8.537 thumbs out of 5 stars

I was working with someone to create a review channel. As it turns out it’s a crap ton of work making reviews. While I was preparing to create the channel I started to ask questions like, “What is the use of a review” and “What purpose do they serve”. That shot me on a search for anything to do with reviews. I jumped around checking out highly entertaining reviewers like Zero Punctuation down to the less then perfect ones on /r/gamereviews. We all have to start somewhere.

Some of them broke games down by sections: story, gameplay, “graphics”. Most used a grading system, 8/10, five stars. That got me thinking of ways I should grade the games. I tried to come up with a way to take some of the subjectivity from a star rating system. It’s even possible to turn to a pass fail system, “buy or stay away”.

Spent some time with all that bouncing around my mind and was unable to clamp down on anything. What good is having a rating system? It bothered me that after a while I will end up with a list of games and a list of ratings. It then makes sense that it would be possible to use the ratings to compare the games.

One game gets a 5 out of 5 and that one gets a 4 out of 5. Why? Games are just so drastically different from one another, that comparison is impossible. Skyrim and Gone home have completely different goals, what would a comparison between them even mean?

Ok, so if we give limbo a 9 or 10 in aesthetics and we give BioShock infinite the same. Are they as good as another? Is it fair with one having a huge budget? Should the money even matter? How about the time to play through. Journey would also have to be given high marks for aesthetics but that can be beat in like 2 hours.

The system wouldn’t even work when looking at one game at a time. What could I give in story to something like League of legends? There is some lore to it, but a player would have to go out of their way to figure out what’s going on and it wouldn’t change the gameplay.

If the rating can’t be used to compare then it only serves one other purpose, as a summery of opinions, but that’s the whole review. If by the end of the review, the audience is unsure what the reviewer thinks, they are watching zero punctuation and are wondering if he actually liked the game or, the review is missing something significant.

Systems like this serve the reviewer more then anyone else. It simplifies formatting and attempts to remove some of the subjectivity from the review. Which is the conclusion I finally found my way to.

Reviews are more then their end rating. They are there to provide some ones personal tastes. There are a few reviewers of movies and games that I watch. Like Grace from Beyond the trailer. She does a crap ton of movie reviews. I can’t possibly watch as many movies as she does, cause that’s her job. No, I don’t trust her every opinion but I have seen enough of the movies she’s recommended or rejected. I now have an idea where her opinions and mine are relative to each other, which has a lot of value for me.

If you are a reviewer out there. Forget trying to be objective and share your true opinions. Don’t apologize for having a weakness for anything to do with dragons. Say it proudly. That honesty tells more then thousands of words trying to remove yourself from the reviewing equation.


Too fancy to understand.


Is “Brothers – A Tale of Two Sons” a game that a flat newbie can understand?

I have shown a bunch of games to a bunch of people.  It’s always easier to know when an avid player will get anything out of a game. Shh.. the secret is, casuals will settle for just about anything with some polish.  The real trouble, and brain teaser is, will someone on the far left of casual enjoy a game.  By ‘far left’ I mean, someone that plays maybe 1 to 3 games a year.

I think we can all agree that BioShock Infinite is extremely polished.  So a casual player is very likely able to pick it up and have their fun.  Someone on the far left, who has spent less then 50 hours in all of their first person shooting career, might feel more of a learning curve.  It’s a bit tough to miss the appeal of BioShock even if you take a while to understand what to do, but not all games are as strait forward.

Amnesia, is also fairly polished.  Unlike BioShock it’s goal is not simply to give you spectacle and narrative.  That crap is trying to scare you and it does it’s job well.  So well the videos of people reacting are entertaining.

Believe it or not, scaring is a subtle thing.  A mood has to be set.  What is a dark campsite one moment can switch to a creepy forest once a few stories have been shared.  A thought while laying in bed can change the room to a shadowy place for creatures to hide.  The spell is required or the scares just won’t work.

