How do you get people to critique your plot?

Bernkastelwitch

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Jul 1, 2013
Messages
173
Reaction score
160
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMZ
The actual gameplay of an RPG is a lot easier to figure out for critique since it is a lot more evident whether it is balanced or buggy. I do find critiquing plot would be harder since there's a lot more variables coming to it than the actual gameplay. I know for me, I wouldn't mind people critiquing the plot of my game but due to personal reasons, mostly from people trolling on my game before and excusing it as criticism, I am more hesitant to do so and have trust issues.

How do you get people to critique the plot of your game? From giving them a synopsis? From a demo you have? Hire someone to go through your plot? How would you do it personally?
 

HexMozart88

The Master of Random Garbage
Veteran
Joined
May 15, 2016
Messages
2,608
Reaction score
4,915
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMVXA
Normally the first thing people comment on is the plot of my game, but it is very heavily story based, so that plays into it too.
 
Joined
Feb 17, 2018
Messages
210
Reaction score
871
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMZ
The most important critic of your story may be yourself, because a story's appeal can be quite subjective beyond the rules of storytelling.

That said, even a number of so-called professionals end up producing horrible stories because they lose themselves to hubris and disregard the rules of storytelling.

These rules include making sure you have proper setup for your payoffs, increasing the stakes towards the climax, and making sure that you know what the characters' objectives are in each scene.
 

NamEtag

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Jun 27, 2020
Messages
73
Reaction score
50
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
N/A
My experience is the complete opposite. It's a lot easier to find people who love or hate a game based on the story, but it's always an uphill battle to explain why the game sucks but a particular mechanic is interesting or well balanced. Cases like Persona 5 are rare.
 

NoPatience

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Sep 12, 2018
Messages
81
Reaction score
29
First Language
Slovak
Primarily Uses
RMVXA
I think the only proper way to get meaningful critique would be having people play the whole game. A synopsis or a write-up of the plot might sound good, but the implementation, in combination with other game elements, might end up less than ideal. A demo will give only a part of the plot (which later can get better or worse). It's really tough.

If you want feedback during development, it might be good to find someone whose opinion you trust and you can discuss your story ideas with. They can tell you if things make sense to them, or whether you're setting yourself up for plotholes, or your characters behave inconsistently, and so on.

Ultimately, as Storyteller-Hero said, it's subjective. Sometimes a story feels like it was written for you, sometimes you can't warm up to it for some reason, it all depends on your expectations, experience and personality. So if you get hate, it might just be that. I'd look for feedback that gives specific explanations why the story is bad, not just knee-jerk reactions of "it sucks".
 

Cymaiden

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Apr 4, 2022
Messages
120
Reaction score
87
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMV
I have two ongoing projects. The first is Fourth Fantasia, a parody of Final Fantasy IV (or more specifically The After Years) that I started the day that I bought RPG Maker MV as an exercise in learning the ropes. The second is Red Nova, a serial-numbers-filed-off Star Trek game that exists to adapt the Borg Queen seduction plot from Star Trek: Picard Season 2 in playable RPG form.

With both games, I brainstorm with friends* about aspects of the plot in order to get feedback and iron out ideas for how to go about setting up the story. The nature of these brainstorming sessions are like night and day between the two projects. Red Nova has very relaxed brainstorming where we toy with ideas in a calm and reasoned manner. Fourth Fantasia has very heated brainstorming sessions where friends will argue with me about how ruthlessly unfair they think I'm being toward the FFIV characters who the central cast are based on.

(*separate social circles for each project)
 

the13thsecret

Villager
Member
Joined
May 15, 2022
Messages
12
Reaction score
16
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMVXA
If you have trust issues... you can request a "chapter 1" critique, similar to how editing services offer a free sample of a few thousand words. Well, it's hard to do developmental editing with just one chapter, but in your case, the idea is to get a feel for whether you think you can trust the editor.
 

Bernkastelwitch

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Jul 1, 2013
Messages
173
Reaction score
160
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMZ
I think the only proper way to get meaningful critique would be having people play the whole game. A synopsis or a write-up of the plot might sound good, but the implementation, in combination with other game elements, might end up less than ideal. A demo will give only a part of the plot (which later can get better or worse). It's really tough.

If you want feedback during development, it might be good to find someone whose opinion you trust and you can discuss your story ideas with. They can tell you if things make sense to them, or whether you're setting yourself up for plotholes, or your characters behave inconsistently, and so on.

Ultimately, as Storyteller-Hero said, it's subjective. Sometimes a story feels like it was written for you, sometimes you can't warm up to it for some reason, it all depends on your expectations, experience and personality. So if you get hate, it might just be that. I'd look for feedback that gives specific explanations why the story is bad, not just knee-jerk reactions of "it sucks".

