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Rejecting it for what it's not

Posted by A Tobias 2 years ago
Though the ∞ Android release of Taming Dreams ∞ hasn't got much exposure just yet (because I haven't actively promoted it), I was really happy to see that what few ratings and reviews it had were highly positive! Almost everyone gave it five stars, leaving it with an extremely high average that I hoped might allow it to be successful one day. It wasn't long, though, before the 1-star ∞ "it's different so it sucks!" ∞ reviews began. These bother me, since I really wish there was something that I could do or say to encourage such people to enjoy the game for what it is rather than shooting it down for what it's not.

I do understand that a lot of people might have been waiting for MARDEK 4 in the same vein as the original three, and that they'll be disappointed that Taming Dreams is quite different to what they might have had in mind.

However, perhaps it's like, I don't know, eating a few slices of bread, looking forward to being able to have another, and instead being given a chocolate cake. Does being different make it worse, or bad, or wrong? Perhaps if you gave it a try, you'd find that it's actually better than the bread you might have been used to and waiting for.

I do know that human minds don't exactly work this way, though. We're very resistant to new ideas in general, and very attached to familiarity. It's difficult to innovate because of this attitude, which loudly shows itself whenever a popular website changes its design even slightly. Because it's different, people - I hope it's just a loud minority, though I fear it's more - immediately assume that it's somehow worse than before, that it's ruined, and, well, such a cognitive fault is the bane of every designer, I suppose. If it were up to such people, we'd probably still be living in caves and wearing animal skins.

It's likely related to the ∞ Big Five personality trait of Openness to experience ∞, which determines how readily accepting certain individuals are of novelty and abstraction. Interestingly, Taming Dreams' overall style and purpose emerged from my own fairly high openness to experience, so those with a low score in that quality would be even more likely to misunderstand and reject it.

I don't mean to suggest that it's possible for any work to be absolutely better than another in every way. Preferences are indeed subjective, and those who like familiar, fighting-based RPGs like MARDEK might dislike the introspective, spiritual themes of Taming Dreams. But that wouldn't explain the knee-jerk outright rejection that leads to 1-star ratings with no exploration of the actual factors that led to that conclusion.

I know there's not really anything I can do about this. I desperately wish I could convince such people to at least give the game a go with an open mind, since they might be surprised by what they find, and they might change their ratings so then my game wouldn't be condemned to failure simply due to rigid resistance to progress. I suppose it helps me emotionally to vent about it a bit, though.

I do wonder how much their ratings will drag down the average, though, over time. I just wish reviews could be based on the game's actual features and merits (or lack thereof), because I'd be okay with that. I know it's not perfect and that it won't please everyone. It's just the unfairness of it all that gets to me, I suppose. Hating it by comparing it to a concept in their head. A fantasy.

Also, I wonder what such people hope to achieve. Do they feel that if they shoot down my work, I'll make the MARDEK 4 they might have wanted? Or do they not really think about their actions at all? If Taming Dreams suffers, I'm not going to make MARDEK 4; I'm going to stop making games altogether. If Taming Dreams succeeds, then perhaps one day I might return to MARDEK 4 (though don't get your hopes up). It's better to encourage than to condemn, since you can't threaten someone into producing good art; I just wish more people could see that.

I am glad though that the majority left positive reviews and ratings. That at least gives me hope! I just hope you wonderful people can drown out these bitter ones.
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on 12 Roots


23 Mexico
you cant compare mardek with 3 slices of bread and taming dreams with a chocolate cake just because you are the dev of both and like more you new game in general mardek is better that taming dreams and if you really will stop making games only because people dont buy your new game is your fault for thinking that the people will think and react in the way you want
30 United States INFP
There was a time, before youtube, when people were polite on the internet. I actually miss it, believe it or not. The convenience of social media, google and youtube have taken away as much as, maybe even more than they've given us. At the very least, the sense of entitlement they've given us has taken much. We've lost boundaries, both negative and positive, and politeness seems another casualty. Empathy seems to have suffered, as well, and willingness to truly explore and navigate complex concepts.

I recognize the irony of my own statement lacking in politeness; I've removed hedging, become succinct. More than 144 characters, but not by much. That is to say, I'm not immune. In any case, I wish you the best. It is not easy letting go of attachment to material things, an affliction injected into us soon after birth, similar to immunization (vaccination). Vaccination against ubermensch, perhaps.
19 Indonesia INFJ 4w5 MelancholicCholeric
These are to be expected because the target audience changes; not everyone who likes bread likes chocolate cakes. Regardless of whether the new thing is better or not if it doesn't fit their tastes they won't like it. Although close-mindedness is a factor, too.

