Used as a way to network with and help other game developers, feedback is given all the time to many games. People may say they really like the story or that the animations stink. No matter what area of criticism or praise it is, there is one factor that needs to be unanimous for all feedback. Honesty.
Say for example I check out a new game developer’s first game. They are super excited after months of work to finally have made a game. However, when you download it, you find that it’s not that great. It’s buggy, not very attractive, and isn’t much fun. The developer is so happy to have made the game, and you can’t find much that they did well. What feedback do you give? For one, you could just not give any feedback at all. They won’t know. You could also lie. You could say “Your game is awesome! Everything is perfect!” While both of these options may leave both parties happy right then, in the end, you are only hurting the developer.
Honest feedback is something that every game developer may not want, but needs. The only way to make their next game better is to know what they did bad on their last.
If you play a bad game by a developer and they want feedback, the worst possible thing you could do is tell them that it is great. Sure it might make you feel good and make them feel good temporarily, but this will send the wrong message to that developer. This tells them that they should model their next game off of their last, likely resulting in the same flaws. Then, when they spend months and even years making their next game off of your feedback, they will be disappointed to find that their game isn’t great at all.
I didn’t really understand the importance of accurate feedback in the past. Now that I’m aware, I use a similar structure for my feedback. At least one compliment and one criticism. You definitely want to praise the developer for something. No matter how bad the game may seem, there’s always something they did well. If you having a hard time finding this good thing, even “Congratulations on your first release!” is a good compliment. The game development process is hard, especially for the first time. Even the smallest compliment can make someone’s day.
For criticism, it can be big or small. Maybe you think the UI could be laid out differently, the controls feel weird, or even the art style is bad. Be sure not to be degrading with the criticism, but be honest. Believe me, it may not make the game developer feel good right then, but down the road, they will thank you for being honest. If they know exactly what’s good and bad with their last game, then they can fix those issues for the next. Rinse and repeat, and eventually they will come out with a great game.
With my criticism, I also like to give suggestions. “I don’t like the UI” doesn’t help much. However, if you say “I think you should use a different font, change the color, and move the health bar to the top” will do wonders. A lot of the times game developers get fixated on one idea that they often don’t realize its flaws. A new suggestion will give them a different outlook on their game and future ones.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, you should not give feedback solely because you don’t like the game type. If you hate grand strategy games because they are complicated and annoying to learn, don’t tell a developer you hate their grand strategy game. Some people hate country music, but that doesn’t mean country music is bad. You need to leave your biases at the door and give feedback that accurately reflects your opinion of the game.
The only way for a game developer to know if their game is good or bad is to get feedback. As fellow gamers and game developers, we must make sure that our feedback is honest and constructive. This will enable those developers to create better games in the future.