Amnesia, to the average player has a very low curve.  That curve is there though.  The game requires that you understand the basic gaming conventions. Things like, boxes usually are used to get on or as weight distributions. Some items in games are more likely to be useful then others.  Of course the big one is, moving with awsd and looking with a mouse.

For a flat new player, these little things can break the spell.  I have seen it.  Watched as inexperience changes a scary moment into a frustrating bother.

That’s what brings me to my experience last weekend, when I beat through “Brothers –  A Tale of Two Sons”.  This game is short and I definitely don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll be careful talking about it.  There is a part of it that had such a wonderfully powerful impact on me.  I am not going to lie, my cold heart felt a grip on it and if I had feelings they would have drowned me.

Upon completion of the game my immediate thought was, I have to show this to my girl friend.  Then I wasn’t sure.  Knowing of the importance of maintaining the spell in order for emotional impact to take place.  I wasn’t sure if she would understand the significance, being a far left casual.

That isn’t a snobby statement.  If you don’t watch sports, it’s sometimes hard to understand why everyone gets all excited from one moment to another. If you don’t play League of Legends, It’s unlikely you’ll understand why people say Madlife is god.  If you don’t play many games, would it be possible that you could miss the feels in Brothers?

I am just not sure.  I think the game only has one shot to hit you and I don’t want to waste it with my girl friend.  If I have to wait till she’s played more then I will.

If you are comfortable with moving in a first person shooter, please go give this game a shot. I think it’s better to just jump in without seeing much, but if you need a little more. Check out this review by Justin McElroy.

Bitter me’s writing pet peeve

I am on reddit.com/r/writing way too much but I find it helps push me to get my 500 words a day down. Maybe one day when I have some skill, I’ll up that to 1000 a day. It’s been around 6 months and boy am I tired of the, “I would write more, but I am a perfectionist and cant move on till my sentences are just right.”

Good god, that’s a pet peeve of mine. Reminds me of answering, “What is your biggest weakness” at a job interview with, “I just work too hard”.

We all want our prose to be as good as we can make them. Saying that you want this so much more then the average person that it stops you from writing all together, is so fake. This is a symptom of not wanting to give a serious effort. Before you start quoting some of the best authors you can think of complaining about the same problem, consider this.

If you wanted to be a Quarter back and someone asked, “How is your practicing going”. Would it make sense for you to reply, “Well, I can’t practice to often because I am too much of a perfectionist that everything has to be utterly perfect or I just won’t get anywhere.” No, you practice if you are tired, had too many drinks the other night, got a new puppy, or allergies making your eyes a bit red.

Get that out of your head. Please, it is not an excuse. It’s self delusion.

Some things are harder to google then others.

As a seasoned googler.  I have used google so much I don’t even use bookmarks any more.  When I try to re-find something my brain associates what I need with a unique term to best find it.  It’s now an extension of my brain. When searching a new topic it’s all about finding that important word/term.

It doesn’t even have to be the correct word or spelling. Even if there is a word that is better at describing what I am looking for, what only matters is weather the community that is posting on the topic use that word associated with the topic.

That might seem kind of obvious right now while you are not actually trying to find something.  It can be tough, especially when looking for something that you are not familiar with.  Then the idea of term searching is crucially important.  You’ll never get anywhere if you are not searching in the jargon that the community is using.

There are a few topics that are extremely difficult to find anything meaning full on. The most obvious search being, “Investment help”.  Trying to find out how to start investing?  Well, good luck.  So many people are trying to sell insight it is incredibly difficult to find something with substance.

The waters get extremely muddy when they have sleek presentations and are meant to appeal to people.  That means, even though their actual advice amounts to just about nothing.  The fact that people liked it, puts them high on search lists.

