What's with this community anyway?

I've seen so many people get positive responses for sub par content and high praise for 'games' that barely at the proof of concept stage made in Game Maker (drag and drop). Yet an indie dev who codes, goes through the proper stages of production and publishing and actually makes complete games gets ripped a new one every time. Seriously, in my opinion this is either another 'buddie' system or a place that looks to reward people who are not serious about they do and punish those who are and are struggling to make it. Watch this get deleted in a flash and go ahead and ban me, in my opinion this community does more damage than good to the South-African indie game scene.

Comments

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    Sorry, what? If you have actual examples of what you're talking about, bring 'em.

    You don't know how many have passed trough here and said people are too harsh on them, do you?

    I'd love to see who you've judged as "not serious about what they do" and who you've judged as those "who are". If you're serious about any of this, bring actual examples, let's talk in the open. Like real people do. Please don't come in with a dummy account with one single inflammatory post like this.
  • Hmm. I think there's some validity to the observation, but I find its conclusion to be rather ignorant. I know that I quite consciously put on a different feedback hat when I'm looking at something that's a prototype or experiment compared to something that's trying to be published, trying to run a Kickstarter, or some other form of becoming a business. And I think that that's a good thing.

    If someone's going "through the proper stages of production and publishing and actually makes complete games", then I treat them as a professional who's hoping to make a financially successful product. They're investing significant time and resources into creating something in a sea of other products, and competing with hundreds of thousands of other games for visibility, appeal, engagement. At that point, I don't think what they need is encouragement -- the last thing I want to do is see a game that doesn't stand out, and encourage them to continue throwing time and money at what I believe is effectively a bad business decision.

    It's completely different for someone who's a hobbyist, or a student, or even a professional who's in the nascent stages of an idea. They're not trying to make money out of this, so the stakes are much lower. Talking about "sub-par" for them is bullshit, because just having fun making games, learning new things, exploring, is already a success. For them, I don't believe criticism is as useful. I might still point out things I don't enjoy, but for the most part it's more about fostering the joy of learning and experimentation.

    There's a big difference between a hobbyist and someone who's trying to sell a product, both in mindset and what kinds of feedback are useful for them. To treat them the same way would be terrible for them both; it could destroy a hobbyist's enthusiasm, and it could bankrupt a professional.
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    Yeah, I mostly agree with @Elyaradine's point. That the context of a prototype and a finished product are different.

    I'm often really unsure what to say to a person who has released a game. I don't see a lot of use in giving them criticism at that stage, and I tend to offer praise as a way to make the criticism easier to hear.

    I guess I'm saying, I don't see myself as praising prototypes, so much as offering enthusiastic criticism.

    Also, I basically don't play games that require me to install something on my phone. I don't know if I'm alone in this, but I'm most inclined to play something that is playable in a browser (as I'm viewing this page from a browser already).

    That said, I do think there's a problem with how this community responds to finished games that pop up.

    Like this recent post, it's literally posted in the welcome thread, which actually angers me. It feels like marketing, it feels like this person is using the community to get downloads.
    Triogaimtrix said:
    yo mates, please do download our game at this link http://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.smxama.Ttheadventureofmarble and please do give feedback for it will rather help us to improve our games. Thanks
    But, at the same time, this person asked for our help, and despite doing so in a very spammy way (this kind of post is indistinguishable from spam coming from a bot trying to get extra downloads), we didn't give any feedback.

    Which is a problem I think.

    But that said, I'm just not sure I want to spend my energy offering feedback to people who have already released their game and are more likely not to use the feedback.

    So I'm going to continue selecting for the games that appear most likely not to waste my time. I just cannot offer feedback on every game on these forums (I help run a 15 person games studio on top of programming and designing games).



  • @EvanGreenwood just for reference in that case specifically, it clearly _was_ spam. The same link (and about the same text) was added to half a dozen existing threads, instead of the poster creating a thread for the game.

    Your point is absolutely still valid of course. Just because the community is most effective with feedback in early stages of development, doesn't mean we cant give constructive criticism on already released products. Patches are a thing after all.

    And @Elyaradine's point is (as usual) very well made. The feedback needs to be appropriate to the context and stage of development. Near finished/released products _should_ be criticised with the expectation that they're polished
    Thanked by 1AngryMoose
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    Yeah.

    Though there is a problem with treating every finished game as if it should be a finished project. In the cases where the developer has no intention of getting feedback during the process (which I believe to be a misguided approach), and the developer makes a series of small games which they immediately put on Google Play, then the only feedback that developer ever gets from fellow developers is how their game(s) stack up against their successful competitors.

