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Words to Warm You - Level Grinding

InstaTrentInstaTrent Opinion GuyRPGamer Staff
After a prolonged absence Level Grinding has returned. This month we discuss the subjectivity of video game reviews, Destiny's new currency, Fallout 4 glitches, and whether Steam Machines are edging out consoles.

LEVEL GRINDING

If I could ask you readers some questions this week, they would be:

- Are reviews supposed to be subjective? Objective?

- Should we be upset over Destiny's new Silver currency?

- Are Fallout 4's glitches acceptable in some respect?

- Have you thought about buying a Steam Machine?
"To tell you the truth, I like drinking tea and eating fresh vegetables, but that doesn't fit with my super-cool attitude. I guess I have to accept this about myself."

Comments

  • LordGolbezLordGolbez Member Full Members
    edited November 2015
    A review can not possible be fully objective, but it shouldn't be a complete wandering into the reviewer's fantasy land version of a game either. All the arguments made as pros or cons for the game should at least touch on some objective points. Where the reviewer ultimately lands on both a qualitative assessment and a final score will surely be subjective.

    A comment on the reviews with lower scores issue though. I think that assessment depends. A review with a lower score on games that people were interested in is potentially valuable. A review with a low score on a game that no one cares about and perhaps hasn't even heard about prior to the review essentially is clickbait. There's no real value in saying a game is garbage when no one would even expect something different about it. And putting a game on people's radar when it wasn't on anyone's just to summarily point out that it shouldn't have been when you click on the link is pretty much the definition of clickbait. Meanwhile, I don't see how a low score review of an AAA game is clickbait when you don't even put the scores on the front page.
    The Tea and Biscuits Brigade offers you tea and biscuits.
  • TexsideTexside Member Full Members
    Reviews are inherently subjective; they're talking about an experience, and except for the most basic of objective points (having bugs, cripplingly broken mechanics, et cetera), there's no way to be objective. A purely objective review isn't going to say a lot besides a generalized recap of what happens in the game and maybe what kind of game it is. That isn't a way to make an informed decision about buying it.

    The clickbait comments about Mac's Fallout 4 reviews (and generally giving low scores out) are nonsense, as Lord Golbez points out; the scores aren't on the front page. There's not even bait to get people to click. I don't mind it for lesser known games, but--well, one game someone's never heard of is another person's game they're on the fence about.

    I'm not too bothered by Fallout 4's glitches. Your argument seemed sound and squares with what I know of QA, which is it cannot possibly catch everything. C'est la vie! Open world games aren't really my cup of tea, so I can't say if it affects my decision to get or engage the games (since I'm usually not buying them anyways); that said, it seems impossible to get them all and it sounds like they fix them as they're found.

    Haven't really considered a Steam machine. I might? But I don't really use my TV for gaming as-is; a Steam machine would mostly address a want I don't have.

    Thanks for the column, Trent. It was thoughtful and a pleasure to read as always.
  • OcelotOcelot is not declawed Full Members
    edited November 2015
    Yay, I've missed Question Period. ;)

    1. My philosophy on reviewing is that of course it's subjective, but that it's important to back up your points of critique with examples. A review is useless if it essentially goes on and on about the game being great or awful without really telling us why the author thinks so. When people read reviews, they shouldn't be asking if it's objective (which is usually a cover for the real question, "Does this reviewer agree with me?"), but whether it properly articulates why the reviewer felt the way about the game that s/he did. And those critiques can be from any viewpoint, be it mechanics, artistic merit, or social viewpoint, as long as that viewpoint is clear. I have no patience for the idea that game critics shouldn't approach a piece of work from anything but a technical standpoint. That is not what criticism is for.

