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.

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.

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.

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.”

Getting into an open and creative mode.

I just watched this lecture with John Cleese  and he formalized ideas I have been lightly touching at.

The lecture is about being creative.  How, do you get yourself to be creative?  Where does it come from?

If you’ve got the time, it would be great to watch the thole thing, if not here’s a short version.  No one knows how to be creative or how to make themselves be creative on a whim.  At best you can create a situation in which you are open to creativity.

Those ideas that spawn in opening a thought that you hadn’t had, are usually a product of a few conditions.  One, you have spent the time to lay a mental framework to an open mind around the situation.  Two, you allow yourself to be free to play and ponder, without bogging ideas down with pressure to be ‘right’ or ‘fast’.

He recommends setting a time, like an hour and a half, to practice getting and  holding this ‘Open mode’.  Then get used to moving to a ‘Closed mode’ when it comes to implementation.

This is extremely close to my view on training up those creative thought. Which isn’t an easy thing for me.

I would add a stipulation that it helps to first have a certain degree of understanding of a subject.  So, if you are trying to come up with a creative play in chess.  You’ll have to understand the game well enough to know that what you have come up with is something.

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.