How do I deal with conflicting feedback without seeming like an ass?

Discussion in 'Mapping Questions & Discussion' started by Fluury, Jul 14, 2019.

  1. Fluury

    Fluury L3: Member

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    I've asked this question a lot lately inside or outside the discord and figured a good place for it would be a TF2maps thread because I'm starting to lose my mind.

    I've had this issue in development of my first two maps, and I am having it on my third. I don't know if I have grown my sensible to feedback by players over the time period I took a break from mapping in, but I am feeling confused and flustered.

    The prime issue is what the title says; How do I deal with conflicting feedback? If there is a select group of people that constantly trashes the map while another praises it and aspects of it? Who do I listen to?
    When one maptest, people go "Wow that was fun!" at the end, yet at the other you have people trashing the map?

    I don't know - maybe back then, my confidence and ego was bigger - when I made the first two maps, because I am confident there were similar kinds of people back then. But I am just struggling.

    A thing I was told was to don't take criticism from people you wouldn't go to for advice - but I simply can't get myself to do it. I don't feel confident enough, or my ego isn't big enough - whatever. I doubt the things I did, and pay more attention to people that criticize the map compared to the group of people that praise it, sending me into a loop of feedback where I just walk in a circle trying to please everyone.

    BONUS: How do I deal with people that, for example, complain about a sightline for 3 maptests in a row you personally decided/observed to be entirely okay? Am I expected to come down downtown with the person and have an open debate during a bloody maptest, or should I just take it, reading it every single maptest until eternity?
     
  2. Mung

    Mung L1: Registered

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    I would say take every comment with a grain of salt.

    If you find a repeating message, like a complaint about a prop or something, fix it, but if it’s just one person complaining about something, like a sightline for example, they’re probably just trying to find a scapegoat for the reason they died, and you shouldn’t really listen to it.

    Also the amount of times you die or lose in a map could reflect onto your opinion of the map.
     
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  3. Da Spud Lord

    aa Da Spud Lord Occasionally I make maps

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    Generally, the higher-rank and more experienced members of the TF2Maps community are the best to listen to, they've been around the longest and know the most about what makes a good map. However, in general I'd take caution when taking feedback at face value. Sure, simple feedback such as "These stairs are unclipped" is an easy and obvious fix: Add a clipping ramp to the stairs. However, layout feedback is often not as simple to deal with because players often don't know what they want. The best way to gather feedback is to download the demo file from your map's playtesting session and watch it using the demo replay feature in TF2. (Type in the console command "demoui2" and use the interface to play your .dem file. The demo functions as a full recording of your map's playtesting session, including all player actions, text and voice chat, etc. You can fly around and watch the match as though you were a spectator, and replay it as many times as you want, which is immeasurably helpful.) Watch how players are playing on and interacting with the map- which areas are frequently and infrequently used, how often people are dying, where engineers and snipers are camping, etc. Determine if the way players are playing the map is how you want the map to be played, and also consider if players are having fun- if no, make changes based on how you want the map to play out. Direct player feedback can be useful, but must be analyzed in the context of other player's feedback and how players are behaving in the map as a whole. For example, if players are complaining that a doorway is too chokey, consider that perhaps the issue is not the doorway itself, but the flank routes past the doorway (or a lack thereof). Maybe there's only one and there needs to be another, or maybe there's plenty of flank routes, but the routes themselves don't offer any advantage or assistance. If players are complaining a sightline is too powerful, the obvious solution may be to block the sightline. While sometimes this is a good idea, also consider weakening the sniper in other ways, such as by making it easier to flank him or shifting health/ammo placement to favor players opposing the sniper. Or, sometimes there's just nothing wrong with the sightline, and in fact the player(s) leaving the feedback just aren't good at countering snipers.
     
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    Last edited: Jul 14, 2019
  4. fubarFX

    aa fubarFX The "raw" in "nodraw"

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    First of, praise is not actual feedback, you don't have to listen to that crap. The only time praise is useful is when you made something good on accident and you're trying to identify what makes it good (which rarely ever happens). So yes, you should pay more attention to criticism, but criticism is not necessarily going to be right.

    How do you know if criticism is right? well I'm glad you ask.
    The only true advice I can give is to know what your goals are with your map. Only yourself truly knows what you want to achieve and that's the one thing you can have absolute confidence in.

    Now, when conflicting feedback comes in, or any feedback for that matter. You can ask yourself "Does the feedback match my goals?" "what is the feedback that takes me closer to what I actually want to achieve?". Having a clear direction/goal is the best way to filter out feedback. This is how you break this loop of trying to please everyone. Letting feedback steer you aimlessly into different directions is essentially design by committee.

    And don't worry about ignoring peoples feedback, there's no hard feelings. If you feel like something is worth discussing tho, do take the time to talk it out during the test, that's what it's there for.
     
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  5. Crash

    aa Crash func_nerd

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    Most people don't know what they are talking about. You should know your maps better than anyone else, so you can choose to ignore feedback if it goes against what you're intending.

    If you're consistently getting the same group praising it, while others aren't, you might want to make sure you're not testing it in a bubble, though.

    Ultimately though, mappers kind of need to develop a thick skin when it comes to feedback. Also take into consideration who is giving it, their level of experience, and if there's something else that could lead to their feedback or suggestion, that they might not think of. Always ask yourself why you are getting any piece of feedback back before considering it.
     
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  6. Idolon

    aa Idolon the worst admin

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    I think newer mappers struggle with taking in feedback because the idea of "you know your own map better than anyone else" only really works when, well, you actually do know your map. It's a really good mantra when you have a strong idea of what you want, but when I was first starting out, I was just trying to make something that worked at all. My decision-making process was a lot more arbitrary and based on intuition.

    I've found that, for new and experienced mappers alike, something that helps a lot is having a conversation about your map. Post an image in Discord, ask for opinions. If you've had your map tested, ask for specific opinions from people who played it. Ask for help with deciphering feedback you've gotten. Try to diagnose specific problems with your map (like problematic sightlines, or a route being too chokey, etc.) and ask how you might try to solve that specific issue.

    There's more or less three instances where this can happen:

    • The playtesters think they know more than they actually do and are fixated on a perceived issue rather than trying to play the map as it is and approaching the issue as a player rather than a mapper. This can be easy to spot if the feedback deals with hypotheticals ("players might get confused" rather than "I am confused"), but this isn't always the case. Watch demos to see the context of the feedback. If the feedback is vague, ask players to clarify what they said.
    • It is a legitimate issue that, even if it may be "balanced" in terms of gameplay, is annoying to players somehow. Maybe a route seems like it should be more useful than it actually is, and you need to either adjust the balance to meet expectations or adjust expectations to meet the balance.
    • It is a legitimate issue that you are deciding to ignore because fixing it would other issues or get in the way of other goals you are trying to accomplish, and no map is perfect. For example, maybe you thought you were really clever by putting blue spawn underneath the final red point, and now players are confused by the circular layout, but you've decided that's just the price you'll have to pay for how you want the map to look. (Not that I'm speaking from personal experience or anything!)

    You'll just have to decide for yourself which is happening.
     
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