Tips on Dealing with Steam

Dark Gaia

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So... I recently got my game, Legionwood 2 released on Steam, with Degica's help. So far it seems to be going well, but I'm not exactly an avid Steam user (by "not exactly" I mean "I've never even installed it before now") and don't have a lot of expertise with regards to the conventions of the Steam community or how Steam works, so I have a couple of conundrums for the experts to consider.

How do you guys who've published on Steam deal with all the RPG Maker hate over there? My game has only been available since Friday, but I've taken a look at the reviews/discussions for other RPG Maker games on Steam and I seem to have noticed one common theme among the feedback: there are a whole bunch of negative reviews that are basically to the effect of "this game is RPG Maker, therefor bad". Many of these reviews have recorded playtimes of less than an hour. The discussion forums for the games are the same, filled with comments knocking the game simply because of the engine it's been made in.

Now, I definitely don't mind negative reviews in general. In fact, there are a couple of genuine constructive reviews I've already received that have pinpointed areas that can be enhanced through updates. However, I've also started receiving the seemingly typical "this game is made in RPG Maker, so it's crap". Some people seem to have bought the game just for the specific purpose of leaving a review to state how RPG Maker is a bad engine etc etc.

At the moment, I'm perfectly content to leave these comments as they are as I don't believe in censoring the forums or any other extreme measures like that. However, I was wondering how other developers deal with this phenomenon. Do you guys delete the comments that focus only on the fact that it's made in RPG Maker? Do you leave them around and hope that it starts an intelligent discussion? Do you implement a rule banning discussion of the engine entirely? It's really doing my head in -- people will visit the discussion forums and see a bunch of negative feedback that isn't actually relevant to the game in any way.
 

Solo

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Wow... thanks for the warning about Steam. :(

If I were you, I WOULD delete the ignorant comments that bash the game only because it's made in RPG Maker. That's not fair to your game at all. You can't let ignorance just run amuck like that.
 
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Archeia

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In all honesty, the best way is to just leave it. Steam is a pretty negative place in general. Fans tend to protect if the work is good.

Unless trolling or massive bursts of bad behaviour happens in your screenshots/artwork/forum part of it, that's where you start deleting.
 
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Dark Gaia

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Yes, it does seem like the best option to simply ignore them and delete them as spam. However, I do know that in the past developers have gotten quite a bit of bad press for "over moderating" the Steam forums, so I'm simply not sure what to do. Honestly, I'd rather have a bunch of people saying RPG Maker is bad than gaming journalists running a feature on censorship over it.

@Archeia: I think I agree with you. I don't use Steam so I don't think I've noticed that it can be a pretty negative community in general. In that case, it's probably just best to live and let live. In all fairness, my game does use a large percentage of RTP, so it will probably attract a lot of these comments just on the basis of it "looking like" RPG Maker.
 
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Kes

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Aldorlea has 3 games on Steam and I've noticed that they've had the same comments plastered all over the forums.  There really is nothing that one can do against such a determined body of haters. 
 
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Solo

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I just looked at the forum for Legionwood 2 on Steam and saw what Kijuta posted... how can someone so full of hate still be breathing? :headshake:


Dark Gaia, I am so sorry that you had to go through this. No one should be subjected to this kind of verbal abuse. And I thought I had it bad when people bashed my game for its graphics on RMN without even playing it (just based on the screenshots I posted)... Almost anyone that I know of who's actually given my game a chance has told me how much they like it, and even thanked me for making it. I'm sure your case must be similar. It's just hard to accept that there are people who get off by mercilessly ripping others apart... but remember, it's because they themselves have self-esteem issues (or wish they could do what you've done). Don't let them pass that insecurity on to you. As a creator, you've undertaken a fantastic mission in life. "Great spirits have often encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds." ~Einstein


Even though it's much easier said than done, I guess, above all, you've got to consider the source, pray for strength, and press on. Believe me... I know how hard that is.
 
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Dark Gaia

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Eh, it's not as if the comments actually bother me. I've been doing this RPG Maker thing for years now (plus I'm a professional writer, and book reviewers can be harsh) and I've seen much worse. I just didn't expect to see so much hate on Steam, which is supposed to be a community for "the PC Master Race". My only concern is that other prospective players will see those comments, not actually take the time to analyze them and just come away with the idea "this game is bad".
 
