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azerty

How do I give good and constructive feedback?

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You might have already seen me posting videos here and there with some written commentary. I would like to hear tips from you guys on how to give good feedback. I see some people being able to write an entire essay about a map while I can only come up with 2 sentences and that's it. I also find it very difficulty to give feedback on maps I liked. I usually say "good map" or "god job" and that's all I can come up with.

 

Here are some questions I have:

-How to give good feedback generally

-How do I construct my feedback (lay-out) 

-How do I give feedback on maps I like

-How do some of you come up with so much to say

 

That's about it any thoughts or answers would be appreciated. I know that giving feedback is something personnel and everyone does it their own way but I want to know how you do it so I can find my own way of giving feedback.

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I would rather somebody tell me they enjoyed my efforts with a simple phrase versus feeling like they need to pad their response. There's nothing wrong with "good map" if you feel inclined to tell somebody that but don't have any specific feedback to offer.

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9 minutes ago, dasho said:

I would rather somebody tell me they enjoyed my efforts with a simple phrase versus feeling like they need to pad their response. There's nothing wrong with "good map" if you feel inclined to tell somebody that but don't have any specific feedback to offer.

idk it just feels like I am not helping the mapper at all by saying that

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I usually use this template for feedback in case I'm doing a serious test:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1xzs-sUpcoWE8btX7qlS-2RE3VrGSRaZpjDgUB-gTMpA/edit?usp=sharing

 

One of the more curious info I kept is IGT. I kept it because I like to put down whatever I finished in another spreadsheet along with the IGT. Then whenever I recommend a WAD to somebody with a length requirement, I can have a more specific standard for it.

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0. I'm not saying I'm a good tester, so all thing below is probably not right. I should probably call in who I served to judge me :P

 

1. Find out anything broken or anything non intended is always good feedback. Though, whether you can identify them is another thing. I usually try to search for all the corners in a map, or try a lot of various stuff in order to break the map. Baseline is probably whenever you find something weird, you can discuss with the mappers. Some directions that I usually do:

 

(1) The map has way too much resource. Yes, if the player is swimming with ammo, or you have 100 normal Armors and you don't possibly have enough health to deplete all the Armor, then the resource is not really balanced IMO;

 

(2) If a map encourages non linear gameplay, then probably the different routing could be closer in difficulty. For example, weapon gauntlet is one type of non linear gameplay, but let's say one gauntlet gives you rocket launcher, but the other gauntlet gives you... a shotgun... then something is not right here;

 

(3) Have a good sense of difficulty so you know what difficulty level you're comparing or the mapper is making. For example, if the mapper is going for Plutonia difficulty, but they made Scythe Map30... then that's a problem there...

 

(4) Probably try to beat the map in UV Max style (no saving) and probably you'll see a bit more than the first blind play.

 

(5) May think of more, but I can't say anything more now :P

 

2. Consider using the template above, and obviously you can modify it yourself to fit your need. The original template is not done by myself, but I "stole" it and changed it to what I need in general. :P

 

3. "Like" can range from various part, but probably not all the part. In this case, probably focus on the part where you think it's not that good. It's a weird question to ask for sure, but TBH, in my case, if I like a map very much, then probably the map itself has no problem at all... Probably it's more tricky to give good feedback about maps you hate...

 

4. I don't write a lot, so I can't say anything about this point.

Edited by GarrettChan

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Been a while since I had time to test anything, but based on how I have given feedback in the past as well as what kind of supposed feedback I've seen others give publicly, there are perhaps a couple things I can contribute...

1 hour ago, azerty said:

How to give good feedback generally

 

Generally, I would consider feedback that takes into account the intentions of the creator as "good".

 

What I mean is that, in the vast majority of cases, your feedback will be more impactful and of greater value to someone who feels like you are willing to engage with their ideas. Which is to say that, if I made a map you were providing feedback for, I would be much more interested in hearing you out if you offered more than "good idea/bad idea", and told me that you feel like I wanted to accomplish X and then went on to elaborate how that worked out for you, ideally in terms of what you believe worked best and what you think was somehow disruptive in nature for some reason...

 

Any mapper who releases maps on at least a semi-regular basis will find no shortage of people saying "good/bad/whatever", but people who are willing to engage open-mindedly with abstract concepts, perhaps even regardless of their personal preferences, and think critically about the execution thereof, are hard to come by. Be the latter type of person as best you can, and your "feedback game" will improve by an order of magnitudes.

