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Developers are passionate creators that just want to build nice things. Unfortunately, game development also means that at one point our baby project will get into the hands of all sorts of strangers. Get ready for impact when that time comes.

Vladimir Teneslav, Blogger

September 3, 2020

4 Min Read

There comes a time when every game developer needs to face the harsh criticism and listen to his game’s reviews. However, usually, for most games, that time comes after some sort of official release. Well, under some very interesting circumstances, mostly of which are all my own fault, I had to face my demons way before release via a twitch stream that has since been removed (without me requesting any action).

To give some context, sometime last December I contacted a lot of people to get some feedback on my game 7 Bones & 7 Stones – The Ritual, an asymmetrical multiplayer game, a game a bit similar to Dead by Daylight. Since I cannot test on my own the fun of a multiplayer game (a very big flaw in my plan to solo dev) I reached out to the Internet to get some help.

A scared villager asking for directions from a pig and a chicken.

I launched a Discord server and started playing 7 Bones and 7 Stones - The Ritual for the first time with REAL people and it was great, especially since the closed Alpha got picked up by a gaming website and I got some nice traffic to the Discord server. 

The reception was great, people were intrigued and it was FUN! I was in Heavers. All this from playing a stable build of an Alpha, so not even a Beta. Now, at this point I must mention that I have sent A LOT of tester Steam keys to many Youtubers as well since in my naive mind I thought I could get some early interest. Unfortunately, by the time I ended the closed Alpha no streamers picked up my game. Well, such is life.

Now, fast forward to this June when I was casually searching my own game on Google (as one does) when I stumbled upon a mysterious Twitch clip. Apparently someone had played my game and recorded a session in May. I was very happy, intrigued and a bit scared. Happy and intrigued because YAY!, a streamer played my game, but scared because the name of the stream was “Asymmetrical, something something…”. So not much hype and enthusiasm there...

So yeah, this wasn’t sounding very good. Scared, I started watching the stream and boy oh boy it was 10.000 worse than I had ever expected. I was witnessing my own roast by a gang of friends that were trying to play my game, my baby. I say “trying” because during the whole month of May when they had finally decided to redeem the keys and play the game, the build on Steam was having a lot of issues and it was barely playable. And I mean a lot of issues. The disclaimer here is that they were using the December tester keys to access my game behind closed doors 4 months later. Of course, it's my own fault because I didn't block all the December tester Steam keys I handed out, but to be honest, I thought what harm can come from not doing it? Question answered. Thanks.

Anyway, after watching a few minutes of the roast I just knew I had to make this video, so this is what followed. Spoiler: It involves alcohol. 

I hope you enjoyed the roast as much as I did because I really, really had fun. As it started it was brutal, but I soon realized that on one hand they were mentioning some valid criticism and on the other hand it’s just show biz. Their roast is an act for their viewers. 

I have been recently contacted by one of the streamers in the video and they apologized and wished me the best since they thought they crossed a line, especially since they misinterpret a bit what they are playing. No hurt feelings man! Keep your streams engaging!

Now, I believe this is a strong lesson to all developers out there. Criticism will not come in the form you expect it. It will be everywhere, in all sorts of shapes and forms. It will not always come from loving fans that will put it nicely for you. It's our duty to not dismiss hate as just being hate. Also, don't dismiss criticism by thinking that your game was not completely understood and appreciated. Gaming is all about the user experience, so if your game prevents people from truly experiencing it then there's a design problem somewhere. Why aren't they understanding what you are trying to say?

Games should easily flow through the minds of the players. 

So keep on working on your games and remember that it's ok to feel sad when your game gets crushed by criticism but it's not ok to not embrace the hate. Underneath it all there is the valuable information you need. Take that and make a better game. 

-Vladimir

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