Oftentimes as a creative it is very tough and sometimes discouraging to ask for feedback. It feels sort of like placing your head down on a guillotine - it leaves a creative vulnerable and scared. Also, there have been many a creative who have received feedback that was not only unpleasant, but also unproductive. Someone declaring "this sucks!" doesn't help any more than the pleasantries that lack any substantial thought such as "I like it!" though those comments understandably sting less. What a creative truly needs when asking for feedback is constructive criticism that will allow them to substantially improve their work. However, that feedback is sadly rarely gathered. For the game designer, artist or other creative looking to receive constructive criticism here are some of the ways we've found to receive better feedback at Atheris Games.
- Describe your goals for the project. Outlining what the goals of the project are will be incredibly useful for feedback. For example, for a piece of artwork explaining what mood/feelings you're looking to evoke can help an observer provide more qualified feedback. Let people know your intentions.
- The next thing in order is to set constraints. When designing a game it is often a popular practice to set constraints for what you can do with the design i.e. the game needs to have less than X number of pieces or has to play in X amount of time. This is also important when asking for feedback. Maybe you want specific feedback on only one aspect of the project. Lead the discussion with play testers or others that will provide feedback. Let them know what feedback you're looking for. One common way time is wasted for game designers is when players will mention the artwork or graphic design of a prototype, which doesn't have finalized artwork. Let players know you're not looking for that feedback.
- Who is the feedback coming from? When posting for feedback make sure not to just be asking family and friends. One thing you can do is ask people who either have bought or will buy products from you/within your category. Another great idea is to ask other creatives. A game designer typically can provide more constructive feedback on a game than a novice. Likewise, artists might be able to critique artwork better than someone who doesn't have an art background.
- Finally, take all feedback with a grain of salt. Some feedback is more worthwhile than others. Understand that fact. Sometimes when you receive one off requests it is because that particular person doesn't like that art style or gameplay. Though, if the same feedback keeps coming up than likely you should at least look into it and determine what is the best course of action.
This post was inspired by requesting feedback for the box cover for one of our upcoming projects, a game by Don Riddle, which we're currently calling Ruin of Mars. We were very thankful to get a tremendous response from the community in the Boardgames Spotlight Facebook group. We've taken that feedback and relayed it to the artist so we can improve upon our design.
We hope this was helpful. Have a great rest of your day!