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!

So many distractions, so little time. Quiet Hours to the rescue!

When I’m writing or working on some art or testing a game element, turning off the distractions is crucial.

I’m still looking for an easy way to turn on “Do Not Disturb” on Android–the scheduled DND works great, but the button the settings slide-out should toggle DND instantly, instead of taking me to the settings. That’s how the WiFi and Bluetooth buttons work, Google!

Yeah, if this is fixed in a later version of Android, I still don’t have it. I’m still stuck on Marshmallow, because T-Mobile and ZTE don’t love me enough to update my Zmax Pro.

On Windows 10, it’s cake. All I’ve got to do is push the button for Quiet Hours to toggle all notifications off. (The notifications icon still changes when something pops, but. . .I’ll just have to learn to stop looking at the time and see the temptation to get distracted.)

Don’t take it personally if I’m ignoring you. I’ll get back to you when this creative window is closed.

Want to go to GAMEXPO for free?

If you’re willing to be in Central Texas in November (the 3rd, 4th, and 5th) AND if you’re a dungeon master, game master, keeper, judge, referee, storyteller, coordinator, or you just like to volunteer to run tabletop RPGs of any kind, we have a deal for you!

This year at GAMEXPO, we are giving all volunteer GMs access to a ready room stocked with snacks and drinks so that you’ll have a quiet place to hang out with other GMs and prep for your games. All GAMEXPO GMs will have distinctive badges (yes, you need or badges!), that identify you add one of the chosen few. Even if you only run one slot, you’re still a GAMEXPO GM and we appreciate you.

If you volunteer to run three or more 4-hour slots, we will give you your three-pass day as a free gift. You will also receive complimentary WiFi service during the convention for use in the ready room, at the table, the bar, or wherever you like (subject to WiFi coverage). All you have to do is run twelve hours of games for your fellow players, and the rest of the three-day convention awesomeness is yours to enjoy however you like.

The first 25 volunteer GMs who register to run three or more slots will get a free GAMEXPO exclusive GMs t-shirt. Only available to the first 25 volunteer GMs who commit now to running three slots over the three-day weekend. Register your games now, while supplies last!