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Dealing with Discontent

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I've encountered this problem in the past and my partner would instantly identify it as jealousy. Never really figured out a solution though. I got so overwhelmed by it last time I made a game that I gave up and stopped game dev completely for a year or so. 

I'm making my second game and I've got a playable demo up which is a bit rough but ok. So far people will only comment to tear it down. When their issues are addressed - sometimes by pulling all-nighters, they disappear. Every time it's the same pattern and it's not limited to one particular download platform. Players go out of their way to nitpick quite meaningless things, all the while ignoring the positive aspects of the game or indeed the game itself. 

All I want to do is find my tribe, to reach players who are interested in playing but I keep getting trolled by seemingly jealous types who don't appear to appreciate any sort of work ethic or aesthetic value. 

This article nailed quite a few of the characteristics I've noticed:

https://www.quora.com/How-do-you-deal-with-jealous-and-envious-people

Here are two examples where you can observe the pattern repeating (just to be clear - there are legitimate problems addressed in some cases and not all players are entirely discontent):

https://ashborodin.itch.io/you-are-ephemeral

https://gamejolt.com/games/YouAreEphemeral/316184

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Get used to it.

I know it sounds harsh, but people are always going to see the problems with the games you make, tell you, and pull no punches. That's just the reality of it. In fact, you need to not only get used to it, but learn to improve your work when they tell you in a non-tactful way that your game sucks and why it does. They're probably at least partially right, although they're probably not right about the reasons your game sucks, because they are not experienced designers.

In fact, what I see on your pages is really tame.

If you're unwilling or unable to get used to it, you should choose a different path. Game development is pretty much financial suicide to begin with.

Edited by JulieMaru-chan

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I'm not sure what you want. No critiques? Overwhelming praise?

How did you decided that their claims are only based on jealousy? Who are these players that are so nitpicky? Are they reviewers online, or close people (friends, family)? Which kind of feedback do you seek when you talk to other people? Technical, artistic, gameplay?

I read the comments you linked, and they seemed ok for me. Sure, it's frustrating when you see people critisizing your hard work, especially for things that you disagree or problems you can't reproduce, but that's part of the process. If no one gave you feedback (good or not), how would you improve?

Also, developing a "thick skin" is needed when you talk to the general public. They don't owe you nothing. If they think something is wrong or bad, they will say. Some of them will be trolls, but is up to you to ignore the obvious ones. One example that comes to my mind is Scott Cawthon, developer of Five Nights at Freddy's. His previous works before FNaF were highly critisised, constant bashed for it's quality. Probably he had hard times dealing with these critiques, but it allowed him to re-focus his work and create (now) high praised series (regardless if you like it or not, I personally don't).

If you fear online reactions, try a smaller scope. Ask for feedback from friends. Make a reunion with them, buy some pizza. Show your work and listen. Explain what you tried to achieve, but don't defend your work. Let them be honest. Ask them what they think that work, and what they didn't like, and what they would change, even if it's not an easy change or they can't explain clearly.

You talk about tribes. Is there someone in your region that is also a game dev? A small group of people you can interact often, maybe 2 times a week. Look for local online groups (in Facebook, for example), or even start one. Invite people. Let everyone interested in, regardless of their experience or opinions.

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Moving to appropriate forum.

Edit: upon re-reading, I realize that I assumed the OP was talking about team member discontent, while the point is actually player discontent. Moving to an even more appropriate forum. This isn't a Management issue so much as a Marketing issue (customer relations, community management).

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Hello, Smallbear.

I've spent a while playing your game.  I get the feeling its a bit like Myst, and although very basic I like the atmosphere.  For a single person the effort is admirable.   Sadly, the bugs are indeed holding the game back.

Do not start demonizing those who review your work, especially when they take the time out to make a youtube video for you. You at least have people who are interested in your project, so dont upset them with accusations of "jealousy". Players dont usually take kindly to bugs that cause wierd effects,  let alone one that resets the game entirely or crashes to Windows...

Right, lets get back to your game.  Put everything else on hold, and fix that ingame options screen.  A flat, 2D presentation will be good enough for anyone.  The game actually locked up on me while viewing that screen and eventually took me back to the introduction - effectively having to start the adventure from scratch.  I have a feeling you have some code that needs cleaning up there...

There are of course other problems, but just work on that for now and also see if you can locate the cause of that crash.  For the record I was running at 800*600 with a Geforce GT 640( 4GB ), Windows 10 with 20GB system memory, and set at "Fastest" and the game still looked nice.  Send me a PM when you feel you have done your best with that issue and I will be happy to try it again.

Oh, even before the game loaded up I guessed you were using Unity.  How are you with the programming side of it?

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6 hours ago, Anri said:

Hello, Smallbear.

I've spent a while playing your game.  I get the feeling its a bit like Myst, and although very basic I like the atmosphere.  For a single person the effort is admirable.   Sadly, the bugs are indeed holding the game back.

Do not start demonizing those who review your work, especially when they take the time out to make a youtube video for you. You at least have people who are interested in your project, so dont upset them with accusations of "jealousy". Players dont usually take kindly to bugs that cause wierd effects,  let alone one that resets the game entirely or crashes to Windows...