Usually whenever I try to get critique for my games plot, it is either "This sucks" with no clear explanation why it is bad or there's clearly trollish responses(Someone whined about one of the main characters being female, that there's races other than humans in the game, one of them "criticized" about the main villain not being a Necromancer because "reasons", etc etc).

Like I wouldn't mind getting it critiqued but that stuff from before left a sour taste in my mouth and while there were actual critiques, some of them were of the "idea" and not the "Execution" of something. So while I would love to have it critiqued, plot-wise, I still worry about non serious responses being the majority.
 

lianderson

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Dec 27, 2012
Messages
763
Reaction score
1,002
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
N/A
I would do it by not doing anything at all! We gots game make to game make!
 

TeiRaven

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Apr 22, 2013
Messages
259
Reaction score
366
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMXP
Usually whenever I try to get critique for my games plot, it is either "This sucks" with no clear explanation why it is bad or there's clearly trollish responses(Someone whined about one of the main characters being female, that there's races other than humans in the game, one of them "criticized" about the main villain not being a Necromancer because "reasons", etc etc).

Like I wouldn't mind getting it critiqued but that stuff from before left a sour taste in my mouth and while there were actual critiques, some of them were of the "idea" and not the "Execution" of something. So while I would love to have it critiqued, plot-wise, I still worry about non serious responses being the majority.
I've had this exact experience in one of my creative writing classes--our first assignment was to write a short story. The general gist of mine was that an author woke up to find his living room full of characters from unfinished stories, brought to life by his good luck charm. The next assignment was a peer review of those short stories, and one of the ones I got was a solid page (truly solid, no paragraphs or anything) complaining about everything from the fact that "nobody called the FBI" to the fact that "Vivian (who should have been female)" did something he didn't like. Would you really call the FBI if I said this necklace was magic and could bring book characters to life, fella? Not the mental hospital?

But you know what my professor did when I mentioned this to him weeks later? Laughed his butt off and told me he hoped I didn't take a single word of it seriously. And I hadn't--partially because the complaints were absolutely ridiculous, partially because the story of his that I critiqued stopped partway through a sentence and just said "I'm watching the Superbowl" by way of explanation (the review he did on my story stopped the same way). He clearly wasn't there because he cared about writing, he was there because he needed another elective and thought it would be easy.

Where are you posting your work to be reviewed? That could make a significant difference in the type and quality of feedback you get. Posting it on a dedicated writing forum will get you much more serious critique than posting it somewhere very general like Facebook. I would expect you could get decent feedback on this forum as well--especially since critiquing game writing is somewhat different from critiquing prose.

I agree with the13thsecret--put up a "chapter 1" of sorts, as well as a synopsis, to see what type of feedback you get and if anyone would be interested in reading the full work. You could even look in the Classifieds to see if someone offers any kind of reviewing or editing service.
 

alice_gristle

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Jul 2, 2019
Messages
585
Reaction score
981
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMV
This one is gonna take time to setup, but get yo own writing group. Like, a bunch of folks that meet up regular, share their works, and talk about them. Once y'all spend a few years together, ya gonna build up trust and can talk about stuff on a pretty deep and serious level.

Downside is, it takes time, not errybody is gonna commit, and you gonna meet some weird, rotten, and sour apples along the way. It's really super if it works out tho! :kaoluv:

It's easier and takes less time to post on a writing forum tho, like @TeiRaven suggested! I got no clue what's on anymore tho, back when I was a wee li'l sucker there usta be places like Fictionpress, but I don't think that's alive anymore?
 

Bernkastelwitch

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Jul 1, 2013
Messages
173
Reaction score
160
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMZ
Where are you posting your work to be reviewed? That could make a significant difference in the type and quality of feedback you get. Posting it on a dedicated writing forum will get you much more serious critique than posting it somewhere very general like Facebook. I would expect you could get decent feedback on this forum as well--especially since critiquing game writing is somewhat different from critiquing prose.

Admittedly I posted it on dedicated gaming forums like Gamefaqs and whatnot, simply because other people were doing it and this was way before I joined this forum. Younger me learned the hard way that those kinds of forums is a wild card of responses so I kept to myself for a while.

I am working on a prototype-ish demo of the intro of it. Given how my game works, it's split into three different timelines of sort so it may be hard to do it. Unless I give a brief synopsis of each part of it but only do the detailed writing on the first third of it.
 

Tai_MT

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
May 1, 2013
Messages
5,825
Reaction score
5,496
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMV
Critiquing the story of a game is difficult. Mostly because the gameplay and other factors change how the story is perceived. For pacing and other reasons.

If you just want the story itself critiqued, I would just put up an outline of it somewhere and see what people think. Not sure how much you'd get out of that... but that's your option for "just the story".

The problem with an RPG is that the story isn't just what is in cutscenes and dialogue. A lot of the story is "written" by the players themselves. Some of it is written by the "gameplay". Some, even, by the music and graphics.

