Bad Gamers Ep. 89: Breaking Down the Review Process

Discussion in 'PSLS Features' started by stolenxnametag, Oct 2, 2014.

  1. stolenxnametag

    stolenxnametag PSLS Level: Kraken PSLS Ambassador

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    On this week's Bad Gamers podcast, @Dan Oravasaari and @Chandler Wood discuss the review process and sorting the novelty from the objectivity necessary for making a proper video game review. If you completely disagree with the reviews on PSLS or its Review Policy, I encourage you to write your own review in our Community Reviews sub-forum.


    [​IMG]
    We need more animal pictures, Dan. I give this one a 6/10 because I prefer live animals.

    Take the Whole Package
    "Sometimes you have to take the good with the bad," is a great mantra for game reviewers, only replace sometimes with typically. When writing game reviews, everyone has a different strategy for getting from Point A to Point B, and they often end up at Point F of Zone Y. On this week's breakdown of the podcast, I am not going to fill the text with pictures. The text is what really matters in a review of any sort. The rest is just fluff and numbers.

    Breaks
    Fully diving into a game can yield a different result than taking a break by playing something else. Dan takes notes on index cards as he is writing reviews. He takes walks, watches movies, or does other things to help the ideas he has taken into account actually soak into his head.

    Chandler waits until everything has been written before deciding on a score. He does not go into the game going, "This game is going to be a 10." He has to go through it all, let it all saturate through his brain juices, and then read over it a few times.

    Dan waits for that magical number to pop into his head during a playthrough and builds from that idea until even after it has been edited and ready to publish. Sometimes the game will start out as a 6 in his head, but then it will eventually materialize into a 9. At that point he has to reflect back and go, "Wait - what is it that made this game change so significantly?"

    Pricing
    Price proportion also modifies the score. A $60 or $50 AAA title will not see much of a difference in value from the reviewer, but a $15 game is going to be scored as a $15 game. Is $15 a steal for that game? Is there a game-breaking glitch that was not patched on Day One that makes the game seem like a $5 game? Those are questions that have to be asked.

    Not everyone is economically pitted the same way either. For some people a $60 game is a huge budgeting concern. A $60 game that is scored as 10/10 needs to be good enough for someone who only buys a game once every two months to buy during its release window. People who read the reviews tend to give them some sort of weight, and some of them want to know if the games are worth their money.

    Fun
    The fun factor can make the difference between a 7 and 8 sometimes, but it does not decide the difference in a 3 and 8. When a game is really fun, it can overshadow the minor faults that are also mentioned in the review. Of course the opposite can also be possible, with the faults being greater than the fun.

    Payola
    PSLS reviewers do not let their swag bags from PR people determine their scores. Dan can, however, be bought with beer. Chandler agrees, but it has to be a novelty brew that is themed with the game, like a Brutal Legend Black Metal Coffee Stout. A little bottle opener with a funny logo or a t-shirt for is not going to change the score that is given, no matter how good or bad the score was.

    Graphics vs Story
    Intentions are what decide this battle. Rogue Legacy's retro-style graphics are not going to be expected in any future God of War titles, and Sparkle 2 does not have a story that rivals that of The Last of Us. Those things should be expected. Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition was marketed as eye candy, though, so the review that was written for it attempted to showcase how well it matched up against its last-gen version.

    Averages are Completely Subjective
    Not every game that is scored less than 7 is a bad game. Mr. Flipper's Fun Time Happy House is the best Vita game of all time, and I think it might have scored a 5.5. It was a hit-or-miss title that partially relied on genre-partiality, but it also had repetitive music and several predictable framerate drops. Genre averages are a thing, too. Not every RPG is going to score as high as your favorite Squaresoft game from 15-20 years ago, but Dragon Fantasy Book I was still worth playing. Many niche games, like those from the Hyperdimension Neptunia series (Re;Birth1, Victory, MK2) are going to range across the middle of scale because they do not appeal to the general Western audience being targeted by PSLS. @Lifewish may give weight these games higher than @Chandler Wood because he likes the genre more, but that those games are still more tongue-in-cheek than serious about what they are trying to present.

    Relationships with Games Devs
    This doesn't matter. If these reviews are not honest, then the devs are going to make terrible games because they are being told that their poor oversight is good. That is what being a professional is about. "It sucks," is not a valid argument, however, and keeping in touch with developers despite giving their games poor scores after an E3 after-party is sign that everyone is doing the right thing. For the industry to grow, people have to be honest with each other.

    Social Justice
    Reviews should not come with a social agenda. For example: if Sev gave God of War: Ascension a score of 4.5 in his review because of the "Bros Before Hos" trophy going against his beliefs in gender equality, then he would be a terrible reviewer. A reviewer giving a GTA game a score of 1 or 2 because of gun violence and profanity would also be reckless. As Dan mentioned, it is okay to point out something that bothers you during a review. Honestly, there is a chance that it could bother someone else who reads the review as well. Regardless of how much it bugs you, using that one nuance to poorly or favorably score a game is not exactly a sign of a quality review.

    Spoiler Alert
    Sometimes people skip the text in reviews because they are afraid of things being spoiled for them. To combat this, reviewers have to take precautions about what it is that they mention. "Mr. Flipper dies at the end of the game," is not a good way to convey a message about why the game is sad. However, "There is a game-changing mechanic added during the second disc of Final Fantasy VIII which continues to add value to the game for the rest of its duration," would be a great way to mention Balamb Garden becoming a mobile airship before you pick up the Ragnarok in the third disc.
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2014
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  2. Dan Oravasaari

    Dan Oravasaari PSLS Level: Bronze Staff Member

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    Is it odd how much I enjoy reading these?
     
  3. stolenxnametag

    stolenxnametag PSLS Level: Kraken PSLS Ambassador

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    It depends on how you quantify that enjoyment. o_O
     
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  4. Chandler Wood

    Chandler Wood Get Off My Wood Staff Member

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    Balamb becomes a flying Garden BEFORE you pick up Ragnarok??? Dammit, spoiler tags or something!

    Kidding, I've totally completed FFVIII.
     
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  5. stolenxnametag

    stolenxnametag PSLS Level: Kraken PSLS Ambassador

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    I flagged it for spoilers! :D
     
  6. Lifewish

    Lifewish 중재자 Staff Member

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    I feel so left out for never being invited!
     
  7. stolenxnametag

    stolenxnametag PSLS Level: Kraken PSLS Ambassador

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    Same! I challenge Dan and Chandler to get me an invite to one of those events!
     

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