    Obviously I don't believe that's an optimal approach to learning how to make games. But it is one that seems to happen.

    So maybe we should treat all games as if they were still prototypes?

    Though I guess there's still the time issue. That forum users quite reasonably don't want to spend time giving feedback if there's little chance it'll be implemented. And if developers aren't gearing their process in a way that makes them ideal recipients of feedback, then maybe it's fair that those games struggle to get feedback?

    Particularly in the cases where developers expect feedback but never offer it, I have little sympathy if those developers' achievements are met with silence.
    Thanked by 1critic
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    Just wanna enforce the above post by @EvanGreenwood, I was one of those devs that just popped in here from time to time and dumped a finished Android game or even a fully featured 4x that was released on Steam. After sticking around a bit, it's evident that feedback is much more useful when you haven't implemented most of the features.

    TBH, this was a very hostile place for me, there might have been other politics related things happening here and the community came across as very hard. The sentiment the OP is feeling sure as hell can feel real when you look at it from a different perspective.

    One of the major hurdles for me was perceiving feedback as negative, when TBH, the more criticism you get on your prototype, the better off you are. This isn't something that changes overnight, it really is a different mindset.

    ATM I try to give feedback on any game that is posted here, however I somewhat stray away from finished games and games that come across as wanting marketing. It just feels like the person doesn't really want to hear feedback, on top of that I fear that if criticism is given to someone with those intentions, they will take that as an offense.

    As was already mentioned there is also some intrinsic process involved when dealing with a hobbyist vs a commercial product, somehow encouraging a hobbyist that is looking for feedback comes across as natural.
  • I can see how you could get to that conclusion and I sympathize.

    This is a small community, but I have always considered it useful and fair.

    The best kind of criticism to receive as a creative is either negative (but constructive) or total silence however hard it may be to swallow. Hell why post here in the first place if one isn't willing to take that?

    There's a lot of experience in these forums and it's best to consider it rather than seeking justification for not getting a positive response.

    Are there friends on here supporting each other's work? Sure, why not? If you make a compelling game/prototype, there will be positive feedback and encouragement from many. If not, the work created might just not be good enough and one has to accept and move on.

    Don't pressure yourself so much, it a difficult industry to be successful in and this community is a good barometer for your work. There are many many people here that are in exactly the same boat as you and want to be successful at making games too.
    Thanked by 2Elyaradine FanieG
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    I feel like we really, really, really should codify the expected codes of conducts of this forum (everything we spoke about above) and put it somewhere, clearly, prominently. Then, instead of this very same issue coming up over and over and over and everyone typing out exactly the same thing 50 times in 50 ways, we can just point people at it and say please regard these points.

    Bonus points for saying it nicely, but the basics needs to be short and succinct. And if we can show that the advice is sincere rather than "READ THE FORUM RULES" then that's even bigger bonus points. We can figure out a way to do it.

    We've been saying this for EVER and by gods if we never get it done we're all wasting our time repeating this same loop over and over and over groundhog style.
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    Here is my point of view on what I personally experienced on this forum.
    • There definitely does feel like the more active members are giving more detailed feedback to other active members compared to the feedback that less active members are getting.
    • Where I personally experienced it where I was a bit sad about it. Free Lives competition where we made a zombie game and the prize we were looking forward to get was the judges to comment on our game and give us feedback. Ended up almost giving up on gamedev.
    It's not the fault of the judges but it does feel like a lot of time and effort put in that was for nothing. Then you go waste another year before that on gamedev (and suck at it), make no cash and feel even more demotivated. The freelives comp game we made

    I got over it, realised feedback is just a bonus and that all motivation and drive should come from the inner self BUT it does fuel the motivation if people comment on our games :)
  • edited
    [edit: shuffled some stuff around to hopefully make more sense]
    Zaphire said:
    [*] There definitely does feel like the more active members are giving more detailed feedback to other active members compared to the feedback that less active members are getting.
    Do you think this is intrinsically wrong? This being a community and not some kind of feedback machine, people, and we're not talking about some ominous elder body here, but individuals, are always going to prioritise giving back to those who gave. And rightly so. We all still do give plenty of time to people who aren't as active, but really, that CANNOT be an expectation, but a bonus.

    See it from the other perspective and it makes perfect sense. Given limited time, it's only natural. It would be great if we all had unlimited time and unlimited resource. But we don't. So we engage with what makes most sense to each of us personally.