I don't think you should be bothered, since it does not mean that Alora Fane is worse than MARDEK, it just means that it has a different target audience.
17 Spain INTP ILI 952 Rxxai ICA PhlegmaticMelancholic
I would like to say something, since I've seen some people who are confused about this: not everyone sees the same reviews on Google Play. I see the 1-star review Tobias is referring to (∞ LINK ∞ ), but I can't see the 4-star or 2-star reviews other people have mentioned. I think only Tobias can see all reviews; what the users see might be limited to reviews made by people who have set the same language in their google account as the user (I assume this based on that all the reviews I see are from people with Spanish names).
22 United States ESTJ MelancholicPhlegmatic
Hey, we're all scum in our own different ways regardless of who we are as a person. There will always be people aiming for the same dream, then you have yourself, A Tobias; a person who has been brought down multiple times with the same group of people who all think seeing you go down as entertainment. These are probably the same group from your previous communities who will always shoot you down regardless of your change as a person.
21 Afghanistan
I'm confused. Using Bluestacks, I don't see any post like what is described. I see one 2-star review, but that isn't a "it's different so it sucks" mentality - it's actually a fairly long criticism with quite a list of issues, subjective and objective alike. Where is this 1-star "unfairness?" Like other commenters have mentioned, it doesn't seem to exist.

If this blog post is exaggerating the issue, that speaks negativity for itself. If it's referring to the 2-star review, then I'd have to say it's ironic to claim a "knee-jerk outright rejection" when this entire post was exactly that to the line "it should have been independently created from Mardek" (which to me is not whining for the old version, but asking for MORE distance from it). You asked "what does he hope to achieve" but the reality was - that was a legitimate review you're rejecting; I think he wanted to achieve constructive criticism and you're not allowing it.

Tobias, there's some harsh reality to be shared here: All of the good reviews and even the bad one have come from THIS website. You chose to take the silent release route, so it's like you released the game to JUST your inner family. It's naive to think that because your close family likes you and promotes you, non-family members will default to the same. Similarly, a high early rating and positive reviews from close family does not immediately ensure a high rating from others. *Positive bias exists* - judging from the comments and reviews I'd say that you haven't had a public outreach at all. The repeated cliches and inside jokes and grammar ticks of the reviews prove this. Thus, you are assuming things about and attacking people from your own site; your inner circle... What will happen when you encounter those outside it? When they react without the bias of being "close to the dev," and give the brutally honest reviews everyone else wants to hear? Are you going to rely on an army of Alora Fane accounts to downvote any bad reviews, and keep a stream of 5-star ratings? Because that's all that posting about them like this will foster. Why do you think everyone looked for the post in question?

But on the most serious note: You threatened in this post to stop making games altogether, because of what ONE person MAYBE said. Do you mean that? Especially after taking so much money on Patreon, and all of the people on this site are eagerly waiting? I think the implications of this fact speak for themselves. I think you should realize those implications sooner rather than later, and really decide if you're prepared for what's to come. And I think everyone reading this blog post should realize what your declaration means as well.
36 Bulgaria
ChaosCrystal, there're quite a few assumptions and generalizations in your comment that cannot be directly derived from Tobias's post or the review in question. I'm in a rush, so I'll point out only two of them:

- "a list of issues, subjective and objective alike": Which ones were the "objective" issues?

- "You threatened in this post to stop making games altogether, because of what ONE person MAYBE said. Do you mean that?" Please re-read what Tobias said. Does he mean that?

For me, the 2-star review in question is completely personal (i.e. subjective ). Therefore I, too, believe it's worth asking the questions Tobias asked. Especially: What do such reviews hope to achieve?

(All of my questions are open, i.e. not rhetorical. They're genuinely looking for answers. I explain the importance of such questions in this analysis: ∞ LINK ∞ )

Anyway, I didn't come here to argue, but to ask Tobias (and everyone else) a question: Have you guys read Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman? This is probably the most instructive book on human psychology I've ever seen. I've said a bit more here:

∞ LINK ∞

Highly recommended, especially for situations where you have to deal with positive vs negative reactions.


Tobias has just released a new version of TD (1.3.016), dealing with some issues arising from smaller resolution screens (like mine, which is 4''). I downloaded it and am going to experiment with it while I'm offline. Hurray!