Right, lets get back to your game.  Put everything else on hold, and fix that ingame options screen.  A flat, 2D presentation will be good enough for anyone.  The game actually locked up on me while viewing that screen and eventually took me back to the introduction - effectively having to start the adventure from scratch.  I have a feeling you have some code that needs cleaning up there...

There are of course other problems, but just work on that for now and also see if you can locate the cause of that crash.  For the record I was running at 800*600 with a Geforce GT 640( 4GB ), Windows 10 with 20GB system memory, and set at "Fastest" and the game still looked nice.  Send me a PM when you feel you have done your best with that issue and I will be happy to try it again.

Oh, even before the game loaded up I guessed you were using Unity.  How are you with the programming side of it?

I appreciate your playing the game and I'll reply generally to the thread first:

1. On Irony:

Thanks for the Dogpile. Already anticipated it on GameJolt. Expected more nuance and meta-discussion here. 

When you try to build democracy in Afghanistan it fails - why? Does the army need to 'toughen up?' Or do we need to have a different conversation that side-steps the broken records.

Has doing the same thing ever worked in Afghanistan?

Is doing the same thing working for Indie Devs? Are we all supporting one another and making it together or still dreaming of an illusive Freddie's Utopia where somehow everyone can be rich.... in a competitive, dysfunctional marketplace. 

If indie game dev is working for almost no-one then what we're doing collectively isn't working. Fact. Dangling the carrot of uber-success only appeals to naive teenagers. 'Of course we can all win the Lotto if we just develop a thick skin.'

I see no strategies for dealing with discontent. In fact I'm the only one who has dealt with it effectively. I took all the problems seriously and iterated, reported and engaged with the complainants. Result - I improved; they fell away. Conclusion: you don't seem to be paying attention to the real problem - building an audience when the only people who comment and play do so because they have a Jim Sterling complex. It's what I see political pundits call Bad Faith or Uncharitable. And it always, always ends with the guilty party losing. 

Of course if you too have a Sterling Complex you're not going to see any problem here. And won't feel responsible for the total eff-ups that ensue.

'Toughen up' is for incompetent parents with no actual advice because they simply don't have strategies for dealing with problems. I aim to do better. Real advice would be: Be Vulnerable, Adapt and Iterate. Don't turn into a monster with a thick skin and end up hating yourself because you'll lose touch with your emotions and what it means to be human. In short: they win.

Humans aren't tough, we're smart. 

 

2. Your experience: It's good to get some balanced feedback from someone who's played the game though.

The 'problem(s)' is covered in my devlog but for those who came in late: 

https://youtu.be/7L8vAGGitr8

 

The 'problem' has taken up most of my time for the past fortnight. But I'll consider changing the menu when the current game jam is over. This was rushed to get it in on time. I'm not a fan of the 2d canvas but I can implement that down the track. It's really a KISS issue, which you have correctly interpreted is at the heart of the game. 

I'm a fact-based person. The correlations between a detailed multicultural perspective on Jealousy and mine, and all game dev's experiences, is close to 100% (see: Quora). I'll call it anecdotal evidence and move toward addressing it rather than cowering away because of the feared Rabid Consumer. Tell the truth and damn the consequences. I live with 3 hardcore gamers, I myself am one. They don't frighten me and I don't demonise them. 

The people criticising my game for the sake of it are probably not my audience. This is the crux of the issue which isn't being addressed in this thread: building an audience in the face of arbitrary default opposition. I don't care but it's a signal-to-noise ratio issue and it's a serious one.

If people turn up to your gigs just to throw eggs at you is it because

a. You suck, or

b. They are horrible people.

Is it a little of both?

Perhaps it's the wrong audience. Just sayin'.

Emmy Jonassen seems to think I have a point. But what the hell would she know?

http://www.indiegamegirl.com/steam-user-reviews/

 

So in conclusion I'd like to add something positive:

 

And some more food for thought to the Toughen Ups:

 

 

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12 hours ago, smallbear said:

When their issues are addressed - sometimes by pulling all-nighters, they disappear...

If you want something of value from your audience (their time and attention), then you need to offer them something of value in return. The amount of effort you expend in the process is meaningless unless it delivers measurable results.

What is it about your game should be pulling them back to play it again and again? Does it offer great replayability? If not, you are unlikely to have many repeat players (this is a common problem with Myst-style games).

12 hours ago, smallbear said:

I keep getting trolled by seemingly jealous types who don't appear to appreciate any sort of work ethic

Have you considered that it's a whole lot more likely that they aren't coming back because people have busy lives and a limited amount of time to invest in playing video games? I certainly don't keep coming back to random indie games to see if they fixed all the bugs yet.

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Is doing the same thing working for Indie Devs?


It's working just fine. It's good that people are willing to berate you for every little thing they see in games they don't like, because it shows you that your games are, frankly, crap, and you need to make them better.

More on point, though, players are at no obligation to provide constructive criticism to you. If you want people to criticize your game in a nice way, pay them. If you're not willing to do that, rejoice that people are willing to do so for free, even if they don't do so in the nicest way.

Edited by JulieMaru-chan

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I looked at some of the comments on your game, they seemed legit and have nothing to do with jealousy. On a scale from 1 to 10, where 1 is horrible reviews and 10 are awesome, these are more like 8.

Players not coming back have nothing to do with whether or not you addressed their comments, in most cases it's probably more about not being interested enough in the game itself. So you should take their negative feedback as a free gift and appreciate that they spent their time to offer it.

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