And the winner is. . .plus survey summary.

Overview

The Modernity Cover Concept survey was open for 10 days and gathered 114 responses from posts on in Fate-related Facebook groups, subreddits, Twitter, and one the email newsletter for San Antonio Meetup group. There’s not a lot of interesting trends for responses by day of response, but the second day garnered the most responses which might lead one to conclude that reddit folks like to express their opinions and generally act immediately, if they’re going to act at all, but that’s only speculation based on the fact that the survey was posted to reddit the day after Facebook and Twitter: Survey Monkey doesn’t have a built-in mechanism for tracking referral source without making some changes to the survey structure. (Lesson #88 learned there.)

Data Points

In quantitative terms, the two primary avenues of exploration were 5-point feeling thermometers for each of four concept images created to test several stylistic elements against the following questions:

  1. Based on this cover style, would you buy this game?
  2. Based on this cover style, what ESRB rating would you give this game?

Anecdotal, open-ended input was also requested for each concept.

Here’s how the data of responses graph out:

Anecdotes

Overall, I’m happy with the quantity of anecdotes. It always falls off a little bit throughout a survey as people try not to repeat themselves or just feel like there’s nothing to comment on, but in this case the anecdote curve is nearly flat, which is great! I’m very glad (as a data scientist) that you’re willing to share. While I’m reading them, though, I have to send other my wanna-be creative and somewhat autistic selves on vacation. . . The Fate Fan Club isn’t shy about being brutally honest!

“Personally, I think the art style lacks polish and gives it an amateurish feel. I expect the game inside to be similarly less than finished.”

“Nope. Drag this out back and shoot it. This looks like it’s done by a 14 year old with a freshly pirated copy of Illustrator who brags that they’re gonna make 6 figures as a freelance design guru no really check out my deviantART.”

The next two demonstrate the trend of getting polar opposite feedback from members of the same audience about the same image. . .

“I like that the cover feature women in a way that’s not sexualised, but I kinda hate the monster and that 3D vibe. It breaks the noir mood.”

“Looks both clunky and overly sexualized”

Across concepts there were respondents that completely disagreed, which is to be expected. But I’m not sure what to do with an equal number of people who say opposite things about the same image:

  • “Not Enough Detail!” and “Too Much Detail!”
  • “It looks amateurish and lacks polish.” and “I love the look and the promise of what’s inside.”
  • “I love the daemon” and “I hate the stupid demon”
  • “It’s a bunch or mismatched stuff thrown together.” and “I like the different characters shown off, makes me associate the game with variety.”
  • “Cthulhu is a nice touch” and “Meh, another RPG that uses Cthulhu-like artwork”

I shall ponder upon the duality of man and find a way to make peace with the fact that I can’t please them all. . .

In particular, I am curious about why #37 seems less rated M for Mature than the other three. Anecdotes for #17 and #23 seemed to indicate that a few of folks assumed the female spellcaster was naked (I’m curious about why some respondents came to that conclusion–does the color white indicated nakedness in some parts of the world?) and a minority of respondents were hyper-focused on the breasts of the same character (which somehow makes me the misogynist or the over-sexed teenager?), but there weren’t any breast-focused or porn-related commentary for #42 (as if all well-endowed women star in porn?) which would naturally lead to a similar above-Teen rating. Maybe Cthulhu Himself by definition automatically rates one ESRB level bump?

Awkward transition. Not sure what to do with this one:

“How old are you guys? Having women issues much? Wow…”

Short answer: No, not really.

Fortunately, the majority of respondents gave helpful feedback about specifically what worked for them or what didn’t.

“Preferred the demon to Cthulhu, although I can see having him might draw in certain folks. Prefer this card layout to the torn paper. Best design yet.”

“This one makes me think we’ll be dealing with Cthulhu, or some Cthulhu type themes, which makes me think of a more mature theme. Also, makes me want to get it more.”

