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Author Topic: Why games like The Wonderful 101 are a poor fit for the Gaming Press  (Read 900 times)
Yggdrasil
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« on: September 28, 2013, 04:00:00 PM »

Or (alternatively) why we can't have nice things more often.

Link to the article by Robert Boyd

NeoGAF Thread
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Tomara
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« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2013, 02:26:06 AM »

I don't like it when people talk about 'the press' as if we share a hivemind, or something...

Personally, I don't think the games or the way we play them are the problem. Games like The Wonderful 101 are fun to play and write about because they're something different. And we do get enough playtime to master the basics (which rarely takes more than 3 hours) even if we are being forced to play it over at the publisher's. Sure, we have to hurry up and meet our deadlines, but it's not just business. We became gamejournalists because we enjoy games and after slogging through half a dozen generic shooters and platformers, games like the Wonderful 101 remind us why we haven't quit yet.

There are games I had to review that I was so impressed with I nearly forgot to sleep. I played Xenoblade Chronicles 8-10 hours a day for three days straight (on top of other work I had) and I kept playing 2-3 hours a day after I turned in my review.

You know what's the problem? Scores are the problem. Putting a score on a game that's great in its own way but doesn't have a very broad appeal is hard. Some mags/websites put their audience first, because they're writing the reviews for them. If they won't like it, the game won't get a very good score. Other magazines put a high emphasis on creativity or even the 'art factor' and rate games that try something new highly (while thrashing everything that's 'too mainstream' or not 'innovative enough'). And then there's the publisher who look at these scores without considering the context... Not a good mix.

Edit: read some of the NeoGAF posts.

Quote
This extends to party games like Wii Sports and Nintendo Land as well. Those games can't exactly sit around on the reviewers shelves waiting for a friend or family gathering to pop up and see how well it clicks. They just have to guess and it's hard to guess whether a party game is going to click with parties or not.

I don't know how other magazines/reviewers work, but at [N]Gamer it was tradition to play these games over at the office so we'd have a decent number of players. If the office wasn't an option, we'd use a reviewer's place. These were the games that allowed us to do something fun and new with our articles. For instance, our Tetris Party review was based a competition between a collegue and me to determine who was the mags best Tetris player.
« Last Edit: September 29, 2013, 02:36:50 AM by Tomara » Logged
MeshGearFox
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« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2013, 06:06:43 AM »

Also, anything lower than 80% basically means 'terrible' these days.

But I was thinking about this with a lot of shmups, too. Because, from the article:

"These are games designed to be played over a period of months, honing your craft & improving your scores & times, not rushed through to see what happens at the end of the story."

SHMUPs just aren't in line with whatever standards are used for judging modern games -- they take between 30 and 60 minutes to play through without dying, most of their longevity comes from it being /really hard/ to get to the point where you can actual beat it, and they're not fun to play under some deadline.

You end up seeing a lot of discrepancies between specialist shmup review sites and more general review sites because of this -- very, very different things are valued by the two.

... You know, this kind of applies to RPGs too. I remember a gamestop manager making the comment that all RPGs play the same, they just have different stories. Which might've been true at one point, although I'm redacting what I was going to say here because I just remembered that I don't actually like videogames.
« Last Edit: September 29, 2013, 06:21:55 AM by MeshGearFox » Logged

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Tomara
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« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2013, 02:36:11 PM »

Yeah, that too. In all the magazines I wrote for (and in all the magazines I like to read) a 7/10 was a pretty good score. With a score like that you should expect a game that offers a good experience despite some noticable flaws. These games won't appeal to a very broad audience, but could be tons of fun for the people interested in the genre and may even be gateway for others who are brave enough to try something new.

Of course I understand developers would like to see their games score higher, but a 7 is not an insult. It's a compliment. It means their game is above avarage and worth someone's time.

I guess the reason people see a 7 as bad is that there are so many games with higher scores out there. Tons of games come out every month, so of course gamers a going to be picky. It's just sad some people seem to ignore everything that has less than 80 on Metacritic instead of, you know, actually reading some reviews to find out if it's something they might like.
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Yggdrasil
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« Reply #4 on: October 10, 2013, 07:01:59 PM »

Explaining the Rev3Games rating system, why do we focus so much on number ratings? (segment ends at 59:00) -- Rev3Games, YouTube

I guess the reason people see a 7 as bad is that there are so many games with higher scores out there.

That and the value a lot of people put on reviews is too high IMO (example).
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MeshGearFox
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« Reply #5 on: October 10, 2013, 07:44:54 PM »

I honestly just play anything that looks interesting and ignore reviews. I like a lot of things that everyone else hated.
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Tomara
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« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2013, 04:07:40 AM »

Quote
Explaining the Rev3Games rating system, why do we focus so much on number ratings? (segment ends at 59:00) -- Rev3Games, YouTube

I agree with Sessler, if you have so use some kind of number scale to rate your games, a strict 1-5 scale is one of the most pleasant to work with. If you're going to use numbers, they have to mean something.

