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.

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Dark souls opens doors and is such a breath of fresh air for me.

My inner pessimist and optimist were in complete agreement that I should wait before booting the game up.  One wined, a single player game hasn’t held my interest for more then an hour or too in so very long.  The other pleaded, so many people enjoy this game, it might not hold up to the hype, so save it for later.

Two weekends ago, later finally arrived.  I was an idiot for waiting so long. Simply put, this game kindled my enthusiasm for single player games again.

I had grown tired.  FPS’s put me against dumb AI.  Dead spaces, Bioshocks, Skyrim, Tomb Raider all did this. Not to say they weren’t fun in different ways but what they lacked in mechanics and AI they hoped to make up for in story and presentation. As a gamer that isn’t afraid to pick up a book I require a bit more in story to hold my interest.

Not to imply that games can’t tell amazing stories.  Most games just don’t manage it.

As an example, I beat through Bioshock Infinite solely to see as much of the amazing world and performances as I could. The game play almost completely broke immersion and boiled down to killing waives of enemys till you could move to the next room.  Most of the weapons and powers amounted to just a few actually mechanically different options.

Gaming is still my major hobby.  That time is spent in multiplayer.

Dark souls introduced me to a game that didn’t sacrifice game play for story or presentation and a world were AI wasn’t the focus.  In dark souls the focus is mastery of the mechanics.  Enemy’s are predictable but vary in difficulty not only by level, but my the build you chose.  So each build you create changes the game so much.  What was tough then is now easy and you are forced to come up with different approaches, which in turn makes me want to try other builds.

Much of Dark souls is completely a mystery to the first time player.  Which can make for a steep learning curve.  Items of value can easily be wasted or passed over.  Once I realized that the game was supposed to be about exploration.  I wasn’t afraid to just start over and try something new. It can be punishing but restarting is fun and feels like a world of new options.

This so far sounds like a game review, which is not.  I just want to explain where I am in terms of single player and Multi-player.

Other games do this but in much smaller scales.  Binding of Issac comes to mind.  Starting over and getting different items to beat through the game a very different way.

That scale of difference is what makes me so much want to just jump in to Dark Souls right now and try something new.  Everything in Dark Souls is build for a unique experience.  Almost every weapon, even the ones you start with, have potential to be amazing. There is no ‘best’ weapon.  It all depends on how you want to use it.

Even the Multi-player in dark souls is unique every run through.  Turn to human form for help with a boss you know your build isn’t ready to handle.  What do you know you were invaded and now you have a whole new experience and it all feels natural, even part of the single player.

I wish this game wasn’t such a rare gem.  I wish more major titles would focus on mechanically interesting and different games.  Till then, Dark souls 2 is coming out 2014.

My Chivalry Review.

Thanks for checking out Fair game.  This is Mr Lion. I am going to be reviewing Chivalry and I don’t care that it’s a free for all map, don’t be a wuss and 1v1 me like a real man. [ Quick clips of the game and maybe shot of the title screen]

Number one on indiebd.com’s ‘indie of 2012’, first game by torn banner and example of a successful kickstarter.  Did any of this drive me to play Chivalry? Nope. It had a free weekend and knights’n swords are cool.

My first match started with the gates opening to a crowd’s applause and me, being the predictable nublit I am, went archer first. Between getting stabbed, dismembered and hearing my last breaths through a bloody esophagus. I recognized that certain frustration.

In my twisted world this frustration is what drives me.  That which makes me willing to poor hours into improving my skills in a given task.  In this case Chivalric task of liberating limbs or cheaply putting a spear in other unexpecting limb liberator.

This ffeeling and I say it with and extra ff, because of their rare and annoying… This ffeeling of Frustration meant I was having FFun.

What brought me to this eemotion?  Could it have been the weight of the weapons?  Maybe it was how after some time playing I still found occasions, where I feel a wince from an especially brutal blow.  No, it was the enjoyment of a deep mechanic, that I wasn’t good at.

Combine the fighting anticipation and positioning skills of ‘Jedi outcast’, the larger scales of savage, and a slower pacing then ‘pirates vikings and knights’ and what get’s spit out is Chivalry.  In Fact it reminded me of PVK so much I kept expecting the ‘Final Countdown’ to start up while the stage filled with lava.  The major differences between the two being, Chivalry is a more complete/polished game and everyones is pretty much made up of so many watermelons.

The arsenal contains a few classes and groups of class specific weapons that are all mechanically different enough for me to suck all over again when I try them.  My biggest gripe here was with the spearmen who only has 6 spears. In the game types with no way refill ammo, I’d be left with a dagger to convince people to death.

With goals like, “kill the villagers” or “protect the trebuchets” I want to praise Chivalry for what is offered in the modes department.  But, Most of the time I would freeze and the massage ‘Team blabla has won’. I would think, ‘is that my team?’  Then hold tab to bring up a spreadsheet of information that I read as ‘eh, whatever… positive kdr, YEYAAa’.

Many tables were also flung, trying to get a few friends in the same match.  The invite errored if it was full and it was impossible to tell if server had room or which one a friend was in.  I just kept switching back and forth from the steam overlay to the game trying to squeeze in.

Once I managed to get my crew in the devs were nice enough to let me see each name in green even through objects and walls.  We could actually group up and and charge hi fiving the whole way.