    2. I've been thinking a lot about the current microtransaction model and how it prioritizes certain kinds of gamers over others. The current philosophy seems to be that charging for content as long as it's "cosmetic" is ok, because that way the game isn't "pay to win." The problem with this is that it means pure achievement-oriented gamers can go on their merry way and completely ignore the microtransaction system, whereas gamers who like to engage deeply in a game's social systems or who are collectors have to decide if they want to deal with microtransactions or stop engaging as deeply in those systems. For me personally, cosmetic microtransactions actually reduce a game's lifespan. If there's a cool collection that I can acquire by meeting challenges in the game, I will spend many hours going for it. If I'm asked to shell out cash for the same kind of collection, I lose interest. I don't think most people are upset about Destiny's emotes, per se, but worried about the slippery slope. There are cool things to collect in Destiny like emblems and colour schemes, and it'd be sad if those switch from being in-game-goal oriented to cash-acquired.

    3. I've waded into this is the Fallout review thread, but I think some of Fallout 4's glitches are acceptable while others (the easily-identified game-breaking ones that happen in straight-up ordinary gameplay) aren't. Skyrim modders have identified a ton of weaknesses in Beth's current engine that cause things to go haywire far too easily. Some of them are related to the limitations on the previous generation of consoles. Now that Fallout 4 is out, I think Bethesda needs to invest time and resources into a brand-new open world engine that is focused on allowing quick and clean content creation, and I think the company needs to invite some people in from the outside to do that. Fallout 4 made me wonder if perhaps the core teams there are a bit too comfortable doing things the way they've always done them and need some shaking up and fresh ideas.

    4. I love custom-building a PC and would be more likely to buy the gear I need to connect it to the TV than I would to invest in a Steam Box.
    Becky Cunningham, Happy Snappy RPGamer Alum
    Twitter: BeckyCFreelance
  • daveyddaveyd Turn-based lifeform PAFull Members
    edited November 2015
    1. Unless the reviewer is an android, a review can't be entirely objective. That said, I hate reading "professional" reviews that come off like a fan gushing about how amazing a game is (or worse, a thinly veiled advertisement), while ignoring or dismissing significant flaws.

    Where I personally find reviews useful is when I'm on the fence about buying a game. I want to know what makes it fun, but also whether there are any issues or features I personally won't like... I think it's important for pro reviewers to acknowledge that even if they love a game, it won't be for everyone.

    Agree that if someone already bought the game, they're looking for reviews to justify their purchase (i.e., Cognitive Dissonance theory). Although I'm also happy to see positive reviews for relatively obscure indie games that I like, because it's very important for those games to be received well so that the developer can earn a living & make more games- even with a larger scope.

    Unfortunately, assigning a numerical score to a game, implies a certain amount of objectivity; as if a mathematical formula has been applied. And considering how hung up readers often get over the numbers, I do tend to think it would be better if gaming sites did away with them entirely... Then at least people might be more inclined to actually read the review. But I know that is very unlikely because of the free exposure sites like Metacritic give and the importance publishers even place on scores.

    2. Never played Destiny, so I don't know / care.

    3. I haven't played FO4 and don't intend to, because Bethesda's quantity over quality approach doesn't impress me. I prefer games that respect my time instead of giving me a bunch of fed ex quests and filler combat.

    I guess you have to expect a certain amount of glitches in a big open world game, but considering that is what Bethesda has been making forever, and that they've basically been using the same engine for a long time... I'd think they'd be a bit better at catching major issues prior to release. I'm sure they knew about a lot of the bugs, but decided November was an optimal time to release the game from a marketing perspective. They also seem to be very lazy when it comes to game design and overall polish, because they know their modding community will create a lot of improvements for them.

    4. No. For one thing I don't really like Steam as I prefer GOG / DRM-free games whenever possible. And as you pointed out, not all Steam games are even playable on them... Even if they were, there's a possibility that some great indie game doesn't get on Steam and then you miss out.

    Besides I have a custom made gaming PC and love being able to pick out all my components. I play PC games from a recliner rather than a standard desk chair.

    I think the Steam Machines are geared more towards people who want to play PC games, but either aren't very tech savvy (i.e., computer illiterate) or on a tight budget. If you're the former / aren't comfortable building PCs, then there are some good online stores (and probably local computer stores) who can build you a gaming PC for you.

