Q: What sort of feedback should I provide as an Insider?

What sort of feedback should I provide as an Insider?

As an Age of Empires Insider, you have the unique opportunity to be a part of the development process for games in the Age franchise. The feedback you give us goes a long way and helps us understand what’s working, what’s not, and what’s missing.

Feedback can take many forms, including bug reports, specific questions and challenges our team asks you, or simply your unique perspective and insight of various game systems and features. You can share your feedback on the following topics in their dedicated spaces, linked below:

Additionally, we encourage you to check out the following best practices that you can keep in mind while playing and taking notes, writing your feedback, and interacting with others:

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:+1: Using Feedback for Good :+1:

Here are some best practices to keep in mind as you take notes and provide feedback about the game!

Understand the topic.

If there’s a focus for a topic, be sure you understand it before jumping in. This will allow you to look for answers to the questions being asked, and it will keep your replies on-topic. Don’t understand the focus? Ask questions! The Age Team and other players are knowledgeable and eager to help!

Set the stage.

Good feedback lets the reader know what you were looking at, where you were, and what you experienced at that time and place. Use common sense about how lengthy this needs to be, but consider leading your statements with something like:

“I was playing <______> and I tried <______> when <______> happened.”

Provide details.

Make sure your feedback is detailed and descriptive without being overly long. You don’t need to provide every detail about what you experienced or how to improve it, but you should strive to provide more than, “Make this better,” or, “This was not fun.” Tell us why something works or didn’t work.

Give examples.

When it’s appropriate, give an example of what you’re suggesting. Don’t be afraid to cite another game, but avoid relying too heavily on other titles. We often like to reference or pay homage to ideas or mechanics from other games, but we also need to express how those ideas would work within our systems and design philosophies.

Include the positive.

Feedback about things that don’t work is often easier to understand in the context of things that do, and highlighting positive aspects illustrates that you understand and see the big picture.

We’re not encouraging you to brown-nose; in fact, when people are looking for constructive feedback, they will often skip over obvious flattery. However, showing that you know what does work is just as important as knowing what doesn’t.

Find the balance between logic and emotion.

Be logical, but not emotionless. Be passionate, but not so full of passion that you can’t hear a good counterargument.

Identify the root of the problem.

Whenever possible, try to locate the heart of the issue. If a mechanic in the game is troubling, that can be good feedback; but if you can identify why the mechanic is troubling, that’s even better!

Provide well thought-out suggestions.

There are times when your suggestions are implemented just because we think it would be awesome for the game. If you are including a suggestion in your feedback, be certain you’ve given it more than just a passing thought.

If you can’t think of a suggestion, don’t let that stop you from submitting feedback! Your opinion is valuable, and prompting discussion for others to weigh in with suggestions can be just as valuable as coming up with ideas on your own.

Provide alternatives.

Are there two or three good solutions to your issue? Feel free to include them all! Designers often appreciate and get inspiration from lists of ideas.

Organize! Format! Spell check!

Feedback that’s easily read and understood is far more likely to see action. Here are some tips:

  • Put your thoughts in order.
  • If you took a series of notes, group your points by topic.
  • Avoid delivering your feedback as one big blob (a.k.a. wall of text).
  • Consider grouping thoughts into paragraphs or as a bulleted list.
  • Spell check!

Be timely.

Feedback that’s too early may be forgotten before it’s actionable, while feedback that comes too late may be useless if a playtest is coming to an end. Don’t let the opportunity slip by!

:stop_sign: Steering Clear of the Dark Path :stop_sign:

Here are some things you should definitely avoid as you prepare to leave your feedback here on the forum.

Avoid abbreviating.

Short, unexplained opinions are not nearly as useful as detailed responses.

  • NO: “Movement sucks!”
  • NO: “+1,” “/signed,” “Agreed,” “Seconded,” “Quoted for truth,” etc.[/quote]

Turn down the negative tone.

There’s a difference between being critical and being negative. Learn this difference and avoid the latter. Show that you’ve thought about the effects of the problem, rather than simply providing your initial reaction.

  • NO: “The Scout model looks like garbage.”
  • YES: “The bloom effect on the English Scout unit obstructs the view around it and is an unpleasant shade of yellow.”

No one knows best.

Avoid taking an inflexible position or positioning yourself as the authority. Proposals should be accepted on their merits and practicality, and disagreements should be settled after careful consideration. Using forceful, pretentious language hurts your point.

If your argument is “You need to do it my way because I know best,” then we probably won’t, because it seems you don’t.

  • NO: “I’ve played games like this since I was ten. Trust me: you have to include polearms.”
  • YES: “In games I’ve played with polearms, I’ve enjoyed the variety they provided in attack speed and strength against ranged units. I think we could use that.”

Don’t speak from inexperience.

Avoid making suggestions for things you didn’t try or ask about. If you suggest there should be an error message when you try to equip a hat on your feet, and that message already exists, your suggestion will be taken as seriously as if you were wearing a hat on your feet.

Avoid inaccuracies.

If your feedback includes information that is inaccurate, it may be discarded as a whole. If you assert that a character can equip only a sword, when it’s also possible to equip an ax or bow, your reader may stop before getting to your awesome suggestion about new sword attacks.

Known issues are just that: already known.

There may be a time and place to discuss well-covered issues, but if it’s not explicitly pertinent to your feedback, avoid bringing up obvious or tired topics.

  • NO: “Then we crashed again. There was another crash. There certainly was a lot of crashing today. I think the game would be better if we had fewer crashes.”

NOTE: This doesn’t mean that you can’t echo suggestions from other people or that you should drop an issue once it’s received a response. Instead, if something is noted as a problem, move on and focus on other topics of discussion!

Hyperbole is the worst possible thing in the whole world.

Use measured language, particularly when explaining your dislike for something. Conversely, if you love something, you can say so without excessive enthusiasm. Whether positive or negative: if your feedback is overly hyperbolic, the recipient will quickly learn that you aren’t serious or can’t accurately gauge quality.

  • NO: “The art for that makes me want to gouge out my eyes.”
  • NO: “I’m so amazed by that model, I just want to quit my job and worship the art department.”

Sarcasm in text is never sarcastic.

It doesn’t matter how many smileys you include or how many words are italicized, sarcasm doesn’t work for conveying feedback. It will either be misread or interpreted as an insult. Write down exactly what you mean, not the opposite.

  • NO: “The fire effect is suuuper impressive. It’s the most amazing fire I’ve ever seen. Really.”
  • YES: “The fire effect could be more impressive if it was larger and if it shimmered more.”

Your words have your name on them.

Your behavior is your own. Echoing the bad behavior of others is not excusable.

  • NO: “I agree with Achilles; only morons enjoy this obviously broken naval combat.”

This isn’t about “you” or “them.”

Insults and attacks have NO place in your feedback; your comments should always be about the game, and not the people playing or building the game. This also means no “call-outs.” The beta is a place where everyone should feel comfortable leaving feedback.

People found to be openly antagonistic of others will be removed from the playtest.

  • NO: “If you can’t see how this isn’t fun, then you’re retarded.”
  • NO: “Whoever designed this [particular feature] should be fired.”

This still isn’t about you.

Don’t take responses to your feedback personally.

While we will always give feedback its due consideration, it doesn’t mean that your proposals will always be accepted. There will be times where your idea doesn’t exactly mesh with the rest of the game or there just isn’t enough time to implement it; but don’t let this discourage you from continuing to provide feedback and pitch ideas!

If you receive a response to your feedback that you consider improper, please report the post or speak to a member of the Moderation team.