View Full Version : GM's, how do u get good player feedback? Also, how to get co-creation of plot/world?

2013-09-06, 01:37 AM
Hello everyone. I've noticed that when I'm GM-ing online, I can never quite tell how excited the players are. Some players give little praise, even though they're loving the session, while other players give little feedback even though the session is for them a nightmare.

I'm like this as a player too. Sometimes I oscillate a lot in my ratio of enjoyment/praise and in my ratio of unhappiness/critique.

Moreover, sometimes I'll greatly enjoy a session even if it is poorly GM-ed, while other times, I'll be bored as hell during a session even though the GM is handling it masterfully.

I've therefore created an internal drive for my GM-ing where I'm more motivated by how much I enjoy the session than the feedback I get from my players.

Even so, healthy feedback can help you learn (if it's a suggestion for improvement) or make you feel better (if it's a compliment). How does one ensure that the players give useful feedback? Especially feedback on how they'd like the world/adventure to unfold? I guess the answer is, just ask, but sometimes even after asking they're still coy. Any tricks/ideas to draw them out of their shell?

Another solution is to give the players more creative control over the world and plot. That way if they're not liking a world/plot (e.g. you create a campaign where the characters are heroes, but then the characters end up wanting to be pillagers) they can morph it into one that they do like. Aside from allowing players to create their own backstories, and giving them open-ended decisions in the game, I don't know of any other good method that gives players leverage on co-building the world/genre/story line. Any thoughts on how I can do this?

2013-09-06, 03:21 AM
In my experience, you can't. Player's have no preferences at all and are happy with whatever you give them. (Except when they decide to pick races and classes you told them do not exist in the setting in the campaign notes they got beforehand.)

The only thing that I know might work to get any input from players, is to run goal-based adventures, in which the antagonist has a goal and a fixed amount of minions and resources, and in which the dungeons are open environments which the players can explore and use to their advantage in whatever way they see fit in their own task to capture a villain, find an artifact, or steal documents.
In such a campaign, the players always have to have more information to plan their next step and then they should be asking for it. If the adventures consist of going from the single entrance of a dungeon to the villains lair at the very end of the dungeon and there find the note that tells them which dungeon they have to go next, any information about the world or the antagonists plan are useless and irrelevant, which is very likely a cause for players simply not caring about them.

It's an approach to running a game that seems to have been entirely absent from published D&D adventures since at least the start of 3rd Edition in 2000 and that most GMs don't even start to think about.

Read more (http://www.thealexandrian.net/creations/misc/players-caring.html)

2013-09-06, 03:47 AM
Post-game debriefing. They're useful for so many things.

"So, how was that? What did you like? Any questions, complaints, suggestions?"

2013-09-06, 03:49 AM
Even so, healthy feedback can help you learn (if it's a suggestion for improvement) or make you feel better (if it's a compliment). How does one ensure that the players give useful feedback? Especially feedback on how they'd like the world/adventure to unfold? I guess the answer is, just ask, but sometimes even after asking they're still coy. Any tricks/ideas to draw them out of their shell?

Ask them more direct questions such as "What did you like most about the last adventure?", "Which NPC did you think was the coolest?", "Which encounter did you enjoy the most?". Questions like that can give you better answers than simply "What did you think?".

2013-09-06, 04:28 AM
As the other people have said, try asking for direct input on the things you're worried about. In addition, make it explicitly clear that is is okay to say that you didn't enjoy a part of the game, for whatever reason. I've had a lot of situations where a player clearly isn't happy with the game, but they don't want to speak up because they fear they'll be ostracised for doing so.

2013-09-06, 08:28 AM
To get the greatest number of responses, speak to them individually, not collectively. Here on the forum, that means PMing rather than posting. And like Lorsa already said, ask about specific points rather than a general feeling.

You can try to tailor the question to what you think the person's response will be. For example, instead of asking someone who seemed grumpy "Did you enjoy that story arc," you could say "I feel like something was wrong there -- any ideas?"

But you won't get 100% participation anyway. Responding meaningfully takes more time/effort/self-awareness than some people are willing to spend.

As for world-building, by far the most important thing you can do is give up creative control, which frankly runs counter to why most GMs are GMs. Work on "Yes And" technique until it no longer feels weird to have someone else make something up about your world. Once you're truly comfortable with it -- which could be right now, but it's statistically unlikely -- then you give your players encouragement in proportion to THEIR desire for creative control, asking them to play NPCs, asking them what they see when they enter the room, asking them what the BigBad is likely to do next now that they've foiled the latest plot. And you take them up on every suggestion and every change they make to your world and plot.

And once again, I emphasize that some players just won't do this. They don't want to, or don't feel it's right, or don't think they have the skill to handle it. That's something you have to accept. Maybe they'll come out of their shell some day, but unless you're a trained therapist, it's really not your position to try to help people change themselves.

2013-09-06, 01:07 PM
I've never gotten totally satisfactory responses from players. At firs to thought they were afraid to hurt my feelings. Now I think I'm more invested in my games than they are and that's okay.

The best success I had was a mid game survey. I made a list of plots, NPCs, and game elements. I asked the players to like items by circling them and to unlike items by crossing them out. By prompting the players with each of the things I was curious about I got a response on each of them. By asking for no more information than like/dislike/don't care I didn't overwhelm them.

The only problem with this format was that I never figured out how to balance like and unlike with dont care. For example if everyone ignored an NPC, he got 0 points. If 3 players liked and 3 players hated an NPC, he got +3 and -3. Even though both those NPCs totaled 0 points I don't think it's fair to treat them the same.

2013-09-06, 02:10 PM
For player feedback, ask for it. You usually won't get it. But more than that, watch your players during the game, and pay attention to what they do.

For co-creation of plot/world, look at Fate's setting creation. The PDF is free :)

2013-09-06, 04:34 PM
I've only found one way to get player feedback and that's to use it in game and gauge reaction, for example when I introduced note cards to distribute secret information last fall most of players would light up when I handed them a card, one even complained when I hadn't given him one for a couple sessions. If your players don't like an element you've introduced usually they'll groan quietly or become vocal, in that case downplay the element until they simply forget about it.

To get characters involved in developing the story I usually write a session every so often that opens the game up. Typically after a long dungeon the group will arrive in town hear some rumors and then spend the rest of the session debating over their next course of action sometimes they go directly to the next dungeon I'm designing other times they go the opposite direction and head across the desert in search of an artifact, those were a couple of interesting sessions.