    If budgetary concerns are an issue... the idea that gaming PCs have to cost an arm & a leg is a myth. You can get a decent gaming PC for not much more than a pre-built desktop made by Dell, HP, etc. Considering that the majority of AAA PC games are cross-released on consoles, and that Xbox1 / PS4 hardware really isn't very powerful, there's no need to have cutting edge gaming rigs.

    The people who spend thousands on gaming PCs seem to do it more for bragging rights than anything else; Unless you want to play with a 4K res / 3D monitor / an obsession with playing everything on maximum graphics settings, it simply isn't necessary to have SLI or Crossfire, an overclocked hex-core i7 or Bulldozer processor, expensive liquid cooling, a million LED lights, and some of the other extravagant features PC enthusiasts go for.

    What I'll never understand is the people who say they can't afford a gaming PC, and then buy a $400 console and a $400+ crappy desktop PC for web surfing, MS Office, etc. Dude, for that ~$800, you could've bought a decent PC that would let you play any game; looking just as good if not better than it would on a console, and a bunch of PC exclusives as well.

    So, no Steam Machine for me.
    Currently playing (on PC): Hard West, Eisenwald: Blood of November, Dungeon Rats, Wasteland 2, Tahira: Echoes of the Astral Empire





  • LordGolbezLordGolbez Member Full Members
    daveyd wrote: »
    Unfortunately, assigning a numerical score to a game, implies a certain amount of objectivity; as if a mathematical formula has been applied. And considering how hung up readers often get over the numbers, I do tend to think it would be better if gaming sites did away with them entirely... Then at least people might be more inclined to actually read the review. But I know that is very unlikely because of the free exposure sites like Metacritic give and the importance publishers even place on scores.

    I'm not going to read 20 reviews on a game unless I'm simultaneously very interested and very much on the fence about the game and it's unlikely to have both of those at once, so having a Metacritic score is useful. Whether RPGamer uses scores or not isn't so crucial to that though, but if no site or few sites did, it would kind of be a pain. Subjectivity and different interpretations of what a score means aside, a score averaged over many review sites gives a pretty decent idea of the overall impression a game has made, which is at least somewhat useful.
    The Tea and Biscuits Brigade offers you tea and biscuits.
  • daveyddaveyd Turn-based lifeform PAFull Members
    edited November 2015
    I'm not going to read 20 reviews on a game unless I'm simultaneously very interested and very much on the fence about the game and it's unlikely to have both of those at once, so having a Metacritic score is useful. Whether RPGamer uses scores or not isn't so crucial to that though, but if no site or few sites did, it would kind of be a pain. Subjectivity and different interpretations of what a score means aside, a score averaged over many review sites gives a pretty decent idea of the overall impression a game has made, which is at least somewhat useful.

    I definitely agree with you that it can useful for a quick overview of the general impressions of a game. Where I generally see the biggest issue with scores is with AAA game reviews. As has been noted here in the FO4 review thread, some of the big gaming sites had reviews that overall seemed very critical of the game and not particularly impressed but still somehow gave it a 9/10. (Very likely these sites feel pressured to give high scores for fear of ticking off a major source of ad revenue). But whatever the reason, you see AAA games getting very high scores that, even according to the reviewer's own words, probably don't deserve them.

    So while scores can definitely be useful in saving you time, they can also be somewhat deceptive. That's why I think I'd be happy if numbers / letters most sites used were replaced with a simple Recommend / Not Recommend like Steam user reviews. Of course it's ultimately still subjective, but seems less arbitrary than assigning a number.

    While RPGamer tends to publish pretty fair reviews & scores IMO, the staff here have noted the problem that Metacritic converts their 5 point scores into a /100 scale, which doesn't always translate well.