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Solo

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Eh, it's not as if the comments actually bother me.
I so wish I could get there.

My only concern is that other prospective players will see those comments, not actually take the time to analyze them and just come away with the idea "this game is bad".
Exactly... and that's just what the haters want.
 

whitesphere

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The problem is that, even if your game is totally awesome, there apparently have been a lot of people who released RPG Maker-based games without doing the long, tedious playtesting, game balancing, map polishing and basically all of the effort which separates a truly great game from a poor one.  

I don't intend to release my game as commercial, but when I have the rough draft finished, I plan to spend a long time polishing and such, just to make the best game I can.  It's a good learning experience.

It's sort of like how the end of the first Video Game era (1983 or so I think?) happened in part because developers produced tons of crappy games to make a quick buck.  And there was no Internet or gaming magazines, so no way to separate the crap from the great games.  This nearly caused the entire video game industry to collapse, as people stopped buying games because they didn't know which were good and which were not.

So, basically, we're tarred with the same brush as people who perhaps had a good idea and, maybe, didn't playtest it, or made poor quality maps, or otherwise made poor RPGs.  It's unfortunate, but I don't see any real way around it.

Would I delete the Steam RPG-maker bashing comments?  Probably not, because annoying though they are, it would create more of an uproar if you started consistently removing them.  People might wonder if the positive reviews are all you let stand, undermining the positive reviews.
 

Dark Gaia

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The problem is that, even if your game is totally awesome, there apparently have been a lot of people who released RPG Maker-based games without doing the long, tedious playtesting, game balancing, map polishing and basically all of the effort which separates a truly great game from a poor one.  
Basically, I wonder how these games even managed to get onto Steam in the first place. Legionwood had to go through a pretty strict process. Degica gave me a list of items to implement in the game before they even brought it anywhere near Steam. It's a shame a few bad people ruined it for everyone else... :(
 

whitesphere

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I agree

Basically, I wonder how these games even managed to get onto Steam in the first place. Legionwood had to go through a pretty strict process. Degica gave me a list of items to implement in the game before they even brought it anywhere near Steam. It's a shame a few bad people ruined it for everyone else... :(
I agree.  It is a shame that some lazy people ruined it for everyone else.  :-(  RPG Maker is a powerful toolkit, but like any set of tools, is only as good as the skill and effort put into the result.

But I have seen even some commercial RPGs which apparently weren't playtested --- where your entire party dies as soon as you leave the first town, unless you get amazingly lucky to win the first key fights.

It's amazing what a difference even some basic playtesting makes in how enjoyable a game is. Let alone polishing the game.  When I first playtested my first dungeon, I found I needed a lot of tweaks for the player to stand a fair chance.
 

Dark Gaia

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Well, any developer who thinks they're serious enough to consider publishing their game on Steam should be playtesting just as a matter of habit. It blows my mind how someone could make a game, not even bother doing the most basic of playtesting, and then say "yep, this is what I want to publish, it's good to go."

I thoroughly playtested my games even when I was releasing them for free. I even hired groups of trusted players to test the game, to pick up bugs I would have missed on my own, or to try things in the game that wouldn't occur to me. Even after all this process, there will still inevitably be a few very minor bugs in the game that escaped notice, so I can't imagine how bad something without any playtesting whatsoever would be.

In that case though, I can probably understand the disdain for RPG Maker games. If I spent money on a game where a game-breaking bug occured in the first ten minutes and it was something the developer could have easily fixed, but didn't, I probably would be wary of any other games from a similar developer. That said, it's still unfair for the engine itself to get tarred with that brush. There are lots of people who churn out crappy, broken games in Unity, for example, but you don't see people saying "eww, made with Unity, this game sucks!"
 

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My advice would be, ignore what you can but delete anything that gets personal, overly abusive or just plain offensive. There's no excuse for death threats, excessive swearing, homophobic, racial or sexist slurs or insults - all of which I've seen on Steam reviews/posts/forums and for that matter, other RPG Maker sites out there.

If someone doesn't like any and all RPG Maker games "just because" and want to bash them all without any legitimate reason, that's their business I guess. They're only wasting their own time and energy going through the list of RPG Maker made titles and posting how much they hate them, but when it gets really nasty, it's best to remove them I think. Personal opinion only of course.
 

