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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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.

Unique gaming experience.

I don’t remember what I was complaining about while arguing with Grassy, but I got a strong pang of nostalgia. Something had me thinking about peculiar gaming experiences.

Things that weren’t part of the games. Things that happened because of my unique situation.  Things that I simply can never re-live.  Like playing the first game that requires a pause to look around and just enjoy the spectacle.

I started to run through all the years of gaming I could remember, and find those times.

I got the PlayStation as a Christmas present, along with Final fantasy VII but no memory card. I remember playing the first maybe 2 hours over and over, stretching it to around 15 hours.

When I finally made it past the tower and out of the city for the first time. I can’t describe the excitement that came with the realization that this city was just one of a whole world. That changed gaming for me.

I had spent so much time in Midgar, I just never would have thought that there was another place.

I remember being challenged to 1v1 in Unreal Tournament by some other dude at school.  Unreal was the first online game I had ever bought.  At the time, I had just got broad band.  I played that game day and night, so naturally I accepted.

I pretty much destroyed him.  He had a negative score by the end since I took to pushing him over the edge. Then the big reveal, it was actually another dude playing.  The lesser of the pair.  Now I’d fight the real challenger.

He picked an indoor map, low gravity, and intsa-gib only(which is a one shot kill gone).  Did I mentioned, I lived this game?  Particularly with the insta-gib.  I would practice with that gun at 180% normal game speed.

I stomped him worst.

The last straw was my leap from one side of the stage to the other and killing him three times before I landed.  They disconnected. Memories.

I spoke to Grassy about his experiences.  Apparently he is the most boring standard gamer ever.

Please share some of yours.

Is it so bad to wish for new, or at least, well thought out ideas?

I grew up watching TLC, The Discovery Channel and History Channel.  Back when they had programming that actually taught things. After a few years of watching pieces on Dinosaurs, I slowly found myself already reaching the cap of knowledge.  It wasn’t that there was no more about Dinosaurs to learn, just that this was the cap that the channel was not willing to go over.  I guess in the interest of maintaining an audience.

They can’t exactly give a college level Paleontology piece.  Later the internet became a real thing, or maybe I just got old enough for it to mean something to me, and I found much more information out there.

Now-a-days, when I get an informational itch. I can run to youtube and find out as much as I want on a subject.  Sometimes literally from a college class lecture posted on the university site.  Which is just amazing to me.  This may have made me spoiled.

Now when I see a show online, I have expectations.  If it’s a fairly new channel, I can accept bad production value for more in-depth information.  For a channel with some money in it, I expect a certain amount of safety, meaning they aren’t going to poo on their sponsors and want go all out raging.

These two channels ‘PBS Idea Channel‘ and ‘PBS Game/Show‘ both have a bit of money and about the same production value.  I am Fairly sure they aren’t done by just one person.  There is a world of difference between them though.

The Idea Channel does it’s best to try and expose it’s reader to a new Idea.  Usually with a title like ‘Google is Knowledge’ or ‘The Internet is Cats’.  From there they’ll expand that thought and come around to some sense.  Not everyone would agree if their conclusion is right or not, but everyone is thinking.

PBS Game/show doesn’t do this.  It possesses more provocative titles like ‘Are games Racist’ and ‘Do Video Games Need Feminism?’ or their newest video ‘Will Videogames Become a Controlled Substance’.


Having been an avid viewer of the ‘PBS Idea Channel’, I expected this channel to also make sense of their titles.  I might have also thought they would cover the topic with reasonable care.  The show could even, If I was lucky, give me something new to think about.  Maybe a new perspective?

Nope, they mostly amount to a superficial look at the topic with nothing more then maybe an hour of thought could bring.

Give “Will Videogames Become a controlled substance?”.  This topic, I would agree, is something that is worth talking about, but it’s serious enough that it requires some definitions.