    I for one would like people who want to get out to put in as much. That would really be the ideal solution. The ideal solution is not to demand the most active community members to give more time to those who aren't.
    [*] Where I personally experienced it where I was a bit sad about it. Free Lives competition where we made a zombie game and the prize we were looking forward to get was the judges to comment on our game and give us feedback. Ended up almost giving up on gamedev.

    It's not the fault of the judges but it does feel like a lot of time and effort put in that was for nothing. Then you go waste another year before that on gamedev (and suck at it), make no cash and feel even more demotivated. The freelives comp game we made

    I got over it, realised feedback is just a bonus and that all motivation and drive should come from the inner self BUT it does fuel the motivation if people comment on our games :)
    I'm not saying in the context of the freelives jam, that those who aren't active wouldn't or shouldn't win - I'm 100% sure that there was no bias of that sort in their judging. They get nothing out of congratulating people who don't deserve it.

    Yeah, I'm sorry that making games is hard (not sarcastic). I'm in the same boat, have been for a LONG LONG TIME. A year? Imagine being active here, contributing, AND STILL sucking at it. Making no cash, etc. I designed the logo since day 1. I've been here LONG.

    I've had PLENTY of games that I thought were cool/decent sink to the bottom of nowhere. Plenty. PLENTY. What I've learned is that it's not other people's fault when they're not super enthusiastic about my games. It's not their fault that I haven't made something commercially successful. They didn't sink my games. If/when I do make something good, it'll be recognised. But it's certainly not this community's fault that the games weren't successful.

    On the flip side, giving people positive reinforcement when the game isn't good is BAD. It makes them pour time into something that will be a waste of time.

    And then giving people honest feedback and criticism makes them sad. Or angry.

    Do you see the predicament that people here are in? Can't give good feedback, can't give bad feedback. So a lot of people end up saying nothing. I try my best to be honest but often that's not what people want to hear. I'm not the most diplomatic, but I always hope that I'm of help.
  • IMHO, I don't think this can be understated (it already been said in other words above, but I feel this is particularly clear and succinct):
    Tuism said:
    On the flip side, giving people positive reinforcement when the game isn't good is BAD. It makes them pour time into something that will be a waste of time.

    And then giving people honest feedback and criticism makes them sad. Or angry.

    Do you see the predicament that people here are in? Can't give good feedback, can't give bad feedback. So a lot of people end up saying nothing. I try my best to be honest but often that's not what people want to hear. I'm not the most diplomatic, but I always hope that I'm of help.
    This is part of the reason why I'm not as active on these forums as I used to be: I feel like negative feedback is frowned upon, even if it's as diplomatic and constructive as possible; even though negative feedback is usually the most useful feedback. There is a vocal group of ppl here that want everything to be positive, even if it's not really useful. This isn't just anecdotal, some of my posts have apparently been flagged for this, even though an explanation of what I could have done better was not really forthcoming...

    IMHO, the goal of these forums has become so multi-faceted and watered-down that it's lost a lot of its usefulness. It feels like it's more a place where people want a sense of belonging or positive reinforcement for their current actions, which is frankly not all that useful if your goal is to get better at making games. So personally I honestly don't feel like this is a super productive place for me to put my time into community work (so I generally elect so put it elsewhere, like the local meetups).

    It's also interesting to note that this is yet another thread where someone makes one drive-by comment and the community engages earnestly, but the OP never returns or replies, making most of the effort just fade into the aether... Here's a cynical thought: maybe we should rather cater to the community members that want to engage with the community and improve their craft, instead of those that are looking for a pat on the back? I'd wager that if that becomes the culture of the forums again it becomes a lot more useful for everyone, and those looking for a figurative pat on that back might even start to realise the benefit they could get if they engage.

    /rant
  • I think everything has been mentioned already in the above posts. But for interest sake how can you see if a game used drag n drop and not code? Should that even matter? Great code doesn't make a game great. It's just a means to an end. Even if someone used drag n drop, that person could still make an awesome game using good design principles.
  • I think that alot of games are subject to peoples personal tastes. but in the end you should get the same feedback as the amount of feedback you give. i personally almost always get pulled in by rpgs rather than action or platformers. but i still see, not only the quality of work that the dev is producing but also offer suggestions to the game even though i might not be a platformer kinda gamer, for example. there is more to a game than graphics, programming, or even story. the things we make are highly subjective, as with all forms of art. I suggest you get involved more with community members and give feedback more instead of standing at a distance. thats my 2 cents.
    Thanked by 1Tuism
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    Zaphire said:
    I got over it, realised feedback is just a bonus and that all motivation and drive should come from the inner self BUT it does fuel the motivation if people comment on our games :)
    Gosh, its really awful that the events in the last Free Lives jam were a demotivation to you. Obviously that wasn't our intention, we wouldn't want to demotivate anyone, but especially not members who participate here regularly and constructively. (There's no excuse, but that competition came at a difficult time for me time-wise, our team was heavily crunching on Genital Jousting which was going to be shown off at A MAZE the next month).