Here is another one, “searching for help losing weight”.  Every conceivable word within six terms removed from “weight loss” is used by these people trying to sell their book or plan or whatever.  This one can get especially nasty.  They’ll promise you to personally come down and focus their chi to remove the fat off your body, all you need do is give them a little credit card.

I stumbled on this while trying to search something, I just didn’t think would end up with all the traps.

Self Discipline. I have many projects going and I can’t figure out why It’s just been so hard to manage them all.

I want to lose weight, get up early, write more, make more videos.  What is causing these difficulties where there simply shouldn’t be any.  Low self discipline.

This is a new thing for me.  I used to have some crazy Self Discipline.  I used to be able to wake up whenever I want. I could mentally set a time before laying for bed and get up around 10 mins of that time. This was in my bachelor years, when I didn’t even have an alarm.  Heck, all I had was a bed, tv, computer and maybe 3 changes of clothes.

That’s gone.

I used to have a habit of running for 30 mins to an hour a day. I held that habit for years.  Now for some reason it’s gone.

Now that I recognize the problem.  I handled it the same way I handle anything I am going to work on.  I Looked up. Got hit with spam all the way.

Now, I am back here.  Is there a way to look up these types of searches that I haven’t thought about?  I wonder if there are any search Guru’s that can help me with the secrets to these types of searches.

There is so much free information out there.  It’s not tough finding a graduate level computer science course online, but sound advice on weight loss is on a league of it’s own.

Something special.

It’s definitely something that doesn’t happen on a whim, but is still sudden and I want it back.  Earlier, I promised Grassy, when Skyrim dropped under $12 it would be mine.  Skyrim was 8 bucks on steam this holiday sale.

A game like Skyrim ripens with age. Mods and patches take a game a long way.  I do want to touch on the fun of picking the right mods, but something happened that I didn’t expect.  I started to have fun.

I am not some sort of gaming curmudgeon. Yelling at casuals, “Get of my server”.  When I play, it can be for a ton of reasons.  Fun, real fun, the kind that comes with investment and excitement, is hard to come by.   I’ll settle for engagement or maybe some reward of mastery.

Somewhere along the lines of running for the fetch/find quests that are Skyrim.  I started to want to talk to people.  For a brief time, I remembered what it was like playing Secrets of Evermore or Illusion of Gaia.  I wanted to talk to everyone.  The Towns people each had a story and problem, instead of just another thing to add to my grocery list, aka Skyrim Journal, they were little adventures.

I have no idea what happened, but I want it back.  The next day It was gone.  I haven’t quit on the game, on the small chance that it’ll hypnotize me again.  I have been trying to collect my thoughts and figure what the issue is.  Why do I just care so little about what’s going on in that game.

I have read and seen enough comparisons of Skyrim, Morrowen, Oblivion,  and Fallout to write a dissertation.  Which tells me one thing. There is already a dissertations worth of discussion out there and I don’t want to retread on what has been covered very well.  So I am going to avoid the Quest Marker topic.  Going back trying to get that spark I realized some of the problems that kept my “care” needle firmly at “couldn’t any less”.

The problem is the size.  It is just too big.  Way to many named NPCs with way too  much lore with no practical way of consuming it.  An exposition at the start would be bad, this game is worst.  It is just about impossible to care with every NPC having their own problem.

Oh, they stole your daughter? I’ll ask the guard if he saw anything.  He did but, he actually has this map that leads to an amazing treasure all I need is to find a person that can read it. He’s in the next town.

On and on.  Just put it in the pile.  The pattern turns them in to, basically where and who am I killing and a stampede of names, locations, lore and none of them related.  Which cuts the legs off any kind of good story telling.

GTA 5 is also an open world game that manages to have smaller side stories, memorable NPCs and n solid over arching story.  It does this by keeping things more linear and limits the number of named NPCs.

What if Skyrim was approached this way.  One major arch and fewer larger subplots.  This way the lore could be placed strategically.

I’ll continue trying to get that sweet spot.  Who knows I might actually beat this one.