Forum feedback decorum?

Is feedback only to be posted if an author specifically asks for it?
What’s the rule on constructive criticism?
Subjective thoughts?

I know there are many ways to do feedback right and wrong–that’s not exactly what I am talking about. Just more of what is welcome on the forum. What are the unspoken rules around it?

And, on a side note but a lil related, and possibly a very bad idea—could a general thread where feedback is welcome to post exist? Similar to how those “mechanics/ROs I hate” threads allow for more such things than the game threads often do? It could make it so constructive criticism is more of an opt-in but encourage feedback more on the forums. Cause I feel like, myself included, many hold themselves back from sending feedback because it feels discouraged in general. And I personally am a fan of feedback, with the classical rules of politeness and fairness and such (we could even have tips and guidelines of what feedback has to include or how to best format it?)

anyway, that’s just some general thoughts I had and I’d love to know yours.


For me any feedback is useful enough to improve. Hell, I’d probably even visit 4chan for some if it was substantial enough. In my opinion you can’t just throw away things because they hurt your feelings - when the book will be released, it’ll be much worse and there won’t be any forum decorum holding back people in reviews from calling your game [REDACTED] [EXPUNGED] [DATA DELETED].

So I say, gotta tough it up and accept any feedback. Look for cernels of usefulness, don’t let it get to your heart, quote Manny Pardo each day. Writers got to have thick skin in order to improve.


Yeh! And I also feel like I often see the most constructive or honest feedback come out when the game is already out–which always feels weird to me. Like, that stuff would be amazing to get before release. but after… then it’s too late. Wouldnt that be best for everyone to get more feedback (in a good way / either rules on how to format it or in a specific place possible to avoid)?


I think it varies so much between authors and audiences or even from one thread to another, that it can be hard to make a consensus. With a moderator hat on, there really isn’t a list of etiquette rules that everyone would agree is fair and useful for everyone, and I wouldn’t want to enforce such a thing.

With a combined author/player hat on: I’m wondering why a separate thread would be needed if an author makes it very clear in their WIP thread that they were happy to hear any and all criticism? Which isn’t to say that a multi-author feedback thread couldn’t be a good thing - that idea was mentioned in the writer support thread recently. But I’m unsure about whether it would dilute feedback if people were critiquing an entire demo/project. Would a reader know whether to give their feedback on An Affair of the Heart on its WIP thread or on a hypothetical “no holds barred” type thread?

Edit: I’d also be concerned that a multi-WIP feedback thread would mean less discussed WIPs would get lost in the shuffle. If they’re in their own spaces, you know going in that that’s what those spaces are dedicated to.


You are the second person to express this desire today.

I think having a discussion on whether there should be something like this is okay… but no promises should be made or inferred from such a discussion here.

One of the biggest issues with threads like the mechanics/ros I hate threads, is that the specific feedback for an author that is useful to them is very difficult to find.

There might be something very valuable to an author there, but it does them no good if they don’t see it.

I am sorry you feel that it feels discouraged.

There are many threads and posts within different threads that talk about feedback; how to give it, how to receive it; dos and dont’s … part of the issue is that the vast majority of people were never taught (or they never learned) how to provide feedback properly

A lot of this is on the author side as well. Many authors do not know how to take feedback or experience anxiety when feedback is given.

From a reader’s point-of-view, many authors do not provide the direction they need to give relevant and sought feedback. The skill to direct feedback (asking for specific feedback) and setting guardrails for feedback is a skill all writers should learn!

Just as readers need to learn how to provide feedback, writers/game developers need to learn how to accept feedback properly.

CoG projects have a screener that will often act as a buffer between the author and those providing feedback, but Hosted games authors do not have that very valuable resource.

Feedback is very necessary to have a better game, and part of the Hosted process is to seek it out.

The first place I feel everyone should look to for feedback guidelines is the FAQ - Choice of Games Forum.

With all that said: there is no simple solution that fixes everything at once.


I’d add that those threads are not really intended as feedback, constructive or otherwise, in the way that’s being talked about here. I see them more as venting spaces for readers which is a very different kind of commentary.


I would offer myself to host a feedback based serious thread but I think my presence would made people don’t post at all because how polarizing I am. It is sad, because I love host stuff and feedback!


Dunno. For me, I always appreciate honesty, no matter the way it’s given. It’s the best policy and I just feel weird saying something that’s not on my mind or not how I feel. Feels disingenuous.


