We’ve all been there: clicking on unfamiliar WIP, only to find the premise or features aren’t to our tastes. The solution in this case is pretty simple - just click away and let the target audience enjoy it. Thing is, I’ve now been on the forums long enough to have followed multiple WIPS during their development for a while, and I’m unsure what to do when I lose interest in a WIP that previously held it.
More specifically, do I act in the same way I would with those new, unfamiliar WIPS, assuming that I’m simply not a part of the intended audience (anymore), or would it be useful feedback to authors to say “hey, I’ve lost interest in your WIP, here’s why”. Sometimes it is things such as “pacing” that feel inoffensive, but what about “you downsizing this character’s role/eliminating this feature/etc. has made me lose interest because that’s what drew me to it in the first place”?
But then, they have thought about that decision, and it is their WIP. What do you think? Useful feedback, or largely inactionable?
Hmm, that’s a good question. I guess my tentative answer is that I try to give advice that is “This part was confusing or weak or offensive, and here’s why I thought so” and less “Instead of the story you wrote, write a different story.” Some critiques feel like the first but are really the second, and like you said, I want to be respectful of WIP author’s vision and intent, and I’d want people to respect that for me as well.
So I guess what I’m saying is I think it would depend on why I lost interest. If I lost interest because the story went in a different way than I expected, I’d probably just quietly back out. But if I thought a scene came across a different way than I felt the author meant for it to, I’d probably say something unless I thought it might offend them. It’s a tough call, honestly.
I tend to be inactive because I generally can’t pinpoint why I lost interest. A lot of times: it just happens. It can be because of the wait between updates, which is understandable and is probably common. There’s be a couple wips where it was “Oh, an update… that didn’t go as I thought/expected/hoped”. I feel bad for that reason because it just feels rude? Like, duh, if I didn’t have expectations, I couldn’t feel “disappointed” or anything.
Most of the time, because I can’t pinpoint a reason for losing interest, I don’t say anything. And even when I can… I don’t out of fear of being disrespectful or possibly upsetting the author no matter how I put it. So, yeah, I just stop looking for updates and activity and maybe go back to it one day. I can say with confidence that it’s never been because of characters and the way they’re written, at least.
I can see it being a useful feedback, though maybe it would be better to contact the author privately (to avoid arguments with the other readers of the WIP). I never thought about it when I was just lurking around here, but now that I have my own WIP, I think I would like to know if the subsequent updates are not up to the expectations of the readers.
Sometimes, we get too excited when writing to the point where we can’t see what we’re doing wrong. That’s why hearing feedbacks is very useful. While the author has probably planned for the plot to go that way, it may still be a good idea for them to know the flaws as early as they can.
I suppose you should look at the way the author is responding to previous feedbacks. After all, there are some who would immediately lash out when people point out the flaws in their writing, so talking to them about it might not be ideal. But if it seems like they’re welcoming even the harshest feedbacks, I say go for it and tell them.
(You just gave me an idea to include that in the kinds of feedbacks I want, so thank you.)
I think for me it depends on just how dedicated the author is to the direction they happen to be going in. If it’s clear that they’ve thought the decision through and are sticking with it, I’ll (at least try to) respect that. If it seems like they’re open to changing their mind or finding a middle ground, and/or I feel like I can offer a perspective that I don’t think they’ve considered, I’ll speak up. Sometimes they haven’t even realized that the thing causing you to lose interest was a potential problem until someone brings it up.
That said, of course, it can sometimes be hard to tell one scenario from the other—it’s not always obvious how much an author has or has not mulled over a decision, or how much they’re willing to stray from their “vision”. If you’re not sure, I think it’s always worth taking a look at the feedback they’ve already received and see if this sort of thing has been addressed before in some way. If not, it might be worth (politely) bringing it up.
I think the main thing you want to avoid is coming across as spiteful or dismissive, especially if you’ve already made the decision to give up on the WIP in question—just telling someone that you’re done with the story because they made a decision you didn’t like is not helpful. Pointing out that there are other possibilities you would have preferred, and explaining why, might be.
In regard to the feedback i think every writer has a goal and plan to his story different to what the audience actually think the story is going.
And if the audience is unaware of his endgame they are prone to misplace certain features(like mistaking certain events as random or pointless)
That being said, the case of CYOA games is quite different as the roleplay elements and immersion can be determined with demos(if i don’t feel like i am the character im supposed to play or that there are no options for me to state what i would actually think or do in that specefic situatuon)
In conclusion : story element criticisms are often pointless unless the story is complete(which is not the case in WIPs) while character(specifically the MC) is to the point(but quite difficult to work with due to how different and complex people are)
I haven’t actually posted a WIP yet and I am certainly only speaking from my own perspective.
But I would want the full truth. Especially if it’s something that is causing you to lose interest (as every one person who loses interest in the WIP, that’s multiple more who will lose interest in the released story).
As long as feedback is respectful and well meaning, then I am totally prepared to hear “this story just isn’t as good as it was, and here is why…”
I can only speak for myself, but as someone who has a WIP, this type of feedback would not only be extremely useful but very eye-opening. If you can tell me in an objective manner that X, Y or Z made you lose interest in a character or the whole game in general, then that’s certainly information I’d rather know than not know because you fear… Hurting my feelings?
