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Disclaimer: It may be that I'm already doing all the "right" things, but just don't have enough traffic for it to pay off with people giving feedback.

My question is: how do you attract early and quality feedback into games, from end-users? Ideally, I'm looking at a model where the seed of an idea comes from you (or from them, even) and you build it into a game, molding it along the lines that people tell you are best.

Because you're just one opinion. And game developers have a reputation for doing weird and sub-par quality stuff, sometimes.

I'm currently practicing the following:

  • VIP List: I have a "VIP" mailing list (mostly friends) who agreed to try out game releases and give me feedback. They seem hesitant to say anything negative, and most of them are not really gamers, just doing it because they know me and like my niche.
  • 2-4 Week Releases: I use a form of agile and release iterations every two to four weeks. This means every release is functionally small, but somewhat polished.
  • Press-Releases: With every release, I also post a small "press release" post identifying the good, the bad, what's next, and screenshots (along with a link to play the latest release version).

I'm not getting that much feedback. What am I missing?

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Where do your releases and press releases get posted? –  Kylotan Apr 6 '11 at 0:32
    
On my site. I have stuff categorized into four categories: Play (online, like Flash), Download, Labs (non-final releases go here), and News (for press releases) –  ashes999 Apr 6 '11 at 1:53
1  
I would have thought that relatively few people visit your site (without knowing which one it is). Posting on Reddit's Gamedev board, Gamedev.net's "Your Announcements", and TigSource's 'Announcements' might be a good idea. –  Kylotan Apr 6 '11 at 9:22
    
Yes, that's what I suspect too. But I'm sure that people who know about my site know about the labs section, since it's very obvious from the UI/design, and I make Silverlight games. –  ashes999 Apr 6 '11 at 11:03
    
You can measure this sort of thing with Google Analytics. –  Kylotan Apr 6 '11 at 11:13
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1 Answer 1

up vote 8 down vote accepted

No feedback is feedback; it could mean that your testers simply don't find the game engaging enough to feel like investing time in crafting reasonable feedback for you. Obviously it will be tricky to figure out why, but it's possible the people you are putting the game in front of are not the ideal demographic (or are not ideal testers). Or it's possible the game just isn't fun.

You should try to make providing feedback as smooth as possible, ideally requiring no work from the user at all except an opt-in. For example, gathering automatic metrics like heat maps (this video discusses these sorts of things, somewhere around the 40 minute mark, I think) has for player death and/or time-to-complete levels and such can tell you things about your game you might not realize without any actual action on the part of your testers at all (other than them agreeing to allow your game to send you statistics about their play sessions).

You might find that your average game play session lasts five minutes and 95% of the users die or get stuck early in level one, for example. That might suggest why nobody bothers providing much feedback -- they simply get discouraged too early and don't bother.

Even getting written feedback should be optimized -- provide an in-game means (for example, a /bug command) to pop up a UI that a tester can write up a bug or some bit of information and send you.

People are lazy. The more friction that is involved in testers sending you information, even as little as opening up their email client themselves, the less likely they are to actually do it.

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