    In any case I'm sorry :(

    @flobar Personally I don't think it should matter how the game is constructed and how much effort was put into it. I think there are developers out there that believe that the more work they put into it (or the more challenge they set themselves) the more praise they should receive, but that's OBVIOUSLY a terrible philosophy if they're trying to make successful games ("successful" in any sense other than the amount of time spent on them or the amount of artificial difficulty they overcame).

    I guess if they're hobbyists, then maybe it doesn't matter if their game is ugly, and it matters more that they did something difficult?

    @FrancoisVN Yeah, these forums are a democracy with no leadership, so its naturally become a place that's tried to cater to everyone :/

    But if the forums aren't catering very well to the people putting energy into them, then they're going to die. I'd personally rather have this a place where I get maximum critical feedback, but I don't think that's in line with the goals of hobbyists.

    That said, Free Lives has outgrown the need to get most of my feedback on these forums. Free Lives is in a very privileged position to have many friends and fans and it makes things easy. And many of those friends were met on these forums and the associated meetups.

    So I'm not sure what's useful to me on these forums matters much anymore. Though even if I'm not getting much out, I'd want the work I put in to be the most useful to aspiring professional developers.

    What I want to ask is, could we even choose to cater to a specific set of needs (like focusing the community on exchanging constructive feedback) ?

    Is there any way to steer these forums towards that, and is there a way to decide (as a community) that that (or anything else) is what the majority wants?

    Like dividing the community up into hobbyist games, where they want encouragement, and professional and aspiring professional games, where they want criticism? (If that were done, I think it's likely that one side will die off, but by making that choice explicit they can get the style of engagement they want).

    Honestly, I feel like now that MakeGames on Facebook exists, there's no reason for this community to be a place that gives developers blanket praise and encouragement. Obviously I'm not saying this community should be unreasonably negative, but there are communities (like MGSA on Facebook) that aren't suited to giving critical feedback and are suited to giving praise.

    But I don't actually know what users here want and why they joined these forums... some kind of poll?
    Thanked by 1Tuism
  • While the idea of identifying people who "want praise" and the people who "want criticism" sounds like a great thing, I think it's pretty obvious if you ask anyone point blank what they want, they will NOT say "I want praise". They'll SAY they want fair criticism.

    But we continuously see that in practice, there are people who constantly display intolerance for fair criticism - or at least, they don't perceive what other people see as fair, as being fair.

    So I daresay that asking people what they want isn't really going to work. We'd have to suss out who wants what in some other way, whether it's self-selecting by some other well-presented and somewhat sneakily smart mechanism, or by getting to know them however we can (what we're doing now) (and has been really hard especially for people who just drop a thing and disappear forever) (and what has led us to become relatively quiet when it comes to facing unknown newcomers), it's a problem that needs more solving than a poll. I think.

    Though I also think that giving people the signal that there IS a difference between what a hobbyist might want or what a much further along gamedev might want might be beneficial by making people think about what they want for themselves, even if they're not going to answer it outwards.

    As an example - on arriving on mgsa.co.za, the first thing you see is "what are you looking for?" with answers
    "1. I want hardcore criticism so that I can better my project."
    "2. I want gentle guidance so I can learn more about gamedev." (fuck I don't even know how to word this in any way that doesn't sound lame and condescending)
  • edited
    Tuism said:
    While the idea of identifying people who "want praise" and the people who "want criticism" sounds like a great thing, I think it's pretty obvious if you ask anyone point blank what they want, they will NOT say "I want praise". They'll SAY they want fair criticism.)
    Agreed. Though I think if everyone expresses the idea that they want criticism it gives us a mandate to try forge that community, regardless of whether people are misrepresenting themselves.

    This is of course assuming that the community would do better to be more focussed. Like @francoisvn first suggested.

    But I do think it's a useful idea to let people somehow ask for strong criticism. I think they'll be more receptive to it if the context were more clear. And I think people like @francoisvn would be happier to offer constructive criticism if they weren't afraid they'd get accused of being negative.

  • edited
    @EvanGreenwood Given the scope of this kind of question, it's a problem that can't be tackled with a post or a sticky in a forum that noone will read. It will need to be embedded into the forum structure. Like a check box whenever any post is being made, like "give me the most critical feedback" or "be gentle, I'm a beginner". Even if very few people will ever check the second box, we will at least know that they more than likely have seen it, and it'll influence expectations.

