Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The GM Feedback Questionnaire...

Good Afternoon, All:

Every year or so, I like to have my players appraise my abilities as a Game Master, in the hopes that their feedback can help me improve and become a better GM for them. Since I've been doing this for awhile, I can also compare this year's answers to those in previous years and see where I've improved, what I've lost focus on, and where I still need to grow.

I will be posting the questionnaire this week, and thought this would make a good post for the blog. Some of you out there may find it rewarding to get feedback on your GMing as well, and so I felt I would share. I always ask them to take their time over the next week, and let them know that they can post either to the group's mailing list or respond to me directly. I also let them know that honesty is appreciated, as their answers help shape my efforts in running games in the future. I've found the resulting feedback to be quite rewarding, and has helped me become a better GM over the years.

For those interested, here is the questionnaire I send out:

GM Feedback Questionnaire

* What did you like most about last session?
* What did you like least about last session?
* On a scale from 1-10, how was last session compared with the best gaming night we've had? What were the differences?
* How satisfied are you with the direction the campaign is going? Why?
* How do you feel about the other characters in the party?
* What do you think I GM the best? (NPCs, combat, descriptions, plots, pacing, monsters, dungeons, cities, wilderness, whatever you'd like to answer...)
* What do you think I could improve upon as a GM?
* How do you feel about the adventures I run?
* What do you think of my NPCs, in general?
* If there was anything you could improve about our game sessions, what would it be?

Here's some of the feedback I've gotten out of these informal surveys:

From what you guys said collectively, I gather that you like the following (ie Things I'm Doing Okay On):

* Gaming with good friends. :)
* Opportunities for RP exchanges with NPCs.
* NPC portrayal. Big thumbs-up all the way around.
* Plotlines seem well-thought out and complete, with some consistent interconnections.

And that the following needs improvement (ie Things I Need To Work On):

* At least one person feels like he can't point out rules or have mechanics questions, and feels like there's a DM vs PCs attitude going on. This same player answered consistently with a lower morale on all questions.
* Remembering allied NPC activity in combat.
* Forward motion and progress in-game (aka downtime), though it was recognized that some of that is due to the PCs, as well.
* Shift of focus on plotline material away from the overuse of demons and the Infernus.
* Enjoyable combat encounters with a mix of creatures and interesting terrain types.

And a few years later:

From what you guys said collectively, I gather that you like the following (i.e. Things I'm Doing Okay On):

* Descriptions
* World detail and dynamics
* NPC portrayal and roleplaying (including mention of voices and consistent mannerisms)
* Plots and adventures

Honorable mention was given to the combat scenarios being tough but balanced, in general. Since my last campaign, I've worked on providing mixed combat encounters and moving away from single powerful enemies in an encounter. The diversity has been great, and I've gotten a few appreciative comments on that, too.

From your feedback, I gather that the following needs improvement (i.e. Things I Need To Work On):

* Pacing, including character awards. Characters are still growing too quickly in-game time (need more downtime), but not consistently in out-of-game time (XP award system a hindrance).
* Cities are nebulous; an overview of city layout in play would be appreciated.
* Dungeons can be too long. ;)
* Less overarching storylines, more PC-oriented mini-adventures.

This is an improvement from two years ago. Then, the comments focused on such things as the DM forgetting allied NPC activity in combat, too high a focus on the use of the infernal as bad guys, and bland combat encounters. A lack of downtime and long over-arcing plotlines are still problems of mine as a DM, and represent great opportunities for improvement in the future of this campaign, and in campaigns to come.

I can't wait to see what I find out this year.

With Regards,

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