And a technical question:

Is there a way to load/save a game while we're offline?
21 Afghanistan
Are you using AloraFane to promote your own writings? I apologize, but I won't be reading those. You shouldn't need a thesis to make your point, and to immediately assume that your own links add to your credibility is a fallacy. In fact, doing so along with a handful of your comments (like explaining the difference between open and rhetorical questions, like I wouldn't know) makes you sound incredibly condescending. I too went to college, but I need not fall back on that to answer your questions.

First, I must ask you to stop trying to defend Tobias and speak directly to me. The last time I posted I got a similar response - and he later said he agreed with me but just felt I was hurting Tobias with my post. Remove your bias that defaults you to angry when I call him out, and maybe you'll see my points better (even if you still disagree).

My post has zero assumptions in it, aside from the implications I do not directly state. What Tobias claims is a 1-star review based on "Taming Dreams being different from Mardek" simply doesn't exist. Several comments on this page have said the same. Therefore, Tobias either has access to a review no commenter here does (which I don't believe is possible), or is exaggerating the issue of a single bad review, and may be referring to the one 2-star review that DOES exist. I comment on the latter, but either way, this blog post does not address the real situation.

What are the objective issues? "Frustrating bugs," "difficult to distinguish particular tilesets from characters," and "the menus cannot be easily read or understood" are all objective issues. Yes, it was the user's opinion that these make the game BAD, just like others can overlook them, but that doesn't make them any less objective. Both gameplay bugs and clarity (visual and textual) are objective issues, because neither are influenced by opinion, but by the experience therein. They are required to play the game and can only be commented upon or ignored by the player, not changed. What can be derived from these statements is that "there are elements that hinder playability," which is objective. To compare, a subjective matter would derive "there are elements that people dislike." The review disliked the dialogue - that's subjective, because the dialogue is not required to be liked. It is, however, required to be readable. See the difference?

[ Let me change the example for you. If I found a glitch that made the first boss unbeatable, and I said "This glitch is frustrating because I can't win." by your argument that would be subjective, and my review invalid. I basically said the same thing as "frustrating bugs." How does that make sense? ]

Honestly, for you to claim that a review is personal and therefore subjective is absurd. Of course a review is personal - it comes from a single person's personal experience with a product. Objectivity vs Subjectivity is more than just the existence of an opinion word. If you think that gameplay bugs reported in reviews are personal and subjective, and NOT constructive feedback, you're just flat-out wrong. And yes, you said that exactly, by saying "the review is COMPLETELY subjective."

As for your second question, yes. He DOES mean he'll stop. He's done it before, and he has other things in life to focus on. I don't even need to prove myself here. If Taming Dreams plummets in the ratings, and people stop playing because of it, Tobias will cease production on it. That's a fact. Precedent and observation are my proof. And the rest of my point still stands, I need not defend it. However, I'll clarify specifically: My implication was that if a single bad review lead him to think and type out "i will stop making Taming Dreams," what will several more do?

Now, just like my prior round on this blog, I'll be doing the same: I have no intention nor desire to argue with someone like you. I posted my thoughts to Tobias directly; if he ignores them so be it, but I will not continue with you. Your post helped me clarify my points, and having done so I don't intend to return to this account unless a subsequent blog post incites me further.
36 Bulgaria
A short clarification:

I believe the review is completely subjective because all three objections you've listed above ("Frustrating bugs," "difficult to distinguish particular tilesets from characters," and "the menus cannot be easily read or understood") are subjective. I haven't been frustrated by any bugs (I've barely found any, and none of those few frustrated me); I have no difficulty distinguishing the characters from any tilesets; and I can read and understand the menus easily. If you ask other people, you'll find that their opinions on these three items vary too. Which is, at least in my book, the definition of "subjective."

Did this help make my point clearer?

... And I'm off to catch my train. :)

P.S. I was never angry; nor was I trying to defend Tobias. :) What made you think so?

I wasn't being condescending either. Why do you interpret my words in such a way rather than, say, "trying to be helpful"? (I have no way of knowing if you--or anyone else reading this discussion--will understand what I mean by "open question," so I added "rhetorical" and a link to a detailed analysis for those who are willing to explore further.)

