http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthread.php?352516-Open-Letter-to-Mike-Mearls-from-a-pro-game-dev

So, this thread has been making the rounds, and with good reason. It is an ABSOLUTE train wreck on a number of levels.  But I want to call out something important and useful about it:  If you are a game designer, and you put your game out for playtest, then some of the feedback is going to look like this.  Maybe not this bad, but maybe worse.So take this opportunity to look at your own reactions to this so that you're ready for it when the time comes.

Specifically, I want to call out the most important thing - the real value of playtesters is in finding problems, not solving them.  By and large, you are going to discard a lot of feedback with solutions because the simple reality is that the playtester is not a position to see the whole of the context. 

You also want to treat the "Why" with a bit of skepticism. Feedback on how a session with a certain rule went is gold.  Analysis on why the rule went a certain way is suspect. 

Now, if you discard those things, this post is still a mess.   Lots of reasons for this, but one is particularly illuminating - it is (hopefully) apparent that the poster is very strongly married to his existing assumptions, and makes STATEMENTS OF TRUTH predicated on those.  You're going to get some of those, and you're best to just ignore them.

So why bother?  Because after you've sifted the 90% bad out of a response like this, there is often a 10% useful nugget.  Most frequently (as in this case) it reveals areas where things may not have been clearly communicated.   For example, the questions of inanimate objects and spell interruptions are both reasonable ones, and as a designer, you'll want to address those.  But that does not mean you need to address them in the way the tester proposes.  In this case, for example, it is entirely possible to keep the offending mechanic, and resolve the more substantial problems with improved rule clarity in the questionable situations.

And to playtesters, lest this sound like a dismissal of your opinions, please do not take it as such.  First, it is unlikely that you are providing screeds like this one. Second, and perhaps more importantly, the playtest is only part of the conversation around a game, and if you care enough to playtest my game, then I sure as hell want to listen to what you have to say in discussion.  It is simply that playtesting is something a little more specific, and the things that would be great on a forum, in email or face to face, don't always have a place in it.


(Also, I doubt I have to say it, but just in case there is any doubt: The thread illustrated a model of how you should never never never never never never the way to try to invoke any credentials you may have.

Never never never.

Seriously. Just don't.)
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