Between courses I'm taking or teaching, conversations I've had with guest lecturers and colleagues, or things I've been reading within my network's skype/Discord groups there has been a tremendous amount of focus on the topic of getting feedback. To get it, I've put my work in front of students, prospective students, colleagues, friends and family. I've submitted content, works-in-progress and noted problems to a number of communities and channels. It can be easy finding praise for such things. The best responses, though, are ones that challenge you. Whether someone offers constructive feedback to tweak, modify or change something entirely or attempts to destroy your work with contempt or disapproval your chances of improving as an artist/designers/whatever increase dramatically.
Recently, we've made a #justfeedback channel on the GameDesign@LTU Discord server that has been getting a fair amount of use. Before, I would log in hoping to find engaging discussion and students sharing their projects only to find dozens of messages relating to Nintendo Direct or a comment or two about where a class was being held. Now, we're seeing some strength in student culture as a perpetual machine of growth. It was there, popping up in bursts between classes or during school-related outings, but it wasn't quite in plain sight. Having everyone game-related in this server is allowing the identity of this group's culture to be fostered. Vets and newbies-alike are witnessing viable discussion and their peers reaching out, met with welcome hands and critical feedback.
I've been reflecting on the difficulties of communicating with users, appealing to broader and niche markets, and the result of the sum of our parts being utterly complex and difficult to appeal to in a general way. It is the result of a setback or two involving Axis Descending's dissemination, optimization and interest. We have to remain optimistic about our goals and what we're trying to achieve with our designs, concepts and mechanics. Adversity will lead to growth, but for many that will never be clear until we've already braved the storm.
This has everything to do with designing, implementing and planning. I'll be working on these GameLabs more frequently, building a game separately from Axis in order to take a break, satisfy course requirements and hopefully bring some gems of knowledge back to the project to help it grow and foster. This will be the first project I've undertaken in some time and it scares me a bit, honestly. I've valued my time and task list with that game's development as progress being made toward fulfilling a dream, a promise and a responsibility.
For a time I was keeping content so I could constantly churn it out to my communities and Twitter. I managed to get a steady flow of followers or likes, but nothing that was exponential. I might have been hoping for that kind of growth initially, but as time went on it became apparent that most of that kind of "success" would mostly be out of my hands. Feedback was positive and I feel as if I connected with some very good people and great developers but there is a kind of gravity well with this sort of thing. You get sucked in and feel compelled to get more and more feedback. When we have so many tools available to us and a seemingly infinite amount of opportunities for recognition, acknowledgement, and more importantly: critical feedback, we need to keep track of our priorities.