It's a complete package.

I'm not sure this is helpful in the least, but here's SOME of what I've been doing:

Playtesting constantly. When possible, I like to have the gameplay of the person testing recorded. I like to see what does and doesn't stick with them. How they act/react in game to things. How is my "pacing" set?

If can get more than just video of the game being played, I like audio of the person playing it. Or, even, video of their face.

Now, I don't like the idea of YouTubers doing this for me, because they're just going to do whatever makes their videos popular. They're going to largely ignore most of the story, the mechanics, and everything, and their immersion is going to be exceptionally low. Their job is to entertain their audience. So, not really reliable for anything EXCEPT marketing your game... and even then... not story heavy games. Because... they're not good at playing those.

But, if you can get someone to give you their thoughts every 10 or 20 minutes of gameplay, you're pretty golden. If you can get them to just sort of talk into a microphone as they play and give their "off the cuff" answers, it's immensely helpful.

There are chunks of my own story that have been rewritten though this method. Not necessarily lines of dialogue, but holes in the plot were filled in, better characterization was given, etcetera. If I found players generally didn't like a character that I wanted them to like (they didn't want to take that character with them anywhere, or talk to them that much), then I reworked them a bit. If they were avoiding storyline as much as possible and only engaging in gameplay, I reworked some of the story to make it more interesting so that players would want to engage with it a bit more.

It's helpful to watch how people play your game. Especially when you're trying to analyze why they're doing certain things. Players who generally don't like your story are going to ignore it. They're going to skip through dialogue and everything as quickly as possible. They're going to avoid engaging with it at every opportunity. They're not going to talk to many NPC's. On and on. Watching how someone plays your game is a huge help in determining what needs work and what doesn't.
 

KawaiiKid

Local Weeb
Veteran
Joined
Oct 13, 2015
Messages
389
Reaction score
213
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMV
I think the only way to properly critique it, is to play through the game in its entirety.
 

SGHarlekin

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Jun 29, 2020
Messages
494
Reaction score
417
First Language
German
Primarily Uses
RMMV
The actual gameplay of an RPG is a lot easier to figure out for critique since it is a lot more evident whether it is balanced or buggy. I do find critiquing plot would be harder since there's a lot more variables coming to it than the actual gameplay. I know for me, I wouldn't mind people critiquing the plot of my game but due to personal reasons, mostly from people trolling on my game before and excusing it as criticism, I am more hesitant to do so and have trust issues.

How do you get people to critique the plot of your game? From giving them a synopsis? From a demo you have? Hire someone to go through your plot? How would you do it personally?
Trust issues? As a game dev? That's an odd thing. You get plot critique by telling people to play your game and ask them to critique your plot. Fairly simple.

I can't really judge what people might have "Trolled" your game, but I can hardly imagine that being the case. Most of the times it's an overly defensive dev that doesn't want to hear any form of critique for their "baby".

I stream live RM reviews on twitch. If you're interested I can give it a shot. I'm ruthless though.
 

Bernkastelwitch

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Jul 1, 2013
Messages
173
Reaction score
160
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMZ
Trust issues? As a game dev? That's an odd thing. You get plot critique by telling people to play your game and ask them to critique your plot. Fairly simple.

I can't really judge what people might have "Trolled" your game, but I can hardly imagine that being the case. Most of the times it's an overly defensive dev that doesn't want to hear any form of critique for their "baby".

I stream live RM reviews on twitch. If you're interested I can give it a shot. I'm ruthless though.

I mean, when you had people mocking your project for a female protagonist and for having "Non human characters" because "everyone is human in real life so therefore this doesn't make sense" in it, that goes from "Overly defensive" to trolling. That's the kind of stuff I dealt with.
 

SGHarlekin

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Jun 29, 2020
Messages
494
Reaction score
417
First Language
German
Primarily Uses
RMMV
I mean, when you had people mocking your project for a female protagonist and for having "Non human characters" because "everyone is human in real life so therefore this doesn't make sense" in it, that goes from "Overly defensive" to trolling. That's the kind of stuff I dealt with.
Ah, yes. Same lmao. Been called a weirdo with a goblin fetish and my game is solely to fulfill my goblin r*pe fantasies and a low key N*zi even tho the game doesn't have anything like that lol. All documented in a YouTube video. It happens. Take whatever useful advice may be hiding in there and move on with your life. Simple as that.
 

Tai_MT

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
May 1, 2013
Messages
5,825
Reaction score
5,496
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMV
I mean, when you had people mocking your project for a female protagonist and for having "Non human characters" because "everyone is human in real life so therefore this doesn't make sense" in it, that goes from "Overly defensive" to trolling. That's the kind of stuff I dealt with.

I tend to find all criticism valuable. Even so-called "Trolling".