    Currently playing (on PC): Hard West, Eisenwald: Blood of November, Dungeon Rats, Wasteland 2, Tahira: Echoes of the Astral Empire





  • TheAnimeManTheAnimeMan Member Full Members
    If I remember right didn't some reviewer basically lose his job because he blast Kane & Lynch several years back and the site he worked at have like heavy advertisements for it. That also could be part of the issue with the reviews too, reviewers scared of losing there income (in the case of paid ones)

    Part of why I like RPGamer reviews too, it's all fan based and actual playing, no one here gets paid to write good reviews
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  • OcelotOcelot is not declawed Full Members
    If I remember right didn't some reviewer basically lose his job because he blast Kane & Lynch several years back and the site he worked at have like heavy advertisements for it. That also could be part of the issue with the reviews too, reviewers scared of losing there income (in the case of paid ones)

    Part of why I like RPGamer reviews too, it's all fan based and actual playing, no one here gets paid to write good reviews

    That was Jeff Gerstmann of Gamespot, and he wasn't fired, he quit because the marketing side of the site was pressuring him to massage his text/score. That direct kind of pressure isn't super common, however. Ad revenue people are usually separate from content production staff... note that there hasn't been a similar high-profile scandal of the sort since, and it's been years.

    I personally believe that the AAA score problem is really a combination of more subtle, psychological and social factors that are intertwined. There's the lack of diversity in reviwers, particularly for the largest sites, there's the powerful hype machine that gives off the idea that x game has to be good because it's a highly-anticipated title from a series many people love, and there's the experience many reviewers have had meeting a game's development team and knowing the work that was poured into the game. That can make it difficult to assign a lower score even if deep down you know the game actually kind of deserves it. This stuff isn't corruption like a lot of readers seem to think, but more subtle forces that can be difficult to identify in your own thought processes.

    There's a newer form of pressure I've noticed has been mounting over the last few years, and that's the pressure not to assign scores that are too far from what you think the norm will be. Ask any reviewer who has posted the highest or lowest score for a game with any sort of fanbase on Metacritic and you'll hear about all the hate mail they get because people assume they're corrupt because their score is the "outlier." Reviewers are only human, and it is absolutely no fun to be personally insulted, accused of all sorts of nasty things, and sometimes even threatened with bodily harm just for doing your job. So even if they're not actively seeking to do so, I suspect that a judgment of what score a game will generally receive comes into play when assigning scores. I no longer read the comments section of any review I write because of this - not because I don't want feedback, but because the "feedback" is often so toxic that I feel like paying attention could make me a worse reviewer instead of a better one.

    That problem won't be solved until the Internet as a community decides to come together and stop being so awful. (Note that I'm not talking about the RPGamer forum community... the mere fact that I'm discussing this here is because our community is pretty good. :) )
    Becky Cunningham, Happy Snappy RPGamer Alum
    Twitter: BeckyCFreelance
  • Anna Marie PrivitereAnna Marie Privitere Purr RPGamer Staff
    While we're nowhere near the size of a mainstream site, experiences like that are why our advertising and editorial content are walled off in stark fashion.
  • LordGolbezLordGolbez Member Full Members
    Defining the highest or lowest score as an "outlier" is not a statistically sound method of determining outliers. Not that I would expect loud fanboys to understand that.
    The Tea and Biscuits Brigade offers you tea and biscuits.
  • daveyddaveyd Turn-based lifeform PAFull Members
    edited November 2015
    Ocelot wrote: »
    That was Jeff Gerstmann of Gamespot, and he wasn't fired, he quit because the marketing side of the site was pressuring him to massage his text/score. That direct kind of pressure isn't super common, however. Ad revenue people are usually separate from content production staff... note that there hasn't been a similar high-profile scandal of the sort since, and it's been years.

    Are you sure about that? Every single search result I've seen says that he was fired. (However, he did have a few GS co-workers who resigned because they felt it was unfair.) Apparently Gerstmann had signed a NDA at some point and it wasn't until his site (Giantbomb) was bought by the same company that owns Gamespot that he was allowed to talk more about what happened.

    While this is certainly the highest profile case of "game reviewer being fired for bad reviews", I have a hard time believing it was an entirely isolated incident. Or it may be the case that most reviewers at mainstream gaming sites know the risk and avoid giving what would be considered a low score to the AAA games because they want to keep their job / get raises or promotions...

