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Exit Survey - Please Fill This Out! Sticky

A topic by tofurocks created Jul 20, 2021 Views: 255 Replies: 1
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Jam HostSubmitted

Hello all! I've created an exit survey of sorts to gauge how this experience was for our participants. The survey is 13 questions long and will help us run a better jam next year if there's enough demand for it. Please share this with other members of your team as well!

https://forms.gle/kC4dbgSDXmRmgNgn8

Jam HostSubmitted(+3)

O2A2 Exit Survey - Results

A Write-Up by BáiYù 

Only One of Any Asset (Again!) VN Jam, a jam to create a small visual novel under 1k words with limited assets, was held from July 12th to July 18th, 2021. I, BáiYù, had the pleasure of co-hosting the jam for its second year with the original host, Mikey, and for my first time doing a concentrated awareness campaign for any event, I would say that it was a massive success, with a total of 97 entries submitted to the jam.

With such a high amount of entries to a relatively small game jam, I was interested in gathering feedback from as many participants as possible about how they felt about the rules, the general zeitgeist, how we could improve the jam in the future, and other data relating to the DevTalk community, where the heart of the jam activity took place.

At the time I didn't know about itch.io's Jam Emails function, unfortunately reducing the spread of the survey. We received a total of 83 responses at the time of writing.

Question 1: Did you participate in a team and/or submit an entry to the jam?

Forms response chart. Question title: 1. Did you participate in a team and/or submit an entry to the jam?. Number of responses: 83 responses.

While the questionnaire was intended for those who submitted a game, Mikey and I were aware that some participants had complications that prevented completion of their entry. Less than 5% of respondents fell into this category, which is rather unfortunate for those teams.

Question 2. Where did you initially hear about the jam?

Forms response chart. Question title: 2. Where did you initially hear about the jam?. Number of responses: 83 responses.

This question was especially important for me to gather data on, as I took it upon myself as co-host to spread awareness of the game jam. Unfortunately we cannot guarantee that a representative from each entry responded to the survey as there were 83 responses and 97 entries, and team members who contributed to a single entry were encouraged to provide input as well. Nonetheless, the data here is indicative of general outreach results.

For context, there was talk among existing members of the DevTalk Discord server about wanting a second O2A2 Jam to run for a while, which after repeated conversations about it, prompted me to approach Mikey to host it again for those who didn't know about the jam the first year. It would only make sense that nearly half of our participants (47%) heard about the jam through the official Server Announcements channel, as that was one of our first avenues of promotion for the jam.

Naturally, the next place for us to promote the jam was Twitter, using the official VNDevTalk bot account to announce the jam. A tweet would then be shareable across other Discord server communities, and for others to send to potential teammates or friends.

The tweet performed extremely well, gathering 99 RT/QRTs and 124 Likes total. There is a large concentration of VNDevs on Twitter so it spiked quite a lot of excitement with the prospect of unique limitations. In total, the tweet itself attracted 13.3% of respondents.

From there, I dropped the tweet into various servers I was an active participant of that expressed some interest in developing narrative-focused games. Other people may have also linked to the jam in their servers as well, and in the end that accounted for 8.4% of respondents. Admittedly, I could have reworded "Word of mouth via friends, family, etc." to be more clear whether this was in a DM/direct conversation IRL or elsewhere, but a significant portion of respondents (15.7%, 16.9% if we count one of the custom answers) selected that as their response.

The last two places I attempted to perform outreach at were reddit and Facebook respectively. Those two sites are my weakest in terms of social media experience and knowledge, simply because I don't spend much time on those platforms. As I don't really know the etiquette of following up on older posts that are somewhat buried beneath new posts, it was difficult to inform any possible participants of the Exit Survey, thus resulting in no answers for either field. On the other hand, 13.3% of respondents say that they stumbled upon the jam through itch.io's own Upcoming Game Jams page, which involved no effort on my part.

Question 3. How did you feel about the asset restrictions, rules, and time limit?

Forms response chart. Question title: 3a. How did you feel about the asset restrictions, rules, and time limit?. Number of responses: 83 responses.