 

2 hours ago, azerty said:

How do I construct my feedback (lay-out)

I don't think feedback needs to meet particularly professional standards in terms of structure. I tend to separate gameplay, visuals, and "mechanical integrity", say what I think about each of those points, maybe add a few screens for illustration's sake, and if the mapper happens to have any questions beyond what I provided, I'll answer those if I can, and if there is anything I feel particularly strongly about I'll highlight that specifically...

 

2 hours ago, azerty said:

How do I give feedback on maps I like

The same way you give feedback on something you didn't like, quite literally. Point out what you think worked well, why it worked well, how you felt about playing it in that moment, stuff like that... By my estimation, that opens up enough in the way of legroom to talk about specific details that either you or the mapper may want to get into a little more... Keep in mind that feedback, while often somewhat one-directional in nature, is still a dialogue, so you don't necessarily have to shoulder the entire feedback-process entirely on your own...

 

2 hours ago, azerty said:

How do some of you come up with so much to say

Again, think critically about what you experienced, regardless of how much you (dis)liked it, and articulate what stood out the most, and why. Most of the time, if you start there, coming up with more to say shouldn't be much of a problem. The first hurdle is usually getting past the very cursory stuff like "looks good, plays well". Whenever you feel like saying just that, stop right there, and ask yourself "why do I feel the way I do about this thing I feel a certain way about?", and then you put the answer to that question down in words and take it from there...

 

The gateway to giving valuable feedback is the ability to think critically about something, regardless of whether or not you liked or hated something. When you got that figured out, it's all about articulating from there...

 

 

 

One question you didn't ask, which I will answer regardless, is the importance of transparency.

 

Knowing where the feedback is coming from, as in: Which kinds of preferences tint the lens of the observer goes a long way, and it avoids misunderstandings. If there is a platforming section in a map, and you happen to belong to the acrobatics-nay-sayers, then it's going to be very hard for you not to dislike platforming in all its forms at least to a degree. If a mapper knows about that, and you tell them that you didn't find the platforming section overly annoying despite not being fond of it, then they will know how to "read" you and the feedback you provided. Don't underestimate the value of transparency when it comes to feedback...

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When it comes to writing… Focus on explaining what you liked and what you did not. Everything else is just filler, unless you’re writing a blog or something, get to the point and get to it quickly. You don’t need to “set the mood” with 1,000+ words because nobody, not even the map author is likely to read it in its entirety, especially if it’s just a rambling mess with only 12% of the “review” actually getting to the damn point. 

 

For video, I find it is far more useful to record a play through of a map, without unnecessary commentary, so that the map author can see what works and what doesn’t from another persons play style. It is always distracting on YouTube videos where there’s commentary and they tend to take minutes, many minutes at that, to get to the god damn point. Why do we need to hear someone ramble for 3 minutes in the menu? Let the map speak for itself and get out of the menu ASAP. 
 

 

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^Yeah, well said. No need for unnecessary filler, especially if it's unrelated to the game/wad you're going to talk about. Just tell what you like or don't like, and more importantly, why. That is very recommended, especially if you decide to review on youtube. There are so many youtubers who need to get of their high horse, and stop shoving their boring stories in their reviews. I recently saw a 210 minute long "review" of Doom and the video was basically the reviewer telling his life story for 70% of the runtime, 25% of unfunny jokes and 5% reviewing.

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Don't try to mold the user's project based on personal preference. I see that a lot and it frustrates me.

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That's a good question.  I wonder about it myself.

 

For me, off the cuff, I suppose, I'd prefer to approach things from the attitude of constructive criticism.  The goal, in the criticism is to improve the efforts, such that, everyone, including the author, benefits.

 

I suppose then, I'd start with the attitude of constructive criticism, then self asses myself, "how credible can I be in assessing the other's work?"  Am I a master mapper myself, or just a casual player?  Am I a pro player who has played every map under the sun?  I would think being a very skilled mapper would be a good place to be able to give good constructive criticism; if you've been there before, you know how to help some one along, even if their style is different.  If you are a very seasoned player, you may be a bit of a fine food critic.  In that case, you have the ability to really tell some one where things just didn't turn out right, from the perspective of a seasoned player.

 

So, I suppose whatever the case, I'd aim to give constructive criticism.  I'd also assess where for me, that criticism comes from, how credible is it?  And then lastly I'd structure it.  What's the good, what's the bad, and what's the ugly?  Or what's the great, what's the good, and what's the meh.

 

Then there's always the, "set and setting."  Gameplay mechanics, visual aesthetics, execution, aim, concept, etc...  That's the easy part, because you can rate those on a scale from 1 to 10 if you want; the hard part, is delivering your praise and criticism in a way that is effective and palatable.