    I may not go as far as saying the entire gaming journalism industry is a huge cesspit of deceit and greed, but there are certainly some signs of corruption. There are stories of gaming journalists getting free vacations, free stuff (Ubisoft gave a $200 tablet to Watch Dogs preview attendees), and supposedly EA once sent a $200 check to Joystiq and who knows how many other gaming sites. And that amount of money is a drop in the bucket when a company spends millions on marketing for every major release.

    Sure maybe all this stuff is rare, but it's probably frequent enough that I take any review of a AAA game by any major site with a huge grain of salt.

    You make a fair point that pressure to give certain scores to games can also come from "the internet" i.e., fans / readers of the reviews. However, it's possible for reviewers to simply ignore comments and delete hate mail (as you have done). Surely most threats and vitriol come from fans and trolls who act that way only because of their anonymity. I imagine it's not nearly as easy to ignore one's editor if they're telling you that a score under 8/10 is simply not acceptable for certain games.

    I obviously don't apply any of these concerns to sites like RPGamer where the reviewers aren't even being paid and AAA games don't always receive the highest scores. It is just part of the reason I haven't pursued a career in gaming journalism and don't expect a game with a Metacritic score of 85+ to necessarily be amazing.

    Of course, no one is immune to the hype train, but professional reviews should try be, you know, professionals.
    Defining the highest or lowest score as an "outlier" is not a statistically sound method of determining outliers. Not that I would expect loud fanboys to understand that.

    True, especially when you consider that every site uses their own scale for rating games. Besides since we're talking about a subjective rating, even a score that was significantly below the average, it is not "wrong"; just that the reviewer had a really bad experience or generally dislikes that type of game.



    Currently playing (on PC): Hard West, Eisenwald: Blood of November, Dungeon Rats, Wasteland 2, Tahira: Echoes of the Astral Empire





  • OcelotOcelot is not declawed Full Members
    edited November 2015
    I'm probably remembering wrong, then, Davey. Thanks for the correction.

    And yes, there are still incidents of companies basically attempting to bribe journos, but they are less common than they used to be because there's no guarantee it will work. Watch_Dogs has a 78 overall on Metacritic, and looking at the highest scores, many of them are smaller outlets that wouldn't have been invited to the "tablet" preview. My problem with the prevailing dialogue about reviews right now is that nearly all the ire seems to be aimed at the writers/reviewers themselves. I want to see more holistic views of what actually happens, and right now reviewers are pretty much the easy targets taking the fall for a complex, multilayered system that echoes the issues found throughout the media. I'm not saying that there isn't an issue with AAA game scoring, I'm saying the reason for the issue is way more complex than, "game journalists suck and are just taking bribes."

    And don't underestimate the power of the hateful side of the internet. We're not talking "you suck" e-mails here. When certain toxic communities decide to latch onto a reviewer, that person can get doxed (their personal information leaked all over the internet), have their family and themselves threatened with rape or death, and be targeted in ways that have real consequences for their professional future and personal safety. Recently, a Canadian game writer who happens to be Sikh had an old selfie altered by somebody who made him look like a terrorist (with a bomb vest and Koran) and claimed that he was one of the people who had planned the attacks in Paris (never mind that Sikhism is a totally different religion from Islam, idiots). Several big newspapers ran the picture, and while he can't prove that the culprit was somebody who was mad about games journalism, let's just say it's awfully likely.

    I am lucky, because I am pretty small potatoes and have not been targeted in this manner, but I know a number of people who have, and it's terrible. It definitely makes you want to keep your head down and not stand out too much.
    Becky Cunningham, Happy Snappy RPGamer Alum
    Twitter: BeckyCFreelance
  • LordGolbezLordGolbez Member Full Members
    daveyd wrote: »
    True, especially when you consider that every site uses their own scale for rating games. Besides since we're talking about a subjective rating, even a score that was significantly below the average, it is not "wrong"; just that the reviewer had a really bad experience or generally dislikes that type of game.

