Signal to Noise, Transparency in Modern RPG development and the inability to please everyone

Posted: February 27, 2013 by pointyman2000 in Articles, Roleplaying Games
Tags: ,

The modern trend of transparency when it comes to the development of rpgs is something that I am honestly quite in love with. The fact that we can see the game taking shape, and are often treated to an explanation of the kind of thinking that takes place to justify why the mechanics are the way they are is something that I’d never thought would happen, but here it is.

Unfortunately, this sort of approach also means that we invite a lot of attention, and the accompanying noise. People will express themselves, often loudly and repeatedly about the negative points of anything in the internet, and that kind of feedback is becoming less and less useful by the minute.

Normally exposure and transparency is a good thing, as the feedback loop should be able to give the designer a means by which they can look at their work through different points of view. Unfortunately this approach also attracts a lot of non-helpful, but emotionally aggravating responses. Faced with so much of this internet vitriol, I can’t blame some developers when they have to retreat now and then to compose themselves.

Sifting through the cacophony of voices on a creative work is difficult, but it can still be worth it if only for the occasional nugget of real insight amist the screaming angry voices.

However, I think we can all afford to be a little more polite when we give feedback. People work hard to make the games we play, and they’re being nice about how they’re making it in front of us. We aren’t entitled to that, but we’re getting front row seats to the development process anyway. Sure it might not be super-transparent, but we have to honor their right as a creative team rather than piss all over their efforts because it’s not how we want it.

  1. I’ve been having a similar problem IRL when play testing my game. The people involved have mainly been friends, and I’ve been grateful every step of the way, but more than once I’ve had to ask them to just play the game, rather than tell me about all the things they’d do differently if t was their game. feedback is great, but that kind of thing isn’t constructive, and can make a designer retreat and keep the process hidden. Which – as you say – can’t really be a good thing.

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