefully comment and respond. The content of that response can be negative or extremely positive. The people that feel somewhere in the middle don’t usually comment. People that play and feel positively about a game usually don’t respond in any way either – it’s only the people that sit somewhere above that in their feelings for your game.
Take that in contrast with negativity. The threshold for negative comments set a very low bar. It’s easy to say: “sucks”, “terrible interface”, “bad graphics”, “boring and stupid”. It’s also easy to read these and dismiss them entirely as they don’t actually criticize anything. There’s nothing you can take away from it.
But sometimes, negative comments and feedback are good, meaningful, and important. That’s the best kind.
The difference between a good game designer/developer and a bad one is listening to criticism and improving your product.
Most People Don’t Know What Beta Means
The majority of people don’t know or don’t care that you game is beta and will take it at face value. People are used to playing games that are released as finished products. The concept of playing something that is unfinished is generally a foreign concept, especially outside of the computer gaming world.
What can you do to solve this? You need to convey that this is a pre-release to the player. You also need to provide a proper feedback-loop. Make sure you can report bugs easily. Make sure your game is playable and visual presentable. Otherwise, expect a higher ratio for that negative feedback. Sometimes it’s a necessary evil to get your game out there to get the criticism you need, even if it’s not exactly ready. I would recommend testing with a smaller group of people at the start.
I get so sick of these games. Promise a great, immersive, deep system, and then slap the shiattiest graphics and gameplay you can on it, and top it all off with a zero learning curve…
I probably would have enjoyed this back when DOS was new and shiny, but these days I expect the Aspie code monkeys to actually talk to some graphics and game designers to make sure the game looks and plays as well as the crafting system works.
This player didn’t consider the game was a beta or that the game/gameplay was intentionally, aesthetically, retro. Most people would consider this type of thing a “troll” comment considering he even begins using personal attacks. Not cool man! You can expect these thoughts from most players, even if they aren’t this harsh or vocal about it.
That being said, is there something you can take away from this? Absolutely. In this case, it would be a hint at improving the interface. The rest of it is mostly subjective and opinionated. You can’t please every one after all. 8-bit all the way!
Most People Don’t Understand What Alternative Game Mechanics Are
Making a niche game? Using mechanics and gameplay that are foreign in comparison to mainstream gaming? You are automatically setting yourself up for negativity in some form or the other.
I wandered around for 5 minutes, occasionally running into animals and killing them. Then I came here to see if anyone else had the slightest fucking idea what I was supposed to do or what the point of the game was. Then I closed the game and did something that made sense to me.
You could apply this quote to any open-ended, free-form game. You can expect this to be a common feeling as well. Most games provide direction and goals from the get go. Is it impossible to do the opposite? No, but don’t expect everybody to “get” your crazy-out-there game concepts.
Again, you can’t please everybody. But even this comment provides some value in improving user-experience.
Why Release a Beta?
To get feedback. To get the harshest of the harsh comments, to use that and make your game better. To give yourself a boost if you have spent too long developing and not enough time soaking in the enjoyment you are giving to players. To create an initial community. All these reasons and more is why it’s a good idea for large-scope games.
Don’t be angry or frustrated, learn from your mistakes, and improve your game.
Obviously these ideas and theories are not a catch-all. I mean, this all could fail miserably for a commercial project. Or not work at all for smaller, less involved games.