A couple of weeks ago I reviewed Rain for a magazine that uses a 1-100 scale. The game really sucked me in and I was happy with the review I wrote (the editor-in-chief thought so too, yay for me!). But the score... Putting a score under my text was the hardest part of the whole review. What should I take into consideration? The length of the game versus the price you pay? The scores similar games also was also enthusiastic about recieved? Just go with my gut feeling - write down the first score that comes to mind and feels right?

I think I was a bit spoiled by one of the first mags I wrote for. The opening page of the review section always contained a quick overview of what the scores actually meant. Something like:
1,2,3 - The worst games we've ever seen. Possible health risks.
4,5 - Playable, but we doubt you'll want to try.
6 - An avarage game that's easy to overlook. Fans of the genre may enjoy it.
7 - Pretty good, but with some noticable flaws. Read the review carefully.
8 - A fine game in its genre, can't really go wrong with this one.
9 - Excellent game, you don't want to miss this.
10 - Instant classic (over a course of nearly ten years only two games recieved this score)

It'd be great if every publication had something like that as it's the easiest way to put reviewers and readers on the same page.

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I honestly just play anything that looks interesting and ignore reviews. I like a lot of things that everyone else hated.

Me too. I've written and edited so many reviews, I don't really want to read one unless the review can stand on its own as a piece of entertainment. For instance, I watch Zero Punctuation sometimes. More often than not it's just a decent laugh, no matter what game is discussed, but on very rare occassions it introduces me to something I hadn't really heard of before. Like Spec Ops: The Line. Then there are some series I blindly buy like the Atelier series, because why should I care what everyone else thinks about pastel coloured kawaii moe desssss Japanese games when I'm having so much fun brewing bombs shaped like cute little snowmen?
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Raziel
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« Reply #7 on: October 12, 2013, 06:09:10 PM »

I think reviews of any entertainment can be quite interesting to read, it's just that the standards in video game reviewing are abysmal when as far as commercial websites go. "Cool graphics, awesome story wowowowowow" are pretty much it. No attempt at establishing a context, often little knowledge of the genre, how game mechanics really work etc. All it comes down to is just plain and simple opinions. It's the equivalent of high school argumentative essays.

A good review should be interesting for the reader, too.

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Prime Mover
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« Reply #8 on: October 12, 2013, 09:02:48 PM »

The other thing is that so many games are just simply compared to a few basic archetypes. Entertainment media seems to group people and games into a very few common categories, and write reviews as if they're compared to that. If a game happens to be in first person and has some action, but steers far far from the typical FPS, it's going to draw some criticism for "not doing it right". There are a few things that are deemed "bad" by mainstream gaming press, and games that choose to do those things will get a frown, even if they're really great games.
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MeshGearFox
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« Reply #9 on: October 14, 2013, 07:29:28 PM »

Going back to something I was getting at with SHMUPs earlier -- in terms of PS2 shmups, R-Type Final was quite well received from what I recalled, although by shmup standards the gameplay is sort of lacking because it's rather slow, and levels are long but with a lot of down time, and from what I remember the score mechanics don't make a lot of sense.

Except it DOES provide a really solid 'experiential' experience, in the sense that it has a genuinely solid storyline, a very cinematic quality (which contributes to the slow level design mentioned above), and a scheme for unlocking stuff that gives a good sense of 'completion'.

Meanwhile, castle shikigami 2 got panned by the gaming press, and I think a lot of that was the rather poor production values and bizarre translation, but was well liked by the shmup community since, mechanically, it does a lot of really good things.

(Please ignore the fact that I have no idea if any of this is true and that I'm just using it as a convenient narrative for what's being discussed in the original article).

Of course, something that did definitely happen to me -- when I was reserving a copy of Chrono Cross and Legend of Mana back in the nineties, I remember the Gamestop manager saying that all RPGs played the same, they just had different stories. Er...

(As a related anecdote, when CC and LoM actually came out, I liked LoM and didn't like CC, because I really got into LoM's Jumi story and world stuf, but felt weirdly betrayed by... the direction CC went in. At the time, I put more value on story than anything else. Later, my opinion switched, because I was more interested in gameplay, and LoM's gameplay is pretty broken. Meanwhile, I like CC's mechanics a lot [in spite of the inbalance you get from Serge getting invariably overleveled].)
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Annubis
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« Reply #10 on: October 14, 2013, 07:49:54 PM »

I never understood why people complain that Serge is too strong.
Isn't it a given that the main character is the strongest? Or is that logic so weird?
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MeshGearFox
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« Reply #11 on: October 14, 2013, 08:05:31 PM »

@ Prime Mover:

The judging-to-the-standards thing is REALLY annoying when dealing with 4xes, because people use "how closely does this ape MoO2" as a standard or whatever.

And I didn't like MoO2.

I never understood why people complain that Serge is too strong.
Isn't it a given that the main character is the strongest? Or is that logic so weird?

Annubis: In CC, Serge/Lynx is always in your party, so he gets all of the between-boss bonus stat-ups. So he's always over-leveled compared to everyone else. IDK it's probably not that big of an issue, but I do wanna make a gameshark code to turn off the between-boss stat-ups because I like experimental hacks like that.
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