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There's no excuse for death threats, excessive swearing, homophobic, racial or sexist slurs or insults - all of which I've seen on Steam reviews/posts/forums and for that matter, other RPG Maker sites out there.
My God... WHY? Why would anyone issue a death threat over an RPG Maker game!? Was it the creator in retaliation, or someone attacking them for whatever reason!?...
 

Vexed

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One that springs to mind was someone saying something along the lines of "people who make bad games in this bad program should all be really shot in the face. And if no one else is going to really do it, I really will".

Just replace the underlined words with more 'colourful' language, imagine every other word misspelled and remove any semblance of grammar and you'll get the general idea. And that's not even the worst thing I've read in relation to RPG Maker games.

Doesn't the internet just bring out the best in people.
 

whitesphere

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Yes, I would second what VexedEnigma said.  Leave negative reviews and comments up, unless they get into the personal attack realm.  Personal attacks are not relevant to the game itself.    

And, death threats over a game?  That's just insane.  

If I don't like a game, or say I hate the concept, etc, I just ignore it.  After all, there are plenty of other games to play if I'm so inclined.

If I purchased a game and didn't like it, I'd post a detailed review saying what I don't like and why.  Just a statement of "This game is crap!" doesn't tell anyone why it might be crap.  And it doesn't help the developer if s/he wants to perhaps address the concerns (if reasonable).

@VexedEnigma The Internet seems to give us the unfortunate answer to "The Ring of Ganges".  That is the theory that, if someone were given a ring of invisibility, the person would suddenly lose all of his/her ethics and morals.  This implies some people are only polite and civil out of fear of reprisal.

Maybe I'm a bit naive but I'd like to hope most people are innately good and are not only good out of fear of punishment (whether by mortal authorities or by some divine power).
 

Kes

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Anyone who wants to release a commercial RPG Maker game needs a very thick skin.  I have been stunned at some of the stuff I've seen posted.
 

seita

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The gaming community is sh*tty. Like ksjp said a thick skin is needed if you want to be a commercial game developer. Look at Fez, it was amazing but mister Fishy was overly sensitive, so much so that he cancelled the sequel. It's an AMAZING game but he let things get into his skin. He should be more than successful, he should be rolling in even more money right now.

Anyway, RPG Maker stigma + sh*tty community = what you see is what you get. I wouldn't delete negative comments, only the personal death-threaty kind. I'd probably report them too if it came down to that.
 

DavidGil

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Hey, DarkGaia. I nearly posted on Steam when I saw some of the comments.

Kinda glad I didn't with seeing this thread here.

Anyhow, it's been my experience that it's best to not say anything, learn from any criticism or simply say thanks. Complaining about the hate, critics etc. is pretty much a bad move no matter the medium. I'm a writer first, game developer second, so . . . Or well, maybe game developer isn't the right word with just learning it. (Not saying you are complaining or anything either, just speaking generally here)

That said, I'm sorry you've had to go through this. People really can be idiots. Many of the complainers, if I had to guess, probably haven't even played whatever they're complaining about. As an aside, there's a zombie game made with RPG Maker that someone's trying to get greenlit and despite giving it away for fre, it seems people are still complaining. It really does not compute.

Out of curiosity though, what commercial game was released without any play testing on Steam? I take it you do mean Steam, as I'm unaware of any. I'm aware of a few map issues when it comes to passability and grammatical errors, but nothing more. Unless you mean non-Steam games? But yeah . . . play testing and turning out a polished product is very important. I know that, in what little I've got of a game made, I spent hours balancing just the first area (about 5 - 20 minutes playtime, depending on how long you spend grinding) and it's still not right. Too easy for the player to die. Want it to be hard, but not that hard. Don't mind it later in the game though.

It'll be interesting to see if Always Sometimes Monsters gets all of this hate with it being an RPG Maker game. So far, it seems to have avoided it. And if anyone's ordered it, you can download from Steam and the Humble store now. :)

Edit: I did buy Legionwood 2 by the way, but on Desura. Would have waited for the Steam release, but didn't know about it. Haven't played it beyond the first area yet though, as I'm working through Legionwood 1 first. Did download your horror games too.

Edit 2: Kjsp17, you mentioned facing criticism too with your game? Or just criticism aimed at RPG Maker games in general? Sorry to hear that if it was aimed at your game.
 
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