Month: June 2015

That’s Just Your Opinion, Man or Why People Who Hate Reviewers Have Me So Confused

Words By Greywolfe

I try and write a review of a game every week.  [You can read my reviews here.  This link will take you off site and open in a new tab/window.] So, every weekend, I sit down and I go through my library of games and I try and think of something I want to experience.  Typically, these are older games, now – about the newest games I’ve tackled are “Wolf Among Us” and “Back To The Future,” both episodic Telltale releases.

But I’ve been reading reviews for a very long time now, and let me tell you:  people think all kinds of things about products, music, movies and books.

But gaming?  Gaming is in an odd place.  People don’t always like that someone will look into a game and critically dissect it to point out its faults or to praise it.  And puzzles me.

One method of reviewing something is to allocate a numerical value to how well or how poorly that thing performed.  I've always found this idea a little puzzling when referring to games.

I give this opinion piece 0 stars out of 5!

A Review Is Simply A Stated Opinion

First of all, let’s talk about what a review really is:  a review is someone sitting down, playing through a game [or in the case of a MMO, playing through some swathe of the game] to get an understanding of how the game functions and to see what story there might be in that piece of software.

Assuming the reviewer is doing their job correctly and assuming their observational skills are on point, they will make notes as they go about things they like and things they don’t like.  They will then take these notes and string them together to form a coherent “narrative” about their time with the product.

What you end up reading is that person’s narrative, their particular take on the game in question.

In large part, what you are reading is THEIR STATED OPINION on the matter.

Each soccer player has a very different role to play in a soccer game.  So they all end up seeing

If I'm the goalie in soccer, my opinion of the game is very different from someone who's out in the front lines.

You're Allowed To Have An Opposing Point Of View

When I read comments posted to reviews, there are often a handful of things I can bank on seeing.

One of these is someone saying in screamy capital letters that THEIR OPINION TROUNCES YOURS BECAUSE IT IS MORE RIGHT NEENER.

Here’s the thing, though:  Because a review is basically just a distilled opinion, it means that your opinion is often equally as valid.  And that’s quite healthy, but it’s only healthy if it’s done in a non-screamy way.  Remember, we’re all here to talk about the games, not get frustrated at one another because we hold opposing points of view.
(Interception by Dr. S: Opinions are never equally valid. Mine trumps everyone elses)Besides, if done in a non-screamy way, your opinion might very well change people’s perspectives on that particular game.  I am not – for example – a great fan of third or first person shooters at all.  [in fact, anyone who’s been following my writing or any length of time is probably aware that I think shooters are generally the dregs of gaming]  But I will – begrudgingly admit – that after having read about Portal, I was swayed in that one particular case.

With some games there's always a question of

I'm a flask-half-full kind of guy. I'll play half of the game and tell you how I REALLY feel. [I'm just kidding. I'd never do that :)]

You Didn't Play Enough Of The Game To Be Well Informed!

This particular one gets levelled at reviewers who – in particular – try to look into Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing games.

The problem with MMORPG’s is time and scale.  For the most part, a MMORPG isn’t something you can sit down and beat in sixty hours or so [like a “good RPG”] and, consequently, this creates a writer’s dilemma:  at what point, exactly, do I put pen to paper?

Some would argue that if you don’t “have fun” in the first hour or two and you’ve seen most of the simpler systems and you don’t like those, then that’s enough to run with.  Others will argue that the only time you can write a review is if you’ve been in the trenches, playing the game and you record its state /just/ before it drops a new content patch and/or expansion.

The answer – for reviewers – is that they need to play enough of the game that they can discuss it in a reasonable manner.  This happens to be the case for other reasonably-sized games, too.  And for those of you keeping score at home, sometimes, that means playing for a week or two and then writing about that particular experience.  The land of reviews is vast, and there’s always something new you need to be tackling.

[For the sake of clarity:  I’m generally in favour of writing a review-over-time for something like a MMORPG – that is – you note your first impressions, then keep playing, updating those impressions until you’re “happy” with your final opinion.  But not every reviewer will feel this way.]
Some folks think that reviewers get paid by the games companies to do reviews.

Money, money money, must be sunny, in a reviewers world! I guess that didn't turn out as well as I thought it would ;)

You Got Paid To Write This Review!

This is the one that I think deserves the most scrutiny.  And trust me, we will get back to it.

I am sort of atypical in reviewer-land in that I tend to write reviews based on the games I actually own.  In other words, I sit down, look through my library of stuff and decide “hey, I think I’d like to review the following, this week” but not every reviewer works this way and not every publication does things in this manner at all.

Typically, a games site [or magazine] gets what’s known as a “review copy” of a game from a publisher.  That publisher expects that you will review the game in good time. [Usually before the release window.]  Sometimes, they will place an embargo on when you may go public.  That is:  you may have your piece written well in advance, but you may only publish it on the day of release.