Watching the enemy team descended on my group and our group reacting to them reacting to us was something that happens only in games that focus on melee.  Once I reached an enemy the fighting was just slow enough to think and make calls and fast enough to get suprised by a pike through the chest.

Team Leader Steve Piggott gave an interview November 22, 2012 here’s the TLDR version.

Will there be customization?
yes

Will servers be allowed to cap classes, like archers?
yes

Controllers/game pads?
yup

Siege mode?
Bet your last spear on it.

Modable with sdk?
only a matter of time

DLC?
Gameplay stuff will be free, so tell your friends about the game already.

For one final note I’ll give a tip.  If you don’t want to get kicked when you’re going to team kill,  just before you go for the kill press f10.

Talking about something that is inherently ambiguous.

The Idea Channel, on YouTube is one I happily subscribe too.  Lately the little man in my head that critically listens to everything that I pay attention to, has been making a fuss at their new videos.  This little man isn’t nice or mean he’s just a builder.  Looking at each idea like a new part to fit in a whole.

The builder touches and considers where this would fit in the structure of my thoughts. If needed, he’ll test it to see how to see if it can fix more then one hole.  So while listening to a lecture, like the amazing one by Brandon Sanderson, he’ll take each idea and see what I can it for and trashing the obvious or redundant.

During the video, “Are MP3s & Vinyl Better then Live?“, he yelled and screamed. These ideas are all caught on one major problem that is never brought up, leaving it lacking the structure to securely fit and cover any hole. The problem of Definitions.

‘Better’ is the real problem in the video and it’s why there is so much of a debate.  Mr. Mike Rugnetta, never even tries,and so just circles around and around, to define ‘better’.

In specific case, if we define better as ‘More accurate representation of the sound produced by the vocalist and/or instrument’ we can make some conclusions.   Vinyl would be out, since it adds sounds and looses quality. A very high bit rate MP3, one that might as well not even be compressed, could have better then a Vinyl. Both MP3’s and Vinyl are altered by sound engineers. So, under this definition live and unplugged would be better.

Problems like this happen all over: “What is better apple or pc?”, “Is it better to have a person play the piano or a robot who recorded a persons movements?”, “Which game is better?”

The ‘better’ isn’t the only ambiguous term: “Is it love or lust?”, “Small businesses are the big job creators.”

I particularly enjoy the last one. Is a small, the mom and pop store down the street worth around $500,000 or Walmart?

It’s not about being right.  Words mean what we want them to.  It’s about being clear.  So audience knows what YOU mean with the words you use.

 

Here’s the video:

Timing, when is enough, enough.

I have multiple projects in the works.  Most of them are on time limits.

This blog is daily. I’ve got me HelpMeNotSuck channel that is also daily. There is only so much time I can put into each piece.

So there is a point at which I have to say ‘ok this post isn’t exactly right but it’s at a point where I am comfortable’.  I’ll later look back and find more and more I can tweak.

These, mostly small, mistakes scratch on my mind.  What keeps me going is the times I looking further back.  Back when I was completely new to this.  At that time my errors were much larger.  Slowly my quality average is increasing.

Could be that is just something I am telling my self.

I do feel this is a significant part of working on anything.  Things are just never done.  My novel will never look complete and whole. I’ll just have to get it somewhere that I can accept it.

Not a new thought.  Neither is the realization that simply knowing there is no end doesn’t stop me from wanting to try and get there and being annoyed sometimes at how far away it seems.

Fallowing the curve is not so obvious.

This is the Curve to the story of Star Wars “A New Hope”.  It could be used as a rough template for pacing just about anything.

“The Curve”

The thought of using  “The Curve” in as many aspects of a project as possible, down to it’s smallest part, is one I have always wanted to do. By god, it is much tougher then it sounds.

Right now I am writing up a review for one of the youtube channels I contribute too(http://www.youtube.com/user/fairgamereviews). My thoughts are all down and organized. Now, I am trying to find the curve.

The questions I am considering to try and find what is driving this reviews pacing: Is it an intensity curve? Maybe and excitement curve? How can a ratchet up the viewers interest/emotion?  What would be the peek?

At this point I am not actually sure I can do it.  The practice will make it easier for me to see it next time. If  just a bit of my intent is successful.  It’ll improve the piece immensely.

For a full explanation to “The Curve” check out this video “Pacing” by Extra Credits.

The state of Game Reviews.

A friend and I have started a new Youtube Channel ‘Fair Game Reviews’.  Naturally my first impulse to starting a new project, is to start doing research on how others have done it.  I focused mainly on video reviews but not exclusively.  My net even opened wide enough to look at entertaining movie and book reviews.

In short the game reviews I saw broke into 2 categories.  Higher quality with a gimmick or quick, dirty and cookie cutter.  The quick & dirty ones did things like pros/cons list or breaking the review into sections(story, game play, multiplier).  They never seemed to consider if this structured way of reviewing added anything.

Each review must have a goal.  Are you trying to inform or entertain?  Maybe you want to talk about a particular grip.

Games are just so different that the goal may change from game to game.  In fact I am counting on it.  I am not going to lean on a gimmick (Ex Zero Punctuation, Angry Video Game Nerd, Egoraptor).  Cause I just don’t know if I have it in me.

I am going to try something new, well Null and I our.  Check it out.  When I complete the idea to a point I can formalize I’ll post up a brief write up.