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Friday, 15th June, 2012, 03:13 AM #1
The Grand Druid (Lvl 20)
Polling, Open Playtesting and Game Design
I was reading the latest Dragon's Eye View article on the WOTC site (for those who don't read it, it's the art column) and something caught my eye. The poll discussing what version of the Owlbear people liked. We had a pretty clear winner:
Originally Posted by WOTC Site
But, there's a problem. It is the odds on favourite, true, but, it doesn't have the majority of people on board. If we choose this image and go forward, we're actually losing over half of the fans of the owlbear.
So, therein lies the problem. If you are designing a game, what do you do? Do you go with the odds on favourite, even knowing that you've just ignored over half the gaming population? Do you go back to the drawing board and try to find an image that does appeal to over half? Is half good enough? How about 2/3rds?
I can really see WOTC being stuck behind a rock and a hard place. They are trying to appeal to the broadest number of gamers possible, but, in doing so, leave themselves open to the "Gnome Effect" to use Mike Mearl's term.
Say you have a group of 6 players. From the above poll, 3 of the six players aren't happy with your decision. If half the group doesn't like something, it's pretty likely that they're not going to play your game.
I'm not sure what can be done about this. I suppose the open playtest is a good start. Take the feedback, loop it back around and try to find as much common ground as possible. Like the song says, two out of three ain't bad, so that might not be a terrible benchmark.
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Friday, 15th June, 2012, 03:43 AM #2
Magsman (Lvl 14)
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The thing that you're not taking into account here (and that the poll is not judging either) is that the winning entry may have been the second choice for a lot of those polled. It most certainly does not mean that 54.8% of those polls didn't like it. Perhaps it is only "hated" by a small percentage and so going with that option is not as perilous as you envisage.
Perhaps a better poll (or follow-up poll now that the results are known) is which images do you find acceptable representations of the owlbear. This may lead to the conclusion that the 45.2% option is well supported (even if not everyone's favourite) or it could show that another option is more neutrally accepted. My point is that you need to be very careful with statistics as its very easy to misrepresent what a set of unclear statistics is not saying. [I am a mathematician by the way ].
Herremann the Wise
Imagination is a quality given a man to compensate him for what he is not,
and a sense of humor was provided to console him for what he is.
He who is certain he knows the ending of things when he is only beginning them is either extremely wise or extremely foolish; no matter which is true, he is certainly an unhappy man, for he has put a knife in the heart of wonder.
Friday, 15th June, 2012, 03:45 AM #3
Grandmaster of Flowers (Lvl 18)
I'm not sure I see a creative vision for 5e's game design yet. Certainly Jon is making strides in the art department.
I've read the article where Mearls discusses the "Gnome Effect" (Dungeons & Dragons Roleplaying Game Official Home Page - Article (What's With the Polls?)) and I'm not sure I grasp what he's saying. Either it's painfully obvious (change the game and not only do individual players react but also gaming groups) or it's going over my head.I can really see WOTC being stuck behind a rock and a hard place. They are trying to appeal to the broadest number of gamers possible, but, in doing so, leave themselves open to the "Gnome Effect" to use Mike Mearl's term.
Last edited by Quickleaf; Friday, 15th June, 2012 at 03:49 AM.
Friday, 15th June, 2012, 04:00 AM #4
Thaumaturgist (Lvl 9)
Considering feedback is important, but at the end of the day game designers, artists, graphic designers, editors, etc. need to man up and make the tough decisions about a variety of trade-offs and focus on making a good product that offers utility above and beyond the options consumers currently have available.
I think one element that commonly gets lost in open play tests and general polling is the fact that you need to discern if it comes from a potential customer. Can you provide them with utility above and beyond the substitute goods available to them without alienating too many of your other potential customers? The other element to consider is that what people claim to want and what they actually want can be quite different. What matters in the end is their economic actions. Do they buy the core rules? Can you market supplemental material to them? Is the design talent you have available to you able to serve their needs without too much cost? Will they bring new players into the network?
Those are all hard questions. If you could design a highly profitable game through polling and design by committee there would be a lot more highly profitable games. This isn't an easy business. Potential consumers have highly specific tastes and a wealth of substitute goods available to them.
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Friday, 15th June, 2012, 04:03 AM #5
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
Does that make sense? I feel that I might be explaining it too obscurely.
Friday, 15th June, 2012, 04:05 AM #6
Myrmidon (Lvl 10)
Friday, 15th June, 2012, 04:18 AM #7
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
Now, since you can choose only one, you of course choose the race you most dislike. Now, lets say that of the people who voted for gnomes, most of them would also like to see Halflings axed. Now they REALLY hate gnomes, but halflings don't warm their heart either. And lets say halflings are the second choice for just about everyone who voted on the poll... You could easily have 89% of people against halflings - more than those who voted against gnomes - and not know it!
Another way of thinking of it is to say that only 10% of players are willing to play a gnome. Well, you think to yourself, that's 10% you can afford to lose. However, what you don't know is how much of that 10% are DM's or influential players within their group. If those players feel disenfranchised and they have pull as to what is played, how likely are those groups to actually play D&D 5th Edition? We might be looking at a good 33% of groups switching to Pathfinder - because Pathfinder has Gnomes, and we want to keep Johnny Coolbeans happy. EVERYONE likes Johnny Coolbeans.
That's 33% of the market that WotC cannot afford to lose over a stinky gnome! And all they had to do to keep that demographic is plug the big-nosed buggers into the original release of the PHB!
Does that make sense?
Friday, 15th June, 2012, 08:10 AM #8
The Grand Druid (Lvl 20)
Friday, 15th June, 2012, 08:30 AM #9
Magsman (Lvl 14)
Friday, 15th June, 2012, 08:34 AM #10
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)