If all of this is “working as intended” then NO money should ever change hands at all [in this particular setup, anyway] – so, a good 99% of the time, if a publication has scruples, they will be getting a game, reviewing the game and publishing that review without “any interference” from either side.  The only point where money exchanges hands is where the publication [the games website] pays the reviewer for their review.

So a great deal of the time, this is just a knee-jerk statement from a person who’s read the review and doesn’t always agree with what’s being said.

Next Week!

We’ll look into a little more on this topic, because it’s worth pursuing.  There seems to be a decided lack of common sense when it comes to reviews, and hopefully, this will help set the record at least a little straight.

Images courtesy of Pixabay

Nintendo Direct Micro Megapost, incl. aprox. 4726544 screenshots

Nintendo listened to me and gave us another Nintendo Direct. I love those. This time, it’s a small one. How small? Micro. AHAHA…
I…I’m sorry, no idea what’s up with me today. Anyway, if you want to watch it, it’s embedded above. Rather want to read about it? Then continue.

First off, we have a new Chibi Robo for the 3DS, release sometime in October.

The game is a 2.5D platformer and the game mechanics revolve around the name giving Zip Lash, which you can use to swing, shoot and grab stuff. This wouldn’t be a Nintendo game however, if there wasn’t some Amiibo functionality shoved in. This time: God Mode. By pairing the Chibi Robo Amiibo (which actually looks pretty cool and will be sold out about 4 seconds after launch), you will be able to run faster, shooter further and unlock some in-game items.

Dr. Mario Miracle Cure for the 3DS, release on June 11th

It’s Dr. Mario (and Luigi). NEEEXT!

Pokemon Super Mystery Dungeon 3DS, sometime during winter

Only comes with 720 Pokemon out of the box. No word yet on the possibility of a 1080p...okemon patch. You will play as one of 20 different Pokemon, as opposed to a Pokemon trainer. Haven't played a previous one, so no idea how that exactly works.

Mario & Sonic are doing the Olympics again, on both 3DS and WiiU

Since the next stop on the immensely expensive and completely uninteresting Olympic Games is Rio, this game will take place in… yeah, I kinda written myself into a corner there.
WiiU and 3DS will feature some different sports, so you will find for example Rugby exclusively on the WiiU and Golf exclusively on the 3DS.

Splatoon is getting the Zapper

It’s a rapid fire weapon, which isn’t powerful, but offers lots of ink capacity and quickly charges up the echo locator special. Want more? How about a new map! Both are available starting today, 7pm pacific and are free. Ranked battles are also finally available.

Art Academy Home Studio for the WiiU

A new updated version of Art Academy is coming to the eShop on June 25th, featuring new lessons, the ability to upload time lapse videos of your paintings to YouTube, 360° landscapes, and even more new lessons.

Other Stuff

The above trailer for Project Treasure.
There is an LBX 3DS game that looks pretty cool.
Bravely Default sequel Bravely Second is coming to the west.

Puh, that’s it.

LEGO Worlds Now Available On Steam

LEGO Worlds is the next high caliber release on Steam Early Access. Looks like this might become a trend for non indies now. But what exactly is LEGO Worlds?
From the description it sounds a lot like Minecraft. Exploring, building, procedurally created worlds and blocky (or should we say bricky?) graphics. No crafting though from the looks of it.
To get a better overview, you might want to watch Nerd³’s first steps in this strange new world.
Source: Nerd³

XCOM 2 Is Coming

Commander, you are needed again. Turns out, the aliens are now in control of earth. How they managed this in this short amount of time is still a mystery to us. Your objective is clear: Reinstate XCOM, but let’s call it XCOM 2.
The enemy is called the Advent Administration and it’s everywhere, we believe. This means that we can’t give you a fixed home base, but how does a helicarrier called the Avenger sound? Don’t worry about copyright issues. We do not negotiate with alien terrorists. This will give XCOM 2 a mobile base from which you can initiate the resistance fight against the oppressors.
Talking about oppressors, they also upgraded their arsenal. Not only will you face off extraterrestrial scum like evolved Sectoids and Snake-liens (get it? Alien snakes?), but also fellow humans. But don’t hold back, because those aren’t your typical fast food eating, TV watching neighbors. The Advent government made it a top priority to genetically engineer our species, giving them powers and equipment that will most likely eclipse that of our troops.
So be smart, be stealthy, and if everything else fails: mod the game. To do so, you will be provided with access to a so called Steam Workshop. Don’t ask me what that is, but believe me when I say that you will need it. The battlefield is changing and so is the technology, literally, both is procedurally generated.
To get a visual overview of what we are facing, I’ve also attached a video at the top of this message. More information will follow in the coming weeks. Stay safe commander.
Intel provided by IGN