GMC Jam Discussion The Chimerical GMC Jam #8 Discussion Topic

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Coded Games

One of the most difficult aspects of designing anything is teaching users how to use it. If some tool, game or program does not have effective tutorials, documentation, or other support methods; can it be considered well designed?

If a program is released and there is no way for anyone to learn how to use it, other than guessing, is it the users fault for screwing up or the designers fault for not teaching them?

Programs like FL Studio, or even GMS, are well designed because they have tons of resources to teach users how to use them. In the case of GMS, what does a user do when they run into a problem? First most people would go to the manual, then maybe contact YoYo support. If both of those outlets fail to solve the problem, is it the user's fault or YoYo's? I think that most people would argue that it would be YoYo's fault since it runs and hosts both of those services. Of course there will also be cases where users run into problems that are entirely out of their control, like bugs, and those would always be the fault of the designer.

Of course, like mentioned earlier, there will always be people who don't understand what you are making regardless of what you do. You have to choose a target demographic and focus on that. If a user outside of your focus attempts to use your product and fails is it their fault? Maybe, but ideally your product won't even reach them because they are not meant to have it.

So back onto the topic of the GMC Jam. All of us are basically assigned a target demographic; users of this forum. With that we can make a number of assumptions about how much they know about video games, how they are usually played, and all sorts of other things. Even though controls seem like a simple thing to assume, controls very so greatly that you never can. Do you use arrow keys, WASD, what about people with non-standard keyboard layouts or controllers, do you use the mouse to shoot or keys, what about people using a trackpad instead of a mouse, or touchscreens? You tried to explain your controls through a read me but because you didn't properly submit your game people didn't see it. That is your fault, don't blame everyone else.
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I am very happy to have participated to my first gamejam. It's a very rewarding experience and I learned a lot of things.
First, during the jam, I learned new things with gamemaker (using timelines and paths that I had never used before).
And being forced to finish a game is already a victory.

Then after the jam itself, the opinions of the people who played my game are very interesting.
The positive reviews are very rewarding.
And the negative reviews are very important because they allowed me to understand what was wrong and what I should improve next time.
I thank all the testers for their feedback and I apologize for not being able to do it in detail (lack of time... but I will try to improve on this point next time).
What I will remember :
When you create your game, you know the mechanisms but users must be clearly informed because they will have little time to devote to the test.
The difficulty should not be too important, otherwise users will quickly become discouraged.
Indeed, when there are more than 50 games to test, you can only spend a few minutes on each game and a bad impression at the beginning may discourage players.

It is also important to put things into perspective: in my case, I could only spend Saturday and a few hours Sunday to create my game and it is obvious that it will be less finished than if I could spend the three days.

In the end, a very good experience !


GMCJam Champ
I can and do confidently say that the user error was the issue.
Let's say I create and publish a game with controls that I personally like. 100% of its players tell me that the controls are really bad, and all of them delete the game because of it. Should I blame everyone else for being too incompetent for my control scheme? Or should I just change the controls?

The fact of the matter is that, when it comes to this sector of game development, it really doesn't matter what you think. You can point as user error all day long, but if you planned on monetizing your game in any way, then the joke is always on you.

No successful game has ever had developers who brushed off criticism as resulting from user error. Rather, a successful game requires developers who take all forms of criticism seriously, and who evaluate how they can mitigate the concerns of their players. Whether or not you like it, this process (when done right) inevitably results in a better user experience, which works out better for everyone involved.

The bottom line is that your game's README wasn't accessible through the Jam player, and as the developer the burden is on you to ensure that all players can easily find your controls. You had to have known that a large number of reviewers were going to use the Jam player (and because of this, it really doesn't matter what you think about the Jam player). So I suggest that you accept this as a mistake, learn from it, and move on; this will improve your results in the future.


I suggest that you accept this as a mistake, learn from it, and move on; this will improve your results in the future.
Exactly this. I really hope @Ziberteck sees everyone just trying to help him be successful with his games and not just blasting him for whatever reason.

Also, I hope he knows it's not a big deal to screw up on a game in this way, especially with the time crunch involved. I know I've screwed up with a lot of various things in past jams myself, and many times I didn't see the issues until I read the reviews. It's okay to mess up, but we only hurt ourselves when we don't accept our mistakes, because we have to learn to avoid making the same mistakes in order to grow.

But we should probably drop this discussion. Even if we all mean well, it's probably a bit overkill at this point.

By "drop this discussion", I just meant that topic, not the entire thread...
So then... when's the next jam? ;)
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I think I'll try to get work off for the next jam. Not sure if my boss will approve it though, but I did it once before when I had vacation time to use, and it was awesome having all 3 days to make a game. I don't regret using my vacation hours on a jam at all.
Wheee. Another jam weekend which is totally free for me to do it again!

One of these times I need it to happen on an inexcusably busy weekend so I get a break from these things.
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