The responses for this question were based on a scale from 1 to 5, with 1 being Negative and 5 being Positive. The optional part B of the question then asked for an explanation for their choice.

Responses to part B showed two major categories of responses:

  • Those who responded with 5 generally saw the rules as "freeing," "relaxing," "low-stress," and allowing participants to exercise creativity within reasonable limits for the timeframe. 
  • Those who responded with 2-4 had mixed feelings about some of the more complex rules of the jam, citing instances where rewording rules for brevity would cause more confusion or a case where images rendered through programming were deemed okay, only for it to be reversed some days later into the jam. Constant updates to the rules also served to further confuse participants whose entries pushed the limits of the restraints.

Both Mikey and I agree that the rules needed to be worked more on prior to the jam, but we could not anticipate every instance of an edge case.

Question 4. What is your level of experience in terms of game development?

Forms response chart. Question title: 4. What is your level of experience in terms of game development?. Number of responses: 83 responses.

I placed this question on the survey to see how many new developers we ended up attracting with the jam, as my outreach efforts placed emphasis on the jam being a chance for people to create their first game. Over a quarter of respondents (26.5%) classified themselves as new to game development, with 60.2% saying they have some experience and 13.3% considering themselves to be very experienced with game development.

In hindsight, it is unclear how respondents who had prior experience classified themselves, so in future surveys, it would be best to quantify the experience in terms of months to years.

Question 5. What is your level of familiarity/knowledge in relation to Visual Novels?

Forms response chart. Question title: 5. What is your level of familiarity/knowledge in relation to Visual Novels?. Number of responses: 83 responses.

Admittedly, this question was not worded very well whatsoever. I had wanted to know if participants were avid consumers of visual novels prior to developing one, and the response "I know what a Visual Novel is" is murky at best. 3.6% of respondents do report that they had minimal or no knowledge of the genre beforehand however, which indicates that this jam was the first introduction to the genre to some participants.

Question 6. Was this the first Visual Novel you've created or worked on?

Forms response chart. Question title: 6. Was this the first Visual Novel you've created or worked on?. Number of responses: 83 responses.

I wish I had worded this question to be "Was this the first Visual Novel you've created or worked on that saw a public release (complete or demo)?" The difference is that several developers can work on a large project for months or even years, but never experience the full production pipeline of developing assets, playtesting/QA, bug fixing and polish based on QA, and preparing store pages. Those last few steps can give perspective on everything else in the development cycle.

Still, the responses to this are fairly positive when we look at it from the angle of attracting newcomers to VN development. 20.5% of respondents say this was their first release of any sort of game, with 10.8% saying that this was their first visual novel type game.

Question 7. How do you feel about game development immediately following the jam?

Forms response chart. Question title: 7a. How do you feel about game development immediately following the jam? Choose all that apply.. Number of responses: 83 responses.

Like question 3, this was a two part question, with part B asking for more details on responses. 

I think the answers to this question are rather surprising for a multitude of reasons, such as the overwhelming desire to immediately return to game development (73.5% of responses fell into this category, with 74.7% specifically stating that they want to go back to their larger projects that may have existed prior to the jam). Only 21.7% of respondents stated that they wanted to take a break before doing more development, which personally concerns me as a veteran developer who is experiencing burnout amid a global pandemic (this however, is a topic that deserves its own write-up, so I won't go further into that here).

54.2% of respondents selected that they would like to practice their skills, which seems to line up with the 26.5% of respondents who said they were new to game development, along with about half of those who said they had some previous experience. A good 60.2% of responses also indicated that those who participated in the jam were interested in their peers' work, which I hope leads to fostering a healthy sense of community.

The last choice of "I no longer wish to make games" was placed in the selection to see how many people would choose it, but it's unclear whether the sentiment is genuine or in jest. At least one respondent admitted in Part B that they wanted to choose it as a joke but elected to say they would take a break instead.

Question 8. Would you be interested in participating in another O2A2 Jam sometime next year?

Forms response chart. Question title: 8. Would you be interested in participating in another O2A2 Jam sometime next year?. Number of responses: 83 responses.

