In lieu of a news post today (since there isn’t any news) I wanted to discuss a topic that can be almost universally applied to any game: How to Provide Feedback to Developers.
Unfortunately this is something that apparently a lot of people on the official forums don’t understand. While they may have an important point to make or topic to discuss, quite frequently what actually ends up in a forum post is almost worthless. To help other people understand how to provide good feedback – and thus improve the game as a whole – I’ve decided to write this little “guide”. For the past year and a half or so I’ve actually been kind of “cheating” in the sense that writing requirements documents for developers is my actual job. So theorycrafting and providing feedback to game developers is essentially the same as what I do for $$ – except for games. In this case WoW.
Basically I know what I’m doing.
Types of Feedback
There are two basic types of feedback a user (or player in this case) can offer: Subjective and Objective. Objective feeback will always be determined using the Scientific Method. That is anyone should be able to replicate the same results that you arrived at using the same variables. Some examples include:
- Derivation of AP/SP forumlae
- Combat Logs to show raids with DKs getting obliterated in heroic Gara’Jal
- Calculation of the effectiveness of different abilities (Savage Defense, Frenzied Regeneration)
When providing objective feedback – “OMG GUARDIANS SUCK” – you must provide supporting evidence. This (for most people) will typically be in the form of combat logs. If you don’t know how to record or parse combat logs, head over to World of Logs to find out how. Without this evidence it is extremely likely that your arguments – however otherwise sound they may be – will be dismissed out of hand, not only by the player base but more importantly by the developers.
Subjective feedback is quite different. By its nature it is expected that not everyone will share the same point of view that you do. However that doesn’t mean you can’t still provide valuable feedback about how something “feels” to you in-game. Some examples are:
- User Interface
- Theme or Feel of a character/item/place/thing
- What you as a player do or do not like about something
The most important note about this kind of feedback is that the efficiency or “math” is never in question. It’s all about how something in the game makes you feel as a player. Note that it is possible to have an objective analysis of something that then implies a subjective response. However you must remember that the reverse is never true. Just because something “feels bad” in terms of efficiency (usually in terms of “X”-per-second) does not mean that you can say so in an objective manner without performing some sort of actual data analysis.
So what should you do when providing feedback of any kind? I’ve put together a short list below:
- Use proper spelling and grammar. Nobody is going to read your post if you can’t articulate your arguments in a way people can actually read.
- Be as descriptive as possible. Explain to your audience why are right using supporting evidence like combat logs, math, or how you think something should work.
- Whenever possible, don’t try to build your own models. For WoW specifically there are very, very few people qualified to do so as it requires a combination of calculus level math and intimate knowledge of game mechanics. For Guardians specifically there is already a wealth of options available to do analysis.
- Doublecheck Everything. This is extremely important. Nothing will get your feedback dismissed faster than using information that is completely incorrect. If you’re not sure, double-check with someone else first to confirm. I cannot count the number of times I’ve dismissed posts or discussion out of hand because it was based on incorrect assumptions, knowledge of game mechanics, or just plain wrong. I’ll admit that I’ve made this mistake a few times over my career ;)
- Don’t take criticism personally. If someone points out mistakes in your feedback most of the time they are just trying to help you.
- Ignore trolls. They are a waste of your time.
What about you? Do you have any tips on how to provide feedback to game developers?