In the instances you've provided here, here's what I would've taken from it:

"People are complaining about a female protagonist. Is it REALLY the fact that she's a female that's the problem? Or, am I crafting her in such a way that it feels like I'm shoving it in the faces of the players? One in which it seems like I'm engaging in tokenism? Or political speech? People aren't generally against women protagonists unless something about them seems overly politicized and shoved in someone's face. Let me take a look at the complaint and where the issue might be."

"Non human characters aren't realistic and don't make sense. Okay, did I leave the impression that this is meant to be more realistic than it should be? Did I advertise this as a fantasy world or a modern world with non-humans in it that stand out? Are all the non-humans a problem? Is it just not normalized within my game that there are non-human characters? Someone is finding this strange and immersion breaking. Why is it? What did I do wrong? Let me take a look to see what's going on."

From my point of view, anyone taking the time to "leave a complaint" about your game has taken time out of their day to tell you, "I wanted to like this game, but I don't."

People who don't give a crap about your game won't leave you feedback at all. Positive or Negative. People who give you negative feedback tend to think you can do better than you have, and want you to figure out what's wrong and fix it.

The only stuff I tend to "ignore" is things that don't highlight any particular issue. "Game is garbage" doesn't tell me anything. This is a "troll comment". But, a comment that says, "I don't like your game for X reason" warrants me to take a deeper look at their complaint and try to figure out how and where the issue is. Is the issue actually X reason? Or, is it something that makes X reason stick out and become a problem?

I use criticism to "track down the real issue". A player may tell you, "the game is poorly balanced and too easy", but that doesn't mean they want you to make the game very hard. It might just mean they want you to make victory feel satisfying to them. Feel earned.

What the player tells you a problem is tends to be quite different from what the actual issue is. That's why I find it worth looking into every single specific complaint to see if I can see what the player is seeing. If I can, then I can work on fixing it. If I can't, then I request more specifics from the player in question so I can narrow it down. I tend to just ask them to walk me through their experience and at what point they became annoyed/frustrated with whatever the issue is. Most people with specific complaints are VERY HAPPY to give you details about their particular complaint.

Trolls, on the other hand, are really only interested in making you feel bad. They're not usually interested in "fixing the game". You can sort them out pretty quickly as a resort. And by "sort out" I mean, identify which is which.
 

Bernkastelwitch

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
Jul 1, 2013
Messages
173
Reaction score
160
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMZ
I know I did show them it is a fantasy world and I am intentionally going for less traditional fantasy races, even if I have stuff like fairies, vampires, and merfolk in it as official races along with more offbeat ones.

Only other conclusion I have is people either not reading the synopsis well or just people who aren't fantasy savvy checking it out but still wanting critique in their own ways.

I only believe its trolling because of them going extreme and not telling me what exactly is wrong there.
 

Tai_MT

Veteran
Veteran
Joined
May 1, 2013
Messages
5,825
Reaction score
5,496
First Language
English
Primarily Uses
RMMV
I get the point, but in my experience on the internet, I've found that most people just aren't trolls. A typical troll tries to keep the back and forth going as much as possible in order to just get you angry or upset. They tend to "back off" once they figure out you're not really upset and what they're saying is "obviously stupid".

It's why I've said that most are "easily spotted" when you begin to ask for details and such. If you request specifics and for them to walk you through it and they don't or can't or refuse to do so, they've typically realized that they can't "troll" you and will give up.

If a person "gives up", then they just aren't interested in actually helping you improve the game and they can be safely ignored with a "thanks for the feedback!".

In any case, if someone gives specific criticism, I typically take it seriously. Sometimes, this will be "for a troll", but you quickly weed those people out by genuinely being concerned with what their criticism is and asking for details while being friendly.

You don't have to do everything the criticism says. You don't have to fix every single issue. Especially if it wrecks something people aren't complaining about that you think is important to have.

But, I do think it's important to take specific criticism seriously and use it to "track down" what the actual issue is. After all, your game players aren't going to analyze game design or player psychology as hard as you would as a dev.

Or, rather, I think of it sort of like the guy on Kitchen Nightmares said about Yelp. "If I got 20 people complaining about my Grilled Cheese, I'll take a look at it. See what's going on. Maybe I decide not to change it, but there could be a problem there."
 

Latest Threads

Latest Posts

Latest Profile Posts

It might be a little bit boring and tedious, but building that database of armor, items, weapons and skills are super important.
More words of wisdom: Trying to make everyone happy will just make you miserable.
Ads: "Up to 90% off"
Reality: 9 items at 10% Off, one item at 90% off
if you were working on a rhythm-based retro fighting game, would you rather have the jumps take up two beats (one for jumping, one for landing) or just one?

Forum statistics

Threads
124,383
Messages
1,163,248
Members
163,181
Latest member
Insaneaphobe
Top