As you can see from the chart, the majority of respondents are eager to do the jam again next year, confirming that there is plenty of interest for this sort of jam again. As to what month we do decide to host the jam is still up in the air, and will most likely depend on Mikey's availability.

Question 9 asked for games we could use as examples of what is allowed within the rules for next year, and those answers will be kept private until it is necessary to cite those entries.


Question 10. Do you have any extra comments or feedback on the jam?

Most responses were positive or, again, wanted more clear rules and interpretations. Many respondents also used this space to express gratitude to the hosts for running the jam.

Question 11. Are you in the DevTalk Discord Server?

Forms response chart. Question title: 11. Are you in the DevTalk Discord Server?. Number of responses: 83 responses.

The DevTalk Discord server was the first place I posted the survey to, followed by Twitter and itch.io. As the majority of participants had gathered in the server to touch base with other participants, the overwhelming majority (81.9%) who responded "Yes" makes sense. I know that a few of my own teammates were not members of the server, and a few teams on itch.io had not made an appearance on Discord either. 

Question 12. Which of the Twitter Bot accounts do you follow?

Forms response chart. Question title: 12. Which of the Twitter Bot accounts do you follow? Check all that apply. Number of responses: 83 responses.

I placed this question on the survey to see if participants utilized the bot accounts maintained by Nai, though the numbers may be skewed as I forgot to place an option for "I do not use Twitter." Lemon (now @VNDevTalk) is a bot that will automatically RT tweets that meet certain hashtag criteria, so it's a good tool for keeping a pulse on the general indie VNDev scene. Cherry (@VNShuffle) on the other hand is more consumer-oriented, and posts random VNs from VNDB. The latest update to Cherry's code now makes it so she will post new VNs from itch.io.

13a. Are you interested in participating in the upcoming Spooktober 2021 Game Jam?

Forms response chart. Question title: 13a. Are you interested in participating in the upcoming Spooktober 2021 Game Jam?. Number of responses: 83 responses.

Spooktober VN Jam is DevTalk's "official" jam, as this is the event that receives the most prep and attention from the server moderation team. It is a month-long game jam with looser rules and a theme (horror or Halloween-esque), that includes judging and prizes. As Spooktober requires a higher time commitment, not all respondents may be able to participate in this jam, indicated by a larger portion of responses labeled "Maybe" (47%). Only 14.5% of respondents were adamantly sure they would not join, with 36.6% certain to try and participate.

13b. If you answered "Yes" or "Maybe," what specifically draws your interest to participating?

Forms response chart. Question title: 13b. If you answered "Yes" or "Maybe," what specifically draws your interest to participating? Select all that apply.. Number of responses: 70 responses.

With a higher level of preparation this year, I was interested in knowing what aspects of the jam attracted potential participants.

90% of respondents said they wanted to join "For fun" which is a healthy outlook for the game jam experience, with 62.9% of responses for the "theme(s) of jam." 55.7% of responses wanted to capitalize on the potential attention a larger organized jam would have.

Only 30% expressed interest in the prizes, which surprised me the most. Admittedly, at the time I published the survey, the final prize pool had not been set, though recent observation of the channel dedicated to game jam discussion has shown that some potential participants do not believe they can qualify for the prizes to begin with. However, this is not the space to speculate on the reasons why those developers feel this way about their skills or ability.

The lowest two factors contributing to interest in Spooktober were the Timing (28.6%) and opportunity to expand on an existing project (25.7%) with a Halloween-esque side story. The development portion of Spooktober is set to take place in September such that consumers (reviewers, streamers, players) could enjoy the entries throughout the month of October to capitalize on the excitement of the month.

There were a variety of reasons that respondents manually entered in themselves, notable ones being:

  • "I'm a jam addict"
  • "Getting to feel like I'm part of a community that cares about me, and vice versa"
  • "Working with other devs I like"

In the end, it seems that the majority of respondents who intend to participate in Spooktober want to have an enjoyable game jam experience.

Overall, the data gathered here confirms many of my own feelings about O2A2 itself, and I'd like to thank everyone who helped make the jam a success, and to those who took the time to respond to the survey.