A roundup of the things I was checking out this week.

Psych and Rules Writing

This twitter thread, by Sen-Foong Lim

This short but instructive twitter thread goes into how to structure the rulebook you’re writing. In it, he clearly lays out that (at least for larger rulebooks) you need to explain terms before they’re used as they’re used and after they’re used. This comes down to explaining terminology at the front of the book, explaining terminology in sidebars during the actual rules part, and including a glossary at the back of the book.

When knowledge is being applied or transformed or used with other new facts, that’s NOT the time to also be learning new definitions. Good textbooks will start a new section of learning highlighting the new terms that will be used in the upcoming chapter.

Tips for Feedback

Getting Feedback, by Rami Ismail

Rami goes through five tips to help gather and process feedback.

Combine these two truths and you end up with an important realisation: feedback is critical to making good games, and it is deeply human.

The first piece is simple: questions only. When you’re receiving feedback, don’t get defensive. Only reply to feedback if you need to clarify what you’ve heard with a question.

The second step is: listen to problems, not solutions. When people give feedback, they’re prone to offer solutions to a problem, but what you’re after is just the problem itself. And it might be hidden behind a surface level piece of feedback—it’s up to you to dig out the core problem, and fix that.

Third piece: negativity can be good, sometimes. You might get complaints about something, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a bad feature. If it’s working as intended—and the person continues to play the game, you should elevaluate what the feedback really is. Sometimes, friction in the game is a design choice.

Fourth: choose your feedback. Depending on popularity, you might get a lot of feedback. Feedback is not a checklist of things to fix. Instead, it’s a list of problems to ponder on. Does each problem actually need to be solved? Is the feedback coming from experienced players that have forgotten what it’s like for a new player coming into the game / hobby?

And lastly: guide. If you want feedback, you should ask for it. If you only take the feedback from people who reach out to give it, you’re getting feedback from a very specific group of people. Instead, if you seek out feedback, and then highlight good feedback you recieve (perhaps in dev logs or what not), you can foster a better loop, where hopefully you increase the overall quality and quantity of feedback you recieve.

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