Loose Cannon

How to Write Game Feedback: A Guide by Dan Felder, LoR’s Game Designer

It’s no secret that creating a game for a big audience is no small feat; players will have different ideas on how to make their favorite game better with the hopes that the developers will take their feedback onboard. People gather on social media such as reddit and Twitter to express their satisfaction and concerns, but also through the official support system.

Dan Felder, Game Design Manager at Riot Games took to Legends of Runeterra’s subreddit to provide a guide on how to best communicate feedback so the developers can make the most out of them:

Several players have asked me about how to write feedback in a way that’s maximally useful for devs. I posted a few comments about this, so I figured it’d be more convenient to write up my thoughts in a post. After all, it’s something game designers have to do as well, so consider this a chance to use our own techniques against us. 🙂

The core advice I’d give is, “Describe your experience the way you might explain how you’re feeling to a doctor.”

A lot of players jump past this and go straight to solutions, such as calling for specific changes in the game. This would be like a patient walking into a doctor’s office and saying “Please schedule me for an MRI on my left leg, and prescribe me X medication for 14 days.” Even if the patient is 100% right about what should be done, the doc can’t know that until they’ve learned what the patient’s symptoms are.

Doctors diagnose patients by matching their symptoms to a list of possible conditions, then go through tests to narrow things down. If someone sent that above message to a doctor, the doctor would have to guess what the person has diagnosed themself with, and what underlying symptoms might have caused that. It takes a lot of untangling.

For example, one of my friends working on an MMO got a bunch of player feedback during an early beta that, “The distance between [Zone A] and [Zone B] is way too far.” The lead producer collecting that feedback told the team they should reduce the distance between Zone A and Zone B accordingly.

Ripping out a chunk of the world map would have been a huge amount of work, espescially because you have to rebuild it at the new edges to make it look like it naturally connects. It would have killed a lot of cool terrain that was built too.

Instead the designers said, “The players are probably calling for a shorter distance because they’re bored. Looking at the area, they’re probably bored because there are a lot of monsters and hidden treasure there, but there are no quests to encourage players to look for the treasure or kill the monsters. The players complaining about this are very quest-focused, so they’re running through the area after getting the quest to go from Zone A to Zone B, and are ignoring anything that isn’t part of that quest until its done. We originally thought players would explore the area if their quests encouraged them to go through it, but these quest-focused players aren’t doing that so… So let’s put a few quests in there. It’ll take one designer just a few days.”

This solved the problem by adding cool stuff to do, instead of taking far more time to remove a zone that quest-focused players didn’t enjoy.

This is the kind of thing designers do with feedback all the time. We look for the symptoms of the experience and build theories about why players feel the way they do, then look for solutions to the underlying issues.

As such, if giving playtest feedback its best to describe what you’re feeling first and when you’re feeling it. Include any information that helps us with the diagnosis too. Once you have provided this information, you can also give suggestions for what you think would help – that can also be valuable information for us – but its important we understand the key symptoms first. Otherwise we have to try and guess at them, and if we guess wrong we may think your solution wouldn’t work for what we think you’re feeling. 🙂

Here’s a behind the scenes example. In XP1, Jinx was going to get a special PvE-only card as part of her adventure. At the time, playing it discarded all cards in your hand, then replaced them with 1-cost spells that dealt 2 damage to a unit. This is the feedback I wrote about this card when playtesting:

I wasn’t excited by Jinx’s treasure card. I felt it was an interesting utility option, because I understood this would trigger her to level up; but I wasn’t confident that trading my cards in hand for a bunch of 1-cost mystic shots that only hit units would be a good thing. It felt like a downgrade once I had a ton of mana. I wanted to play my more expensive cards I already had in hand, not lose them all for cheap cards.

I was also worried that if Jinx got removed, I might lose the game because I would have no proactive creatures in hand anymore.

All these new removal spells also made it feel hard to generate a super mega death rocket. I had to play all those removal spells to empty my hand, but I naturally wanted to save the removal for scary enemy units that might show up. So, while the treasure helps level jinx up it makes it pretty hard to actually generate the iconic super mega death rocket. I think I only played a single rocket during the run.

This feedback follows the same flow I talked about above. It started by explaining that I wasn’t excited about the treasure card (we want you to feel excited by a special pve-only treasure card) and talked about the experience of trying to use the card in the context of my run.

Jinx’s treasure card was ultimately redesigned into the Loose Cannon. This card also helps you empty your hand to level up Jinx, but it does so in a way that lets you play all your expensive cards in a big burst of insanity instead. It solves all the issues I was having with the previous version and is definitely exciting to play with. 🙂

Below is the original post from reddit, and you can see all the additional comments and discussions with Dan Felder.

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