Last but not least, thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. I sincerely appreciate it.
17 Spain INTP ILI 952 Rxxai ICA PhlegmaticMelancholic
ChaosCrystal, the review that Tobias is referring to does exist. He is not lying or exaggerating: ∞ LINK ∞

I think Google Play Store only shows you reviews from people that have set the same language as you have - for example, I can't see the 2-star review you mentioned.
19 United States
I just finished playing the first three chapters, and... they're beautiful. If anything, seeing how they grew from MARDEK made them even better- those occasional references to MARDEK are hilarious. I have nothing to say that hasn't been said already, but thanks for continuing to share your ideas with us. We'll help you build rapport with the play store by rating Taming Dreams for what it is.
29 United Kingdom INFJ EII 459 SxSo RLxaI AIS MelancholicPhlegmatic
Thank you, and I'm very glad that you liked it! I really hope that others will see it in the same way, and I greatly appreciate your rating!
32 Argentina INFJ EIE SoSp RLUAN IAS PhlegmaticMelancholic
I have a theory.

"We're very resistant to new ideas in general, and very attached to familiarity."

I don't think the people dislike new ideas, I think they feel disappointed that the original story was interrupted and discontinued mid-way. It's like watching a movie and then power goes off and you're like... "Noooooooo"

I remember I was making a story once (around 2007) and I was forced to discontinue it because of reasons I won't elaborate right now... and some people got mad at me because they were hooked ^^; I plan on writing more as soon as I can, but to prevent issues like this, I'm going to make a big chunk of it and post little by little, that way I can work at ease and people will have something to keep themselves entertained in the meantime.

18 United States INFP LII SoSp RLUAI AIE PhlegmaticSanguine
Ack, I really hate people who barely give things a chance. But maybe it's hypocritical for me to hate them, because I haven't given them a chance? I guess I hate their action.

But as others have said, I the reviews of "One-star it's bad!!!1!" aren't people who've given it a try, those are the ones who just looked at it and said "ech, I hate this because I miss Mardek/I don't like this guy/I'm in a bad mood/I have nothing better to do/etc.".

It sucks that they're unwarranted bad reviews are dragging it down, but given the ratio of positive-to-negative, they should be drowned out in time. If nothing else, seeing such short negative reviews compared to the long positives, may persuade people that there's something they're missing.

Either way, those one-stars will peter out in time. Here's hoping for the best!
29 United Kingdom INFJ EII 459 SxSo RLxaI AIS MelancholicPhlegmatic
Some longer negative reviews have emerged since I wrote this blog post, which is a cause for concern. It still seems as if they're judging it perhaps unfairly, but... well. I'm (perhaps unwisely) writing another blog post about it at the moment.

I just worry that while the 5-star ratings were from people who'd already been looking forward to the game, the negative ones might better represent what 'the masses' might respond like when I release it more widely. I suppose I can only wait and see...
24 Canada INTJ 513 SpSx PhlegmaticCholeric
Tama Yoshi
Yes, the "controversial" products. You can easily recognize them by the score distribution's U shape (a lot of 1/5s, a lot of 5/5s, but strangely hardly any 3/5s).

I think it's to be expected. You can't really escape it. It sends the message that this is "something else", but this should not really turn off new consumers, as the first chapters are free anyway.

At any rate, there's a good chance that the nay-sayers are mostly fans of the old MARDEK, and that crowd is (hopefully) a meager proportion of the total audience that will ever play your game
23 United States
Where are you seeing that rating curve? The Google Play Store is only showing a single 1 star and a single 4 star rating.
24 Canada INTJ 513 SpSx PhlegmaticCholeric
Tama Yoshi
Oh, I didn't look at it. I assumed there were more than that O_o
This is a pretty common distribution for controversial products, though.
25 United Kingdom ENFP SanguineMelancholic
Aww gee, I hope they don't cause too many problems. I'm confident the game will succeed, though - you've already got a (mostly positive) base of supporters. From what I've read, even most of the people who disliked the changes are at least trying to approach it as being something new and treating it on its own merits rather than seeing it as the same thing as MARDEK, but, uh... yeah. o_O;


I downloaded and completed the first two episodes as soon as I could, and loved them so much I just had to buy the third episode and finished it yesterday evening. It's really...

It's just so good! It's stuck with me all day, and I'm so excited to see episode 4! It's killing me that so few people have even heard of it, so would it be okay to promote the game on different forums and stuff? Or should I wait till the game has gotten a new trailer? :o
29 United Kingdom INFJ EII 459 SxSo RLxaI AIS MelancholicPhlegmatic
I didn't intend to promote it myself this early, but I find myself checking the ratings/reviews page constantly and wishing that it had got more feedback! So any promotion you would do would be appreciated! I don't know if a trailer would make all that much difference, really, though I should probably work on one soon anyway.

Also, I'm really glad that you liked it! Knowing that is so very encouraging!