Originally Posted by MMO-Champion
With that recent tire fire that was that Reddit post, you sure have some thick skin, Ben Brode mentioned that being sorta the face of a game opens you up to brunt of the community’s attacks when people asked why him and Yong Woo didn’t do more designer insights. Do you feel it’s important for a dev to have thick skin when dealing with this stuff.
I don’t think you can be a good game designer if you have thin skin. You have to subject your ideas to the crucible of review, whether that happens internally or after players see your design.
I do think you can be a good game designer if you have thick skin, but don’t have thick enough skin to open yourself up to direct communication with players. Some of my favorite games have been made by people that can barely stand to have a conversation with other humans, let alone open themselves up to the internet.
But if you’re going to go that route, you just have to be really, really good at what you do. You need a purity of vision or an ability to foresee problems that just isn’t that common in developers. I don’t have that. Way back at Ensemble, when we weren’t sure if design A or design B made more sense, I said “Let’s just ask players what they think.”
You don’t have to ask up front. You can launch a feature, monitor the response, and then iterate on that feature. But you have to get that feedback at some point. Lead Champion Designer Riot Scruffy the other day said something like “Even when you’ve really thought about it, tested and iterated, your chance of nailing a great design is about 70%. So you have to be prepared to iterate based on player feedback. You have to leave time for the follow-up work.”
(I also don’t mean to imply that asking players on Reddit or forums is the only way we gather feedback.)
Now, I don’t subscribe to the idea that players should just be able to say whatever the hell they want to, and developers should just suck it up because that’s their job. I value communication, and communication is easier if you treat each other like human beings. But I also recognize that players get emotional or frustrated, and I recognize that the power dynamic between passionate player and developer who just doesn’t get it can exacerbate that frustration.
But there are limits.
I don’t block a lot of players on Twitter, but I do block them. I don’t answer stupidly rude questions, except to make a point of the fact that they aren’t going to actually bring me to tears. Sorry.
I’ve had weird phone calls in the middle of the night. I’ve had death threats. I've had Blizzard security offer to monitor my house. I’ve had designers who had to work with the FBI on threats. I’m also an upper class, straight, white dude, and I know developers who aren’t who have gotten much, much worse from players. There’s no reason for that. We all love games. That already gives us a lot in common.
I try and remind players all the time that your communication is going to be more effective if you’re professional about it, because then you’re actually talking about the problem and not venting about how neglected you feel. If you have a job or go to school, you probably have coworkers or teachers you disagree with that you still have to treat like human beings. Developers deserve the same respect. I know it might score you internet points to attack someone in an over the top matter. You’re better than that. Resist the urge. (Source