    Short of that, I think we need a good front page, or a page about the expectations of this forum, like I ranted a few posts up.
  • @Tuism But without that post or sticky or whatever, do we have a mandate to make the changes your talking about?
  • edited
    @EvanGreenwood Mandate? What do you mean? Are you looking for some kind of vote? Some kind of democratic due process? How many times have the topic of improvements to this site come up? How many times have we circled this and then it fizzled out? I think we can interrogate why that happens. And try to stop that from repeating ad nauseum.
  • @Tuism Yes exactly that. We're a community. Even if this was discussed several times a year ago a few people don't get to just decide to change the way the community works now without consultation.

    And you know that it'll require upsetting people, because last time people said they'd do it they didn't. So people have to be asked to step aside, and you cannot do that without a mandate from the current community to do that. If you're going to hurt peoples' egos you have to have a thing to point to and say "This isn't just @Tuism and @EvanGreenwood, so far as we can tell the majority of the participating members of the community actually want this".

    That said, do you know if there's a reason other than empty promises it fizzled out? I thought there was some kind of leadership here. Do they not want it?

    I don't think it's a funds thing. I'm pretty certain it's an egos thing that all the plans have fizzled.


  • @EvanGreenwood From my view, these were the main reasons, in summary:
    1. Time. Talking about it and actually doing it are different things.
    2. Which leads to funding. If someone is getting paid to do it then great...
    3. ... but then someone still needs to call the shot of what gets done, and I know you guys graciously offered to pay for it, but then I feel it might have then become a matter of "okay so what does the ones who pay for it want", and then none of that was certain, and it just kinda fell off the map.

    So there's the thinking of what to do, then the implementation of what to do.

    I honestly don't know who runs MGSA anymore, in terms of leadership, which is somewhat distressing, but given the ego issues we've had before, I'm not surprised that whoever does run this doesn't want to broadcast it widely. And tbh I think it's for the best. It prevents ego bs challenges.

    But of course then when it comes to something like this, nothing moves because there's no head to move it :/

    And you're right about getting a consensus. It's been done several times. People who agree/disagree have said their piece, and I really don't think in the end there were much of a disagreement that something needs to change. I think the main disagreements came in the degree to which to reconstruct everything, and the problems that would add to the infrastructure.

    I'm keen to do a least-intrusive solution and go from there rather than sit on this for the rest of eternity.
  • edited
    @Tuism ... I really think some of the plans that have been spoken about before, with a homepage etc, everyone agreed on. Free Lives did offer to pay for it, but then I got the impression someone volunteered to do it for free and then didn't do it. Free Lives' instructions were "literally just do what the consensus is on this thread and we'll pay for it" and nothing happened.

    I think we can agree on what changes we want... which is really just writing something up (even just copy and pasting what was said before) and giving forum users the opportunity to disagree. In my mind there has been consensus in the past, but I think we at least need to get consensus again.

    And if we have consensus, with the help of the admin's here, we can hire a web developer and get the admin to give them backend access.

    There has been excellent work by volunteers in the past... @Roguecode has done a lot of work, @Elyaradine did some tests for different forum software, but it's WAY too big a job to be done by volunteers.

    Don't know if moving the forums to Discourse is still a thing that should be considered. I got the impression there was a lot of uncertainty around that, because it was such a huge tech jump in the backend, and probably a lot more expensive than modifying Vanilla. At the same time there were a lot of advantages to Discourse if it were to actually work.
  • @evangreenwood Yeah your description is accurate. I think that consensus wasn't solid enough, and there wasn't anyone who was responsible for executing it, and so everyone was waiting for someone else to do it.

    And yeah, you're right we need to get consensus again to prevent problems with people feeling like there was unilateral action taken with the community.

    And yes I agree that the job is way too big to be done by just volunteering time. And no I don't think that the move to Discourse was ever taken as a definitive good move. The main issue, I believe, was the migration of existing content that we have stored up in MGSA. And almost certainly many other small issues that I'm not familiar with.

    For me, the priority is to create something that heads off the community issues that keep coming up ad nauseum. That's all, everything else is second prize, and if we have only the resources and/or mandate to chase first prize, that's fine by me.
  • edited
    @Tuism Sounds like we have a plan :)

    ...I've got my hands full of genitals for the rest of this year. Perhaps early next year we can seek a clear consensus and then find someone to execute it. Unless you want to start sooner (in which case my hands are full of genitals for the time being).
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