    I don't know how much I would consider "generally dislike that type of game" to be a valid excuse for a bad review. Seems like a better excuse for recusing oneself from writing a review of that game. If you generally dislike fighter, you probably shouldn't be reviewing any incarnation of Street Fighter. If you generally dislike RPGs, or just JRPGS or turn-based RPGS, you probably shouldn't review Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest. If you generally dislike FPS - I generally dislike FPS, so I'll defer to someone else for the examples, but you get my point. Unless the generally dislike is so narrow that you don't really know the game is going to fit into that category going in, you probably shouldn't review a game when you're going into it with a known bias against it.

    The Tea and Biscuits Brigade offers you tea and biscuits.
  • daveyddaveyd Turn-based lifeform PAFull Members
    edited November 2015
    Ocelot wrote: »
    My problem with the prevailing dialogue about reviews right now is that nearly all the ire seems to be aimed at the writers/reviewers themselves. I want to see more holistic views of what actually happens, and right now reviewers are pretty much the easy targets taking the fall for a complex, multilayered system that echoes the issues found throughout the media. I'm not saying that there isn't an issue with AAA game scoring, I'm saying the reason for the issue is way more complex than, "game journalists suck and are just taking bribes."

    Sure, I'd agree with that. Honestly my own take is more along the lines of "(Most) AAA publishers suck because they attempt to bribe game journalists, dupe gamers into being mediocre / unpolished games, and milk their fans with DLC / pre-order bonuses that are often either useless filler or should have been included with the base game". It is mostly just disappointing when I see journalists who are decent writers and knowledgeable about games give half-hearted praise / high scores to games that you can tell they know aren't that special. It's an issue of credibility, more than ethics.
    Ocelot wrote: »
    And don't underestimate the power of the hateful side of the internet. We're not talking "you suck" e-mails here. When certain toxic communities decide to latch onto a reviewer, that person can get doxed (their personal information leaked all over the internet), have their family and themselves threatened with rape or death, and be targeted in ways that have real consequences for their professional future and personal safety. Recently, a Canadian game writer who happens to be Sikh had an old selfie altered by somebody who made him look like a terrorist (with a bomb vest and Koran) and claimed that he was one of the people who had planned the attacks in Paris (never mind that Sikhism is a totally different religion from Islam, idiots). Several big newspapers ran the picture, and while he can't prove that the culprit was somebody who was mad about games journalism, let's just say it's awfully likely.

    I am lucky, because I am pretty small potatoes and have not been targeted in this manner, but I know a number of people who have, and it's terrible. It definitely makes you want to keep your head down and not stand out too much.

    I can certainly understand how getting a threat of violence would be scary and intimidating. Some people are legitimately nuts, although I'd wager most of the people who do that type of thing are all bark and no bite, i.e., cowardly trolls.

    I don't think I'd ever write really nasty comments about a review, even if they gave one of my favorite games a 1/10. That sort of thing is immature / inexcusable. It's enough to tell them why I think they're wrong. I don't know why so many people seem incapable of disagreeing with someone without resorting to personal attacks. Maybe it is almost inevitable with certain hot button political issues, but someone's opinion on a game, film, or TV show just isn't that important.
    [
    I don't know how much I would consider "generally dislike that type of game" to be a valid excuse for a bad review. Seems like a better excuse for recusing oneself from writing a review of that game. If you generally dislike fighter, you probably shouldn't be reviewing any incarnation of Street Fighter. If you generally dislike RPGs, or just JRPGS or turn-based RPGS, you probably shouldn't review Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest. If you generally dislike FPS - I generally dislike FPS, so I'll defer to someone else for the examples, but you get my point. Unless the generally dislike is so narrow that you don't really know the game is going to fit into that category going in, you probably shouldn't review a game when you're going into it with a known bias against it.