I’m curious to know what specifically prompted this one (saying “everything about it” isn’t helpful, either):

“Quite cliché”

Lots of stuff to think about. And discuss with my wife of 25 years and long-time business partner.

Overall

It goes without saying that I’m bummed that very few folks took these as prototypes for comparison purposes, instead judging them as finished work. But, I’ll take the feedback however I can get it. I already knew why most creatives refuse to share anything that’s not (in their own opinion) perfectly polished, which I believe prevents a lot of good feedback from flowing, but I also get that early feedback can often be unpleasant.

For the record, I didn’t get anywhere near a large enough sample to generalize broadly, and in retrospect there are a couple of important qualifying questions that I failed to ask (bad survey designer!) which would have shed more light on the WHY of the responses, which leaves me to focus on the WHAT of the responses we do have for this analysis. For example, I think that some of the hypernegative feedback were simply people who are averse to UF or ON as genres in the first place, but there’s no way to discern that from this survey as designed. Next time!

With #42 the only concept to receive any #5 rankings (“Hurry up and take my moneys!”) and the fewest #1 rankings (“Nope!”), it might seem the clear winner. But, #17 also clustered very heavily around a #3 ranking, it just had a couple more #1s to drag it down and no #5s to pull it up. Although there were anecdotes from people who preferred either #23 or #37, they were far fewer than those that prefer the alternatives and they didn’t love either enough to give either a single #5 ranking.

Although most respondents agreed that Modernity (regardless of cover concept) was Teen-rated, for some reason there’s something about #37 (the cover with ripped out tabs) that pulled huge for E10+, which drug the overall rating estimate down. Not sure if it’s the simpler coloring of the characters, using a head-n-shoulders view instead of full figure, the lack of Cthulhu, or some combination of the above. Curiouser.

Still, the data and the anecdotes will be enormously helpful in charting the course forward for Modernity, its art style, as I churn forward finalizing the next iteration of the product for 2018.

Thank you all very much. (Yes, you, too.)

The Winner

The percentile-oriented analog random number generators had their say, and they decided that the winner of our $50 DriveThruRPG gift certificate is. . .

Congratulations to Lauren Woods!

The digital transmission has already happened, and Lauren has been encouraged not to spend it all in one place (although, that’s going to happen regardless the silly advice I gave). Perhaps at some future date Lauren will be willing to disclose what was purchased with the windfall? Inquiring minds and all that, you know.

Postscript

I’m always open to whatever feedback whenever you’re willing to share through whatever medium you’re willing to share it. Some people need something to hate, and I’m OK with being the focus of evil in the modern world for those folks if that’s what they need to feel better about themselves. I learned a long time ago that unhelpful negativity from others isn’t really about me anyway.

For those of you who’ve offered specific actionable feedback or to help or collaborate in some way, you’re wonderful and I’m grateful for you. Be looking for follow up email from me soon. Until then, may we all be rewarded for our intentions, not our actions.

Survey Closed: Thank you for your input!

The Modernity Cover Concepts survey closed on Friday as planned, but since the weekend was busy with preparing for NerdvanaCon this coming Saturday (plus unplanned teenage family drama) and a new Fate Accelerated Edition (FAE) group full of teenage girls (actually not the source of the family drama, if you can believe it). The new FAE group includes some wackiness I couldn’t’ve dreamed up (High Concepts) for the members of the band “Power Outage”:

  • Merman Musician on a Motorcycle
  • Backup Bard with a Dream
  • Concert Fashion Designer
  • Dwarf Wizard in Oversized Robes
  • Des Bus-ito (think Transformers-style tour bus)
  • Knight with a Loaded Mind

Anyway, that’s why I’m just now wading through the survey responses and aggregating the numbers to get a better picture (pardon the put) of your thoughts on the four concepts. Some things that I’ve already observed:

  1. Some of you are very, very “honest” with your feedback. I asked for your unvarnished opinions, and boy howdy did y’all deliver! (I think I can tell who the reddit respondents are by the tone of their input. Heh.)
  2. There seems to be a very consistent preference for one style in particular, but there are some outliers who love the others. Have to ponder on that.
  3. It’s clear from the feedback that I’ve still got work to do to improve even the most popular style of the four. Roger that!
  4. I could be wrong, but there seems to be a little hold-over bias based on the original Modernity art style. Not sure how to account for that, but I’ll keep thinking about it.
  5. Some of you offered to engage in a discussion via email, and I definitely plan to take you up on the offer. Thank you double!

