Page 8 – Player Feedback & Character Input – How they shape your game.

Here is page 8 of my latest project. I slowed down a bit as I am recovering from a very minor surgery, but I hope to be back on track starting this week.

     A game where every detail has been prepared in advance is much like a video game in that the game is limited to that which the programmer could conceive of within the confines of the past. A fully prepared game turns the role of the GM into that of a living computer who is needed to run the program that is the game. There is no need for the programmer, for that role has already been fulfilled by the GM at an earlier time. The fully prepared game is now not only as good as it is detailed, but as good as what was the GM’s predictions for what the players would pursue.

     That is too risky for our purposes with this workbook. We need to do more than make predictions and then see how accurate we were through play. We are going to ask the players what it is that they want out of the game, but not what they want from the point-of-view of their characters. We are going to ask the players what kind of emotional ride they seek from the game. Do they want to feel happiness, desperation, sadness, confidence, or any of a plethora of moods and feelings? Should the next session terrify them or make them laugh? What kind of conflicts do they react to the most, and what is that reaction?

     This is why you are given a player feedback form, so that after every session (even the very last one) you may gather the opinions of the people who have the best insight into the quality of your game – the players themselves. Yet you cannot simply ask "How was the quality of the last game?" for that is not a particularly useful question. Even if your players are willing to be honest with you, because most people will avoid giving their friends negative criticism out of misplaced politeness, answers like "The quality was good." or "The quality was bad." only give you information in regards to the game’s past. You want to acquire feedback that is useful for the development of the game’s future.

     That is why this workbook focuses on collecting feedback in two forms:

  1. Player Desire – What is the emotional response that the player is looking to acquire from the game?
  2. Character Goals – What is it that the player hopes that his or her character will accomplish within the game?

     By knowing in advance what your player’s desires and his or her character’s goals are for the next session you can focus your work on planning for the biggest emotional impact while minimizing your prep work by focusing on what really matters to the players. Follow the process given to you in this workbook, and you will begin to have a more involved group of players as they realize that you are responding to their feedback.

Let me know what you think. Obviously the feedback sheet itself is not ready yet, but that will make its way to this blog soon enough.

Something that I realized while writing this page is that the workbook will need a section on the initial pitch of a game to a group of players. I will have to add that to the outline.