 

I struggle with how to do all that in general, however, in many areas of life.  Some folks are really good at giving praise where praise is due, and delivering bite sized portions of manageable and nutritious criticism as well.
 

Edited by Goat-Avenger

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I struggle with the same. In megawad club some participants can really analyze the maps at hand and put their experience into words in a way I can only envy.

 

Critique is a skill practiced like any other. In the field of creative writing I’ve worked hard to get past ”I liked this/I didn’t like it” thinking into describing how I read someone’s text, what sort of thoughts and emotions it evokes, where I got confused and lost. That way I don’t have to be a fan of the genre and style of the text, and yet I can say something the author might find useful in improving their craft.

 

That, I think, is easier said than done. As I said, I’ve worked hard to be able to give such critique and I can still fall back to ”I didn’t like this, I don’t know why” or even total silence, not knowing anything to say. Working hard has meant trying to think of critique, but also reading as much as possible and writing myself as much as possible.

 

Doom maps are creative work, but my experiences as a mapper and player are limited. Thus it’s not easy for me to really observe the level and stop to analyze my own sentiments on it. Hopefully I’ll get there.

 

So, tl;dr: I have no advice, except to play a lot, try on mapping if that’s your thing. Tell about your experiences, not just your subjective opinions.

Edited by RHhe82

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As a beginning mapper, I like longer written/spoken feedback. Just a wall of text, and let me pick out what I find useful.

I guess it's all about formulating your thoughts and feelings into words. There are some simple things to say, what you liked about it, what you didn't like about it, what surprised you. And why. The "why" is hard and subjective. As far as I'm concerned, there's no point trying to be objective. Trying objectivity makes writing giving feedback near impossible. There is no objectivity. No, just respectfully speak your mind, and trust the mapper to make use of it.

The feedback I personally value most is regarding what certain elements of the map made the player feel. You did or did not like an element of the map, and it made you feel something. I can't see in your head, so I appreciate people articulating it. To certain extent, I map to make people feel something, and it's cool to see whether or not the map elements fulfil my intentions. If that makes any sense at all.

At this point of my mapping "career," a silent play-through video/fda is less useful to me than a two sentence comment like "I liked the plasma fight most. Pretty hectic but the secret berserker saved me." Or even "good visuals, fights kinda bland."

 

When it comes to structure, you can either go in order by impact/importance or time, as you go through the level. Seems pretty straightforward.

 

Feedback on maps you like is the same like on maps you don't like. I could talk for hours on the mid-section of BTSX Episode 1 because I don't really like it. And I could talk for hours about lilith.pk3 because I do really like it. Just like I said before, say what you feel. Both BTSX and lilith make me feel strongly, so as a feedback I would try to express that. What it makes me feel and why. Let the emotional response be the meat of your feedback.

 

I'm not a tester so I hope this is helpful from my perspective.

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7 hours ago, HrnekBezucha said:

As far as I'm concerned, there's no point trying to be objective. Trying objectivity makes writing giving feedback near impossible. There is no objectivity. No, just respectfully speak your mind, and trust the mapper to make use of it.

 

I agree with respectfully speaking your mind, but I think there needs to be always some objectivity. For instance, if you're playing a Plutonia-like map but don't like Plutonia maps, you need to look at it objectively as possible. Subjective opinions need to be kept in check as they can sometimes taint what is otherwise a good map.

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On 2/19/2022 at 8:52 PM, Bri said:

For instance, if you're playing a Plutonia-like map but don't like Plutonia maps, you need to look at it objectively as possible. Subjective opinions need to be kept in check as they can sometimes taint what is otherwise a good map.

And I'm gonna disagree here for various reasons, because all too often, this supposedly objective perspective of someone, who has some surplus salt to load off tends to be anything but objective... Likewise, lines similar to "inescapable pits = bad game-design" are not objective truths. In fact, anybody who claims their opinion on something that isn't a purely mechanical issue (something can be objectively broken) is "objective" is, objectively, full of shit...

 

You're not "game-design experts" just because you play a lot of games, you're consumers with subjective preferences, and it doesn't/shouldn't matter to any mapper how often you proclaim to have some deeper knowledge about how a game/map/mod has to be made in order for it to register as "objectively good". Most of you aren't even able to discern the fact that this thing that you think you provide objective feedback for might not even be made for people like yourselves, but an entirely different type of audience, with vastly different preferences and interests...

 

Clamouring for objectivity with regards to feedback or reviews is something I view as detrimental to the discourse as a whole, because you're objectively not an objective data-taking-device, and on top of that, asking for objectivity when it comes to feedback empowers the self-fashioned experts and armchair-game-design-critics whose contributions to this community amount to something near (if not less than) zero...