Non-physical Addiction is when something takes precedents and starts to effect a persons life in a significant way.  Not to be confused with people just taking part in a hobby, which can take a bunch of time too.  People don’t lose jobs and relationships over a hobby, they do over an addiction. This definition isn’t all inclusive, but it’s enough to start talking about the subject.  It’s actually very important to distinguish Physical and Non-Physical addiction.  The video puts them together in one lump.

“The reality is that most people who drink don’t become alcoholics and most people that play games, won’t become addicts.  But we still recognize that alcohol and addictive substances are dangerous.”  This is just dirty.  These things can not be lump together with gaming, alcohol and addictive substances.  Well ok, drunk gaming can be fun…  but they are not at all in the same levels of danger, not by any stretch of the imagination.

Non-Physical Addiction is always part of a psychological problem.  Every business is trying to get you to play and spend as much money as they can get out of you.  It is not the game makers job to try and save you.

Legislation on the vain of controlling any kind of Non-physical addiction, should be shot down. Non-physical addiction is fought by having more readily available psychological help and removal of it’s stigma.

People are susceptible to addiction of any type, when they are emotionally and psychologically compromised.  It has nothing at all to do with the escapism or how immersive a game is.

“.. it’s about to get a whole lot more dangerous.”  Come on, there is no danger.  If most of these addicts didn’t fall for games, they’d have fallen into something else.

The level of polish in this show is just so opposite to the actual content.  I started off watching hoping they’d grow and start giving actual insight. It’s clear now that this is never going to happen.

I blame my expectations on Extra Credits, Vsause, Nova before them, and all the other great shows that try to give more then the basics.

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.

Oops, bit off more then I can chew.

I just want to do everything.  I want to draw, paint,  make game, groundbreaking apps, YouTube tutorials and play every instrument.  Eventually it becomes clear that my time is just so limited.  Trying to pour myself to thin caught up with me again.

I don’t enjoy failing to fallow through but I also don’t like to be afraid to give an honest try.  So here is where I stand.

My plan to write a book is on the back burner now.  It take so very long and I have so much to catch up on, when it comes to writing.  I’ll have to try again another time.  It’s like I read somewhere, “Sometimes you have to kill your darlings”.  It’s time to start killing some of those darlings.

I’ll never be ready to write if I don’t practice at all. So, I want to start up on this and keep it going.  It doesn’t take me too much to type something up and there are things I want to share that fit better here then anywhere else.  I’d say it’s about 50% ego and the realization that getting what I want to say out, will only improve the more ways I do it. Daily is too much for me.  Everyday I missed just made me less likely to pick it back up.  So, this’ll have to be as often as I have something to say.

Trying to run 3 youtube channels was also way way too much.  I am dropping or super slowing 2 of them.  HelpMeNotSuck is still doing well enough to keep alive and I find it fun.  Looking back at my old work it’s nice to see that I am getting better.  That alone is enough to keep me going.  Most of my videos average(with no advertising) around 30 views.  If I post them, that turns in to about 200. I did have my first major success of over 57k views on a single video. Good god was that invigorating.

Awww man, I have turned in to one of those posters that has to give the, “I am sorry I stopped, but I am back”… but, I am sorry I stopped.  I am back now 🙂

How much should I be concerned what the audience wants compared to what I want?

While trying to write, this is a chief concern of mine.  Should I be aiming for just the largest possible audience or focus on trying to attract the particular type that enjoy what I want to make.

I have this little issue on my Youtube Channel.  I have put up more of TF2 then anything else, but that’s cause I usually play TF2.  So some people have grown to expect the channel to be only TF2.  My plan has always been to just share my fun times, regardless of what game I am playing.

When I am focusing on my writing this worries me.  Mainly since I can’t produce nearly as many iterations of a novel as I do with the videos.

Am I doing all this purely for the goal of gaining fame?  No, but my audiences, however small they are now, are important.  That balance is rough.  Some times I just end up saying, “This is what I want, so it’s what I am going to do.”