Designer Blindness: Respond to Feedback

In my opinion, getting feedback on your game is one of the most important parts of game design and ignoring it is perhaps the biggest mistake you can make during development.

After playing through your game thousands of times (yes, literally thousands) you will become immune to certain elements. If your game features a boss battle, for example, you’ll breeze through it after you’ve defeated it a few dozen times. This could lead you to increasing the difficulty as it no longer presents you with a challenge. This is known as designer blindness and can happen in nearly all games.

The best way to combat designer blindness is to recruit playtesters to play the game in order to receive feedback. By having players who have never played your game before tell you how it plays you get a true indication of it’s flaws and what it does well.

Brice Morrison does a good job of explaining playtesting in greater detail in the video at the end of this post, it’s well worth watching if you’re planning on conducting your own playtests.

After you’ve received your player feedback it is essential that you listen to it. If a player says that they do not understand a section of your game you can’t just dismiss it as the player being stupid, you need to ask why they don’t understand and then make any necessary changes to make sure that next time they try, they know exactly what to do.

This is something we’ve been actively working on in Music Festivals. A number of our players have said that they don’t understand the purpose of karma, so we’re actively working on making it more meaningful and it’s purpose more obvious.

After all, you could have what you think is the greatest game ever made but if players get stuck and/or frustrated after 30 minutes, they will leave and all the content after that will be wasted.

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About Adam

Games designer, Newcastle fan and prolific tea drinker
This entry was posted in Design Discussion, Music Festivals and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Designer Blindness: Respond to Feedback

  1. One of the most interesting playtesting sessions I’ve been involved in was tagging along with the RTW User Experience team. seen was watching people play a game without them knowing I was part of the dev team. What players commented on at the end wasn’t necessarily the core issues that they were having. Being able to see where players were looking, being misdirected or not observing what you were expecting in person is incredibly valuable. Knowing your playtester got stuck equipping a shield tells you the process may need improving. Seeing them struggling to drag and drop tells you the core problem. Naturally if people know that you’re observing them they can react differently and its very hard not to help if they are stuck!

    Unfortunately of course production blocked all the change requests to address the issues, but still it was an interesting experience.

  2. Just thought I’d offer a music production perspective..

    The designer blindness is similar to ‘music production deafness’; when producing a song you’ll hear the same sounds so many times that your ears become fatigued and used to it; to the extent that when someone gives feedback to say ‘the bass levels are too present’ you’re tempted to think ‘NO THEYRE NOT THEYRE JUST FINE THANK YOU VERY MUCH!” lol

    Difficulty in gaining feedback is also present in music production, my saying when learning to produce was ‘the only bad feedback is no feedback’. That was until everyone started telling me I was rubbish (joke) 😛

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