    If you're talking about an entire genre, then I completely agree. I definitely would not want to review Sports games, FPShooters, or Fighting games, because with few exceptions, those are not something I'd even want to play. Reviewers shouldn't be assigned games they just know from the outset they aren't going to like. Reading a review by someone who clearly is not the game's target audience is irritating. However, sometimes you may expect a game to be something you might like and it just ends up being different from what the marketing led you to believe. Situations like that could make for a review worth reading.
    Currently playing (on PC): Hard West, Eisenwald: Blood of November, Dungeon Rats, Wasteland 2, Tahira: Echoes of the Astral Empire





  • Anna Marie PrivitereAnna Marie Privitere Purr RPGamer Staff
    Having received death threats as a part of my job, please don't minimize them by saying "It's not like they're going to act on it." :P
  • daveyddaveyd Turn-based lifeform PAFull Members
    edited November 2015
    Paws wrote: »
    Having received death threats as a part of my job, please don't minimize them by saying "It's not like they're going to act on it." :P

    I'm sure it was all a big misunderstanding. When they said they wanted to kill you, they probably meant "My character in [insert MMORPG or game with PVP mode] is going to defeat your character." ;)

    Nah, like I said it is inexcusable and I can see how it can be legitimately scary. Since it seems the majority of the hateful rage is directed towards reviewers giving the "wrong" score, it again makes me wonder if it would be better for gaming sites would do away with numbers, even if they can be useful sometimes.
    Currently playing (on PC): Hard West, Eisenwald: Blood of November, Dungeon Rats, Wasteland 2, Tahira: Echoes of the Astral Empire





  • Anna Marie PrivitereAnna Marie Privitere Purr RPGamer Staff
    daveyd wrote: »
    I'm sure it was all a big misunderstanding. When they said they wanted to kill you, they probably meant "My character in [insert MMORPG or game with PVP mode] is going to defeat your character." ;)

    Okay, that seriously made me laugh out loud. Scared poor Simon :P

  • LordGolbezLordGolbez Member Full Members
    edited November 2015
    daveyd wrote: »
    If you're talking about an entire genre, then I completely agree. I definitely would not want to review Sports games, FPShooters, or Fighting games, because with few exceptions, those are not something I'd even want to play. Reviewers shouldn't be assigned games they just know from the outset they aren't going to like. Reading a review by someone who clearly is not the game's target audience is irritating. However, sometimes you may expect a game to be something you might like and it just ends up being different from what the marketing led you to believe. Situations like that could make for a review worth reading.

    I don't think it has to be an entire genre. It could be a subgenre (like JRPG or turn-based examples I gave) or even a series. I mean, I know certain series like Final Fantasy vary a lot, so that might be harder to pin down. Still, someone who hasn't enjoyed a single Final Fantasy game yet, probably shouldn't be putting their review of FFXV out there as the voice of a major review site (if they want to do it on their personal blog then, whatever, go ahead). Something like that becomes even more clear with a series like Dragon Quest where the games are largely very similar. Most people reading reviews for a DQ game probably only want to know what makes that entry different/special and how it measures up. It's unlikely that anyone will be interested in the reviewer's distaste for fighting slimes. I do agree that if it's not clear from the get go what type of game it is, then any critique is fair game.

    Of course, that's not foolproof either. I've enjoyed every Final Fantasy I've played prior to FFXII (I haven't played FFXI or FFXIV), and I would give that game a 2.5 or less on RPGamer's scoring. Probably I shouldn't review a game like that, because I don't like that type of game. But then again, I played all the way through FFXII and felt tricked by the game. Although I was never a huge fan of the gameplay (it was tolerable, but not rewarding), there were several points in the game where I felt I was just on the cusp of a point where the plot was about to get interesting and was repeatedly disappointed by the game's inability to carry any momentum from those plot points. So should I review a game like that, or leave it for the people who see its merits (those crazy, deluded people)? But like I said, that's a scenario that seems on the fence to me. I knew going in that the gameplay wouldn't quite be my cup of tea, but I didn't know that I would find the narrative style likewise lackluster (indeed, worse).