I’ll be getting out the analog random number generators of the percentile variety this evening to determine who the winner of the DriveThruRPG gift certificate is. If all goes as planned, I’ll be announcing that winner later this week and sending fifty of my own dollars ($50!) to that lucky person.

Again, thank you all of your input!

Time for remedial English?

Egad! I can only correct so many hundreds of proposed edits to Modernity before I start to discern a pattern. It isn’t simply that I do not live and breath the Chicago Manual of Style (any edition), it’s that I apparently have no fundamental understanding of a few basic English concepts. Based on the copious quantity of proposed edits, you wouldn’t think that I have a bachelors of science with a minor in English.

I’m prepared to defend my abuse of punctuation, eclectic vocabulary, and my idiosyncratic love of the semicolon, but. . . How did I get this far in life and always misuse “that” and “which”?

I’ve had a love-hate relationship with editors before, but I’ve never had one make me cry over the difference between hyphens and emdashes.

/sigh

Back to the grindstone.

How tall is that wall… really?

I’ve never thought of myself as an impala, or any other herbivore for that matter. Hrm.

The African impala can jump to a height of over 10 feet and cover a distance of greater than 30 feet.  Yet these magnificent creatures can be kept in an enclosure in any zoo with a three-foot wall.  The animals will not jump if they cannot see where their feet will land.

A lot of humans are like this.  They are afraid to take a risk.  Not I.  I understood at an early age that in order to triple your success ratio, you might have to triple your failure rate.
Harvey Mackay: Make Failure the Beginning of Greatness

Although it wouldn’t be too bad being a brontosaur. That might be pretty cool. Especially if someone mounted machine guns and howitzers on my back!

Does anybody else feel a little nostalgic for Paraworld now? I might have to dig that one out of the closet and set it up for family game night. Since Steam doesn’t seem to have it, I wonder if it’ll run on our Windows 8 PCs?

But I digress… I didn’t start this off to talk about war dinosaurs. Not withstanding the cool factor of giant armed and armored… Never mind.

Harvey Mackay’s post at Ziglar.com included something that I love:

Failure can be one more step on your road to success – you just have to turn it around in a positive direction.  Failure can push you harder to succeed.  Failure can strengthen your determination to overcome obstacles.  Failure can make you braver in the face of opposition.  Failure can help you learn what you need to do in order to succeed.  Failure can teach you what your limitations are – and your strengths.  Failure can encourage you to change your strategy.
Harvey Mackay: Make Failure the Beginning of Greatness

There’ve been decades of my life during which I felt caged in by walls that seemed insurmountable. Afraid to fail. Afraid to start. Just afraid… Looking back on them now, those walls seem about 3-feet tall. Huh.

Have you ever felt fenced in like that?

Do you now?

We may not be laser-equipped dinosaurs (yet) here at Glacier Peak, but we’re definitely pointing our [fictitious] bulldozers at some longstanding walls. It turns out that we can only be caged by our own consent.

You cannot be caged without your consent.

I’m not aiming for failure, but I won’t be daunted by it anymore if (and when =) it finds me. I hope you’ll join me and do that thing you’ve always wanted to do, but were afraid to try (again). We might both fail. So what?

After all, I’m Irish, and Murphy is that horrible second cousin that blows into town a couple times a year, just for fun, to remind me why I should never attend family reunions.

But I digress. Again…

Go do what Eleanor Roosevelt said: Do one thing every day that scares you. The bigger, riskier, and more likely to fail the better!