Even if, ultimately, I don’t agree with you. Or if it’s something that I can’t change because it is integral to the plotline, it’s still useful to learn what first got your attention. And what lost it. Maybe I can’t use that right now, but I can grow as a writer for future projects or even future scenes.
And if it is something that I can change, or re-work? Well, then I’d definitely thank you for telling me and help making my game a little bit better.
Ultimately, we post here - okay, I post here. I don’t want to risk speaking for all the other writers. But the goal is to receive feedback. Few things are as hurtful as posting something and only hear silence. So if you have criticism, and are willing to share it. Then share it. Isn’t that the point of this forum?
Unfortunately, both authors and readers lack the skills and/or experience in running pre-publication testing and therefore, often things go off the rails.
As a perfectly timed example:
If you are unable to provide critical feedback without it being flagged as offensive, that is a lack of experience or ability on your part.
Another example includes: authors creating alternative testing on Patreon and retreating into isolation where their feedback loop gets narrower and narrower… especially if their goal is to be successful on multiple app platforms, including Steam.
This is just wrong.
A case in point is the feedback received by @Bacondoneright regarding his story elements where he states:
This shows you that this explicit type of feedback actually does help authors.
I’ve literally read hundreds of WiPs and in my experience, the issues between readers and authors usually happen when the readers lose sight what the purpose of the WiP actually is.
When readers become so invested in a romance option, or fixated on a particular mechanic, they often try to elevate their opinion into leverage to change the author’s game.
Readers also become entitled, often forgetting that development of these games are not done on their time schedule or based off their expectations.
This is not to say that readers alone are responsible for things going off the rails… authors have a lot of the responsibility as well…
lack of transparency on what is going on,
lack of experience or ability to convey their vision to their testers
not being explicit enough in what feedback they are seeking
The main focus should always remain on actionable feedback… both authors and readers need to be reminded of this constantly … critical feedback, explaining why a story does or does not work for you is great, as long as it is actionable.
If I lose interest in a WiP or it just doesn’t grab my attention, I do what @CorvusWitchcraft said and evaluate whether or not the author seems set on a specific vision for their story before I post something.
If the author seems receptive to that sort of thing or if it hasn’t been mentioned before, I might speak up about it. I try to avoid this ‘this isn’t for me’ because I feel like that isn’t helpful. I’ll try and sprinkle my comment with typos or grammatical errors and find out what worked and didn’t work for me and explain why that is.
I echo @Gilbert_Gallo. I prefer the unpleasant truth to the pleasant lie. Sure it will hurt a lot more in the immediate, but I can take steps to approach the feedback as an author and not as a personal attack on me.
A) Whatever you say, be honest and maintain social etiquette.
B) Offer specifics; nothing pisses me off more than being criticized and the criticism-giver not being able to focus on something specific I could improve.
C) Hold the author accountable to some extent; as much as we like to support our authors, they are humans who will have bad ideas and make mistakes.
D) Keep in mind that you have your own tastes, and something that works for most people may not work for you (ex: I love Pepsi and dislike Coke; in the same vein, I love contemporary-set stories and dislike fantasy. As such, it may be that I’m not very well equipped to critique an author writing something fantastical).
Okay, Disclaimer What I am about to say it is my real, honest rude opinion If you don’t want to read something honest just skip this.
I have been here over a decade, and in last 3 or four years I have stopped to give feedback on new hosted authors because they don’t want feedback. They want emotional support and encouragement. Things are very important, but not what the feedback is.
Feedback has to be the honest opinion without filtering when testers give detailed information about high lower level and code to proceed a final product ready to be published in the best state possible…
If you lost the interest That is a useful tool for a writer and gold. Because if it happens now in a lower scale it certainly will happen in a big open market that will affect sales and ratings in overall platforms.
I became aware during years, That the authors that succeed are the ones that could see through the process and see that the bitter pill of someone saying plot holes or why X demo is not good at the moment, it is in fact saving them a lot of tears lately at launch.
Wips only focus should be about polishing games enough to reach a successful launch and commercial success. That and create a rapport with your future fans.
Sadly, well that is not 90% cases. So, myself just focus all my beta testing faculties with authors that understand that The real feeling and opinion of a tester is more important than a fakeness half truth that boost their ego.
Positive feedback is not necessarily always fake though, and is really important as well. If you look over the WIP forum, you’ll find a few projects that made it to completion, and a large graveyard of dead projects. Obviously, there are many reasons why authors decide not to complete a project, but I suspect that one reason for some might be if nobody ever takes the time to say “Hey, I enjoyed it and see some value in what you’re doing.” That might have given a few authors the little boost they needed to persevere and grapple with some more negative feedback they’re getting. The point I’m making isn’t that all feedback should be positive, or that people should lie and say they like something that they don’t. It’s that people shouldn’t forget to leave nice comments if you genuinely see value in someone’s WIP. The best and most useful feedback I got for my (completed) WIP was critical, BUT at the same time I wouldn’t underestimate the value of the positive stuff for motivation, too.
The key principle, I think, is responsible honesty. If you honestly like what someone’s doing, say so: it’ll give them a little boost and motivation to continue. If you honestly don’t like it, also say so: that’ll give them the meaty and useful criticism that they need to make their work better. Both sides are important. Authors have a responsibility to not flip out as soon as someone dares to suggest that they’re not a genius who is producing perfect work. Readers have a responsibility to leave critical feedback in a way that is actionable and not dickish and soul-destroying. It’s very achievable, from both sides!