    Here's another more clear cut example though: I hated Mass Effect almost instantly. I didn't know I would before I started playing, but there was surely enough info available if I had bothered to look that I could have been pretty sure I wouldn't like it. I didn't get very far in it, but even if I had finished it driven by spite. it wouldn't qualify me to review it. I simply don't like that type of game at all. My opinion wouldn't be valuable to any one who enjoys RPG/shooter hybrids, or even probably Bioware games in general, because I basically don't like Bioware games to put it on a more general level.
    The Tea and Biscuits Brigade offers you tea and biscuits.
  • daveyddaveyd Turn-based lifeform PAFull Members
    edited November 2015
    Reviewing games in a long running series like FF, is rather tricky. A reviewer should of course acknowledge the existence of previous titles, but still judge the game on its own merits. Yet I do think that a game being too similar to its predecessors is a valid criticism. While some fans are perfectly happy to play basically the same game with different character names, I think most are hoping for some incremental improvements or new features.

    A review by someone who has played every game in a series is going to read very differently from someone who is totally new to it. But both perspectives can be interesting and useful. I gather that Macstorm liked FO3 quite a bit and might have been more impressed with FO4 if he hadn't played 3.

    I also think to some degree a good reviewer should even take things like budget into account; at least to the extent that the review considers graphics, production values, and game size / length. It doesn't seem fair to compare a small indie game to AAA titles with budgets made for over ten million bucks. Of course when it comes to overall fun factor / playability, all games should be held to the same standard.

    I'm somewhat ambivalent when reviews take a game's price / scope into consideration. On the one hand it's useful for players to know if a game gives them a good bang for their buck relative to other games. And stuff like replay-ability adds value to a game. But should a game receive a lower score if it's really good but "too short"? I'm not so sure.
    Currently playing (on PC): Hard West, Eisenwald: Blood of November, Dungeon Rats, Wasteland 2, Tahira: Echoes of the Astral Empire





  • LordGolbezLordGolbez Member Full Members
    edited November 2015
    I'd prefer if the reviewer takes price into account over budget. An indie game that goes for a $50 or $60 price tag loses their indie excuse as a shield as far as I'm concerned, because my thought is if you have budget limitations why am I paying full price for the game? That's not to say no budget game can be worth that price tag, but if I find myself having to make excuses for the game based on the budget, that better be reflected in the game's price as well. Also, I generally have very different expectations for a $50 game than I do for a $20 or $10 game, so I prefer if a review takes it into account to some degree. Generally with low price point games I tend to be looking more for novelty over elements like narrative and game length. It's acceptable for such a game to be short as long as it's fun to play while it lasts. However, if the same game cost me $50 I would feel cheated and tend to think of it more along the lines of a low scoring game.

    For example, something like Thomas Was Alone, I'd maybe give up to 4.0 for what it was, but if it cost me even $40 I would be thinking more like 2.0 or 1.5

    It does not, however, work both ways. A mediocre $50 game doesn't become a great $20 game. It might be that I'm more willing to buy a 3.0 game if I can get it on sale for $20, but that doesn't elevate in my head to a 4.5 game. That's mostly because the mediocre game is probably giving me what I expect from a $50 game, but in mediocre fashion, rather than what I expect from a $20 game (I'm using $20, but that's probably a bit high, because I usually don't risk that much on an indie game -10 or 15 would be better, I guess). Most succinct way I can put it is I expect a 5.0 game full price game to be a lot of fun extended over a long period and 5.0 low price game to be concentrated fun, that doesn't necessarily last me very long or have significant replay value (really good fast food). Mediocre full price game is 3.0 for both, because it never really ticks the concentrated fun block, but delivers an acceptably satisfying experience for a good amount of time.
    The Tea and Biscuits Brigade offers you tea and biscuits.
  • Anna Marie PrivitereAnna Marie Privitere Purr RPGamer Staff
    The dilemma is, that judgement is extremely hard to make. I'll pay 60$ for a game I think I'll enjoy, even if it's short or has flaws that don't bother me. But Chris definitely doesn't feel the same.
  • MacstormMacstorm Ysy St. Administrators
    And price changes, as the current Steam sale can attest to.
    "The universe is already mad. Anything else would be redundant."
    Twitter @FinalMacstorm
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