If someone posts any creative work in the public forum, they’re inherently opening themselves up to feedback and criticism. I would say making a separate thread would fragment discussion, and ultimately make it more complicated to find each thread in the future.

As long as it’s on-topic, I have zero issues with anyone giving feedback, criticism, or other opinions on a work. As far as the actual feedback goes, the guidelines I’d say apply are generally “don’t be a dick”. Critiquing or giving opinions is fine, attacking the author on a personal level isn’t, etc.


I think it can be helpful for authors to post about some areas they’re especially interested in hearing feedback on, because it can be intimidating as a player to know where to start. On the Dragoon Saga WIP threads, as well as @will’s and @Eiwynn’s, they mention specific aspects that they were hoping for feedback about. I think An Affair of the Heart used to have questions up too, and some authors do feedback surveys. It may be useful for authors who are keen to have “non sugar coated” feedback to say so explicitly in their WIP thread. All of that, I think, may help playtesters feel more confident that their feedback is helpful and give some structure.


Constructive criticism has to follow a specific rule? Isn’t that what the ‘constructive’ part already defines?

“This game was bad.” ← Not constructive criticism.

“This is what I didn’t like about this game/this is what frustrated me about this game, and here are the reasons why: Point A, Point B, Point C, etc.” ← Constructive criticism.

Criticizing ideas instead of criticizing people. ← A good rule to follow.

Trying to turn a WIP into something entirely different or telling an author what they should do for a sequel? ← A pet peeve of mine, I see this way too often.

I think you’re floating around in gray-area territory. I, for one, am happy to see it because I feel the same way. I recently came back to this forum after being away for a couple of years. I don’t remember why I stopped logging in other than real life taking time away from getting to hang out more, but I think I was also temporarily banned or put on suspension for a little while, and I have no idea why.

So, upon my return, I went forum searching. Turns out, certain kinds of constructive criticism are not looked at fondly here, mostly in dealing with criticizing the forum itself not the individual games themselves.

I’m trying to focus mostly on expressing just the positives in case my opinion gets me in trouble again and so far my criticisms haven’t gotten me in too much hot water. And, if any of my criticisms do bother anyone, I would honestly appreciate being called out rather than not knowing something I was saying was less-than-okay.

I don’t have time to sit down without being interrupted every 10 seconds very often so sometimes it takes a couple of hours to type something out in which my opinion may have been more rushed and less thought out than I meant it to be.

Someone disagreeing with my opinion, too, used to feel discouraging until I realized it wasn’t a disagreement with me, personally, it was a disagreement with my idea. When these kinds of things happen I’ve learned to take it in stride and take into consideration the other person’s viewpoint. I think a lot of times it comes down to ‘I didn’t like this’ and ‘I did like this’ and there’s not much else to do other than to agree to disagree.

This is sometimes an author thing. I’m now learning that some authors don’t appreciate less-than-positive feedback during the creation of their story. Not much we, as the audience, can do about this.


“I don’t like the genre”?

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Honestly, I would say respect what feedback the authors want in their WIP thread. I know it might feel frustrating to want to say something and maybe even feel that the author would learn something valuable from a certain criticism. But the truth is that this is in the end on the author. Unasked for criticism/suggestions are not gonna help any. I would say if you are unsure, ask the author what kind of feedback they want, if any.

Why is that?

Because the kind of feedback that would be useful is vastly different depending on the stage the project is in, as well as the author. An author shouldn’t expect readers/playtesters to be able to guess what they need, and readers/playtesters shouldn’t have to feel unsure of what is wanted. And yes, this is a skill that needs to be learned, both from the author and the playtester.

So, authors, please add a thing about what kind of feedback you want on top of your WIP. It will help you target what you actually want from showing off your WIP.

For example, this is what I used for the Remnants WIP for my partner (after a short description about some stuff I knew about the game.

So what kind of feedback do we want?

Honestly, at this point, just your thoughts if you have any. We have an idea, but we want to see if what we want out there rhymes with how you read it. As always, spelling and grammar are erratic at this point. You know how it is.

Very loose, we were just looking for vibes and thoughts as this was a very early draft.

Compare this to what I wrote for Fallen Hero: Retribution when it was in the late alpha stage:

What do I want from playtesting?

Look for inconsistencies. Events that flow weirdly. You acting upon information you haven’t got.