 

Transparency >>>>>>> (supposed) objectivity... It's that simple...

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I'm not a game-design expert and I don't think inescapable pits are bad. Cheers!

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18 hours ago, Nine Inch Heels said:

Most of you aren't even able to discern the fact that this thing that you think you provide objective feedback for might not even be made for people like yourselves, but an entirely different type of audience, with vastly different preferences and interests...

 

Apologies for cutting in, but I would like some clarification on this statement.

 

 

So, correct me if I'm wrong, but you're saying that we shouldn't provide feedback to things that we don't understand/things that aren't made specifically for us? If I read you correctly (Which to be fair, I may not be), then we shouldn't be able to give feedback on anything that isn't 100% tailor made for you.

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Nobody said not to provide feedback, just don't pretend to be "objective" when you really aren't.

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4 hours ago, Dokta Whawee said:

So, correct me if I'm wrong, but you're saying that we shouldn't provide feedback to things that we don't understand/things that aren't made specifically for us? If I read you correctly (Which to be fair, I may not be), then we shouldn't be able to give feedback on anything that isn't 100% tailor made for you.

Yes, you are not reading it correctly...

 

The idea isn't that you ought to keep your opinions to yourself, the idea is that you don't pretend that your opinions, or anybody else's, are objective metrics around which all maps ought to be built...

 

And 100% tailor-made is a nonsensical goalpost... If you like slaughter maps, then you're probably gonna give feedback on slaughter maps, and quite possibly less often on IWAD gameplay type of stuff, because maybe that's not what you would like...

 

You can still comment on that vanilla stuff, and look at things through you own personal lens, but you need to have the modicum of honesty and self awareness to realize that this vanilla map you don't really like can't really be made into something a slaughter fanatic would enjoy necessarily...

 

That being said, the feedback you provide on something that you are more familiar and "aligned" with, is probably going to be a lot more valuable and thorough than feedback you provide on something that you don't really feel like playing more than once anyway...

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Posted (edited)

IDK dude. I just tell people what I thought of their maps. I don't claim to be objective... at least I hope I don't come across like that anymore. I just say what I liked, what I disliked and how I felt playing it. I don't claim to know anything about Game Design or Level Design. I just say what I feel about it :P

 

Also I try to not be rude. That too.

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5 hours ago, Zulk RS said:

Also I try to not be rude. That too.

Don't worry I'm always respectful. I wouldn't dare to say anything that could offend anyone in any way. I think it's also pretty normal to think like that. It doesn't matter how bad you think the map is you still need to be respectful. You just need to find the good balance between being rude and sugar coating everything to much.

 

And to everyone else I appreciate the help.

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On 2/19/2022 at 4:15 AM, azerty said:

You might have already seen me posting videos here and there with some written commentary. I would like to hear tips from you guys on how to give good feedback. I see some people being able to write an entire essay about a map while I can only come up with 2 sentences and that's it. I also find it very difficulty to give feedback on maps I liked. I usually say "good map" or "god job" and that's all I can come up with.

 

Here are some questions I have:

-How to give good feedback generally

-How do I construct my feedback (lay-out) 

-How do I give feedback on maps I like

-How do some of you come up with so much to say

 

That's about it any thoughts or answers would be appreciated. I know that giving feedback is something personnel and everyone does it their own way but I want to know how you do it so I can find my own way of giving feedback.

I guess just write from the soul,but don't forget to balance out emotions with constructive criticism. While constructing feedback,i think you should start with the things you liked in the thing that you are trying to write about, and then gradually come to the negatives. Compare the negatives to the positives (quantity of both,which one of those affects the quality of the viewed content,et cetera.) and then after that process give your verdict.I Hope my words will be useful for you. 

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2 hours ago, Shibainumaster said:

I guess just write from the soul,but don't forget to balance out emotions with constructive criticism. While constructing feedback,i think you should start with the things you liked in the thing that you are trying to write about, and then gradually come to the negatives. Compare the negatives to the positives (quantity of both,which one of those affects the quality of the viewed content,et cetera.) and then after that process give your verdict.I Hope my words will be useful for you. 

They are useful. I'm still in my journey to become a good and active playtester (I haven't been very active lately) so anything helps. 

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13 minutes ago, azerty said:

They are useful. I'm still in my journey to become a good and active playtester (I haven't been very active lately) so anything helps. 

:)

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All you really need to do is give reasons that make sense on why you believe something is lackluster, if you just say this fight sucks or this map is ugly you are basically acting like an agitated moron.

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Don't confuse feedback with opinions. That really sums it up. 

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