Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A little feedback...

Feedback.  Every DM I know craves it.  We always want to know what our players think of our games, how they thought of the most recent session went, and how they feel the recent plot lines are coming along.

This is only natural.  The GM is creating a collaborative story with the players, and he wants to make sure everyone is having a good time.  Knowing what aspects of the campaign are working for the players helps the GM tailor the game to the taste of his players.  Feedback can also help the GM become nip potential problems in the bud before they erupt at the game table.

Unfortunately, figuring out how to get high quality feedback can be difficult.  Well, at least from the players I game with.  Usually, the most a GM will get is a “it was great”.

While we DMs are an arrogant bunch, it is hard to imagine that all games we run are equally great.  How to get more accurate information?  Well, DM’s are also a wily bunch, so here are some of the methods I have seen in action.

The Questionnaire

Yes, I have actually seen GM’s hand out questionnaires after a session.  Sort of like if the GM was running a training seminar instead of a role-playing game.  The questions generally go something like this:

On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being totally disagree and 10 being totally agree do you think:

  1. There were sufficient combat opportunities.
  2. There were sufficient roleplaying opportunities.
  3. There was too much damn combat!
  4. There was too much damn roleplaying!
  5. The NPC’s were not annoying.
  6. There was sufficient treasure (even for that damn greedy halfling).

All I will say is, if you ever need a definition for sarcasm, all you need to do is print out some of these questionnaires.

The Mandatory Write-Up

One GM I know required session write-ups from each player after each session.  He let the players know that he was using these write-ups to assign experience.  Unknown to them, it was also a method of getting feedback by seeing what each player thought was important about the game session.

The advantage of this technique was that it was a much subtler method of gathering information.  The downside was that many players considered these write-ups onerous.  After all, writing doesn’t come easy to everyone.  So perhaps a method that doesn’t foster resentment is in order?

Get them drunk

Which brings me to my favorite method, heading down to the local pub after a game.  After all, it is said that “in vino veritas”, which translated from Latin means “in wine there is the truth”.  I once ran a Changeling game where the group would regularly head down to our local watering hole, Flossmoor Station after the game.

This worked pretty darn well.  Few gamers resent going to a bar.  More importantly, they definitely tended to have more candid conversations concerning the game when they were deep in their cups. 

Sadly, these late night excursions have become less common as we have slowly turned into respectable family men.

So I open the question to all of you.  What methods do you recommend for getting the truth out of those wily players?


Scafloc said...

I used to use the plot synopsis trick myself, but quit when it came to my attention that it was the only part of the game that the majority complained about.

Man, I really do miss heading to Flossmoor after the game!