Keep focus on the auction. Know why you are there, and if your objectives suddenly shift. If they do, please screenshot the first scene where you feel weird, and then DM it to me and explain why it is weird.

I’m not interested in grammar. Pronouns are welcome to report if you find any wrong ones.

Any events that throw you out of the game, makes you feel things go too fast, or scene shifts that are too abrupt.

At this point I had the vibe, the characters and the story. I just needed to know that if flowed for all the various paths.

So, one kind of feedback would not suit these two very different stages of projects.

tldr: Don’t be afraid to ask the author what kind of feedback they want. And authors, put that at the TOP of your WIP; people might not read it, but at least it’s there.

(not gonna post all the shit from the various beta/grammar/final servers, that’s a lot of very specific instructions for the playtesters)


These are really good examples, thank you for sharing! Thinking about what you want feedback-wise can also focus you as the author and help you realise what your priorities are for revisions at the stage you’re at.


It can sometimes come off that way, but I think most authors are looking for feedback if they are posting a demo on the forum. They know it isn’t complete and yet they want people to read it. This is the most likely reason. That being said, the type of feedback really depends on what the author wants. I find that the standard is usually not to worry about grammar mistakes and stuff, because that is always something that is fixed later, and to focus on player choices, characters, pacing, plot holes, etc, as well as coding errors. I’ve seen it best described as High-Level and Low-Level feedback, but no Mid-Level feedback.

I hear what you’re saying though. There are definitely some authors who do not accept feedback very well and it feels like they don’t want your opinion. Just ignore them and move on to those that do, because there are many that do.


Definitely. Feedback about getting rid of elements in the story that happen to be a core for what the author is going for isn’t useful, even if in some other project the same kind of elements can be open to discussion.


I dunno, imo that’s no better way to kill motivation than deafening silence when you put up a game/demo. Even criticism is better than that because at least someone bothered to read it. I’m fine with genuinely made constructive criticism personally and take it in the helpful spirit intended, but not everyone is and there’s been examples where it has gone badly so I can understand why people would be worried to post anything that’s not glowingly positive.

If unsure I’d say ask.
Try to make it constructive. Explain why something isn’t working for you. If the author opts out of taking your advice that’s their prerogative.
Feedback sandwiches are your friends :wink: (find something positive to sandwich in the negative feedback comments in).


I dunno, I’d be really discouraged after tenth “you should change X” coming after you’ve already explained that no, you won’t be changing X, especially if that’d be all I’m getting, and X wouldn’t be some controversial topic.


What might be beneficial for an author getting the same feedback repeatedly is to add an FAQ, of sorts.

“I don’t like x, because y and z. Will you change x?”
“No, because a, b, and c.”

Feedback is a hard line to toe, but all authors need it. I think avoiding being ridiculously brutal is the best you can do as a beta reader.

Also, only focus on what the author requests re: high, mid, low feedback.


I’ve always felt that negative feedback was more discouraged by die-hard fans than authors. In which case, you aren’t really talking to them, yeah?

Anyway, I think @Jacic has the right of it. No feedback at all is discouraging, because it means no one was particularly moved. There are two groups of people who reliably comment/review/etc. on literally anything: people who really liked it and people who definitely didn’t. If someone feels strongly enough about your work to say something, then that’s encouraging. And if it’s something you can fix, even better!

Personally, as long as the review is, I don’t know, civil, I guess? Like, not threatening or unnecessarily mean? Then I actually like getting “negative” feedback. It means someone read my story and cared enough for it to be better. Also, I was raised by paranoid & suspicious people and don’t entirely trust anything that is 100% positive about my work LOL.

As for the feedback sandwich, that was always what I was taught and it’s how I prefer to review things. Like, “I really love how you did X, but Y fell a little flat for me.” What the author did well is also important because you want them to do more of that. Plus, it soothes any bruised egos. Though, I think having a big ego is a little counterintuitive to being any kind of creative. Too much vulnerability for that.

Anyway, the only really bad feedback – to me – is people who give feedback with no understanding of context. There are story beats and tropes that are essential, or at least common, in particular genres. There are elements that are essential to the story the author wants to tell. You can’t really get mad that a comedy has a funny best friend or that a romance has a third-act conflict to keep the couple apart. Better feedback would be “hey Funny Best Friend seems less funny and more mean-spirited” or “this third-act drama doesn’t really make sense at all – both A and B are acting out of character.”